Philemon 1: What Is Your Attitude Towards Forgiveness?

PHIL-2-230604 - length: 62:59 - taught on Jun, 4 2023

Class Outline:

Let it go.











If you’re in the resident congregation turn off your electronic devices and put them away. Let this be a place where you aren’t distracted by the world.


Welcome To



Rory Clark



Good Morning!


Welcome to Barah Ministries…an intimate, local Christian Church with a worldwide impact.  My name is Pastor Rory Clark.  Thanks for listening to this Bible lesson!


Why did God the Father create Barah Ministries?


Our Almighty Father provides you with a sanctuary where you can get to know His Son…the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The Sovereign God of the Universe came down from heaven…took on the form of a human being…lived a perfect and sinless life despite being tempted to sin in every way possible…allowed Himself to be crucified by unrighteous, unbelieving men…and in so doing, restored the relationship between God the Father and all mankind by paying for every sin every creature would ever commit…past…present…and future.


When Jesus, who was Jewish, came to His own people…the Jews…they did not believe He is their Messiah despite many convincing proofs, and they rejected Him.  He told them who He is in John, Chapter 8, Verses 57 and 58…


JOHN 8:57

The Jews said to Jesus, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”


JOHN 8:58

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM (I existed as the Lord…God the Son).”


Jesus Christ is God the Son in human form.  The term I AM means He is Deity.The Lord is the exact same in essence as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

He has always existed, and there never will be a time when He doesn’t exist.


God the Father provides Barah Ministries as a place where you can study the Word of God with a Pastor who is teaching the Bible from God’s perspective.In Second Peter, Chapter 1, Verses 12 and 13, the apostle Peter communicated the essence of a Pastor’s job…we teach you…and we also REMIND youagain and again about all the benefits being a Christian has to offer!



Therefore, I (Peter) will always keep on being ready to remind you of the things in the Word of God…even when you already know them…and even though you have been established in the truth about God which is already present within you.



I (Peter) consider it right…as long as I am in this earthly dwelling (my physical body)…to stir you up by way of reminder…


God the Father provides Barah Ministries as a place where you can learn about Satan, the enemy of God, whom God made "the ruler of this world" for a finite time.  Satan distracts people with meaningless things so they don't get to know God.  In Second Timothy, Chapter 4, Verses 3 and 4 the apostle Paul explains a harsh truth to his protégé Timothy…



…the time will come (and that time is now) when believers in Christ will not seek out sound teaching…instead, wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires…



…and they will turn their ears away from the truth and will turn aside to myths.


Satan is effective with his schemes.  His lies are so attractive that billions of people on this planet are deceived.  This is a place where you can learn to see right through his deceptions.



What Is Your Attitude Toward Forgiveness?





It’s always funny to hear people express their reluctance to get into relationships because they have been hurt in the past, and they don’t want to get hurt again.  How is it that we expect not to get hurt in this life?  The problem isn’t relationships.  Perhaps the problem is our refusal to forgive.  Forgiveness is a decision;  it is not a process.  As believers in Christ, without learning how to forgive, we truly miss the point of what the Lord Jesus Christ did for us at the Cross.  As we study Paul’s letter to Philemon, we get a primer on the power of forgiveness.




Let’s hear some music!  When you’ve been betrayed, who wants to forgive?  Not me!  As you know, this is not an attitude that reflects the wishes of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Let’s hear Matthew West sing about an all-important idea in the Christian life…FORGIVENESS.




Let’s Sing the Lord’s Praises



Matthew West




Let us pray...


We’re grateful, Heavenly Father, for the privilege of studying Your absolute truth...the Word of God…


Father…there are too many situations in our lives where we are wronged by other people, especially by those who are supposed to be closest to us…and despite our best efforts…often, we can’t get these people to stop hurting us…yet You command us to forgive, just as You have forgiven us.  It’s a tall task!  Thank you for what You have done for us…and thank you for today’s lesson which may lend insight as to how we can see our way clear to forgive those who have wronged us…


…through this lesson, help us to see why Christianity is different…unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace…


We ask this through the power of God the Holy Spirit…in Christ’s name...Amen.



What Is Your Attitude Toward Forgiveness?




Paul’s letter to Philemon is one of the many biblical stories of forgiveness.  As we study this letter over the next couple of weeks, let’s listen to the lessons from Philemon’s point of view.  As Paul contemplated writing the letter, he had to be thinking about his friend’s attitude toward forgiveness.


As you’ll remember from our last lesson, Onesimus, a slave from Colossae who belonged to Philemon, stole a lot of money and ran away twelve hundred miles to Rome.  Onesimus reasoned that Rome was a place he could get lost and where no one could find him.  In the human realm, he was right.  It would have been almost impossible to find him.  In the spiritual realm, we must never underestimate what God can do.  God found him and led him right to the apostle Paul.


Onesimus was out living it up…spending his ill-gotten gain.  Perhaps he partied a little too hard, because he got arrested, and he ended up in a prison cell with the apostle Paul.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so!  God led Onesimus to Paul who gave him the gospel message.  Onesimus responds positively to the message and becomes a new believer in Christ.


Paul and Onesimus become close.  As they talk, Onesimus tells Paul that he is from a small town called Colossae.  Paul is astonished and excited, and he tells Onesimus that his best friend lives in Colossae…a man named Philemon.  Imagine Onesimus at that moment.  Yikes!  Onesimus tells Paul the story of how he ended up in Rome.


Paul decides to use this new believer in Christ to deliver the letter to the Colossians…to the very person from whom Onesimus was running away.  In the letter, Paul asks his friend Philemon to live his Christianity by forgiving Onesimus and being reconciled to him.

There are many stories of forgiveness in this life.  None of us gets out of this life without being hurt, most of the time by people we love the most…people to whom we make ourselves vulnerable.  Here are a couple of stories.




After a long shift at the fire department, a firefighter fell asleep while driving and crashed into another vehicle, taking the life of a pregnant mother and injuring her nineteen-month-old daughter. The woman’s husband, a full-time Pastor, asked the judge to give the man a lesser sentence.  The widower began meeting with the man for coffee and conversation.Many years later, the two men remain close. The Pastor reasoned, “I can forgive as I've been forgiven.”




An Iranian woman had revenge on her mind.  She said, “Retribution was my only thought,” after her teenage son was murdered.  In a dramatic turn of events, moments before the killer was to be executed, the woman made a last-minute decision to pardon the man.




A woman was abused by her mother and it ruined their relationship.  The woman said she never imagined she would reconnect with her motherduring her adult life. Her mother suffered several strokes that left her unable to communicate or take care of herself.With no one else to help, the woman began to sit by her mother’s bedside and read to her. Through this, the hate she had for her mother changed into forgiveness and love.


When we hear stories like this, we’d like to believe there is something remarkable in us when we can put aside anger and blame to find mercy in our hearts.In reality, we are simply reflecting the forgiveness of the Lord, God the Son, who came to earth to forgive the whole world.  In Matthew, Chapter 5, Verses 43 to 48 the Lord says…



“You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’”




“But I (the Lord Jesus Christ) say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”



“…so that you may be sons of your God and Father who is in heaven…for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good…and He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”



“For if (3) you love unconditionally those who love you unconditionally, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors (the lowest of the low) do the same?”



“If (3) you greet only your brothers…what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles (the lowest of the low) do the same?”



“Therefore…you are to be perfect…as your heavenly Father is perfect.”


Let’s get started with our verse-by-verse study of Paul’s letter to one of his best friends, Philemon, a wealthy man who hosts the Colossian Church from his home.  Philemon, Chapter 1, Verses 1 to 25…



Paul…a prisoner of Christ Jesus…and Timothy our brother…to Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker…



…and to Apphia (his wife and) our sister (in Christ)and to Archippus(Philemon’s son and) our fellow soldier…and to all those who meet in the church in your house, dear Philemon…



Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.


It’s anote of interest that Paul greets all the members of the household.  If someone steals from you, it affects everyone in the house.  Who is most likely to be affected?  The wife.  Women are experts at taking on the feelings of their men and getting bitter when their men are mistreated.  Paul knew this wasn’t just a letter to his friend…it was a letter to his friend’s family, including the members of his spiritual family that met in the church.  Paul continues with the letter’s greeting…Philemon, Chapter 1, Verse 4…



I thank my God and Father always…making mention of you to Him in my prayers…



…because I hear of your unconditional love and I hear of the faith you have directed toward the Lord Jesus Christ and toward all the saints…



…and I (Paul) pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake.



For I (Paul) have come to have much joy and comfort in your unconditional love… Philemon…because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother.


In the first seven verses of the letter, Paul is setting up a request that will rock the world of Philemon and his family.  What does it mean to forgive?



An intentional decision to let go of resentment or angerfor an offense, for a flaw, for a mistake, or for a betrayal perpetrated against you.  It is a decision to cancel a debt…to lessen the power of an act’s grip on you by dismissing it…even though the scar the act caused may never go away.


What compounds the gravity of this situation is that the person who perpetrated the betrayal, Onesimus, is standing right in front of Philemon and his family as Philemon reads the letter.  Paul continues…Philemon, Chapter 1, Verses 8 to 14…



Therefore, even though I have enough confidence in Christ to command you to do your duty (as a Christian) what is proper (to forgive)…



…because of the principle of unconditional love…instead I beg you…please… since I am such a person as Paul…advanced in age…and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus—



I appeal to you for my child Onesimus…a newly born again one…whom I have become a spiritual father to while in my imprisonment (in a Roman jail)…



…this one…Onesimus…who formerly was useless to you…but now is useful both to you and to me.


The name Onesimus means useful.



I have sent him back to you in person as if I were sending you my very heart…



…this Onesimus…whom I wished to keep with me…so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment in your stead…for the sake of the gospel…



…but I came to a decision in my heart (powered by God the Holy Spirit of course)…that without your consent I did not want to do anything…so that your goodness to me would not be by compulsion…I want this to be of your own free will.


Paul is masterful.  He is not at all above using Jewish guilt to make a case for Onesimus.  When Philemon was in Ephesus on business, he met Paul.  Paul gave him the gospel message, and Philemon responded positively to it.  In effect, Philemon owes Paul his eternal life.  It’s what you might feel toward someone who gave you the true gospel of the Lord even though it is the Lord who does your saving.


Imagine you are Philemon at this moment.  You stand before a man who stole from you…a capital crime.  It embarrassed you.  You had to hear from your wife about it incessantly.  Your son questions your judgment.  You’ve been betrayed.  You feel stupid for letting this useless troublemaker be a part of your household.  And now, here Onesimus stands in front of you as you read a letter from your best friend begging you to do what Christians are compelled by God to do…to forgive.  What would you do?


When we come back from the break, we’ll take the offering and we’ll continue looking at Paul’s orchestration of forgiveness for Onesimus.




Casting Crowns



What Is Your Attitude Toward Forgiveness?




As believers in Christ, we are members of the Lord’s kingdom.  He will be coming back for us at the proper time.  Until then, don’t stop giving…don’t stop living… and don’t listen to the people who are lost for your direction and your self-worth. Right now, it always appears the forces of evil are winning.  They aren't.  We will have our day.  Luke, Chapter 21, Verses 25 to 28 says this…


LUKE 21:25

“There will be signs in the sun and the moon and the stars…and on the earth, there will be dismay among nations…there will be  perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves…”


LUKE 21:26

“…there will be men fainting from fear and from the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world…for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”


LUKE 21:27

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”


LUKE 21:28

“When these things begin to take place…straighten up and lift up your heads…because your redemption is drawing near.”

As believers in Christ, we have the victory, and we give to keep on robbing Satan of those he seeks to victimize.  Thank you for your generosity which makes it possible for people all over the world to hear the gospel message.  Let’s welcome up Deacon Denny Goodall with one of his always inspiring offering messages.



Deacon Denny Goodall





…for we believers in Christ walk by faith…and not by sight—




Instrumental Version



What Is Your Attitude Toward Forgiveness?




Welcome back!


Let’s take a look at the second half of Paul’s letter to Philemon.  If you were Philemon, what would you do?  Paul describes Philemon as a man who has mercy…who is generous…he started a church in his home…a man who lives his faith…a man who loves unconditionally…a man whose life makes a difference in the lives of everyone with whom he comes in contact.  Yet Philemon is human.  How could he not be bitter?  Remember what the Lord commands in Hebrews, Chapter 12, Verse 15…



See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God the Father…and that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble…and by it many be defiled…


It’s easy to love those who love you.  It’s not so easy to love those who hurt you.  Paul is making the case that the useless one has become useful.  It’s a description of Onesimus’ life…yet it is a description of all of us as we learn in Ephesians, Chapter 2, Verses 1 to 10…



And you believers in Christ were spiritually dead in your trespasses and sins…





…in which sins you formerly walked (as a lifestyle) according to the curriculum of this world (Satan’s world system of thought)…according to the prince of the powerof the air (Satan)…according to the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience (unbelievers).



Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh…indulging the desires of the flesh and the desires of the mind…and as they, we were by nature children of wrath (destined for the Lake of Fire)…even as the other unbelievers were.



But God the Father…being rich in mercy (a willingness not to give us what we we deserve…the Lake of Fire)…because of His great unconditional love with which He loved us unconditionally…



…even when we were spiritually dead in our transgressions…made us spiritually alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…


Imagine that…God the Father allowed God the Holy Spirit to place us into union with His Son after a betrayal…the betrayal of sin…



…and raised us up with Him (resurrecting us believers from the dead)…and seated us with Jesus (at the right hand of God the Father)in the heavenly places…because of our union with Christ Jesus…



…so that in the ages to come God the Father might show the surpassing riches of

His grace (the willingness to give us what we don’t deserve)…expressing kindness toward us who are in union with Christ Jesus.



For by grace you have been saved through faith…and that faith…that grace…and that salvation is not from the source of yourselves…it is a gift from the source of God the Father…



…not a gift as a result of your works…so that no one may boast (about saving himself).



For we believers in Christ are God the Father’s workmanship…created be in union with Christ Jesus…and appointed to do good works…which good works God the Father prepared beforehand so that we believers in Christ would walk in them (as a lifestyle).


What a challenge to Philemon.  This letter to the Ephesians was a part of Onesimus’ delivery package as well.  What would you do if you were Philemon?


Paul continues his appeal to his friend in Philemon, Chapter 1, Verses 15 to 25…



For perhaps this was the reason the useless one, Onesimus, was separated from you for a while…that you would have him back forever (both now and for all eternity as a brother in union with Christ)…



…this time…no longer as a slave…but as more than a slave…as a beloved brother…a brother especially useful to me…but how much more useful to you…both in the flesh and in union with the Lord.



If then you regard me a partner…and of course you do…accept Onesimus as you would accept me.


Ruh Roh!



But if (1) Onesimus has wronged you in any way…and of course he has…or if he owes you anything…and of course he does…charge that debt to my account…


Paul is saying, “I’ll pay you back for his sins.”



I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand…I will repay Onesimus’ debt…(not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well).



Yes, my brother in Christ…let me benefit from you in union with the Lord…

refresh my heart in Christ (just as you have done for others).


Paul made Philemon an offer he couldn’t refuse.



Having confidence in your obedience…I write to you…since I know that you will do even more than what I ask you to do.



At the same time also prepare me a lodging (your guest bedroom)…for I hope that through your prayers I will be given the chance to come to you.



Epaphras…my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus (and the Pastor of the church in your home)…greets you…



…as do John Mark…Aristarchus…Demas…and Luke…my fellow workers.


All are watching!



The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.


Paul is asking a big favor of a friend…that his friend forgive a person who has wronged him, betrayed him, and who has committed a capital crime punishable by death.  What would you do?  As Christians, we are called to do what the Lord has done for us.  We are called to forgive.  It is much easier said than done.


As we continue our assessment of Philemon's dilemma next week, we’ll decide what the proper thing is for him to do…and what the Christian thing is for you to do in the matter of those you need to forgive.



The Good News of Jesus Christ’s Salvation Offer to the Human Race


The closing moments of our lesson today could be the ten most important minutes of your life.  Hebrews, Chapter 9, Verse 27 says…



…it is appointed by God for men to die once…and after this comes judgment (an evaluation by God)…


Said another way…thelife we live on planet earth is short compared to the amount of time each of us will spend in eternity.  Eternity is forever.  The message you’re about to hear offers you a chance to decide where you will spend eternity.  We want you to know that…



He Wants You Make the Most Important Decision of Your Life


There is a Person at the core of Christianity…the Creator of Christianity…who cares about YOU.  His name is Jesus Christ.  He is the Sovereign God of theUniverse…He is full of truth…and He wants a relationship with YOU!  This is your chance to choose to have a personal relationship with Him.


Your problem is that you were born a sinner in God’s eyes.  Sinners need a Savior.  Jesus Christ is the Savior and He wants to save you…First Timothy, Chapter 2, Verses 3 and 4 say…



This is what is good and acceptable in the sight of the God who is our Savior…the Lord Jesus Christ…




…who desires for all men to be saved and who wants all men to come to the knowledge of the truth.


You will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire at physical death if you choose not to to have a relationship with Him.


There is only ONE WAY to get to heaven…by placing your faith in Jesus Christ to save you…by trusting what He has done at the Cross on your behalf.  If you’re going to place your confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ for your eternal salvation, you probably should get to know Him.  While there are many things to know about Him, here are the critical few things.


The Lord Jesus Christ is YOUR CREATOR…John, Chapter 1, Verse 3…


JOHN 1:3

All things came into being through the Lord (God the Son)…and apart fromHim, nothing came into being that has come into being.


The Lord Jesus Christ loves you UNconditionally…First John, Chapter 4, Verse 8…



The one who does not love unconditionally does not know the Lord…for the LordISunconditional love (it’s His Person and His identity).


The Lord Jesus Christ has forgiven ALL of your sins…past…present…and future…Isaiah, Chapter 43, Verse 25…


ISAIAH 43:25

“I…even I (the Lord)…am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake…and I will NOT remember your sins.”


The Lord doesn’t want you to work to please Him…Romans, Chapter 11, Verse 6 says…



But if salvation is by grace…and of course it is…it is no longer on the basis of your works…otherwise grace is no longer grace.


The Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t want you to go to the Lake of Fire…Second Peter, Chapter 3, Verse 9…



The Lord is not slow about His promise of salvation, as some accuse Him of…instead, He is patient toward unbelievers…not wishing for any of you to perish in the Lake of Fire…but for all of you to come to repentance (a change of mind about having a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ).


The Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect Person to lead you to salvation.


God’s graciousness offers you a plan to be saved as a free gift.  Ephesians, Chapter 2, Verses 8 and 9…



For by God’s grace you have been saved through faith in Christ for salvation…and that grace and that faith and that salvation are not from the source of yourselves…it is the gift from the source of God the Father…



…so being saved is not as a result of your works (deeds you have done in self-righteousness) … so that no one may boast (about savinghimself).


So how can you get to heaven?  This loving, forgiving, patient God who wants you to be saved is willing to save you right this minute.  John, Chapter 14, Verse 6…


JOHN 14:6

Jesus said to the doubting apostle, Thomas, “I am the way (to salvation)…and I am the truth (through the Word of God)…and I am the resurrection life (eternal life)…and no one comes to God the Father (in heaven) but through believing in Me.”


RIGHT WHERE YOU SIT, RIGHT NOW, you can tell God the Father that you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is the moment of eternal life foryou.  Acts, Chapter 16, Verse 31…


ACTS 16:31

“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved by God, you and everyone

in yourhousehold who also believes.”


So, heed the warning in John, Chapter 3, Verse 36…


JOHN 3:36

“He who believes in the Son has the resurrection life right at that moment…but he who does not obey the command to believe in the Son will not see the resurrection life…instead the wrath of God (the Lake of Fire) abides on him.”


Who is this God who saves you?  The apostle Paul describes the Lord Jesus

Christ in First Corinthians, Chapter 15, Verses 3 and 4…



For I (Paul) delivered to you as of primary importance the gospel message I alsoreceived from God…that it was Jesus Christ who died for our sins according tothe Old Testament Scriptures…



…and that He was buried…and He was raised from the dead on the third day…according to the Old Testament Scriptures…


When you get to know Jesus Christ, you’ll have no problem placing your confidence in Him, both for your salvation and for everything else.  Why?  Because the Sovereign God of the Universe wants a relationship with you, He loves you unconditionally, and He died for you.  So, take advantage of His grace and you’ll be saved RIGHT NOW!


What happens if you reject a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ?  Matthew, Chapter 25, Verse 41…



“Then Jesus will say to those on His left (unbelievers)…‘Depart from Me accursed ones into the eternal fire (The Lake of Fire) which has been prepared for the devil and his angels…’”


Those are neither words you want to hear, nor words you have to hear.  John, Chapter 3, Verse 18…



JOHN 3:18

He who believes in Jesus Christ…placing his trust in Him for salvation…is not judged…he who does not believe in Jesus Christ has been judged already, because he is in a state of unbelief about the Person of the uniquely born Son of God.


Take the easy road to salvation…believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.




Let’s close with music!  There is only one reason why God forgives us…it’s because He wanted to forgive.  He is not under compulsion.  Forgiveness frees us from a prison of bitterness.  Here’s June Murphy to sing about what God has done for us in her song ALL BECAUSE YOU WANTED TO.




Let’s Sing the Lord’s Praises



June Murphy



Let us pray...


Almighty God and Father…


Thank you for putting us in the same position that Philemon is in…the position of having to forgive someone who has committed the ultimate betrayal…as we reflect on what You have taught us today, help us to handle things as You would…not by making ourselves doormats to the abuse of betrayal, but by using forgiveness to free ourselves from the bondage that unforgiveness becomes…


…as we go forward into the week…help us have the spiritual eyes to see the opportunity to forgive those toward whom we hold bitterness…


We ask this through the power of God the Holy Spirit…in Christ’s name...Amen.





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