John 20:23 Forgiving and retaining sins by Pastor Don Moore
Friday Bible Study – April 8, 2011
Someone asked Pastor Don about John 20:23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
They wanted to know if we really could determine if someone is forgiven or not.
Pastor Don said that we needed to read the passage in context. This passage occurs after Jesus rose from the dead, and then he came back and commissioned the disciples.
John 20:19-20 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
The disciples knew that it was the Lord.
John 20:21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
He sends us, and at this point, he establishes the principle of delegation by the power and position of His office. The apostles are the sent ones. Jesus had hundreds of disciples, but when these disciples, in the book of Acts, assemble in the upper room there will only be 120 that show up.
John 20:22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
The disciples received the Holy Spirit, much the same way as we receive the Holy Spirit when we are saved. This is different from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit which occurs in Acts. At this point, the disciples are sealed with the Holy Spirit, but they haven’t received the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to go out and do the work of the Kingdom.
Notice that Jesus breathed on the disciples. Traditionally, today, when power is conferred we anoint people with oil – not breathe on them. We are so flesh minded that most do not want to be breathed upon.
In the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit will breathe on them.
The disciples are being commissioned but haven’t yet had the power given to them that goes with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
John 20:23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
Pastor Don said that, as you talk with people, and they repent there are times when you are aware that they are lying. That they don’t have heartfelt repentance, but may just be repenting because they got caught in an act. You can detect in your spirit the sincerity of their repentance. We don’t condemn people to hell, but we can assure someone that they are forgiven if their confession is from the heart. If not, you may rather choose to show a person what the Bible says on the situation and advise that they need to change their behavior, turn their life around.
Pastor Don gave a scriptural example of this.
Acts 8:4-13 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
This Simon the sorcerer was baptized and continued with Philip, watching the works of the Spirit through Philip.
Acts 8:14-16 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
These people had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, but hadn’t received the infilling of the Holy Spirit with signs following. They were sealed with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit led them to the Lord, but they hadn’t been empowered by the Holy Spirit, the dunamis power of the Holy Spirit.
It is possible to be baptized, born again, and still not receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Being born again is a process. We are brought under the conviction that we know that we need Jesus, and we invite Jesus in.
John 14:16-17 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
Jesus prays for the Holy Spirit for his disciples, to dwell in them. Up until that time, the Spirit dwelt upon one or two, but now the Holy Spirit will be within the believer.
Acts 8:17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
They laid hands on the people so they could receive the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Don told us that in a way we are under a Germanic sort of Gospel, that implies that there has to be a formula.
Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,
Simon saw. What did he see? We can’t see the Holy Spirit, so there had to be an outward manifestation of the Spirit, and the evidence the Bible says is the speaking of tongues.
Simon shows that he did not fully receive the Gospel in his heart, for when he saw this evidence, he offered to pay.
Acts 8:19-21 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
Peter judged that Simon’s heart was not right.
Acts 8:22-23 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”
Peter told Simon to repent.
When we receive Jesus, while our Spirit is cleansed, we may still have baggage in our hearts to deal with.
We may have iniquity – which is purposeful sin. And with iniquity, when we purposefully decide to sin, knowing that it is sin, we need to repent and it shows that we haven’t fully repented.
Acts 8:24 Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”
Repenting means to turn and go in the right direction. We may not be perfect, and we may fall back into old ways, but our heart has to be towards doing the right thing, and when we fail, get back up, and try again.
Let go and let God. God tells us what to do and so often we don’t.
Job 22:23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up; you will remove iniquity far from your tents.
Pastor Don then went on to teach on the role of the prophet. I will put that in the next study.
Hoping your day is blessed.
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