Perhaps the hardest thing to handle in this life is yourself after you have messed things up. The baseball pitcher who allows a home run in the bottom of the 9th inning that eliminates their team from the playoffs is a prime example of someone who will have a difficult time dealing with failure.
We all make mistakes and some are more costly than others. Some mistakes are fairly benign and don't have any long term consequences. But, there are mistakes we make in this life which dramatically impact our lives for years. It is those mistakes which are very difficult to put behind you so that you can move on.
God is very emphatic in His Word that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. Thus, there is no problem with God forgiving us for those things we do wrong. The problem lies in others forgiving us and most importantly, us forgiving ourselves by accepting God's forgiveness.
Of all the diseases that eat at a person's soul, there is none more malicious or insidious than the lack of forgiveness and the ensuing condemnation or bitterness that comes from it. The root of bitterness is firmly planted in the hardness of the heart stemming from the failure to forgive. Self condemnation is the direct offshoot of the inability to accept forgiveness.
For most people with a pure heart, the biggest battle when dealing with forgiveness deals with oneself. Far too often we want to crawl up on that cross and be crucified again for the very things Jesus gave His life for. Far too often we feel a need to get the whips and rods out of the closet and use them to beat ourselves up for perceived sins. It is as if we are demanding the Roman guards put us through all our Lord Jesus went through.
Paul says in Galatians 2:20:
Â€ÂœI have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Paul did not say that we are TO BE crucified with Christ daily but rather that he has been crucified with Christ. Until a person honestly believes what is recorded here in Galatians about being crucified with Christ, they cannot possibly understand that our REAL life is lived by faith in the Son of God."
Paul goes on to say in Colossians 2:13, 14:
Â€ÂœAnd you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Jesus took everything that was contrary to us and nailed it to the cross with Him. When He did this, spiritually our old nature died for it is sinful. That is why we must believe that we were crucified with Christ so that we can share in His resurrection power and might. Think about what the next verse is really saying in Colossians 2:15:
Â€ÂœHaving disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Jesus Christ, through His death and resurrection triumphed over the ruling authorities of the devil. He disarmed them which greatly reduced their capacity to inflict harm on a believer. That is why when the devil wants to trip up a believer he gets the believer to get all tangled up in sin consciousness to the point he settles into a state of self condemnation. The devil cannot defeat us, but we can certainly defeat ourselves.
The other area the devil uses is hardness of heart towards those who have hurt or abused us. By harboring secret areas of resentment we plant the seeds of bitterness which once it is rooted in a person's heart more or less renders them a slave to the past. Until and unless a believer reaches the point of being able to forgive those who have trespassed against them, their heart will be hard as a rock and unable to receive all God so wants to give.
If somewhere in your life (past or present) there is hardness of heart or condemnation, the time has come to seek freedom. There is no profit in wallowing in the past, whether being bitter about it or beating yourself up over it.
We really need to strive to do as Paul says in Philippians 3:13, 14:
Â€ÂœBrethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
The best thing to do with the past is to forget it, and the best thing to do with the future is to press toward it with all your heart and soul. There is a prize awaiting us in Christ Jesus if we will but strive for IT instead of living in the past.
I agree with what you wrote: "Until and unless a believer reaches the point of being able to forgive those who have trespassed against them, their heart will be hard as a rock and unable to receive all God so wants to give."
I have two counsellees who were battered children and their unforgiveness towards their parents has resulted in not only unforgiveness for the perpetrators of past batterings, they have transferred some of their bitterness to their spouses who were free of blame of any battering. In addition their bitterness have affected relationships with their children whom they batter too.
The root of bitterness once allowed will have terrible effect in a person's life extending unforgiveness to colleagues, bosses, neighbours and everyone that person has a warped and untrue perception of. Bitterness when nursed could emerge as symptoms of sicknesses even cancer and personality disorders.
May the Lord help us forgive before the sun goes down each day and forgive and forget in His love and forgiveness.
Psalm 139:23,24 are good references for end of day forgiveness reviews.
I think the forgetting part is often a stumbling block for us. Too many times we say we forgive someone but we are eager to tell someone else about how we were wronged, what so and so did, or even throw it back in their face if they do something which displeases us in the future. Married couples are famous for doing this!
One of the reasons my husband and I have been happily married for 28 years is because we set a rule in place from the very beginning. You NEVER bring up old "junk". If it is forgiven it is done. It is over. It is not discussed anymore. If you have to talk about it, then it is NOT forgiven and you need to start back at square one.
I think this is very true. Of course you might never actually forget what took place but with God's help you can move on to the point that you no longer focus on what they did, you focus on them.
Dear B2Y--Before anyone can appropriate forgiveness from others or extend forgiveness to them, it is absolutely crucial that we first receive forgiveness from God. And according to 1 John 1:9, that requires us to stand in full agreement with God about the sin in our own lives.
It is a vicious cycle in which my unconfessed resentment and bitterness toward myself or others breeds a more profane unforgiving spirit. I have to confess that my lack of forgiveness is in and of itself a sin. Then and only then can I receive God's forgiveness.
Bitterness is a sin. Resentment is a sin. Holding others accountable to myself is a sin, because only God has the authority to call anyone into account. Even calling myself into account is a sin, because I am presuming authority over myself unto myself which I do not have. The only key to unlocking the cage of bitterness, resentment and an unforgiving heart is to confess and receive God's forgiveness first and foremost.
This is an excellent blog, my brother. :) YBIChrist--Ron
I have found in my own walk with Christ that unforgiveness on my part towards another believer, or unbeliever, or believe it, even the perceived need for me to forgive God Himself, because I feel God has wronged me in some way--not that God ever needs forgiveness--is compounded when I seek only personal justification.
Personal justification is nothing more then arrogance and self-righteousness. What I am trying to say is that when I refuse to forgive someone I am justifying myself as being the one in the right, and therefore, I need no forgiveness; I am saying that I am sinless and in no need of correction or reprove; or to put it another way, I have no need for the sacrifice of Christ.
Bitterness, recentment, unforgiveness, pride, self-justification, or even ignoring the one we feel has wronged us is nothing more than self-righteousness and an absence of trust and faith in what our Lord Jesus has given--not only for the person who has wronged us, but for ourselves--total forgiveness and eternal life.
By not forgiving the one who has wronged us we are saying that person does not deserve the forgiveness of Christ, nor does that person deserve eternal life with Christ. We are denying Christ. We are basically an 'anti-Christ,' because forgiveness is not an option, but a command.
To forgive is to walk not only with Christ--as He Himself walked--but to abide in Him. To not forgive, is to walk alone--it is to abandome Christ--yet Christ remains faithful to us, because Christ cannot deny Himself.
The easiest way to forgive someone for hurting or wronging us, is first to praise and thank the Lord for the hurt, as well as the person who caused the hurt. Then, by praying for the person who wronged us--praying that they will be blessed by God as we ourselves want to be blessed by Him--will remove the bitterness and unforgiveness from our hearts, because where Christ's Light dwells, darkness cannot remain.
To walk in the Light of Christ, is to walk in forgiveness--to no longer walk in self-justification. To walk in forgiveness, is to walk in love.
Jesus loves you!
This is a very good article! I especially appreciate the reference near the end to Phil 3:13-14 about forgetting what lies behind. We do need to purposely choose to "forget" and not dwell on the wrongs committed against us. The demonic realm, because of their access to our soul man via thoughts/memories, will remind us of sins against us but we must purpose to forget and remind them, and others, that we have forgiven that person! I also find it helpful in counseling situations to suggest that the person do what Jesus commanded in Luke 6:27-28...which is to pray for the person. This can help calm their emotions until the next time the memory surfaces.