Unforgiveness is the Enemy’s Scheme
When addressing the Corinthians about forgiveness Paul said: “If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven – if there was anything to forgive – I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2: 10 & 11).
Unforgiveness is a scheme of the enemy to cause discord among people and to trap them in a place where they cannot find peace and move on. That is why we must fight so hard to look for reasons to forgive, rather than looking for ways to avoid it. Those who refuse to forgive lock their own hearts in prison and hold themselves in bondage.
Those who choose to forgive and release others, however, are free to move on as they place the other person in God’s hands, asking God that the other person also be healed and restored.
When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, He said: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (John 20: 21 – 23).
In saying this, Jesus was not giving His disciples a choice on whether or not to forgive;
Christ was revealing the authority He was giving them to forgive – through the power of the Holy Spirit!
- God does not ask us to do anything that He will not then enable us to do.
- If God asks us to forgive from the heart, then it is possible, with His help, to do so.
- We do not forgive in our own strength but through the power of God!
Forgive Even As Christ Forgave
The Apostle Paul instructed the Colossians: “Therefore , as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3: 12 – 15, NKJV).
Again Paul instructed the Ephesians: “And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4: 32, NKJV).
The Greek word used for ‘another’ in this first verse is ‘tis’, and in this verse it is translated as ‘any man’ (Strong’s).
The word for ‘even (or even as)’ in both of these verses is ‘kuthos’ in the Greek (Strong’s Concordance). The Biblical usage for ‘kuthos’ is: ‘just as, even as, in the degree that, or in proportion as’. Therefore both of these Scriptures tell us we are to forgive any man, just as, even as, in the degree that, or in proportion to, the way Christ has forgiven us. In other words;
We are to forgive any person, in the same way and to exactly the same extent, degree or proportion that Christ has forgiven us!
Christ holds nothing back – He forgives us all!
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross”.(Colossians 2: 13 & 14)
Christ forgives when we are undeserving!
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5: 6 – 8).
Forgiveness and Physical Healing
Many times when people received healing from Jesus, He told them to “go and sin no more”, though they had apparently come for healing not forgiveness. In the story of the paralytic man, Jesus said to him: “your sins are forgiven”, even though there is no record that the man had asked for Jesus to forgive him. Jesus saw their faith for him to be healed; forgave him first, then healed him. “Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith He said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9: 2). (See also Mark 2: 5). Jesus went on to say: “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….’ Then He said to the paralytic, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home.’ And the man got up and went home” (Matthew 9: 5 – 7).
- With Christ, healing and forgiveness were connected.
- When people came for healing Christ also forgave.
In the same way, many times our act of forgiving others (especially when the hurt has been great), will bring healing not just to the other person, but it can heal and release us emotionally and physically also. Just as unforgiveness can manifest itself in our lives – causing anxiety, depression and physical illness in some way; emotional and physical healing can also come as a direct result of us forgiving and releasing others.
A Personal Testimony of Healing
Some years ago, a person released cursing words over my life in a very hurtful way, and sometime later I began to experience difficulty with my eyesight. A cloudiness appeared in the centre of my vision, beginning with my left eye. This became progressively worse over time, extending to my right eye also. Because of its progressive state I went to the optician, who diagnosed me with a fairly rare (for my age group) but early onset of cataracts.
Some months prior to this change in my vision, a visiting prophet had prayed for me. Whilst praying, he described specific details about the hurtful circumstance that had occurred, even describing the type of relationship involved. There was no way He could have known these details except by the Spirit of God. He then began to say that nothing that any Dr. or anyone else said made any difference, but that it was only what God said that counted. As soon as I heard the optician’s diagnosis, I remembered this prophet’s words, and I remained unalarmed as a result.
At the time of the diagnosis I did not connect it to the words of cursing or to unforgiveness, but some time later another hurtful experience occurred. This time I sought God’s help in how I should respond. He began to show me the wrong ways that I had responded in the past and how I had allowed anger to rise in my heart. He taught me to reject these wrong ways and not to go over the experience again in my mind, or to justify myself. God showed me this only led to torment, which manifested itself as a heavy knot in my stomach. As I began to reject the wrong ways of the past, the knot in my stomach left. I then forgave and released the other person, and was able to immediately move on as a result.
As I began to tell a friend what God had shown me and the new way I had learnt to respond, she saw a bright light appear off to the side of my head. As I left my friend and drove home, I noticed that the vision in my left eye had cleared. The next day I happened to read an article that had a general prayer of forgiveness at the end. As I prayed this prayer out loud, my right eye cleared.
I believe God deliberately healed my vision in two stages following the testimony of my mouth, because He wanted to show me that my healing had come as a direct result of forgiving.
This person did not ask for my forgiveness, they did not acknowledge to me that what they had done was wrong; neither did they know I had forgiven them – but I forgave anyway and I was healed as a result!
I returned to the optician who could not find any sign of cataracts and has not been able to do so since. I was also able to share with her the testimony of why I believed my eyesight had been restored.
Take on the Nature of Christ
If we are believers in Christ, we need to take on the same nature as Christ and have the same heart attitude as Christ.
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like – minded (with Christ), having the same love (as Christ), being one in spirit and purpose (as Christ). Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:1 – 8).
- Christ’s heart is for forgiveness.
- Christ denied Himself and put others first.
- Christ forgives us even when we have been spiritually blind.
- Christ forgives us without limit, and for all we have done wrong.
- Christ forgives us when we are undeserving.
- Christ calls us to do the same!
The Power of Forgiveness
It was Christ’s act of love in healing and forgiving others that caused people to follow Him. Our act of love in forgiving those who have hurt us, even when they haven’t asked for our forgiveness – and our prayers for their healing – can touch their hearts in such a way that it will cause them to also come to Christ.
When Jesus was visiting a Pharisee’s home, a woman who had lived a sinful life stood weeping behind Jesus’ feet. She wet His feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. Knowing what the Pharisee was thinking about the woman, Jesus said: “Two men owed money to a certain money-lender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more? Simon replied, ‘I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled.’ ‘You have judged correctly,’ Jesus said” (Luke 7:41 – 43). “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little. Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:47 – 48). “Jesus said to the woman, ‘your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50).
The one who has been forgiven much loves much!
- Both forgiveness and healing flow from the heart of God.
- Forgiveness is an expression of God’s love for us, and of our love for others.
- God’s desire is that all should be made whole in every way – that should be our desire also.
- Forgiveness is a heart issue.
- Christ has enabled us through the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive others from our hearts!