Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Forgiveness Factor (Part 18)

Be the Victor not the Victim! It’s your choice.

Now that the lies of the enemy have been exposed, we can return to the process of forgiveness. It is a process and it begins with a choice of the will to forgive the specific offender for a specific offense. “God, I choose to forgive ________ for _________ in Jesus name. I release and forgive this person. Please forgive me for my sin of unforgiveness, in Jesus name.”

Once you do this, you take control of the offense and responsibility for its results and you are no longer a victim. A victor refuses to be a victim. Victims give control over to the offender and become prisoners of the offense. Victims allow what was done to define who or what they are—to determine their future. Forgiveness allows you to shake off the victim mentality and reclaim responsibility for your life (past, present, and future) and ultimately, surrender all of it to God. Areas of unforgiveness are ruled by the offender’s offense not God’s grace.

Earlier in this series we described the prison cell of unforgiveness. The person who refuses to forgive shuts the door and locks it from the inside. But when forgiveness is offered the door swings open and God steps in to heal the hurt or wound in your soul and spirit. Invite him to restore your heart. Ask for what you need. Cry out for him to restore what the devil has stolen. Jesus is the one who binds up the brokenhearted, meaning he comes to heal those who are shattered in pieces. He will gather all the pieces and heal the memory, and in doing this, he heals the soul. He is Jehovah Rapha (the God who is our healer).

As he does this, he will also reveal the ground the enemy has taken in our lives. Unforgiveness opens the door, but once forgiveness is offered, his legal right to be there ends. Jesus will expose his handiwork, but we must repent and renounce each stronghold (things such as bitterness, hate, rage, anger, fear, insecurity, jealousy, envy, revenge, etc). Each time we repent, God brings a new level of freedom. This is an ongoing process. As long as we are willing God will work and complete healing will come.

Once the initial step of forgiveness is taken, God starts the process rolling that will eventually bring about total forgiveness. Once we take the first step, he empowers us to take the final few steps. It’s a partnership—his power and grace coupled with our obedience. The end result is total forgiveness and healing.

Hang in there! We are almost there. It’s all downhill from here.

The Forgivness Factor (Part 17)

Beware of the devil’s lies

The enemy is a master in the art of lying and he has certainly perpetrated several when it comes to the meaning of forgiveness. Confusion about what’s true and what’s not is a sure recipe for bondage. Let’s sever four more links in his chain of lies.

Forgiveness does not mean the person who committed the offense gets off scot-free. Sin has inherent consequences. We are governed by both spiritual and judicial law. Yes, our responsibility is to forgive, but we also have laws in place that are designed to protect us. Those laws have penalties when they are broken. If a person murders, rapes, abuses, steals, extorts, robs, maligns, or does something illegal that person must suffer the payment demanded by justice. Actions always have consequences. We must forgive, but our system of law requires their punishment.

Another lie he has conned us into believing is that if you forgive you should never confront the offender. Just forget it and move on. Listen—there are some things that must be confronted. The key is the confrontation must be done in love not in vengeance. Its aim is restoration not retaliation. But we must call wrong what it is. Wrong is always wrong and it is never right Confrontation often causes the offender to recognize and become aware of what they have done. It sometimes results in repentance and reconciliation.

Yet  another lie says forgiveness and reconciliation are necessary or true forgiveness has not occurred. Forgiveness does not require reconciliation in every instance. Some people are toxic and dangerous. God does not require you to have a friendship or even a relationship with such a person. If the Holy Spirit desires reconciliation, he will walk you through the process, but forgiveness is not dependent on reconciliation. Forgiveness requires a choice and an act by one person, while reconciliation requires two.

Finally, forgiveness does not mean you get the luxury of waiting to forgive until the offender comes and begs for forgiveness. No, we are to live in a continual attitude of forgiveness. Jesus forgave us and demonstrated his love for us while we were yet sinners. He died for us. We are to imitate him.

So, once again, don’t believe what someone else says about the Bible without doing your own homework. That’s how lies become woven into the fabric of our belief system. Do you remember Satan’s classic statement to Eve? “Has God said…” He introduced a lie that forged a chain of bondage and—the rest is history.

The Forgiveness Factor (Part 16)

It is very important that you understand what the act of forgiveness does not mean. True forgiveness is greatly misunderstood and grossly misrepresented by many well-meaning teachers and preachers. Most people think forgiveness is the equivalent of a spiritual get-out-of-jail-free-card for the perpetrator of the offense. In other words, if you forgive someone they go free without any responsibility or culpability for their words or actions. That is simply not true and it’s not biblical either. Let me take a few moments and a couple of blogs to destroy a few of the devil’s best lies concerning forgiveness.

Forgive and forget (the devil’s most effective tool) is not biblical because it is impossible. You cannot wipe something from you mind like it never happened. Whenever you hear this, that’s usually what the other person would like you to do—to act like it never happened. But—it did and it hurt. When a person has been abused, raped, ruined, called names, or cheated, it is impossible to forget. God has forgiven our sins but he has not forgotten them. He is omniscient (he knows all) and if he forgot something he would cease to possess that attribute. God does not forget our sins rather he chooses not to remember them against us anymore. It is an act of his will. Once you forgive a person you must choose not to replay the event over and over. You must choose to no longer remember it or hold it against them—it is an act of the will. For some reason, many quote a verse about God casting our sins in the sea of forgetfulness and that particular verse is not found in the Bible (which is a very good place to check first). It is a misrepresentation of two verses: Micah 7:19 and Isaiah 43:25. Yes, praise God—he has cast all our sins into the depths of the ocean but he has not forgotten them—he has chosen to no longer remember them against us. Perhaps you may think this is semantics and word-twisting, but we are not commanded to do something even God cannot do. Forgive and forget is a tool of the devil, not a requirement of God.

Another lie the enemy perpetrates is that you must go and face your offender face to face and forgive them in person. I suggest you ask the Holy Spirit and then do what he wants you to do. Most of the time, he will probably not require you to do that. Forgiveness is more often an act done only in the presence of God. Do you remember the two key groups that hurt people? They are those who don’t know and those who don’t care. It will do no good for you to go to a person if that person doesn’t care that they have hurt you or are unaware they have hurt you unless the Holy Spirit specifically tells you to do so. The act of forgiveness is to set you free anyway. Listen to the Holy Spirit. If he tells you to go—then go. If not—don’t. The Bible does clearly teach if you have offended someone you are to go and ask for their forgiveness. There’s a big difference between the two.

A third tool Satan uses is the idea that forgiveness means what happened to you really didn’t matter or that it was not really that bad after all. That’s a lie! It hurt and it was wrong. Wrong is never right! God never winks at the offense, the pain, or the hurt. You will never hear God say to you, “Suck it up! That’s was not a big deal! That didn’t hurt—you should be tougher than that by now!” If it hurt you, it hurt Jesus! You are a part of his body. That’s how much he loves you. God does not call us to ignore the pain. It must be worked through. He only calls us to forgive the offender.

Perhaps you have believed one of these lies about forgiveness. Please remember this—just because someone standing in a pulpit, a Sunday School class, or a small group said God said it does not mean God actually said it. Check it out and see what God said for yourself.

 We will deal with four more lies about forgiveness in the next blog.

The Forgiveness Factor (Part 15)

So your list is complete? If you are not sure—make sure! This is the place where you deal with it, or you keep running. You have made it this far, so why not ask the Holy Spirit one more time if he has anything (anything at all, no matter how insignificant it seems) he wants you to add to the list.

You may be tempted to file the list and do it when you have more time. Don’t! You may also be surprised out how long your list is. The time has come to face it. Remember—God is with you and he’s your partner in this. He will not abandon you, and he will walk with you no matter how long this takes—as long as you are willing and obedient. Obedience, not speed, is the issue now.

Ask the Holy Spirit where he wants you to start. He will often start with an offense that is relatively insignificant or simple. In fact, it will probably be one that makes you wonder why you haven’t already forgiven it. Our greatest fear is that God will take us to that one wound—you know which one I’m talking about—the one that paralyzes us with fear and pain. The voice telling you that this is what God will do and paralyzing you with fear is not God—it’s the enemy. Ignore him, or better yet, command him to leave because he is no longer welcome because this freedom party is about to get into full swing.

God usually starts with the insignificant and works toward the significant. He does this to build your faith in him.  God’s desire is not to hurt you, embarrass you, expose you, or destroy you. He knows exactly how much you can emotionally deal with at any moment. He will not push you past the place you cannot emotionally go. He understands the pain in your heart and soul, and the way you are made. Just trust him!  Go ahead and ask, “God—where do I start?”

You will hear his voice. He has a specific plan for deconstructing the list you hold in your hand. “Go to #____ and start there—now!” Start wherever he tells you.

Now comes the moment when you must verbalize what you have written down and make the choice to forgive. What follows must come from your heart. These are not just words you say, but rather it is the verbalization—the speaking into life the choice you are making.

“God, I choose to forgive (name the person) for (name the offense, the hurt, or the wound) in Jesus name. I release and forgive this person for what he/she did. Please forgive me for my sin of unforgiveness in Jesus name!”

Once you’ve done this, date it, and mark it off the list with your pen. Ask the Holy Spirit which one you are to go to next. Then do the same thing again. This may take some time—several days, weeks, or even months depending on the length of your list and the depth of your wounds. Don’t give up and don’t listen to the accusations and condemnations of the enemy. Tune him out and turn him off. The reason he is screaming so loud right now is that he is losing control in your life and his power and influence are being evicted.

If you reach an offense you find impossible to forgive, ask the Lord to give you his strength. Cry out for his grace. Ask for him for the power you need! Invite him to show you where he was when the trauma happened. Then trust him and act! Take only as long as he desires in empowering you to respond.

When every item on the list is dated and marked through, toss it in the garbage can or strike a match and watch it go up in flames. It is done! You have made the choice and acted on it. God is now free to complete the healing of your heart, mind, and emotions. He can now heal your soul. This is the first step.

In the next blog, I want you to understand what you don’t have to do before we proceed. 

The Forgiveness Factor (Part 14)

Over and over, throughout this blog series, I have reminded you that forgiveness is a process empowered by God. The first step is usually the hardest step. The first step is often the most misunderstood and misrepresented. If a person can get passed the first step correctly the process usually goes smoothly. This is especially true with forgiveness. We have all been told and taught things about forgiveness that is totally unbiblical and completely wrong. And—all that unbiblical stuff hinders us from doing what God demands.

The first step is the hardest—or so the song goes. Forgiveness begins with a simple, but profound act of the will. You must choose to forgive (to pardon, remit, or overlook the mistake, fault, offense, hurt, or injury of the offender without demanding penalty, punishment, or retribution) the person who has hurt you. You willingly turn this person over to God. That means accepting what has occurred, absorbing both the cost and the pain, while at the same time giving up your desire to get even or reap your revenge. Just remember—most people who hurt other people either don’t know what they’ve done or they don’t care.

When something is painful, we tend to want to bundle it all up in a sack and deal with it in a wholesale manner. Forgiveness doesn’t work that way. You can’t say, “I forgive ______ for everything he or she has ever done to me.” What was done to you was usually not done in a wholesale manner, but rather one act at a time. And—each act hurt and caused very specific wounds. Therefore if it wasn’t done in a wholesale manner, it cannot be forgiven in a wholesale manner. Each incident must be confronted, verbalized, and forgiveness specifically applied.

Each incident is a like an arrow in stuck in your soul. If you are not specific, the devil will continue to grab that arrow and twist it to cause as much pain as he can. As long as the offense is embedded there, the pain will never go away and the wound will always be just as raw as the moment it happened.

Offering forgiveness for each specific offense allows you to remove those arrows one by one and hold them in your hand, which gives you authority over them. They no longer control you—you now exercise control over them. Those arrows are not who you are, but rather they are what someone did to you. Once you have removed an arrow of offense, confessed and verbalized the pain out-loud, and forgiven it, God takes the arrow from your hand and beings the healing process in your heart and soul. As long as the arrow of offense is sticking in your heart and soul, healing won’t come no matter the length of time that passes. Time does not heal all wounds; it is what you do with the time and forgiveness is your only option.

How do I do this? By simply naming the person (if you know their name) and the offense, sin, or hurt that was perpetrated against you. Find a place that’s quiet where you can be alone. Take a pad and a pen. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you anyone or anything hidden in your heart or soul that you need to forgive. When he starts speaking—you start writing. Don’t argue! Don’t rationalize! Write it down! Write the offense down—put it into words. Express how it made you feel. Write the person’s name down if you know it or write as much of a description of that person as you can if you don’t. Number them in the order the Spirit of God reveals them. List them by name and offense as long as the Holy Spirit keeps talking. When he stops, ask him if there is anything else. Be still for a few moments and listen.

This may take a few minutes, a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks, depending on how much stuff you’ve accumulated in that room at the end of the hall in your soul. Allow the Holy Spirit access so he can thoroughly clean it out. Don’t give him limited access and whatever you do—don’t be selective in what you write down. Write everything down!

The Forgiveness Factor (Part 13)

Is there a fifty gallon drum of unforgiveness deteriorating inside the little shed on the back-side of your soul? If so, the rest of these blogs will help you deal with it God’s way. The result will be revolutionary and result in a life-changing experience.

Jesus said something in Matthew 6:14-15 that we tend to gloss over, explain away, or other-wise ignore completely. He said, “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive men, then your heavenly Father will not forgive your transgressions (underlined for emphasis). That verse is fairly self-explanatory. You don’t need a degree in biblical Greek to catch the gist of what Jesus way saying. If you forgive others—God forgives yours. If you don’t—God won’t!

When you or I refuse to forgive, we insert ourselves in God’s place as the judge, jury, and executioner, and that’s a place none of us have the authority to usurp. Do you truly believe God is a God of righteousness and justice? Are you afraid God will allow even the tiniest smidgen of wickedness to slide by undetected? Do you really think he needs your help? Abraham summed it up this way in Genesis 18:25: “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what it right?”

In other words, God does not treat the wicked like the righteous. Wickedness (disobedience) brings justice. Justice is a part of God’s character—He will do what is right. He will bring justice to bear where there is injustice. Make no mistake about it—that which a person sows, he or she will indeed reap. You can take that to the bank with you! So, isn’t it about time you trusted God?

True forgiveness is an act of the will—a choice you must make. Will you allow God to be the judge, the jury, and the executioner, or do not trust him after all? Unforgiveness does not empower you, but forgiveness does. In forgiving, you take a step back and allow God to do what God intends to do. This willing act allows you to accept the hurt or wound, without demanding that the offender pay you back. No longer is getting even or taking revenge an option. But—this kind of forgiveness must be given freely without any strings attached, or it is not forgiveness.

Forgiveness is truly a process that requires a partnership with God. We are simply unable to grant another person biblical forgiveness apart from God’s power and love being exercised through us. We need help to do what we are supposed to do.

Let me say this again—loud and clear. Total forgiveness is a process and you will need God’s help to complete this process.