What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.5 Part 4 Love does not take into account wrong suffered

“Love refuses to account for personal wrongs”

1 Corinthians 13:5

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.5 Part 4 Love does not take into account wrong suffered

1 Corinthians 13 and we will look at the fifth verse for the last time this morning. The topic this morning is that love refuses to account for personal wrongs.

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Again I’m reminded of the book that we have at home. And for “love does not take into account a wrong suffered” Rosie’s has already coloured a picture and Paxton is drawing on it! And Rosie is aghast while Paxton with each stroke of the crayon systematically dismantles Rosie’s entire masterpiece!

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In a situation like that, which is not uncommon in our house, Rosie has a choice. Either she could say to Paxton, who is 2 yrs old, “How could you Paxton! You knew that was my picture and you did it anyway!” Or she has a real choice and she could say first in her heart, “I believe Paxton didn’t try to be mean.” And then say to Paxton, “That’s my picture Paxton. Can you please stop drawing on it?” And then choose not to hold it against him. And that would be because love refuses to account for personal wrongs.

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If you’ve ever struggled with forgiveness, you’re not the only one. There’s not one of us in here who hasn’t struggled with whether or not to exact some sort of calculated revenge. You may hurt, you may be angry because of that hurt and you may want to get some sort of revenge and may even want to cloak that revenge with some sort of spirituality.

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And 1 Corinthians 13 is the medicine you need for your soul. This is very much a healing chapter. Any time you are rebuked and then you respond with repentance, that brings healing to your soul. You may have come here this morning believing that you have a right to hold something against somebody else. And you are holding a grudge. And it is eating on you. But instead if you receive the correction and change your mind about that, the Lord can bring healing to your spirit.

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Let’s read these 8 verses again …

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1 Corinthians 13:4–8 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails…

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From the fifth verse at the end, “love does not take into account a wrong suffered.”

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But there are so many cultures in the history of the world that have taught the exact opposite and to exact revenge.

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From the belief that disembodied spirits of certain women in India get revenge on those who hurt them, to the nithing pole of Iceland …which had a horse head and a curse written on it, pointed in the direction of the offender.

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And who could forget the profound evil of the common voodoo doll, which is not only is an attempt at magic, but an attempt to get revenge on someone!

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But once the gospel of Christ that saves reaches the hearts of these lost people, the gospel of God’s grace teaches them to live godly lives.

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And so it’s no wonder then that science has been able to corroborate what the Bible teaches. I read about one doctor from Vanderbilt University who worked with burn patients. And he started to implement forgiveness into his practice because he found that those patients who would not forgive the person who hurt them … he found that they wouldn’t heal as well as other patients who did forgive. And so different kinds of doctors are recognizing the need for forgiveness, even on a physical level.

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But of course, our forgiving Lord desires that we forgive for His glory and to be like Him. And so the big idea this morning is…

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Point: Love refuses to account for personal wrongs, but forgives just as God does.

Now, last week when we studied that “love is not provoked” we dealt more with not being angry when personally wronged.

This week has to do with, not just not being angry, but actively forgiving those who have wronged you. True Christian love doesn’t count the wrong against another, but forgives just as God does.

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  1. Description

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    So “Love does not take into account a wrong suffered.” “To take into account” is an accounting term. It’s the kind of word that you would use if you were an accountant and you are keeping track of numbers in a ledger.

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    The same word is used in Romans 4:4 to describe what happens at your job. You work and your wage is credited to you as something that is due you. Your wage is counted as something that is due you. It is accredited to you, it is counted to you.

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    And what Paul’s point is in Romans 4 is that salvation is not based on works. And he proves that by pointing to what David wrote in Psalm 32:

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    Romans 4:7–8 “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. 8 “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”

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    Which man is blessed? The man whose sin the Lord doesn’t take into account. He doesn’t consider it, He doesn’t ponder that man’s sin. It is simply by faith that we’re saved and when we trust wholly in Him, and turn from sin, we’re saved from sin.

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    And for Christians like that, the Lord does not take our sin into account. And we’re to be like the Lord towards each other. His mercy and forgiveness motivates ours. We ourselves are not to count others’ sin against them. We’re not to calculate and consider how to take revenge, not even in the smallest of ways.

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    “It’s not revenge, you say…it’s just, she did this thing I didn’t like, so I’m going to do this.” That’s revenge. “I’m not actually hitting.” Ok, but aren’t you getting back at her in some way?

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    “You said this that hurts me, so I’m going to say this or I’m not going to do what you want me to do or I am going to do this.” That’s revenge, that’s taking into account personal wrongs.

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    But love makes no record of wrong. [pretend to write, roll, hit] It doesn’t enter the wrongs as if in the ledger to keep track of them and neither does it ponder them in order to respond unmercifully.

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    This is difficult. We all struggle with it. We get hurt and we can keep it in our minds for a long time. Or this can happen in a moment …. In the heat of the moment when we feel ourselves hurt, we can exact revenge with our words.

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    But may the Lord help us to remember this, that “a gentle answer turns away wrath.”

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    And we can be tempted to count sin against someone when they don’t fulfill their word or when we believe that they have taken advantage of us. Those words that they said; I turn them over in my mind constantly. They may have even injured us physically. They may waste our time or reject our attempts at affection. We may believe that they stole our happiness. They may seem to scoff at our intelligence or they may boo-hoo our gifts and skills.[1]

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    And then what happens of course is that we can get bitter and we can complain against them in our hearts and to others. And then we feel righteous in our bitterness and resentment… And we drink the poison of bitterness hoping that the other person dies…and as Christians, we don’t hope he dies, just that he suffers a little, right?

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But love doesn’t do that. Instead, it doesn’t operate as if the sin has happened at all. It may not ignore or totally forget the offense, and sometimes there are trust issues in certain offense, granted, but if it is a personal sin, love doesn’t hold it against them. It is to be entirely forgiven.

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ILL: During the apostle Paul’s final imprisonment, Paul writes his second letter to Timothy. During that imprisonment, he endures a trial. And he recounts inn 2 Tim. that when he endured that trial …speaking of Christians …. “no one supported me, but all deserted me.”

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So here’s a man during his deepest need, about to be executed, and none of God’s people stand by him; all desert him! And they do so, no doubt, out of fear… Not because they are abandoning the Lord and not because they hold anything against Paul, but simply that out of fear they are not standing with Paul. Paul says in that same verse, “may this not be counted against them.” And that’s that same word in 1 Co. 13:5. Paul does not want the Lord to count that sin against them. Paul forgives them.

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What a deep trial in more ways than one and Christians desert him… Yet he does not take into account a personal wrong. Instead, he doesn’t hold it against them.

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APP: What hurt have you gone through? Has someone abandoned you right before your execution? Ok … how are you handling that? Do you replay the hurt over and over in your mind? I can understand that. Let me tell you from experience, it’s not easy to love in a situation like that. But you have to get this right … Number 1, you must not sin against God like that! It’s sin; you’re holding it against them. But #2, it’s ruining you!

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ILL: You must consider yourself dead to that personal wrong. We’ve all had the experience going outside and seeing what the cat drug up to the doorstep. A dead mouse, bird, squirrel … and no matter what you do, it’s not going to respond to your nudging. It’s dead to you. Poke it, it doesn’t move.

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Christian love is dead to past hurts….I consider that hurt back there to be gone, it’s dead to me … it doesn’t agitate me…it’s not a live wire anymore… it doesn’t affect me. I’m not taking that hurt into account; I’ll forgive and not hold it against them.

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TRANS: But if we do take into consideration a wrong suffered, we’re actually the ones who suffer for it.

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  1. Damage

    The Corinthians were no stranger to this. Let’s turn to 1 Co. 6 and we’ll see how the Corinthians were holding grudges and taking into account wrongs suffered.

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    Some Corinthian believers were so offended and so distressed over the wrong that they had experienced that they took another Christian to court!

    He’s discussing that issue in the first six verses of this chapter and you can see it real clear in verse 6 and 7 when he says…

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    1 Corinthians 6:6-7 but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another.

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    You’re hurting yourself doing this! To get revenge is already a defeat!

    So they are taking each other to court because someone has a case against his neighbor. They are wronged and defraud each other… All because a brother did something to them.

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    Paul says that part of the solution is to have a wise man in the church to decide the matter, but also at the end of verse 7 Paul asked this insightful question, “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?”

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    In other words, why not rather be wronged instead of seeking to wrong someone else? Instead of taking them before an unbelieving judge and defiling the name of Christ, why not instead simply be wronged… And then not make it the big deal? And forget about it!

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    ILL: Or are we like those in the Polynesian islands of long ago, where the natives spent much of their time in fighting and feasting, … and in reminding themselves of their hatred. Different items were suspended from the roofs of their huts to keep alive the memory of wrongs they suffered, whether those wrongs were real or imaginary from misunderstandings.

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    We may not hang items from roofs of our grass huts, but we can sure hang those hurts in our hearts and … feed the fires of our anger and stir our hearts with the wrongs to the point that we are taking those wrongs into account and holding it against them.

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    But Christian love has learned not to do that, but learns to forget, “I’m not going to take that into account!”[2]

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    The delight of such a forgiving spirit is that it fosters a spirit of unity and love … it’s the spirit of Jesus! They’ll be joy in a church like this and sweet reconciliation. There will be the “diligence to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Eph. 4:3.

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    ILL: There will be great peace when we learn to absorb evil and not hold it against them … And so Christian love then can be likened to a sponge. It simply absorbs the wrong… and it doesn’t hold it in for long, and before you know it, it’s gone. A sponge is meant to absorb the water and release it somewhere else. Christian love absorbs the wrong and doesn’t retaliate or get resentful; instead, it dismisses the offense and casts all those cares upon the Lord.

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APP: So I ask you, what evil are you being called on by God this morning to absorb and to release to the Lord?

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Sometimes when we’re hurt or offended we can take things a little too far. It is easy to get the ball rolling and begin to take notice of every evil thing that somebody might do … Every little mistake taken the wrong way… And hold it against them. But love does not harbor any sense of injury.

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ILL: It is easy for children to harbor a sense of injury. A child could be sick or in a bad mood or hurt or in need of attention and then a child can be… Let’s just say… A little melodramatic… “Oh, how she hurt me greatly! Oh my …. ” And carry on and on and on. And when we get older we can still do this and put on display to others about how greatly hurt we are so that everyone knows. And maybe somebody will talk to you about how hurt they are how greatly displeased they are and you can begin to see the chip on their shoulder and that they’re carrying around a grudge.

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Now, if you are hurt and can’t get over it, you may need it to get some counsel. But don’t over dramatize the hurt as if you have a right to be hurt. You do not!

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No, love is the strength and power that will overcome any wrong that anyone could ever do to you!

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TRANS: Let’s talk about some specific counsel on how to handle offense and hurts.

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  1. Direction

    When somebody offends you or hurts you, there are two ways to handle it:

    the first is let your love cover that sin or mistake they made … “Love covers a multitude of sins.”

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    … that is, you let your love absorb that wrong and you simply forgive that person and let go of it, there is not need to bring it up.

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    The strength and power and greatness of my love is measured by its ability to cover great sins and a greater number of sins. If I have small love, I will not be able to look past, say, someone looking at me the wrong way.

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    If I have great love, I could endure you crucifying me.

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    The only other option that I know of biblically is to go to that person who has wronged you. Nowhere does the Scripture allow for you to harbour ill feelings towards another believer. The Lord does not allow you to hold a grudge. Bitterness is a root that can defile many, the Scripture says.

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    So either you truly let your love cover it and you absorb that evil and think nothing of it, or you go to that person who has wronged you without delay. Because we all know that there are some offenses and the person who committed the wrong may not even realize that they did anything wrong. It may have been unintentional or whatever.

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    So let’s focus on addressing the issue with another believer.

    How do you address an offense to another believer if love can’t cover it and you believe you must address it.

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    ILL: We have to practice Jesus’ teaching on this or we can’t expect blessing from the Lord. I remember when we first started the church that we said that if there was anything that you had against anyone or anyone had anything against you in the community, that you make that right, right away. We wanted the Lord to bless our assembly. That’s always true! There’s always a great need to get things right right away, don’t wait!

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    Galatians 6:1; Matthew 5:23-24; Luke 15:18-21; 17:3ff when combined, teach that either the offender or the one who is offended is to get with the other right away. For example, if your brother sins against you 7 times … in how much space of time? In a …day! When possible but at all cost, within the day, matters should be resolved.

    And when we forgive, what we’re talking about it is the dismissal of guilt. “I release you of that guilt.” When we forgive, we decide…. It’s not a feeling, we decide to release the offender from the guilt. And then we pursue a renewed relationship without reference to that offense.

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    And when we forgive it is an unconditional forgiveness. It is not that the other person needs to say sorry enough or has to say it with the right motives or to cry enough … We simply forgive. “He comes to you seven times in a day and says “I repent” forgive him.” He simply asks for forgiveness.

    And then as believers we pursue a renewed relationship with one another. You’ll know if somebody is still holding a grudge, if they are unwilling to pursue a renewed relationship with that other believer in the church.

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    TRANS: Now, we can detail this until we’re blue in the face and then when the time comes for you to practice it, you can’t do it because you don’t have the power to forgive. So I’d like to conclude with where the power is going to come from for you to forgive unconditionally.

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    I’ve said repeatedly from this pulpit, almost ad nauseum, … but in case you missed it, one of the themes of my preaching ministry is that the gospel motivates our godliness. We can’t pull ourselves up by our own boat straps and be like Christ. The work of Christ empowers us to live for Him.

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    For example in Ephesians we are called upon to live in a manner worthy of the calling that we’ve been called to. Our calling is up here and were called upon to live according to it. Without understanding the calling, the gospel, at work in my life I will not be able to live in a manner worthy of that calling. Deeper knowledge of God’s forgiveness of me, empowers me to forgive others.

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    And the apostle John says in many passages … but for example…1 John 4:11 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

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    If I understand God’s love for me, I’ll love others. So, to the degree that I understand the love of God, to that degree I will love others. “If God loved us to this extent; I ought to love others also, to the same extent.”

    A new commandment Jesus gave us, “that you love even as I have loved you.” And it is the same with forgiveness. My forgiveness of others reflects how much I understand God’s forgiveness of me.

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    As we concluded the message last week in Ephesians 4:31, that we are to “forgive each other just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” If you understand the forgiveness of God in Christ… If you truly understand, you will forgive other believers. If you do not understand the gospel, you will not forgive. The gospel message motivates, empowers our godly living. So if you don’t know the Word of God in your heart, you’ll be slow to forgive.

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    So to grow in my ability to forgive others and to grow in my understanding of God’s forgiveness of me…. I need to understand that when the kindness of God drew me to repentance and faith in Christ, he forgave me … He did not count my iniquities against me!

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    And that was what God was doing! He was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting our trespasses against us! And that’s why that if you are in Christ you are one who is most blessed! Why? Because the Lord will not take into account any of your sin, Romans 4:8 says. He does not impute … that is he does not count against you your iniquities!

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Micah 7:19 says that … “He will conquer our iniquities. Yes, He will cast all [our] sins into the depths of the sea.” Where are they? Where are our sins? It’s like they are in the depths of the sea! You’ll never find them!

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Isaiah 38:17 …Isaiah prays confidently, “It is You who has kept [me] from the pit of corruption, For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.” Where are they? Where are your sins? They are behind his back. He chooses not to see them! Not to hold them against you.

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Also, Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” For a third time, I will ask… Where are they? Where are my sins? As infinitely apart from me as the east is from the west. He doesn’t take into account the wrong. …. But he does count something [big maybe intimidating pause?] …

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… and it’s glorious …. When you are in Christ Jesus at the very moment of saving faith, not only does he dismiss the guilt, but he also credits to your account the very righteousness of Christ! And it’s true … and it has been true all the way back to Abraham when it says of him in Genesis 15 that he “trusted the Lord and the Lord accredited righteousness to him.”

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And Paul says of believers these thousands of years later that we are all children of Abraham if we simply have faith in Christ Jesus and depend upon no works of our own.

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Our gracious and merciful and forgiving heavenly Father does not credit to us any of our sins… But credits to us the very righteousness of Christ! So now the Lord looks upon us as he does His Son!

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ILL: I was talking to a religiously-minded lost person in the community a couple of weeks ago about this wonderful transaction that occurred on the cross that day, that it is activated by faith and this gentleman said, “oh, I always wondered how that worked!”

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All our sins on Jesus laid; all His righteousness credited to me! All activated in my life by faith.

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Oh this glorious forgiveness is here to secure my salvation and that I might by his grace put that on display… put that gospel on display every day of my life by forgiving others who wrong me. God is at work in me; let us work out this glorious salvation in our lives.

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If I understand that my sin debt has been paid, a debt I could never repay, would I not joyfully forgive others for such a small debt of sin against me?

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.5 Part 4 Love does not take into account wrong suffered

If the Holy Spirit is dwelling in you and you are Christ’s, no matter what offense has been done to you, you can dismiss the entirety of that sin or the entirety of that grievous error against you and now, where appropriate, pursue a renewed relationship with that offender. This is the glory of cross, the glory of being a follower of Christ, we’re saved by the blood, we’re washed from our sins entirely. And so now by His grace ….

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“Love refuses to account for personal wrongs, but forgives just as He does.

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[are you thankful for your forgiveness? Do you revel in that in moments like these?]

276 Saved by the Blood

[We really need to lift it up; and let’s have some of us sing that bottom line during the refrain. Draw attention to stanza 3, line 2.]

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Praise the Lord that He doesn’t hold anything against us; may we be faithful to do the same.

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  1. Ryken sermon on this passage.

  2. William Barclay, ed., The Letters to the Corinthians, The Daily Study Bible Series (Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press, 1975), 122.

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