Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Adam Clarke on Matthew 6:12

I was reading Matthew 6:12 today and this verse is one of those verses that hits you hard.  The text reads (NKJV):

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Adam Clarke wrote this about this verse and his words are worth reading and re-reading to allow them to sink into our hearts:

Verse 12. “And forgive us our debts” – Sin is represented here under the notion of a debt, and as our sins are many, they are called here debts. God made man that he might live to his glory, and gave him a law to walk by; and if, when he does any thing that tends not to glorify God, he contracts a debt with Divine Justice, how much more is he debtor when he breaks the law by actual transgression! It has been justly observed, “All the attributes of God are reasons of obedience to man; those attributes are infinite; every sin is an act of ingratitude or rebellion against all these attributes; therefore sin is infinitely sinful.” Forgive us.-Man has nothing to pay: if his debts are not forgiven, they must stand charged against him for ever, as he is absolutely insolvent.

Forgiveness, therefore, must come from the free mercy of God in Christ: and how strange is it we cannot have the old debt canceled, without (by that very means) contracting a new one, as great as the old! but the credit is transferred from Justice to Mercy. While sinners we are in debt to infinite Justice; when pardoned, in debt to endless Mercy: and as a continuance in a state of grace necessarily implies a continual communication of mercy, so the debt goes on increasing ad infinitum.

Strange economy in the Divine procedure, which by rendering a man an infinite debtor, keeps him eternally dependent on his Creator! How good is God! And what does this state of dependence imply? A union with, and participation of, the fountain of eternal goodness and felicity! As we forgive our debtors.  It was a maxim among the ancient Jews, that no man should lie down in his bed, without forgiving those who had offended him. That man condemns himself to suffer eternal punishment, who makes use of this prayer with revenge and hatred in his heart. He who will not attend to a condition so advantageous to himself (remitting a hundred pence to his debtor, that his own creditor may remit him 10,000 talents) is a madman, who, to oblige his neighbour to suffer an hour, is himself determined to suffer everlastingly! This condition of forgiving our neighbour, though it cannot possibly merit any thing, yet it is that condition without which God will pardon no man. See Matthew vi. 14, 15.

That God places this condition upon forgiveness, that we forgive others as well, is powerful.  Am I a forgiving person?  Do I forgive others as Christ has forgiven me (Colossians 3:13)?  Jesus has forgiven me of so many sins yet am I unwilling to forgive others who may or may not have sinned against me?

In Matthew 18:21-35 Jesus places a further condition upon our forgiveness by teaching us in a parable that we must forgive others.  In this case, the once forgiven servant is bound and delivered to the torturers (v. 34 NKJV).  Obviously then Jesus places much upon our standing before God with our standing with other people.

One further point as we read in 1 Peter 3:7 that our prayers may be hindered because of our relationship with our spouse.  God places much emphasis upon our human relationships in relation to Him.  To merely have forgiveness from God without granting forgiveness to others is unheard of for the disciple of Christ.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/02/2013 at 7:46 PM

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