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
You cannot simply decide to repent and find true repentance or forgiveness. It requires the conviction of the Holy Spirit brings to light your condition. Acts 11:18 amplifies that reality, “God has granted to the Gentiles also repentance that leads to life.” The simple truth is that if a person is not repentant it is impossible to minister life to them. That being said, it has been my experience that most people are, at least somewhat, repentant.
A non-repentant person is usually filled with ‘self-justification.’ That is one of the reasons that people grow angry and remain angry over what someone has done, they have accepted the devil’s deliver that they are the victim! Some truly are, but most simply see themselves as the victim rather than a participant.
It is necessary that we confess our sins. Some people are far more interested in broadcasting what has been done to them, than repenting of any sins on their part. Once we have repented, there is a clear biblical directive as to what must come next. We, must forgive! We must forgive all those people who wronged us, and we must repent of receiving the anger, making it our own, and allowing the heartache, anger, and rejection that were the fruit that incident bore. We must repent of believing the lies of the devil.
I call to remembrance the directive of our LORD in Luke 6:41-42 – “And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”
The first seven verses of Psalms 32 are powerfully descriptive of our Covenant Promise and the Process to remove sin. There can be no deceit or hiding, but we must become fully transparent and open. Bitterness causes physical problems such as arthritis and more. It is healthy to Confess it and allow the Holy Spirit to do the spiritual surgery needed to remove it.
Then we have the dire warning of our Lord in Matthew 18:34-35 that if we do not forgive them from our hearts, the tormentors will come. Therefore, confession and forgiveness frees from guilt and allows us and them to enjoy God’s wonderful grace, love, mercy, and freedom. This will never happen without the conviction of the Holy Spirit and our laying our cares and hurts at the feet of Jesus at the Cross.
There is another area that is frequently missed and terribly misunderstood by most evangelical believers. That is the area of ‘pronouncing forgiveness’. Before you insist that ‘only God’ can do that, let me ask that you examine some pertinent passages and thoughts from scripture. God does forgive, but we become the vehicles through which the offender and offended receives forgiveness and enjoy the fullness of pardon.
I would ask that you ask yourself, why does James 5 instruct us to confess our sins to one another? Then, ask yourself, what do we do after we have confessed to another? Do we share those juicy tidbits we heard in confession? No, we can pronounce forgiveness and watch them experience powerful deliverance and freedom.
Why Confess? I believe there are two basic reasons that are germane to our discussion. First, it breaks the power of the fear of exposure and second, it frees from condemnation. One of the first gifts associated with receiving the Holy Spirit according to John 20:22-23 was pronouncing forgiveness. “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.” Our great need is to be forgiven. We need to be forgiven by God and by others, it is liberating.
Matthew 6 teaches that if we do not forgive others God will not forgive us. The sad reality for many is that we try and try but find it virtually impossible to forgive from our hearts. There is a residue that keeps hanging on through the years. I suggest that it is a supernatural thing not a willpower thing. Ask God to help you to forgive. Repent and be honest with Him and He will help you and set you free and enable you to set others free.
I want to talk about forgiveness in the light of how many times and how much we are to forgive? We will address that in the next session.
May the LORD bless you richly as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him, forgiven and forgiving.