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“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith — to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” Romans 16:25-27

Who brings us to faith in Jesus Christ that we might have pardon and forgiveness through faith in His name? Who establishes us in the true and saving faith that we might continue to trust in Christ and receive eternal salvation? It is not our doing but solely the working of God through the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. To God belongs all the glory. He sent His Son to redeem us; and His Holy Spirit, working through the Scriptures, creates and preserves us in the true faith unto life everlasting. To God be the glory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

In the beginning of his epistle to the believers in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote (Romans 1:16-17): “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’”

He closes his letter, saying that God is the one who establishes us in the faith according to his gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, a mystery kept secret since the world began but now revealed and made known to all the nations by the prophetic Scriptures, according to God’s command, that people might believe the Gospel and place their faith in Christ Jesus.

And, of course, God receives the glory, for He provided salvation in His Son and He brought us to trust in Christ and establishes and keeps us in the saving faith by the gracious working of God’s Spirit through the Gospel.

We as individuals and as a church can bring no one to trust in Christ or establish anyone in saving faith. That is God’s work, and He does it through the hearing of the Scriptures – through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 10:17; John 6:44,63).

The Gospel of Christ “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” In the Gospel, the imputed righteousness which is of faith is revealed to and received by those who have faith in Christ Jesus.

We praise and glorify Your name, O God, for our salvation in Jesus Christ. Establish and keep us in the true and saving faith unto life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22 (Read v. 21-35)

How often should we forgive a brother who sins against us? This is the question Peter asked of Jesus. Note Jesus’ answer: “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

Jesus did not mean only 490 times but all the time! Like our Lord, we are always to be “abundant in mercy” and “ready to forgive” (Psalm 86:5).

The parable of the unforgiving servant illustrates Jesus’ point to Peter.

A certain servant owed the king such a great amount that he would never be able to work off and repay his debt. When the king justly would have sold him and all that he had to recover at least a part of this debt, the servant pleaded for mercy. The king was moved to compassion and forgave the entire debt.

But then this servant went out and found a fellow servant who owed him only a small and insignificant amount in comparison with the huge debt which had been forgiven him. Rather than showing mercy to this servant as he had been shown mercy by his lord, he refused to forgive this small debt and “threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.”

When the king saw that his compassion and forgiveness had no effect on this unforgiving servant, he was angry and “delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.”

We, like the first servant in this parable, owe to God a greater debt than we can ever repay. Our sins against the Lord God are so great that we deserve only to be cast into the eternal fires of hell. All we can do is fall down before the Lord God and plead for Him to show us mercy!

And God did have mercy upon us! When we looked to Him in faith, He forgave our great debt of sin. Because Jesus Christ took our burden of sins upon Himself and bore on the cross the just punishment for them, God canceled out our debt of sin and has given to us complete pardon and forgiveness!

In our earthly lives, others sin against us many times; but this debt of sin, though it may seem great to us, is small and insignificant in comparison with the great debt of sin that the Lord God has forgiven to us. As a fruit of our faith in Christ Jesus, and as a result of God’s great mercy to us in Christ, we ought also forgive those who sin against us, even “up to seventy times seven.”

If we refuse to forgive, from our hearts, those who sin against us, neither will our heavenly Father forgive us; instead, He will cast us into the fires of hell! Cf. Matthew 6:12,14-15.

Forgive our sins, Lord, we implore, remove from us their burden sore, as we their trespasses forgive who by offenses us do grieve. Thus let us dwell in charity and serve our brother willingly. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Page 458, Verse 6)

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” Psalm 32:1-2

Have you ever considered what a blessing it is to have forgiveness of God? What a blessing to have the Lord not hold your sins and iniquities against you? To be forgiven of the Lord removes all fear of wrath and condemnation and gives us peace with God. To have forgiveness for all our sins gives us the assurance of life everlasting!

Indeed, the one who admits his sin and looks to the Lord for mercy rather than attempting to hide and cover up his sins is blessed because the Lord, for the sake of Jesus’ holy life and innocent sufferings and death, is merciful and gracious and offers to us forgiveness for all our sins (Cf. 1 John 1:5 – 2:2). The Bible tells us: “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You” (Psalm 86:5).

And what about you? Do you have God’s forgiveness, or are you attempting to hide and cover up your sins? Are you justified of God, or trying to justify yourself? Are you self-deceived and attempting to fool others in regard to your sinfulness, or do you admit your utter sinfulness and look to God for mercy and forgiveness?

David wrote in Psalm 32:4-5: “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer.”

What happens when we keep silent about our sins? When we are unwilling to admit our sinfulness and look to the LORD for forgiveness? When we are unwilling to give up our sins? God’s hand is heavy upon us. We grow old and weary through our groaning and sighing all day long as we feel the guilt and weight of our sins. Our moisture, our vitality, our joy, is turned into the drought of summer; it evaporates away.

He wrote (v. 5): “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

To confess our sins is to say and agree with what God says of us and our sin (cf. 1 John 1:9). Confession makes no excuses for sin, but acknowledges sin as sin and deserving of God’s eternal wrath and punishment (Psalm 51:3-4)!

When we acknowledge our sin unto the Lord and quit attempting to hide it and cover it up, when we confess our transgressions of God’s commandments unto the Lord, He graciously forgives our sins for Jesus’ sake. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7; cf. Psalm 51:1ff.).
David writes (v. 6): “For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely in a flood of great waters they shall not come near him.”

For God’s forgiveness, everyone that is godly will pray now, before it’s too late! “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Don’t put off repentance! Don’t wait another day. Acknowledge and confess your sins now and receive God’s forgiveness. Tomorrow may be too late for you. You may never have the opportunity to receive God’s forgiveness again. If you turn to the Lord God now, He will have mercy upon you and save you from the judgment to come!

O Lord God, I have sinned in my thoughts, desires, words and deeds. I have failed to live in accord with Your holy commandments. Have mercy upon me and forgive my sins for the sake of the perfect sacrifice of the Son, Jesus Christ, in my stead. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17; cf. Deuteronomy 5:21

This commandment of the LORD teaches us that God requires not only outward holiness, but inward holiness as well. Not only are our actions to be pure, but our thoughts and desires as well. Thus, we learn that we not only sin when we commit adultery or take our neighbor’s property or goods, we sin when we desire what belongs to our neighbor and is not rightfully ours.

Therefore, we are not to covet or desire our neighbor’s house, his wife, his servants or employees, his stock or any of his property. Rather, we are to trust in the LORD God and be satisfied in Him and in that which He has given us.

The Bible teaches us: “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).
We may not realize it, but our hearts, as they are by nature, are filled with evil thoughts and desires. When we entertain these thoughts and desires, they grow and often even lead to sinful words and actions. Cf. Matthew 15:19.

This is why God warns against the sin of covetousness, for it is contrary to God’s will and desire for us and leads to acts of disobedience and rebellion. The Bible is filled with examples. David lusted after Bathsheba and took her, even committing murder to cover up his sin of adultery. King Ahab coveted Naboth’s vineyard and committed murder to get it. Judas desired money and betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Rather than coveting, which leads to death, the LORD God would have us trust in Him and be satisfied with what He gives us. The Bible tells us: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6; cf. Psalm 37:3ff.).

From this commandment, we truly see that God commands and desires that we be holy as He is holy — in thoughts, desires, words and deeds (cf. Leviticus 19:2; Mathew 5:48). Though we have miserably failed to keep God’s holy commandments, Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, has fulfilled them for us by living a holy life in thought, word and deed. He also went to the cross and there bore the full punishment for our sins and the sins of the entire world that we might have God’s pardon and forgiveness, and life everlasting in heaven through faith in His name (cf. 1 John 1:5 – 2:2).

O dearest Jesus, forgive me for my evil thoughts and desires as well as for my sinful words and actions. Cleanse my heart and give me a genuine desire to live for You. I ask this for the sake of your holy and precious blood, shed for me upon the cross. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16 and Deuteronomy 5:20

First and foremost, this commandment requires witnesses in any court of law to be truthful in all that they say; and it forbids any false witness or testimony against another (cf. Exodus 23:1-3). The Bible plainly warns: “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who speaks lies will not escape” (Proverbs 19:5). Under Old Testament civil laws, false witnesses were to be punished with the same punishment that the one they falsely accused would have received if their witness were true (cf. Deuteronomy 19:15-21). Those who were not punished by man would come under the judgment of God Himself, who knows all!

Most people think little of speaking evil of others and spreading rumors and gossip about other people, but this commandment condemns this as well. Again, the Scriptures say: “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren….” (James 4:11); and, “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter” (Proverbs 11:13). When a brother commits a trespass, we are to first go to him privately in an effort to bring him to repentance (cf. Matthew 18:15ff.); we are not to go and tell everyone else what evil he has done.

The prophet Zechariah writes: “’Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ says the LORD” (Zechariah 8:16-17).

Rather than bearing false witness against our neighbor and speaking evil of him, we are to love him and defend him against false accusation and gossip. The Bible says: “Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). Peter writes: “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’” (1 Peter 4:8).

When we examine our own lives, thoughts and actions against this commandment of the LORD, we see again that we have fallen short and are in need of repentance and forgiveness. Messiah Jesus, God’s own dear Son in human flesh, has kept this commandment for us; and He suffered our punishment when He shed His blood for us upon the cross. Acknowledge your sins and failings and turn unto Him for forgiveness and life everlasting! Cf. 2 Cor. 7:9-10; Psalm 51:1ff.

Dear Lord Jesus, Son of God and Son of man, forgive me for speaking evil of others, spreading rumors and gossip, and failing to love my neighbor and defend him against the evil words of others. I ask this for the sake of Your innocent sufferings and death in my stead and because of Your glorious resurrection and ascension. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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