Recognizing Unforgiveness in you Life
(Hebrews 8:12) “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Jesus Christ, He is the foundation of our faith and forgiveness is the key element to that faith. You could say that forgiveness is the brick and mortar in that foundation. Without the forgiveness of our sins, we can never hope to enter into the kingdom of heaven. That is why it’s so important for every Christian to fully understand this subject. When Jesus was asked if there would be many who would be saved He replied, “Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Luke 13:24) If Jesus Himself says that many will seek to enter heaven and shall not be able too, we had better pay attention.
One of the biggest reasons many “Christians” will try to enter into heaven, but will not be able to is unforgiveness in their heart. That is why today we are going to fully explore the subject of unforgiveness. My goal is to help us to understand the importance of forgiveness and the signs that accompany any unforgiveness that we may have in our own heart. Hopefully by the end of this study we will have learned how we can truly forgive everyone from our heart.
If you call yourself a Christian, I would like you to understand just how holy the God we serve really is. Here is the scene that John describes in the book of Revelation. At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!" And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." (Revelation 4:2-11) These four creatures are before our God at this very moment continually worshiping and praising Him, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!" God is so holy that nothing unclean or sinful will ever come before His presence. For You are NOT a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. (Psalm 5:4,5) Our Heavenly Father is so righteous and so holy that nothing evil will ever dwell in His presence. That is why our only hope is in Jesus Christ. By His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus took our sinfulness upon Himself and came to dwell in our heart so that we would have His righteousness. Our sin, our transgressions have been removed by the blood of Jesus and will not be remembered anymore. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12) Our sins have been wiped clean. It’s because of Jesus that we have been forgiven our sins, that is the only way we can stand before a holy God without spot and without blemish. Our God is so holy that we need the blood of Jesus to wash every sin away and you cannot enter the presence of God with one sin on your account.
Jesus Draws the Line in the Sand
(Matthew 6:14,15) “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. This is a crystal clear message and a promise that Jesus reveals about our Heavenly Father. IF you forgive you will be forgiven, if you DO NOT forgive you WILL NOT be forgiven.
I believe this unforgiveness in believer’s lives is the main reason for keeping many Christians out of heaven. This is why Jesus said, “Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Luke 13:24) How many Christians are going to church every week, doing what seems right according to God and yet will not be able to enter into heaven? Even though they are striving to enter the kingdom, they have bitterness and unforgiveness for others. Because of this, their sins are not forgiven and they will not be in the Book of Life. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)
I also believe the sin of unforgiveness is also why Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13,14) If you would ask 100 Christians if they believed that they were going to heaven, you would probably get 99 who would say that yes they were sure they were going to heaven when they died. Yet, Jesus would tend to disagree with most Christians when He says that “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Few finding eternal life means exactly that, FEW. Most Christians do not believe this and always think Jesus is speaking about “the other guy” when He is really speaking about us. If there is any… ANY bitterness or unforgiveness in your life, Jesus is speaking about you.
Over the course of our life, it is very easy to hold anger, hold bitterness and unforgiveness for those who have hurt us. But God’s Word is true; if we do not forgive we will not be forgiven. That is why few make it into heaven, they hold onto that unforgiveness. Yes, you may be a born again Christian, you may think that you are washed by the blood of Jesus but if you choose not to forgive, you will not be forgiven and will never be able to enter heaven. Jesus spoke of the day when we will all have to give account for our actions. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23) You can call Jesus your Lord; you can go to church every week and do what seems to be wonderful things in the Lord, but from the time you choose not to forgive others, your sins start to pile up and up and up. If you go to your grave with this unforgiveness in your heart, come judgment day, you will be saying “Lord, Lord” while Jesus will be saying “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” How many sins can you go to heaven with? That’s right none, if you try and enter heaven with just one sin on your account you will not be able to. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. (Psalm 1:5) I hope you are starting to understand the importance of forgiveness and how that if God is going to forgive you of your sins, He expects you to forgive others when they sin against you.
What Must a Loving Father do to His Unforgiving Children?
God’s Word is true and He is bound to His word and cannot go against what He has written. “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19) The Father has put down very strict guidelines for not forgiving others and He must keep His Word.
The same Jesus who said, “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” is the exact same Jesus who said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) Jesus’ words will be fulfilled and He is bound by His Word which says He MUST send you to hell if you do not forgive others their sins which they commit against you.
Let's bring this down to our level. If you are a loving parent and you saw your young son playing in the middle of the street, what would you do? You would probably take him from the busy street and speak firmly to him that he could be hurt or even killed by playing in the middle of the street. You would tell him that he should never, ever do this again or he may be hurt or even killed. This would be firmly spoken to your child because you love him. What happens when two weeks later you find him playing trucks in the middle of that same busy street? You might give him a “timeout” you may ground him for a couple of weeks, but you discipline him because you love him. Soon after his grounding is over, you look outside only to see him once again playing in the middle of the street. Because of the love and care you have for your son, you now spank him, then you ground him and build a huge fence around your yard so that your son cannot reach the street without your permission. A few weeks pass and as you look out your window toward the street, to your horror you see him playing in the street once again! How did he get out of the fence? You quickly run to get your son from the street when suddenly a truck hits him at full speed… he is instantly dead.
We are all children of God and by us not forgiving others, we are just like the little child playing in the middle of the street. We may not even realize the danger but it is a matter of spiritual life and death. What would a loving Father do to His children if He knew that in their current condition, they are facing spiritual death? Would He let His children go on playing and having a good time or would God discipline them? And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." (Hebrews 12:5,6) Look at your life; has God been disciplining you for your unforgiveness?
The problem with most people who hold that unforgivenss in their heart is that they do not even recognize the discipline of the Lord. They cannot see that the tough times they are going through in life is really the discipline of the Lord. Jesus was asked about forgiveness and then goes on to give us a clear picture of exactly how this discipline for unforgiveness works. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all. And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:23-35)
Let me explain this parable as the Lord speaks it to my heart. The king is God the Father; it is you and I, who are the servants of the Lord who owe a very large debt that we cannot pay. Do you understand how much one talent is? One talent of silver is said to weigh as much as 3,000 shekels or half dollars, that is about 90 pounds. According to 2 Kings 5:23 one talent is about what a man could carry. We owe ten thousand talents to the King? So in this parable the servant owes ten thousand talents or the weight of 30 million half dollars of silver, more weight then what ten thousand men could carry. You can see that this is a tremendous amount that the servant owes and a debt He cannot repay; yet after begging the King, He forgives his debt. This is just like what the Father did when He forgave us our sins when we trusted in what Jesus did on the cross for us. What happens next? This same servant, who was forgiven this huge debt, is unwilling to forgive his fellow servant who only owes him 100 denarii which would be equivalent to 1/100th of one talent and 1/1,000,000th of what the King had forgiven. Because you did not forgive your fellow servant of his very small debt, God will no longer forgive you of your debt. That servant is thrown into prison and is delivered over to the TORTURERS until all that he owed is paid back. This is the same truth that Jesus spoke after the “Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6, “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Do you understand who the torturers are that Jesus promises you will be turned over too? It is none other than Satan and his demons. If you have unforgiveness in your heart, then you cannot be forgiven and God will turn you over to Satan and his demons until you forgive.
Would a loving God really do this? Yes because He loves you and the goal of your loving Father is to make you so miserable, so desperate that you cry out to Him and completely forgive everybody from your heart. If you never come to that low place you will never purge that unforgiveness from your heart. Only when this is gone from your heart do you have any legal right to be relieved of the tormenters or demons. What are some of the tormenters tactics? What method does Satan and his demons use? Read the curses of Deuteronomy 28 for disobeying God’s Word and you will see what the Lord will bring upon you. The LORD will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand… The LORD will plague you with diseases … The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation… The LORD will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder… The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies… The LORD will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. The LORD will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind… The LORD will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured… He will bring upon you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. The LORD will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed (Deuteronomy 28:20-61). God takes credit for bringing all these curses upon His children but its Satan and his demons who administer the curse. These demons have a legal right and they are more than happy to come against God’s children. They are the tool in which God disciplines His children, they are the torturers.
We must begin to realize that this discipline for unforgiveness happens to God’s children all the time. It happens through the hand of Satan and we don’t even recognize it as being from God for our unforgiveness. We just look at what is happening as sickness, disease or circumstance. We may ask ourselves “why do bad things always happen to me”? Have you considered that you have been turned over to Satan and his demons to destroy your flesh so that you will repent and forgive fully from your heart? That sounds harsh but the alternative is eternal damnation! Which is more merciful? Remember it was Jesus who promised that we would be turned over to Satan if we did not forgive. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” Only when complete forgiveness happens can you be saved. Wouldn't a loving Father in heaven do all He could in order that you let go of that bitterness in your heart? If you choose not to forgive then you will be like the child who was warned over and over by his father but did not listen. Eventually he was ran over and died. You too will eventually die in your unrepentant, unforgiving heart if you choose not to forgive. We serve a HOLY GOD and we must be holy! But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear. (1 Peter 1:15,16)
Signs of Unforgiveness
Now that we have gone to the Scriptures and have seen just how important forgiveness is to our eternal salvation, let's look at our own lives and closely examine our heart to make sure that we have truly forgiven everyone from our heart. Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23,24) Are you willing to let God search your heart to see if there is any wicked unforgiving way in your heart? Do you even know what unforgiveness would look like in your life?
Signs of Unforgiveness - Anger and Bitterness
This is the most common sign of unforgiveness and we must closely evaluate our lives to see if we have them in our lives. Anger is not bitterness but anger leads to bitterness. Anger happens in the heat of the moment while bitterness is the end result of that anger which was not forgiven. Does the Bible say that we as believers have the right to be angry? But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. (Colossians 3:8) No, Scripture says to forgive and turn the other cheek, to pray for those who come against you, bless those who curse you and not to repay evil for evil. In order to do these things you must forgive as soon as the offense happens. Anger and forgiveness cannot co-exist together. “What communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) You cannot be angry and forgive at the same time. Either your emotion of anger will override your forgiveness or your forgiveness will drive out all anger.
Some will say that this next Scripture gives us permission to be angry; meaning that you can be angry without sinning. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (Ephesians 4:26) Does this really give us the permission to be angry without sinning? Do we see anywhere in the Scriptures to back this up? We cannot! We see that hatred is murder “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3:15) Remember that in the original writings of the Bible there was no punctuation; man has put in punctuation. What if we placed a question mark after this verse? “Be ye angry, and sin not? Let not the sun go down upon your wrath” This would change the whole meaning to help us understand that we should not be angry. This makes perfect sense if we look at the very next verse “neither give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:27) If we allow ourselves to be angry at another person, we are giving the devil a perfect opportunity to let a spirit of bitterness and unforgiveness into our heart. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8) I would encourage you, once you recognize the spirit of anger creeping in; resist it by forgiving that person right away. If you do not, that anger will give way to bitterness.
Bitterness is an emotional hurt that has not been let go of. Bitterness is deep seated emotions of what a person has done or said to you. It is unforgiveness and we are warned that it will keep you out of heaven. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. (Hebrews 12:14,15) Without peace and holiness no one will see the Lord. Without forgiveness you have no peace nor do you have holiness. I would encourage you to search your heart and ask the Lord if there is anyone you need to forgive. Is there anyone from your past who has hurt you which you still hold bitterness for in your heart? Have you fully forgiven your parents; your brother or your sister; your ex-husband or wife or any others who have wronged you?
Signs of Unforgiveness – Your Mouth
Since we have seen how critical it is to forgive others from our heart, we must look closely at our walk to make sure we have truly forgiven. There are many Christians who speak from their mouth that they have forgiven everybody. Yet with this same mouth they are continually speaking against the same person they claim to have forgiveness for. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:8-10) Do you find yourself complaining about the person you claim to have forgiven? Murmuring and complaining about others is not a sign of forgiveness. “If anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:13) If you find yourself speaking against someone whom you say you have forgiven then you are only lying to yourself as God sees right through your unforgiveness. Repent and ask God to help you with this bitterness that is still in your heart. Remember what is in your heart will come out of your mouth. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45) If there is forgiveness in your heart you will speak kindness and blessings for the person. That is a sign of forgiveness. If you have unforgiveness still in your heart, you will always be speaking negatively about this person. Is that you? Then we must confess this as sin. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (John 1:9)
Signs of Unforgiveness – Your Prayers
Another way to determine if you have truly forgiven another is whether or not you can pray for the individual who hurt you. They may be very very deep hurts, but if you cannot pray for their salvation and that God would bless them, then the truth is you have not forgiven them from your heart. We must follow the example that Jesus taught us. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) Most people that have hurt us really do not understand what they have done, they have been used by the devil to hurt us and they are deceived into thinking that they are justified in doing what they did. We must pray for them and forgive them just like Jesus showed us to do. Just like Stephen prayed to the Lord while he was being stoned to death. And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60)
The word Christian means “Christ-like”; so if we cannot pray blessings for those who have hurt us then by definition we cannot call ourselves “Christian”, nor can we call Jesus our Lord. “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46) If we cannot forgive like Jesus commands us to do we cannot call Him our Lord.
You might remember the story of Job and his three friends who were not very good friends after all. Over and over they accused Job of sinning. In their accusations they figured Job must have sinned to incite God’s punishment. Job could have held bitterness toward them but instead he prayed for them. And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. (Job 42:10) Did you catch this principle that God is teaching us? When Job prayed for his so-called friends, who had just hurt him, God restored twice as much to him as he had before. Wouldn't we also receive a blessing for doing as the Bible commands us too and pray those who have hurt us? “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27,28) When you can do this to someone who has hurt you deeply, then you have truly forgiven them.
Signs of Unforgiveness – Continually Struggling With Sickness or Hardship
Do you remember the torturers that Jesus promised us that we would be turned over to if we do not forgive our brother from our heart? As you look at your life, are you struggling with anything that prayer just does not seem to work? It may be evident that God is not hearing your prayers but have you considered that God is disciplining you and bringing you to that low place in order that you repent and forgive from your heart? If so search your heart and ask God to reveal any unforgiveness that is hidden in your heart. Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23,24)
A good example of God bringing His children to that low place so that they repent and let go of any unforgiveness is when you are turned over to the tormenters of anxiety and depression. Instead of turning to God and searching their hearts when this happens, most people turn to antidepressants or some other medication. They would do anything to make them feel better except repent. Just look at how the Psalmist David handled the low points in life. I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. (Psalm 40:1,2) God is waiting for you to cry out to Him and forgive everyone from your heart so that He can set your feet back on the rock and save you. As for me, I will call upon God, and the LORD shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice. (Psalm 55:17) Are you suffering; are you in that low place that God wants you right now? You can get rid of the tormentors and God will hear your cry if you just let go of all bitterness and unforgiveness.
Unforgiveness Towards God
Some do not want to admit it, but a very common aspect of bitterness and unforgiveness is really unforgiveness and bitterness towards God. Many look at the hard situation they are in and they charge God with unrighteousness for what has happened to them. They look at the bad things that have happened in life and they are angry at how things have turned out so they blame God. Look at your situation, are you mad at God? Have you been blaming Him for something bad in your life? Why is it that we as mere mortals have the audacity to question or blame Almighty God? O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay… (Romans 9:20,21)
The ability to forgive God, lies in the understanding that God is in complete control and has your best interest at heart. In your pain, it may not seem that God has your best interest in mind but He does. He is teaching you to overcome and be more like Christ. Jesus knew His Father was in control when Pontius Pilate said that he had the power to crucify Him or to let Jesus go free. Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:11) By Jesus understanding His Father was in complete control of the situation, even though He was about to be beaten, whipped and crucified, Jesus was able to have complete forgiveness for God and all those who put Him on the cross. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) If a believer would just understand that nothing can happen to them that has not been given to them from their loving Father, it would help them to face any and all obstacles with a renewed confidence that they are in the Lord’s hands. The steps of a man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand. (Psalm 37:23,24) Just knowing that your steps are ordered by God and that He will uphold you with His hand should be of great comfort instead of anger and unforgiveness towards God and others.
Godly men like Job understood that God was in complete control of everything! Even when others wanted Job to harbor unforgiveness towards God, Job had wisdom. Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die." But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:9,10) Remember all the hardship in which Job went through? Job lost everything, including his health yet he was not upset or unforgiving towards God. Even though Job knew that God was the author of his problems, the only sin God charged him with was self righteousness, not unforgiveness. Yes, that evil may have come through the hand of the devil but Job understood it was God who was in charge. Job understood that “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven” (John 3:27). But why would God allow Bad things to happen to us? The short answer is to refine us and make us more like Christ.
Jesus said it best when He said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) This is our Christian walk, that in the world you will have trials and you will have tribulation. Can you submit to this for your life, turn the other cheek and forgive? If not, you will hold unforgiveness and never overcome the trial you were tested with. What happens to those who do not pass their tests in this world? “Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Luke 13:24) It is truly a narrow door that most want to believe is a wide door. These are those who seek to enter the door of heaven, believing they are justified and believing they can take their bitterness and unforgiveness in with them. But the Word of God says otherwise. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, open to us,' then he will answer you, 'I do not know where you come from.' (Luke 13:25)
Suffering and persecution is promised throughout the Scriptures. Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). How many Christians really understand that in order to enter the kingdom of God, they will have to suffer and go through tribulation? Yet, in the Scripture above, Jesus said, “In me you may have peace”. This is the only way we can endure the storms of life and have this peace that Jesus speaks about. Jesus has already overcome the world and if He is truly in you, there will be peace in your life, even in the midst of the storm. Being “in Him” means submitting to God and His Word and knowing that what is happening is for your good and for you to overcome. That is how you get refined and only then will you have “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). If you harden your heart and blame God, you will never have peace. What you will have is anger and bitterness throughout your life, for you are at war with God.
Could it really be God’s will that we suffer? Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:19) We must learn to submit to God and see that the trials which come about in our lives are really tests in which God is in control of… it is His will to teach us to be more Christ-like. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing. (1 Peter 4:12,13) Are you seeing your fiery ordeal as a test for you to become more Christ-like? Then rejoice and submit to God because we are promised that after we have suffered a little while we will be strengthened by the very hand in which that fiery ordeal came from. And the God of all grace, who called you unto his eternal glory in Christ, after that ye have suffered a little while, shall himself perfect, establish, strengthen you. (1 Peter 5:10) Yes, you will be strengthened only after your suffering. But if you have not passed your test on forgiveness, you will not be strengthened, you will be weakened even more in order to bring you to repentance. If you have bitterness and unforgivenes towards God or towards man, then you have not passed your test and you will have to go through more trials and more hardship until you learn what God is teaching you.
The problem most people have is that they seem to continually go through the same trials in life over and over and over. They continually go through the sufferings and the tribulations because they have not forgave. They are not submitting to the will of God and learning how they should act according to the Bible. When trials come they know they should turn the other cheek, they know they should not be offended but they are. When others come against them they know they should just pray and bless those who curse them and despitefully use them but they do not. They do get offended, they hold bitterness, and rarely turn the other cheek. This is not forgiveness and God will discipline you until you learn to forgive. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11) God’s whole purpose in these trials you are now in is to bring forth in you the fruit of Christ which is righteousness. Just as Jesus forgives we must forgive. How are you doing with the tests that you are in?
Practical Steps Towards Forgiveness
Let’s face it; forgiveness is not something that comes natural to us. Our nature is to defend, to get even, to curse others and to hold resentment towards others that have hurt us or our loved ones. To the natural man, we are completely justified to feel the way we do. The problem is this natural man cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God… (1 Corinthians 15:50) Scriptures say that if we live according to the flesh we must spiritually die. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13) We as Christians are not called to be natural; we are called to be spiritual. That process starts when the born again spirit of Christ comes to live in you. Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:3-6) If you have been playing church most of your life and have never truly received that born again spirit of Jesus then please ask Jesus to come into your heart now and tell Him how sorry you are for your sin and your unforgiveness. This is the first step to complete forgiveness in your life.
Step #2 Confession
Now that you have your foundation in Christ Jesus, you can now let Him be your savior in your problems with unforgiveness. You have already seen that you have no strength or ability to let go of your bitterness on your own. Now is the time to confess to God that you cannot do this yourself and that you need Jesus to take this bitterness and hate out of your heart. You must speak this out loud, there is power in confessing it out of your mouth, “for with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:10) You need salvation in the area of unforgiveness so you start by asking that Jesus would take your hurts and pains from your heart and then you start speaking out loud “I forgive …” this person and that person continue to speak it out loud until you have peace. Ask the Lord to bring up anybody else who you may have unforgiveness for. As people come to your mind who you have something against, you simply say “I forgive...” and speak out loud what they did to you so that it is released once and for all. What is even more powerful is to go to a trusted brother or sister in the Lord and confess to them and have them pray over you. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16)
Step #3 Prayer
One of the most effective ways to release your anger and bitterness is to pray for that very person who has hurt you. "But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. (Luke 6:27,28) When you are sincerely blessing others and truly praying for those who have hurt you, it is impossible to hold unforgiveness. Try it and see for yourself. Pray for their salvation and that they would come to saving knowledge of Jesus. Maybe you are the only one who is praying for that person and it is YOU whom God will use to save that person through your prayers. No matter what they have done to you, nobody deserves to spend eternity in hell. So bless them by praying for them so that they too can spend eternity in heaven with you. Reality is, that if you do not forgive them from your heart, you too will be spending eternity in hell with the very person you would not forgive. Do not let them pull you down to the pit of hell; pull them up to heaven with you by praying for them.
Step #4 Chase Away the Torturers
Here is where it gets exiting. If you have followed the first three steps to forgiveness then you have taken ALL the devils power and ammunition away. Remember the devil was only used to bring you to that place of repentance. And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:34,35) Once that forgiveness has happened, the torturers are no longer needed and then you can have Jesus save you from these torturers.
What area in life has the devil made you miserable in, to bring you to this place of repentance? You now have the right to pray for these tormentors to leave! They no longer have any more authority to wreak havoc in your life. Take the authority that Christ gave you, speak out loud and command the devil and his torturers to leave in the name of Jesus. Even better is to have some mature Christians pray over you. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:14-16) This is the word of God and it is true! Maybe you have had prayer before and it was to no avail. Your prayers were not answered because the devil had a legal right to steal them and continue to torment you. Now that you have a clear conscience toward God and have forgiven from your heart, rejoice because your prayer will be answered.
Step #5 Maintenance
Now that you have been delivered from unforgiveness and any of the devil’s tormentors, it is important that you continue to stay on the narrow road. When you think of that person or what they did; recognize it as a fiery arrow from the devil who wants you to take back the bitterness that you expelled from your heart. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7) The same is true with new people who come against you, offend you or do something that seems unforgivable. What should we do in those situations? Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:12,13) The more humble we are the more patient we are with others, the more we bear with one another, the easier it is to forgive others when we have a complaint against them. When we do this, we have taken away the opportunity the devil is looking for. Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26,27)
What I have found is that the more of Jesus that is manifested in you, the more love you will have for others. In your flesh you will not want to love others who do not deserve to be loved, but ask Jesus to put His love in you every day. As you ask Jesus to fill you with His love every day, your walk will be that much easier. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:14,15)
You can check yourself every day by what comes out of your mouth, if you have love and forgiveness in your heart, your speech will line up with your heart. If unforgiveness has crept back in, you will quickly hear it come out of your mouth. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45) Speak kindness and blessings towards others. If you do not have anything good to say about them, keep your mouth closed and pray for them.
Learn to trust your Heavenly Father. By you understanding that God is in control and not the devil, will bring you great peace. By you understanding that God is teaching you every day how to overcome the world, just as Jesus overcame the world, will help you to trust Him. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (Romans 12:19) If something seems too hard for you, give it to God and let Him handle it. God sees everything and when you have passed your tests and given place to the wrath of man and forgiven, then God will step in and defend you and save you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.(Isaiah 30:18) If you take revenge yourself or return evil with evil, God will step aside and turn you back over to the tormentors until you forgive. Trust in God to defend you, not yourself and wait on Him.
If you do anything long enough, it starts to become habit. Why not set a daily goal of speaking kindly of others, turning the other cheek, blessing those who curse us, praying for those who have hurt us, and loving others the way Christ loves us? Ask Jesus to help you and to do it in you. If you do this, you will have passed your tests and overcame the world. Unforgiveness will never creep in and steel your reward. Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the just; for the righteous God tests the hearts and minds. My defense is of God, who saves the upright in heart. (Psalm 7:9)
May the Lord bless you,
Mark, a servant of the Lord, www.heavenshelpers.org
Questions/Feedback - email me: firstname.lastname@example.org