To most people forgiveness is a very difficult thing to do. Mostly because the devil deceives them in thinking if they forgive the person that transgressed against them, they are actually approving of what that person did against them. The truth is that forgiveness is hard but there is something harder – living a life full of hatred, bitterness and resentment (1).
Forgiveness is not between you and the transgressor but between you and God. In Mat 6:14-15 Jesus says: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”.
To forgive is to treat as though the offence was not committed – to declare that we will not harbor malice or treat unkindly, but that the matter shall be buried and forgotten.
God’s laws are not restrictive but protective. God expects us to forgive because that is what is good for us, because it makes us free. God forgives us and therefore expects us to forgive others. God knows that if we do not forgive we are trapped and caught in this pain. Every time we think of the hurtful incident and choose not to forgive we relive the whole experience and the person hurt us all over again. If we have unforgiveness, it will produce a root of bitterness in us that acts like poison to our souls – opening a door for the devil to establish strongholds in our lives (1).
The second lie the devil tells us is that we cannot forgive because we don’t feel like it. In life there are many thing that I do not feel like doing but then I choose to do them anyway because it needs to get done e.g. like washing the dishes, I do not feel like washing it but I do like a clean kitchen and therefore quickly do it while not feeling like doing it. Does the fact that I do not feel like it means that I don’t do it? Most certainly not! I do it while not feeling like it.
It is the same with forgiveness. We do not always feel like we can forgive a person but then we have to choose to forgive him/her because God expect it of us in order for us to be forgiven and also for us to be free of the pain and hurt caused by the transgressor (John 20:22-23). Ask God to help you with this.
After forgiving and setting the transgressor free, you can ask God to bring you feelings in line with the decision you made. The quickest way for you feelings to change towards the transgressor is to start praying for him/her (if they are still alive) just like Jesus did on the cross (Luc 23:34) for His accusers. In Mat 5:44-45 Jesus says: “ But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you, so that you may become sons of your Father in Heaven”. When we choose to not speak evil about our enemies and choose to be good to them, we do not only bless them but also ourselves. Then we overcome evil with good (Luc 6:27).
Furthermore, if you are angry with God, you must also release Him of all you are accusing or blaming Him for. Then you have to repent of your arrogance to accuse Him. You see it is not God’s fault that bad things happen. God give each of us free choices in what we want to do, He has never and never will force anybody to do anything. Bad things happen because people make bad choices, people choose to do bad things.
Many times we feel that we are also to blame for what happened to us. Or we might indeed have done a terrible thing. If we have any sin in our lives, we must have true remorse and ask God to forgive us. 1Joh 1:9 says: “God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, He forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong”. When we ask for forgiveness, God never thinks about our sin again (Heb 8:12); He cast all our sins behind His back (Is 38:17); He cast all our sin in the depth of the seas (Micah 7:19); all our sins is nailed on the cross (Col 2:14); and God removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12). When we ask God for forgiveness it is as if we have never sinned. God will never hold it against you.
When you have done all of this it is very important to choose to forgive yourself. One of the most difficult things to do is to forgive oneself. But we should not blame ourselves for things that God has forgiven us for but choose to accept the forgiveness God gave us. If you don’t do this you will walk around with false guilt which will steal your joy and foster self-hate. One cannot feel guilty the whole time and have joy! When you have chosen to forgive yourself, ask God to bring your feelings in line with the choice you made.
The devil will also try to keep on convicting you for things you have done in the past. If it is something you have not ask forgiveness for, do so then and there. From that moment on do not allow satan to give you false guilt. Resist him and declare out loud that you are forgiven and set free through the blood of the Lam. Declare that there is now no condemnation to you who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1).
The following can be uses as a guideline for forgiveness and inner healing:
When you want to forgive the transgressor. Talk to God about what the person did to you. Tell Him how you feel, all your emotions, all your hurts and all your disappointments.
Say then, in the Name of Jesus Christ I choose to forgive …… I set him/her free in the Name of Jesus Christ and will not hold what he/she did to me against him/her anymore. Ask God to help you to bring your feelings in line with the choice you made.
If you held God responsible for this incident, tell Him that and then ask for His forgiveness for being so arrogant to think that He is responsible for this.
If you are holding yourself responsible, you also have to set yourself free by saying in the Name of Jesus Christ, I forgive myself. I am in Jesus Christ and there is now no more condemnation for me. Ask God to help you to bring your feelings in line with the choice you made.
Focus then on Jesus Christ and ask Jesus to shine His truth, light, healing and deliverance in your heart (refer to Section * for detail on prayer therapy). Also ask Jesus to take away any bitterness towards this person and to make you free from it. Then ask Jesus to renew your thoughts on this situation, to give you new thoughts and to take ways the old hurtful thoughts in order for you to be changed and made whole (Rom 12:2).
Forgiveness is a life long choice. After you have done all of this, days might come when the devil will remind you of the hurts in the past which you have dealt with already. Every time the devil does this you have to declare that you forgave this person, yourself and God. Declare that you do not hold it against them anymore. This issue is now between them and God.
From now on, do not allow any unforgiveness and bitterness. When someone hurts you forgive him/her then and there so that you will not bind yourself in hurts and strongholds. Start to walk in your freedom in Christ and to enjoy the life that Jesus Christ died to give you!
1. Meyer, J. 2006. Letting go of offences. Enjoying Everyday Life, pp 26.
2. Cloete, C. & Cloete, M. 2004. Emotional Healing and Deliverance through Prayer Therapy.