The majority of my past is filled with pain. Things like rape, abuse, and betrayal line my testimony like the ugly wallpaper that used to line my dining room. I had no idea how to forgive my offenders or heal from the trauma. As a result, I was a miserable wreck who unintentionally hurt most of the people who tried to help me. It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I learned the power of forgiveness and stepped into healing and freedom. Now it is my joy to teach others how to embrace the abundant life Jesus offers.
Why Do We Need To Understand The Power of Forgiveness?
Can I just put this out there? 21st Century Christians have lost sight of what forgiveness is and why it is important. The Bible, however, mentions the word forgive over 100 times! So it is clear there is great value in understanding the power of forgiveness. Great value!
As we dive deeper into forgiveness we will answer some tough questions.
- What is the advantage of forgiveness?
- How does forgiveness set you free?
- What does the Bible say about the power of forgiveness?
What is Forgiveness?
First, let’s review. We define Biblical forgiveness as follows:
Forgiveness is a choice. This choice is actually several choices all tied together that bring about immense freedom. To forgive we choose to:
- Accept God’s forgiveness of your sins
- Accept His authority to judge and handle justice/revenge
- Then release others – of the debt owed by their actions that hurt you – to God’s hands.
Why Does Forgiveness Matter?
If forgiveness is a choice it stands to reason that we could just as easily choose not to forgive. Of course, we can make that choice, in fact, I spent many years living that out. Someone once said that unforgiveness and the bitterness that follow is like drinking poison while believing your offender will suffer. Most of the time, we are the only ones suffering.
Why forgive? Freedom. While I refused to forgive I was the one in prison. My heart was cold and hard. I ruined every relationship. Friends avoided me and eventually abandoned me. Misery was my companion.
When I chose to forgive, to allow God to deal with the justice and revenge I had been longing for, I was freed from so much hurt and suffering.
Forgiveness matters because we need freedom to be able to grow and thrive in faith and life. Abundant life is the prize!
Forgiveness Leads to Abundant Life
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NASB)
The power of forgiveness in the Bible is abundant life. Abundant life; a life lived with nothing between you and God, with hands open to receive whatever He offers, sure of your place in His family. That’s how I describe the freedom that comes when living in God’s will regarding forgiveness.
Salvation Vs Abundant Life
I have not always lived in this place, in fact, for most of my childhood, I thought it must be impossible for people like me. Honestly, I often wondered if I was actually saved because of how hard life was and how many crises came my way. How was anyone expected to forgive so much?
I was sure God was this harsh dictator; always setting unreasonable expectations and laying down joy-killing laws. I could never measure up or work hard enough to please Him… I was sure of it!
So when I saw verses like John 10:10, I was confused. I chalked it up to one more thing in the Bible that didn’t make sense. Anyone else?
Loved But Not Liked
It wasn’t until I was much older that I came to understand that abundant life is not the same as eternal life with God in glory.
You see, even when I was sure I was saved, I knew I didn’t have anything abundantly good in my life. Confusing. Maybe God didn’t really love me? I had been told I was unlovable often, and maybe God felt that way about me too? There were even moments when I begged God to just kill me because life was simply too hard to live.
And, even when I was sure I was saved and sure God loved me, I reasoned He must not like me much. Definitely not enough to help with all the hard parts of my life or bring joy. Can you relate?The power of forgiveness in the Bible is abundant life. Abundant life; a life lived with nothing between you and God, with hands open to receive whatever He offers, sure of your place in His family. Click To Tweet
In my journey toward discipleship, I came to understand that forgiveness was a key part of following hard after Jesus. A key part I refused to work through.
This was my reasoning.
- The hurt done to me was serious.
- God had not stopped the hurtful things from happening.
- 90% of the crises I faced as a child and youth were not my fault.
- God was all-powerful yet He didn’t intervene for me.
- Thus, I could not trust God to help me or deal with my offenders.
What is The Advantage of Forgiveness?
I had made a choice to not forgive the hurt of my past. I was also not forgiving God and I was holding many areas of my life away from God – refusing to trust Him.
What is the advantage of forgiveness? Forgiveness keeps an open line of trust between you and God.
Refusing forgiveness sets off this whole crazy cycle. When I refuse to forgive one thing it becomes easier to refuse to forgive other things. The more markers I hold onto for people or situations that have hurt me, the less I trust God. It is ridiculous how quickly those build up in my heart. And it is crushing how far from God I drift so quickly. I feel I can’t trust Him with the hurt I am facing!
Facing The Truth
All of a sudden I find there are all these areas in my life where I can’t let go. There is anger seeping out of me or I feel cold and distant. How about you?
I want to challenge you to do a quick heart check. Ask yourself these questions:
- Have I really allowed God ALL authority in my life?
- Am I still holding onto this area of anger and forgiveness?
When I answer those questions honestly, I feel so guilty! They show I am not allowing God to be the Lord of my life, rather I am the lord of my life!
If I am the one ruling my life, holding onto anger and withholding forgiveness, I am missing out on the abundant life God wants for me. I am giving place to the thief who wants to steal my joy in life, kill my peace, and destroy my relationships (especially my marriage)!
The first step toward abundant life is stepping down off the throne of my heart and inviting God back where He belongs. Confessing that sin. Surrender follows confession!
What Does the Bible Say About the Power of Forgiveness?
The Bible talks a lot about forgiveness. Just search out the power of forgiveness Scriptures to see! Not only do we see the command to forgive, we see the healing power of forgiveness to effect radical change!
Think about the life of Joseph, for example.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20 ESV)
Talk about radical forgiveness! He had been mocked, left out, sold into slavery, falsely imprisoned, forgotten and so much more. Yet, because he chose to surrender to God through forgiveness, an entire region of the world was saved from certain starvation.
I struggle to relate to Joseph, who seemed to have chosen forgiveness as a way of life well before being asked. In him, we see the freedom and power of forgiveness and I want to learn it! When I think about how often I get this wrong I feel ashamed? How about you?
Forgiveness in Marriage
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29-31 NASB)
And honestly, the power of forgiveness in a relationship has never been needed as desperately as in my marriage. There are just some places there that are hard to stop feeling angry or resentful toward my husband. There are some offenses that hurt deeply. Some mistakes are repeated so often I want to just give up.
As a result, I begin to fight God for control. But when I am ruling, in regard to my marriage and especially with my mouth, no one wins. And I feel so ashamed…
I want victory in my marriage!
If I can find a way to give God final authority over what I say and how I fight, we would both win. Even if I lose the fight I see in front of me we would win because God’s way is always best.
2. Fight Shame
Now, pause a moment because this is an opportunity the enemy would like to use to guilt us into deeper shame and get us all bound up in our failure.
Do you ever get so tied up in knots about the mess you have been wallowing in, namely unforgivness, that you can’t see clearly to fix the problem? We want to step into forgiveness and the freedom it brings, but we get tangled up in shame and get stuck!
What can we do if we have already messed up and are living in anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness?
Vertical Vs Horizontal Relationship
First, know that shame does NOT come from God! God does allow us to feel a guilt that prompts us toward repentance, but shame is from the enemy!
Next, know that there are two relationships we have to work on when we are talking about the supernatural power of forgiveness.
- The vertical relationship with God.
- The horizontal relationship with others.
It is critical that we get the vertical relationship with God right. It will free you up to work on the horizontal relationship with your spouse and others… which is why we are talking today, right?!?!
Vertical Relationship – Get Right With God First
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NASB)
In the book of 1st John, we see clear instructions to help us get right with God. l want to point out that this was written to early disciples, not to the lost. The point is that confession is an ongoing process rather than a once for all thing done at salvation.
Doesn’t it make you feel a lot better knowing we struggle with the same things people struggled with who actually lived with Jesus?
3. Worship through Confession
“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2 NASB)
There is so much value in the regular practice of confessing sin to God. It is the practice of presenting your whole life to God as a sacrifice!
This practice has been lost in many circles of our faith because we live under grace. Don’t misunderstand me, I believe we were 100% forgiven at the cross and we now stand covered in the righteousness of Christ before God. However, we continue to sin and the Bible gives instructions about that.
Confess your sins. Agree with God about pushing Him off the throne. Admit you are not trusting Him. Talk to Him about the struggle to forgive others, even Him.
To make confession a regular part of our daily lives is to worship Him. God is relationship-driven. He wants us to spend time with Him and to worship Him with every moment of our daily lives in this way.
The practice of confessing sin is mentioned several times in the New Testament which makes me pay attention. For me, confession is humbling. When I confess my sin I am admitting my mess; my anger, my lust, my gossip, my_________ (insert your personal sin struggle here).
As God worked this concept into my life I desperately wanted to give up my anger and bitterness. I needed to begin to freely forgive the hurts in my life. So I had to make a regular practice of confessing my sin to God.
The truth is, I can’t forgive the sin of others if I am not admitting and accepting my own sin and struggles. If I think I am without sin, I feel justified holding onto anger at others’ sins. Make sense?
How Does Forgiveness Set You Free?
We don’t need another “the power of forgiveness sermon,” neither do we need more, “the power of forgiveness quotes.” Nope, forgiveness will never set you free if you are just listening to people talk about it or reading more about it.
So then, how does forgiveness set you free? You have to practice it! If you are serious about walking this journey with me toward the supernatural power of forgiveness, you need to make a choice today.
Set aside time TODAY with God in a quiet place. Get right with Him, fixing the vertical relationship.
3 Steps to Fix Your Relationship With God
Fixing your relationship with God is really simple.
- Confess your sin.
- Turn away from your sin.
- Turn toward God.
That is literally as simple as 1-2-3, but it is not easy at all.
5. Confess Your Sin
Often I am not sure what sin I am dealing with. If you are not aware of sin in your life, ask Him to reveal it to you. He will!
Then be still and wait.
Don’t rationalize away what comes to mind.
- Admit it to Him (He already knows).
- Agree with Him that it is sin.
- Ask Him to change your heart to not want to do it anymore.
6. Turn Away From Sin
Turning away from sin also is simple. Stop doing the thing that is sin. For me, often the sin has to do with my mouth. I am trying to be God to my husband by nagging Him or giving Him advice about how to change.
It is simple to say to myself, stop doing that, but it is hard to actually stop. If you need ideas about how to correct your words, check out this 30-day challenge to replace nagging with gratitude and appreciation.
7. Turn Toward God
1 John 1:9 tells us God is faithful to forgive us. Turning toward God is as easy as talking to Him and inviting Him back to your heart’s throne!
I challenge you to turn 1 John 1:9 into a prayer, claiming God’s promise and reminding yourself and the enemy that you are not going to walk in guilt and shame over what God has already forgiven.
You will be well on your way down this path of forgiveness.
Will You Get Right With God About Forgiveness Today?
Fixing the horizontal relationship (making peace with the people who hurt you) is impossible without first getting the vertical relationship between you and God right. Will you do the hard work of confession today? You will find the power of forgiveness is the strength of God on your side as you begin to tackle forgiveness toward the people in your life.
Claim the Supernatural Power of Forgiveness
Honestly, the supernatural power of forgiveness is manyfold.
- Spiritual growth
- A right relationship with God where we are free to grow.
- Knowing things are right with God and others.
- Hope and Joy
- Because we are freed up from bitterness and resentment.
- As bitterness and resentment leave we are filled with love to share.
Abundant life is the best way to sum it all up in a phrase. The abundance that comes is like David’s declaration in Psalm 23, “My cup overflows.” But it only comes when we are living surrendered and forgiving freely!
Will you choose to walk in that abundant life?
As we continue on in this power of forgiveness Bible Study together we will see many other things:
- Can we genuinely forgive?
- What happens when you refuse forgiveness?
- How do we live in pre-forgiveness?
- What are the 7 steps of forgiveness?
- How do we pursue reconciliation?
Can’t wait to dig in together!
in HIS love,
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