17 - Obstacle 6: Unforgiveness Towards Self or Others

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Phi 3:13

Are you struggling with the shame and guilt of a sinful past? I understand firsthand how defeating this can feel.  One time I put myself in a dangerous place and fell into sin, yielding to a temptation that I felt for sure I was strong enough to avoid.  God had even warned me in my spirit beforehand, but because of my pride, I continued on and suffered terribly for it. After I fell, I begged God in tears for His forgiveness which He gave me instantly.  However, even months later, I found myself still putting my hands around my own neck (figuratively speaking), trying to punish myself for what God had already forgiven.  Satan was trying to keep distance between God and I, with my guilt.

Even though you can’t see them, it is clear in Scripture that Satan and his fallen angels are lying spirits and they have the ability to send flaming arrows of guilt-ridden, shameful, tempting, and accusatory thoughts right into your mind (1 Sam 16:15, Jn 13:2, Acts 5:3, Eph 6:11).  Their goal is to create distance between you and God, rendering you spiritually impotent, robbing Him of His glory, and you of your blessings and mission in Christ.

You win this battle like all other spiritual battles, by faith (Eph 6:16). You access, receive, and walk in God’s forgiveness by faith.  No matter how many times you messed up or how bad it was, if you are still alive, God is being merciful to you and giving more time to get right with Him.  Satan wants you to say, “I messed up so bad…I’ve done it so many times…I feel too shameful to go back to God again, so it’s actually less painful to just hide from Him, or go sin some more to numb the pain.”

This will become the kiss of eternal death if you allow it.  Fear the Lord and shake yourself loose by faith.  Humble yourself before God.  Show Him you are taking His word and prayer seriously and He will lift you up and restore you.  Unforgiveness is a sin and it's just as wicked to withhold forgiveness from yourself as it is from others.  If you need help fearing the Lord, just go read Revelation Ch.’s 8 and 9 and Heb 10:26-31.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”  – 1 Peter 1:14-16

Unforgiveness of others

I believe unforgiveness is the biggest obstacle preventing "Christians" from experiencing life to the full.  So many are in denial of the role this could be playing in hindering their walk with Christ.  Could it be that someone is benefitting from our denial?  Indeed, because three times the Bible connects anger and unforgiveness directly to Satan and his tormentors (fallen angels).  See Mt 18:33-34, Eph 4:26-27, 2 Cor 2:10-11

Because of my public transparency with my own story, I have had the unique opportunity of having hundreds of people contact me over the last few years to share intimate details of their life story with me.  I came to the conclusion that there are two kinds of “Christians”—those who are free from sinful behavior, patterns, thinking and addictions, and those who are not.

Common to all that were free, I saw wholehearted obedience to Christ.  Common to all that were in some sort of bondage or mental torment, I saw unforgiveness.

Tragically, most of them were not consciously aware of their deep rooted unforgiveness!  Most thought they had already forgiven.  However, we must remember that true forgiveness is defined by God, not by us (Pro 21:2).  If He thinks we haven’t forgiven, that’s all that matters, regardless of how we think or feel, or how easily we can talk about it.

The inability to STOP certain sins, mistakes, patterns, or behaviors in your life, is not always a lack of self-control.  In John 8:31, Jesus said (to believers), "Anyone who sins is a slave to sin."  A slave does not have the ability to free himself, regardless of how much self-control he may have.  A slave is in bondage, and according to Jesus in John 8:34, can only be set free by the Son (Him). 

I have even concluded, after hearing the torment that people are under, that Jesus may very well be saying in Mat 18:34-35, that we are turned over to spiritual tormentors now when we withhold forgiveness from our brothers or sisters.  I also see evidence of this in the story of King Saul where he disobeyed God and then was turned over to the torment of an evil spirit from God. (1 Sam16: 14-15)

  Major signs you haven’t forgiven as God forgives:

·          You say, “I’ve forgiven them, but I haven’t forgotten what they did.”
·          You continue to look for agreement with others about how horribly they treated you
·          When you see them or hear their name, you experience (an increase in aggressive/negative thoughts, volume or rate of speech, tension, heart rate, sweat, upset stomach, etc.)
·          You still demand that they make restitution
·          You still want to see them punished and if given the opportunity, you punish them

Major Biblical consequences for unforgiveness:

·          Robs you of God’s presence, blessings, and truth Pro 3:33, Mt 18:35, Jn 15:10, Gal 6:7-8
·          Tormented in your thoughts by evil spirits which leads to other sins and bondage. Mt 18:34
·          Opens the door for Satan to attack you, getting a stronghold on your life and taking you captive to do his will. Eph 4:27, 2 Cor 2:10-11, 2 Tim 2:26
·          Willful unforgiveness is wickedness which will prevent you from entering eternal life. Mt 6:15

Keys to Forgiveness:

·          Remember that God’s continued forgiveness of your sins is conditional upon your forgiveness of the sins of others. Mt 6:15
·          Forgive out of obedience to God, not your feelings. Jn 14:21, Mt 7:24
·          Forgive fast before Satan gets a foothold and turns it into a root of bitterness which will defile you. Eph 4:27, Heb 12:15
·          Trust that God sees all wrongs committed against you and leave all vengeance and justice to Him. Gen 31:12, Pro 15:3, Rom 12:19
·          Remember that your real enemy is Satan and he simply uses the disobedience of others, to get and keep you offended (Which removes Gods favor from your life) 2 Tim 2:26

Struggling to forgive? Ask yourself this. "What part of eternal life and God’s best, do I still not want?"