Worship Times: Main Service - 10:40 a.m. : Sunday P.M. Service - 6:30 : Wednesday P.M. Service - 6:30

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the act of setting someone free from an obligation to you that is a result of a wrong done against you. For example, a debt is forgiven when you free your debtor of his obligation to pay back what he owes you.

"Forgiveness involves three elements: injury, a debt resulting from the injury, and a cancellation of the debt." All three elements are necessary if forgiveness is to take place. many people are deeply injured by harsh or unkind words spoken to them. Many are also wounded by others forms of mistreatment. The wound can go deep into the subconscious and become deep seated, producing a root of bitterness.

In Frank Hammond's book, Pigs In The Parlor, Mr. Hammond shows that unforgiveness causes a root of bitterness and out of this bitterness emerges rebellion, resentment, hatred and violence.  Hammon says, "Willingness to forgive is absolutely essential to deliverance. No deliverance minister can afffect a deliverance unless the candidate has met God's conditions." (Matthew 18:21-35)

Most people who suffer from an unforgiving spirit do not realize that unforgiveness is at the root of their problem. These people just "can't stand" to be around certain people. They are always wanting to strike out at people when certain subjects are discussed. They feel uncomfortable around certain personality types. They frequently lose their tempers over small things. They constantly struggle with guilt over sins committed in the past. These people have not come to grips with the forgiveness of God and what that forgiveness does for them.

God is love and He forgives us of all sins when we confess our sins and ask for His forgiveness. (1 John 1:9) Since God is love (1 John 4:16), He expects us to love one another. The Word says in 1 john 4:7, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." Verse 8 says, "He who does ot love does not know God, for God is love." Jesus knew that bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness blocks the ability to love one another. He says is Matthew 6:14, "For if you forgive men of their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." Verse 16 says, "But, if you do not forgive men of their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you of your trespasses."

It is not that God forgives on an exchange basis. "Our forgiveness of others is not a condition of God's forgiveness of us. Rather, it is a condition of our ability to recieve the forgiveness of God." Therefore, a person with an unforgiving spirit can completely block the forgiving mercy of God for himself.

The spirit of unforgiveness not only blocks the mercy of God, but it also blocks our faith. In Mark 11:22-24 the Word says, "Have faith in God". But in verse 25 which is the key for having what it says in verses 23-24, the Word says, "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." God knows that if we harbor unforgiveness of others in our hearts, we will be unable to recieve God's forgiveness for ourselves. Instead of being strengthened by faith, our prayers will be suffocated beneath a load of guilt and condemnation.

When an individual refuses to forgive others for a wrong done to him, he withholds love, acceptance, respect, service, kindness, patience, or whatever the other values. He might say, "Until I feel you have repaid me for the wrong done to me, you will not have my forgiveness." If we go back to our defintion, we can readily see that the element missing is "cancellation of the debt". Those who refuse to forgive automatically refuse to cancel the debt.

A person who has an unforgiving spirit is always the real loser, much more so than the one against whom the grudge is held. The unforgiving spirit prevents a person from being able to walk consistently in the Spirit of God. The only choice is to walk according to the flesh. When this happens, he is a loser every time. By withholding love, kindness, prayer, gentleness, and self-control, the individual is held hostage by the flesh and, thus, is the ultimate loser.

How do we go about ridding ourselves of the spirit of unforgiveness? Forgiveness is an act of the will and we must "will"to forgive.

True forgiveness does not have anything at all to do with how we feel or our feelings, but it is an act of our own will from the heart. The Gospel commands us to forgive our brother from our heart and not to be led or dominated by our feelings.

There are four steps that one can follow that will help him to forgive:

1. We must confess the sin of unforgiveness in our own life. It is essential that we also forgive ourselves. We can only love other people to the degree that we love ourselves. Jesus commands us in Mark 12:31, "And the second, like it is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." So, we must forgive ourselves and then ask for forgiveness for the sins we have committed against our hevenly Father. In 1 John 1:9 the Word promises that "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness".

Next, spend time in prayer. It is not easy to recognize all of the areas of unforgiveness in our life. Since the conscious is only 10% of the mind and the subconscious is 90% of the mind, there are areas of deep-seated unforgiveness that our conscious mind is not aware of. It is essential that we allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts to reveal to us those hidden pockets of unforgiveness.

2. Forgive each person brought to mind by the Holy Spirit. This is an act of our will based on obedience to God. Once a person has forgiven another, we should consider them permanently forgiven. Then pray for this person. Pray that the blessings of heaven will be poured out upon this person. Pray that God will bless them greatly. Praing for your eneies is also an act of obedience to God. Proverbs 24:17 says, "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and it displeases Him and He may turn away His wrath from him."

We must bind any feelings of unforgiveness that creep in to try to convince us that we haven't really forgiven. As believers, we have the authority to use the name of Jesus and bind feelings of unforgiveness and cast them out of our minds by faith.

3. Next, we must believe that we recieve forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness including any rememberance of having been wronged. It is imperative that we forgive and also "forget'. In Ephesians 4:32 the Word says, "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgive you."

As a believer, we are to forgive supernaturally, "even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you". This means we are to forgive as God forgives in Jeremiah 31:34 which says, "I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more." When we forgive as God forgives, we release that person to go free from the debt. Cancellation of the debt is a must. Unforgiveness binds us to the person that we have ought against. Forgiveness is the key that unlocks us from the person we need to forgive. We release them permanently and uncondtionally.

Something supernatural happens as you forgive. The inner turmoil caused by the hurtful incident will disappear. The power of God not only will heal the inner wounds, but will also bring about physical healing. Unforgiveness will block the healing power of God in our bodies. This is why many people who are prayed for are not healed.

By uttering a simple prayer of forgiveness to God for those who the Holy Spirit brings to mind, forgiving them and ourselves, will bring physical as well as emotional healing.

4. Finally, praise God and give thanks that it is done! As we enjoy the forgiveness of our heavenly Father, we can fellowship with Him in a new-found joy and freedom. We now can expereince the abundant life that Jesus came to give us. Praise Him and worship Him. Let the power of the Holy Spirit begin to flow. 

"You will be the only picture of God's love some people will ever see. You will offer the only taste of God's forgiveness some people will ever know." This is an awesome responsibilty and a precious opportunity for ministry.