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FORGIVENESS IS NEEDED IN OUR WORLD

Forgiveness is a commodity in short supply in our world as it pushes into the second millennium.  Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that we don’t easily recognize the destructive power that leads to broken relationships, unforgiveness, resentment and much sickness.

This power is what the Bible calls ‘sin’. Sin is what makes it impossible for us to know the fellowship-relationship with God that He meant us to know. We have settled for a poor second.  The sense of loneliness that results from this alienation can only be redressed by the forgiveness that comes from setting our relationship right with God. This is fundamental to mankind’s inner health and peace.

But the world is not only in great need of reconciliation with God. It is also in great need of forgiveness and reconciliation between human beings. We live in a day when people are encouraged not to extend forgiveness to each other, nor to seek forgiveness. “Maintain your rage!” cries the hurt party. “I don’t want to be forgiven!” declares the aggressor.

Proverbs 17:1, 9, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife”;  “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”

The result: millions of people trying to forget an ever-increasing burden of painful memories of unkind, untrue words, wounding looks, cruel thoughts, and harmful actions.                                    

The “Dis-ease” of unforgiveness and guilt

There are many hurtful experiences of life filed away in our minds. This is clearly seen when, years after an event in which forgiveness was needed but none was given or received, a person finds herself in a “dis-ease” with no obvious cause.

I remember one situation involving two sisters. After years of friendship, their relationship was injured when there was a disagreement between their young children. One mother blamed the other and decided to maintain her anger. A quiet standoff developed. While the sisters still saw each other often, their relationship was cold and distant.

Eventually, one of the women tried to reconcile and came to the point where she forgave the other. But her sister would not discuss the matter.

As time rolled by, they almost forgot the event, which had caused pain between them. Then fifteen years later, the sister who had not forgiven developed a range of unusual sicknesses and physical disabilities, which surprised her medical advisers. It was only when she reached the point of receiving her sister's forgiveness that the physical and emotional healing she needed could start. Even more, she needed God to forgive her, because her decision to be unforgiving offended Him too. In each of us there is a large filing cabinet where the experiences and reflections of our life are stored. It is full of lovely and bad memories, things we are proud of and want to forget, the complete memories of a person’s entire conscious life. Within the file there is also guilt.

This load of guilt, together with our lack of forgiving and being forgiven, leads us to a place where we find ourselves in need of a ‘forgetory’, not a memory!

But guilt needs to be dealt with. It needs forgiveness. Tragically, we often try to cover it over instead, ignore it, and escape from it through recreation and entertainment, the synthetic experiences of drugs and alcohol, or various other kinds of personal indulgence-what someone once called ‘society’s substitutes for God.’  But in dealing with guilt, they are no substitutes at all.

How to know we have forgiven somebody?

Forgiveness is usually not one time but a process depending on the depth of hurt, pain and disappointment. The process of forgiveness has many layers just like that of the peels of an onion. The offended person must keep forgiving the same offender each time the painful of angry memory surfaces until he or she no longer feels the negative emotions. We must release forgiveness verbally from the heart before God.

Mat.18:21-22, “The Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Prayer for Releasing Forgiveness

Forgiveness of others: Mt.6:12,14,15

“Thank you, Jesus, for dying that I might be forgiven.  By the act of my will I now choose to forgive those who have hurt me (name them aloud) for (name specifically the sins committed against you).  I release each one of these people into the freedom of my forgiveness and of my judgment.  In Jesus’ Name Amen”

Forgiveness of myself: 1Jn.1:9

“Thank you, Father, for forgiving me. I now forgive myself for (name the sin/sins) that I know you have already forgiven me.  In Jesus’ Name Amen”

Forgiveness of God: 1Jn.1:9

"Please forgive me Lord for blaming you for what others have done to me. I know that you hate what Satan has done in my life. Satan sows discord between you and me. Thank you for loving me and promising to set me free. In Jesus’ Name Amen”

The Christian Life is a battle for the Kingdom of God against the forces of evil.  Our Lord Jesus Christ commands us to fight the battle under His leadership.  Warfare is unremitting, real, and dangerous if we try to fight in our own strength.  It can only be fought in the strength of God through faith in Jesus Christ.  We cannot stand before the onslaughts of evil on our own.  The whole armour is part of our spiritual protection, and the Word of God and prayers are our weapons. Armour should be worn at all times.  Pray this prayer as often as needed."

The whole armour of God (Eph.6:10-20)

“Heavenly Father, I thank you for this new day and the opportunities You give me to serve You.  Please forgive me of negative thoughts and attitudes (be specific).  I receive Your forgiveness with a thankful heart.  Now I put on the full armor of God so that I can take my stand against the devil’s schemes.  For my struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

I stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around my waist realizing that Satan is the ‘father of lies’ and will endeavor to pervert the Word of God which promises that ‘there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” (Rom.8:1-4) The truth is supremely, Jesus Christ, He said, “I am the Truth.” and putting on the girdle of Truth each day will begin to lead me into Truth and Freedom.

Second, I put on the breastplate of righteousness realizing that it is God’s righteousness, not mine.  My relationship with You is put right through my faith in Jesus Christ – I am forgiven, and I have His free gift of eternal life.  However, much Satan may try to crush my faith by loading me with guilt, God has accepted and accounted for my righteousness, and my sins are forgiven (Isa.1:8).

Third, I deliberately put on the shoes of Peace each day.  I sow no seed of discord wherever I go but will release the peace of God to others.  I learn to walk in the way of peace, and it is the way of my life (Lk.1:79). I carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ with me to others wherever I go, and they are blessed with salvation.

Fourth, I hold up the shield of Faith in my left hand to protect me from the ‘fiery darts of the devil’ who relentlessly attack and tempt me with fears, worries, and depression.  By faith, I take God’s promises as true.  My firm faith in God (and not in my own abilities) will enable Him to protect me from those darts.

Fifth, I put on the helmet of salvation realizing that Jesus died for me on the Cross.  Salvation is a personal experience through my acceptance of Christ’s victory for me.  The helmet is Your protection of my will, emotions, mind and seeing, thinking, speaking and hearing and central nervous system.

Sixth, I take the sword of the Spirit (the Bible) in my right hand.  It is more powerful warfare than any other weapon of Satan or man.  It is wielded in the Name of Jesus Christ, cutting me free from all bondages to people and things, releasing me from the past, and so freeing me for service.  The sword of the Spirit is kept sharp by my constant, regular study of the Scripture.  God’s Truth in the Bible has become part of my very self in Jesus’ Name.

Seventh, I pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, I am alert and always keep on praying for all saints.

I pray that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador for Christ.

Lord, please fill me with your Holy Spirit.  Hallelujah!  In Jesus’ Name, I pray."

By Esther Soo

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