Seventy Times Seven

by Mike Ratliff

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22 ESV)

Pride is poison to the Christian. Oh, our flesh loves it, but it is unredeemed and has nothing to do with God. On the other hand, all truly in Christ are New Creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) and that part of them that is redeemed is of God not of the flesh and this lost and dying world. However, all of us would be liars if we said that have not found ourselves in situations in which we were completely controlled by our flesh and pride. In those situations, we react fleshly just like the world. We lie, cheat, steal, and refuse to forgive when wronged. Then we become bitter and the cycle just spirals downward. All of this happens because we are walking in the flesh with our pride in control instead of in the Spirit, humbly before our God. It is impossible to forgive from the heart without first humbling ourselves and that takes a work of submission to the Spirit of God. 

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. Do you believe Jesus knew what He was talking about? Do You believe He meant what He said? Then why don’t we do it? I believe that most Christians walk in the flesh and are, therefore, not humble because they do not fully comprehend the magnitude of the forgiveness of God without which they would be on their way to Hell. Here is the parable our Lord told to explain His statement to Peter in v-22.

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:23-35 ESV)

The first servant owed an amount to his master that has been estimated in modern terms to be around $6 Billion while the second servant owed the first servant the equivalent of around $12,000. The owner of both servants forgave the first the debt, but that servant refused to forgive the debt of the second. My brethren, the owner in this parable is God. The first servant is us. The debt owed is our sin debt, which is impossible for us to pay, but God is merciful and through the Gospel and the sacrifice of His Son and His atoning death on the Cross and the gift of faith to us, we believe and so are forgiven and are given eternal life. Our debt is forgiven. The second servant is a fellow believer and the debt owed is merely something said or something left undone, et cetera, but we in our arrogance refuse to forgive them. What does the master do when he finds out? He turns the first servant over to torturers, not executioners. This pictures severe discipline, not final condemnation. The original debt was unpayable, and the man is still without resources. What will happen to him is that what he now owes his master is to be exacted in chastening by Him until he is willing to forgive others.

Remember my brethren, it is impossible to be forgiving unless one is first humble yet it is very easy to be unforgiving because all that takes is to be full of pride, which is natural for all of us.

Soli Deo Gloria!

10 thoughts on “Seventy Times Seven

  1. Your so very welcome Mike, God bless you for all the hard work you do. I find great information and encouragement from your articles. They have really hit home lately!

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  2. Dear Mike,

    Thankfully God keeps gently showing me the deception in my own heart. I know He loves me because He cares enough to reprove me in my error. He reminds me how much He has forgiven and continues to forgive me till either He returns or I go to heaven. What a gracious and caring Father to so lovingly tend to His child. May I be as gracious and tender and caring to those who have wronged me.
    In the undeserved, everlasting, kindness of Christ Jesus,
    charisse

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  3. Charisse, yes, the battle between our new nature and the flesh is what God uses to mature us, but it can be a monumental struggle for us at times. There is no peace in having everything your own way, which is what our flesh demands. Also, when we are wronged, our flesh demands retribution, et cetera and if that is lacking then bitterness sets in. That is all wrapped around our flesh which is fueled by our pride. Bitterness is awful. Christians who are consumed with bitterness become spiteful and mean and completely lacking in graciousness. While God is all about developing His nature in us (Romans 12), our flesh is demanding that we hang onto self-control and self-gratification while never humbling ourselves for any reason. Christians who refuse to humble themselves become spiritually blind no matter how learned they are. They won’t forgive or seek forgiveness. They refuse to listen to wise counsel. It is tough ministering to them I assure you. These are the ones who are also the first to point the finger of accusation…

    Stay humble my sister.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  4. Once again a fine example of our Lord raising the bar, rather than lowering it as man would. It’s a high standard to forgive continuously, but what a joy to be able to remember that for which we are forgiven, and what he did to purchase it.
    Thanks for the post.

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