Monday, July 27, 2015

The Power of Forgiving

In this group bible study we discuss 7 reasons why we need to forgive other people and how it impacts us if we don't.

  • Romans 8:28
  • Job 1:8-12
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13
  • Ecclesiastes 3:16-17
  • Romans 12:17-21
  • Proverbs 25: 21-22
  • Luke 6: 32-35
  • 2 Tim 2:24-26
  • 2 Corinthians 2:5-11
  • Matthew 6:9-15
  • Luke 6:37
  • Hebrews 12:14-15

The 3 areas that hurt the church:
  1. unforgiveness
  2. dealing with disappointment (e.g. death, the fall of a pastor)
  3. spiritual warfare (the mind)

7 Reasons to Forgive

  1. We trust that God is in control even in bad situations
  2. We believe God will judge them
  3. To Obtain Our Promised Reward
  4. To be an example to others
  5. Unforgiveness Allows the Enemy to Enter our Lives
  6. Unforgiveness Separates Us From God
  7. Not forgiving hurts you more than it hurts the other person

1. God is in Control

This doesn't mean that God caused the offense to happen, but it means that God can turn it around and use it for His purposes.

Romans 8:28
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whoi have been called according to his purpose.
  • Does this mean that all things are good?
    • no, it means that God can use both the good things and the bad things that happen for our good
  • Does this mean that it was what God intended?
    • no, it means even if it wasn’t God’s will He has the ability to turn it around

Job 1:8-12
8Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
9“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10“Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
12The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
  • Did God do the bad things to Job?
    • no, but He didn’t stop satan from doing them
  • Did God allow satan to do whatever he wanted?
    • no, he didn’t allow him to touch Job directly because Job was righteous

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

2. God Will Judge Them

We shouldn’t feel obligated to make everyone pay for what they have done.  That is not our job it is God’s.  We can’t take the role of judge and jury for moral issues.  That is God’s role.

Ecclesiastes 3:16-17
16 And I saw something else under the sun:
In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
in the place of justice—wickedness was there.
17 I said to myself,
“God will bring into judgment
both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
a time to judge every deed.”
  • When will this judgment come
    • at the end of the world
    • there are some judgments that happen while we are still on earth
  • Why does it say that God will judge both the righteous and the wicked?
    • the wicked will be punished and the righteous will be rewarded

Romans 12:17-21
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
   if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
  • Does this mean that we are hoping that something bad happens to them in the end?
    • no, the Jews in that day had a philosophy that if you had got a fire started, and your neighbor was trying to start a fire that you should offer them heaping coals to help get their fire started.  This is saying that us showing them mercy will hopefully get the fire started in them to act in the ways of Jesus.

The Romans passage teaches us to love others in the same way Christ loves us.  As people who have experienced God’s grace we are to be eager to not repay evil for evil but to do what benefits others and to seek peace in relationships (vv. 17-18).  When we offer food and drink to our enemies (v.20), we are not agreeing with their actions, but we are saying that even though we have been hurt, we forgive them just as Christ has forgiven me for the hurt I have caused Him.  Paul teaches us that evil can be overcome with good (v.21).  Good can come out of some of the most painful and horrific situations when we act as Christ did towards our enemies.

3. To Obtain Our Promised Reward

Paul is quoting a verse from Proverbs, but he left out “the good part”.

Proverbs 25: 21-22
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
   if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
   and the Lord will reward you.

Luke 6: 32-36
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
  • What does Jesus mean by “even sinners do that”?
    • even sinners will return good for good
    • we’re supposed to be different
    • we’re supposed to be an example of the Kingdom

4. To Be an Example To Others

We should shock people by the way we bless others, especially our enemies.   Our role is to show people what it would look like if God’s will were to be implemented on earth.  We should pray that God’s will be done, and that needs to start with us.

2 Tim 2:24-26

24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,
26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

5. Unforgiveness Allows the Enemy to Enter our Lives

A person who is filled with anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness is fertile ground for the enemy to plant seeds.

2 Corinthians 2:5-11
5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
  • Paul says that he forgives so that satan might not outwit us...what does he mean?
    • Satan’s tactics include: guilt, isolation, and unforgiveness.  When we hold unforgiveness in our heart it damages our relationship with God.

Not Forgiving God
Many times when people face disappointment they blame God.  When they see things happen to people who didn’t deserve it, or have a death of a loved one, or see someone who they thought was close to God fall people often blame God and get mad at Him.  If the enemy can get you to be mad at God he can sit back and rest and not worry about you anymore because you are on the path of destruction.  

Everything doesn’t happen the way we’d like it to, and everything isn’t always “fair”.   We won’t always understand why things happen.  We should go to God and complain to Him and tell Him why we’re mad.  Sometimes we deep down may think that it was our fault.

It’s easier said than done, but we have to eventually forgive both God and ourselves even though we don’t understand why things happen.  In the same way that God forgives us

Forgive Yourself
Sometimes people have guilt and haven't forgiven themselves and they don't believe that God really loves them

they can’t really believe that God would love someone who has done the things they have done

they don’t think they deserve God’s forgiveness

no one does; it’s not something you earn

6. Unforgiveness Separates Us From God

if God was the sun and we wanted to come near Him we'd have to become fire to get into His presence
  • that doesn't make Him mean that doesn't make Him demanding or unreasonable that's just the way He is
  • God is Holy, so we have to become Holy to come into God's presence or to get close to Him
  • Since we couldn’t become holy, God put a firesuit on us so we can get close to Him -- Jesus

The only way we can become holy is for God to forgive us of our sins

God won’t forgive us of our sins if we haven’t forgiven others

Matthew 6:9-15
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
   on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
   as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
   but deliver us from the evil one.[b]
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Sin separates you from God.  Jesus states that if we don’t forgive others then God will not forgive us.  If God does not forgive us of our sins then we are not counted as righteous and cannot come into the presence of God.  Those who have not been able to come into the presence of God or have not had their prayers answered should first consider if they have forgiven those in their lives that have wronged them.

Luke 6:37
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

This is one reason you may have unanswered prayers.  

It won’t keep you out of Heaven but it will keep you from having Heaven on earth.

Jesus is really clear in Matthew that if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us of our sins.  When we are unwilling to forgive others we are essentially saying that we are better than the other person, failing to recognize that we too are sinners in need of forgiveness.  As His followers, we have received His forgiveness, experienced His mercy and His grace and so to deny it to anybody who has hurt us is offensive to God.  We are called to live as forgiven people, extending forgiveness because we have experienced the forgiveness of God.

7. Not forgiving hurts you more than it hurts the other person

Unforgiveness is like swallowing poison and hoping the other person dies
  • you’re damaging yourself

you can’t have healthy relationships because you haven’t let go of something else

sometimes we’ve put up defenses for something that happened long ago but is no longer happening
  • we haven’t modified our behavior or personality back to it’s normal state
  • we don’t trust
  • we haven’t been healed from our past wounds
  • we expect to be rejected or abandoned or disappointed in all relationships
  • we assume people are trying to take advantage of us
  • we think we have to look out for ourselves first at the expense of others


Hebrews 12:14-15
14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Bitterness has a tenacious way of taking root deep within the soul and resisting all efforts to weed it out. Bitterness occurs for many reasons. It might come from deep hurts you received as a child, hurts you cannot forget. Time, rather than diminishing the hurt, only seems to sharpen the pain. Bitterness can result from the hurtful words of a friend or coworker. Often the person who hurt you is unaware of the extent of your bitterness. You find yourself rehearsing the offense over and over again, each time driving the root of bitterness deeper within your soul. Bitterness can derive from a sense of being unjustly treated.

Bitterness is easy to justify. You can get so used to a bitter heart that you are even comfortable with it, but it will destroy you. Only God is fully aware of its destructive potential. There is nothing so deeply imbedded in your heart that God’s grace cannot reach down and remove it. No area in your life is so painful that God’s grace cannot bring total healing. No offense committed against you is so heinous that God’s love cannot enable you to forgive.

When you allow bitterness to grow in your life, you reject the grace of God that can free you. If you are honest before God, you will admit the bitterness and allow God to forgive you. Bitterness enslaves you, but God is prepared to remove your bitterness and replace it with His peace and joy.

Could it be that our relationships suffer and are not a good as they could be . . .because of something in our own heart?  We must check!

God is so willing to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, He is so willing to heal our heart. . .and we don't have to beg and plead with Him to do it. . . He wants to do it. . .if we would just get before Him and let Him do His work!

What Forgiving Isn’t

Forgiving doesn’t mean that the other person wasn’t wrong
  • but it also doesn’t require that the other person admits that they were wrong

Forgiving doesn't mean you need to stay in harm's way

And it doesn't mean you should stay in or put yourself into an unsafe environment

It means to change the state of your heart towards how you feel about the person not about the offense

You may still need to physically and emotionally distance yourself from the person
  • It doesn't mean stay in an abusive relationship or let someone who has abused you come back into your life

How to Forgive

  1. Decide to forgive
  2. Ask God to help you forgive
  3. The sooner you do it, the easier it is
  4. Ask God to bring to your memory anyone you haven’t forgiven

Like A Child

“When children get mad or are hurt, they express it right away freely. Releasing all that immediately prevents them from holding grudges and allows them to forgive easily. They can be crying and screaming at another child one moment for taking something away from them one moment, then holding hands and playing with the same child the next minute.”

If you replay the offense in your mind over and over for days and years it only continually cuts deeper and deeper.  Some people relive the offence over and over again bringing back the same deep emotions every time they remember.

It’s hard to forgive when the offense is still going on.  It’s also hard to forgive when the offense is still going on in your head day after day.


God’s will is that you have joy and peace in our lives.  Jesus demonstrated that we need to pray for God’s will to be done.  We need to pray that God changes our hearts.  

The reasons that we forgive are:
  1. We trust that God is in control even in bad situations
  2. We believe God will judge them
  3. To Obtain Our Promised Reward
  4. To be an example to others
  5. Unforgiveness Allows the Enemy to Enter our Lives
  6. Unforgiveness Separates Us From God
  7. Not forgiving hurts you more than it hurts the other person

  • Not forgiving can lead to bitterness
  • Forgiving doesn’t mean you have to put yourself into physical or emotional danger
  • Forgiving doesn’t mean that the other person wasn’t wrong

But the main reason is that we want to help God bring His will upon the earth.  We want to help bring the world closer to the Kingdom of God and not be a hindrance to it.

Presenter: Michael Leadon

Extra Scriptures

Matthew 18:21-35 is the parable of the unmerciful servant, whose astronomically high, unpayable debt of millions was forgiven by the king.  However, when the opportunity came for this servant to extend mercy to a fellow servant who owed him about $20, he did not show mercy but demanded full and immediate repayment.  When told of this, the king then revoked the great mercy he showed the unmerciful servant to begin with and handed him over to be severely punished until his debt was repaid.  The parable concludes with a warning against not forgiving people who have hurt us: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”  When we are unwilling to forgive we are essentially acting like the unmerciful servant.

How God Forgives Us

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Luke 15:11-32, is known to us as the Parable of the Prodigal Son, where the focus is often put on the father’s forgiveness of his wandering, squandering younger son.  And while this is an appropriate emphasis, we don’t want to lose sight of the fact that there is also interaction between the father and his older son who is upset by all this favorable treatment, this undeserved celebration, that’s being thrown for his brother.  The older brother makes a valid point: “I’ve been a faithful, dutiful son, and I’ve never been celebrated like my sinful, disrespecting brother.”  The father’s response tells us what we need to learn about repentance and forgiveness:  that it is the path to restoration of relationship, and that any relationship restored is of great value to God.  To restore a relationship is to see that relationship move from death to life.  The older brother in the parable maintained his relationship with his father.  He had not been lost so there was no being found to celebrate.  Forgiveness brings restoration which occasions joy.  If we don’t see that forgiveness as restoration pleases God, we are liable to think as the older brother did with implied judgment of his sinning brother and consequent bitterness or jealousy over his father’s celebration for his younger brother.

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Matthew 18
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[g]
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “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.”

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