Introduction: Last week, the students at the boarding school, where
my daughter attends, put on a play. Although the students were very
good, I went more out of a sense of obligation than desire.
Obligation was rewarded, however, when one of my daughter’s teachers,
Harlen Miller, started talking to me about forgiveness. “Have you,”
he asked, “ever thought about the word itself?” Well, I had not. My
handy electronic dictionary tells me it means “from” and “to give.”
Forgiveness is a gift that God gives to us and we, in turn, can give
to others! What really catches, my attention, however, is the “for.”
For can also mean “before” or “ahead.” We see this in words such as
foretaste and forgone. Jesus gave us the gift of His sacrifice on our
behalf before we needed it. Let’s explore how this forgiveness leads
us to repentance!

  1. The Link

    1. Read Romans 2:4. What leads you to repentance? (God’s
      kindness towards you.)

      1. Why?

      2. Which kindness of God is meant here? (When we
        consider what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross
        on our behalf, that is the most remarkable kindness
        we can imagine. When we add the thought that Jesus
        did this to forgive us of our sins before we were
        even born, that draws us to repent of our sins.)

    2. Read Matthew 9:9. What was Matthew’s job?

      1. Was this a respected position? (No. Read Matthew
        9:10-11. Tax collectors were in the same boat as
        sinners in the public’s opinion.)

      2. Do you think that Matthew realized what people
        thought of him? (Of course. That is why the friends
        who came to his home were tax collectors and others
        of less than sterling reputation.)

        1. Why do you think Jesus called Matthew to be a
          disciple? (The calling of Matthew gives hope to
          all those who are looked down upon by those
          around them.)

    3. Our lesson (Tuesday) has this glorious reminder that our
      sins, whatever they are, however serious they are, have
      already been punished — if we repent. When Jesus died on
      the cross, in our place, He was punished for our sins.
      This is a gift that is beyond our full comprehension. The
      key to this, however, is repentance. We just discussed one
      reason why Jesus would choose Matthew to be a disciple.
      Are there any other reasons? (Yes. Those who are forgiven
      more are likely to love more. (See Luke 7:47.) Matthew,
      because of the extent of his forgiveness, was an excellent
      choice to share what God has done for the most detested

    4. Read Matthew 9:12-13. What does Jesus mean when He says,
      “I desire mercy and not sacrifice?”

      1. Let’s work through this problem. First, what does
        Jesus mean by “sacrifice?” (Jesus is quoting Hosea
        6:6 where sacrifice clearly means the sin offerings
        given in the temple. (“I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
        and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt

      2. Second, what does Jesus mean by mercy? (In Hosea 6:6
        this is lined up with “acknowledgment of God.” I
        think Jesus is saying that we need to know God and
        accept who He is.)

        1. What role does Jesus play in helping us to know
          God? (Jesus came, in part, to reveal God to us.)

      3. What does the context of eating with sinners and tax
        collectors add to our understanding of the “mercy,
        not sacrifice” statement? (Jesus is telling us that
        He wants our primary focus on addressing the sin
        problem in life (the sin in our life and in others)
        rather than the removal of sin later. It is just
        like us saying to our children, “I want you to
        concentrate on doing what is right, rather than
        concentrating on saying you’re sorry later.)

      4. How does this illustrate what God did for us in
        forgiveness? (Jesus showed us that He loved us. Jesus
        showed us how to live. He did these things before He
        died on our behalf. Thus, even in His life and death
        on earth, Jesus illustrated the forgiveness idea –
        that He gave us an advance gift. The first gift of
        showing us how to live and love others, and the
        second gift of the atonement for our sins.)

      5. Who is being addressed in Matthew 9:13? Who is
        supposed to show mercy rather than making sacrifices?
        (This is us. We show mercy in two ways. We
        acknowledge God in our life and attempt to live a
        life that is pleasing to Him. In addition, we realize
        that our task is to bring the message of forgiveness
        to those who have not repented.)

      6. How do these verses in Matthew 9 affect our view of
        sinners? (Instead of condemning them, we view them as
        an opportunity to reveal Jesus’ attitude.)

  2. The Choice

    1. Read 2 Peter 3:9. What attitude does God have towards
      sinners? (He is not only patient, He wants the right

      1. What choices do we have? (If we do not repent, we
        will perish.)

    2. Read 2 Peter 3:10-11. When do we have to make the choice
      about repenting or perishing? (Immediately! The Lord can
      come at any time, and will come unexpectedly. We need to
      make the choice now.)

    3. Read Revelation 21:8. When the Bible speaks of perishing,
      what does it mean? What is the consequence of rejecting or
      delaying repentance?

      1. Why would a loving God do this? (He paid the penalty
        for our sins. All we have to do is choose and keep
        choosing to repent and walk with God. Consider all
        that God (and we) have suffered at the hands of sin.
        God will not let the sin problem continue. Sin and
        sinners will perish by fire.)

  3. Our Attitude Towards Sin

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 7:10-11. What is the difference between
      “Godly sorrow” and “worldly sorrow?” (One brings life and
      the other brings death.)

      1. What is “Godly sorrow?” (It seems to be a real regret
        for our sins.)

      2. Why does Godly sorrow bring life? (The lesson
        (Thursday) tells us the Greek word for repentance
        literally means “a change of mind.” Godly sorrow
        works a change in our attitude. We change our mind
        about a certain sin in our life.)

      3. Does this sorrow have anything to do with the
        forgiveness that Jesus gives us? (When we consider
        how our sins caused Jesus’ suffering, and we see how
        our sins hurt us and others, it helps us to have this
        change of mind we call repentance.)

      4. Look at the list of things in verse 11 that Godly
        sorrow produces. What relationship do you see, if
        any, between these attitudes and repentance?

    2. Consider 2 Corinthians 7:10 again. Do you regret some
      things you have done in the past?

      1. How does this regret feel?

      2. Notice that verse 10 says that Godly sorrow leads to
        repentance, which in turn leads to salvation, which
        leaves no regret. How can this be? Why would you be
        without regret? (My guess is that you have no regret
        because you have learned from the mistake and it has
        formed the basis for your repentance. Worldly sorrow,
        however, does not produce a change in your attitude
        or your life. The result is eternal death.)

    3. Friend, God offers us the gift of forgiveness. Would you
      like to have a change in your attitude? A change that can
      leave regret behind? If so, accept God’s gift today!

  4. Next week: How Jesus Forgave