The Three Step Plan
Please go with me to The Book of Philemon
Point #52: (Sin) Admit it - Quit it - Forget it.
Key Scripture: Proverbs 28:13 (NKJV) He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
The book of Philemon tells a brief story about a runaway slave named Onesimus who was owned by a Christian man named Philemon.
To abuse, misuse, kidnap or capture, wrongfully imprison and enslave a person is wrong.
Slavery is not the focus of this story but it rather recognizes an individual’s responsibility to decide what is right or wrong without respect to circumstances, situations or positions in life.
We do not know what circumstances led to Onesimus becoming a slave of Philemon.
We can only imagine that it was according to law, either the law of Rome or the law of God.
Both allowed for individuals to voluntarily or by legal assignment, indenture their lives for specified periods of time to be the servant of another person. (Leviticus 25:39-55)
When the specified period of time had been served, the individual could elect to go free or bind themselves as a slave for life to the person for whom they worked. Once bound, one person would become the legal property of another person’s estate. (Exodus 21:1-11)
We do know that Onesimus ran away from his master, Philemon. Under 1st Century Roman law, a slave who ran away from his master could face the death penalty.
Philemon was a resident of Colosse and a convert to Christianity. He most likely heard the gospel as a result of evangelistic efforts made by the church in Ephesus. (Acts 19:26) The Christian Church in Colosse met for worship in Philemon’s house.
We understand that Onesimus, while a legal slave of Philemon, took something of value from Philemon without permission and ran away. Onesimus made his way to Rome where he came into contact with the Apostle Paul who was imprisoned there.
Onesimus believed Paul’s witness concerning Christ, was converted to Christianity and served Paul faithfully.
Around 61AD, about 5 years after Paul had left Ephesus and about 3 years since he had been arrested in Jerusalem, Paul is moved to write a series of letters to some churches. From prison in Rome Paul writes a letter to the church in Ephesus, Philippians, Colossians and then a short personal letter to Philemon.
Although written for different reasons, addressing varying needs of each, these letters are strikingly similar in content.
(Compare Ephesians 5:19ff & Colossians 3:16ff)
Individual; Husband; Father; Mother; Wife; Child; Employee; Employer; Prayer Warrior & Praise Junky; Prisoner & Master alike. What a comparative read!
(Compare Salutations from Colossians & Philemon)
The letter to Philemon was sent as a companion letter with the Epistle to the church at Colosse. It was carried by Tychicus who was accompanied by Onesimus.
1. Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer,
2. To the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:
3. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers,
5. hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints,
6. that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgement of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
7. For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.
8. Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting,
9. yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you -- being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ --
10. I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains,
11. who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.
12. I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart,
13. whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel.
14. But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.
15. For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever,
16. no longer as a slave but more than a slave -- a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
17. If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me.
18. But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account.
19. I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay -- not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides.
20. Yes, brother let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord.
21. Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.
22. But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.
23. Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you,
24. as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.
25. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
II. Three Steps To Recovery
A. Step One - Confession Of Sin
Confession - Acceptance
Opens the door to forgiveness (Breaks The Hold)
Forgiveness by God (1 John 1:9)
Forgiveness from our own heart & conscious (1 John 3:21)
Forgiveness of others who have been affected (James 5:16)
B. Step Two - Repentance
Repentance - Change
Closes the door on future infractions (Destroys The Handle)
C. Step Three - Restitution
Restitution - Payment
Opens the door for restoration (Repairs The Damage)
III. Three Things We Should All Learn To Say
A. I’m sorry, I was wrong.
B. I won’t do that again.
C. What can I do to make it right?
Point #52 Revised: Admit it, Quit it, Fix it & Forget it.
“I’m sorry; I won’t do it again; Now what can I do to make it right?”
A. Forgive Me - not - Excuse Me
B. I Have Changed - not - I’m Sorry, But I Had My Reasons
C. If I Can Fix It, I Will - not - Thanks For Understanding