"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." --Matthew 6:14-15
In Matthew 6:14 Christ is not speaking of the ground of God's forgiveness. That is God's grace and mercy in Christ alone. He is describing those who have been forgiven by their willingness to forgive. In verse 15, He is posing the question of those who refuse to forgive others. What kind of a sense of pardon can they have? Have they experienced the forgiveness of sin which would influence them to forgive those who have offended them? They are only fooling themselves. Believers are to cultivate a spirit of forgiveness. How? We do it by considering once again God's love and forgiveness in Christ. Whenever our thoughts concerning those who have done us wrong are that we will forgive them only when they have met certain conditions, think of God's forgiveness of our sins. It was Christ who met the conditions, not us. It was Christ who satisfied law and justice, not us. And it is Christ's having met all the conditions of our forgiveness that produces our ashamedness over sin.
When anyone offends us, our forgiveness of them is what ought to produce their sorrow and ashamedness rather than their sorrow and ashamedness producing our forgiveness. This establishes what our attitude ought to be towards ourselves and one another. Our desire to forgive others is a mark that we ourselves have been pardoned by God. His joining together our forgiving others with God's forgiving us is to show that this spirit of forgiveness is not an option but necessary for those who have been pardoned. Every time we seek God's forgiveness we are to remind ourselves of how we ought to forgive others, not to recommend us unto God, but because God is just and faithful to forgive us based on the blood and righteousness of Christ alone.
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