Voddie Baucham on Forgiveness

with Voddie Baucham | June 16, 2014

In order to be successful in marriage, a couple must be able to forgive each other often. But the only way to do that is to have a solid grasp of God's great forgiveness of us through Christ. Voddie Baucham shares a message on forgiveness based on Ephesians 4.

In order to be successful in marriage, a couple must be able to forgive each other often. But the only way to do that is to have a solid grasp of God's great forgiveness of us through Christ. Voddie Baucham shares a message on forgiveness based on Ephesians 4.

Voddie Baucham on Forgiveness

With Voddie Baucham
June 16, 2014
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Bob: Forgiving another person is not optional for someone who is a follower of Christ. Voddie Baucham says there are a lot of people who just don’t understand what forgiveness really is.

Voddie: Forgiveness means I give up my right to punish you for what you did. If you—you know, if I come over to your house, and I knock over a lamp and I break the lamp—you look at me and you say, “Oh, brother, that’s okay. I forgive you;” and then, you say, “but that will be $195,” [Laughter] you didn’t really forgive me because you’re making me pay. Forgiveness is the cancellation of debt.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, June 16th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Voddie Baucham takes a hard look today at what forgiveness is and what it isn’t. Stay tuned.



And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. You know, I am guessing that over the last couple of years, if you went on a cruise anywhere in—not just North America—anywhere in the world, you probably did not have anybody say, “Let’s look at the book of Ephesians, and let’s talk about forgiveness,” unless you were on the [Love Like You Mean It®] cruise with FamilyLife Today.

Dennis: Yes. You know, there are a lot of cruises leaving port that don’t really have any spiritual objectives in mind to think about equipping the passengers to have better marriages / better families—be better equipped for life. But that’s what we do at the Love Like You Mean It cruise.



Bob: Yes; in fact, some of our listeners have been on cruises—and by the way, one of the reasons we’re talking about cruising today is because we are really close to being sold out for next year’s Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, which takes place Valentines’ weekend 2015. We thought: “We need to go on and let our listeners know that we’re almost sold out.” So, if they want to join us—they want to be onboard with you and Barbara, with Voddie Baucham, with Dave and Ann Wilson, with Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman, with Guy Penrod from the Gaither Vocal Band, Tenth Avenue North—we have a great plan for the cruise for next year. If you want to join us, you probably need to get in touch with us this week because we’re about to be sold out. So we thought we should just give you one more opportunity to be onboard this ship.

If you’ve ever cruised before, you know that it is not necessarily a friendly environment for people of faith. But when you come on the [Love Like You Mean It]marriage cruise—because we have the whole boat—



—everybody who’s onboard is onboard with us. We’re playing Christian music on the PA system. You walk by the casinos—they’re empty. [Laughter] It’s just a different environment.

Dennis: It really is. It occurred to me, Bob—a number of our listeners may not know who Dave and Ann Wilson are. The reason they’re speaking is because they are amazing communicators. Dave is a pastor near Detroit—of a church of over 15,000 people.

Bob: Right.

Dennis: He is the chaplain for the Detroit Lions—hasn’t helped them a great deal in recent years.

Bob: [Laughter] He’s helped them spiritually.

Dennis: He’s helped them spiritually; but, you know, the Super Bowl—haven’t done it yet, but they could—but they could. But you and I did a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway with Dave and Ann—

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: —back earlier this year. We both look at each other and go, “That message they gave there—we need to take with us on the cruise because they knocked it out of the park on a message about sex.”

Bob: Well, and, of course, our friend, Voddie Baucham, has been with us before on the Love Like You Mean It cruise.



He’s going to be back with us for the upcoming cruise in 2015. The last time he was with us, he did a message on forgiveness that—I remember people coming up to me, throughout the day, and going, “God really used that in our marriage—

Dennis: Yes.

Bob: —and in our life.” We thought we ought to share a portion of that message with our listeners today. Here’s our friend, Voddie Baucham, from a recent Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise—talking about forgiveness.

[Recorded Message]

Voddie: This morning, I want us to look at Ephesians, Chapter 4. I want us to look specifically at the last few verses there in Ephesians, Chapter 4. Let’s just read the whole last paragraph there to sort of bring this into context.

We’re going to pay attention mainly to verse 32. Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, as God in Christ has also forgiven you.”  Usually we just shorten that for our kids:



“Be kind to one another. Don’t hit your brother with the Lego®s. That’s not kind. Hit him with your hand but not with a Lego!” [Laughter]

Beginning in verse 25: “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”



Now, here’s where we get to it: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and slander be put away from, along with all malice.” Let’s read this part together. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you,”—“as God in Christ forgave you.”

Let me say several things about forgiveness—in the time that we have left here—that I think will be helpful for us all as we move forward because, again, we have to learn how to forgive one another. We live closer to one another than to any other human beings on earth. When you live in close proximity to another human being, your relationship will either be filled with forgiveness or with bitterness—that’s it. If we are going to last, it needs to be filled with the former and not the latter; amen?

Audience: Amen.



Voddie: First thing I want to say about forgiveness is this—is that forgiveness—our giving of forgiveness to another is rooted in the forgiveness that we have received from Christ. Now, that’s sounds simple and straight forward; but there’s a theological principle there that is extremely important. It’s also a principle of hermeneutics that I want to share with you.

Now, there are two moods that I want to teach you. In the Greek language, you have certain moods—like indicative mood and an imperative mood. Indicative—if I’m using the indicative mood, I’m indicating what something is. So, I would say, “That is a bottle of water.” That’s an indicative. I’m indicating what it is. “That is a towel,”—those are indicatives.

Now, if I say, “Pick up the bottle of water,” that’s an imperative. If I say, “Pick up the towel,” that’s an imperative. Indicative, I’m indicating what something is—imperative, I’m giving a command—alright?



In the indicative—especially, when we’re reading here in the New Testament and while we’re dealing with Ephesians—indicatives tell us what God has done on our behalf, in Christ, for our redemption and His glory. It’s indicating who we are in Christ.

The imperatives—careful on this one—the imperatives tell us what we are empowered, and commanded, and enabled to do because of the indicatives. You have to understand it that way. These things are linked inexorably: the imperatives—those are what we’re empowered and commanded to do—because of the indicatives. If you separate the indicatives and the imperatives, you get works-righteousness.



Unfortunately, that’s the way we use this passage with our kids because there’s an indicative and an imperative here. What’s the indicative? The indicative is: “You are forgiven in Christ,”—that enables, empowers, and motivates you to give the kind of forgiveness that you’re being commanded to give in the first part of the verse.

If you separate the indicative and the imperative, all you have is pure law. Usually, that’s what we give our kids. “Be kind to one another,”—it’s pure law. There’s no gospel there at all—it’s pure law. If they do it and strive for it, they are striving for works- righteousness; and you are undermining the gospel that you want them to receive and walk in. Are you smelling what I’m stepping in? [Laughter] Okay?



So, your forgiveness of your spouse, then—from this passage in this regard—is rooted then in your experience of forgiveness from Christ. That’s important for a number of reasons because, if that’s the case—and it is—and you’re wrong about forgiveness, then you are not going to be secure in your salvation. Why? If I’m the type of person that doesn’t forgive or that forgives begrudgingly—and the gospel is all about how Christ has forgiven me—then, I always worry that Christ gets tired of forgiving me like I get tired of forgiving you. [Applause]



People who wrestle with unforgiveness usually wrestle with the idea of eternal security because their very definition of forgiveness does not match what we find in the gospel; okay?

Here’s the other thing—and I’m going to say this as gently as I can—if you’re a person who’s not forgiving, then you are actually a disobedient, arrogant hypocrite who does not appreciate the body of Christ. [Laughter] I love you! [Laughter] Why disobedience?—because you are commanded to do it. If you don’t forgive your spouse, you are in sin because you’ve been commanded to forgive.

By the way, it is difficult for us to understand that unless we know what forgiveness is; right? Forgiveness is a cancellation of debt. That’s what it means. Forgiveness means I give up my right to punish you for what you did.



You know, if I come over to your house, and I knock over a lamp, and I break the lamp—and you look at me and you say, “Oh, brother, that’s okay. I forgive you,” and then you say, “but that will be $195,” [Laughter] you didn’t really forgive me because you’re making me pay. Forgiveness is the cancellation of debt; okay? Why is this important?

Remember—our experience of forgiveness is rooted in our understanding of the forgiveness that we’ve received in Christ. If I am a person that doesn’t understand forgiveness as a cancellation of debt—and forgiveness just means I say, “I forgive you,” but I still make you pay—then, my understanding of salvation is going to be the same. Then, my forgiveness from God is something that doesn’t cancel my debt. I still have to work to earn that which I’ve already been given.



It’s all rooted in the fact that I do not comprehend this concept of forgiveness because—remember that first point. These things are linked inexorably. It’s a cancellation of debt. That means that if I say to my wife, “I forgive you,”—but then, we have an argument like a couple of days later—and I bring it back up—now, I’m punishing you when I said I would give up my right to do so—which means I lied. If the debt is cancelled, it’s cancelled. Again, first of all, if we’re not forgiving, we’re not obedient.

Secondly, if we’re not forgiving, we’re arrogant. Here’s why—because, basically, here is what I say if I’m not forgiving—and let’s just keep this in marriage; okay—here’s what I say if I’m not forgiving my wife.



What I say, if I’m not forgiving my wife is this: “All those things that I have done to offend God—those things are absolutely forgivable because that’s how good God is. However, my standard is higher than God’s standard; so—though He can forgive you—I can’t.” That’s arrogant!

“God can send His son to die for that sin that you committed against Him, but that’s not good enough for me. You can be right with the Creator of the universe—who spoke the world into existence, who ought to have consumed you with fire last night because of what you thought, said, and did yesterday. The God of the universe, according to His standard, can receive you nonetheless, and not only receive you, but crush and kill His only begotten Son for that sin that you committed. God can do that. My standard is higher.” That’s the height of arrogance.



So, it’s inexorably worse—you come to me, asking for forgiveness—“I just don’t know”— but then, what do I do when I sin? I come before my Heavenly Father, I confess it, I repent of it, and I go, “God, thank You so much for Your forgiveness.” You hypocrite!

Finally, I’m despising the body. Why?—because I am saying—of a member of Christ’s body—that what He says of them is not true:

           “You are a forgiven sinner.”                              “No, actually, you’re not.”

           “No, because see—no, actually, see I am really because what

           happened was God—who gave His only begotten Son—He forgave me;

           and I’m forgiven.”                                               “No, actually, you’re not.”



           “No; really—the cross, the blood, Jesus—you know, forgiven.”  

                                                                                      “No, actually, you’re not.”

“Well, how can—because see—okay, wait; because I thought you said that you were actually a child of God—justification, adoption, sanctification, waiting on your glorification—which means that you are in the family of the One who forgave me. I’m telling you what your Daddy said about me, and you’re saying that your Daddy is wrong?”

So, why don’t we forgive? Let me give you these—then we’ll be done. One reason we don’t forgive is because we do not comprehend the gospel.



When I am constantly and consistently reminding myself of the price that was paid for my sin—when I am constantly and consistently rejoicing in and praising God for the forgiveness that is mine in Christ—I cannot harbor unforgiveness toward you. I can’t do it! When I am constantly burdened down under the weight of the majesty of the forgiveness that I have received—when I am constantly reminded that the precious, spotless, sinless Lamb of God was crushed and killed, crucified at the will and beckoning of His own Father, and that that perfect life was exchanged for mine—it is impossible for me to continue to harbor unforgiveness toward you.



If you are harboring unforgiveness, I want to point you back to the gospel. If you are harboring unforgiveness, I want to point you back to Christ.

Secondly, I harbor unforgiveness because I’m wrong about the definition of forgiveness. For example, some people hold on to unforgiveness because you believe that forgiveness means that you have to forget. That’s a common cultural saying, but it’s not Bible. “It says that God casts our sins into the sea of forgetfulness.” Yes, see, you ain’t Him. [Laughter]

Literally, what that means is that God casts off the punishment due to your sins when you understand what forgiveness means. By the way, it’s not the beauty of forgiveness. The beauty of forgiveness is not that you can’t remember what happened.



The beauty of forgiveness is that— in spite of the fact that you remember and may never forget—you give up your right to punish. That’s the beauty of forgiveness. [Applause]

The other myth that we believe is that you can only extend forgiveness to someone is when they ask for it. Here’s the danger in that one. If you follow that through to its logical conclusion, then, you don’t really believe that Jesus Christ has forgiven you for all sins—past, present, and future. You believe, actually, that you will only stand in heaven if you have managed to recognize, record, and repent of every sin that you’ve ever committed; because if you don’t recognize, record, and repent of every sin that you’ve committed, that means that you are going to stand before God with a record of sins for which you have not repented.



If forgiveness is only extended when it’s asked for specifically, you can’t be saved.

Here’s the other problem with that idea. If forgiveness means that I am actually forgoing my right to punish—and you believe that you can only forgive when people specifically ask you for forgiveness—I feel sorry for you because that makes you the judge of the universe—who must punish sin, unless and until forgiveness is requested. Good luck with that! [Laughter] That’s a heavy burden.

In fact, some of you are carrying that burden in your marriage. There are some of you who believe that you have to mistreat, ignore, and punish your spouse so that you can bring them to repentance because the Holy Ghost just can’t do it. [Laughter]



Do you know that already, today, you’ve experienced forgiveness for things that you didn’t even know were sinful—that those things have been paid for by Christ?

Okay, my time is gone. There are other myths—and maybe will talk about those other myths at some other time—but for now, here’s what I want you to see. We walked in here. For most of us, we didn’t have these categories of indicatives and imperatives. All we had was, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other”—we don’t even finish the verse—just be kind and forgive.

There are some of you who have been wrestling with that and struggling with that. You’ve been trying to figure out to how to go inside here—and grab a hold of something that’s inside here—that can make you a more forgiving person.



If you don’t hear anything else today, hear this: “Being forgiving doesn’t come from you grabbing something that’s inside here. It comes from you receiving something from out there.” This is about who you are in Christ; and this is about living in relationship with others in light of and because of what God, in Christ, has done in, and to, and for you. Now go, forgive, because you’re forgiven. Amen. [Applause]


Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to Voddie Baucham speaking on the Love Like You Mean It Cruise, a few years back. He’s going to be with us again on the upcoming Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise in 2015, Valentines’ week.



Dennis: Who doesn’t need to be better-equipped around the subject of forgiveness? Speaking of forgiveness, Bob, our listeners may have to forgive us because I don’t ever recall—now that we’ve been doing these cruises for five years—of being this close to being sold out in the summer.

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: I mean, we’re within ten percent of filling the boat.

Bob: Well, I went to the team and I said, “So, if we’re going to let listeners know, is there anything special we can do for our FamilyLife Today listeners because I always like having listeners on the cruise—folks who tune in every day.” They said: “Okay, we’ll do something special to try to close it out during the month of June. We’ll make a special offer.”

I said, “Well, what is it?” They said, “Well, just tell them to go to the website and see.” So, you can go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,”—which is appropriate for a cruise—you know, go deeper—[Laughter] and there’s information about all the people who are going to be with us on the cruise and the special offer we’re making this week.



Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Plan to join us on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise next February.

Speaking of the cruise—tomorrow, Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman are going to join us on FamilyLife Today. They’re going to be joining us on the cruise, as we said. We’re going to hear about some of the challenges they faced in the early years of their marriage. I hope our listeners can tune in tomorrow for our time with Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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