I know we have a mandate from God to forgive, Matthew 6:15 says, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” The problem many of us struggle with is this, after we forgive them, we find ourselves reliving the event in our mind, which gives us the impression that we never really forgave them in the first place. The apostle Peter must have struggled with this as well because in Mathew 18: 21:22, he asked Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” Peter must have walked away with the impression that this was going to be a very long process. I later found it interesting that the number 490, (which is seventy-seven times) in the Hebrew means to; complete, perfect or finish. How many times was Jesus telling us we should forgive, “Till it is completed, perfected or finished. It also is the Hebrew numerical value associated with 1 Kings 8:61, “Let your heart be perfect” (KJV) Forgiveness helps us to be complete and is key to perfecting and keeping a healthy heart.
Are there areas in your life where repetitive, negative things keep re-occurring? Do you struggle to love as you should or get in touch with your anger, hurt or emotions? Has your heart become troubled? If so, then it is time to seek the Lord for he has come to, set the captives free, to heal the brokenhearted, and to open the prison doors. (Isaiah 61:1) The truth is that satan is a legalist and we give him rights to torment and hold us in prison when we continue to live in a state of unforgiveness. The enemy is given the legal right to bring the full weight of the law of sowing and reaping upon those who hold onto unforgiveness. Our merciful God has made a way out as we confess and repent of our sin to Him and give Him the case. Perhaps like me, you have found yourself arguing for, then against, accusing the individual, yourself, satan and even God over who was at fault. I often defended my actions as being noble while being suspicious of the actions of others. Then one day I realized the adage was true, “When you have yourself for an attorney, you have a fool for a client,” I needed to get a new attorney.
That’s when I began to realize that our earthly courts are set up on similar Godly principles. In place of the prosecutor we have satan who is called the accuser of the brethren (Job 1:6, Psalm 109:6, Zechariah 3:1, and Revelation 12:10). We have Jesus who is called our advocate, which is someone who pleads another’s cause and helps by defending or comforting them. It is applied to Christ in (1 John 2:1 and Job 16:19), where the same Greek word is translated, “Advocate.” And of course, the Holy Spirit, who brings forth Godly understanding and truth concerning the situation. It is a name given to the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7), and means another “advocate, or comforter.” God is the judge and rules on the issues of law.
As I began to understand this, I knew I needed to ask Jesus to be my advocate in the case. As soon as I did, I felt Jesus telling me to gather up every scrap of paper, every accusation, argument, excuse and pretense that I had given and in a prophetic act turn and hand them over to Him. He then told me not to respond to anything the accuser said to me. “Since you have forgiven the person you are free from any accusations the accuser has over you,” Jesus said, ‘from now on direct all inquiries to Me, your new attorney. And walk away!’ And I did. When satan attempted to make me feel guilty or ashamed, I would point to Jesus and turn and walk away and not entertain a false accusation. Perhaps like me you have come to realize that you have more than just a few misconceptions about forgiveness and what it really means?
Misconceptions Concerning Forgiveness
People believe that forgiving is forgetting that the incident happened. You can’t forget something that actually took place. What you can do is make the choice to release the offense and the person into God’s care and justice and no longer act as that person’s judge.
People believe that not forgiving someone is punishing them. The truth is that often the person who supposedly offended you does not remember the offense and has moved on. The only one being punished is the one holding bitterness in their heart.
People believe they can’t forgive. They may say something like, “I can’t forgive them for what they did to me.” This often comes from a wrong idea of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not forgetting or pretending that something did not happen or even suggesting that what happened was right or did not hurt everyone involved.
People believe that if they forgive someone, they must become their friend or re-establish a close relationship with them. Forgiveness is not being forced to re-establish a relationship with someone but releasing that person from bitterness in your heart toward them. Forgiveness does not continue to allow someone to abuse or mistreat you but recognizes that appropriate boundaries are needed. Forgiveness works to heal our heart and we may find that God has worked that healing in us where a relationship with the person can be reestablished. It is not forced upon us but is guided by God’s love, healing us from within as He softens our heart.
People feel justified in their unforgiveness and believe that there are no negative consequences to the unforgiveness and bitterness within them. This is not the biblical or secular witness. Bitterness has negative effects upon us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. A significant percent of people who suffer physically from certain cancers, from autoimmune diseases and from ailments in the bones have at least a contributing root of bitterness and unforgiveness. God’s word witnesses to the deterioration of our relationship with God when we choose to retain, through bitterness and unforgiveness, the role of the judge.
People believe that when they choose to forgive the hurt will leave immediately and they should instantly feel totally different. When we choose to forgive and give the case over to God the rights for the enemy to torment are removed and allow the healing to begin. To truly forgive from the heart is a supernatural gift of grace from God and it is Him who heals our wounds. When the accuser attempts to come back and replay the offenses, we quickly go to Jesus our advocate and give the case to Him as He us our defender. We can expect to be tested whenever freedom is gained, but we have Jesus and He will defend and sustain us as we give Him the case.
Forgiveness is a decision that only we can make and is an act of the will to do so! We can understand what it means to forgive and the misconceptions we may have that stop us from choosing forgiveness, but ultimately it must be our decision. May we pray for the Holy Spirit to be present in His great love and power to set us free as we speak aloud to choose to forgive and to allow God to be the judge. There is power and spiritual significance in spoken words to break any agreement we have made with the enemy. We pray that if this speaks to you that you will give your case to Jesus and allow Him to be your advocate defending you in the court of Heaven. The key to living and dying well is to learn to love as He loves and to forgive quickly.
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