FORGIVENESS – Jesus Demands It, How Are We Doing? – by Jim Nelson
We may all know someone who’s spent years in bondage because they were unable or unwilling to forgive someone or even themselves, how sad. When they finally understand and applied Biblical forgiveness, they experienced an incredible and wonderful freedom.
Of all the human qualities that make men in any sense like God, none is more divine than forgiveness. God is a God of forgiveness. In fact, forgiveness is a major component of our faith. It is impossible to exercise forgiveness if we refuse to relinquish our rights for the good of others. This is a huge point. I love reading Romans chapter 12 on being a living sacrifice. I encourage you this week to study and meditate on this chapter.
Let’s review what our Lord teaches us about the importance of Biblical forgiveness. In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus teaches us the Lord’s Prayer. In verse 12 Jesus tells us to, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In verses, 14 -15, “for if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins.” This is a strong warning from our Lord about forgiveness, if we refuse to forgive others, God will also refuse to forgive us. Whenever we ask God to forgive us our sins, we should ask ourselves “Have I forgiven the people who have wronged me”? Let’s make this a part of our daily prayer life.
Ephesians 4:32, “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” When we experienced God’s forgiveness, then we will have a readiness to forgive others. Also read Colossians 3:13.
In Matthew 18, Jesus tells us about the parable of the unforgiving debtor. Peter asked Jesus “how many times shall I forgive?” Jesus gives him a quick answer; “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” In other words, you forgive as many times as someone sins against you. Just keep on endlessly forgiving.
As we study and apply scripture, we learn that failure to forgive is unthinkable as a believer. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, how big is the offense, a failure to forgive is an open act of disobedience. In doing some research, I found 110 examples in scripture about the importance of forgiveness. Forgiveness, because of its significance and importance is dealt with at great length in Scripture.
The Bible tells us a lot about the negative consequences of having an unforgiving heart, I want to review just 4 reasons:
1. You are in bondage to the past as un-forgiveness imprisons you in the past.
2. You become very bitter.
3. You open the door to Satan and his attacks. One commentator wrote; “that most of the ground Satan gains in our lives is due to un-forgiveness.” Wow! that caught my full attention.
4. You lose a deeper fellowship with our Lord.
A few examples of forgiveness in the Bible includes the Prodigal Son, the book of Philemon is all about forgiveness. And the greatest example of forgiveness is Christ dying for us on the cross, see Luke 23:33 where he cries out “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
As we pull all of this together, you get the very clear message that God is a forgiving God and we as believers are to be a forgiving people!! As believers, we are now reconciled to the Lord Jesus Christ, we now have the capacity for Biblical forgiveness. We are a new creation and have the indwelling Spirit which gives us the ability to forgive. Please review the following verses, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Acts 2:38, Romans 8:9, and 1 Corinthians 3:16. It’s important to remember that we must forgive from our heart, forgiveness is not just a mere intellectual accent. As it is with Saving Faith, true Biblical forgiveness includes; the mind, the heart, and our will. In other words, true forgiveness produces a change in behavior or what the Bible calls fruit.
The world is ripped to shreds everywhere from marriages to nations because people can’t forgive. Can you imagine a world where everyone has a forgiving heart!
Forgiveness is for our benefit. The other person’s behavior may never change. It’s up to God – not us – to change others. Our responsibility is to be set free from the pressure and weight of an unforgiving attitude. Whatever our pain or situation, we cannot afford to hold onto an unforgiving spirit. We must get involved in the process of releasing others from the debts we feel they owe us. If we keep our eyes on Jesus who forgave us, it will be a liberating force like nothing we’ve ever experienced.
Thomas Watson, a Puritan Preacher even linked forgiveness to assurance of salvation. He quoted the following; “We need not climb up into heaven to see whether our sins are forgiven. Let us look into our hearts and see if we can forgive others. If we can, we need not doubt that God has forgiven us.” As we study scripture, we come to know as believers that God is transforming us more and more into His image, (this process is called progressive sanctification) and we are never more like Him than when we forgive. The Bible makes it very clear that we must forgive others.
I recently read a prayer on forgiveness from Dr. Charles Stanley. I pray this will be helpful to you.
Lord, I forgive (name of person) for (name the specifics). I claim authority over the enemy and take back the ground I’ve allowed Satan to gain because of my attitude toward (the person). I give this area of my life back to the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray this in His name and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Your brother in Christ,