More Lessons On Prayer And Forgiveness
A Lesson On Withering Faith
Sunday June 27, 2022
Scripture To Consider:
“Now in the morning, as they [Jesus and His disciples] passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter remembering, said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.’ So Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.’”
“Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him [or her], that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11.20-26
Something To Consider:
The lessons on prayer and forgiveness in our text today raise our awareness of the eternal importance that Jesus places on these two spiritual subjects. It may be a wise refresher lesson for us to take a second look at the devotions on Forgiven Through Forgiveness, found in the archives on June 23, 2019, as well as Keeping Score of Forgiveness or Forgiving From The Heart found in the archives on January 17, 2021.
In these two earlier lessons of a lifetime and others, one must come to a conclusion that Jesus places a very high level of importance on both prayer and forgiveness. For true spiritual growth and maturity in the believer’s life, prayer and forgiveness are to be inseparable, which if divided, always brings with the division the risk of spiritual withering or a departing from the faith.
Why would we ever want to take the chance of our falling away or departing from the faith? Yes, I realize that many false prophets and false teachers attempt to convince the masses of Once Saved Always Saved! But that hellish logic is in total opposition with the whole of Scripture. Therefore, do not be deceived by the much speaking, preaching, and teaching of this false concept.
Something Else To Consider:
Our text began with the disciples witnessing firsthand the withering away of a fig tree that Jesus had cursed the day before during the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Jesus, being hungry, and according to Matthew 21.18, and His seeing a fig tree with leaves and no fruit, He said, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.”
And Peter remembering that Jesus had cursed the fig tree, replied, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.” And Jesus answered, “Have faith in God.” Speaking of a great end time apostasy, the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4.1; “Now the Spirit [Holy Spirit] expressly [explicitly] says that in the latter times [end times] some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving [or seducing] spirits and doctrines of demons.”
Paul and the Holy Spirit are not saying that only some of humanity in the end times will depart from the faith, but that some overseers, pastors, ministers, elders, deacons, religious so-called teachers, and so-called religious leaders will depart from the faith. And in their departing from the faith or their withering away from the faith, they teach the many masses of humanity the false doctrines of demons such as Once Saved Always Saved and the false concept of a pre-tribulation rapture.
Either way, the withering away of the true faith of some religious leaders creates a massive withering away and or departing from the faith of those they falsely influence with their opposition of Scripture false teachings. Therefore, according to Jesus, “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name [as if Christian religious leaders], saying, ‘I [Jesus] am the Christ [Messiah]’, and will deceive many.”
We should never consider departing from the faith. That is the reason Jesus taught many lessons on prayer and forgiveness. If we cease to partake in prayer and the forgiveness of others, we will eventually wither away spiritually! Should we depart from anything? Yes, according to Paul in 2 Timothy 2.19; “Let everyone who names the name of Christ [those who confess to being a Christian, let them] depart from iniquity.”
Something More To Consider:
Therefore, according to Jesus, “Have faith in God.” And with that statement Jesus embarked on another short discourse on the power of faith filled believing prayer. He repeated an earlier lesson on prayer, regarding our believing that we receive what we pray for. But Jesus was not advocating a name it and claim it mentality based solely on our audacity and arrogance to demand anything from God, though that mindset is widely taught just before begging for other people’s financial assistance to be sent to already wealthy so-called ministries and so-called ministers.
Jesus was constantly advocating a vibrant prayer life, and this was another one of those occasions that He took advantage of the moment to teach His disciples and all who would be willing to learn, one more lesson of a lifetime concerning prayer. Are we interested in learning the lessons regarding prayer taught by Christ? And if not, why not?
The other lesson Jesus goes to great length to teach us, is that of our forgiving others in order that God would be free to forgive us. Over and over in the gospel accounts Jesus emphasized our need to forgive others. A previous lesson taught that the shortest distance between two points is not always a straight line. It may be by way of our going to a brother or to a sister, mother, or father, husband or wife, and so on for forgiveness.
A Few Final Words:
Our forgiving others is the spiritual key that opens the door to our prayers being both accepted and eternally effective. Therefore, our forgiving others gains God’s forgiving us.
Also, our being obedient towards the lessons on prayer that Jesus taught, keeps us in a place further from withering away or departing from the faith. And according to Jesus, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him [or her], that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”
Our Father in heaven, forgive us for any unwillingness on our part to forgive others. And teach us to be more forgiving and more prayerful. Keep us following Jesus’ earthly example as it pertains to faithfulness and forgiveness. In Him Always, Amen!