At PBC we have been blessed to have the subject of forgiveness addressed from the pulpit for several weeks, starting with Mike Ferris’ presentation on January 8. Mike addressed this from several angles and exposed the big lie of the enemy which is, “If you forgive, you are implying that this offense was really nothing much. It’s OK.” And he went on to say, rightly so, that there are many abuses, offenses, and even crimes that have happened, and they aren’t OK, and they never will be OK. Nevertheless, we need to “let them go” for our own well being, for our own benefit.
Jesus went further when He said in Matthew 6:14,15
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
We see here that we really must forgive – and we know this to be true from experience, too, since we’ve seen unforgiveness damage people, and bitterness destroy people.
When we experience an offense and then look within ourselves we find that the power to forgive is not in us. What to do? Are we trapped in unforgiveness with no hope? It seems as if forgiveness is not humanly possible. Is the Lord God asking too much of us? Well, He’s asking too much of ordinary mortals, that is, people operating in their own strength. Martin Luther wrote:
“Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing,”
(From the hymn: “A Might Fortress”)
“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Well we know who will. Hallelujah!
How does this deliverance work?
There’s an old song I love: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” It’s true.
So the first step is to “turn your eyes (the eyes of your heart) upon Jesus”. Then ask Him to save you from your prison of unforgiveness. Ask Him to wash you clean. Ask Him to enable you to repent, that is, acknowledge that you (we all) are needy people and that your pride, greed, fear, and unbelief must be renounced (crucified, if you will). Jesus is a savior and a redeemer, not just from hell, but from all that binds and torments us.
But what will keep us free?
Will we just slip back into our old habits? Oh, Jesus will save us yet again, but this is no way to live. We desperately need to be operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. And to be operating in this power, we must be baptized in and filled with the Holy Spirit. Mark 1:8 says that Jesus is the one that baptizes and fills with the Holy Spirit. So, pray to the Lord and ask Him to baptize and fill you with the Holy Spirit. He will do it.
Notice that the word baptize is used here, as it is with water baptism. Is there any connection? Well, water baptism signifies to all that we’re totally in, no turning back. Same thing with being baptized in and filled with the Holy Spirit. He’s totally in us and we’re totally in Him. This is not just a Sunday morning activity anymore, this is life itself.
Now forgiveness is not just a hurdle to get over occasionally so we can get on with life – it is a core element in life itself. Does that sound depressing? Well, then turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. Paul and Silas sang praises to the Lord God in the Philippian jail. Why? They were aware of God’s presence. In the same way, you can do things that are humanly impossible, too.
Note: Larry just finished his sixth continuous year ministering as a PBC Elder and as mandated by our constitution is on a year of sabbatical from that ministry. We are appreciative of his service to PBC and his ministry in Spirit and Truth.