Matthew 18:21-22 – “Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” NASB
Let’s take one more look at the topic of Forgiveness, Fellowship, and Repentance and consider the important dimension of Pronouncing Forgiveness. You may ask, “What are you talking about?” I hope, in this devotional, to address that in a coherent manner that brings understanding and liberty.
I am convinced that much of the Christian Church has missed this truth or pushed it to the back burner theologically. We say, rightly, that only God can truly forgive sins. However, we sometimes fail to acknowledge that this dimension comes through the work of the Holy Spirit and that we become vehicles through which people receive forgiveness. Before you brand me, a heretic let me continue.
James 5 instructs us to ‘Confess’ our sins to one another? Why? What do you do after someone confesses? Do we gossip? What do we do? What we should be doing, biblically is Pronouncing Forgiveness. No, I am not trying to make the Evangelical Church a participant in papal ministry. Why do people confess?
There are two basic reasons for this action. First, it breaks the fear of exposure and second, it frees from condemnation. Let me challenge you to remember that Pronouncing Forgiveness was one of the first gifts associated with receiving the Holy Spirit in John 20:22-23. Look at these verses carefully, “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” Being forgive is one of the greatest needs any person can experience.
In Matthew 6 the topic of Forgiving Others comes into view powerfully. If we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us. How much and how often do we need to forgive? We should never hide anyone’s sins or judge them in that sin. We should love them and attempt to help them come to the Light for Victory.
Let me offer some serious counsel. If you are having difficulty forgiving people, purpose in your heart to pray for them every day. I am totally convinced that you cannot genuinely and honestly pray for someone and not sense the heart of God toward them begin to arise in your own heart. It may take weeks, months, and even years but it will happen.
There is incredible danger in withholding forgiveness. Proverbs 17:13 declares, “He who returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.” Who wants to live there? No one! We acknowledge that it is good to forgive so the converse is also true. There is a dramatic difference between forgiveness and judgment.
If someone lies to me ten times, I can forgive them each time but, in my heart, I see that person as a liar. Oh, I dealt with a few instances or incidents, but I have a judgment that that person is a liar. Therefore, when I see them, I see a “Liar.” I have forgiven the sins, but I am still judging the person. Unless I pronounce Forgiveness, I will never see them other than how I have judged them.
God is a God of Restoration and seeks to bring Wholeness! Let me challenge you to stop saying, “I’m sorry,” when you ask for forgiveness. What? I suggest that you say, “Would you forgive me?” Then they can release what is in their heart and become free and release me to be free too.
A Word of Caution. Don’t rush to people and tell them what you have thought or felt about them and what they have done. They may be totally unaware of the matter. Rather, Forgive, them before they confess. In your heart forgive them. When they come to you to give you the details you can say, “I forgive you. I don’t even want to know what you thought.”
I have found that there are people who want you to know all the bad things they thought about you. Not out of repentance but they want you to know how horrible you are, in their view. They are hoping to elicit a response from you that will transform you to the image they believe you should be. It is when someone comes to me to tell me some ill-thought, they had about me, I say, “I forgive you” and stop them before they begin.
Of course, there are some things that need to be confessed to a spiritual counselor or elder in a time of ministry in order to receive full deliverance and victory. But that time of confession must never be a forum to dump on someone. Forgiveness is not only powerful but necessary for true and full spiritual victory.
- Identify the Areas of Unforgiveness in Your Own Life.
- Repent and Ask for Forgiveness.
- Release all Bitterness and Judgments.
- Then Receive Forgiveness.
I pray that these few devotionals have been beneficial and each of us can receive full victory spiritually over the deception of the devil, unforgiveness and enter into Fellowship and Restoration.
God bless you as you enjoy this beautiful day in Jesus!