I ask the question of counselees: “Did you forgive yourself?” The most common responses are “I’m not sure I can” or “I don’t know.” Answering this question is vital to one’s deliverance and normal progression on the path to maturity and discipleship in Christ.
I’m going to share four specific keys to help you overcome this hurdle if it’s an issue that continues to haunt you.
The doctrine of forgiveness represents a Christianity 101 principle for new and seasoned believers alike. Why do so many struggle to grasp the biblical reality of it?
As Christian counselors and deliverance ministers, we at Above & Beyond focus on helping clients identify whom they need to forgive, why it’s important and how do they do that? How does one implement forgiveness and walk in it for the rest their days?
We have many other articles on the importance of forgiveness, and how unforgiveness provides the demonic realm a legal open door to torment God’s people (take a look at the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:22-35).
Most clients, once they understand the importance and the fundamental tenet behind forgiveness, are willing to take that step to deal with abuse and attacks from others. However, many balk when it comes to extending that same grace to themselves for past transgressions, whether real or imagined.
Here are four building block principles that I encourage each client to embrace intellectually:
- We are commanded to forgive – it is a non-negotiable if we want God’s best for us. A no answer here is a deal-killer. Most people are willing to forgive others after a time but are unsure on exactly how to do that. Solid biblical counsel, backed up by phrases in Scripture, can help willing hearts overcome most hurdles here.
- Forgiveness is a choice, not based on emotions. I find that many still cannot escape the false premise that true forgiveness is based on how they feel about the one they’ve forgiveness. This theology is based upon quick sand, not the Word, and leads to long seasons of doubt because their emotions can be tossed back and forth like a wave on the sea. Once you’ve chosen to forgive someone for past sins against you, it is done. Forever. Choosing to not dwell on the past is a crucial aspect of maintaining victory here (Phil 3:13-14).
- God has forgiven us as we forgive others. In Matt 6:24-25, Jesus instructs that if we forgive men their trespasses, God will forgive ours. Short, succinct and clear. We must accept this directive, like all others in the Bible, by faith because He chose to capture it there for us.
- It is an offense to God and prideful if we do not extend this grace to ourselves. This one can be tricky. It is false pride to presume that what God extends to others does not apply to us. That is arrogance expressed quite clearly, but many cannot see it. It is couched in perceptions of unworthiness, but the actual root is that we are somehow unique or different from others. We are special to God but must receive his unmerited favor (mercy) by faith in His goodness alone.
This does not have to be complicated. What will we believe? What do others say about us? Our own thoughts, which drive our emotions? Alternatively, will we, by faith believe the word of God and what He says about our past and us?
Helping clients sort through and process wrong understanding of forgiveness is one of our most significant challenges when dealing with clients. Getting them to see their past sins through the eyes of God (forgiven, cleansed by Jesus’ blood and forgotten) presents a more daunting challenge.
Believe God’s word and receive what it says about you and your past. No substitute views or rationalization will be effective in helping you gain victory. Need help? We’re only a few clicks away. Start here: Contact us.
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