Sermon Notes & References

“Forgive Us Our Debts”

Matthew 6:12

July 22, 2018

A. The Fifth Request

    1. A Hunger and Thirst 1

    2. Forgiveness of What? 2x


B. Daily Need

    1. Unpayable Debt 3

    2. Restoration of Fellowship 4

    3. God’s Perfect Forgiveness 5


C. A Startling Condition

    1. The Verse Doesn’t Stop There 6

    2. Forgiving Others Matters 7

1 Matthew 6:12. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . “Forgive Us Our Debts”


A. The Fifth Request

    1. A Hunger and Thirst

        a. The fourth request was for our daily bread

            (A)    the providence of God in supplying our physical needs

            (B)    revealing to us very clearly that our heavenly Father is very aware of such needs – as we were reminded in some verses last week

                 (1)    “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.” (Psalms 34:10)

                 (2)    and later in this Sermon on the Mount, “31 Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ 32 For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (Matthew 6:31-32)

                 (3)    and in Paul’s letter, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

            (C)   but Jesus began this message with what are called the beatitudes, on of which is “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

        b. so This fifth request is the spiritual complement of the fourth: verse 12

            (A)    “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

            (B)    the fourth deals with the daily replenishment of of physical body, the fifth, the daily refreshment of our relationship to our God

            (C)   Alexander MacLaren has said, “God made us to need bread; we have made ourselves to need forgiveness” 2

            (D)   we need daily bread; we need daily forgiveness


    2. Forgiveness of What?

        a. there is a forgiveness for which all mankind is called to seek

            (A)    it is that for which Peter exhorted the crowd in Acts 3:19, “”Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, …”, or blotted out

            (B)    and Paul preached to the Jews at Pisidian Antioch, “38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things …” (Acts 13:38-39 NKJV)

            (C)   this is a forgiveness that accompanies salvation:

                 (1)    “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace,” (Ephesians 1:7)

                 (2)    “And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,” (Colossians 2:13)

                 (3)    such forgiveness is a once-for-ever event: “He made … having forgiven”

            (D)   is that the forgiveness that is in focus here in the Lord’s prayer?

                 (1)    No. This prayer as we have repeatedly noted, was to be a model of daily prayer; daily, as the fourth request shows

                 (2)    No. This prayer was given to Jesus’ disciples & followers – those whose experience of salvation became full at Pentecost

        b. what debts?

            (A)    a Jew, hearing this, could well understand it of financial debts

                 (1)    for, according to the Law for living in the land they were required at the end of every 7 years to forgive any debts – counter example of greedy in Jeremiah

                 (2)    indeed, in my memory, the Jewish community would set up one of their own multiple times in business until he succeeded

                 (3)    and while the word can mean that, the context shows this is not the meaning here

            (B)    “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” – what translation is that? It’s not in the AV; search through all the translations of the past few centuries: you will not find it!

                 (1)    yet, I confess, it is the version I most readily use

                 (2)    for I learned it from the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England – as it was compiled many years before the AV, using Tyndale’s English translation from the original languages

            (C)   the word ‘debt’ has as its basic meaning, “that which is owed”, and from that the derived meanings of “responsibilities, obligations and duties which are outstanding; have not been met”

                 (1)    now, it would bevery easy to twist that to include only our sins of omission … where we have failed to carry out our duty

                 (2)    but to do so would be quite mistaken

                 (3)    for Luke, in translating the Lord’s instruction to His disciples into the Greek, uses a more specific but wider term, “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive …” (Luke 11:4)

                 (4)    and here, in this sermon, if there were to be any doubt of its meaning, debts are referred to by the word “transgressions”

            (D)   so, these debts – whether we are guilty of sins of omission, or sins of commission alike – whether they be in our innermost attitude and thoughts, in words spoken deliberately or in haste, or in actions, both seen and unseen by others – need daily treatment


B. Daily Need

    1. Unpayable Debt

        a. sin is such a debt

        b. we know this from our understanding of salvation – “by grace … not ouf ourselves … it is the gift of God”

        c. but sometimes we are lulled into false thinking – by the devil, by the false ideas of the world – when we fail as Christians

            (A)    well, I did that wrong; I’ll make up for it by doing this

            (B)    or, it’s only a little sin; can’t I just forget about it – after all, Christ died for all my sins, past, present & future

            (C)   but, there it is on our spiritual ledger: a glaringly red debt

            (D)   and we, of ourselves cannot remove that red ink

            (E)    The OT hymn-writer knew this when he prayed, “For Thy name’s sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.” (Psalms 25:11)

        d. what is the result when we wrong someone else, or they wrong us?

            (A)    most people avoid meeting the other person

            (B)    if they do meet, they avoid speaking

            (C)   it is an uncomfortable situation all around

        e. the same is true in our spiritual relationship to our heavenly Father

            (A)    God Himself says that this is the case

                 (1)    “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2)

                 (2)    “Thou hast covered Thyself with a cloud So that no prayer can pass through.” (Lam. 3:44)

            (B)    and God’s chosen people Israel had become so hardened in sin, that God told Jeremiah (7:16), “As for you, do not pray for this people, and do not lift up cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me; for I do not hear you.”

            (C)   so, forgiveness is a necessity on both a divine and human level for the …


    2. Restoration of Fellowship

        a. Christians sin

            (A)    I do not think that any of us would deny that statement

                 (1)    one of the beliefs of the Methodists was that a Christian could come to sinless perfection – I have not heard many claim this

                 (2)    with increasing age I have become increasingly aware of my sin

                 (3)    and I can identify more and more with Paul’s words in Romans chapter 7, “18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.” (Romans 7:18-19)

            (B)    and the Bible affirms this fact, and provides …

        b. the remedy

            (A)    John writes: “6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 ¶ If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”(1 John 1:6-10)

            (B)    continuing in chapter “2:1 ¶ My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;”

            (C)   by this we can be assured of …


    3. God’s Perfect Forgiveness

        a. “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25)

        b. “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud, And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah 44:22)

        c. “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalms 103:12)

        d. and, again as we just read, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)



C. A Startling Condition

    1. It Doesn’t Stop There!

        a. “’And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

            (A)    “... as we forgive those who trespass against us”

            (B)    and, in case we want to weaken this statement, this truth is repeated in the words following the Lord’s prayer

            (C)   “14 For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

            (D)   there it is: stated both positively & negatively

            (E)    there’s no way of ignoring this condition!

        b. the Bible tells of God’s unconditional love

            (A)    “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

            (B)    “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us …” (1 John 4:10)

            (C)   “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19)

            (D)   but this does not mean that God does not set conditions whereby His children may enjoy the blessings of His favour

        c. let us clarify that condition: “as we forgive …

            (A)    not that our forgiving …

                 (1)    is picture of God’s … quite the reverse

                 (2)    earns God’s … that is impossible, our own debt is too great

                 (3)    obliges God to forgive … He does so freely

            (B)    but rather in the impact forgiving others has on our own plea for forgiveness

                 (1)    showing the enormity of sin and its contaminating effect

                 (2)    seeing the greatness of God’s forgiveness in stark contrast with the smallness of the forgiveness which we are asked to dispense

                 (3)    as we shall be reminded in a story with which we shall close in a moment or two


    2. Forgiving Others Matters

        a. as a way of understanding God’s forgiveness

        b. as a means of being delivered from the bitterness

            (A)    of carrying a grudge – a load too heavy to carry happily

            (B)    so that when the wrongdoing comes to our minds

                 (1)    and it will because of our imperfection

                 (2)    we find ourselves not nursing that memory

                 (3)    but joyful since God has enabled us to forget in practical terms

                 (4)    that we can live as though it had not happened

        c. but most of all,

            (A)    that in forgiving others

            (B)    we have a true sorrow for the awfulness of our own sin

            (C)   that we can come in

        d. later on, in Jesus’ ministry,

            (A)    Peter was perplexed on this matter of forgiving others

            (B)    he sought some limitation on his having to do so

            (C)   let us conclude by reading

                 (1)    Matthew 18:21-28a

                 (2)    let’s get the proportions straight here

                     (a)    the first servant’s debt was such as could never be repaid

                     (b)    the second servant’s debt was modest

                     (c)    a million to one is a conservative estimate

                 (3)    Matthew 18:28b-35

            (D)   so then it is with our debt of sin, and any debt of another that we are asked to forgive

        e. our closing hymn reminds us of the price of Christ’s life given up for our forgiveness … thank You, Lord Jesus.





© 2018 by Garth Hutchinson, Faith Fellowship Baptist Church of Aurora (Ontario): may be distributed or quoted freely, only let this be done to the glory “of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus ii.13). Except as noted otherwise, quotations are from the New American Standard version, used by permission. Various other English versions of the Holy Bible may be used in this sermon. Explanatory additions to the Bible text are shown in [braces]. Version identifiers are:


              AV          Authorized (King James) Version of 1769

              NAS        New American Standard version © 1960, 1995 The Lockman Foundation (usually the 1995 edition)

              NIV         New International Version © 1984 by the International Bible Society

              NKJV              New King James Version © 1979 Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers

              NLT         New Living Translation © 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust

              NRSV             New Revised Standard Version © 1989 Division of Christian Education of national Council of Churches of Christ

              JBP         The New Testament in Modern English, J. B. Phillips, Geoffrey Bles Ltd

              RSV        Revised Standard Version © 1946, 1952 National Council of Churches of Christ; Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd

              UBS        Greek text of the United Bible Societies; particularly that published in 1954 by The British and Foreign Bible Society

              WEY               The New Testament in Modern Speech © 1902, 1912 R. F. Weymouth

Some of the commentaries and resources used in the preparation of this message are identified as follow:

              Barnes –  Notes on the New Testament by Alfred E. Barnes

              Calvin –   Commentaries on the Bible, by Jean Calvin; translated into English & published in the Online Bible.

              EBC             The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, © 1986 Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 49530, MI:

              EGT             The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Hodder & Stoughton; 1903

              JFB  -      Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Jamieson, Fausset & Brown; S. S. Scranton & Co. 1872

              Gill       Exposition of the Old Testament, Exposition of the New Testament, by John Gill, D.D.

              Kerux –   The sermon & illustration data base compiled by Rev. David Holwick at the web-site,

              Lightfoot –      Commentary on the New Testament by Bishop John Lightfoot

              RWP             Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, by Dr. A. T. Robertson

              TTB      Thinking Through the Bible, Rev’d John McNicol, D.D., © 1944 by the author; The Upper Canada Tract & Book Society.


Alexander MacLaren’s commentary on Matthew, in loc.