FORGIVENESS…


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

It is more than a little needful for everyone to read Matthew 18:21-35 for the full context and understanding of what we are going to discuss. We only listed the last verse for the sake of space but urge everyone to read the entire paragraph.

It is vital that believers learn the ‘schemes’ of the devil to enable us to defeat him and set free those who have been held captive by his deception.  Part of that process is learning more about Forgiveness and the lack thereof.  This is an area in which, I have witnessed satanic strongholds developed in lives.  The devil operates in this area legally as a result of our failure to forgive or understand what true forgiveness involves. 

Jesus identified how important Forgiveness is in numerous passages.  In Matthew 6:12 we are told that we are forgiven (as) we forgive.  In verse 14 we are informed that (if) we forgive others, the Father will forgive us.  In Matthew 18:21 we discover the unlimited requirement to forgive.  In verse 35 we realize that the forgiveness being given us is directly connected to our forgiving others.  In Mark 11:25 we realize that Forgiving others is the key to God’s forgiveness and our prayers being answered.  In Luke 6:37 we can apply this rule and principle of Life – We Reap What We Sow.

The Law of Retribution flows to its inevitable conclusion UNLESS forgiveness is effected in the heart as we read in James 1:13-15.  The matter of anger is an example.  Anger is a stimulus.  It engenders a response and each response becomes a stimulus to the other parties.  Each response demands a response that becomes a stimulus that produces a response that stimulates another response.  It is a vicious cycle.  Arguments incite fights.  Group hassles become riots.  National tensions become wars.  Those truths are incorporated in the words of James 4:1-2.  I suggest that this is the Law of Stimulus and Response; Sowing and Reaping; Retribution.  That’s how powerful Forgiveness or failing to Forgive is in our lives and in our world.

Let me nip something in the bud at the outset.  Will Power and suppressing responses only delays the inevitable, they do not correct the problem.  The Cross is the only real answer.  Our problem is that something has blinded our minds and obscured the Cross creating a situation in which we are ‘held captive, bound, bent’ for destruction UNLESS there is divine help.  It does involve our wills, but it is not simply a matter of Will Power. 

Have you considered the reality that we would not have a problem with Forgiveness if it were not for the Problem of Sin?  Too often, we excuse and justify our sin saying: “I’m only human.  I’m not perfect.”  That is the truth, but it can never be a justification for sin.  God will never accept that flimsy attempt to justify ourselves.  He wants the heart and will accept nothing less.

God’s standard and the plan are for us to be transformed and become new creations with new hearts so that we do not sin.  Before someone argues, “But we do sin and we can’t help it.”  I suggest that taking that view is to guarantee that we will never become what God says we are and can be.  With God, all things are possible including our sanctification.

It is wonderful that Jesus always meets us where we are not where we think we are supposed to be in order to receive His mercy.  He takes us where we are and elevates us to a higher place spiritually. It is a process.  In Luke 6:40 we read, “A student is not above his teacher, but when he is trained, he becomes just like his teacher.”  Also, in 1 John 4:17 we are reminded that “As He is, so are we in this world.”  Not in the world to come but NOW!

I suggest that we become what we behold and what we worship.  If you want to study that reality mediated on Psalms 115-135.  We should never make excuses and accept sin as an inescapable prospect in our daily lives.  When we do, we place a roadblock in the path of repentance.  We must focus on the Root Cause and receive the promise of Jude 24, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling” and the encouragement of 1 John 2:6, “…He who abides in Him ought to walk as He walks.”

My interest is for us to be FREE!  The Truth will enable us to enter into true freedom in Christ and that is my objective.  Therefore, in the next few devotionals, we will focus on Forgiveness and hope that we can mine sufficient truth to bring us to a new level of liberty and freedom in Christ.

God bless you and we will continue this in the next meeting!  Have a fantastic day!

FORGIVENESS


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

I ask that you read through verse 35 for this discussion on Forgiveness.  If we have not discovered that the devil uses ‘schemes’ to entrap and harm us, we need to acknowledge that reality.  It is important that we uncover or discover his schemes so that we can effectively defeat him and destroy the works of darkness in our lives and spheres of influence.  As we discover the schemes and our weaponry provided by the Grace of God and the Power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to receive Forgiveness, Defeat the devil, and help others be Free of his diabolical destruction in their lives. 

In this process, we find it necessary to address the matter of Forgiveness of the lack thereof.  That is one of the major areas in which the devil gains legal ground in the lives of believers and unbelievers.  Jesus identified just how important this truth is:

Matthew 6:12 – “Forgive us (as) we forgive others.”   (The as is the key or a key that too often we omit or overlook.)

Matthew 6:14 – “(If) we forgive others, God will forgive us.”  (Don’t miss the key.)

Matthew 18:21 – “How often are we to forgive?”  (Never numeric specifics.)

Matthew 18:35 – “God’s forgiveness to us is tied to our forgiving others.”

Mark 11:25 – Forgiving others is the key to God’s forgiveness but also answers to prayers.

Luke 6:37 – A Rule and Principle of Life – We Reap What We Sow.

The Law of Retribution flows to its inevitable conclusion UNLESS forgiveness is accomplished in the heart.  This is validated in James 1:13-15.  The matter of anger is a prime example.  What I mean is, ‘anger’ is a stimulus.  It engenders a response and each response becomes a stimulus to the other party or parties which then produces a response from them and becomes a stimulus that perpetuates the condition or situation.

(i.e.) – Arguments incite fights.  Group hassles morph into riots.  National tensions become wars.  (James 4:1-2).  The Law of Stimulus and Response. The Law of Sowing and Reaping or Retribution flows to its natural conclusion UNLESS Forgiveness is practiced.

Let me caution that Will Power or suppressing responses only delay the inevitable.  If it is seething in the heart it will eventually become a full-blown reality in life.  Therefore, the only remedy is ‘The Cross’.  Jesus is truly the only answer to the condition of harboring hurt or resentment in the heart and is the key to Forgiveness! 

Tragically, we sometimes find that something has blinded our minds and obscured the Cross, creating a situation in which we are held captive.  We become ‘bound’ and ‘bent’ toward destruction UNLESS there is outside or divine help.  It does involve our will, but it is far more than mere will-power.

None of us would have a problem with Forgiveness were it not for the condition of Sin!  Too often, I’ve heard people argue, “But, I’m only human or I’m not perfect.”  Those statements are true but can never be a justification for sin or failure to forgive.

God’s Standard and Plan is for us to become ‘totally transformed’ so that we do not sin!  Jesus always meets us where we are, in all of our sinfulness, and brings us up to His level.  It is a Process!

Jesus informed us in Luke 6:40 that the student or disciple is not above his teacher, but when fully trained he becomes like the teacher.  In 1 John 4:17, we are told that our objective is to be “as Jesus is” in this present world.  We learn in the Psalms that we become like what we focus on or worship.  Then in Jude 24, we discover that Jesus is able to keep us from stumbling and 1 John 2:6 instructs that “he who abides in Him (Jesus) ought to walk as He (Jesus) walks.”

I realize that I have not gotten to the nuts and bolts of forgiveness but hope that I have elevated your focus as to the importance of Forgiving and being Forgiven.  We will address that more in upcoming devotionals.  Until then, may the Lord richly bless you and help you to enjoy His fullness, grace, mercy, and peace.

Have a fantastic day in Him today!

BUT LORD, I JUST CAN’T DO IT…


Spiritual Blog - Forgiveness.PNG

Romans 12:17-21 – “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”  21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  NKJV

 

I’m sure that many of you have found it difficult to forgive some people for some things they have done or perceived to have done.  I’ve had people tell me, “Well, I forgive them but I will never have anything to do with them, to me they are dead.”  I suspect there may be, at a minimum, a tiny bit of unforgiveness left in that statement and I suggest that it would be well to ask the Holy Spirit to examine the heart because we do not want to harbor unforgiveness toward anyone.  Here in Romans 12, the apostle Paul is giving godly counsel and direction for us in our interpersonal relations.  God’s way is not always easy but it is always right.  God’s way is not always easy but it is always rewarding.

The first thing he says is to AVOID vengeance, “repay, no one evil for evil.”  We are not under the Old Testament principle of “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth.”  We are under Grace where we FORGIVE and release the offender into the hands of God for His judgment and retribution.  We are focused on redemption, not punishment.  He says, “Have regard for good things in the sight of men.”  Simply, remember and stay keenly aware that you are being watched and your actions reflect on the Gospel message and the God of the Message.  You are an epistle known and read of men, therefore you need to determine that your walk, word, and attitude will embrace goodness and godliness so that you are without reproach.  Yes, they hurt you and they were wrong BUT it is not yours to exact a pound of flesh.  They are creations of God and He loves them and desires to bring them into the fold and transform their lives so determine that you are going to FORGIVE and PRAY for their eternal souls.

He says something that may be missed or misunderstood, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”  First, it is possible in Christ, but in the natural, there are two sides of the equation and two people involved.  That person may harbor such resentment and hatred toward you that they will not allow peace to exist.  It may not be possible to live in peace with them.  However, you must never seek to avenge yourself and allow anger, wrath, hate, bitterness, wounds to fester in your heart you are to COMMIT THEM TO THE LORD.  It may be that you need to find a prayer place and place them on the altar before God and once you placed them on the altar LEAVE THEM THERE.  When you hear a new complaint, a new allegation, and a new arrow of hurt is launched toward you hold to the declaration of God, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay…”  This is not an easy task but a necessary one.

Here’s what you do and this will be impossible without the help and anointing of the Holy Spirit:

  • If your Enemy is Hungry – FEED HIM.
  • If your Enemy is Thirsty – GIVE HIM A DRINK.

The next part of the verse has inspired some wrongly, “for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”   I’ve had people tell me, “Well, I’m heaping coals of fire on their head and they are being burned.” The glee in their voices was disturbing and I could sense the imagery of that person being tied to a stake and this person dumping burning coals on their head tormenting them.  That is not what this is referring to. Yes, they may be tormented in their spirit but it is the CONVICTION of the Holy Spirit that is working on their lives and those “coals of fire” are designed to purge out the dross not render punishment.  Never allow the thirst for vengeance to motivate you for if you do you not only enslave them but yourself as well. You can FORGIVE if you keep in mind FORGIVENESS.  Never forget the forgiveness you have received.

God, bless you richly as you enjoy this wonderful day in Jesus!