Matthew 18:35 – “So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” NASB
Forgiveness is not just important in the Christian walk and in all walks of life, it is a matter of life or death! We wear masks and hide our real feelings and selves because of the ‘fear of exposure.’ We sometimes harbor questions in our hearts such as, “What if they really knew me?” We justify our animosity, resentment, and hurt and allow the festering sore of failure to forgive to defile us and thereby defile others around us.
Let me offer this encouragement in the journey to transparency, openness, and forgiveness – Jesus Will Not Reject You! He declared that in John 6:37 and He never says anything He does not mean and will not fulfill. If we want total freedom and release from the pain of unforgiveness we must come to God and CONFESS.
I caution everyone to be aware of where and to whom you confess. Only confess your faults, failures, and sins to those who have the objective of making whole and restoration. Never confess to someone who is loading up ammunition for juicy tidbits of ‘news’ (Gossip). God promises to forgive ALL sin ALL not some but ALL! Therefore, it is imperative that we forgive Everyone just as He forgives us.
Let me insert this for your consideration – For anyone to be truly forgiven or to truly receive forgiveness there must be Repentance. I am not talking about installing some new law, rule, regulation, or requirement for them to buy your pardon but repentance. The reason that I say Repentance is required is the heart will not release what it has not repented of, therefore, if there is no repentance there is no forgiveness.
Beware the devil’s schemes and attempts to ensnare and entrap. Do not bury your feelings and deny the need for repentance or forgiveness by saying, “Oh, but I got over that a long time ago, it was nothing.” If that is the truth then explain why when it comes up and you are reminded of it you start crying, getting angry, grow cold inside, get sick at your stomach, etc.? How is it that you still carry around the guilt and an element of shame? The Bible says that God removes it as far as the East is from the West, yet somehow, we still have it and can readily find it.
In 1 John 1:9, we are instructed that “If we confess our sins…” That is Repentance! The word confess (Homologeo) means to confess by way of admitting you are guilty of what you have been accused of. That is the result of an inward conviction by the Holy Spirit.
It means to agree with God and say the same thing God says about the situation rather than your pious and sometimes self-righteous dismissal of it. It is speaking the same thing as God, therefore, to confess is to repent. It is not just uttering words, it comes from the heart and is an admission of guilt and accepting responsibility for the action and turning away from it. It is to do an about-face and go the other direction and includes Godly Sorrow!
Let me offer this example and hopefully paint an applicable picture. I had a person who came to me for counseling and was battling many areas in their life. In the course of the session he said, “Well, I didn’t like my father.” I said, “You didn’t like him?” He said, “Well, I guess I resented him a little.” I responded in the same manner and said, “You resented him a little?” He had given me a picture of his life in the home and how his father had cheated on his mother, sexually abused his sister, beat him until he bled. I said, “If my father had done all the things you say, I would not have resented him a little, it would have gone much deeper than that.” He said, “Well, I was really angry at my father and I guess I had a little bit of bitterness.” I said, “Oh, really! No, it goes much deeper than that it is full-fledged hate.”
You may think me too bold in my challenge to this individual, but God is looking for a match in your heart with what He sees with His eyes. Honesty always precedes repentance. If we hide behind masks and embrace false religious expectations, we will never become completely honest and never experience true Repentance and true Forgiveness. It is the Key!
The Psalmists tells us that “God loves a broken and contrite heart.” (Psalms 51:17). There is False Repentance which is rooted in emotion. We see that in the Bible for in Hebrews 12:17 we read that Esau sought repentance with tears but could never attain it. Why? Sorrow is not Repentance. Paul offers some incredible insight in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 – “I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
Sorrow is not Repentance! Repentance is a matter of the heart, not the emotions. There are many who are sorrowful that they got caught and were exposed not for what they have done. Have you ever witnessed children screaming and crying because they got caught, not because of what they had done? They were sorrowful for the punishment coming and the shame not what they had done. Repentance leads to deliverance and freedom.
I want to address the reality that we cannot simply decide to repent it takes conviction. I also want to discuss the Pronouncing of Forgiveness and the power therein. We will take up those topics in the next session.
God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Jesus!