By: Norm Rasmussen
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things
have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
As a truly born again Christian, that means you now have the power of God working in your life, whereas before, you did not. And because you now have the power of God working in your life, you will begin to desire to know what God has to say to you in His Word ' the Holy Bible. As you read or hear what God has to say to you in His Word, the Holy Spirit will begin to teach you about the absolute necessity to operate in forgiveness, because your spiritual growth depends on it.
Forgiving others is not optional as a new creation in Christ. It's absolutely mandatory!
'If you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will forgive you. If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive your trespasses.' (Matthew 6:14-15)
Following is a short devotional by Dr. Neil Anderson to help Christians better understand the importance of knowing who they are in Christ, and some statements I've made regarding forgiveness issues following the devotional that new Christian believers can benefit from:
Dan and Cindy were a fine young Christian couple who were preparing for ministry on the mission field. Then tragedy struck: Cindy was raped. As hard as she tried to get back to normal life, Cindy couldn't shake the horrible memories and feelings from her experience.
Six months after the tragedy, Dan and Cindy attended a church conference where I was speaking. During the conference Cindy called me in tears. "Neil, I know God can turn everything into good, but how is He going to do that?"
"Wait a minute, Cindy," I said. "God will work everything out for good, but He doesn't make a bad thing good. What happened to you was evil. God's good thing is to show you how you can walk through your crisis and come out of it a better person."
"But I just can't separate myself from my experience," she sobbed. "I've been raped, Neil, and I'll be a victim of that all my life."
"No, Cindy," I insisted. "The rape happened to you, but it hasn't changed who you are, nor does it have to control you. You were the victim of a terrible, ugly tragedy. But if you only see yourself as a rape victim for the rest of your life, you will never be free. You're a child of God. You can't fix the past, but you can be free from it."
All of us have a number of hurtful, traumatic experiences in our past which have scarred us emotionally. You may have grown up with a physically, emotionally or sexually abusive parent. Any number of traumatic, emotional events can clutter your soul with emotional baggage which seems to limit your maturity and block your freedom in Christ. You must renounce the experiences and lies that have controlled you and forgive those who have offended you.
As a Christian, you are primarily the product of the work of Christ on the cross. You are literally a new creature in Christ. The "old you" is gone; the "new you" is here because you are now allowing the Holy Spirit to help and empower you to grow closer and closer to God. - Dr. Neil Anderson
Work diligently at functioning in the 'new you' and your joy in your relationship with Christ will ever keep increasing, though many demonic storms (trials) will try to entice you to go back to functioning by the 'old you' if you live on this planet long enough.
Regarding the importance of staying free from attacks of Satan to entice you to operate in the 'old you' ' here are some thoughts about the vital importance of resisting Satan's attempts to rob you of the treasure you have in Jesus Christ through offenses and holding on to unforgiveness:
Forgiveness can be a gift you give to others who don't deserve it. (This excludes forgiving Satan and the fallen angels who serve him, of course. God in no way expects us to forgive them).
The quicker you forgive, the easier it is.
Forgiveness is a commandment of
Being offended and then giving place to anger and then ultimately moving into unforgiveness is a tactic Satan uses to try to help shipwreck our relationship with God. Forgiveness is a weapon God gives us to neutralize this tactic of Satan.
Forgiveness is a purposeful act of our will in obedience to God's Word. Satan will try to confuse us through our wounded feelings and fractured emotions even after we have forgiven someone, and uses them to try to convince us we really truly haven't forgiven the one or ones who have hurt us.
Satan truly loves it when we grow angry and bitter at God. It gives Satan increased advantage to cause our love and devotion to God to grow less and less. Forgiving our offender/s takes away Satan's advantage over us ' BIGTIME!
A tactic Satan absolutely delights in using is getting a Christian to become angry with God. We need to always be willing to ask God to forgive us for our being angry at Him if we are guilty of it, and tell Him we are truly sorry. Otherwise our relationship with God is bound to suffer. Job passed God's test by refusing to be angry with God after all that happened to him by the hand of Satan. God is still in the business of testing our attitude about Him and His Word. God knows just how much pain it will take for each of us to become angry at Him and remain angry at Him. The most unwise thing a person can do is to become angry with God and remain angry at God ' no matter how much pain they are or have gone through, or will have to go through in the future. God is forming Christ-like character in each of us who have made Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, and the sooner we can come to peace with God regarding His qualifying us to rule and reign with Him in eternity, the more difficult it will be for Satan to tempt us to grow angry at God no matter how much pain God allows Satan to inflict on us in this life.
When you forgive somebody who has wronged you, you've spared yourself the spiritual cancer of bitterness, wounded pride, and ultimately ' slow spiritual suicide.
Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude ' permanent mind-set. Forgiveness is a spiritual weapon God has given us to use as often as is necessary.
A Christian who fails to realize
that forgiveness is perhaps the
most potent weapon
of "engaging in effective spiritual warfare against evil" will
constantly be a victim of Satan's lies in their mind. None of
us are exempt from Satan's lies. We get bombarded by them
almost every day! Satan delights in using those closest to us
to say and/or do something that hurts us. WHEN that happens
... we need to be EXTREMELY CAREFUL about the thoughts that then
flood our mind. 99% of the time they will be thoughts from
Satan: LIES to REACT
adversely to that person, rather
through wisdom. When we are hurt,
employing mental forgiveness almost ALWAYS cancels out the lie/s
bombarding our mind, and our desire to lash back at the person who
offended - hurt - us.
Forgiveness is God's weapon for us to
USE - 24 x 7!
Unforgiveness can make you a prisoner within yourself. It can literally rob you of your favor with God, your peace with God, your security in God, your joy in God, your faith in God, hinder your prayers from being answered, and ultimately ' destroy your desire to even care about pleasing God anymore.
If you believe it is impossible to forgive someone who has hurt you, remember that through the power of Christ in you, in accordance with Philippians 4:13, you are always empowered by God to forgive. [However - Some people are so bound up with pain from their past that it requires many Christians praying for that person to get fully delivered, so the individual can forgive those who have hurt them. Many Christian counselors/ministers have found that it is of crucial importance of have a circle of trusted prayer warriors they can contact while the individual is receiving ministry from the one doing the counseling ministry. Fasting is also required in certain situations, as the Holy Spirit leads].
Consider some of the fuller ramifications of what Matthew 6:14-15 is saying. If we refuse to forgive someone who has hurt us, 1 John 1:9 most likely becomes cancelled out for us. Furthermore, holding onto unforgiveness is a sin against God. God does not bless acts of sin, though God is very patient and merciful with us who are struggling with forgiving people and situations that have hurt us.
You may even need to forgive a situation or an institution, such as a current or ex-employer, the military, political leadership, etc. Get rid of all poison that comes from bitterness and resentment (and possible vindication) which ultimately can move to unforgiveness if not dealt with quickly.
None of us deserve God's forgiveness for our sins, yet God expressing His love, mercy (and I also believe His incredible wisdom) ' sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins so that we may be reconciled to the Father, without spot or blemish. The Father expects followers of His Son Jesus Christ to give others the same forgiveness that has been granted us.
Once we become born again, God sometimes allows Satan to use others to offend us to test us, to see how much we are maturing in our relationship with Him. (God always wants us to pass our tests as quickly as possible, and He never gives us a test we can't pass. If we don't truly know HOW to pass our test/s, we need to diligently seek the Lord in HOW we can pass. He'll show us if we're truly willing to pass the test His way ' not ours).
Sometimes God will allow Satan to use us to offend
see how we will respond in humility and compassion to the one we
There are three serious situations we can be confronted with in this life: The possibility of holding unforgiveness against God, others, and ' ourselves. Some people find it the most difficult to forgive themselves than forgiving others. If you are finding it extremely difficult to forgive either yourself or someone else, sharing your burden with one or more born again believers you can trust so they can pray for you in this arena can be extremely helpful (Believers such as a Pastor and/or elders of a local church fellowship).
Holding on to unforgiveness can be likened to sipping a poison so no one else can observe you drinking it, and hoping the person who offended you will suffer from every sip you take.
Holding on to unforgiveness hinders our ability to love others to the fullest extent, and be loved and respected by others.
Forgiving someone who has clearly broken a reasonable law does not mean we are obligated to let them off the hook for paying for their crime. Neither does forgiveness mean that we are to remain in an on-going abusive situation. God does not expect Christians to be a 'door mat' or 'sponge' where evil runs roughshod over the top of us.
Holding on to unforgivness can grieve the Holy Spirit. A wise Christian learns quickly what grieves the Holy Spirit and what doesn't.
We are the ones who can pay a greater price spiritually for holding onto unforgiveness more than the one who perpetrated the wrongdoing against us, at least in this life. Jesus came to give us life (meaningful relationship with God), and life more abundantly. Everything God has told believers to do in His Word as is wisely interpreted and wisely applied is designed to accomplish just that: Bring us in closer relationship to our Creator.
Satan is the master of trying to keep that from happening to the fullest extent in this life, which is WHY God has given us spiritual weapons to use against the schemes of the devil. The sooner a new believer in Christ implements those spiritual weapons as is given to us in the 6th chapter of Ephesians on a daily basis, the more difficult it will be for Satan to hinder our relationship with God.
It's important to realize, forgiveness may not be a one-time occurrence for our spiritual health ' depending. Over our lifetime, we may need to repeatedly forgive the person (or institution or situation) every time we remember the event and anger wants to rise up inside us and rob our peace and joy. However ' we need to be extremely wise and discerning about this. As anger may rise up in us against someone who has hurt us and we've already forgiven that person once before, forgiving them again may not be necessary, but rather, praying a blessing for them may be all that is required to be freed from emotional torment in your mind if it rises back up. Inquire from the Holy Spirit what is needed in each situation.
Just as we don't need to go to God and keep asking His forgiveness when we've sinned against Him because once is sufficient (unless we keep repeating the same sin over and over) ' don't let Satan try to deceive you into believing ONCE is not enough to please God in the arena of unforgiveness regarding someone who has hurt you.
If you believe you cannot or refuse to pray a WISE blessing on the one who offended you, you have not truly forgiven that person. What kind of blessing does God want us praying in situations where we've been wronged by someone else? For starters: Praying for their salvation if they are not yet saved. If they are saved, praying that God will deliver them from offending others like they have offended YOU. Let the Holy Spirit reveal to you how you are to pray for them. (As a sidebar, "praying for your enemies" - especially those who have hurt you - offended you - is also a spiritual weapon God gives His people as added protection to keep Satan from tempting you down the road to begin to slip back into anger and bitterness toward that person. Additionally - you may be the ONLY person God has who is willing to pray for that person's salvation and/or deliverance).
When we have been painfully wronged, and we were guiltless in bringing it about, it is in our human nature to take the bait (temptation) of Satan and seek revenge against the person who wronged us to suffer for their wrongdoing against us. Surprise ' surprise! They WILL suffer for their wrong against us on the Judgment Day ' if they don't become born again in this life and have their sins forgiven by God.
As 'new creations in Christ Jesus' ' if we are wise, we'll ask God frequently to let us know if we have offended anyone and do what He desires for us to do in each situation.
As Jesus hung on the cross taking the punishment for our sins, many in the crowd below were happy to see Him suffer the cruel death he was about to die from. It is recorded in Luke 23:34 these words that Jesus uttered: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." Did the Father forgive them? In my opinion, the Father did not ... unless they personally asked the Father to forgive them for the part they played in the whole evil event. If I'm correct, then what purpose would it serve for the Holy Spirit to preserve for us today reading those words in the Bible of Jesus praying to the Father regarding his cruel, evil enemies? I can only speculate, but I believe one of the primary reasons God recorded them for us is to show us that Jesus passed the most painful test of His life on earth as a human being: The act of forgiving those who don't deserve it ... so you and I can do the same if called on to do so by the Holy Spirit.
Choosing to forgive doesn't mean that the wrong never
happened. It just means you refuse to allow it to control your life
Choosing to forgive doesn't mean that the wrong never happened. It just means you refuse to allow it to control your life anymore.
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