A few days ago I received an email from Barna Group, which is an American faith and culture research organization. This email motivated me to write this text.
In the message, they released the results of a study on forgiveness and mercy that showed the following findings:
- One-quarter of practicing Christians says there is a person who they cannot forgive.
- Almost half of practicing Christians say mercy doesn’t influence their thoughts or actions or they haven’t thought about whether it does.
- One in five practicing Christians reports struggling to receive forgiveness for something they have personally done.
- Christians grapple with whether certain people deserve compassion or forgiveness, and they are not all that different from non-Christians when it comes to embodying merciful attitudes and actions.
It is even contradictory to think that christians, that is, people who were reached by grace and who understood that they were forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus, have difficulty in forgiving. But the data showed this sad reality. We also know that when someone hurts us, it really is not easy.
Forgiveness is something supernatural
As soon as Jesus rose from the dead and made his first visit to the disciples, he breathed the Holy Spirit upon them and then spoke of forgiveness.
John 20:21-23 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Forgiving for human strength is indeed very difficult. Forgiveness has to do with the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is supernatural and has enormous liberating power in the spiritual realm.
Not forgiving has consequences
One text that speaks about the consequences of unforgiveness is “The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant” in Matthew 18:23-35. The parable begins with the King forgiving the debt of one of his servants who cried for mercy. After that this same servant, who was forgiven, mercilessly charged one of his fellow servants. The fellow servant likewise cried for mercy. But it was thrown in the prison by the pardoned servant until the debt was repaid. The King learned of this and was outraged.
The outcome of the story is narrated in Matthew 18: 32-35. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34. In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
I am reading the book “The Supernatural Ways of Royalty” and in it Bethel church pastor Kris Vallotton tells of situations in which people manifested evil spirits. When other church members tried to expel, he had the revelation of past situations that had happened to those people. And they had not been able to release forgiveness. The moment he touched these points and ministered to them to forgive themselves or a family member, they were set free. They were bound to torturers (evil spirits) for not forgiving.
Forgive and live free
While not forgiving imprisons us, when we forgive God forgives us and we are free.
Mark 11:25 – And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your sins.
Through the forgiveness of sins we have been redeemed and delivered.
Colossians 1:13-14 – For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The forgiveness of the Father frees us from condemnation. And when we forgive someone, we become free from the past and from hurts. Unforgiveness arouses sinful feelings in our hearts against those who have done something to us. When we forgive, we are free from these evil thoughts. With a free mind, it is easier to approach God and easier to approach people. Christ’s life and His forgiveness flows through our lives into the lives of those around us.
I recently attended a soul healing conference in my church where I wrote on a paper the names of all the people for whom I needed to release forgiveness. That day, in a prophetic act everyone present there put the paper with the names at the foot of a cross that was in the room. Then we pray that the Holy Spirit would help us in this process of forgiveness. I confess that I came out of there much lighter. I encourage you to do the same! Pray to God and put before Him whom you need to forgive. Take time for that. If necessary, ask your pastor or leader for help.
God bless! May we be set free in the name of Jesus!