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Sermon: Forgiveness, Luke 17.1-4


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Luke 17.1–4

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • September 7, In the year of our Lord, 2014

Scripture Reader and Reading: Dan Calvert – Matthew 18.6–7

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Phil Joseph – No suggestions


  1. Let the devil rule in your heart, and 
    1. you will hold a grudge, because
    2. you have not known the way of forgiveness.
  2. Let the Lord rule in your heart, and 
    1. you will forgive, because
    2. you have experienced forgiveness.
  3. Jesus did not get complicated when He taught forgiveness. 
    1. We look for ways not to forgive.
    2. He taught plainly that we should forgive.


  1. Luke 17.1–2 – The Certainty of Occasions of Stumbling

    1 Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17.1–2).

    1. Offenses will come, because
      1. disciples of Christ are not shielded from occasions of stumbling.
        1. He never promised that difficulties would not occur.
        2. Why do Christians think everything will always be easy?
      2. Did Jesus face conflict?
        1. Did the apostles?
        2. Did the prophets?
      3. The Bible even prophesies
        1. that we will have conflict, and
        2. the Bible reveals why,

          19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you (1Co 11.19).
          1. Offenses show
            1. whether we will still follow the Lord,
            2. whether we know how to implement what He has taught,
            3. whether we want to implement His teachings.
          2. Therefore, offenses can show who truly walks with the Lord.
      4. Satan will throw stumbling-blocks before you, because
        1. he wants you to lose faith in God.
        2. He will use everything imaginable, including:
          1. Christian sources,
          2. anti-Christian sources, and
          3. non-Christian sources.
            1. Whereas we may endure persecution and temptation,
            2. that comes as a direct assault on our Christianity,
              1. what about things that appear
              2. to have no connection to religion? For example,
                1. problems in finances, family, health, friends, etc.?
                2. Satan assaulted Job with these because of his faith.
      5. Jesus then added, “But woe to him through whom they do come!”
        1. He who causes stumbling is not a blessing.
        2. Some, as they persecute, justify themselves, saying,
          1. “You are supposed to take it,” or
          2. some other reasoning.
        3. He has a woe upon him, because
          1. he has sold himself to Satan.
          2. Listen to what Jesus had to say of the offender,

            6 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Matt 18.6–7).
    2. To drown is better than causing someone to stumble!
      1. Picture of the horror of having a millstone hung around your neck,
      2. then someone throws you into the sea.
        1. Tom and Jackie Hawks had a similar experience in November 2004,
          1. when Skylar Deleon and his co-defendants tied the Hawks
          2. to an achor and threw it overboard.
        2. However, Jesus said to experience something of that nature
          1. is not as bad as what will happen to someone
          2. who causes others to sin.
      3. Everyone is responsible for his own beliefs and business.
        1. However, that does not discredit someone who influences.
        2. Who literally killed Jesus?
          1. The Romans did, but
          2. Peter accused the Jews (Acts 2.23, 36).
  2. Luke 17.3–4 – Forgiveness

    3 “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Luke 17.3–4).

    1. What is important here?
      1. Saving a brother and
      2. keeping him as a brother.
    2. However, this takes a Christ-like heart, because
      1. this has serious ramifications whether we practice it or not.
      2. Therefore, Jesus prefaced His teaching
        1. with an exhortation to take heed to ourselves.
        2. Let us examine ourselves to see whether Jesus lives in us.
    3. He taught elsewhere
      1. that if we forgive,
      2. we shall be forgiven, but
        1. if we do not forgive,
        2. we shall not be forgiven.
    4. Jesus did not teach us to leave the congregation, and
      1. that we should think to ourselves,
      2. “I thought Christians were not supposed to sin against one another.”
        1. No, Jesus knew that there would be relationship problems, and
        2. He taught us how to deal with them.
    5. If your brother sins, rebuke him.
      1. Jesus did not say to blow your brother out of the water.
      2. Jesus did not say to tell others about it.
      3. Jesus did not say to tattle to the elders and let them handle it.
        1. Rebuke does not mean to get in your brother’s face and
        2. chew him out, but
          1. simply to correct him, and
          2. correct him as you wish to be corrected.
    6. If your brother repents, forgive him.
      1. We cannot forgive unless there has been an effort to change, but
        1. a brother has to know of our eager willingness
        2. to forgive him for him to be motivated to change.
          1. Remember the example of Jesus,

            34 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23.34).
          2. The Father did not forgive them right then, but
            1. He did 51 days later
            2. when they repented.
              1. The Father forgave them, because
              2. Jesus truly wanted them forgiven.
        3. This does not authorize grudges until a person has repented.
      2. Forgive your brother.
        1. Some object, asking how can God expect them to forgive.
          1. He forgave us.
          2. How can we not forgive?

            13 …bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do (Col 3.13).
        2. Others object saying, I cannot forgive.
          1. What they mean is: I do not want to forget.
          2. Remember Colossians 3.13 and now Hebrews 8,

            12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more (Heb 8.12).
        3. We forgive when we submit totally to Jesus Christ.
          1. He said it, that settles it, therefore I do it.
          2. We have to have complete confidence in His instructions.
    7. How far should we go with forgiveness?
      1. What did Jesus say in Luke 17.4?
        1. Remember that we live the second-mile religion.
        2. Even as we do not want Jesus to limit His forgiveness toward us,
          1. so we cannot limit our forgiveness toward our brother.
      2. It helps me to think on my sins against God, but
        1. His readiness to forgive me.
        2. How often have I sinned against Him, and
        3. how repulsive have my sins been against Him and others?
      3. When Jesus said
        1. that if you brother sins against you seven times in a day, and
        2. that if he seven times in a day returns to you and says, “I repent,”
          1. did Jesus mean to count up to that number,
          2. then after that no longer forgive him?
            1. First, has someone sinned against us seven times in one day?
              1. If so, it is a lot.
              2. However, that is His point.
            2. Jesus told Peter to forgive seventy times seven (Matt 18.21–22).
      4. Is it possible to repent sincerely repeatedly?
        1. Yes,
        2. even as we do toward God and toward others.
      5. Repeated genuine forgiveness
        1. for genuine repentance
        2. does not necessarily encourage abuse.
          1. Does God’s repeated forgiveness encourage abuse of His grace?
            1. For some, yes.
            2. For others, no.
          2. It builds reconciliation,
            1. which builds fellowship,
            2. which builds friendship, and
              1. friends avoid offending one another.
              2. Friends hasten to forgive in order to restore friendship.


  1. Experience the forgiveness of Jesus. 
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