171001 Ephesians 4:32-5:2

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 October 2017 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Ephesians 4:32 - 5:2
Theme: Forgive Each Other!

In the sermon last weekend, I asked the question: "How do you know that you are forgiven?" And we heard once again the Good News that because of our Savior, Jesus Christ, you and I are able to take our loving Father in heaven at his word when he says, "I forgive you!" Rejoicing in our own forgiveness, today you and I hear the encouragement to FORGIVE EACH OTHER! I invite you to listen as I read once again a portion of the Second Lesson that was read earlier. From Paul's inspired letter to the Ephesians, in the final verse of chapter 4 and the first two verses of chapter 5, we read this:


Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Before we talk about forgiving each other, it is important for you and me to remember the Good News that the Apostle Paul shares in these verses; the Good News that "Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." In the Old Testament, the children of Israel were reminded in very vivid ways, day after day, of the sacrifice a holy and just God demanded for sins. As the smell of burning animal flesh filled the air, and gallon after gallon of blood of the sacrificed animals was poured out on the altar, the people were constantly reminded of the price the holy and just God demanded for sin.

The great message of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ willingly offered himself as THE sacrifice for the sins of all people. Jesus, your Savior and mine, is "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" The Gospel proclaims to you and me that through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, the almighty God in heaven will not carry out on you and me the punishment our sins deserve. Rather, our merciful Father in heaven graciously forgives you and me for Jesus' sake.

What is our response to this great, forgiving love that you and I have been shown by our Savior-God? In the portion of God's Word before, Paul writes "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." It is in the Fifth Petition of The Lord's Prayer that you and I pray: "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sins against us." In his Small Catechism, Dr. Martin Luther explains the Fifth Petition in this way: "We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look upon our sins or because of them deny our prayers; for we are worthy of none of the things for which we ask, neither have we deserved them, but we ask that he would give them all to us by grace; for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. So we too will forgive from the heart and gladly do good to those who sin against us." And in his Large Catechism, Dr. Martin Luther expands on this final thought when he writes: "For just as we daily sin much against God, and yet He forgives everything through grace, so we, too, must ever forgive our neighbor who does us injury, violence, and wrong, shows hatred toward us, etc."
But, how easy is it for you and me to do what God encourages us to do this morning? How willing are you and I to forgive someone who has sinned against us in some way? It is important not to misunderstand God's Word at this point. Forgiving someone of their sin is not to be confused with tolerating their sinful lifestyle. We live in a day and age when proclaiming God's Law, and showing others their sins, is not a popular thing to do. But we do well to remember that we are not out to win a popularity contest.

The main goal of us as individual Christians, the main goal of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church of Oconomowoc is not to be the most "politically correct" or the most "popular." Rather, our most important goal is to proclaim and to share with ourselves first and then with others, all of God's Word – both his Law and Gospel. After the Law of God leads you and me to true sadness and repentance for our sins, after the Gospel of our Lord assures you and me of our complete forgiveness through our Savior, Jesus Christ, now you and I are ready to share that same Word of Law and Gospel with others.

The Law clearly teaches that human beings conceived and born in sin are guilty of sin upon sin every day and deserve only punishment and eternal death for those sins. But, after God's Law shows someone their sin, and leads them to true sadness for their sins and they repent of them, it is our privilege, it is our responsibility, to share with that person the beautiful Gospel message. You and I are will speak the Gospel message that tells them that Jesus Christ lived a perfect life in their place; that he died on the cross for them; and, that he shed his blood for them. You and I will comfort them with the Gospel message that assures them that through Jesus Christ alone all of their sins are forgiven and that because he lives they too will live with him forever in heaven.

During the past two weeks, we have had the opportunity to talk about forgiveness. What a tremendous blessing it is to hear our loving Father in heaven say, "I forgive you!" It is in response to the forgiving grace of our Savior-God that you and I will, "be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Amen.

 

 

Our Mission Statement:

Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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Sunday
8:00 A.M. & 10:30 A.M.

9:15 A.M. Bible Study for All Ages

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St. Matthew's Lutheran Church
818 West Wisconsin Avenue
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
262-912-6060

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