Tag Archives: unforgiveness

The Forgiveness Factor (Part 21)

The final step in total forgiveness is the hardest one. It requires a supernatural amount of God’s grace and a little time. Total forgiveness ultimately requires us to pray for the one who has offended, hurt, or wounded us. “No way!” you may be thinking, “That just too hard! I have been praying since this happened that God would get them—that he would give them what they deserve—that he would judge them for all the pain I have endured. Hey, the shepherd David prayed that way, so why can’t I?”

Jesus put it this way in Matthew 5:43-45a: “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…”


Jesus said to pray for them. No one else will know—just you and God. Try it and feel the freedom as it pours into your soul. Ask God to forgive them, bring them to repentance, and eventually to salvation. Ask God to bless them and yes—even prosper them. This will be very, very tough at first. You may have to go slow, but go no matter what.

There is a progression you can follow that might help you do this. First, pray out of duty. God says do it, so obey. Next, pray out of debt because you understand what Christ did for you. As you do these two things, you will eventually begin to pray out of desire—because you want to. As you obey, God will change your heart and give you his love for the offender. This will soon lead you to pray with delight as love and joy take control. And eventually, your prayers for that person will achieve durability—it will become second nature.

When this happens total forgiveness has occurred. The offense, the wound, or the hurt has been fully healed.

This is a process—something you must choose to do every day. Get ready, the devil will do his best to stir up those old emotions, to convince you to replay the event in your mind, to have a pity party, feel sorry for yourself, and allow the bitterness to creep back in. You must stay vigilant. Remember—forgiveness always comes with a cost. It will cost you a great deal, but the freedom it purchases is priceless!

The Forgiveness Factor (Part 20)

The process of forgiveness gets harder, humanly speaking, the deeper it goes. But, the good news is God will give us the ability and the power to do what he requires if we will simply obey. The last few steps don’t happen overnight, but they can happen if we will place our pain in his hands and trust his heart to fully heal us.

The next step is to start seeing the person who has offended or hurt us through God’s eyes. This means whenever we see that person or hear their name, we refuse to allow what is past to rule the present. This means we must remind ourselves over and over we have forgiven this person.

Very often when someone has hurt you, it is normal to have certain physical reactions like anger, fear, sweating, dread, nervousness, or a churning stomach when we see or think about that person. Our soul is afraid to go where our spirit wants to lead. So it reacts by creating physical issues we are forced to deal with.  We must bring these reactions under the truth of God’s Word and his Holy Spirit. That person is no longer our enemy. We must remind ourselves that the offender is also made in the image and the likeness of God. That person is someone God created and Jesus died for. We must remind ourselves of that as often as it takes.

Over time, the feelings we experience will subside and come under the authority of the truth. We have forgiven that person, therefore we don’t have to be filled with fear, or dread, or whatever the emotion.

On note here—forgiving does not mean you have to be that person’s bosom buddy or friend ever again. It simply means that person is no longer your enemy. You don’t have to resume a relationship but you must release them to God. This happens as you begin to see them through God’s eyes.

The Forgiveness Factor (Part 19)


Our sin drove this nail.


The first step has been taken. Now the final steps are achieved through our obedience and God’s empowering grace. This process will seem insurmountable at first glance, but as you surrender God will bring each step in the process to fruition.

Total forgiveness requires us to make a conscious decision every day not to publicize the offense. That means we will no longer share it with every person who comes along. No more telling our story to the poor guy behind us in the Wal-Mart checkout line. No more posting tidbits of it on Facebook or as a prayer request at church. (The exception to this is sharing it with a trusted counselor who is an instrument of God’s healing.) We choose to no longer verbally crucify the offender for what they’ve done no matter how many chances we get.

Talking to everyone who comes along simply will not help. “But it helps me get it out,” you may be thinking. No, it only makes you think you are getting some measure of revenge or justice by telling everyone about it. It gets a little pity here and there, but we don’t need pity, we need healing. All it really does is cause our mind and soul to re-live the event over and over—like scratching a scab off a wound that has started to heal. That wound will never heal if the process is interrupted over and over with the scratching nails of gossip and condemnation. This is a choice we make, but God empowers. It is a daily partnership.

Total forgiveness is also a commitment never to use what was done to us against that person in the future. We choose not to punish that person any longer—to release the guilt for the offense. This means they no longer owe us anything. The offender has been forgiven—the penalty, the guilt, the debt, and the condemnation are released—gone! When God forgives us—the offense is no longer sin. The guilt, penalty, and condemnation of our sin is gone (this is the meaning of “no condemnation” in Romans 8:1). A forgiven person is no longer guilty. Therefore we must stop dredging the old offense up over and over.

This step is tough, but we have Jesus as our example. This is the way he forgave us on the cross. Our sin flogged his body, its malignancy nailed his hands and feet to the cross, and the awful weight of it crushed his life out drop by drop. In that moment, his words were both simple and profound—“Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”

What we have received from Christ we are called to give to others.


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.