In Matthew 18:15-35, Jesus reveals principles of His Kingdom having to do with sin (debts) and forgiveness (cancellation of debt.) He begins in verse 15 describing how to deal with a brother or sister who sins against you. It requires some understanding of Jewish practices to fully grasp what He was teaching. Essentially, if you take the steps He spoke of and your brother/sister will not be reconciled to you, own up to their sins and repent, then you treat them as a tax gatherer.
Side note, He wasn’t talking about binding demons and such. The story in the Greek makes perfect sense. We are to bind up mercy in our hearts for those who sin against us and loose, let go of, cancel the debt they owe for sinning. That’s what Jesus was teaching about binding and loosing, but I diverge…
What example did Jesus provide in treating publicans and tax gatherer, so we can know what He means? You can find the stories in the gospels where He loved the tax-gatherers, ate with them and even called one, Matthew, to be a disciple!
It’s the goodness of God that leads a sinner to repentance. (Romans 2:4.)
How often have we seen people shunned, even excommunicated from the church because they didn’t show signs of repentance? I am not here to judge anyone for this, but just to be aware “love keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Cor 13:5.)
I can hear someone saying, but what about Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 5 where he told the church to excommunicate a man who was sleeping with this step-mother? If you read it carefully, the action taken was done so that the man would see the goodness of God and repent. He did repent and the Corinthian church asked Paul what they were to do next. Paul said to forgive the man and welcome him back into the communion of the saints (2 Corinthians 2.) This was a stunning turn-around!
When we remember (bind up in our heart) a persons sins against them. we are actually being defiled by those sins. Our hearts are being hardened and become subject to fear, anxiety, worry and even torment —are they going to do it to us again? If I forgive them, they will do it to me again. If I forgive them, I won’t be safe. If I forgive them, they will just get away with it. I have forgiven them, but I want to see justice done!
Remember, perfect love drives out fear. (1 John 4:18.) God’s justice involves punishment and death for sins committed. God’s justice was satisfied on the cross as His only begotten Son was punished for our iniquities and put to death for our sins. When we acknowledge this perfect love in manifestation for us, speaking out verbally, “Jesus is my Lord!” we receive His justification and will never face judgement for sins again. Fear must leave us and the Spirit of power, love and a sound mind takes up residence in us. We become one spirit with the Lord, but our soul may not be in agreement yet…
Our sins (debts) are cancelled and we are pardoned in Christ. A pardoned convict is free to leave the prison and live as though he never committed a crime to begin with. There is no double jeopardy in the Kingdom. A cancelled debt is noncollectable. It is unrighteous to seek collection of a cancelled debt. (Matthew 18:28-29.)
One of the seven sayings of the Savior on the cross is, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they are doing.”
Jesus meant all mankind, not just the Roman soldiers who crucified Him or the Jewish leaders who turned Him over to Pontius Pilate. He asked Father God to forgive you and me for our sins and cancel the debt we owed to God. The price of forgiveness is beyond comprehension. Yet the nature of the One who spoke those words for all mankind lives in everyone who names Jesus as Lord. Let us seek His abundant empowerment (grace) to choose to bind up mercy in our hearts and loose (cancel) the debts of those who sin against us with His shed blood. In doing so, we shall be free of any spirit of fear and be filled with His Spirit –love, power and sound mind.