Seventy Times Seven

by Mike Ratliff

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

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 we 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.

23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 “When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 “But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 “Therefore, the slave fell to the ground and was prostrating himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 “And feeling compassion, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28 “But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 “So, his fellow slave fell to the ground and was pleading with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 “But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 “So, when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 “Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your hearts.” (Matthew 18:23–35 Legacy Standard Bible)

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.

I am certain that there are some who read that last paragraph who were struck with a pang of guilt. I know that to be true because it did that to me when I wrote it. Are you holding a grudge against a fellow believer? We have to let go of this and get right with God. 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. Perhaps its time we spend some time at the Throne of grace confessing our sins and making things right.

Soli Deo Gloria!

2 thoughts on “Seventy Times Seven

  1. Works of flesh are always close at hand. One reason we CAN NOT live alone is our need of one another to help us recognize when we are in the flesh and repent of that sin. Such does, indeed, rail against human ego and pride; and it the hallmark of Christian living.

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