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Summary: Unforgiveness is a trap that we’ve all been caught in at one time or another. This series attempts to help people find release people from the trap.

Escaping the Trap

Escaping the Trap of Forgiveness

July 23, 2006

For the past 3 weeks now we’ve been concentrating on the subject of “offenses”. Jesus told us that it’s impossible to go through this life and not be offended by someone or something. And so we’ve taken the attitude, “That being the case... how am I going to deal with offenses when they come?”

So far, we’ve described the ‘bait’ Satan uses to catch you in his trap...then we talked about the ‘signs’ that you are indeed caught in a trap of offense... and today we’re going to concentrate on how exactly you can be released from the trap of offense. The key of escaping from this trap comes in the form of one word. One word that we all know... but very rarely practice. The word? Forgiveness! That one word has the power to release us from any offense trap that Satan has ever set-up, no matter how big or how painful!

A lot of people don’t (or won’t) forgive that person or persons who hurt them, (whether it be an ex-spouse, a friend, relative, pastor, parent etc.) They absolutely refuse to forgive! Why is that? Why do they hold on to the pain that their hurt brings? I mean, what person in their right mind would suffer through the bitterness, the anguish, the emotional turmoil of being stuck in the “Unforgiveness Trap” if they didn’t have to? Well, after dealing with people for years on this issue, I’ve discovered that the #1 reason people don’t forgive, is because they don’t know how! They have some misconceptions in their minds, about what forgiveness is…and isn’t…that actually keep them pinned in the trap! They don’t forgive because of what I call the…”Myths and Misunderstandings of Forgiveness”…

So this morning, what I want to do, is to share with you not only how Christ’s forgiveness works... but how it doesn’t work!

I’m convinced that if more people knew what forgiveness is and isn’t…they’d experience the freedom and healing that only forgiveness can bring. I’m willing to bet that you might actually be willing to forgive this morning… if you knew exactly what God’s asking you to do!

For example, the 1st Myth about forgiveness is that…

1. Forgiveness is... FORGETTING.

That’s a myth! It’s not true! Some people say, “Well if God is telling me to act like what they did never happened... I can’t do that... because I can’t forget!” And if that’s you... you’re right! You can’t...and He isn’t! When God commands us to forgive, He’s not telling us to “Forget”. Listen…forgiveness does not equal forgetting! Jeremiah 31:34 is quoted twice in the N.T. (almost as if to emphasize the pt.) READ When God says, “I will remember their sin no more.”, He’s not saying He comes down with a case of ‘divine amnesia’! “Not remembering”... here means “not making an effort to recall something to mind”. If you’re a Christian this morning, God hasn’t wiped His memory banks completely clean of your sins, (He still remembers when you got your little sister or brother in trouble, for something you did as a kid! He remembers when I pee’d my bed and in the middle of the night moved my brother over in the pool of water to escape detection!). He still remembers me doing that! He remembers every evil, rotten, selfish, proud thing you and I have ever done in our lives… but instead of punishing us for it… He’s chosen (because Jesus paid for those sins on the cross) to not to call them to memory against you anymore!

See, I believe that every sin I’ve ever committed is recorded in God’s Book of Life... but because I’ve asked for forgiveness, over each one of them is written in big bold red letters the word... FORGIVEN! When God says, “I remember your sins no more”, He’s saying... “I feel towards you, the way I’d feel if I had forgotten your sins completely!”

Now how does that apply to you and me? Simply this...

When you and I forgive someone the way Jesus forgives us, (even though we can’t completely forget what that person did)... we choose not to call those sins to mind against them anymore. Even though we can’t completely forget what they did to us... each time the memory of their sin comes to mind... we mentally & deliberately write the words “Forgiven” over them! In fact, the true test of whether we’ve really forgiven them, ISN”T that we totally forget what they did… but that when we see them, or hear their name mentioned… the acid in our stomach doesn’t begin to boil over anymore!

We know we’re healed when we feel towards them the way we would feel if we could completely forget!

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