Friday, November 22, 2013
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12 KJV).
Eliminating the static due to religious tradition, we present to you “the official prayer of Christendom” with unparalleled clarity….
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Like the second petition of verse 10, this fourth petition also utilizes a comparison. Once Jesus Christ concludes the “Our Father” Prayer, in verses 14 and 15, He elaborates on this principle of forgiveness: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Notice how God instructed Israel to pray in her prophetic program. They were to ask God for forgiveness so they could be forgiven. In other words, their forgiveness from God depended on whether or not they forgave others. This principle is in perfect accordance with the Law, the operating system of Israel’s program. Israel’s incentive to forgive others is so that she can get forgiveness from God. This performance-based acceptance system of Law is delineated so clearly in Deuteronomy chapter 28. If Israel was to receive God’s blessings, she had to obey all of His commandments. If Israel disobeyed, she received curses and judgments. God accepted these Jews on the basis of what they did by faith (see James 2:14-26): faith was the foremost issue for Israel, but they also needed works (physical circumcision, water baptism, confession of sins, et cetera).
Contrast this with what the Apostle Paul wrote to us, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32) Colossians 2:13 supplements, “God… having forgiven you all trespasses.” In our Dispensation of Grace, God has already forgiven us because of Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice on Calvary, and it is on this basis of God’s grace to us in Christ that we forgive others. We are under grace, not law (Romans 6:14); we do not appeal to Israel’s legalistic doctrine, for it is not God’s will for us.
Let us conclude our dissection of the “Our Father” Prayer….