Forgiveness & Freedom

Forgiveness can be the key to our recovery from abuse, and to seeing restoration in our life. Christ died to buy our forgiveness and release from sin, and we are likewise to release others:

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matt 6:14-15, NIV)

Jesus used a parable to illustrate how forgiveness is essential for releasing us from the snares and torments of the devil:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 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. "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, 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."  (Matthew 18:21-35, NIV)

Satan is just waiting to take advantage of unforgiveness, and to use it as a foothold to bring bondage in our life. Job 5:12 says, "Resentment kills a fool." Sometimes, down deep, we have the false idea that if we hold on to the offense, we can somehow protect ourselves and avoid being abused again. It can be easier to let go of unforgiveness when we become aware of its high price. Finding the freedom we crave is worth letting go of the old baggage of unforgiveness!

In the book, God Knows My Size! (TGS International, 1999), Silvia Tarniceriu, a Romanian Christian imprisoned for her faith, tells of prison conditions so cruel that she at one point feared that she had lost her mind. She could no longer remember a single scripture or hymn to comfort her during the long, gray days of prison labor. After crying out to the Lord in desperation, she heard Him say to her, "Love your enemies." She finally resolved to do so by taking the risk of saying "Good morning" to the shocked prison guard who took morning roll call. Immediately her memory returned and she was filled with joy as scriptures and hymns began rushing into her mind again. Though she was still in prison, she was free on the inside, and her outlook on her situation changed.

Another key to freedom and restoration can be prayer for those who have sinned against you. In Luke 6:28, Jesus commanded us to "bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." In the Old Testament, God commanded Job to offer prayers and a sacrifice for those who worsened his time of suffering. After he did so, his suffering ended and he gained back even more than he lost. Those who have abused you need your prayers; the wrath of God is on them (Psalm 72:4). Try using these words taken from 2 Timothy 2:25-26 and Acts 26:18 to pray for abusers:

"Lord, I humbly pray that you will grant my abusers a repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth. I pray that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. Lord, please open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness for their sins of abuse. Amen!"


Discussion Questions:

Sometimes anger helps us to feel less vulnerable. Anger can make it harder to forgive. Are you relying on anger to protect you from a certain person or situation? If so, are there alternative (and perhaps more reliable) measures you could take to protect yourself?

Copyright 2005   Judy Kennedy