Sin is inevitable; therefore, forgiveness is essential. Forgiveness must flow from us as we live out the gospel in the way we handle sin and conflict in our relationships.
Made for a New World | Isaiah 11:1-16
Made to Be Saved | Genesis 3:15, 21-24
Made to Work | Genesis 3:17-19
Made to Gospel Our Relationships | Genesis 3:12-13
Made for a World Without Shame | Genesis 3:7-11
Made for a Different World | Genesis 3:1-7
Made for Relationships: Marriage | Genesis 2:18-25
Made for Relationship | Genesis 2:18-20
Made to Rest | Genesis 2:1-3
Made to Flourish | Genesis 2:4-25
God’s Heart for The Nations | Revelation 7:9-17
Made in the Image of God | Genesis 1:26-27
Great Questions Q&A Panel + MADE: to Teach | Genesis 1-3, 2 Timothy 2:24-26
How to Hear From God | Genesis 1:1-31
The Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit | Genesis 1:1-5
To Know God is to Worship God | Genesis 1:3-25
Is Your God Too Small? | Genesis 1:1-2
God’s process for seeking and offering forgiveness will have better results for us than the poor process we see from Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. The gospel transforms how we handle sin and conflict in our relationships. Use “gospel” as a verb and strive to gospel your relationships when a F.O.U.L. occurs:
John Elmore: We're going to have a live conflict resolution. This is not staged. It has only been planned by me and not the other side. We're going to have live conflict resolution. I want you to see it happen in the flesh that you're like, "Oh! So that's how." Here's the context. So, we go on a Community Group retreat this summer. We get home, and I'm unpacking the bags, and I'm like, "What in the world is this?" I pull out something that was the most ridiculous flea shop, truck stop knickknack. Just weird… It looked like a crystal obelisk idol.
I don't know who other than Beth Barnard would have put it there, so we send her a text. We just kept it because Laura, my wife, loves a good prank. She's all about it. She's like, "That's going to come in handy. That's actually a blessing in disguise." So, throughout the year, we have this weird crystal thing in our garage. A Watermark member invited us to come over, and as we were walking out, we were like, "The crystal." So Laura smuggles it in her purse, and we go to the person's house.
Now, you are in this room. You don't know, but you have that weird crystal pagan idol in your house. You have not known, but you're here, so today you're going to find out. If you have white shelves in your house… I'd like a show of hands for white shelves in your house. Okay, you might be a contestant, and we might be in conflict. I have a picture of it. Here it is. This is inside your house.
Blake Holmes: Elmore!
John: If you would zoom out just a little bit, you'll see whose house that's in. That little wolf crystal pagan idol… Holmes family, if you're looking at your mantel, it's just to the left.
Blake: There are so many things I want to say. We blamed somebody else for that.
John: We might need to give Blake a microphone for this, because I have done something to you and, frankly, your whole family. I need to ask…
Blake: You need to ask the forgiveness of the other family we blamed for putting that on our shelf. It has now been a gag.
John: Well, that's on you for wrongfully accusing someone, but, entire Holmes family… (Gage and Avery, I think, are down at Baylor. Sick 'em, Bears.) Holmes family, would you please forgive me?
Rebecca Holmes: Absolutely.
John: I got an "Absolutely" from Rebecca and a "Maybe" from Blake. It sounds like the wolf crystal is now making its way through DFW, so beware. You've been warned. But the reality is that's one of three times Blake and I have asked for each other's forgiveness in the last two weeks. That one is just in fun, but we were in a meeting about a week and a half ago before break, and we, because we had both hurt each other, asked for each other's forgiveness in all sincerity as we were working together.
That's because it's inevitable. I sin. Blake sins. Everyone in this room sins, and we're in relationship together. Frankly, the closer in relationship you are, the more probable it's going to be that you're going to affect someone. You're going to hurt someone. You're going to be in conflict with them. So it is essential that we are asking for each other's forgiveness, and not just asking for each other's forgiveness, but like Rebecca (not so much like Blake), we are extending forgiveness when asked.
We're asking for and extending forgiveness. In this way, we are living out the gospel, the good news, with each other. The forgiveness we have received from God through Jesus we're now living out with one another in the body of Christ that there may be no division. Because sin is inevitable, forgiveness is essential. I don't think I need to remind you of this on the heels of Thanksgiving and being with all the family and extended family and the pressure and all that brings and walking into Christmas and the stress of the holiday season.
I think it's really timely of the Lord, providential, that he would have us squarely in the middle of the first marital fight we see in Scripture, the first interpersonal conflict in Scripture, right here in Genesis, chapter 3. Today we're continuing our Made series. It's made for a different world. This is the broken version, so God, in his kindness, grace, and mercy, has infused love and forgiveness to us that it would overflow to others. Truly, we are made to live out the gospel in this world.
We are made to "gospel" our relationships. I'm using that word as a verb very intentionally, which I'll get to in a little bit. We are made to gospel our relationships. The context is Adam and Eve are hiding. They've covered themselves in fig leaves. They're hiding in the trees, as TA covered well last week the difference between guilt and shame. So there they are hiding. They hear God walking, and now God is going to engage with them, like, "What is going on?" They're hiding from him because of the sin. Here's what it says in verse 3:12.
"The man said…" This is Adam talking. "'The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.' Then the Lord God said to the woman, 'What is this that you have done?' The woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate.'" By way of a little bit of preview, we're going to see a bad process from Adam and Eve, and then we're going to see God's process. We'll see bad cues, bad instruction, from Adam and Eve. Then we're going to see good news from Jesus that we can model and emulate.
It's going to be a topical sermon, and we're going to step from Genesis 3:12-13 throughout the canon of Scripture, looking at all God has to say. Not all of it (it's so innumerable), but so many different examples and instructions of how we can walk through conflict, how we can gospel our relationships. So, with that, I want to pray first, because we need to. This isn't going to happen just by hearing a message. This will happen by transformation of hearts, and I can't do that, but God can.
Father, I pray in total desperation right now that the gospel which we have received from you, the good news of Jesus Christ, would infect us and affect us in every one of our relationships, because we're sinning against each other. I know from your Word if we learned to ask for and extend forgiveness, revival would break out, because we wouldn't be hindered by sin, and the watching world would be astounded by the love they would see. So, Lord, do this in us, every single one, amen.
So the bad process. The bad process of Adam and Eve is the blame game. Watch this. It's incredible, the blame game that happens. First of all, Adam blames Eve. He's going to go through three different steps. The first one is that Adam blames Eve. He doesn't even call her by her name. This is like David Allan Coe, "You never called me by my name."
He says, "The woman…" If you're in a conflict with your spouse, maybe in Community Group, maybe at dinner, maybe with your in-laws, don't say, "The woman." It's not going to go well. Call her "Honey," "Babe," or "Sweetheart." Don't say, "The woman" or "The man." But he says, "The woman." Can you imagine the glare from Eve? Like, "Okay, so that's where we are. Okay, Adam. Dinner is going to be cold tonight."
Notice how the terms of endearment drop off. He calls her Eve, the mother of all living, but here he says, "The woman." We do this. When Laura and I are good, it's like, "Babe, sweetheart, honey, hey." Then the second any kind of tension arrives, it's "Laura." All the endearment… When our kids do something, it's not… Hill's nickname is "Bear." It's not "Bear." We're like, "Hill David Elmore!" We go full name whenever there's sin that enters in. This blame game. "The woman."
He doesn't stop there. He also blames God. That's a pretty strong flex. He says, "The woman whom you gave to be with me." He's like, "I was fine, God. Everything was fine. I wasn't eating of that tree. I was not going to eat that fruit. Everything was fine. You gave me the woman. Look at what happened." It's exactly what we do. It's Proverbs 19:3. Listen to this. "When a man's folly brings his way to ruin…" So, when my life, my ways, bring my life to ruin. "…his heart rages against the Lord."
No one can make you sin. God certainly will not make you sin, nor does he tempt anyone. That's what James says. No one can make you sin. So often, when we're parenting our kids, they'll come in. They're like, "So-and-so…and that's why I did this." I'm like, "They can't make you do that. You can be tempted. You can be frustrated, but no one can make you sin. You yourself alone are responsible for every sin you've ever committed."
So, he blames Eve, blames God, and then the next one is he gives an excuse to justify the action. He says, "She gave me the fruit of the tree." It's like, "Well, so what, Adam? Drop it. She didn't force it into your mouth." It's "The woman who you gave me, and she gave it to me." It's like, "You're just making excuses."
I've told you we're going to get bad cues from Adam and Eve. Anytime you are making an excuse when you're in conflict, it's only going to make things worse. It's just going to escalate things because that person will not feel heard. Rather than taking ownership, there are excuses, like, "Well, he gave me the weed." "You left your laptop unlocked." "When you were out of town, I was left at home alone." It's all of the different justifications to excuse the action.
Then you get to Eve. At first glance, you're like, "Oh, she did pretty good." She says, "The Serpent deceived me, and I ate." You're like, "That's actually… That's fewer words than Adam, fewer excuses, less blame game. She's just kind of saying what happened and that she ate. She confessed, right? Like, the Serpent deceived her. She confessed." No. Eve gives what, I would say, is a half-truth given as the whole truth, which is no truth.
When our kids do this… Someone will come in. They'll be like, "So-and-so pushed me." We're like, "Man, that's weird. Why would they just push you? Did you do anything?" "No! They just pushed me." Then we'll go and talk to the other person. The first child to plead their case is always wrong. We're like, "Hey, you just pushed your sister?" They're like, "Well, she took something" or "She hit me" or "She called me this." It's like, "Oh, okay."
Then we have the conversation with them, like, "Hey, that half-truth you told me that he hit you, but you didn't say you pushed him or stole something from him… Do you know what you just did? You deceived me. You were trying to deceive me. You lied to me by telling me a half-truth as the whole truth, which actually was no truth at all."
That is exactly what Eve is doing here. She's like, "Well, the Serpent deceived me." It's like, "Uh, Eve, I think there's a little more there." It would be like, "Oh yeah. Um, I wanted to be like you. I thought if I ate it, I wouldn't have to answer to you. I would be like you."
"Thank you. That would have helped. And then you ate it? Is that it, Eve? Nothing else?"
"Yeah, I ate it, and then I gave it to another."
Matthew 18 says, "Woe to the world because temptation is bound to come, but woe to the one through whom the temptation comes. It would be better that a millstone be tied around their neck." It's like, okay, if you sin, that's on you. If you lead someone else into sin, God sees it as this whole other ordeal. So, she gives this half-truth.
We take our bad cues from them. Nobody had to teach us this stuff. We do the same thing. We blame to avoid shame. I don't want to have the indignity that I did what I did, so I'm going to start blaming. We're going to give excuses to justify the offense, and then, also, we'll give half-truths to deceive. I mean, we do it all the time. We'll give them an answer. It's just not the whole answer, which is deception. We have to turn from this.
The other thing you'll notice from this passage… This is haunting. These are the last spoken words by Adam recorded in the Bible. God has a final word, as TA said last week in Romans 5, with the second Adam, Jesus, but Adam's last spoken words are these to Eve recorded in the Bible. Eve goes on to name children, so she has some more speaking that she does. My point here is that if sin is not addressed, it can be a terrible end to a friend. So, as we are living and breathing, this side of eternity where sin is inevitable, we have to move forward in the essential nature of asking for and extending forgiveness.
It's not this Bible because my vision has since changed. I used to have a smaller Bible, but I had a yellow Post-it note on the inside cover of my Bible. I had names written there, and the names that were written were people I had hurt in my life. One in particular was a college friend I had said some terrible things to…terrible. It was the last time I had seen him, and I had no way of getting in touch with him. I didn't have his number. I couldn't find anything on Google.
So I was just like, "There's his name: Lane." It was written on the inside of my Bible. I was here at this very church, in seminary, before I was even a member. I was just attending. I was going to another church, but I was here on a Sunday. I had it on the inside of my Bible, and I was sitting there outside by the pond, praying. I looked up, and there he was. There was Lane. I was like, "Oh my goodness."
I walked up and said, "Hey, can I show you something really quick?" He was like, "Hey, hey! How's it going?" I was like, "See your name there?" He was like, "That's crazy. Why is my name in your Bible?" I was like, "The last time we talked I said horrible things to you. Will you please forgive me?" Like Adam, my last words were going to be the terrible end to a friend, but the Lord had changed my heart by forgiving me, and now I was going to move toward him.
So, rather than playing the blame game, like Adam and Eve, I want to walk us through something…when there is a foul against you or committed by you, when there is a foul in life, how we need to gospel our relationships. Anybody watching college football this past break over Thanksgiving? Yes. Great. A personal foul is the worst thing you can do in football. A personal foul is unnecessary roughness or a dirty play, specifically aimed at injuring the other person.
This is what we do when we sin against someone. It is a personal foul. When we've done that, we have to reconcile the relationship by asking for forgiveness. Now, I said when there has been a foul, we need to gospel our relationships. First, FOUL. I'm going to walk us through an acrostic. The F is for follow God, not your feelings. The O is to own your part. The U is if you're at unrest in a relationship, move to unity, from unrest to unity. The L is to love like God.
Then I said we need to gospel our relationships. I'm using the word gospel as a verb very intentionally. It's what grammarians are calling de-nominalization. It's happening a lot these days. You would say, "Hey, they friended me." Well, friend is a noun, but because of Facebook, when you have "friended" someone, you've now made that noun into a verb. It's an action they take. When you say, "I Googled something," well, Google is a noun. It's a company. It's a website. You can't use it as a verb, except now we do. We verb it.
So, when you say, "I Googled Texas A&M and why they're so obnoxious…" (You walk right into those traps. That's why I love that community college down there. They're always available. And they hiss. That's even weirder.) We stayed at an Airbnb this summer. I laid down in the bed, and I was like, "Oh, you've got to be kidding me." So I contacted the homeowner. I was like, "Hey, I'm being tacoed by your bed." He knew exactly what I was talking about. I laid down on the bed, and it tacoed me.
What I'm saying is when there is a foul in a relationship, we need to gospel the relationship. Now the verb I'm using… Here's how I'm going to tell you what it is, and maybe you're already getting it. When there's a foul… The gospel is there's sin against us and God that has separated us. We have committed sin. It has separated us from God. Now we acknowledge that sin. We come into the light, and we're like, "Hey, God, you're sovereign. I am sinful. You're holy. I'm not. So I'm acknowledging that sin. I'm confessing it in the gospel."
Then in the gospel there is forgiveness. God, through Jesus Christ, who was crucified for you, raised from the dead… There is forgiveness by God through the Son toward you in the gospel. Then there is reconciliation. Through that forgiveness in the gospel, you're brought back together, and there is unity in the gospel.
So, when I say we foul one another, we hurt one another, we need to gospel the relationship, like, infuse the gospel, use the gospel, move the gospel in our relationships. Because of sin there has been division, and there needs to be forgiveness so that there's reconciliation and unity. The gospel is vertical for us and then moves horizontally toward each other…toward the house of God in particular, and then especially toward unbelievers that they might experience the forgiveness and grace of God. So we need to gospel our relationships.
Now, the best way to avoid a fight, as we're talking about conflict… I'm going to ask Alex Hockett here to throw this rope up. We're talking about conflict, and I think a lot of times you hear conflict, and you're already shut down. "Oh gosh! It's so hard. It's awkward, and they escalate, and I invalidate and withdraw." We don't even want to deal with it. That's why I'm saying we need to gospel it, because that's a redemptive, good word, which is what we need.
Whenever Laura and I fight… Alex is stronger here, but when there's a disagreement with Laura and I, I'm like, "Oh, no, no, no. I'm going to win you to my side." Okay, okay. That was good. "I'm going to lawyer you or I'm going to escalate. Oh, really? You're going to pull me?" You can feel the tension of "I'm going to win you to my side." Alex is stronger than me. If he pulls hard, I'm going to break an ankle.
What Scripture says is that when you feel that conflict, when you feel that tug, like, "Okay, we're moving in different directions," drop the rope. When you feel that relational tug, you're just to drop the rope. And not only that, because we're still apart from each other, but that we would move toward each other.
That's what Scripture says. It's right here in Proverbs 17:14. "The beginning of strife is like letting out water…" When you let out water… You think about a levy breaking or just anything…irrigation. It's like, once water is out, you can't collect it back in. It's gone. The horse is out of the barn. God is like, "It's like that." "…so quit before the quarrel breaks out." Drop the rope. When you feel that tug, drop the rope and move toward each other. Now we get to F. If you didn't drop the rope and you find yourself within that conflict, here's how we begin to gospel the relationship.
So, I started following God rather than my feelings, my feelings that were like, "Man, I am hurt, and I'm going to hurt you." Instead, I started sharing the gospel with this person, probably a dozen times, and not like, "You dirty sinner! You deserve to die," but "Jesus died for you, so I hope you trust him." It was a very gracious invitation.
I asked for their forgiveness. I began praying for them regularly. I still will. I found out over the course of time… I was like, "Okay. I've loved them. I've prayed for them. We don't even live in the same city. How would I bless them? I don't even know how I'd bless them. What am I going to do? Venmo them? That would be weird."
I found out they were having a kid. I was like, "You know what? I bet they have a baby shower registry or something." So I jumped online and found it, sure enough. I sent them a baby gift. I was like, "Hey, Psalm 127. Children are a blessing from the Lord, a heritage." Do you know what happened? It's not what happened to them. It's what happened to me. As I followed God and not my feelings, as I "gospeled" that relationship, the love of God moved through me and pushed all that black, evil hatred and revenge out of me and, I think, probably did something in their life too. Follow God and not your feelings.
Here it is in Leviticus 19:17-18. You didn't think we were going Leviticus today, but we are. "You shall not hate your brother in your heart…" Which is what I was doing. "…but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor…" I think the reason frankly is there is because, a lot of times, we beat around the bush. We don't really say what it is because we're afraid we're going to offend them, even though they've sinned against us, or whatever it is. No, go reason frankly. Just say what… Yes, it's going to be awkward. Sin is awkward, but reason frankly.
"…lest you incur sin because of him." That's a strange thing. They're the one who sinned against you, and now God is saying, "No, you need to go talk to them. You need to talk it over, and if you don't, you're actually going to be in sin." You're like, "Hold up. They sinned against me. If I don't talk to them, I'm going to be in sin?" Yes. Why? Because you will begin to hate your brother or sister in your heart. That root of bitterness that will grow up to defile many will be there. The way to get it out is to talk it over. Follow God and not your feelings.
It goes on to say, "You shall not take vengeance…" That would be to escalate. "…or bear a grudge…" That would be to withdraw and be like, "Well, I'm not going to kill you. I'm just going to act like you're dead to me." Bear a grudge. "…against the sons of your own people…" Here's the second greatest command. It's found here. "…but you shall love your neighbor as yourself…" First, love the Lord your God. Second, love your neighbor as yourself. It's right there in Leviticus 19, in the midst of conflict, frankly. He's like, "Hey, the way you want to be loved, love others." That's follow God, not feelings.
Matthew 7:3-5: "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye?" Sometimes Laura will get mascara or something… She's like, "Oh, there's something in my eye." I'm like, "Is it a log?" She doesn't laugh like you guys do. It's the strangest thing.
"You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye…" There's own your part. "…and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." In a conflict, when two people are in it together, God says, "Take the log out of your own eye first," and we should, but I think sometimes we stop there, like, "Well, I owned my part." But we're shepherding one another. We're in a body together.
If I have spinach in my teeth, I can't see it, but you can. I need you to tell me, "Hey, man. You have something in your teeth." God is saying we do that to each other. Just take ownership of your part first. Then, Jesus says, you will be able to take the speck out. You have a responsibility and faithfulness to do so, but your first responsibility is to own your own part. Now, when do you do that? As soon as the Spirit brings it to mind, and hopefully it will be that day.
Proverbs 6:2-4: "…if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth…" You've said something you shouldn't have said. Maybe you gossiped. Maybe you hurt them with your words. Maybe you escalated. Maybe there was a barbed remark, whatever it was. "…then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go…" So, there's "I'm going to move toward you." Interpersonal.
"…go, hasten…" That's quickly. "…and plead…" Which is humble. It's not talking at them. It's pleading. "…urgently with your neighbor. Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber…" God is like, "When do you do this? Before you go to bed that day." Ephesians: "Do not let the sun go down on your anger and thus give the Devil a foothold." He's like, "That day."
That's how important it is. If you don't, you're going to leave that seed of bitterness or resentment or anger with them, and you're going to put it off, and the longer you put it off, the more you're going to forget and start to diminish it, and it will be unaddressed. So that day. Jesus says, "So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."
I think the Lord here is like, "Hey, we are good vertically. You're forgiven. The blood of Jesus cleansed you from all sin. You've been adopted as my son or daughter. You're indwelt by the Spirit. Nothing can ever change that. Nothing can take you from the Father's hands, separate you from the love of God. However, your brother or sister has something against you. So, we're good. You leave your gift here. You go work that out quickly, and put a priority on that. Don't come worship me when there is division between the family of God."
I wonder if we would have stopped everyone at the door and said, "Hey, hold on. Before you walk through these doors, before you sing, before you offer a sacrifice of praise with your lips, are you good with everybody? Do you need to ask for forgiveness of anyone or extend forgiveness to anyone? If so, just go do that first," if in a really holy and right way, it would have been a little more quiet this morning. We have the opportunity to go out from these doors and do so.
So, I want you to take a moment. You can close your eyes. You can journal. I want you to take a moment and ask God, "Who is it? I need to own my part. Who is it I need to ask for forgiveness from?" Hopefully spouses didn't just elbow the person next to them. I want you to go and ask that person for forgiveness. The Spirit will bring it to mind. If that wasn't enough time, go get alone more. Journal through. There may be a list. There was for me.
Then you ask them for forgiveness. It's so simple, yet it is the hardest phrase to say in the English language. There is nothing, I believe, more difficult to say than, "Will you please forgive me?" It's not "Please forgive me." That's different. That's "Hey, I've sinned against you. Now I'm going to tell you what to do. I'm going to attach please to it, and I'm going to assume that you are. I'm just going to tell you 'Please forgive me.'" That is altogether different than saying, "Will you please forgive me?"
Now you've left yourself in a very vulnerable position. You've asked them a question, and they either can or can't, will or won't. If it doesn't have a question mark on the end of it, you have not asked for their forgiveness. So that we can all get a practice round in this together, let's say it together on the count of three. One, two, three. "Will you please forgive me?" Yes, of course. I love you. There's somebody you need to say that to. There's somebody you need to ask that question of. When they do, when they own their part, there's someone you need to extend that grace to, just as Jesus has with you.
Y'all, this should mark us. We have received forgiveness of sins from a holy, just God. We have…Christians. If you've placed your faith in Jesus, you have experienced the greatest forgiveness in the world, yet this side of eternity we still sin; therefore, we should be ones who are marked by asking others for forgiveness, because we, out of all people, understand it more than anyone else and should be extending it.
Last week in our Community Group, one of the wives had hurt her husband, and it was in front of everyone. So they talked, and then she literally walked back into the room. We didn't know this was going to happen. She was like, "You know what, guys? That was bad. Will you all please forgive me?" We just showered her with grace, and do you know what it was? It wasn't like, "She blew it." We all looked at her and were like, "I've never been more proud of that person in my life. I want to be like that."
We're all guilty of sin in various ways against each other, so we have to gospel in our relationships. She came in and acknowledged sin and asked for forgiveness. She was gospeling in that relationship. Asking for forgiveness should be normalized. I think if it was, revival would break out. I think there's so much enmity, strife, division, conflict, and bitterness unresolved that should never be. If we got that out of the house of God, imagine how we'd be unhindered for the things of the kingdom.
I want to give you a pro move from David. Man, he went big on one particular sin. He committed adultery and then killed one of his best friends. It was his buddy's wife who he slept with, and then, just to cover it up, he thought, "Well, I'll have him killed." I want you to listen to this exchange because it's intense. I'm going to read it with voice inflection that I think may have captured the moment, and then I want you to listen for one singular phrase, where it is amped up. David says something, and it's just calm and changes the whole conversation. Here it is. Second Samuel, chapter 12.
"Nathan [the prophet] said to David [on behalf of God], 'You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, "I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.
Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife."
Thus says the Lord, "Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun."' David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the Lord.'" Listen to the conversation shift. "And Nathan said to David, 'The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.'"
David, in a sense, says, "You're right." Unlike the cues from Adam and Eve of blame shifting, blaming others, blaming God, making excuses, giving a half-truth, he says, "You're right. I've sinned against the Lord." The whole conversation shifts, and Nathan is like, "The Lord has forgiven your sin. You're not going to die." Do you see that? "You're right" stops the fight. Saying, "You're right" stops the fight.
Laura and I were arguing recently. I'm driving, staring, and I'm so frustrated. I felt the Holy Spirit be like, "She's right," so I said those words. I said, "Laura, you're right." She was like, "Oh, I feel like I'm going to cry." I was like, "No, no, wait! I was trying to make it better." She was like, "No, happy tears."
"You're right" stops the fight. I want you to memorize those words: "You're right." It's so hard to say. It's so powerful to calm a fight. There's a resource. If you go to watermark.org/conflict, there's an entire booklet that's taken from Ken Sande's book The Peacemaker about how to walk through conflict in a gospel way, how to live the gospel in relationships.
Unification is the reason for confrontation. Sometimes when we're in conflict we're like, "All right. There's going to be a confrontation. We're going to have this Old West showdown." It's not to shame them. It's not to twist the knife. It's not to rub their nose in it. It's not to shun them. It's not to embarrass them. Rather, the sole reason for confrontation should be for unification. Unification is the aim of confrontation. It's not to show them all their sin and how much they hurt you but, rather, that you would be unified back to each other under the Lord. That's the reason why.
Here it is in 2 Corinthians, chapter 2. After there had been church discipline, Paul writes. "For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him." There was unrest because of a person in sin. That's 1 Corinthians 5. Because of that, they needed to move toward unity. The purpose of the confrontation was for unification.
Now, how do we do this? If you are in unrest with a person, how do you move toward unity? Jesus gives us the prescription here in Matthew 18. "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone." You don't have to think, "Well, I know what they're going to say whenever I say it, and they're going to justify it or whatever." Obedience is not determined by the outcome. You go, if you have unrest, for the purpose of unity, and you say, "This is how I was hurt. Could I talk to you?" after having owned your part first.
"If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others…" Not to gang up and dogpile, but in a sense of shepherding someone who has sinned. As the way you would want to be loved, love your neighbor as yourself. You might think, "Well, what if they never ask for forgiveness? What if I go and show them their fault or I take two or three others, and they never ask for forgiveness?"
A couple of weeks ago, I told you a story about when I was shot with a shotgun. It was a dove hunting accident. There was a bird flying low. As I'm watching it, I lay my gun down. I'm like, "No, there are too many people in this field." Poof! A flash of light, and I get lit up. I drop my gun in the mud, and I feel so much stinging, burning pain all over me. I take my hands and pull them up, and I have blood all over my hands.
It hit my nose. I could have been blind in my left eye. My arms were bleeding. My neck was bleeding. This was no, like, "Oh, you got peppered?" No, I got shot. This old man across the field… We were in Dumas, Texas. He was like, "Did I get you?" I hold up my bloody hands. I go, "What do you think?" He was like, "Sorry about that." That was it. That's all I got. He did not ask for my forgiveness. Maybe he's listening. Old man in Dumas, still waiting. No, I'm not. I've forgiven him.
Two weeks later, I throw a shirt on, and just a tee shirt brushes my nose, and I'm like, "Oh!" Like, almost down to my knees. I'm like, "What in the world?" Now, as a college student, I'm not going to pay medical… I didn't even know where a doctor was when I was going to college. So instead, at the fraternity meeting, I was like, "I'm getting this out." So I scratch off the scab, I squeeze it as hard as I can, thinking I'm going to get infection out. A piece of lead shot goes Bink! Bink! Bink! and rolls across the table. Fraternity brothers are like, "Oh! That's amazing!"
I had been carrying around lead in my body for two weeks. Like, lead poisons you. Lead poisoning. That's a thing. So it is if we don't forgive others. What if they never ask for forgiveness? If I would have waited for that guy, that old man, to be like, "Hey, by the way, I left my shot in your nose. Can I get it…" It was on me to release that, not him. I was the one carrying around poison. It has been said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. You're the one who's dying in your unforgiveness. So, God commands us to forgive.
Nate Graybill, the guy who wrote the re:gen curriculum, taught me this. I'll never forget it. He was like, "Hey, you go, you confront people in their sin, but if they don't ask for forgiveness, it's okay. Jesus has got it." He's like, "If they're a believer who has sinned against you, their sin has been nailed to the cross (Colossians 2), just like yours. All their sin has already been forgiven, so who are you to still hold on to a debt Christ has already paid if it's a believer who has sinned against you?"
I was like, "Wow. That makes total sense. I have to forgive them. I mean, Jesus did, and he forgave me." I was like, "But what about the unbeliever?" Then he got a little more somber, sober of spirit. He was like, "Yeah. If it's an unbeliever, Jesus will deal with that too. He'll either deal with it at the cross or he will deal with it as they spend eternity in hell for their sin…the wrath of God, separated from the goodness of God forever."
Jesus will deal with the sin in both scenarios, and that is haunting. I don't care what anybody did to you. The worst sins that have ever been committed against me… When I think about a person spending eternity in hell, it moves me to pray for them, that they would know the forgiveness of Jesus and have their debt paid upon the cross. Jesus will deal with it one way or the other, either at the cross or forever in hell. It will be dealt with. So you don't carry that. We forgive for the purpose of unity.
Here it is: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children." He very much is like, "Hey, as I did for you, now you do for others. I gospeled you. You had sin. We were separated. You confessed it. I forgave you. We are reconciled and unified. Now I want you to forgive others as God in Christ forgave you, and I want you to imitate me as you walk through this world."
If we did… The world has never known a love like that. The world has never known a love like God. It is a godless, loveless world. So, as we walk out with loving like God, forgiving like God, humbling ourselves and asking for forgiveness, the world is going to be like, "Who is this God who you know and serve and love who has changed you? I want to know him too. How can I be saved?"
But this verse… Before forgiveness is ever needed, it says kindness must be seeded. We have to encourage often. There's so much encouragement God gives us throughout Scripture. I think right now we are at such a deficit in the world of any kind of encouragement. The world is so high on criticism right now, with getting blasted and ghosted and canceled and trolled. It seems like the world's favorite pastime right now is just criticizing and going after people, but if we would turn that on its head… As it says here, be kind to one another, and just kindness be seeded before that forgiveness is ever needed.
We're to love like God. How could we do that? "Lord, you know what they did to me." Because he commands it and because he did it for you. He took all of your sin, the sin you committed against him. It says in Psalm 103 he has separated it as far as the east is from the west. As a father has compassion on his children, so he has compassion on you. He remembers you're just dust. We are just dust. We're to love like God, who took all your sin and nailed it to the cross that it would never be brought before you again.
So we've lost the right. The ability to hold a grudge has been crucified and dealt with at the cross. Your desire to maintain bitterness and resentment… That right was crucified at the cross. It has been dealt with. The grudge you've been holding has been dealt with at the cross. That we would love like God, that we would look upon Jesus on the cross, now empty tomb, us reconciled to the Father, and he's like, "Imitate me, because they're dying without love and bound for hell. Imitate me, therefore, that they might know and receive the love of Jesus Christ."
To live in unforgiveness, grudge, and bitterness is to live contrary to the cross of Jesus Christ. So, when there has been a foul, by you or against you, gospel your relationships. Follow God, not your feelings. Own your part. Move from unrest to unity, and love like God. You remember that wolf crystal I put in Blake's house. All of us have put something in someone else's life or they've put it in ours, and we have to gospel in these relationships so we can walk free as we walk home and that God would be glorified, we would be unhindered, and love like God. Let me pray.
Lord, I have no amount of words to bring about any change in my life or those who are hearing. That is the Spirit's job. So, I pray that the Holy Spirit would move in power today, that the sun would not go down before we go to our neighbor, our brother, our sister, our coworker, our spouse, our children, or a grandparent and ask for or extend forgiveness for any foul that has ever been committed against us or by us, that today there would be forgiveness. Then, Lord, bring about revival in our lives, in this church, city, nation, and world until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We now sing to you, our risen Savior, who forgave us of all, for your goodness toward us. In Jesus' name, amen.