Definition of Forgiveness – Forgiveness is the setting of one’s will, the making of a decision, and a release is granted to the offending person or situation!
In other words, Forgiveness is NOT a feeling but a DECISION!
When we forgive, we choose to set ourselves free. Unforgiveness keeps YOU bound not the other person! When we forgive, we don’t hold onto resentment and bitterness etc, and we let go of our plans for revenge or retaliation. We let go of the feeling “they owe me something” and set ourselves free!
I never said it’s easy, BUT IT IS ESSENTIAL!
A popular misconception of forgiveness is “that to forgive is to condone” – not true. Forgiveness is not only for the other person but for us! As I said, we set ourselves free!
I’ve mentioned, more than once, ‘setting ourselves free’ and you may be thinking, but they wronged me, why should I let them walk away. Very often, the person who wronged you doesn’t give it a second thought, they are not worrying over you, you’re the one suffering the grief. And that’s all on a flesh level. But as we go deeper, in Matthew 6 v 15 it says, “But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
In The Passion Translation it sounds like this – v 14 & 15 – “And when you pray, make sure you forgive the faults of others so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you withhold forgiveness from others, your Father withholds forgiveness from you,”
It also says in, Matthew 18 v 21-22, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven!”
There are 3 area of Forgiveness – Forgiving Others! Asking/Receiving God’s Forgiveness! And Forgiving Ourselves!
I would like you to imagine the Celtic cross, the cross with the circle – show pic.
The Bible mentions forgiveness many times in the Bible, the actual numbers depend on the translation you’re reading, but it’s a lot. So I’m sensing it’s really important to Father God, that we are a forgiving people.
First, I want to talk about FORGIVING OTHERS!
Forgiveness breaks a powerful spiritual bond that can lock us into a negative way of relating to one another!
A past Pastor/friend used to say a phrase – “HURT PEOPLE, HURT PEOPLE!” And IT’S SO TRUE!
I want to share a testimony of a young Bible student :
My friends (who were responsible for founding Restoring the Foundations ministry) worked with a young woman who was a Bible student. Her father was a Pastor who’s ministry had always come first and hadn’t been there for his daughter at those important occasions in her life. The daughter’s bitterness had caused a deep estrangement between them. As she was walked through the process of Forgiveness, she was able to Forgive her Father. She was told to expect a change in her relationship with her Dad. – A FAITH STATEMENT! My friends had seen it so many times before.
A month later, she attended a Thanksgiving service at her Father’s church. After giving a Thanksgiving message her Father became uncharacteristically personal and began to share his heart with the people. He said, “you know, there are a lot of ways I have failed and one of them is my relationship with my daughter.” “I’m thankful we have a God of New Beginnings and I’m very thankful for my daughter.” With that he walked out of the pulpit and into the congregation. He put his arms around her, asked her for forgiveness, and expressed his love for her. Shocked and also thrilled, she immediately realised why this had happened. By forgiving her Father she set in motion the restoration of their relationship. The families in the congregation touched by this reconciliation began to follow suit by sharing their love for each other and giving thanks for that which is most precious in life.
When we forgive, we break a negative bond or bondage that exists with those people we are holding something against. This young woman’s forgiveness set her Father free to express the love in his heart.
Forgiveness does not depend on fairness, on whether a person feels like it or not, or who was in the wrong! God simply tells us repeatedly in His word, that we MUST FORGIVE! Father God, not only cares how we relate to Him, but He also cares how we relate to one another (and not only Christians). He doesn’t want us to have coldness to one another or to ‘X’ people out! God wants us to Forgive one another so that we have “CLEANED OUT” right relationships, no matter what offences have been committed towards us. Like we read already, in Matthew 6 v 15 it says, “But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
He simply says “FORGIVE”!
Remember “HE CAN ONLY FORGIVE US, AS WE FORGIVE OTHERS!”
Receiving God’s forgiveness is so important! Obviously none of you, but have you ever met someone who can’t accept that God has forgiven them! What a waste!
It’s like a slap in the face to God, it’s like saying the death of His Son wasn’t enough!
ISAIAH 43 v 25 says – “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for MY OWN sake; and I will not remember your sin!” Father God does NOT forget our sin, He chooses to remember it no more! A choice or decision, if you like, as I said at the beginning. Father God makes a choice or decision to forgive us our sins, we must choose to make that decision to do the same.
Forgiveness was always Father God’s plan! Because He wants relationship with us and each other!
Another testimony – Illustration – (page 46/47)
An Englishman had lived a racy life filled with gambling, women and drugs. As a result, he became powerfully addicted. God drew him out of his gutter life, miraculously saved him and set him free. The man became an evangelist. Some years later, as he was preaching in one of London’s famous old cathedrals, he faced an unexpected challenge. As he mounted the pulpit of the packed-out service, he noticed a letter lying open on top of the Bible. Immediately, he saw that it was from one of his former gambling buddies, one who knew the most sordid details of his life. The letter said, “How dare you bring God’s message! I know what you’re really like. I am here in the audience, and if you dare to preach, I’m going to get up and expose you. I’m going to tell everything that you’ve done.” The letter went on to list a number of the evangelist’s specific sins. It ended by saying, “If you’ve got any sense in this world, you will walk away from that pulpit right now and never try to do this again.”
By the time the evangelist finished reading the letter, he had already made his decision. In hushed tones, he began to read this letter to the audience. Concluding, he said, “I want you to know that everything this man has said about me is true and there’s a whole lot more that he didn’t even list. But more important than that, I want you to know that I have taken all of this to the Lord. I have repented and I have received so COSTLY a forgiveness, paid for me at the cross.
As he was speaking the people began silently to weep. In their faces, there was no judgement and there was no condemnation. They saw in front of them a repentant, healed man who clearly knew the grace of God. It was as if the light of God shone out of him that night. Some of the people made their way to the altar, while others stood and began to publicly confess their sins and desire to repent. As God’s Spirit of repentance filled the people, revival broke out in the meeting and spread to neighbouring villages until it had touched much of England
It all started with the simple sharing of what God can do, when we come in a true spirit of repentance!
It’s important to know that what Father God says, He means!
We need to forgive ONE ANOTHER so that we are not tied to our past. We need to receive Father God’s forgiveness to move on with our life!
The second area of forgiveness we need to deal with – is asking and receiving Father God’s forgiveness! I know we all know how to repent/ask for Father God’s forgiveness.
We need to ask for God’s forgiveness for the sin we have committed, but also for the way we have blamed others either for something we actually did, and held it against that person or for the way we have treated people who wronged us. And we know that as we repent and ask for His forgiveness, that we receive, simply because He said so. Then we leave our sins or bad attitudes etc at the cross and walk away, free and forgiven.
There is one more area of forgiveness we need to explore – forgiving ourself.
If we don’t forgive ourselves, it’s like saying that Jesus death on the cross was NOT enough!!
There is not a specific scripture that says “THOU SHALT FORGIVE THYSELF”
But in Matthew 22 v 39, it says – “You shall love your neighbour as yourself!”
And in Mark 11 v 25, it says – “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against ANYONE, (ANYONE INCLUDES YOU) forgive him, that your Father in Heaven may also forgive you your trespasses!.
Sometimes we can blame ourselves for things, we shouldn’t have done, or things we felt we could have changed, but didn’t. So, as in all of this don’t go digging, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the areas, He wants to deal with. If He reveals nothing, then move on.
There are blockages to Forgiveness – THINKING “Your sin is too big to forgive!” Unworthiness says, “You don’t deserve forgiveness, you deserve to keep feeling miserable!” Even self pity. All are blocks to Forgiveness!
But Father God wants us to live in FORGIVENESS! Remember it says in – I John 1 v 9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Remember if Father God says it, it’s a done deal. So lay down any guilt etc and walk away free.
Jesus has paid the price in full, to set you free, so move on in your freedom.
FORGIVENESS CROSS – (Diagram)
Horizontal Bar – reminds us to give Forgiveness to others! Give them a gift they may not deserve in your understanding.
Vertical Bar – reminds us to look upwards saying “God, forgive me, a sinner!” AND STAYING IN RIGHT ATTITUDE WITH FATHER, we walk on free.
Circle – reminds us to forgive ourselves.
There’s something else I want to share about forgiveness – there are three levels of Forgiveness –
1) Verbal – I forgive by faith.
2) Emotional – takes longer due to hurts, offences, anger, attitudes etc.
3) Biblical or Heart Level forgiveness – when you’ve released all judgements, guilt, accusations toward the person who hurt you and you feel no pain or hurt towards them.
You may feel, at times, I JUST CAN’T FORGIVE! A good place to start is to ask Father to make you willing to Forgive! AND HE WILL!
But can I please urge you, if you’re not already doing it, MAKE FORGIVENESS A WAY OF LIFE, not just sometimes and with some people. But with all you meet. Live a life of freedom.
Galatians 1 v 1 (in the NKJV) it says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of slavery.”
And in The Passion Translation it says, “At last we have freedom, for Christ has set us free! We must always cherish this truth and firmly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.”
23.4.22 – Malachi Zoom