Introduction: We are starting a new twelve-week study on the topic of
forgiveness. What does it mean to be forgiven? What are the steps to
forgiveness? How much will God forgive? Can we leave guilt behind?
How important is our obligation to forgive others? We have a great
deal to learn about forgiveness, so let’s dive into the Bible this
week and see what we can learn!

  1. The Confession Key

    1. Read 1 John 1:8-10. Who needs to confess sin? (Everyone)

      1. To whom do we confess our sins?

      2. What is the reason for confessing?

        1. Are our sins a secret from God? Are they a
          secret from us?

        2. If God knows our sins and we know our sins, what
          is the point of confessing?

    2. Read Luke 13:1-5. Why did the Galileans, who were killed
      while presenting sacrifices to God, die?

      1. Why did the 18 who died in the tower of Siloam
        tragedy die?

      2. Did these two groups die because they were sinning
        and God withdrew His protection from them?

      3. What is Jesus’ point in mentioning these two stories?
        (That we will all die. The question is whether we
        will perish eternally. Jesus is telling us that we
        cannot look on those who are suffering or who die and
        conclude that this happened to them (and not me,
        thankfully) because I am a better person. The
        question for all of us is whether we are ready to die
        at any time.)

      4. What is the antidote to eternal death? (Repentance
        from sins.)

    3. 1 John 1 told us to confess. Luke 13 tells us to repent.
      What is the relationship, if any, between confessing our
      sins and repentance? (I think they are pretty much the

    4. Remember, we started out asking why we should confess our
      sins when both we and God know about our sins already?
      What do these verses in Luke 13 suggest are the reasons to
      confess sin? (To avoid eternal death.)

    5. Let’s continue on in Luke 13. Read Luke 13:6-9. How does
      this parable have anything to do with Jesus’ statements
      about repentance? Or, did this vineyard story just pop
      into Jesus’ head and it has nothing to do with repentance?
      (I find that proximate sections of the gospels are almost
      always related to each other.)

      1. If you agree that the vineyard story is related to
        Jesus’ statements about repentance, is Jesus saying
        that repentance is a “fruit?”

      2. Read Galatians 5:22-24. Here is a list of the fruits
        of the spirit. Would repentance fit in this
        list?(Verse 24 is particularly instructive. It tells
        us that “crucif[ying] the sinful nature” is the
        result of the working of the Holy Spirit in our
        lives. The first fruit of the Spirit, the first step
        to crucifying our sinful nature, is to acknowledge
        the sin in our life. This is confession, this is
        repentance. I think the vineyard story teaches us
        that repentance is a fruit that God expects.)

    6. Go back and read 1 John 1:9 again. What is the key to
      being forgiven and purified from sin? (Repentance and
      confession of sin.)

      1. Is it that simple?

  2. How to Confess

    1. Read Luke 5:17-20. This turns what we just learned on its
      head! Where is the confession? Where is the repentance?
      How can Jesus say “your sins are forgiven” when there is
      no record the paralyzed guy said anything?

      1. What does the Bible tell us is the reason why Jesus
        forgave this fellow’s sins? (Verse 20 is the key:
        “When Jesus saw their faith….”)

        1. Are repentance and confession really a matter of
          faith? (We started out saying repentance and
          confession are a fruit of the spirit. Thus, they
          would logically be the first steps of faith.)

      2. Why did Jesus forgive the paralyzed guy’s sins when
        what he came for was a healing? (Do we know the man
        came for a healing? The context suggests this, but
        the Bible never says the man came to be healed as
        opposed to coming to be forgiven. Since Jesus’
        response suggests the man was more concerned about
        his sins than his disability, we should accept Jesus’
        understanding of the man’s needs.)

      3. Is there a link between sin and sickness? Sin and
        disability? (Read John 5:14 and John 9:2-3. The
        perception of the people was that illness was
        connected with sin. Jesus’ admonition in John 5 and
        His comment in John 9:3 teach us that illness can be
        caused by sin, but need not be caused by sin.)

    2. If you were to look at the story of the paralyzed guy to
      learn a lesson about how to confess, what lesson would you
      find? (We must come to Jesus in faith. Turning to Jesus
      for help is the first step in repentance and confession.)

    1. Notice in this story that the paralyzed guy had helpers –
      helpers who also had faith in Jesus. What role do helpers
      play in the repentance and confession of sin?

  1. The Extent of Forgiveness

    1. Read Matthew 18:23-25. How much was this debt? (The bottom
      line is that it was worth more than everything the man had
      – including his family. Apparently, this debt was in the
      millions of dollars.)

    2. Read Matthew 18:26. Do you think this was a realistic
      offer? The debt was about 12 million dollars. (I doubt
      this fellow had a realistic expectation that he could
      raise the money.)

    3. Read Matthew 18:27. Why did the master cancel the debt and
      let this man and his family go free?

    4. Read Matthew 18:28-31. The amount of the fellow servant’s
      debt was a few dollars. What was the reaction of the other
      servants? What is your reaction?

    5. Read Matthew 18:32-35. What happened to the family of the
      big-debt guy? (Interestingly, they are not mentioned. This
      is a penalty against the unforgiving fellow alone.)

      1. Why do you think Jesus mentions “torture?”

    6. Let’s go back to what started this parable. Read Matthew
      18:21-22. Is Peter being generous to offer to forgive
      seven times? How many times have you forgiven someone for
      the same thing? (Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines reveals
      that the Rabbis taught that forgiving three times was
      enough. Peter is being generous.)

      1. If you were making the rules on your own, how many
        times would you forgive? Let’s assume that someone
        borrows your car and then puts a dent in it. If this
        happened three times, would you still keep lending
        the car to this person? What if it happened seven

      2. Go back to Matthew 18:31. You just told me that you
        would not let someone repeatedly take your car and
        dent it up. Why does Jesus add to His parable the
        reaction of the fellow servants to what has happened?
        (Jesus is teaching us that what He requires is fair.
        You were thinking it was unfair to keep letting
        someone dent up your car. If we fully understand
        Jesus’ teachings on forgiveness, it will seem fair to

        1. In the “denting up your car repeatedly
          question,” what addition to the facts would
          cause you to say it was fair to let someone
          repeatedly dent up your car? (If the additional
          factual background was that you had repeatedly
          dented up someone else’s car. In that context
          forgiving someone who repeatedly dented your car
          would seem fair.)

        2. What, then, is fair about forgiving someone 77
          times? (Whatever someone asks us to forgive of
          them, Jesus has forgiven us more than that –
          much more.)

        3. What is the “good news” in that? (Jesus is
          willing to forgive us beyond our imagination.
          The difference between millions of dollars and a
          few dollars is the proper characterization
          between what we are asked to forgive of others
          and what Jesus has forgiven us.)

    7. Read Romans 5:20-21. This tells us that grace increases to
      cover whatever sins we need to have forgiven.

    8. Let’s assume that you have led a good life. A terrible
      person comes, kidnaps your only child from your home, and
      then kills your child. You have never killed anyone in
      your life. Are you required to forgive the killer of your
      child according to the principles we have just learned?

      1. Are you being required to forgive more than you have
        been forgiven, since you have never done anything
        like this? (Actually, you have done something very
        similar. Your sins are sufficient to kill the only
        Son of God – Jesus. Jesus has it right when He says
        that God has forgiven us beyond what we can imagine.
        This is the reason why Jesus mentions in the parable
        that the fellow servants thought it unfair that the
        servant had not been forgiving. Our obligation to
        forgive will seem fair when seen in the proper

    9. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-5. What does “keeps no records of
      wrongs” suggest about forgiving 77 times? (True
      forgiveness is not counting. The number 77 just means you
      keep forgiving.)

    10. Friend, God offers you forgiveness and expects you to
      forgive others in return. Is there someone that you need
      to forgive? Why not go to that person today?

  2. Next Week: Forgiveness in the Hebrew Bible.