Our next section of the Sermon on the Mount deals with the very important subject of forgiveness. The subject of forgiveness includes a Godward, vertical aspect as well as a  human, horizontal aspect. In the Godward sense, we read that it is “in (Jesus Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). The New Testament is crystal clear about the doctrine of the forgiveness of sin being by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (1 Peter 1:18-19; Hebrews 9:12-15, 10:4-12; 1 John 2:2, 4:10).

As the Psalmist wrote: “…with the LORD there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous     redemption.” (Psalm 130:7) At the Passover dinner on the eve of His betrayal, Jesus reveals that He is the New Passover Lamb (John 1:29b; 1 Corinthians 5:7b), and that it is His blood “…which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28) The choir of the redeemed in heaven are singing at this very moment: “…Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9). The message of forgiveness is important to know! “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His Name’s sake.” (1 John 2:12)

Having been forgiven such a great debt, Jesus teaches us to be forgiving people (Matthew 6:12,14,15). To explain the importance of our need to forgive others, Jesus gives us an entire parable about the importance of forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35; cp. Luke 17:3,4). Paul wrote to the body of believers at Ephesus that it was God’s will for them to be “kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32) Thus, the message of the cross is vital to practical, daily Christian living because being freed from the debt of sin does not mean that we are now sinless. Our flesh is as corrupt and wicked as ever, so we find ourselves offending one another and needing to forgive one another (Colossians 3:13). Matthew 5:23-24 tells us to get our hearts right with one another before we bring our sacrifices to The Lord.

Reader, do you have an “axe to grind” with another person? Do you have a proverbial hatchet buried in your heart and mind towards someone? Are you living with bitterness and resentment and anger in your heart? Read again Matthew 18:21-35, and obey from your heart what The Master says. Let the truth of God set you free.