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How do we forgive others ‘As God forgives us?’
As seen under the previous heading, the process of God’s forgiveness in Christ models our forgiveness towards others. Jesus Himself IS our forgiveness, and our obedience to God's Moral Law, which does not earn anything but proves our agape for Him, is our Way to glorify Him until the end, (Mt. 7:21-24.) So, our personal obedience to the Moral Law makes us instruments of the Spirit, Who convinces of sin, righteousness and judgment; guides in the Truth of His Word and situations; heals and unifies His body of believers in Christ, and gives us His grace to forgive “as” He forgives.
In Luke 17:1-4, Jesus again commanded forgiveness. He began to explain this process, saying, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, [stumbling blocks, “triggers of traps that cause others to sin,”] but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, [physical death would be preferable,] than that he should offend one of these little ones, [the forgiving disciples of Jesus, other innocents, or the less emotionally mature.]” In the context of all Scripture, it is plain that if offenders never repent but continue to harass and harm people, they lie and play with the minds of the abused to make a joke of God’s forgiveness and Moral Law — and the forgiveness of their victims. [Watch ‘What narcissists do with your forgiveness.’]
1. That is why, in Luke 17:3, Jesus explained HOW to forgive others AS He forgives us. But first, He commanded, “Take heed to yourselves! [Watch out for yourselves, lest you offend someone to unforgiveness, or lest you allow someone to push and provoke you to unforgiveness!]
2. Then He continued, “If your brother [abusively] sins against you, rebuke him; [confront him; suppress not the resentment but calmly vent the offence; tell him his faults.] If he repents, [stops and turns around,] forgive him. [Just like God’s forgiveness, our forgiveness is conditional in that forgiveness, which allows relationships to continue, is always attached to repentance!] And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
3. This does not demand our submission to, or acceptance of abuse, “Seven times as day” demonstrates our willingness to forgive AS God is always willing to forgive. This does not mean that God forgives constant, deliberate, unrepentant offenses, (Lu. 17:3.) Hebrew 12:14-17 illustrate the following, “Pursue [Scriptural] peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord; looking carefully lest anyone falls short of God’s grace, [because bitterness or unforgiveness] defiles many… [Be willing to confront, warn, and forgive,] for when Esau [wanted to eventually repent from his hatred and unforgiveness,] he was rejected [by God…]”
4. The general implications of this teaching is that, even when we are abused seven times a day by the same person, we must be merciful and not bear hatred and seek revenge. Instead, we must follow Jesus’ commands to deal with him as far as possible to restore him to us and to Him, (Lu. 17:3,) so we can remain in a right standing with God and not perish through our own disobedience, (Mt. 5:21-26; Jam. 5:16-18.)
5. However, should abusers then still remain unrepentant, we must forgive in the sense that we have to ‘let them go’ into God’s judgment after we have followed as far as possible all Jesus’ directives concerning the matter. Eventually, we can, at the discretion of the Spirit Who leads us through every situation, choose to have no contact with them to protect ourselves against their deadly malice, (Eph. 5:11.)
We cannot force abusers to repent. We only have control over our own decisions and behavior. John said in 1 Jn. 1:6-10, “If we say we have fellowship with Jesus but walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we live in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship, [not merely supporting one another and worshiping together, etcetera, but also resolving conflict among ourselves as far as possible,] and [this is how] the blood of Jesus [constantly] cleanses us from sin. If we [deny that we have sinned against one another while we did,] we deceive ourselves, [to think we can disobey Jesus by not attempting to resolve the matter,] and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins [to one another, repenting from abusing one another,] God [will then be] faithful and just to [also] forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, [so we may bring our ‘gift’ to His altar, Mt. 5:23-24.] For if we say we have not sinned [or refuse to confess our sins to those, whom we abused,] we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.”
NOW LOOK AT THE AWESOME HOLY-SPIRIT ANOINTING ON OBEDIENCE TO RECONCILIATION
Jesus, the Head of His body of believers, compels us to love Him and one another enough to resolve sin in His body between ourselves. If both parties submit to the conviction of the Spirit so that the abuser sincerely confesses to the victim and repents, and the abused then forgives, God also forgives those trespasses. If not, God warned, “[Abuser,] agree with your adversary quickly… lest he delivers you to the Judge… and you be thrown into prison, [or spiritual darkness.] ...You will not get out of there till you have [made right with whom you abused,] (Mt. 5:23-26.)
This boils down to what Jesus commanded in Jn. 20:23; “If you forgive the sins of any [who has sinned against you,] they are forgiven. [If he refuses to confess and repent] and you retain the sins, they are retained, [and he must then be as a ‘heathen and tax collector’ to you, Mt. 18:15-20.] This is not the false church practice where so-called ‘priests’ forgive people’s sins! This is dealing with specific sin between people, and it is not unforgiveness or revenge. This is God’s discipline — which can be administered to all abusers. Paul added in 1 Cor. 5:1-5, “Deliver such a [vile, unrepentant] one to Satan, [the prison guard] for the destruction of the flesh, that [the abuser’s] spirit may [hopefully] be saved..”
¨ Jesus said, after you have obeyed His disciplinary process in Lu. 17:1-4 and Mt. 18:15-27 and it fails, you then have the directive to move the process to heaven. “Whatever you bind on earth, is bound in heaven and what you loose in heaven will be loosed on earth. For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, [not just in prayer or fellowship, but especially in reconciling unrepentant abusers to the abused and thereby also to God,] there I am in the midst of them,” (Mt. 5:21-26.) Spirit Filled Bible, footnote, “When [believers’ act under the lordship of the Holy Spirit in administering discipline, God sanctions the action. This is more fully explained Mt. 16:19 where Jesus said, “[You have the authority,] or keys of heaven. What you bind on earth will be bound in heaven [and visa versa.]”
¨ This is not to allow or disallow people into heaven as only God Himself decides on eternal life. This is God’s authority to discipline, preach the Truth of God’s Word, etcetera, as it pertains to discipleship on earth that leads to eternal life in heaven, (Mt. 28:18-20.)
What ‘binding’ the unrepentant abuser on our human level practically means, is that he will not be able to effectively pray to God as his sin against another person separates him from God. And with the motive to still restore him, we may also ask God to let His judgment come upon him so that whatever he ‘sowed he will reap’ and maybe repent, (Mt. 18:18.)
Our obedience to discipline the offender God’s Way, while he refuses our mercy to remain disobedient, will then move Jesus, the Head of the body, the Highest Judge, to take action against him, (Mt. 5:23-24; 2 Cor. 6:14-18.) Still, on his sincere confession, repentance, and restitution, we must forgive and ‘let go’ without petitioning God any further.
FORGIVING OTHERS IS MORE ABOUT OURSELVES
Jesus is so stern about resolving conflict between people and especially between the members of His body, because He loves us all. He always has the spiritual, emotional, and physical health of victims and abusers in mind. So, to agape others enough to try and reconcile with them as far as they would be willing to reconcile with us, is always the aim of confrontation God’s way. Nevertheless, to nonstop abusers, our Godly confrontation is an affront, not an incredible blessing, and our forgiveness means absolutely nothing. While our forgiveness does glorify our Lord and prove our love for Him and our neighbors, our forgiveness definitely cannot heal, redeem, change, or save anyone except ourselves!
Still, forgiveness is not an option, as it is seated in the highest form of ‘love’ for our neighbors — and ourselves. Our forgiveness is our ultimate obedience to Jesus’ commandment to agape even our enemies.
After all, it is easy to feed and clothe our enemies - giving outward things. But dying to ‘self;’ crucifying our pride; denying our hurt, anger and lust for revenge; trusting God completely, (to obey His commandment to pursue reconciliation,) to do justice to our wounded causes… that is giving of ourselves. That is ‘laying down our lives’ for even our enemies, who might never confess their abuse and most horrendously, never stop their abuse! Not because we are ‘nothing;’ but because Jesus came to set the captives free. Should we choose not to forgive by pursuing peace God’s Way, we call spiritual and emotional bondage to ourselves. The Matthew Henry Commentary concludes, “Conquerors give peace by power. It is no less to give peace by the meekness [not weakness] of wisdom. Prov. 20:3; “It is honorable to stop striving, since any fool can start [and continue] a quarrel.” It is a noble conquest to yield [and not to avenge ourselves but choose to ‘let go’ after you have obeyed the precepts concerning forgiveness in the Moral Law.] It is the conquest of ourselves; our pride and passion.” So, those that benefit the most from personal forgiveness, are we ourselves.
“BLESS, DO GOOD, AND PRAY FOR YOUR ABUSERS!” - “HOW CAN I, WITH SO MUCH HURT, ANGER, AND RESENTMENT?”
God loves the whole world, (Jn. 3:16.) Thus, vengeance against unrepentant humanity is not His priority. God gave us many Scriptural directions to deal with our abusers. The purpose is to attempt to salvage lost humanity and broken relationships, heal broken-hearted victims, and rescue unrepentant believers from their harmful ways.
It is extremely liberating to know that when we follow Jesus’ directions to deal with our abusers God’s Way, we are operating in His spiritual realm. We pierce the darkness with the practical “Love” or Agape of God; ignoring all feelings. As Jesus’ Kingdom of Light is the complete opposite of darkness, He commands us to minister in the opposite Spirit of those who are enslaved to sin. We must “overcome evil with good,” (Rom. 12:21; Mt. 5:43-45.) This is not an option.
How do we ‘bless’ those who curse us?
This “blessing” is not the Pentecostal ‘positive confession’ doctrine where we supposedly create our own miracles and never say a negative word to curse ourselves and other people! Let us first realize that those who “curse” us are idolatrous pagan and Christian witches of both sexes, who, through false doctrine and other lies, deception, manipulation, and cruel mind games, speak curses or incantations over us. Often, they might not even realize what their evil words really mean and what damage they do, (1 Sam. 15:22-23.) They also intentionally “curse” us when they scold us with false accusations, swearwords, and humiliating phrases; slander our names, and demean our character and work to destroy our sense of self and self-worth. Eventually, these abuses will lead to physical assault as well.
God did not give us these directives to pursue peace to punish us or make us feel unworthy of His grace. True believers cannot be cursed unless they continue in sin; they are the “blessed” of the Father, (Mt. 25:34; 1 Jn. 5:18.) No one can curse those whom Jesus had blessed. They were utterly delivered from bondage, lostness, and a position of cursedness without God at their personal rebirth, when they were completely taken out of darkness and brought into His Kingdom of Redemption, Salvation, and Blessing, (Eph. 1:7;12-14; Gal. 3:10-14.) Yet, the abuse of “cursing,” (any other form as abuse as well,) can, among other things, wear them down and place strongholds in their thoughts or ‘minds’ to discourage them, push them into bitterness or unforgiveness, and disarm them of the Reality of God and His Word, (Lu. 17:1-4.)
¨ “Blessing” our abusers does not mean we say, “Go well; continue gladly on your way, and may God “bless” or actually prosper you for humiliating, robbing, and murdering us. Continue grieving our souls and destroying our lives, and enjoy deceiving us!” Or: “Bless you for putting all these evil curses on us, and for swearing at us!” This is not the type of ‘blessing’ Jesus was referring to. Our Most Holy God never blesses disobedience to His Word or disgrace to His Name and Kingdom. Neither does God bless affronts to His children – nor will He command us to cover and tolerate the deliberate and continual sin of others, (Mt. 18:6: Eph. 5:11.)
When we ‘bless’ those who curse us, we must primarily minister to their great need of salvation and obedience to Christ. (Later, we will discuss Jesus’ directions where it is impossible to ‘bless’ them. E.g., when abusers do not tolerate a single word from us, and refuse to repent from their deliberate harm and evil.)
Dealing with those “curses”
People most severely ‘curse’ us when they bring us false gospels to deceive us and lead us astray; lie to us, and manipulate us to consent to, and believe their lies. John wrote in 2 Jn. 9-10, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring [the truth of Christ’s Word,] do not receive him into your house or greet him; [as he brings you a cruse,] for he who greets him [or tries to ‘bless’ him to prosper him in his evil,] shares in his evil deeds.”
Paul also wrote in Gal. 1:9, “If anyone preaches any other gospel to you than [the true Gospel of Christ,] let him be accursed!” This does not mean we may curse people and ‘return evil for evil.’ This means, unrepentant, unteachable people are already cursed by God for rejecting Jesus and His truth, and we must reject them and refuse their presence in our lives, because of the danger they pose to our spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being — and because of their constant provocation, which can push us into perdition.
¨ Still, we should never shirk our responsibility to preach the true Gospel of Christ to those who are deceived — as they permit and as the Holy Spirit leads us. We truly bless our even our enemies by declaring the truth of God’s Word to them, as well as the truth of the abusive situation, etcetera, (Mt. 28:19-20.) We bless them particularly and show them God’s mercy when we refuse to repay ‘evil for evil,’ but make the effort to tell them their serious trespasses against us; confronting their crimes and curses against us to bring their darkness into Light with the motive of restoring them to God and to us. If they willfully remain unrepentant, we also “bless” others when we warn them against the dangers they pose to them, (Lu. 17:1-14; Eph. 5:11.)
It is terrible but true: as long as they do not repent from their abuse against us, they remain under God’s judgment, and are in danger of His eternal punishment, (Mt. 18:15-22.) True children of God will never desire God’s eternal punishment for even their worst enemies. This is the main reason why we must minister God’s “blessing” when suffering “curses.”
What does it mean to ‘do good’ to those who hate, spitefully use, and persecute us?
People prove they hate us by displaying a pattern of destructive physical and emotional behavior towards us, whereby they continuously abuse against us. Thus, they prove how much they hate us when they execute our demise. They might be “good” to us in-between bouts of destruction, but we must remember that the person that sins unrepentantly, is the actual person we are dealing with.
We do not have to feel emotional ‘love’ for abusers. In Biblical terms, to agape is to ‘do good’ by imparting Jesus’ Life, (His Truth and the truth of all things;) but to hate is to use and abuse people, and commit multilevel murder by bringing them spiritual, emotional, and even physical death. As said, to “bless;” share Jesus ‘love,’ or to ‘do good’ is to, where possible, share His true Gospel and the truth of His Word with even our worst enemies. So, agape is always a personal decision; a commitment to obey the Lord and to ‘do good’ by “loving in word and deed” according to His Moral Law,” (1 Jn. 3:14-19.)
Apart from doing good to even our worst enemies by aiding their needs as the Holy Spirit leads, we also ‘do good’ to our abusers by telling them the truth when they lie to us; seek Godly resolve when they try to tear our lives to pieces behind our backs, and eventually, (after following Jesus Scriptural commandments to reconciliation as far as possible,) forgive or “let go of it all” even without their repentance – although this does not imply submitting to their abuse.
¨ ‘Doing good’ to our enemies is obedient faith in the Lord Jesus Christ at the cost of ‘being right,’ ‘getting our way,’ or ‘winning the argument.’ If we must lose the battle to win the war, then so be it! We might ‘lose’ the battle by humbly seeking peace, but for our own sake as well as to benefit our enemies, God always requires us to “pursue peace with all people as far as possible,” although this does not mean peace at any cost! Consequently, Paul commanded in Rom. 12:9-21, “Be patient [with God’s timely intervention not with sin] in tribulation; continuing steadfastly in prayer… ]”
How do we pray for “those who spitefully use and persecute us?”
Those who spitefully use us, openly and stealthily convey to us that the only value they see in us, is to serve them and to meet their selfish needs, and other inhumane requirements. Those who persecute us, launch continuous attacks against us through repeated patterns of harmful actions. A common tactic they use to harm and humiliate us, is to turn everyone else against us. Their intention is to destroy us spiritually, emotionally, socially, financially, and physically. They also try to wreck our personal relationships, (marriages and families especially,) personal abilities, emotional development, work, Godly character, and eternal salvation. They are the “stumbling blocks” Jesus lamented over in Lu. 17:1-14, stating it would be better for them to rather commit suicide than push and provoke His innocents to sorrow and unforgiveness.
Nevertheless, Jesus called us to indescribably ‘bless’ those who curse us and ‘do good’ to those who hate and persecute us by praying for their repentance and salvation, (1 Tim. 2:8.)
Praying effectively for our abusers does not have to be emotional prayer. We must simply pray for them in obedience to Jesus. God regards the sincere intercession of His children. Therefore, let us pray for the damaged, and their damages to our lives. Jam. 5:16, “…Pray for one another, that you may be healed [of illness, hatred, sorrow, broken relationships, and affliction.] The effective, fervent, prayer of a righteous [or sincere] person [in Christ] avails much.”
Prayer is the highest form of spiritual warfare
We do especially ‘good’ when we seek God’s face by praying for the lost and troubled souls of those who abuse us, “as we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not [physical] but mighty in God for pulling down [deception, division, hatred, and other] strongholds, [in our thoughts or ‘minds,’]” (2 Cor. 10:3-4.)
To pray ‘effectively,’ God called us to first ‘humble ourselves under His Almighty hand;’ relying completely on His protection, provision, guidance, conviction, leading, wisdom, and help. The more we obey God’s Moral Law of Love, the more we are submitting ourselves on an ever-deepening level to Him. Through our active obedience to His Word, we are submitting to His Almighty Reign, Infinite Wisdom, Leading, and Righteous Judgment.
¨ In praying for our abusers, we also need to ask God to lead us in the whole truth of His Word and the truth of our situation, so that the devil do not sway the truth to heap up unnecessary guilt upon us, (Jer. 33:3.) We also need the Holy Spirit’s conviction to show us the state of our own hearts, to know and do His perfect will, (Jn. 16:8-16.) We may also ask God to reveal the hidden causes of our problems, (the “great and unknown things we do not know,”) so that we can understand what, and who we are dealing with, (Jam. 1:5.) The Spirit Filled Bible’s footnote explains, “The wisdom which may be had by asking ‘in faith’ is not intellectual knowledge or philosophical speculation, but spiritual understanding of the purpose of trials [and how to deal with them God’s Way.] When God grants a gift, He does so generously, not grudgingly.”
Then, we should ‘storm the gates of Hades,’ [spiritual death that incarcerates unrepentant people that are still physically alive, not ‘hell,’] by petitioning God to turn the hatred of our abusers into “love” for Him and for us; to open their spiritual eyes, ears, and understanding, and to soften their hardened hearts to Jesus’ Gospel of grace, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and the knowledge of His Word.
¨ We may also pray for abusers to be humbled by their own sin to find their knees and be saved. Jer. 2:19, “Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you…” Gal. 6:7, “Do not be deceived, God’s [justice cannot] be mocked: for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap… From his flesh he reaps corruption, but from the Spirit he will reap everlasting life.” And we may ask God for their spiritual, emotional, and physical healing, should they repent.
Finally, we must obey God’s commandment to ‘resist the devil’ by praying against him, actively “withstanding” him in the full armor of God, and by fleeing from his traps and temptations as far as possible, (Rev. 12:11.) We must ask God to deliver us from the evil one and his evil workers; revealing and destroying all their evil plans, weapons, and works against us, as well as the lies and deception, by which they intend to hurt, enslave, and ruin us.
We should also remember that we also have the authority in Christ to, in His Name, “cast out demons… take up serpents…, and lay our hands on the sick, so that they recover,” (2 Ths. 3:2; Mark. 16:17-18.)
We may also ask God to make good or restore all the evil they have done to us, (Rom. 8:28.)
¨ Prayer is all-powerful, but because we still live in this physical world, prayer is not enough when dealing with hardened abusers. (E.g., it is not enough to pray for hungry ‘neighbors,’ we should also feed them as the Holy Spirit leads us. It is not enough to pray for our abusers, we must also confront them, etcetera, Lu. 17:1-4.) James lamented in Jam. 2:20-22, “O foolish man, do you not know that faith without works [of obedience] is dead… Do you not see that faith was working together with Abraham when he offered Isaac on the altar, so that by works faith was made perfect?”