Monday, February 28, 2005

Seven Steps to Forgiveness

Jesus taught very clearly about forgiveness. This is often overlooked, yet it has been the key for many, many people in solving their difficulties. Here is a look at Jesus’ own words about forgiveness, with seven steps that we have found to be a great help in making this teaching practical – and exciting!
Matt. 6:12 – In the "Lord’s prayer" Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. When we pray this we are actually asking God to forgive us in the very same way that we forgive others!
Matt. 6:14,15 – Right after the "Lord’s prayer: Jesus taught more about forgiveness: If we forgive others, the Lord will forgive us, If we do not forgive others, neither will our Heavenly Father forgive us. (Mark 11:24-26)
Matt. 18:34,35 – Jesus said that if we do not forgive others we are "delivered to the tormentors". (We feel this means a guilty conscience, often resulting in anger, resentment, bitterness, fear, emotional and even physical illness. It can also open the door to demonic oppression.")
Matt. 16:19 – As believers, Jesus said that what we bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. BUT what we loose (or free) on earth we will be loosed in heaven. (John 20:23) When we do not forgive we bind ourselves and others in sin. Unforgiveness always creates bondage. But when there is forgiveness there is freedom! When we forgive we are freed from the guilt and the "torments" we’ve had because of unforgiveness. And God is freed to work, not only in our lives, but also in the life of the person who hurt us!
(Now here are the seven steps that help make this teaching practical.)
Forgiveness begins with the simple decision that, In Jesus’ name we will oben God and forgive those who have hurt us.
"And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." Eph 5:32
Jesus made in clear in Matt. 18:35 that this decision to forgive is to be "from our heart". This means we are to forgive wholeheartedly, not holding back or keeping any resentments.
Forgiveness Doesn’t start with feelings, but with a decision. We don’t need to wait for the "right feeling" before deciding to forgive. Instead, we can have "instant forgiveness"! We can immediately choose to forgive from our heart and God will recognize that. Verbalize this decision – by faith confess aloud, "In Jesus’ name I forgive __________." When we have done this then our feeling will be worked out. God will see to it!
Forgiveness doesn’t start with feeling, but we do need to deal with them. In the name of Jesus take authority over your emotions and command them to go along with the decision you have made. Then let God take care of them!
Be alert! The devil may try to bring some feelings of resentment back into our lives. We do not need to feel guilty about these temptations, but we do need to deal with them. Since we have already made our choice, we need to stand firm on having already forgiven that person in Jesus’ name! (I Peter 5:8-10)
For example: When that feeling of resentment come back, say to yourself, "I did forgive! I dealt with that." Eventually when you remember that sad experience, it will be with the happy thought, "That’s all over." Herein lies a secret of the healing memories.
Be joyful! Thank God for loving you, for forgiving you, and for working His character into you life through this experience. Other emotions cannot stand up very long against a thankful heart and a joyful spirit! (I Thess. 5:15-18)
Unforgiveness is sin against God. It is disobedience to His command that we are to forgive others even as God has forgiven us. (Eph. 4:32) Even more, God desires for all people to know forgiveness, even to the point of sending His Son, Jesus, to die in order to make that possible. Our unforgiveness can stop people from experiencing God’s forgiveness. Unforgiveness is a terrible sin against God.
Yet God is always ready to forgive us when we call on Him! (Psalm 86:5) So we need to accept our unforgiveness as sin, and confess it to God – and do you know what He does?
I John 1:9 – "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
(This confessing implies naming our sins one by one.)
Pro. 28:13 – "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy."
How can we be sure we are forgiven? By God’s Word! He very clearly says,
Matt 6:14 – "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you."
I John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just for forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Could it be said any simpler? If we forgive others and confess our sins, the Lord will forgive us and cast our sins into the bottom of the sea and REMEMBER THEM NO MORE!
Ps. 10312 – God will remove our transgressions as far as the east if from the west.
Isa 43:25 – God will wipe out our transgressions and will not remember our sins!
Isa. 1:18 – God will cleanse us and make us white as snow!
Yet sometimes we still doubt that we really are forgiven. There is one more thing that we need to do. We need to RECEIVE GOD’S FORGIVENESS, accepting it just as we would accept a gift someone gave to us. How is this possible? Listen to what the apostle Paul said:
II Cor. 5:20-21 – "God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ Himself were here pleading with you, receive the love He offers you – be reconciled to God. For God took the sinless Christ and poured into Him our sins. Then, in exchange, He poured God’s goodness into us!" (Living Bible)
We are responsible to restore relationship with anyone who has anything against us. (Matt. 5:23-24)
Accept responsibility for the wrong you have done, and ask for their forgiveness.
If you do not know what you did wrong, ask God to show you
Ask forgiveness for the basic sin involved. Do not go into details that would do more harm than good.
If you do not have a genuine sorrow or repentance in going to that person, stop first and prayerfully ask God to show you have you hurt that person, and how they may have felt. Allow God to give you a whole new understanding and sensitivity toward that person.
It is good to look right at the person when you tell them you did wrong and ask, "Will you forgive me?" Wait for an answer. If they say, "Yes, I will forgive," this will bring a release to them also. (Regardless of their answer, by confessing your sin and asking forgiveness you have been obedient. You can now leave them in God’s loving hands.)
Make any restitution that is necessary. Ask God to give you His wisdom as to what restitution to make and how. (see Ezekiel 33:15-16; Luke 19:1-10)
Luke 6:28 – "Pray for the happiness of those who curse you: Implore God’s blessing on those who hurt you." (Living Bible)
To "implore" means to earnestly, strongly ask. Implore God to truly bless the person who hurt you. And as you do this, follow the example of Jesus in asking God to bless them by forgiving them!
Luke 6:27 – "Do good to those who hate you."
Rom. 12:21 – "Don’t let evil get the upper hand but conquer evil by doing good." (Living Bible) (This could be by complimenting that person, baking some cookies for them, fixing their car, or maybe babysitting their children. Ask God and He will show some way that will be meaningful to that person)
Not defending what he does, but defending him. You do not necessarily need to approve of what he is doing, but treat him with dignity, respect, love and kindness, anyway.
Romans 15:7 – "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accept you, in order to bring praise to God." (NIV)
Do not concentrate on areas of weakness, sin, or irritation. Rather, concentrate on seeing that person as God wants him to be. Believe that God will answer your prayers for that person. (I John 5:14,15) Follow Abraham’s example and by faith see things that are not as though they are. (Rom. 4:16-21)
Begin to think and speak positively about that person. I Cor 13:7 – Love "believes all things, hopes all things."
Expect God to do a miracle – greater than you can imagine! (See Eph. 3:20)
Here is a quick, personalized summary of these seven steps to forgiveness:
1.In Jesus’ name I choose to forgive those who have hurt me.
2. I will confess my sins to God, especially the terrible sin of unforgiveness. (And, by faith, I will receive God’s forgiveness and cleansing.)
3. I will, as God directs me, ask others for forgiveness for the wrongs I have done toward them. (And I will make restitution as needed.)
4. From now on, I will ask God to bless the one who has hurt me.
5. I too will bless that person, doing kind, helpful things for him.
6. I will accept him and treat him with love and respect.
7. I will look at that person through eyes of faith, and believe God to work in him.
It is extremely important that you make these decisions your own! Pray through them, saying them to God. Do this sincerely, from your heart – and SPEAK THEM ALOUD. (Rom. 10:10) And then experience the freedom and blessing of forgiveness! If you forgive others, then God will forgive you!
Just as a help, here is one way you can begin praying through these steps for forgiveness. This is simply a guideline, a help in getting started.
"Father in Heaven, in Jesus’ name I choose to forgive _________ for the wrongs
he has done. I chose to forgive him completely, without reservation, just as You have forgiven me. And Lord, forgive me for my sin and unforgiveness. I know that unforgiveness is terrible in Your sight and I truly repent of it. I don’t want any part of hatred and anger. I want only Your love and forgiveness toward him. Forgive and cleanse me, even deliver me from any "tormentors," and make me pure in Your sight. Thank You, O Lord, that according to Your Word that even as I have forgiven those who have hurt me, and have confessed my own sins, that You now forgive me. Thank You for forgiving me and making me white as snow!:
Now go on, and in your own words make those decisions your decisions!

Written by a friend named Betty


At 10:18 AM, Blogger Julie Anne Fidler said...

I think #5 is open to interpretation. Perhaps God does not literally mean, "Go take the guy who raped your sister a nice fruit basket!" But rather to speak blessings over that person, rather than curses, to ask for God's best for them, and not vengeance.

When I went through some Christian counseling last summer, I remember my counselor telling me that forgiving someone didn't mean you had to go be friendly to them, that most often forgiveness happened and that person didn't even know it. If you can let that person know you've extended grace to them, then that is the ideal, but you don't need to be their pal, either.

Your stuff is really good, Jen.

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