Summary: Is it possible to forgive others? What happens to me if I don’t? God’s Word has some startling answers.
Review: Translated and free. Gains control by giving “ground.” Equivalent to giving house key to worst enemy. Occult activities.
The power of forgiveness
Free Indeed series
1. Illus. of Meg and Shirley
Meg got mad at Shirley when they were teens over a boy.
60 years later, she was still mad!
Shirley had tried to make it up. She had apologized, she had pled. But Meg was having none of it.
Her last words to Meg were, “You’re going to pay.”
She died an old, bitter, angry woman… because she could not forgive her sister.
2. Have you ever been there? Someone deeply hurts you, and what you really want to do is knock their teeth out! You want them to pay… oh boy do you want them to pay! But then, the Holy Spirit whispers in your heart, “No, no, forgive them instead.”
3. We live in a world of imperfect people. When imperfect people rub elbows with other imperfect people, bad things happen! When it does, we want to do the right thing, we really do. But we struggle with all these questions: “How can I forgive them after what they’ve done? If I forgive them, does it mean they get off scott-free? What if I forgive them and they come back and hurt me again?”
4. The Bible is a book about forgiveness! It talks about how God forgives us, and it also talks about how we are to forgive each other. While I’m not sure I understand everything it teaches about forgiveness, some things are crystal clear.
5. I want to summarize what the New Testament teaches about forgiveness. To help us organize our thinking, I want to present this teaching in the form of three questions and their biblical answers.
I. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT I FORGIVE?
1. “Why should I forgive someone who was obviously in the wrong, and by being wrong hurt me?” There are many answers to that, but let me focus on just one: If I don’t, Satan has an open door into my life that he can use to oppress me and bring me into spiritual bondage!
2. See 2 Corinthians 2:10-11. Background: man in adulterous relationship with step-mom. Church didn’t want to address the issue, so Paul had to command them to do so. The man had since repented, but now they didn’t want to extend forgiveness to him! Paul warns them that if they don’t, they are giving Satan an open door through which he can take advantage of them. See Ephesians 4:26-27. The context of this “giving ground” is anger that isn’t properly dealt with, that is allowed to degenerate into bitterness.
3. Principle: When we allow bitterness into our lives, we give Satan an opportunity to oppress us and bring us into bondage.
4. Illus. of young woman.
• Needed to talk to a severely oppressed Christian woman. Usually try to get a woman prayer warrior, but in this case had to get my associate pastor Wallace T.
• This woman was experiencing some fairly high level bondage. Had tried to come see me on several occasions, but would develop nausea and headache that only quit when she would head toward home. When I opened our session by giving her a list of statements about who we are in Christ, she literally could not make her voice work to read them.
• “Tim, what door was Satan using to get such a grip on this woman’s life? Satanism? Occult practices?” No- a spirit of bitterness!
• Her dead father had a hyper-critical spirit. Nothing she did ever won his approval. Nothing was ever good enough. This had messed this young woman up. She was mad at the way her dad had sinned against her. She had developed a bitter and unforgiving spirit toward a man who was long since dead.
• Satan used that to oppress her and bring her into spiritual bondage.
5. Last week we talked about how Satan can use our involvement in occult activities to oppress us. Over the years, I’ve seen a small handful of people who were oppressed because they had dabbled in the occult. But do you know what? I’ve seen dozens of Christians that are spiritually oppressed because of bitterness. Christians who wouldn’t dream of buying a copy of the satanic bible will all too often harbor bitterness, which is just as much of the evil one as occultism!
6. Why forgive? We give Satan a key to our house when we don’t.
II. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FORGIVE SOMEONE?
2. Biblical forgiveness means that we:
• Recognize the injury against us. When God forgives us, He doesn’t sweep our sin under the carpet and ignore it. He says “you’re right, you have sinned.” Don’t deny that the other person has sinned against you, and in sinning against you has injured you. I’ve heard people say, “Lord, I forgive so and so. I know they didn’t mean it etc.” No! You have just bypassed real forgiveness! Don’t rationalize their sin, don’t trivialize their sin. Acknowledge it, and acknowledge how deeply it injured you.