Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Do I have to forgive (another man)? PART III

Forgiveness is an important aspect of the faith, and the reluctance to forgive on our part, can affect our well-being, even our physical health; hence the relevance of this topic to ministering Divine Healing (I conduct monthly Divine Healing Meetings, and this topic was preached).

In the 1st 2 parts, in total, we have covered 14 points. We will cover another 6 points, making this series to be of 20 points on forgiveness (For earlier parts, click: PART I or PART II).

Today, we will cover the negative implications of unforgiveness, its possible impact on our current life. Also, we will cover the issues of forgiveness and memory, forgiveness and trusting again, and forgiveness and restoration of relationship.

We continue with our “point-by-point” approach to this series.

Point No 15 – Not releasing forgiveness can be tormenting another, and you can be likewise treated

I call this the “boomerang” of the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matt 18). The front part of the story goes like this: A servant who owed his master, a big sum of money, begged his master for mercy when his master asked that the money be repaid; and the master forgave the servant of the debt. Then the servant went out to a servant of his, who owed him, the first servant, a small sum of money; and demanded repayment. When the second servant begged the first servant for mercy; he was refused, and the first servant threw the second servant to the jailer to have him tormented. The master of the first servant came to know about what happened; and this was what he did:

Matt 18:34-35 - “34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured {tormented}, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” {ending verses of Parable of the Unmerciful Servant}

In other words, if you do NOT forgive, our Heavenly Father likewise will NOT forgive you, as said in Matt 6:15. On top of that, in this parable, with an unforgiving heart, if you make the offender pay, with him being tormented, your Heavenly Father will likewise, do to you!

Please note that your mere refusal to release forgiveness to the offender, when he has asked for it, can cause him to be in torment, without you even realizing it. If indeed he was tormented by your unforgiveness, his “torment is on you”. If you live tortuous life, you should consider this point: Forgive people of the past who had wronged you, and if possible you have to go back to those who have asked you for forgiveness but whom you did NOT give it (then), to release your forgiveness.

The “Father will treat each of you …” likewise, in the passage, does NOT necessarily need to be, God acting against you, but it can be He lifting His hand of protection over you, giving the chance for the evil one to torment you. But always remember, it is NOT that God does evil, for His hand of protection is extended to anyone of us, by grace. By grace, means you and I did NOT merit it, it means God is fully entitled to stop, say, extending the covering/protection. You can read the Book of Jonah, a short book, and one of the lessons, to be learnt there, is this point – if we did NOT merit it, or it was received by God’s grace, God is fully entitled to stop the flow.

Also, from Ps 91, we do know that God’s protection is most assuredly extended to those who love Him. “Refusal to forgive” is NOT an act consistent with love, and loving God (remember point 3 of Part I – To forgive is to practise love).

I recap this point – if you do NOT forgive and do NOT release forgiveness to another, you can be tormenting the person, and if indeed the person is tormented, you can likewise be tormented.

Point No 16 – there are serious negative implications for unforgiveness.

1. Unforgiveness is disobedience to God’s commands. Col 3:13, for eg. commands that we forgive as God forgave; Disobedience is sin, and sin has consequence.

2. Unforgiveness is refusal to practise love. Refusal to love is NOT consistent with Jesus’ command to us, to love God and love our neighour as ourselves.

3. Not forgiving is also NOT consistent with the saying in Scripture of “he who is forgiven much, loves much” (Luke 7:47). If you do NOT love, you are insinuating by your action of refusal, that you have NOT received forgiveness from God.

4. Scripture is clear, NOT obeying God’s command is NOT loving God – Jesus affirmed this in John 14:15 & John 14:21a.

5. Unforgiveness, as NOT loving God, can cause us to fall outside of God’s protection favor (read and understand Ps 91; pay particular attention to verse 14).

6. Unforgiveness can be tormenting the offender, and it can boomerang back to us. We have just seen this, earlier, in Point 15.

7. Unforgiveness is NOT reflective of the Kingdom life; it goes against God’s desire to forgive us on an on-going basis; it may even impact our salvation consummation.

Point No 17 – negative implications of unforgiveness can impact/manifest in current life.

In the preceding point, I have listed some of the implications, and they can impact/manifest in our life, presently.

This is particularly inferred from Matt 18:34-35 – of the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, and 1 Pet 3:9-10.

It is possible to read God’s like treatment of torment in verse 35, as referring to the eventual treatment, torment in the lake of fire in Hell, but I am personally of the view that it can also be referring to torment presently. The reasoning is along the line that while God may defer punishment, Scripture does indicate that it is also NOT that God cannot be punishing people, especially wicked ones, presently; and NOT forgiving is wickedness. In v32, the servant was described as wicked, for being unforgiving. Also, Ps 91:8 is indicating that some wicked ones are punished currently.

That is how I see it, and ministry experience bears it out. In other words, condition does improve, when the ministee forgives people whom he/she previously did NOT.

1Pet 3:9-10 – “9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.”

Now, for this text, it is clear, consequences come in, as of now, in our current life. The “would love life and {would} see good days” of v10 hint to us that current life is impacted.

A couple of things can happen in our current lives, if we do NOT forgive:

1) a vengeful spirit may take root in us. Perhaps, starting with anger, resentment, bitterness; and finally a vengeful spirit develops. The biblical support for associating anger, resentment and bitterness with unforgiveness comes from Eph 4:31-32. Verse 32 said that the way out for these negativities is to forgive as God forgave.

2) we may experience torment, and

3) we may lose one, if NOT the key, blessing of the Kingdom, God’s forgiveness (Previously, under Part II, point 14, we established that it is possible that the blessing of 1 Pet 3:9, was referring to forgiveness)

All these 3 things, vengeful spirit or its lesser form as anger, resentment and bitterness, torment, and non-securing of God’s blessing, especially God’s forgiveness, work against our well-being, our wholeness.

Our health may be the first to go, and an opening may arise in us, that the devil can come in, to steal, kill and destroy us (John 10:10a).

On the other hand, when we continue to receive forgiveness from God, when we have forgiven others, we continue to have life, and that life is zoe life, an abundant life, a life of fullness, a Kingdom life, and that indeed, is the blessing that we all want.

This Point 17 –that the negative implications can impact/manifest in our current lives, is the main reason why I cover this subject of unforgiveness, for the Divine Healing Meetings I conduct.

We do NOT only want to minister to people, we also want to provide the understanding so that people can avoid getting into bondages connected to unforgiveness.

Point No 18 – forgiveness is always for a PAST wrong or sin

Forgiveness is NOT for a thing in the future, which may or may not happen. The great error made by the overly grace (or cheap grace) believers is that they do an eisegesis instead of an exegesis of the fundamental tenet of the Gospel. While exegesis draws out the meaning from the text, eisegesis occurs when a reader reads his/her interpretation into the text.

Practically, in the asking for forgiveness, there is only either the past sins or the so-called FUTURE sins, there is NOT the current or present sins, although commonly, people write, “all sins, past, current (or present) and future, …” Now, correct exegesis is the “all sins” are referring to past sins. Incorrect exegesis or eisegesis, as prescribed by overly grace preachers, is “all, including FUTURE sins”.

It is my contention that even though God can and does look into one’s future, when God forgives at your born-again (say now), he forgives what is in the past (including every sin you have just committed); nothing of the future is dragged in, and forgiven, for what is of the future has NOT happened, AND may NOT happen, because your life is NOT a completed movie script.

It is the same, when one asks another for forgiveness, it is for a past wrong; and when one forgives another, it is also for a past wrong. Do NOT forget this; we have said before, “forgive as God forgave us”. Once we bring in the future, all kinds of notions come into the mind - like he will do it again; I got to trust him; I must necessarily be reconciled, etc, etc. And the result; you become reluctant to forgive.

I want us to now read Luke 17:3-5 -

3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

One of the points Jesus was putting across to His disciples was this: In releasing forgiveness (and therefore, also in forgiving), you do NOT take into consideration whether or NOT the next day or the next hour the brother is going to “do it to you” again. Jesus said, “You forgive”, and when he next does it to you, again, Jesus said, “You forgive”! How many times altogether? Wow! 7 times in a DAY! And Jesus actually said, “Every time …”

In the first place, God did NOT leave in Scripture, the saying that He forgives all our future sins at our born-again (it was the overly grace or cheap grace preachers who imputed their own theology into it); and in the second, even as we are asked to forgive as God forgave, Jesus did NOT in any way indicated that, when we forgive someone, we are forgiving him for ALL his future sins against us, in that ONE time! If it were so, that when we forgive, we forgive even the future ones, Jesus would NOT have described how we are to forgive, with the scenario, as painted in Luke 17:3-5.

Would you forgive another, if that is the case – you forgive him once, and you will be forgiving him for all his future sins against you? In other words, which wise man will do that - give someone the license to do wrongs against him, for all times in the future! It is a preposterous suggestion!

In other words, don’t bring the future to bear on the current poser you are having – “Must you forgive the offender for what he has DONE?” Don’t factor in this: “But, tomorrow he will do it again!”; that is a separate matter which we will discuss; you just have to forgive the person for the wrong DONE to you. Always remember, forgiveness is for a PAST wrong.

The theology of God’s forgiveness at born-again included one’s FUTURE wrongs or sins, is heretic, or false. The efficacy of Jesus’ blood for future forgiveness and cleansing is NEVER doubted, but it is NOT, sins yet to be committed, were forgiven ALREADY at a person’s born-again.

Again, I repeat our point 18 – forgiveness is always for a PAST wrong.

Point No 19 – While you are asked to forgive, you are NOT expected to forget!

It is WRONG to counsel people that they ought to have forgotten the incident that hurt them once they had forgiven.

“Forgive and forget” is just a cliché way of exhorting Prov 17:9, which we will read it in a while; there is no such literal depiction of “forgive and forget” in the Bible; i.e. the Word of God does NOT suggest by forgiving, you can forget what was done to you. As the injured party (or victim), you are NOT likely to forget. Rather, it is that when you remember the matter, it does NOT “sting” you anymore; meaning it would no longer bring up in you, anger, resentment and bitterness which are the ingredients for the development of a vengeful spirit. If the matter still “sting” you, then it is a sign you have NOT fully forgiven – it has nothing to do with your memory as such; don’t bash your brains out on this!

What exactly does Prov 17:9 say?

Prov 17:9 – NIV84 - “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” NLT2007 – “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” God’s Word Translation – 1995 – “Whoever forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever keeps bringing up the issue separates the closest of friends.”

The “forget” of “forgive and forget” saying is actually exhorting you NOT to keep bringing up the matter, for it will only separates. It is merely telling you to “let go”; it has nothing to do with your memory.

So, this point is inserted to dispel the notion that by forgiving, you will forget. No, you are unlikely to, especially when the matter really hurt you a lot. I repeat what is more important is that there is no more “sting”.

Point No. 20 – Forgive does NOT necessarily mean you have to trust the offender again or broken relation must be restored.

Firstly, let me say that, even so, I am NOT saying that, the de facto attitude is to distrust or refuse to re-form a broken relationship. I am saying it is NOT necessarily that you MUST trust or re-form a broken relationship.

Does my forgiving mean I must necessarily trust the person again? The correct answer is NO. Why NO? To know the answer, we have to understand what it means to forgive, in the first place.

What does it mean to forgive? To forgive is to forgo all your claims for whatever wrong done to you. It is for a PAST wrong DONE against you, nothing to do with possibility of future wrong; and therefore, nothing to do with trusting again.

For example, if I accidentally step on your toe, what must you do? It has happened, and you must forgive, regardless. If I say sorry, and ask you for forgiveness, you have to release it. It is as straight forward as that; you cannot factor in whether or NOT, I will step on your toe again. So, you cannot, in your heart says, “I will NOT forgive him, for he is likely to step on my toe again.” At the same time, since the future is NOT featured in your forgiveness, you are also NOT saying, nor is it required, that you have to trust me NOT to step on your toe again.

Don’t you factor in the future, of whether the offender will wrong you again, in your decision to forgive another, God is NOT pleased with that. Why? The reason is simple, when He forgave you, He did NOT make sure you are NOT going to sin against Him again (ever), before He forgave you.

Don’t you agree with me, that God does NOT make sure you cannot sin again, before He forgives you? He would forgive, right? Right. In the same manner, we are to forgive one another (Col 3:13). If you will forgive only if you are sure the person will NOT commit again wrong against you, then you are asking more than what God is asking of you. What does the ending verses of the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant implied about this? If you do that, God will do it to you! So, don’t factor that, into your decision of granting forgiveness, even though we might commonly say to the person, “I forgive you. Please don’t do it again.”

If you automatically regard your forgiveness as meaning you have to trust the offender in the future, you may be unnecessarily putting yourself in harm’s way; you are NOT being reasonably wise.

God’s Word is NOT about how to be a stupid fellow or a fool. God is NOT pleased that we be fools! On the contrary, Scripture exhorts pursuit of wisdom, and tells people to be wise. In fact, Jesus said we are to as shrewd as the snake but as innocent as the dove.

Look, if I looked drunk to you, when I stepped on your toe, why do you, NOT want, to stay further away from me!

If you say, “Since I forgive him, I must trust that he will NOT step on my toe again”, you are being a fool. To forgive me, is one thing, to stay there and risk being stepped on again is unwarranted (unless you have another reason NOT to move away).

You may say, being wrong again by being stepped on the toe again, is no big deal; but it is the doctrine we are addressing, if you get the doctrine wrong, you can be applying it even in serious situations, like sexual harassment or physical abuse or violence, etc. You have to forgive someone for the wrong he has done to you, but it is NOT that you MUST trust him just because you have forgiven him, to put yourself at risk of being sexually abused again, for example.

Your forgiving a person for his committed wrong is NOT dependant on how much you can trust him after that; and how much you can trust him, does NOT depend on whether or NOT you have forgiven the person. Don’t fall for “But you have forgiven me, right? And so, you must trust me.” It is NOT a MUST.

It is understandable and reasonable to accept that, trust, once lost, needs time, as a minimum, to be regained. Similarly, relationship also can be strained, and it will need time, as a minimum, to heal. It is possible at times, that trust is never regained, and broken relationship never restored.

Is there a Biblical case to back up my argument that we need NOT necessarily trust or that a broken relationship need NOT necessarily be restored?

Yes, but I will only tell in brief, and if you like, you have to go back and read the entire account. It was the case of David’s dealings with King Saul.

There were times, King David, the man God said, was the man after His heart, was rebuked or negatively commented upon by God (eg. his affairs with Bathsheba, his wanting to build the temple), but God did NOT do that, as far as David’s handling of his relation with King Saul, who did multiple wrongs against David. And I suggest to you that perhaps, how David handled his relation with King Saul was a significant reason David was said as a man after God’s heart.

The wrongs that King Saul did to David, some of them, you can read from 1 Sam 18 to 1 Sam 27:1. David forgave King Saul time and time again, but David did NOT continue to just blindly trusted King Saul; and finally, in 1 Sam 27:1, we read that David decided, despite Saul’s apparent repentance, NOT to follow Saul back home; in other words, he left the broken relationship as it was.

1 Sam 27:1 – “But David thought to himself, "One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand."”

I recap this last point, point 20 - Forgive, but be wise, and NOT simply MUST continue to trust, or that you MUST necessarily be reconciled, where a relationship is already broken.

But of course, you must still forgive, and if you have NOT, you need to do that.

This brings us to the end of our series, here, on “Do I have to forgive?” It is possible that I may do an additional part for some other aspects raised concerning forgiveness.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions - Forgiveness is always for a past wrong, NEVER for future wrong, for what of the future has NOT happened and may NOT happen.

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