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The Power of Forgiveness to Change Lives

(Preaching Outline)

1)      A challenging passage on forgiveness – after Jesus taught his disciples to pray:

a)      Matthew 6:14–15 (NKJV) — 14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

i)        At face value, how does this passage depict salvation?  How does it depict God?

ii)      A major part of discipleship is teaching critical thinking, wisdom and discernment.  Jesus expects us to wrestle with what He says in the context of all God has spoken in scripture and the witness of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

2)      Here is another challenging scripture – I am not going to expound it thoroughly, but just some thoughts that will hopefully inspire meditation:

a)      Matthew 12:31–33 (NKJV) — 31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. 33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.

i)        Is not forgiving others blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

ii)      The logic seems to be 1. Scripture says if we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven & 2. The only sin which will not be forgiven is blasphemy against the Spirit of God.

b)     It seems to be connected to recognizing and embracing the Spirit of Christ and His Kingdom.

c)      Is vs. 32 redundant, or is it hinting at something?

i)        If we are of a right spirit, could we speak against Jesus?  That verse implies that speaking against Jesus is not necessarily speaking against the Holy Spirit. I think these are challenging ideas.

ii)      Is it possible that genuine doubts and misunderstandings may not be motivated by an anti-Christ spirit?

d)     Vs. 33 seems to suggest that Jesus wants to actually reproduce His life in us and manifest His kingdom in the flesh.  I encourage you to do a search in the gospels for every reference to fruit and see what you think about that idea.

3)      A video sent to Mel and me from another pastor in LH.

a)      It was a podcast with 3 speakers defending a clip online where John McArthur stated that Martin Luther King Jr. was not a Christian.  They show that King said at one point that he did not believe Jesus was God in the flesh.  They then applied this passage:

b)      1 John 4:1–3 (NKJV) — 1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

c)      It sounds like King spoke a word against the son of man.

d)     They located King in the line of liberation theology from Rev. Cone to modern wokeism, DEI and critical race theory.  They said he was part of a movement rooted in envy, hatred jealousy, covetousness and sinful partiality.

e)      It seems to me that if we were to discern the spirit of King, that describes the opposite of his legacy which seemed to move toward forgiveness and true equality.

f)        Scott McKay writes, “King’s message to America was much like that of Douglass—he wanted a colorblind country in which it was the content of one’s character that mattered. And it was a lot like Washington’s (Booker T Washington) —“If a man is called to be a street sweeper,” said King, “he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’” King captured the fascination and hearts of Americans because he was notably imbued with the spirit of the nation’s founders. His message was quintessential America at our best.”[1]

g)      Thoughts on what denying Jesus came in the flesh might be.

4)      The challenge of orthodoxy and blasphemy against the Spirit.

a)      It seems reasonable that Jesus spoke about the blasphemy of the spirit because that was what the Jews were doing.  Maybe Jesus was that bold as an attempt to wake them out of it. 

b)     Rabbi Sacks on the destruction of the second temple:

c)      Our explanation [of this phrase] is that they were righteous and pious [tzaddikim veĥasidim] and laboured in the Torah. But they were not upright in their dealings with the world. Thus, as a result of the baseless hatred in their hearts, they suspected anyone who did not act in accordance with their opinions of being a Sadducee and a heretic. As a result they descended to murder and other evils, until eventually the Temple was destroyed.[2]

d)     Why was Jerusalem at the time of the First Temple destroyed? Because of the idolatry, forbidden sexual relationships, and bloodshed that were to be found therein. But as for the Second Temple, we recognise that its inhabitants laboured in the Torah and were scrupulous in giving tithes. Why then were they exiled? Because they loved money and hated one another – which teaches us that God hates hatred between people, and Scripture reckons it as equal to idolatry, forbidden sex, and bloodshed combined.[3]

e)      The importance of discerning the spirit and character of Christ and His kingdom.

5)      It is all about Jesus in the flesh and His kingdom manifested in our lives.

a)      Could it be that God will not forgive us if we do not forgive others because he can’t?

b)     What I mean is, Could it be that holding on to bitterness, anger, resentment and unforgiveness kills our soul?

c)      Could it be that unforgiveness is a form of denying Jesus in the flesh and blaspheming the Holy Spirit? 

d)     The cross and Christianity – “Father forgive them.”

6)      A story of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and forgiveness.

a)      A few weeks ago, Cheryl told us a powerful testimony. The next morning I was pondering the idea of a message to the world, “Kill my seed.”

b)     In December of 1981, Stephen Morin, a serial killer and rapist of around 30 women, abducted Margie Palm.

c)      A powerful testimony on YouTube:

d)     “The night before her kidnapping, Palm read about Corrie ten Boom, a Holocaust survivor and activist who found healing in forgiving a Nazi guard stationed at the concentration camp where her sister was killed. Loving someone who loves you is easy, Palm knew. The true challenge was loving someone who hates you. On the morning of December 11, before she encountered the serial killer who would change her life, she knelt in her closet and told God she would serve him however he needed her to that day.”[4]

e)      (Summarize the story)

f)        Explain “Kill my seed”

[1] McKay, Scott. The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win the Next American Era (p. 119). Bombardier Books. Kindle Edition.

[2] Sacks, Jonathan. Deuteronomy: Renewal of the Sinai Covenant (Covenant & Conversation Book 5) (pp. 272-273). The Toby Press. Kindle Edition.

[3] Sacks, Jonathan. Deuteronomy: Renewal of the Sinai Covenant (Covenant & Conversation Book 5) (p. 273). The Toby Press. Kindle Edition.

[4] Miller, Julie. “True Crime, True Faith: The Serial Killer and the Texas Mom Who Stopped Him.” Vanity Fair, 9 Aug. 2023,


After this message I decided to read a bunch of King Sermons.  Here are some excerpts from one of them.


We look at the struggle, the ideological struggle between communism on the one hand and democracy on the other, and we see the struggle between America and Russia. Now certainly, we can never give our allegiance to the Russian way of life, to the communistic way of life, because communism is based on an ethical relativism and a metaphysical materialism that no Christian can accept. When we look at the methods of communism, a philosophy where somehow the end justifies the means, we cannot accept that because we believe as Christians that the end is pre-existent in the means. But in spite of all of the weaknesses and evils inherent in communism, we must at the same time see the weaknesses and evils within democracy.[1]

A second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy, and every time you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points. I’ve said to you on many occasions that each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality. We’re split up and divided against ourselves. And there is something of a civil war going on within all of our lives. There is a recalcitrant South of our soul revolting against the North of our soul.[2]

The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hates you most has some good in it; even the race that hates you most has some good in it. And when you come to the point that you look in the face of every man and see deep down within him what religion calls “the image of God,” you begin to love him in spite of. No matter what he does, you see God’s image there. There is an element of goodness that he can never slough off. Discover the element of good in your enemy.[3]

There’s another reason why you should love your enemies, and that is because hate distorts the personality of the hater. We usually think of what hate does for the individual hated or the individuals hated or the groups hated. But it is even more tragic, it is even more ruinous and injurious to the individual who hates. You just begin hating somebody, and you will begin to do irrational things. You can’t see straight when you hate. You can’t walk straight when you hate. You can’t stand upright. Your vision is distorted. There is nothing more tragic than to see an individual whose heart is filled with hate. He comes to the point that he becomes a pathological case. For the person who hates, you can stand up and see a person and that person can be beautiful, and you will call them ugly. For the person who hates, the beautiful becomes ugly and the ugly becomes beautiful. For the person who hates, the good becomes bad and the bad becomes good. For the person who hates, the true becomes false and the false becomes true. That’s what hate does. You can’t see right. The symbol of objectivity is lost. Hate destroys the very structure of the personality of the hater.[4]

Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. You just keep loving people and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. [5]


[1] “‘Loving Your Enemies,’ Sermon Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.” The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute,

[2] “‘Loving Your Enemies,’ Sermon Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.” The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute,

[3] “‘Loving Your Enemies,’ Sermon Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.” The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute,

[4]  “‘Loving Your Enemies,’ Sermon Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.” The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute,

[5] “‘Loving Your Enemies,’ Sermon Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.” The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute,

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