by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Psalms 44
I. It is surprising the odd ideas people have about forgiveness
A. Forgiveness is the dismissal of any debt or obligation to me
1. I cannot forgive someone’s sin.
a. This is only something God can do, because our sins incur a penalty, which God – not you or I – will enforce.
b. God has told us how to gain his forgiveness and mercifully they are not hard.
2. I cannot forgive the wrongs someone has done to someone else.
a. No obligation, not debt, no penalty has been incurred against me.
B. Forgiveness will not remove the consequences of those sins.
1. When God forgives us, we will no long face the certainty of eternal punishment in Hell.
a. When God forgives, the debt and the penalty are removed as if the sin never happened.
2. However, the consequences remain.
a. If we murdered, people don’t come back from the dead
b. If we stole, we still face prison.
c. If we lied, our words cannot be obliterated.
3. Sins have consequences and we cannot roll back time and undo them.
C. Forgiveness will not remove our memories of what we have done and our shame for doing those things.
II. Shame? Perhaps you are wondering what I am talking about
A. When we break God’s law, there should be a sense of embarrassment that we weakened and fell to Satan’s trap
1. Adam and Eve hid after sinning - Genesis 3:10
2. David - Psalms 51:3
B. Forgiveness does not erase the memory of the wrongs we have done. Though forgiven Paul had this to say of himself
1. Acts 26:9-11 - What he did
2. I Corinthians 15:9 - Embarrassed at his current position
3. Galatians 1:13 - Others knew about his past
4. Philippians 3:6 - He readily acknowledged his past
5. I Timothy 1:15 - He saw himself as the foremost of sinners
C. Perhaps you think Paul is a man who could not forgive himself.
1. Paul did not harm himself, he fought the Lord, Jesus Christ.
2. The forgiveness he received from the Lord was greater than Paul thought he deserved.
D. God often uses shame as a wake-up call - Psalms 44:13-15
E. God wants us to have the right attitude towards sin - Psalms 51:17
1. That is why Christian women are to dress with a sense of shame (modest, decency, propriety) - I Timothy 2:9
2. That same word, “shamefastness” is used in Hebrews 12:28, translated as reverence.
a. Our service to God is colored with our sense of shame for our weakness and our glorification of the God who will overlook them.
F. There is not only a sense of shame for our own sins, but also for the sins of others
1. Ezra was ashamed of his nation’s behavior - Ezra 9:5-10
2. Joseph thought that Mary had sinned, so out of his love for her, he planned to hide her shame - Matthew 1:19-20
3. Ham, instead of being ashamed of his father’s sin, tried to make a spectacle of him - Genesis 9:20-27
III. Perhaps the reason sins spread so far is that people lose their sense of shame.
A. Jeremiah 3:2-3 - The people refused to be ashamed of their sins
B. Jeremiah 6:15 - They had forgotten how to blush. Their own sins and those of others no longer embarrassed them.
C. Hosea 4:18 - Their own rulers preferred shame over acting honorably
IV. Sins ought to bother us
A. We don’t want to become so calloused to sin that we don’t notice it - I Timothy 4:2
B. Zephaniah 3:5 - The wicked are unaware of the shame of sin.
C. When a brother sins, whether against us, someone else, or only against God and he has received forgiveness, we should understand the shame and help them.
1. Psalms 32:1 - To love is to forgive and hid sin. We are not protecting the sinner in his sins, but the repentant sinner from the shame of his sin.
2. We do not make a mockery of a brother’s weakness. We do not put a brother up for public ridicule.
3. James 5:20 - Love covers a multitude of sins.
D. It is a part of being sympathetic with our brethren - Romans 12:15-16
E. Brethren, in your eagerness to show that a brother is forgiven and welcomed backed, do not forget the embarrassment of sin. Don’t make a public display of something that is better handled quietly.
1. Matthew 18:15-17 - Use the minimum number of people necessary to restore a sinner
2. Example, a young woman did what was shameful to do. She committed fornication and found herself pregnant. Mercifully, she came to her senses and returned to our Savior.
a. Some want to hold a baby shower for the young woman, where everyone she knew, Christian and non-Christian were invited.
b. Some said no. The woman should have been feeling enough shame without our trying to prove to the world that she is accepted.
c. Help, care, and comfort should be given, but in a way that will not cause further shame.
V. Perhaps, today there is someone here who is burdened with the shame of sin. God has offered freedom. His plan is simple. Won’t you take advantage of the opportunity?