Breaking Out of Bondage by the Spirit of God
Jesus tells us to forgive others as God has forgiven us. As believers, if we do not forgive others God will not forgive us. It is serious to have an unforgiving spirit, for when we hold resentment in our hearts, it hinders our relationship with The Lord.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Believers must learn to forgive. God hates unforgiveness and we have no reason to justify it. Yes, it is difficult and painful to forgive, but it’s against God’s will and should not be taken lightly. We are called to purify our hearts and live holy lives.
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
In The Lord’s prayer or the Our Father, in Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus tells us again to forgive others. “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
God Will Not Forgive Us If We Do Not Forgive Others
In my other post, I briefly mentioned what Jesus said to Peter in the parable of the Unforgiving Servant when he asked how many times he should forgive his brother who sinned against him, and Jesus told him, he should forgive him seventy times seven.
Further on in this parable, Jesus explained how a servant was unable to pay a large debt he owed to the King and so begged the King to give him more time, but really he would never have been able to pay the debt, it was too big. The King, moved with compassion decided to show him mercy and forgive the debt completely.
That servant then went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ The servant begged for mercy, but he threw him in prison till he could pay the debt.
Later when the King heard about this he was furious with him for not showing mercy to his servant, and so punished him severely.
“Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18)
So, don’t be deceived, there are consequences to unforgiveness. Many nonbelievers do not even know they are holding a grudge against someone, but as believers, if we attend church, read the Word of God, and pray, we should know better. We have been taught that forgiveness is a way of life for the Christian.
It’s not enough to just say the words, I forgive, there must be a change of attitude. All bitterness and malice must be gone.
How Can We Know If We Have Forgiven and What Steps Can We Take to Be Free from the Bondage of an Unforgiving Spirit?
When you have truly forgiven someone, you will know because you will no longer have harsh, hostile feelings towards them. Instead, you will have compassion and maybe even try to understand why they acted the way they did. What happened in their life to make them so hard and insensitive?
You will be willing to accept them as they are and not try to change them. Forgive them and take total responsibility for your part which was holding onto the resentment. Being the victim is not a noble position to be in. Let it all go and be set free from the spirit of unforgiveness.
Steps You Can Take To Be Free from the Bondage of Unforgiveness
- Acknowledge that you have been forgiven by God
- Confess your anger/resentment to God and ask for forgiveness (1John 1:9)
- Decide that you really want to forgive and be set free
- Pray for the person who hurt you
- Let it go and restore your relationship with God
It takes time to forgive – the anger needs to melt away a little at a time. Some people are filled with rage or bitterness. This is not a way to live, especially for the Christian.
Jesus is our teacher, He will show us how to heal this unforgiving attitude, but only if we are willing. Some people want to hold on to the anger. ‘No, I won’t forgive them or I will never forgive them for they did to me.’ All this kind of thinking is poison to the soul.
Do you want peace, love, and joy in your heart or do you want to be right? It is true, they should not have hurt you, but are you going to continue to let them destroy your life?
You can be happy and they will still be wrong for what they did to you. That won’t change, so why are you choosing to be miserable when that does nothing to hurt them? Stop trying to get even with them. This is a sin and we are no better than them if we seek revenge.
The Bible says, do not repay evil for evil. We must remember, we were wrong to hold onto the hostility and anger. God knows it’s painful and He is patient and compassionate with us, but healing can only come through forgiveness.
We disobey God when we do not forgive others. When we forgive, we are walking in holiness which is our calling.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
I John 1:9NIV