Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:…
The heathen moralists, when they wished to teach virtue, could not point to the example of their gods, for, according to their mythologists, the gods were a compound of every imaginable, and, I had almost said, unimaginable, vice. Many of the classic deities surpassed the worst of men in their crimes: they were as much greater in iniquity as they were supposed to be superior in power.
I. The first word to think about is, "FOR CHRIST'S SAKE." We use these words very often; but probably we have never thought of their force, and even at this time we cannot bring forth the whole of their meaning. What does it mean?
1. It means, surely, first, for the sake of the great atonement which Christ has offered.
2. God has forgiven us because of the representative character of Christ. God for Christ's sake has accepted us in Him, has forgiven us in Him, and looks upon us with love infinite and changeless in Him.
3. Now go a little further. When we read, "for Christ's sake," it surely means for the deep love which the Father bears Him.
4. God forgives sin for the sake of glorifying Christ. Christ took the shame that He might magnify His Father, and now His Father delights to magnify Him by blotting out the sin.
II. WHAT IT IS THAT HAS BEEN DONE FOR US, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE. "God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you."
1. Pardon is not a prize to be run for, but a blessing received at the first step of the race.
2. This forgiveness is continuous.
3. It is most free.
4. It is full.
5. Eternal. God will never rake up our past offences, and a second time impute them.
6. Divine. There is such a truth, reality, and emphasis in the pardon of God as you can never find in the pardon of man; for though a man should forgive all you have done against him, yet it is more than you could expect that he should quite forget it; but the Lord says, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more forever." If a man has played you false, although you have forgiven him, you are not likely to trust him again. But see how the Lord deals with His people, e.g., Peter, Paul.
III. A POINT OF PRACTICE. "Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Now, observe how the apostle puts it. Does he say "forgiving another"? No, that is not the text, if you look at it. It is "forgiving one another." One another! Ah, then that means that if you have to forgive today, it is very likely that you will yourself need to be forgiven tomorrow, for it is "forgiving one another." It is turn and turn about, a mutual operation, a cooperative service.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: