Saturday, February 13, 2016

Do We Forgive By Our Efforts Or It Is Through The Mercy And Grace Of God?

What Is Forgiveness And How Do We Forgive Others As Christians?

Question : We have bible studies weekly on Mondays, so these are some of the things that we sometimes discuss, and I would need further clarity where ever I am not convinced. Like yesterday we discussed about forgiveness, and the below questions kept coming into my mind and I need clarity:

· What is Forgiveness and how do we forgive others as Christians?

· Do we indeed forget the hurt though we are relieved from it?

· Can unforgiveness spirit dwell in a born again Christian, can the spirit continue to oppress the person no matter how hard you try to let go?

· Do we forgive by our efforts or it is through the mercy and grace of God that we can let go and forget?

And help me on this one, I think I can’t forget too many from my past hurts, and they keep coming to my mind and heart, and I will somehow find myself stressed and hurt when I think of these past hurts, and they affect my prayer life how do I overcome this? And lastly how do you respond to critics and negativity from your fellow church members? Much love...

Answer : Greetings to you in Jesus wonderful name!

(a) What is Forgiveness and how do we forgive others as Christians?

The word “forgive” means to wipe the slate clean, to pardon, to cancel a debt. Forgiving is -- giving up our right to hurt others, for hurting us. It is impossible to live on this fallen planet without getting hurt, offended, misunderstood, lied to, and rejected, so our response to the hurts that we face in this world should be God's way of merciful response in which He has treated us when we have sinned, rebelled and hurt Him. God forgave us all those sin even though we didn't deserve his mercy, grace and love, therefore we forgive others who sin against us because God forgave us freely
(Ephesians 4:31-32; Col 3:13; Romans 5:8). Thus forgiveness is a voluntary act of our will to let go of our rights to hurt others justfully and defend ourselves critically, instead let the offender to go in to the hands of God for Him to deal with them mercifully (Luke 23:34).

When we forgive the offenders against us, we give them the benefit of doubt about their true intention to hurt us, but rather we should see the work of the demonic enemy behind them against us, thus we de-demonize them to be normal humans who have stumbled in to sin. Then we see them as a weak spiritual person and do not consider what they have done against us as something done against us but rather against our God whom we believe, even though it might have been done intentionally or unintentionally on the offenders part. Thus because we live in a fallen world of sin, Jesus Himself said,
"How terrible it will be for the world due to bringing to God's people and other humans its temptations to sin! Therefore, temptations to sin are bound to happen, but through whom the stumbling comes God will judge." (Matt 18:7, Paraphrased). That is why Jesus taught in his model prayer, forgiveness against others as a precondition and a mandatory attitude to approach God for the forgiveness of our own failure without which we cannot become restored in fellowship with God (Matt 6:12, 14-15). In other words, Jesus has taught us that whenever someone hurt us, no matter how many times, and comes to ask sorry for doing it or doesn't even come to ask pardon in arrogance, from our heart we should forgive them and let go their hurts away from us (Matt 18:21-22). When we forgive we let go ourselves in to freedom and liberty of the Spirit of God, or else it is like locking ourselves in a prison and foolishly throwing out the door key outside the cell bars and expecting our offender against us to be caught inside it. We cannot come out of our own self-made prison until we choose to forgive our offender as God has forgiven us unconditionally (Matt 18:32, 33, 34-35). In other words, forgiveness is not granted from our heart to the offender, because that person deserves to be forgiven. Instead, it is an act of love, mercy, and grace of God that we give out freely of what we have received freely from God (Luke 17:1-2, 3, 4; 6:32, 33, 34, 35-36). In short, God wants us who are His children to forgive others just like He forgives us mercifully all the time.

(b) Do we indeed forget the hurt though we are relieved from it?

The phrase “forgive and forget” is not found together side by side in the Bible as it is a secular idiom. God in His Word has only commanded us to
“forgive one another” (e.g., Matthew 6:14 and Ephesians 4:32), the failure to obey will result in break of fellowship with God (Matthew 6:15), and if persisted will reap bitterness which will lead to the loss of abundant life now and eternal reward for it after this present life (Hebrews 12:14–15; 2 John 1:8).

The Bible states that God does not
“remember” our wickedness (Hebrews 8:12), though He knows our failure in His omniscience before we ever do it (Psa 139:1-4). God remembers that we have “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), yet in His mercies, He chooses not to react to our failings but rather act in His faithful love. Micah the prophet cries out this greatness of God saying, "Who is a God like you, offering forgiveness for evil-doing and overlooking the sins of the rest of his heritage? He does not keep his wrath for ever, because his delight is in mercy." (Micah 7:18, BBE). The leading apostles of the Jews and Gentiles, Peter and Paul revealed beautifully in their writings that, "the long suffering of the Lord is salvation." (1 Peter 3:15, 16-16). In the same way, forgetting our past doesn't mean that we totally forget what has happened to us, but rather when we think of those past things we choose not to react to it but act in His love, mercy and grace towards them just like God does towards us. If we think that the event of others who hurt us itself we should forget, that is not spiritual maturity but rather is a physical disease called as Alzheimer's Disease where due to old age, Chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters which allow brain cells to talk to each other get reduced, due to deposits of stuff like protein and fiber that prevent the cells from working properly, causes brain cells to shrink and die and cause total forgetfulness. If we belong to God our Father through faith in Christ, God does not condemn us for our sins (Romans 8:1), but rather accepts us just as we are, as we have come to Him seeking refuge and shelter for our sinful lives. In this way God does not react in anger against us for our sins when He sees us through Christ Jesus and does not condemn us because sin was condemned when it was placed on Jesus Christ who was the substitute who died on behalf of us, and He expects us to do the same to others too (Heb 7:25; Isa 53:12; Luke 23:34; 6:37; Exo 32:9-14; Num 12:9, 11-12, 13-14; 14:11-24).

When we say that forgetting is to choose to act against the offenders as if they haven't done anything wrong against us, we close the door of justice to make the offenders again become empowered to ruthlessly affect us in the same way they have done against us in the past. For example, for a young girl or adult woman to spend time in the presence of the offender in same place or in some other place where there is a possibility of another attack is to be foolish and be naive enough to become hurt again and still more even lose her God given life. This is where the wisdom of God to be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves comes to act in us by divine empowerment and wisdom from God
(Matt 10:16, 17, 19-20, 21-22). In other words, when social trials to make us stumble spiritually in unforgiveness comes to us from the world, relatives or family members, to lead us to destruction altogether, those should be the times we should ask God to give us divine wisdom to negate the human and demonic worldly wisdom to stay safe by the power of God and for the Glory of God (James 1:2, 5; 3:14, 15-16). We can choose to forgive the offender in a moment by letting go of our self and letting God take control, but to trust the same offender by forgetting the offence without taking the time to watch whether there is a real change in them to validate their approach as something good, is to act as lamb before the wolves (Luke 10:3). We need to educate ourselves to let God's wisdom control us in these matters when dealing with known intentional offenders. If attitude of an intentional offender has not changed, just smile when you see them, but do not trust them and go in to any deep meaningful conversation or relationship with them. Stay safe with God's wisdom by running away from the place of harm (Matt 10:23, 25-26; John 7:30; 8:59; 10:39; 11:8, 9-10). The Bible says, "The godly and wise in heart foresee danger and take refuge in God, but the simple soulish walker keep going and pay the penalty.” (Proverbs 22:3). The bottom line is, when dealing with unrepentant sinners, we must be “innocent” (willing to forgive) yet at the same time “shrewd” (being cautious) to keep ourselves safe from all harms of evil and not get caught in the snare of deceit of the wicked people.

Again Jesus said to his disciples the following thing to keep their attitudes right before God and offenders by saying,
"38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. " (Matt 5:38-47). In the above verses we see that Jesus clearly tells us not to resist evil in our attitudes towards people but rather than reacting to evil people when we are oppressed, he advises us to overcome the evil of unforgiveness which makes room for the devil to control us and cause bitterness in our heart to defile us (Eph 4:26-27; Rom 12:21), he wants us to act lovingly by the power of God's love when we face these offenders face to face and at the same time press for the judicial court system for justice if we have been taken to court (Acts 25:11-12). We should bless the offenders or enemies with a confession of blessing over them in our personal prayer and in our heart when we see them work against us and at the same time ask God's wisdom to thwart their evil plan (Acts 23:2-5, 6, 10; 22:25-29; 16:37-40). Then we must do something good to these offenders when God gives us a opportunity to help them in their need (1 Sam 24:4-7, 26:7-9, 21; Rom 12:20). Praying for those who oppress us and spitefully use us for their own benefit forcefully, will cause God to intervene in their lives to turn them towards Himself and make them repent of their evil or face judgment in His time (Acts 7:58, 59-60). All these above we cannot do by ourselves which is impossible, but with our Father God as our partner we can do it easily out of the abundance of His grace upon grace that we receive, and that grace which strengthens us to fulfill His will for our lives. The point is, the Lord wants us to become more mature in our Character like our Heavenly Father God in heaven. We need to suffer long enough by the grace of God (Heb 2:9), through it all Glorify God now and for eternity. We learn patience through these social trials in our life and great eternal reward waits for us who live overcoming lives of faith through developing and acquiring patience through those trials (2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 Peter 1:4-5, 6-7; James 1:2-4; Heb 10:35-36). Do not resist the evil person, but resist the evil character or demonic forces that tries to work through the offenders to intimidate within you, by expressing the wonderful good character of forgiveness and merciful mindedness of the Father God within you which will keep your faith strong in God and will defeat all the evil strategies of the enemy to make you glorify God through your life on earth (2 Cor 2:10-11). Live not as the world does in reacting to evil, live as your heavenly Father does in acting and doing good for the evil that comes to overcome you with its power without and within. Do more to be good in the midst of all evil, because you have more than enough power against it to overcome it as a child of God!

We can continue to do good to our enemies because we know that God will, at some point, return their evil on their own heads if they persist in evil without repentance
(Rom 12:19).

Paul the apostle says that we should forget what is behind and strive toward what is ahead
(Philippians 3:13), which means he is saying that we should not allow a root of bitterness to spring up in our hearts to defile our life through lack of fellowship with God and men (Hebrews 12:15), but instead make sure that we become more and more like Christ to forgive others until we die and go on to be with Him forever and ever. In other words, Paul the apostle is saying that we should forget about reacting to people's meanness against us, instead act in the way Christ is acting towards us in love, mercy and grace in spite of our failures we do consistently against Him spiritually in our lives (Luke 22:31-34). So therefore, to forget means we choose to forgive the offender for the sake of Christ and move on with our life without any personal vengeance against them in our heart towards them.

(c) Can unforgiveness spirit dwell in a born again Christian, can the spirit continue to oppress the person no matter how hard you try to let go?

Yes the spirit of unforgiveness can easily dwell in a born again Christian that is why the great apostle Paul who was a mature spiritual Father was saying to the Corinthian believers that he readily forgives as much as possible and as many as possible to try his best to live peaceably with all people
(Rom 12:18), because he says he wants to keep himself from being outsmarted by Satan. Satan and his demons always constantly work out their evil strategies to gain entry in to our lives through unforgiveness and bitterness against others which will given him a legal entry in to our lives to cause havoc to our spiritual lives (2 Cor 2:10, 11).

When we choose to forgive the offenders against us by a conscious choice because we have been forgiven by God
(Ephesians 4:32), when we forgive the debtors in obedience to God (Matthew 6:14-15; Romans 12:18), when we forgive others intentionally to gain control of our lives from hurt emotions (Genesis 4:1-8), when we forgive so we won’t become bitter and defile ourselves and those around us (Hebrews 12:14-15), and at the most when we do forgive our offenders consistently day by day before the day ends, we are safe from being deceived by Satan's deception through unforgiveness. By pronouncing loudly by our words one by one, 'I forgive you for ... [recite whatever the offenders have done] JESUS name,' then by announcing the name of the offender say, '....[Substitute the name of the offender]..., I have forgiven you,' bringing them in your mind before God to hand them over to Him, will make any believer to easily come out of the bondage of the oppression of the unforgivness of the enemy, which might have in the past had made God allow the torturers legally to afflict us. Once we forgive others who are indebted to us, we pay our debt to God immediately and Satan from that point of time will have no authority over our lives (Matt 18:33-34, 35).

(d) Do we forgive by our efforts or it is through the mercy and grace of God that we can let go and forget?

We give out to others what God gives out to us. We become a mirror of reflection in our action of what we believe about out God. All good and perfect gifts come from the Father God who changes not in His character of goodness and merciful benevolence towards us sinners who do not deserve it all
(James 1:17). That is why we cannot forgive others until we know that forgiveness is not in us, but it is the strength of God let loose by our choice to freely give what we have received from God. Forgiveness is a command that God demands, because it is at the disposal of every believer if he chooses to respond by his conscious choice to let go of the offence of others just like God let go of his or her offence toward Him when he or she was saved from sin to eternal life of friendship with God (Eph 4:32).

Walking by our sin nature of unforgiveness instead of walking in the new nature of our Heaven Father over a period of time will bring about bitterness, and bitterness has been linked to stress-related illnesses as told in the Bible and also is a fact proven by many medical researchers who have proved it in recent past 
(Psa 6:2, 9; 66:18; 41:4; 68:6). So let us always as long as we live in this earth, by our good choice put away out of our life all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander from within us, along with all malice (Eph 4:31), like Job let us cleanse ourselves from all bitterness of soul and get doubly blessed by God (Job 10:1; 42:10). Just like God forgives us, let us forgive others who wrong us.

Once you let go of your past hurt which others have caused, do not dwell on the same thoughts, but take it captive to the obedience of Christ if the enemy of our soul tries to bring these thoughts again and again
(2 Cor 10:5). This is real spiritual warfare (2 Cor 10:3). In Jesus name, rebuke the thoughts of old and replace it with new forgiving thought of blessing and confession towards those same people (2 Cor 10:4). If the enemy brings those old thoughts to cause to bring those same negative emotions, immediately confess through your mouth, 'I take this thought captive to the obedience of Christ. In Jesus name. Amen!' Saying and confessing this will give victory again and again. Do this until that negative emotions dries up to make you think mercifully of those offenders to be humans just like you who do mistakes many times and fail God (Eccl 7:20, 21-22).

Do you believe that dead people can rise and walk, I do not think so, in the same way as long as our old self remains uncrucified with Christ by our faith, we will have to bother about critics and negativity from our fellow church members
(Rom 6:6; Gal 2:20). When we know that our old life has been crucified with Christ, we will not bother ourselves either when they speak good or bad about us personally but will stay silent as Christ did (1 Peter 2:23, 21), or will praise the Lord on all occasions to glorify God through our life because He is the one who will glorify us with His salvation at the right time (Psa 50:23; 149:6). I would like to say, 'To the tree that bear fruit, stones will be thrown at it.' In the spiritual life also it remains the same, so actually when stones of slander are throw at you, rejoice that you are bearing fruit and the Lord will glorify you more and more in the coming days with His very own glory because you are bearing much fruit of the Spirit (1 Peter 2:20; 4:16).

Pray With Me dear Saints: "Dear God, I choose as an act of my will, regardless of my feelings, to forgive the person who has wronged me. I release them in to your safe hands, and I set myself free to Your healing and deliverance from torturous spirits of unforgiveness that had afflicted me in the past. Now with Your help of mercy and grace
(Heb 4:16), I will no longer dwell on the situation or the negative emotions by choosing not to continue to talk about it. I thank You for forgiving me as I have forgiven them (Matt 6:14). I bless them all in Jesus name those who have hurt me in the past, those who persecuted me I pray for your mercy upon their lives to help them repent and turn towards you, help me love in my heart attitude those who hated me and help me do good to them when you give me an opportunity to do so to glorify you. I thank You for releasing me. I ask this in Jesus’ name, amen."

Much Blessings....


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