Did Jesus Put Price tags on Forgiveness? (Matthew 6:14-15)

Mongrel
The gospel that Jesus revealed declares that God loves you like a father, he holds nothing against you, and he longs for his sons and daughters to come home. It’s the good news an orphaned world desperately needs to hear.

So why did Jesus say this:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matt 6:14-15)

This sounds like bad news, as though you must earn God’s forgiveness through works of forgiveness. How are we to read these words? I’m going to give you three interpretations, and then you can choose.

1. Jesus is preaching law

As many grace preachers have said (including me in this post), Jesus was preaching law to those who lived under law.

Jesus was the greatest law preacher of all time. He preached law so the self-righteous would see their desperate need for grace.

The old law-keeping covenant has gone but the self-righteous who remain need to hear the harsh words of Jesus. The truth is you cannot earn God’s forgiveness. The measure of forgiveness we need is infinitely greater than any forgiveness we could show to others.

Did Jesus put price tags on forgiveness? In this passage, he does! But on the cross he paid that price on our behalf. The very condition for forgiveness that Jesus preached on the Mount, he fulfilled on the cross. Only in Christ do we receive the Father’s forgiveness.

2. Jesus is describing the fruit of grace

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. (1 John 4:20)

Taylor Swift sang “Haters gonna hate,” but the lyrics are from John. Haters gonna hate because hate is in their heart. The fruit reveal the tree. But if you have been apprehended by the love of your heavenly Father you won’t be a hater anymore. You’ll be a lover and a forgiver.

Paul wrote, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col 3:13) and that’s the proper order. God acts, we respond. But if we don’t respond it’s as if God never acted. Do you see the connection? If we don’t believe God has forgiven us then Christ died for nothing. That’s what Jesus is saying here:

In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part. (Matt 6:14-15, MSG)

Unforgiveness is a form of bondage. It’s a grace killer. If you are unable to release forgiveness to others, you’ll have trouble experiencing the forgiveness that God has given to you.

It’s not that God will become unloving and travel back through time and stop Jesus from carrying your sins on the cross. God never changes! But if you don’t respond to what he has done, it’s as if he’d never done it. Grace without faith is worthless.

In the parable of the unforgiving servant, Jesus tells the story of a king who forgives an indebted servant (Matt 18:23-35). But the servant is unchanged by the king’s grace. By choosing to remain graceless and unforgiving the servant reveals his contempt for the gift and the giver. He does not, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Instead he scorns grace and ends up miserable.

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:25-26)

Again, there are two ways to read this: (1) as a law the self-righteous must obey if they are to keep up their charade, or (2) as an exhortation to walk in the grace of a Father who has already forgiven you in Christ.

“Paul, how can you say God has forgiven you when Jesus says he may forgive you?” Because I’ve seen the cross! To forgive is to send your sins away and Jesus did that already. He will never do it again and you cannot undo what he has done (Heb 9:26). Because of Jesus God is no longer counting your sins against you (2 Cor 5:19).

The issue is not “what can I get God to do?” but “what God has done and what can I now do because of what he has done.”

Has someone hurt you? Are you the victim of an unforgiveable crime? By the grace of God you can be free from that wound! Don’t hold onto the sins of others like the unforgiving servant. You’ll be miserable. The flow of grace will be poisoned by the bitter root. Let go of sin and take hold of grace. Be better, not bitter. See the cross. See what Jesus did for you them forgive them in Jesus’ Name and be free!

3. It’s both, for Jesus speaks to all of us at our point of need

What you look through determines what you see. If you are trusting in your own performance, you will read Jesus’ words as law. “I must work to earn God’s forgiveness.” You cannot succeed! When life hurts you this law will condemn you as a law-breaker in need of grace, and the sooner that happens the better.

However, if you are trusting in Christ’s righteousness, you will read his words as an exhortation to walk in grace. You want more grace? Then give from the abundant supply he has given to you. Let no bitter root grow that causes you to fall short of grace (Heb 12:15).

Jesus spoke words the whole world needs to hear. The genius of Jesus was that he could speak to crowds of people and meet everyone – the self-righteous and the hungry – at their point of need.

It’s a mistake to dismiss the words of Jesus as irrelevant or old covenant or pre-cross. If it’s in the Bible it’s useful for training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). The words of Jesus either reveal the self-righteousness that leads to death or the Christ-righteousness that causes you to reign in life!

The followers of Jesus still know that he has the words of eternal life!

___________

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43 Comments on Did Jesus Put Price tags on Forgiveness? (Matthew 6:14-15)

  1. I don’t know if I agree. I believe that what he means is this: if you cannot see everybody as forgiven through the cross, then how can you see yourself as forgiven? What makes you different? Did you earn this position, or did God take the initiative to take the identity of the sin of the world and crucify it and raise us up in His righteousness? Of course God took that initiative—and those who believe it will walk in it, both for themselves and for others, because it was the same act.

    That’s really just my opinion—just a thought.

  2. Trevor Lancashire // August 6, 2015 at 1:58 am // Reply

    When we look back and see how much we have been forgiven, and see right now how much we are still being forgiven, and then look forward to see how much more we are already forgiven for future sins as yet not yet committed, the task of forgiving others becomes so much simpler!!! Don’t you agree?

  3. Paul im glad you wrote this, this has at times been a point of confusion,to alot of people, my
    take on it is if you dont forgive it gives the enemy ammo to torment, not that you are not forgiven by Father, but you get stuck in a type of ditch, frustrate grace if you will or cut off the agape and grace that that allows you to forgive, i will appreciate your input on this,if you see it differently. I rememeber years ago when I went threw a divorce,I was hurting,and the Lord said to me.I want you to forgive her,and I said I dont feel like forgiving her,he said you dont have to feel it just do it,so I did and it disarmed any anger etc I had against her,the rejection and such could not oppress me

    • That’s good stuff Earl. The Lord’s advice is of course the right advice. I’ve dealt with rejection and anger issues and have held onto forgiveness for years, until recently. He’s right. Forget whether we feel like doing it or not. Just do it. Our bodies are very intelligent. And the enemy will use forgiveness to try to get believers to receive condemnation. You did the right thing, as painful as I imagine that was. Thanks for sharing your personal tragedy. I’m sure you know many out there can identify with the feelings and emotions you had at that time. I’m still working on forgiving people who cut me off in traffic though. LOL

      • Thank you,Robbie,i try to share to help, the opposite of rejection was a revelation of total acceptance, the bi-produce of my deliverance from rejection,I have found going BOLDLY into the throne room and pushing a issue, liberating,we are nothing new to the father,and we are obviously no threat to him, and I even think he gets a kick out of it,at times I sense a smile,but mostly I believe what comes out of it is again that sense of total acceptance.

  4. Mary Donchess // August 6, 2015 at 2:36 am // Reply

    Excellent! Thank you.

  5. Thanks very much for this post. It’s wonderful to see that Jesus preaches LAW to those who are law stricken and GRACE to those who accept that He has fulfilled the law on their behalf.

  6. It is more like, if you do not these things (forgive as you have been), you never really knew Him from the start. 1 John 3:6, “Whosoever abides in him sins not: whosoever sins has not seen him, neither known him.” To do righteousness then, especially being set in opposition to the doing, committing, or practicing, of sin, is to practice righteousness. As John points out; “…let no one deceive you, he who practice’s righteousness is righteous.”

  7. Eve Bailey // August 6, 2015 at 4:05 am // Reply

    Paul, Every day I check my “mail” and when your message is there, it’s like the check has come and I can’t wait to cash it. What a feast!!! and I found you by “accident”. God is soooo good. Thank you

  8. I was just talking about the passage of the unforgiving servant with a co-worker not more than 20 minutes ago and I thought to come and see if you had a post about it on your blog and lo and behold, there’s a fresh one today! God is good! Thanks Paul for sharing the grace message that’s hard to find in some of these seemingly graceless passages!

  9. Luke 17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

    Also consider this verse and read it carefully.

    If your brother sins against you then rebuke him.

    IF he repents, forgive him.

    IF he repents.

    I never noticed the conditional if clause on there before and then one day it just stood out.

  10. Oh any thoughts and how does that verse pertain to grace/law stuff?

  11. This makes it care that everything has a source and an origin. To know real thing link up with its source cause he is the right candidate knowing the product at all angles. Here, we are enlightened that Jesus is the masterpierce of the law ,grace and the Word that preceedeth from the mouth of God. The way he interplates and expand the Word alone dertemines how He plays His role in the trinity and His importance in our lives and how crucial it is to accept in our hearts and confess His Lordship in our mouths unto salvation to obtain a gift of eternal life.

  12. Joe A.Serge // August 6, 2015 at 8:12 am // Reply

    Too many don’t get it because they have yet to learn to rightly divide the Scriptures.The New Testament wasn’t in effect until after Christ’s crucifixion. When we’re reading about Jesus before then -he’s speaking to Jews under Old Covenant law.

  13. In Ephesians 2:8&9, Paul tells us that salvation is a gift (*free*), but in Philippians 2:12 he tells us to ‘work out’ our salvation. It sounds like a contradiction- until you understand he’s talking about two different ‘salvations’, so-to-speak. In the Ephesians passage he’s talking about getting to Heaven, but in the Philippians passage he’s talking about getting raptured. Some these days are starting to scoff about rapture, as if it’s a joke- that it doesn’t really matter- but Jesus seemed to think it’s pretty serious business. I’ve been trying to warn people for the last several years that Jacob had 2 brides because Jesus has 2 brides- that all believers are not the same. Many of the warnings we’ve presumed to be about salvation (such as the one you’ve referenced here) are actually about getting raptured. It was never seen this way in the past simply because it wasn’t such a big deal then, but it’s a serious concern now. When you study the meaning of the Greek for the word ‘mystery’ (used in KJV by Paul), you find it’s a reference to a “sworn secret”; IE, he knew things he truly wasn’t “permitted to tell”. These secrets (there are more than one, of course) are in the process of being released to God’s people, & it’s important to get the word out while we still have time, because the clock is ticking. When it’s over, it’s OVER.

    • I don’t think Jesus is a bigamist.

      • Any Bible teacher worth his/her salt will quickly tell you that Jacob is a prophetic picture of Jesus. I will gladly listen to a better revelation (as long as it can be confirmed scripturally). However, if I truly do have the right understanding on this subject, this is serious business, & it requires some prayerful consideration.

    • momzilla76 // August 7, 2015 at 8:10 am // Reply

      Paul Kirk- are there any NT scriptures that say Jesus has more than one bride? If so then yes deep study should be done but if not then Jacobs marital status as a fallen human with more than one wife may have zero to do with any future picture of Jesus. Multiple spouses seems to be of human origin and not God’s ideal. I can hardly see Him using a pattern created by fallen humans(multiple spouses) as part of His word pictures of believers.

      • I’ve not ever read anything of the Lord having more than one bride.

        That brings to mind the Partial Rapture teaching. That is, if I am right, only the holy, sinless, perfect Christians will be raptured.

        But then wouldn’t that mean that there would be people boasting in Heaven?

        “I got up here cause I did _____.” thus self righteousness?

  14. Daniel Klassen // August 6, 2015 at 3:29 pm // Reply

    Jesus is referring to the Lord’s prayer where he instructed us to pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors.” (AMP) I think it is instructive that this was written in the perfect tense. So then if we forgive others it may not be seen as much as a condition for God forgiving us but rather as a symptom that God has already forgiven us. And on the contrary if we refuse to forgive others it is a symptom that we have not received the forgiveness of God. The unforgiving servant in Matthew 18: refused to forgive his fellow servant because although he was offered the King’s forgiveness he did not receive it – it seems clear that the offer of the King’s forgiveness did not affect or change him in any way. His lack of forgiveness was a symptom that he had not received the King’s forgiveness. He cut himself off from God’s part by not doing his part. (MSG)

    • Right, we have our “part”! This is righteousness on our part, “as we have also forgiven our debtors”. It also goes along with John saying, “He that does righteousness, is righteous even as He is righteous.” 1 John 3:7
      Since God has forgiven, showing righteousness, we should forgive, thus, doing righteousness. This merely goes along the lines of James 1:22, Don’t be just a ‘hearer’ only, (where faith comes from, even the same faith that, through it, save’s) but a ‘doer’! . Notice, there is warning of deception in ‘both’ scripture, where these are lacking!

  15. Paul you are a blessing

  16. I’m struggling with this passage. I want very much to see it as a grace lesson from Jesus’ mouth. However in his very short statement, he states bluntly, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” There doesn’t seem to be any room for metaphor. Well, I’ll keep studying it.

    • There’s no metaphor, but what you hear will reveal what you are trusting in. As I say in the post, if you are confident of your own self-righteousness, you will interpret this as a law to be obeyed. But if you are trusting in Christ and his righteousness, you will know there is no law that he has not fulfilled on our behalf.

      • Brother Amen yes seeing the difference is revealing and for me only Father of the Christ reveals this truth you said here
        Thank you

      • Let me first of all say, I so enjoy the amazing revelation that is discussed on here, and the Love of Gods grace that is constantly being re-affirmed.

        I humbly Submit the following thoughts

        Mathew 5 is full of Spiritual insight to the destructive nature of the flesh due to the power of sin. Which only has any power, through the law (1 Corinthians 15:56).It is almost as tho, after reading Mathew 5, Your sense of Spiritual interpretation grows and becomes more aware and alert. If we were to look at Mathew 6:14,15 , we need to read it in light of Galatians 2:20 (as does all scripture that is being read by a born again believer). Simply put, Christ is now living in You and You are 100% Dead.

        Jesus Teaches us how to pray right before verse 14,15. The verse that stands out is verse 12
        “and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.”

        in light of Galatians 2:20 who is “we”? first thought would be “we” as in the collective group of believers but i believe a deeper meaning Is, “we” meaning Jesus and Me, Jesus and You. better and simply put…. “we” is Jesus….Who indwells us.
        You are now Jesus Spirit living in Your mortal body, awaiting Your new body that will never decay. And the question we need to ask is, Have “we” (Jesus) forgiven those who have sinned against us, past present and future? and the answer is YES! we have, In Christ, where we now stand, and who now lives instead of us, by the power of His Spirit who dwells in our fragile clay bodies. We have forgiven to the fullest extent.

        or in our context, Have You forgiven everyone that has, or will sinn against You the answer is
        Yes, Because Your new identity is hidden in Christ

        All Glory to Jesus , Now and forever and ever, and ever and ever

      • lisa jane // August 10, 2015 at 8:36 pm //

        Graceologist – thank you for that, it really hit the spot for me. Blessings

  17. Separating Law in literal terms to grace terms that is given to all today, not easy I see, why? For we all after first born are brought up, under Law to do or not get. So we ae under commandment of man, not God, Man uses God as their way to win the argument and has. So we have persons that obey to get what they want here on earth and claim this be God dong this and might not be, that is why all goes well fro them and not you over there you disgusting vermin you attitude from them.

    So we have those under just Law and are self righteous in these that they hold onto, And then there are those that just do not care in response to the self-righteous ones that have given them a bad taste in their mouth, either way, matters not see the enemy of Father and Son at work here?

    So bottom line I see all here today after the cross, not before, so before the cross even in Jesus’s walk here on earth we walk under Law trying to fulfill it in Love and Mercy to all the world for us all to come to grips and see our inabilities to be perfect. That is what the Law shows everyone. Just fail in one part any part and you never can be perfect of self ever.

    So before the cross under Law, under the curse that it reveals to Human flesh after the cross, grace is given to all to ask Father for new life in his risen Christ to lead them in Spirit and truth of is done event. And thus walk as Christ fdid by Faith alone to Father in love mercy and truth to all

    Thanks Paul well said love the post view from you that God wrote through you to me anyway

  18. I found Watchman Nee’s ‘Sit walk Stand’ a big help. In it he advises someone who is finding it impossible to forgive. The whole passage/book is worth reading but the key bit of advice he gives on forgiveness to this man is to pray like this: ‘Lord, I cannot love, and I give up trying, but I count on Thy perfect love. I cannot forgive but I trust Thee to forgive instead of me, and to do so henceforth in me.’.

  19. Nice article Paul, you bring out all the sides to it. I personally perceive it as if you can’t forgive that which someone has done then most likely the fruit is not from grace…then you’ll be unable to see that which was erased away on your side.

    Great way you put it nevertheless..

  20. Good article. Many Christians are unfortunately confused with many things Jesus stated because they don’t understand that Jesus was introducing the Gospel of Grace to people under the Old Covenant. That wasn’t easy for those Jews who heard him preach. You’re talking about people who for nearly 1500 years were raised under a performance minded system of being blessed or cursed. And then the Apostle Paul, gets the full revelation of the Gospel from the resurrected Christ and some Christians unfortunately end up[ believing that it was a ‘competing Gospel.’ Forgiving people is not easy but you have to do it for your own well being. Lots of diseases in the body manifest because of unforgiveness. Its like you are holding venom in your body.

  21. Thank you for reaveling the goodness of the father in a special way. Because the father has forgiven me I forgive others who have caused me harm in Jesus name Amen

  22. I am extremely confused….please help me understand. How can we teach grace alone without making people believe that they can continue to sin without any sort of consequence? In my experience, I have seen this happen, and it is very discouraging. My grandfather was a “grace preacher” and most of my relatives are the image of Galatians 5:9-21 thinking that they are still good with God. I have always seen God as my Father who loves me, but doesn’t fatherly love also include some boundaries for the safety and well-being of the child? I just want to know the truth. I have been searching and searching for the truth, but find myself in a circle of confusion. I need someone to help me out of it. I know I’m a geek.

    • How can we teach grace without promoting sin? To me this is an illogical question because the grace of God that teaches us to say no to unrighteousness will never promote sin. It’s like asking, how can we get married without promoting adultery?

      Children need boundaries, but God wants us to grow in grace. Those who know the love of God revealed in Jesus don’t want to sin. It’s that simple.

      • Thank you, that does make sense. Sadly, there are people out there who believe they are saved, but they are not. Satan is making them believe they can walk in the lust of the flesh and still be in the Kingdom of God.

    • The boundaries are the flesh. That is what Paul was teaching concerning grace in Galatians. We are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if we are Christ, yet we can walk (keep in step) in the flesh. That’s why Paul also said, concerning Romans 8:9, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”Gal. 5:25. This is part and partial of Titus 2:11,12 (as Paul E. mentioned), that we are to deny the flesh (ungodliness) and apply the Spirit (righteousness, 1 John 3:7).

    • i agree with Paul, Wendy,grace and eternal security seem to be the formula [ if you will] that works for me,not worrying about your lose of salvation.with the combination of grace which is a POWERFUL force against sin. I have noticed ive for the most part have lost most of my desire to sin. I still sin, but the sin awareness quickly leaves,I always like to get with father about it because I dont want anything between us ,and dont want the enemy to have ammunition

    • By the Law of love. Is this action/thought unloving towards myself, God or others?

  23. Giselle Clarke // March 13, 2016 at 10:41 am // Reply

    Amen Amen Paul!

  24. I see this truth completed aa we all are forgiven, reconciled

    2 Corinthians 5:16-20Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

    16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

    All that I see that was left for us to decide by willing free choice is to believe this or not

    It is done by Father and Son fro us to walk new in the grace of the Law. what it was originally meant to be seen as God’s Love. first Four = Love to God above all, personally between God and you personally

    The last six, neighbor as self, no condemnation to anyone in you better or else attitudes of flesh nature

    Thanks for this copied very well stated in truth what is done for us all to turn in Faith to Father in thanksgiving and praise all sin now today taken out of Father’s way through Son, so that Father can in belief to this truth, asking for the new life to be given you, Father and Son enter in personally and you all sup together forever, even while adversity here on earth tries to still trouble thee

    In Faith to the risen one by Father, that is given one, NO WORRIES even if in adversities

    Yet that does not mean you can’t get mad, harmed or pained over stuff. Father knows how to calm us if we reach in Spirit and truth to

    For flesh and blood to this day can not and will not inherit Heaven, Not one other can do what the Christ did in flesh and blood, that Father is pleased with forever and has sent out invitations to RSVP to Father in trust, Belief, and Faith, not of any works, otherwise man has reason to boast

    Thank you again

  25. ” You want more grace? Then give from the abundant supply he has given to you”

    So basically, Earn Grace. Seems mixing to me.

  26. Paul. You say “Unforgiveness is a form of bondage. It’s a grace killer. If you are unable to release forgiveness to others, you’ll have trouble experiencing the forgiveness that God has given to you.” I say where there is unforgiveness, sin abounds. Where sin abounds grace much more abounds. Grace cannot be killed, even by our unforgiveness. If someone is having trouble forgiving it is essential that they know their sins are forgiven and they are loved perfectly. Only with the peace of Christ in our hearts can we forgive. Satan will rob us of our peace if we allow him to convince us that we will have trouble experienceing the forgiveness that God has given us or that God is angry with our unforgiveness. We must know that God loves and has already forgiven us ESPECIALLY when we are unforgiving. Just let the fruit grow!

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