Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Saturday, August 31, 2013

And forgive us our debts...

At the outset of our consideration of this fifth petition, it is vital that we give due attention to the fact that it begins differently than the first four. For the first time in our Lord’s Prayer we encounter the word and. The fourth petition, "Give us this day our daily bread," is followed by the words, "And forgive us our debts," indicating that there is a very close connection between the two petitions. It is true that the first three petitions are intimately related, yet they are quite distinct. But the fourth and fifth petitions are to be especially linked in our minds for several practical reasons. First, we are taught that without pardon all the good things of this life will benefit us nothing. A man in a cell on death row is fed and clothed, but what is the daintiest diet and the costliest apparel worth to him as long as he remains under sentence of imminent death? "Our daily bread doth but fatten us as lambs for the slaughter if our sins be not pardoned" (Matthew Henry). Second, our Lord would inform us that our sins are so many and so grievous that we deserve not one mouthful of food. Each day the Christian is guilty of offenses that forfeit even the common blessings of life, so that he should ever say with Jacob, "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies. . . which Thou hast shewed unto Thy servant (Gen. 32:10). Third, Christ would remind us that our sins are the great obstacle to the favors we might receive from God (Isa. 59:2; Jer. 5:25). Our sins constrict the channel of blessing, and therefore as often as we pray, "Give us," we must add, "And forgive us." Fourth, Christ would encourage us to go on in faith from strength to strength. If we trust God’s providence to provide for our bodies, should we not trust Him for the salvation of our souls from the power and dominion of sin and from sin’s dreadful wages?

"Forgive us our debts." Our sins are here viewed, as in Luke 11:4, under the notion of debts, that is, undischarged obligations or failures to render to God His lawful due. We owe to God sincere and perfect worship together with earnest and perpetual obedience. The Apostle Paul says, "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh" (Rom. 8:12), thus stating the negative side. But positively, we are debtors to God, to live unto Him. By the law of creation, we were made not to gratify the flesh but to glorify God. "When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do" (Luke 17:10). Failure to discharge our debt of worship and obedience has entailed guilt, bringing us into debt to Divine justice. Now when we pray, "Forgive us our debts," we do not ask to be discharged from the duties we owe to God, but to be acquitted from our guilt, that is, to have the punishment due us remitted.

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