Freedom Through Forgiveness

Spirit of Revival, August 1993, used by permission

Have you ever found yourself making (or thinking!) any of the following statements? This study is designed to help us deal honestly and fully with any unforgiveness that may be in our hearts.

1. “There is no unforgiveness in my heart”

If you have truly forgiven every person who has ever sinned against you, the you are able to experience the great freedom, joy, peace, and blessing that result from being a forgiven, forgiving child of God.

However, it is possible to live with seeds of unforgivenss for so long, that we become blinded to its presence in our lives. The following exercises will help open your eyes to any unforgivenss that may have become lodged in your heart.

Have you ever been hurt?  Put a check next to any of the following hurts you have experienced:
Violent crime against self or a loved one
Treated unfairly by an employer
Parents divorced
Rebellious/wayward son or daughter
Alcoholic patent or mate
Abandoned by parent or mate
Publically humiliated
Abused (physically, emotionally, sexually

As you reflect on the ways you have been offended, do you find any of these statements to be true?
Every time I think of  (person or offense)  I still feel angry.
I have a subtle, secret desire to see (person) pay for what he/she/they did to  me.
Deep in my heart, I wouldn’t mind if something bad happed to the person(s) who hurt me.
If  (person’s) name  comes up, I am more likely to say something negative about him.her than something positive.
I cannot thank God for  (person)

These statements are an indication that we have not fully forgiven all those who have sinned against us.
Remember: Forgiveness means that I fully release the offender from his debt. It means fully cleaning his record. It is a promise never to bring up the offense against him again (to God, to others, or to the offender himself).

God’s Word say that if we say we have not sinned, even though His Spirit shows us otherwise, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8), Have you deceived yourself into believing that you have forgiven everyone who has sinned against you? As God examines your heart, does He find any un-forgiveness there?
Put a check in this box if you agree with God that there is unforgivensss in your heart.

2. “There’s no way I could ever forgive  (person) for  (offense) … He (she/they) hurt me too deeply.”

What are some of the hurts Jesus suffered from us?
Isaiah 53:3-7

Psalm 22:6, 7, 16

How has God dealt with us who have sinned against Him so greatly?
Ephesians 2:4, 5

Isaiah 43:25
Hebrews 10:17

Micah 7:18, 19

How did Jesus command us to respond to those who wrong us?

Luke 6:27

Romans 12:17-21

Colossians 3:13

Luke 17:3, 4

According to Colossians 3:13, what should be the measure (the standard) of our forgiveness?

On that basis, what offense is “too great” to forgive?

Would God command us to do something that He would not enable us to do?

How are we enabled to forgive (Philippians 2:13?

3. “They don’t deserve to be forgiven.”

What did we do to earn or deserve God’s forgiveness?
Romans 5:8

Ephesians 2:4-9

What are the reasons we should extend forgiveness to those who sin against us?
The offender is genuinely sorry for what he has done.
I have been forgiven an infinite debt by God, so I forgive as I have been forgiven.
God commands me to forgive.
The offender promises never to do it again.
The offense was an “understandable mistake.”

4. “If I forgive them, they’re off the hook!”

According to the Scriptures, when God forgives us, what does He promise to do?
Jeremiah 31:34

Hebrews 10:17

Psalms 103:12

Remember:  Forgiveness is not forgetting. It is a transaction in which I release my debtor form the obligation to repay his debt.

An omniscient God cannot forget. But He does promise not to “remember our sins” or to hold them against us. God does not ask us to forget the wrong that has been done to us, but simply to forgive.

However the attitude of our heart, when we do think of the offense, can be an indicator of wheather or not we have truly forgiven. When you think on the person who has hurt you most deeply, which of the following attitudes do you experience?

Emotional churching
Desire for revenge
Hard to ask God to bless him
Hard to see his good qualities
Wants others to know what you know about him

Desire for God to bless him
Desire to see him spiritually restored
Sense of rest and relinquishment
Gratefulness to God for this person
Humbled by how greatly you have sinned against God
     and how much He has forgiven you

6.  “I really have forgiven, but I still struggle with feelings of hurt.”

According to the following passages, what must we be willing to do, in addition to forgiving those who sin against us?

Luke 6:27-31

Romans 12:17-21

Remember: The act of forgiveness is only the starting place for dealing with those who wrong us. The initial act of releasing the offender must be followed by a commitment to invest positively in his/her life.  This investment is the key to experiencing emotional healing and wholeness.

Whenever possible, we should seek to rebuild the relationship between ourselves and the offender. In situations where this is not possible or appropriate, we can still invest in their lives through prayer.

What are several practical ways that you could “return good for evil” or invest in the life of someone who has wronged you?

7. “I won’t forgive!”

Ultimately, forgiveness comes down to a choice.  It is a choice that God both commands and enables. But some simply refuse to make that choice. According to the following Scriptures, what can we expect if we refuse to forgive those who sin against us?
Matthew 6:14, 15

2 Corinthians 2:10, 11

Matthew 18:32-35

What are some of the physical, emotional, and spiritual “tormentors” ( Matt. 18:34 KJV), we might experience in our lives if we are unwilling to forgive?

Circle those specific consequences of unforgiveness that you have personally experienced at one time or another.

Choosing to Forgive
Has God revealed any lack of forgiveness in your heart?
Do you desire to be set free from the prison of unforgiveness?
Are you ready to choose the pathway of forgiveness?

If so, here are some steps that will help you to deal with the hurts and offenses you have experienced.

  1. Make a list of the people who have wronged you.  Next to each name, write the offense (s) which that person committed against you. Then record how you responded to their wrongdoing.
Person      Their Offense      My Response
  1. Thank God for each person who has wounded you, for they are His instruments to humble you, and to mold and conform you to the image of Jesus.
  2. Confess to God, any wrong responses you may have had …  (unforgiveness, hatred, bitterness, gossip).
  3. As Christ has forgiven you, fully forgive each offender. Remember that forgiveness is not a feeling; rather, it is a choice and an act of the will. It is a commitment to clear the other person’s record, and never to hold that offense against them again.
  4. Confirm your love (II Corinthians 2:8).  Look for ways to “return good for evil”—that is, to invest positively in the lives of those who have wronged you.