Saturday, June 25, 2016

P3 The freeing benefits of forgiveness: The freedom to pray and to walk in God's power

Philemon 1:8-9 "Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, 9 yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—since I am such a person as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus."

Two days ago we began considering the freeing benefits of forgiveness. We first noted how forgiveness frees one from walking in offense or bitterness . When we walk in offense, we grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30-31) and operate under a closed heaven. We find ourselves walking around with the feeling of rejection and increasing levels of never being satisfied. Only forgiving as the Lord forgave us can free us from such a prison. Then in yesterday's post we considered how forgiveness frees us to enjoy God's forgiveness. God's forgiveness of the believer in Christ provides the logic of forgiveness (see Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:32). The "logic of Calvary" is the only way in which we can see forgiveness go from being a duty to delight. In today's post I wanted to deal with two final refreshing benefits of forgiveness, namely how forgiveness frees us up in our prayer-life and thus to walk in the power of the Spirit.  

Forgiveness grants freedom to pray. Philemon 1:21-22
Paul indicates his confidence in Philemon's response to his appeal in verse 21. He also indicates in verse 22 that Philemon is a praying man, since Paul's hope to see Philemon is predicated on Philemon's prayers for his release (Paul was imprisoned). It is no accident then that the confidence of Philemon forgiving Onesimus and mention of Philemon as a man of prayer are linked together. 

Anytime we forgive, our prayer-life is freed from the shackles imposed by a bitter heart. James 4:1-3 warns what happens when unforgiveness clashes with our prayer-life - "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain;so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures." The freedom of forgiveness setting our prayer-life free is illustrated in Colossians 3:13-15 "bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful."

Forgiveness grants freedom to operate in God's power. Philemon 1:20-25
We read in Philemon 1:20-25 "Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say. 22 At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you. 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." The refreshment that comes from forgiveness frees the Christian to put down offenses, enjoy God's forgiveness and to pray. But how about walking in the power of the Spirit? You and I dear friend have been called by God to not only walk by faith and walk by the Word but to also walk in the power of the Spirit. Galatians 5:16-17 and 25 state - "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 25 "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."

Closing thoughts
We've spent the last several days considering the refreshing benefits of forgiveness. We saw how forgiveness frees us to put down offenses, enjoy God's forgiveness, pray and walk in the power of the Spirit. May we take to heart what the Spirit of God intended Paul to write in "The Book of Forgiveness" - Philemon. 

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