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cant-forgive_zps6cfdc304WE WANT TO GO OVER IN OUR MINDS



































“But this hurts too much, she does not deserve to be forgiven.”







Hugo writes in Les Miserables:

Valjean felt his hardness of heart would be complete, if he resisted this kindness,

that if he yielded, he must renounce that hatred with which the acts of other men had so many years filled his soul, and in which he found satisfaction.

The first secret then, is to admit, we find satisfaction in not forgiving,

in stepping into God’s place and trying to make our

perpetrators feel the pain they have inflicted on us.

Bonhoeffer says forgiveness always demands a Christ,

so that feels threatening.

Likewise, in Union with Christ, Rankin Wilbourne says that

forgiving deep hurts feels radically threatening,

but it leads to radical freedom.



1. What stands out to you from the above and why?


how-to-draw-caricaturesTim Keller says that when we fondle our hurts, we begin to paint a caricature of our perpetrator, amplifying his most un-attractive features in our mind. Even kind caricatures are always unflattering, untrue, and unfair. If his teeth are a little bigger than normal, the artist makes them HUGE — a slightly bigger nose becomes ENORMOUS. My dad used to say to me, “No one wants to be characterized by his weakest moment.” But that’s what we do when we sit and amplify someone’s faults in our mind, turning them into a caricature.

2. Ask God’s Spirit to show you — is there someone in your life you do not want to forgive? Have you been fondling the hurts they inflicted upon you? If you are willing, share. But at least, if this is so, confess your darkness to God and ask for help. That’s the first step.



Is it really true that if we do not forgive we will not be forgiven?

3. Read Matthew 18:21-35

    A. Seven is the number of perfection, the number attributed to God. What light does that throw on verses 21-22?

    B. Describe what happens in this parable.

    C. What was the irony and what defect does this show in the unforgiving servant’s heart?

    D. How would you summarize the main point of this parable?

    E. See verse 35. What is the difference between forgiving from your head and forgiving from your heart? What would it look like?

 unmerciful servant1unmerciful servant24. What does Jesus say in Matthew 6:14-15?

The above is frightening — and we must ask, “So if I harbor unforgiveness in my heart — does this mean I will not be forgiven? Read the following one page answer from John Piper and summarize it in a sentence.

If I Fail to Forgive Others Will God Not Forgive Me?

5. What is your summary?


6. What is your take-a-way and why?


This is our last week on Union with Christ themes, for we begin the wonderful LENTEN season next week and I will post every week. (I am more excited about this Lent’s study than any in the past!) But how fitting that God has led us to two weeks on forgiveness before Lent begins. Forgiveness does not mean you cannot lament to God or to set boundaries with one who regularly inflicts pain, as long as you forgive from your heart. But what I want to focus on this week is the JOY that forgiving from our heart brings, for truly, it sets us free!


Last week we read how John Piper said that it is never true that our works lead to salvation — which would be a distortion of Jesus’ words on the Sermon on the Mount. It isn’t that by forgiving we attain forgiveness, or that by being merciful we attain mercy, but rather, if the life of Jesus is truly in us, the fruit of forgiveness and mercy will bloom — not perfectly, but regularly, season after season.


Twila laughingMy friend Twila has memorized so many books of the Bible, she is influencing me for good. I certainly see how as she abides in His Word, the fruit of joy, love, gentleness, etc. is in her. So, since 1 John is one of my favorite books, I’m tackling it. Though I have written two studyguides and a book based on 1 John, I am seeing so much more through memorizing it. I have always loved how John shows that as we walk in the light, His light grows in us, as we walk in love, His love grows in us. I am taking you back there this week, for as I have seen more, I want to share it with you.

1 John is tricky to memorize, for he repeats and repeats, but each time with just a little different phrasing, so I get mixed up. I have to go over and over it until it is in my DNA.  But it is amazing how I am seeing things I did not see in this book I thought I knew so well. John repeats to drum it in, but there is MORE. There is a hidden truth in each variation. I want to show you a little of that, for I think it will encourage you to do the hard work of forgiving, to want to repent of fondling wrongs, so that


1 John 1-7


7. What stands out to you from the above and why?



Prepare your heart with this:


Twila memorizes in paragraphs, and I see why. When you keep it in context you see more. The other day at pickleball, my friend Joseph told me that he thought he had sinned in some way but he couldn’t figure out what it was, even though he had asked God. I told him that in memorizing 1 John 1:5-9 I saw that God forgives the sins we cannot pinpoint if we are endeavoring to walk in the light. See if you can see it.

8. Meditate on 1 John 1:5-9

    A. What is the message John is declaring about God in verse 5, and what is the corollary in verse 6?

    B. What is the promise of verse 7, and how could this apply to Joseph’s dilemma above?

    C. What is the statement of verse 8 and what is the remedy of verse 9?

    D. Challenge question: Though there seems to be repetition between verses 6 and 7 and verses 8 and 9, there is a difference. Find it.

9. Meditate on 1 John 2:1-6

    A. How can we know we know Him according to verse 3?

    B. What promise is given in verse 5 — and what does it mean?

    C. How would you say this applies to forgiving others from your heart?

10 Meditate on 1 John 2:7-11.

A. John seems to speak in riddles. The old commandment is to love one another, and yet now it is also new. Why? (vs. 8)

B. How does the True Light show you how to forgive?



11. Share your notes and comments.


12. What is your take-a-way and why?

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  1. 8. Meditate on 1 John 1:5-9
        A. What is the message John is declaring about God in verse 5, and what is the corollary in verse 6?
    God is light (good, true, pure, holy) and there is no darkness (sinfulness or evil) in Him.   So if we say we are in fellowship with Him and yet we are walking in darkness, then we must be lying to ourselves.   Just as darkness does not exist in light, so sinfulness does not exist in God’s presence.  We need to put away our sinful ways if we want a relationship with God.  
        B. What is the promise of verse 7, and how could this apply to Joseph’s dilemma above?
    The blood of Jesus purifies us from ALL sin — both the sin we are aware of and need to repent from, but also (as in Joseph’s case) the sin we don’t even recognize. 
        C. What is the statement of verse 8 and what is the remedy of verse 9?
    If we are so foolish as to think we are without sin, then we are just kidding ourselves.  The remedy is to recognize our sin for what it is — IT IS SIN — and then to confess and repent of it.
        D. Challenge question: Though there seems to be repetition between verses 6 and 7 and verses 8 and 9, there is a difference. Find it.
    I think that 8 and 9 go a step beyond 5 and 6.  Vss. 5 and 6 could be what we are doing before others in the world — we claim to have fellowship with God (before others), but we are still living in ways that are clearly not God’s ways.   However, verses 8 and 9 indicate that we can even fool ourselves into thinking that we are without sin, in which case we are lying to ourselves (and trying to lie to God as well).    I want to go on to verse 10, which indicates that we make Jesus out to be a liar as well, because if it were true that  we have not sinned, then why was it necessary for Him to die for us?    

  2. 7.   What stood out and why?     
    if the life of Jesus is truly in us, the fruit of forgiveness and mercy will bloom — not perfectly, but regularly, season after season.
    I have a dear friend who is wrestling out some extremely deep hurt.   A season of loss has brought this hurt out in the open.  Through many tears and much pain, she is searching for a way to communicate forgiveness to her offender.  Her place of wrestling and determination to forgive are holy ground and I am encouraged, honored and inspired to witness it.     And so we need to walk this out with each other.    Thank you, Dee, for providing a catalyst to do this. 

    1. Nila,  I am glad that you are encouraged , honored and inspired to witness your friend’s wrestling out some extremely deep hurt.
      Forgiveness of deep hurt is a wrestling and I am glad to search these scriptures together. Yes, we need to walk this out with each other.

  3.     C. What is the statement of verse 8 and what is the remedy of verse 9? 
    We can say we have no sin; we are blameless. However if we do this we are lying! Instead, we need to confess our sin and He will forgive us completely. He cleanses us from all unrighteousness!
        D. Challenge question: Though there seems to be repetition between verses 6 and 7 and verses 8 and 9, there is a difference. Find it.
     Is it because in verses six and seven we are with others and then in verses eight and nine we are more alone?  Or, in verses six and seven our sin is exposed to others. Whereas in verses eight and nine it is covered sin that only God would know. 

  4. 9.A. How can we know we know Him, v.3?
    If we are obedient to Him, following His commands, abiding in His will.
    B. The promise in v. 5? meaning?
    I’m not seeing this as a promise…might I be missing something? V. 5 tells me that my obedience to God is evidence of my love for Him and proof of from whose will I am living.  If I take this back to Chapter 1, it tells me that if I am living in God’s truth, in His light, steering clear of sin, I will be among those who the blood of Jesus saves, Jesus will redeem me.
    C. How does this apply to forgiveness from the heart?
    Wow!!!…anything less is a lie. If we say we forgive, but it is not from the heart, we delude ourselves; it is only superficial, pretentious forgiveness.

  5. 8. Meditate on 1 John 1:5-9
    A. What is the message John is declaring about God in verse 5, and what is the corollary in verse 6?
    That God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all (v5).
    (If therefore God is light)….and we claim to have fellowship with God, yet walk in darkness, we lie and are not living by the truth.
    B. What is the promise of verse 7, and how could this apply to Joseph’s dilemma above?
    If we walk in the light (as He is in the light), then our fellowship is not broken, and the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin. I believe that Joseph is walking in the light because his conscience is tender, and he wants to be assured that his relationship with God is right. So he is receiving a continuous cleansing from sin.
    C. What is the statement of verse 8 and what is the remedy of verse 9?
    V. 8 says that if we claim to be without sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. The remedy in v. 9 is to confess our sins, and then God will be always faithful to forgive us and to purify us from all unrighteousness.
    D. Challenge question: Though there seems to be repetition between verses 6 and 7 and verses 8 and 9, there is a difference. Find it.
    I am looking at verses 6 and 8 together….looking closely there seems to be two different ‘topics’. Verse 6 the issue is fellowship and verse 8 the issue is sin. We claim to have fellowship. We claim to be without sin. In verse 6, it says “we lie”, and in verse 8 it says, “we deceive ourselves”. I read Deanna’s post above and I think she really picked up on this in her answer, which is helpful to me. She points out the difference of what we do before others, and lying to ourselves, or even being fooled, or deceived, into thinking we are without sin….self-deception. I think of this example: I go to church every Sunday and pretend I’m living the Christian life but in secret, I am stealing from my employer. I am lying to others, pretending to have real fellowship with God and with fellow believers. The truth is I am walking in darkness and my fellowship, so-called, is a farce.
    V. 7 says that if we walk in the light, we have fellowship….v 9 says if we confess sin, God forgives us. Here are the remedies to our problems. So the one main difference I see is deception in our relationships with others, and self-deception. The other “difference”, yet they seem to be so intertwined, is walking in the light and being continually cleansed from sin, and the specific point of confessing our sin and being forgiven (which would bring us back into walking in step with God, in the light!). Different, but inseparable? I think I am over-thinking this!

    1. Susan, no you are not over thinking it.  I think your answer to D. is right on. Your examples really help in understanding. 

  6. 8. Meditate on 1 John 1:5-9
        A. What is the message John is declaring about God in verse 5, and what is the corollary in verse 6?
    God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. We can’t truly be having fellowship with Him if we are walking in darkness.
        B. What is the promise of verse 7, and how could this apply to Joseph’s dilemma above?
    If he truly is desiring to walk in the light which it sounds like he is, then Jesus will forgive even his hidden sins. 
        C. What is the statement of verse 8 and what is the remedy of verse 9?
    If we say we have no sin the truth isn’t in us. The remedy is to humble ourselves, confess our sin and turn for he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin. 
        D. Challenge question: Though there seems to be repetition between verses 6 and 7 and verses 8 and 9, there is a difference. Find it.
    in verses 6 and 7 One who says they are His and they are in fellowship with Him yet live their life completely the opposite-they live their life out immorally bringing into doubt if they are truly His. Verses 8 and 9 are those who sin and ignore it-they justify it so there is no repentance. Either they are in the wilderness or they aren’t  truly His.  Daily we sin and our lives should be of daily repentance and turning. I think the bottom line is that if we are truly His He is faithful to give us those red flags and we should be willing to come and die to ourselves. 

  7. 9.  A.  How can we know Him?  by obeying His commands.  It isn’t ‘if I obey, then I will know Him’, but rather that I will know that I know Him if I want to keep His commands out of love for Him.  If I am striving in that direction, it is proof that I am in Him.
    B.  The promise in 5, God’s love is made complete in those who obey His Word.  I think it means that when we come to Him in repentance and He forgives us, we then seek to obey Him out of gratitude, love, and a revulsion of what causes Him suffering (our sins).  That cycle leads to God’s love flourishing in us, confirming to us that we belong to Him.
    C.  Tie in to forgiveness.  When we refuse to forgive others, we short circuit the cycle at the very beginning.  We aren’t repentant, then we don’t get His forgiveness, we don’t want to obey Him, His love withers within us, and we lose the confirmation of belonging to Him.
    10.  A.  Is it an old commandment or new?  Why?  I think it is both.  It is as old as the Bible, with all the law and prophets hanging on it, as the New Testament says of the Old.  It is new, because until Jesus we had never been given the example – forgive as I have forgiven you – or the power of His resurrection to help us.

  8. 9. Meditate on 1 John 2:1-6
        A. How can we know we know Him according to verse 3?
    The telling sign is that we obey His commands.  
        B. What promise is given in verse 5 — and what does it mean?
    Love of God is complete in the person who obeys His word.  Love of God is the motivation for the obeying of His word.  It is because that love and gratitude is so strong in us that we automatically want to live according to His Word/commands.  He commands us to love one another.    True Christian faith results in loving behavior.  

        C. How would you say this applies to forgiving others from your heart?
    It would follow that we are so grateful for the forgiveness which we have received from God, which included Jesus dying for our sins, that we are motivated to forgive others.  Surely we have been forgiven much more than any offense made toward us by another mortal.   

  9. 9. Meditate on 1 John 2:1-6
    A. How can we know we know Him according to verse 3?
    We know we have come to know Him if we obey His commands.
    B. What promise is given in verse 5 – and what does it mean?
    God’s love is truly made complete in the person who obeys His Word. I am thinking about some metaphors that Jesus used in describing the Holy Spirit within us – streams of living water, a fountain welling-up, overflowing, and Paul’s words about how God has poured His love into us through His Spirit. But I can quench the Spirit by not listening to Him, by hardening my heart, by not confessing known sin. It erects a dam in the stream, it plugs-up the fountain. His love being made complete, then, is when the Spirit is free to move and live and love through me….I am engulfed in His love that has been poured into me and it is flowing out to others.
    C. How would you say this applies to forgiving others from your heart?
    Going back to that Edwards’ quote from last week….I just can’t get the image out of my mind of the soul contracted by sin….His love sets me free, truly. If I am immersed in and convinced of His love for me, then I have to believe that even if someone wrongs me, He allowed it….but not to “smack” me through somebody else, though I know that often, constructive criticism and even unkind criticism can have a kernel of truth in it that I need to hear. If I am convinced of His love, I know that His heart towards me is always love; He does not want to hurt me. I can rest in that, and forgive. And, if I don’t want to forgive, then my soul goes down into smallness, and is chained. It hurts me and it hurts God because He loves me.

  10. 10.A. Why is the command to love new in v.8?
    Because Jesus has shown the ultimate in unselfish love and His Holy Spirit lives in us; He enables us to love unselfishly.

      1. In looking further, obedience to the Lord’s will has always been the expectation, but people on their own failed/fail…in Jesus we have perfection of obedience to God’s will that is our “righteous covering,” yet also serves as an example for us to follow/emulate.  The new command brings Jesus into the picture, and our victory over sin through Him.

  11. 9. Meditate on 1 John 2:1-6
        A. How can we know we know Him according to verse 3?
    If we obey Him, and I think a huge sign is if we are willing to obey Him in letting him tear off our scales. If we are willing to repent, turn and walk in faith for only the Spirit can humble us like this. 
        B. What promise is given in verse 5 — and what does it mean?
    Whoever keeps His word in Him the Love of God is perfected-we will walk as He walked..Oh..and I could be mistaken but I just saw this. I think this might mean memorizing and meditating on His Word..This goes to Psalm 1 “..but His delight is in the law of the Lord and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields it’s fruit in it’s season.”  and “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.”- Jeremiah 15:16
        C. How would you say this applies to forgiving others from your heart?
    When I let Him fill me up with His Word delighting in Him-His Love, empathy, compassion fills me-He ripens His fruit inside and it overflows from me onto others-I’m not the focus in my encounter with them-they are. He is the focus-not me..and I more and more walk as He walked in truly not just mentally forgiving but loving and forgiving-meaning a full release of forgiveness, and kindness shed on top of it. Like the woman caught in adultery-Jesus could have thrown a stone-he had every right to for He is Holy, but He didn’t. He forgave her AND told her to sin no more. And telling her to sin no more is part of bathing her in His passionate Love. 

  12. 9. Meditate on 1 John 2:1-6 
        A. How can we know we know Him according to verse 3? 
    When we keep His commandments.
        B. What promise is given in verse 5 — and what does it mean? 
    The love of God is perfected….we show others His love and that is what He wants; it’s why we are here on earth.
        C. How would you say this applies to forgiving others from your heart?
    He forgives us completely for our sins. When we forgive from the heart then we are perfecting His love of us and imparting it to others.

  13. 10 Meditate on 1 John 2:7-11.
    A. John seems to speak in riddles. The old commandment is to love one another, and yet now it is also new. Why? (vs. 8)
    John’s readers were probably already familiar with Leviticus 19:18, which reads “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love  your neighbor as yourself.  I am the Lord.”    But John also said he was writing a new command and its truth is seen in him (Jesus) and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.  

    B. How does the True Light show you how to forgive?
    The True Light is Jesus, and he demonstrated and taught how we are to love and forgive one another.  Jesus took the old command and enhanced it or fulfilled it.   He went around healing people, telling them their sins were forgiven.   He was open to all people, even the Samaritans and tax collectors.  He showed love and concern for the woman at the well, the woman taken in adultery, as well as lepers who forgot to say thank you.   Jesus was forgiving even on the cross:  “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”   Also to the thief on the cross:   “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
    If we walk with Him in the Light, our growing relationship with God will result in growing relationships with others.   

  14. 10.  B.  How does the True Light show how to forgive?  His example shows that it is costly to forgive.  It cost Jesus His life blood and His connection to the Father, so that He died in agony, alone.  Every time I want someone to suffer, I need to remember that Jesus already did.  And to trust God with that person.  Not, as someone already said, so that God will ‘get them’, but that His kindness would lead them to repentance.  It worked for us.
    11.  Somehow I was able to listen to both the one Dee posted for us on Forgiveness, but also one on the Prayer of Confession.  They really went hand in hand.  Keller said we tend to either regard our sin with self pity or with self flagellation.  Either way, we aren’t really repenting.  We lament the consequences or try to cover ourselves.  When we start to see that it was MY sin that put Him on the cross, then we start to hate the sin for itself and not just the consequences of it.  Understand your sin until your heart melts.  You will still have to work at forgiving, but it helps.  An unforgiving heart is an unforgiven heart.  

  15. 10. Meditate on 1 John 2:7-11.
    A. John seems to speak in riddles. The old commandment is to love one another, and yet now it is also new. Why? *vs.8)
    John’s riddle is confusing to me….The ‘old commandment’ has been around since OT times, yet now, it is “new”. John says, “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one….yet I am writing you a new command.” Is the difference between the old and the new that in the old, we were unable to keep the law, but in Jesus we see the command kept perfectly (new), and John says that “its truth is seen in Him and you”….does that mean that with the Spirit living inside of us we have the command, so to speak, carried within us now, not outside of us? (Drawing here from the book Union With Christ….God is not outside of us but within us)
    B. How does the True Light show you how to forgive?
    Jesus is the True Light and HE left me an example of how to live, of how to forgive. There isn’t any offense against me as great as how God has been offended, or of how Jesus, His Son, was mistreated and killed. Yet Jesus will forgive anyone who comes to Him and asks sincerely, so what right do I have to refuse to forgive.

  16. 10 Meditate on 1 John 2:7-11.
    A. John seems to speak in riddles. The old commandment is to love one another, and yet now it is also new. Why? (vs. 8)
    It is new because the “…darkness is passing away and the true light is shining.” Jesus has come to save the world!
    B. How does the True Light show you how to forgive? 
    The True Light has shown forgiveness repeatedly in the parables. I think of the  Woman at the well.

  17. Sermon by Dr. Timothy Keller based on Ephesians 4.    I am going to have to post this in two pieces, because it is so long.    Please forgive!   
    The purpose of this passage is to show how we can put off the old self and put on the new. This is the over-arching principle.   The little things like “don’t steal, etc. are specific examples of how and where to put on the new self.   This principle of put off and put on is mirrored in the specific injunctions:  
    Put off falsehood – Speak the truth
    Put off stealing  – Put on labor and generosity.
    Put off speaking destructively – put on speaking constructively
    Put off anger and bitterness – put on forgiveness.  
    Basically most of the things we are told here, we are told to do in other religions as well.   There is a difference:   Christianity is not interested in moral behavior simply as moral behavior.  It doesn’t just say “Put off falsehood and put on truth” because that’s right.   Paul says stop lying because of who you are.  Paul says “Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God with which you were sealed for the Day of Redemption.  You are not going to get that in any other religious systems.   Paul says “Be kind, compassionate, forgiving as in Christ God forgave you.   
    Keller says when he was in seminary and was struggling with sins, he tried to just say “Stop it!”But that doesn’t seem to work.   He read a book by John Owen called Mortification of Sin..  It was written by a puritan in approximately 1670s.   It is on how to put sin to death in your life. He didn’t sit down and say “Here’s how you kill sin – you just say to yourself”How terrible to do such a thing….”   Instead you have to look at Jesus Christ on the cross, and you have to say “how do I repay someone who has done this for me.”     You have to consider who you are now that the Holy Spirit has come in to live in your heart.  Of course, you have to put forth effort and discipline yourself.  Keller says he would not say there is never a place for a Christian to say “No.”   You have to melt yourself with an understanding of who He is and what He has done for you.
    Paul actually says “Be angry and do not sin.”   Suppression or denial of anger must be wrong.   A lot of people think there are only two approaches to anger.  (1) You can ventilate it or (2) you can control it.   That isn’t at all what the Bible says.  In Hebrews, it says, “Beware lest the root of bitterness remain and springing up defile many.”   A lot of Christians, because they are taught that they cannot be angry, will call anger anything else but anger.   They says, “I’m depressed.” 
    Sometimes anger is required.   Sometimes if you are not angry, you are wrong.  There really aren’t any bad emotions, just emotions gone bad.   Anger can be indignation and a zeal to see justice done.  In Mark 5, Jesus gets angry.   When Jesus is about to heal the man with the shriveled hand, the Pharisees around Him start to watch because they can’t wait to see if He violates any of the Sabbath rules.  If so, then they’ve got Him.      Jesus gets angry.   If you see somebody being oppressed or abused, if you see justice being trampled on, and you don’t get angry, you are not like God.  
    Martin Luther King has a series of what he calls his principles of non-violence.   MLK says non-violence is aggression toward problems not people.    Jesus sees the Sabbath law which is a wonderful law – so we would rest and be refreshed one day a week.  Jesus is very angry seeing a law made for us being twisted into an instrument for self-righteousness and an instrument of torture for people.  So he released his anger against the error and against the disease.  And He heals the man in anger.     
    Paul says be angry but do not sin.  There are three types of sinful anger: bitterness, blowing up, and clamming up.  
    (1) One of the kinds of sinful anger is bitterness.   You may be righteous in your anger, but if that anger settles into bitterness, a settled hatred for someone, then it is wrong.  
    (2) Secondly, rage and anger, brawling and slander.   Rage and anger are internal conditions.   Brawling and slander are external actions.   Rage is losing your temper.  Anger is more of a settled condition where you just go sour, and you look at the whole world through anger.   You are finding fault with everybody and irritation with everything.   In verse 29, it says “Don’t let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only that which is helpful to building others up.  Therefore, anger is to be used, not stuffed or ventilated. 
    Jesus said, “Father I praise thee that thou has hidden these things from the high and the wise, and have shown them unto babes.”

  18. Keller gave a lengthy example of a father (Keller himself) blowing up at this children .  The father is looking forward to an enjoyable evening watching Monday night football and relaxing. However, his children disobey, are deceitful, and fight with one another.  The father blows up at his children and uses non-verbal intimidation.   He comes to himself (more accurately to the Lord) and realizes he is defending his own comfort and schedule, and he ends up attacking the children.   Instead he should have been concerned with the serious problem present.  He says “I have to think about my children and how important they are.   Think about how little time I’m going to have with them.  Think how fast they are growing up.  Think what an important charge it is to be raising children. Think how important it is for me to catch them doing deceit and lies at this simple early stage where you can nip it in the bud.       He needs to repent the things he said and did to hurt their hearts.   Then, I have to say “However , we’ve got a problem here.  I’m mad at myself for having done that, but I am mad at you and here is why.   If you act like this you are going to have trouble all the rest of your life.”    
    Keller says it is not “me against you, kid.”   It is me and you against this habit that will destroy you unless we do something about it.        First there is the need to ask “What am I defending and“What am I attacking?”  Then you say “there is something to be angry about and I’m going to do something about it.  It can take scores of events like this in which you have to practice this before you can begin to make the connection.   Remember obedience is hard, but disobedience is impossible.  
    Keller referred to some trees they had in Virginia.   The leaves would die in the fall, but they wouldn’t fall off.   They didn’t fall off until the spring when the new leaves came out and pushed the old leaves off.   The Christian approach to changing: You have to be continually in worship and prayer and in study of the word and to the sacraments.   As Christ’s character begins to grow in you – it pushes off the old leaves – it pushes off the anger.  
    There was a man who came to Korea back when it was illegal for a foreigner to come to Korea (1860s).  When his boat was sinking, he came out of the boat and saded out of the river with his arms full of Bibles.   And as the people on the shore killed him, clubbing him, knifing him, he thrust the Bibles into their hands.   And that’s how the gospel came to Korea.   Today at the site of his death, there is a big Thomas Memorial Chapel for Robert J. Thomas, the first missionary to Korea.   Keller said this story convicted him on his own self-pity from thinking that God called him to do hard things.   He says you begin to worship and repent.   
    Bitterness is holding someone liable for a sin.   Bitterness is to continually will or hope for somebody else’s harm or distress.   You want to see them brought down.  God gets angry with you, but there is no ill will.  Bitterness moves to the point where you actually will to see somebody hurt.  You want bad things to happen to them, and if they do, you are tempted to gloat.  
    Bitterness:    (1) It imprisons you.   The only way the person who you are bitter at can really win is if he keeps you bitter at him.  
    Keller once called on a father, wanting to encourage him to bring his family to church. The man angrily declared he would never bring his children to church, because his father made him go to church when he was young, against his will.   Now he wouldn’t even let his child go to church when he wanted to .   This man was still in prison.
    Paul says this “Forgive one another as in Christ God forgave you.”   An unforgiving heart is an unforgiven heart.   If you can’t forgive, it is because you aren’t forgiven.   
    Three ways you can be not forgiven.  
    (1) Some people don’t think there is anything wrong with them.   They are arrogant and proud, and they haven’t repented of their sins.   There is a feeling of superiority.   It is difficult to be bitter against someone who does something you do all the time. 
    (2) Some of you can’t forgive because you don’t feel forgiven.   R.C. Sproul met a woman who said she didn’t feel forgiven and couldn’t forgive herself.  Sproul told her that she hadn’t repented of her pride.   She felt she needed to earn her salvation, and was trying to be her own savior.  
    (3) In most cases, we don’t feel forgiven because we have forgotten what Jesus has done for us.   
    Keller told the parable from Matthew 18 about the unforgiving servant. If you think about what He has done for you, that will melt your heart, and you will have to let go.   Once you have experienced the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, that will change you forever.   

    1. Terrific notes, Deanna. I listened to it once but didn’t take notes and wished I had. These are helpful. So much to ponder. I found his thoughts on anger particularly helpful to recognize when we are angry but process it and, instead of blowing up or stuffing it, to recognize the injustice that needs to be addressed within the anger.

    2. Thank you, Deanna…I listened to the sermon the first time not having pencil in hand. I began re-listening to take notes, but only got to the anger questions… I sat down early this morning to finish my notes and found that I was able to complete my notes with your wonderful, thorough notes…much appreciated! 

  19. 12. What is your take-a-way and why?
    Since this is our last lesson before Lent, I just want to comment overall on this series. It seems that fewer and fewer people are commenting here, and I admit that I am one of them. However, I have followed along mostly silently with this series and it has done some deep work in my heart, especially when supplemented with reading Wilbourne’s “Union with Christ” and Voskamp’s “The Broken Way” which Dee recommended for reading early on. Wilbourne’s book has been extremely impactful. He says in words what God has been doing in my heart for some time now in teaching me how to abide and why union with Christ is SO important for a Christian to grow in joy and in the strength of the Holy Spirit. I strongly recommend his book.
    As for Ann Voskamp’s book, I am just beginning to read it because I was determined to finish Wilbourne’s book first and have rather a lot of other commitments right now. I cried through the first two chapters. Ann’s heart and vulnerability and poetic style just reach way down deep in me to the yearnings of my heart to love God more and to be fully who God created me to be in this world – broken and poured out. It is scary but it is also healing. 
    Thank you, Dee, and others here who have shared their hearts in response to the questions.

  20. 12. What is your take-a-way and why?
    I am like Diane here who had not commented lately but had followed silently. I continue to appreciate the depth by which everyone shares here. This topic cuts deep as forgiveness can be a struggle for me at times. I was convicted by Keller’s words on the area of bitterness-the 2 questions “What am I defending? What am I attacking?” are sobering and enlightening. Speaking to the idols that periodically rear its pull for appeasement and control over my thoughts and actions. So timely as I deal with a student who has a problem with lying.
    Thank you, Dee as always for the great studies here on the blog. I pray for your stamina and encouraged heart as you ponder and write out these questions and challenge us to not settle for just the status quo.Also the readings and messages/sermons are so good! 

  21. I also have followed silently. I am thankful for the depth of you studies, Dee. I loved how Keller said to think about what Jesus has done for you personally, and let that melt your heart. Often I need my heart of stone to be melted, and when it is I can pour out forgiveness, pour out love. I was convicted that just this week I had wished malice on another, and I need to examine my heart, repent and look at the problem not the person. 

  22. 11. Share your notes and comments.
    I took this away away from the sermon: if you can’t forgive then you have never felt forgiveness. It dawned on me that early in my life I did a horrible thing; a sin that although I have asked forgiveness many times over, I never really felt forgiven. Recently, I realized something that has happened in my life makes me think God is trying to let me know I am forgiven. Wow! It was 25 years ago that I sinned, and just now “feeling the love.” How cool is that?! I guess we have to be quiet and cognizant to be able to recognize something like that 25 years later? Something in the sermon triggered the memory for me. Always, Keller at his best!
    Regarding Diane’s statements above; about participation and such, I agree that we don’t have the lively discussions we used to and it makes me sad. Honestly, the two week studies have been difficult for me. I lose track what we were talking about! I guess it’s my ADD kicking in?! I should go back and review, but I can’t find the time (lately) to complete the study and go back to review. I wonder, if when you begin the one week studies again you might incorporate a day where we go back and read comments and reply to others as part of the lesson? Or, maybe early in the week and later in the week so we can respond to the first half and last half? I have always enjoyed your studies because you change it up with artwork, music, and video clips. You are gifted. Thank you Dee. I appreciate your hard work!

  23. What stands out to me?
    It is the beautiful picture of the sunset over the water and the girl with hands outstretched!
    Set Free: the Joy that forgiving from our heart brings.
    8. I John 1:5-9 What is the message in verse 5? God is light; in Him  is no darkness at all.
    the corollary in verse 6: We lie if we say we have fellowship with Him, but live in darkness.
    B. the promise of verse 7:If we live in the light, then we have fellowship with one another; Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin.
    C. the statement of verse 8: If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves.
    the remedy of verse 9; If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just and will forgive us and cleanse us.
    D. Challenge question:The repetition in verse 6 &7 Let his light shine into our lives and it will expose the sin
    what is the difference? Walking in the light means that we examine our lives daily, repent and ask him to cleanse us from sin.
    9.I John 2:1-6
    A. How can we know we know Him, verse 3? If we obey his commands!
    B. What promise is given in verse 5? Those who obey God’s word truly show they love him.
     What does it mean? To love others, submit to His authority, turn from our selfish ways.
    C. How does this apply to forgiving others from your heart? True repentance softens our hearts and this
    allows us to have compassion for forgiveness from the heart.

  24. 10. Meditate on I John 2:7-11
    A. Why is it new? It is new because Jesus lived the truth and now we are living it with his Spirit given to us.
    B. How does the True Light show you how to forgive? The true light, Jesus, gives light to everyone who believes and accepts him.
    However this life is continually being perfected in me as I continue to sin and come to him for cleansing and start again each day.
    I want so much to grow the fruit, but so many conditions blight my fruit…Praying for strength for today and a melted heart toward those who cause the deep hurts. As Nila said, it is a wrestling match … with my flesh.

  25. There is a definite balance in doing the study and reading other’s comments… both provide such richness, but when a decision needs to be made between the two, my tendency is doing the study. I’m not sure a day for reading comments will work on a practical basis, because so often the study questions build throughout the week, although with one week segments, perhaps… 
    BTW, Laura… you’re busy?..I can’t imagine why…? Hope all is well…?

  26. Hi all, I fell off the band wagon lately with keeping up! I’ve missed u all, but work has been super busy & I’ve been getting ready to go to Aussie to visit my family! I’m leaving tomorrow night & will try & do some of the Lent study when I can, even if silently 🙂 It will be wonderful to spend 3 weeks with my aging parents, & also have fun with my sisters &brother, nieces & nephews etc…The Lord bless & keep u all till we meet again. Love, Jenny  🙂  Thank you Dee for all your faithful efforts…I love having the study & the comments, even if I can’t always keep up 🙂