Dear Women of God,
How I wish I could sit down with you over a cup of coffee or tea as we talk about the topic of repentance, forgiveness, and extending grace! There so many life-changing truths about this topic in the Word of God, but too many of us do not truly understand the power of forgiveness.
First, before we go any further, I will say most of you reading this have grown up in the church, know Jesus as your personal Savior, and would say you have been forgiven. Yet, you live life feeling guilt, shame and condemnation. Why is that? I believe that is because we have not really been taught that there is a very real enemy of our souls, the devil, who wants to keep us useless in the Kingdom. He throws temptation after temptation in the paths of believers who do not understand the full depth of the work Jesus did for us on the Cross.
The devil doesn’t ring the doorbell, introduce himself and tell you he is going to trick you into a useless life. No, he is very cunning. He comes bringing temptations that you have never won over, and then when you give into sin, he judges, condemns and criticizes you for messing up by planting thoughts of condemnation in your brain.
How do I know that? Because I used to be that person! God in His mercy showed me that His way is so much better! “When we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
When we recognize our sin and ask the Lord for forgiveness, He forgives us completely–as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12) Praise God! “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
We don’t have to let the enemy beat us up with shame, guilt and condemnation because in Christ there is no condemnation. None. He forgives us and cleanses us of all unrighteousness. We can simply choose to believe the Word of God, and accept forgiveness. As we mature, we learn to live in the victory Jesus purchased for us at the Cross, but in the meantime, we do not need to live in guilt, shame, and condemnation. When those thoughts enter your mind, simply remind yourself of the verses above. You are forgiven. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
When we begin to walk in the true forgiveness that Christ offers us, it becomes much easier to extend grace to others who have sinned against us. I have heard too many Christians say, “I just can’t forgive so and so for what they did to me.”
While I understand how that feels, this is another lie the enemy uses to keep us trapped. He knows that if we do not forgive another then we are held in bondage. The Bible says we will be forgiven in the same way we forgive.(Matthew 6:12) That is quite sobering, isn’t it?
Sadly, we live in a very sin-filled world and many of us have been wounded deeply by those who were supposed to be our protectors. If that is you. I am sorry for what you have had to live through. I know from personal experience the ravages of abuse and how hard it can be to forgive those who have perpetrated evil on us. However, until we forgive, those wounds can never heal and we won’t be able to put that horror behind us.
So, what do you do when you feel like you can’t forgive someone? You choose by an act of your will to forgive them. You say, “Lord, You know I am having trouble forgiving ____ for ____. Please help me. I choose to forgive them because you have forgiven me for every sin I have committed. I choose to forgive them because You want me to forgive them. I love You, Lord, and want to obey you. So, right now, Lord, by an act of my will to forgive _____ for _______--not because they deserve it or because I feel it in my heart, but because you ask me to do this. Thank You, Lord, for forgiving me. Please forgive me for holding on to this injustice so long. Now, help me to let it go in Jesus’ name.”
You may need to repeat this prayer again. When you forgive by an act of your will, it may still take quite some time for your emotions to catch up to that. Whenever the issue resurfaces, bring to the Lord again or you can simply say to yourself, “No, I have forgiven that person and I am not going to take it back. I refuse.”
In time, your emotions will follow, but don’t let your emotions convince you that you have not really forgiven that person. Remind yourself of the truth.
Why is this important? When we have unforgiveness in our heart, it is toxic to our body, mind and spirit. We cannot experience all that God has for us if we are weighted down with unforgiveness. Our unforgiveness becomes a sin that must be dealt with before the Lord.
It isn’t about who deserves forgiveness. None of us do. We forgive because He forgave us. We forgive because He calls us to forgive. We forgive to be set free. We forgive as Jesus did on the Cross, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”
If Jesus could forgive those who nailed Him to the Cross, then we can forgive any and every sin against us. Do not let a root of bitterness grow in your heart and rob you of the blessings of the Lord. Keep short accounts with God. Do not give the enemy a foothold in your life.
And when you learn the power of forgiveness in your own life, then it becomes much easier to extend that amazing grace the Lord has given you to others in your life who are as far short of perfection as you are! We are all on a journey with God, and each of us travels at our own speed. We should not judge another’s walk with Christ with our own yardstick. Instead, we pray and trust the Lord to help others to mature in Christ as He has matured us. We can encourage others without participating in the kind of condemnation that the enemy uses on us.
Lord, forgive us for continuing to allow sin to rule over us. Teach us to walk in victory and freedom, not by our own self-control, but by the Spirit’s power. Help us forgive those who have hurt and disappointed us because we love you and want to obey you. Make us wise to the enemy’s schemes to keep us trapped in guilt, shame and condemnation and help us to refuse to live that way any longer. Lord, it was for freedom that you set us free from the law of sin and death. Help us to live in that freedom. In Jesus’ name. Amen