3 Ways Forgiveness Leads To Freedom
by: First Orlando | March 7, 2017
God wants to start a conversation with you that will effect your ability to experience the healing of places you hurt. The easing of your hang-ups. And the strength to stop destructive habits. Can you imagine yourself sitting at a table with Him having this conversation? How would you feel? What would you say?
He starts by saying, “I know you’ve done some bad things. If you’ll let me, I can wipe the record clean…”
With all His authority and power, the Lord has made you an offer you shouldn’t refuse:
FORGIVENESS. The releasing from the penalty of every sin – every time you didn’t measure up. This is all of us at some point in our lives!
In extending forgiveness, there are 3 things that are within your reach. I believe all of these things are within reach when we choose to experience forgiveness in the following 3 ways:
1. God forgiving us. We must be willing to seek and accept forgiveness from God.
“23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…” – Romans 3:23-24 ESV
Thru the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the way has been paid for us to be forgiven! What a gift! We must trust Him and accept that forgiveness. It’s not enough to know that Jesus died. You have to acknowledge that He died because of your shortcomings, and that in His death, more than enough payment was made to cancel the record of debt against you.
My wife and I are taking the Financial Peace University class right now, and eagerly anticipate the day when we can shout with boldness and freedom that we are “debt free!” When we consider that it’s not financial debt, but the record of all of our wrongs against God being cancelled when we trust Jesus, it is even more significant. It’s the security of this platform that allows us to experience forgiveness in these other ways:
2. Us forgiving others. Because of God forgiving us, we are empowered to choose to forgive others. Forgiving someone who has hurt you is one of the most difficult, yet courageous, liberating, and healing choices you can ever make.
The opposite, unforgiveness, is like a game of tug-of war. Because of pride, resentment, or bitterness, we hold on to the rope, jerking it back towards us hoping to “win”. But let’s be honest…who usually is left standing at the end of tug of war? The one who chooses to let go. While you choose the game, you are a prisoner of the emotional war, hurting yourself further the longer you hold on. When you let go by forgiving, you can find freedom.
So, if we know we should forgive others, what stands in the way? I believe it’s human nature – bitterness, resentment, and the comfort of feeling justified. Surrendering anger and resentment is a process and requires the strength God offers to us by His grace. Human nature tends to quickly forget about the forgiveness first extended to us and wants to rush to condemn others. Keep in mind that our forgiveness was by no means fair – we deserved to be punished. But by the grace and forgiveness found in Christ alone, that’s not the case!
For those who have been hurt deeply by another…it’s so important that you realize that we are talking about forgiveness, not justifying an abuser’s behaviors, not allowing that person to keep hurting you. Set your boundaries, and then get them out of your life. But forgive them.
3. Us forgiving ourselves. Because of God forgiving us, we are empowered to choose to forgive ourselves. The choice to forgive yourself is to choose to experience the peace and spiritual freedom that God intended us to have.
Have you ever heard the term, “I am my harshest critic?” So true for most of us. We are so sad, so guilty, and so ashamed over the things we have done to other people. We don’t realize it, but the internal bitterness that not forgiving yourself breeds is often times the root of some of the destructive choices that we’ve made to hurt ourselves and others. We believe that we are so bad that we are unlovable, and as a result push others away. That wasn’t God’s intention! Consider this:
2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV)
10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
God’s plan is for us to repent and move on without regrets, not dwell in self-pity! Not forgiving yourself is like choosing to stay incarcerated in the torment of darkness, isolation, and bitterness – death within your own heart. Choosing to forgive yourself opens the door for you to walk in freedom, and wholeness – salvation, without regret.
In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is. In summary, He responds: Love God, Love People, Love yourself. Choosing to accept God’s forgiveness, then forgive others and forgive yourself, restores our ability to truly love the way God commands us to!
In what way do you need to experience forgiveness most today?