Unforgiveness: Do We Really Understand The Effects of it On Our Lives?
In this New Year, where do you need a fresh start? I am releasing all bitterness and unforgiveness with a desire to start with a clean slate.
Working on the Legacy project as the contact person for families who want to further the ministry of Chuck and Nancy Missler, I have met some fantastic people who love Jesus through Koinonia House. The stories of what God has done and is doing in lives of people that interact with our ministry resources are fun to hear and share. The following article came from one of our ministry supporters, Becky Bennett, after a wonderful dialogue about her life.
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When I was asked to write this article for the Personal Update, I thought I was the last person qualified, as I have had such issues with unforgiveness. But, I do have a testimony about victory over this subject, and I do realize the importance for every Christian — without fail — to take this issue seriously in their walk in Christ. Not later, at a more convenient time, but right now!
There are so many subjects of study in the Word; Salvation, Faith, Obedience, End Times, Marriage, etc., etc. With the technology advancements we have seen over the recent decades, a believer can simply use a computer for a search and have tons of information and Scriptures to study a subject. But, I heard a wise teacher of the Word say once — “Why study prosperity when your real issue, for example, is anger?
Made a lot of sense. We, as Christians, tend many times to gravitate towards learning about what interests us — not having really prayed first about what interests HIM and what He wants us to learn from His Word. Once we have given our lives to the Lord, we tend to speedily learn about our salvation, sharing our new faith with others, picking a church to attend and be involved in, and yes, even beginning a ministry. But the main issue that Jesus spoke of through multiple teachings, parables, and his own example, is to “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus stated that these were the greatest Commandments.
It is so easy to take the first part of that statement, and quickly forget the “love thy neighbor” part.
Let me start with some fundamentals. I love what Dr. Missler always reminded us of as students of the Word under him — “remember the whole counsel of God.” That is why when we listen to his “briefings” on a subject we can sometimes catch ourselves saying “why is he talking so much about a passage in the Old Covenant when I put the study of Ephesians in the DVD player?”
Well, fellow Bereans, I quickly caught on the difference between Dr. Missler’s teaching and many others, with all due respect to all the many wonderful Biblical scholars the Lord has anointed. But Dr. Missler wanted us to understand from a truly educated perspective, the history, the culture at the time the Scriptures were written, and not to take Scripture out of context, but to take in “the whole counsel of God.” Genesis to Revelation. That means to me personally right now in my life, not to just study a particular subject, but to have the fundamentals of my faith down, the “milk of the Word” as Paul puts it. I know in my own walk with Him, for example, I have many times studied prophecy (and who wouldn’t under Dr. Missler?) and even taught the subject, when in fact I had issues that were causing me to stumble in my walk, despite how many Scriptures I could quote re: prophecy and End Times.
But in touching on End Times, let’s actually go back to what Jesus said about them, when Jesus answered the disciples’ question of “tell us, when will this (destruction of the Temple) take place, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Jesus answered and stated “let no man deceive you.” He spoke of many coming in His Name to deceive many. “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end (of the age).”
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs (of the intolerable anguish and the time of unprecedented trouble).
— Matthew 24: 4–8 (AMP)
As Dr. Missler so aptly pointed out, these are “pre-signs,” not signs of the end but the things that will happen before the end of the age. Let’s go to verse 9 which states “Because lawlessness is increased, the love of most people will grow cold.” I have to admit, in the midst of “wars and rumors of wars,” the terrible persecution of believers, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, I often have thought, “Why does Jesus speak of the simple issue of love? Doesn’t that belong in another topic, another place?”
All one has to do to see prophecy being fulfilled is to turn on the news. Are we not seeing a great divide developing, worse than we have ever had in our country (the U.S.) over political debate? All of us have been seeing over the last 2 years not only the heated disagreements over political issues, but the violence that erupts over these disagreements that we have never seen before. Funny, the term “haters” is used over and over again by the news commentators. Scripture states “many will be offended and will fall away and betray one another and HATE one another.” (Matthew 24:10) I confess that when I watch the news and even in conversation with other believers, I begin to criticize those that don’t believe the Word, stand for ungodly principles, etc., and TOTALLY forget to see these people as Jesus does — sinners that need Him desperately. Do you all see what I have seen in the last couple of years? I am sure you do.
Many Christians speak as if conservatism is their Gospel and the President is their Savior? We must be very careful to have our antenna up, and our spiritual radar on at all times to remember that now more than ever, we need to love those that hate our faith and our principles. I admit, it is easy for me to criticize those that disagree with my “godly” views, yet I am far from godly when I criticize instead of love and pray for revival in our country, as I believe we have been given a reprieve right now to do all we can to spread the Gospel before the Rapture/Harpazo. Remember the Apostle Paul? A MURDERER of Jesus’s followers, until his road to Damascus experience!! Remember per Scripture in these last days, that those we most criticize could be the ones that surrender to Christ and cause great revival from their testimony! Can you imagine the effect on our country/world if those leaders screaming for abortion rights, no borders, and their support of the lack of police/legal authority intervention with outright crimes being committed (“lawlessness” — remember?) that are right in front of us were to suddenly speak of a Damascus Road experience in Jesus Christ?
Now let’s bring this to a much more personal level in our walk.
Needless to say, I am saying that in the midst of what we are seeing in this last generation of the Church Age, we must guard against the coldness of our hearts which begins with the subject of unforgiveness in our own hearts and minds. Jesus, of course being the Truth, knew the Truth, and knew that the lack of love for one another would play into Satan’s hands to bring about the hatred, violence, and actions that He was speaking about when He answered the disciples’ question regarding the Last Days. Just turn on the news and you can watch what He was talking about.
How much we deceive ourselves when we attend church, read the Scriptures (study “to show ourselves approved — hey, we are spiritual, after all), go to our weekly groups and witness Christ, but yet harbor unforgiveness, resentment, and anger, etc., in our hearts towards others. Unfortunately, we let our flesh yield to the enemy’s hand by simply pushing these issues into the background, especially when we are busy “living for Him.”
Jesus always, without fail, represented Truth. We know He is the Truth, the Way, and the Life. How many times in Scripture did He confound sinners, the disciples, and even the “learned” Priests and Pharisees by interjecting the principles of forgiveness, compassion and kindness in the face of outright injustice? When He healed on the Sabbath? When he told a disciple to “let them take your coat also” when theft had occurred? Most poignant of all when He hung on the cross and forgave the ones who He came to save, and here they were murdering Him? Long story short, when I look at all the examples in the Word that injustice was the issue, Jesus saw a much clearer, bigger Truth that many times escapes us mere humans when we harbor unforgiveness and bitterness in our hearts. One thing that is most clear to me about unforgiveness is that it blinds us to the condition of the person who has wronged us or sinned against us, thus enabling us to believe that forgiveness is virtually impossible. Jimmy Evans, a well known Pastor and teacher of the Word in Dallas, TX, testifies that he was never able to forgive his father until the Lord showed him his father as a child, severely poverty stricken, had no shoes on his feet, and slept in the winter in the barn as their home was so small. Jesus knew what Pastor Evan’s father went through when Jimmy didn’t and why his father was the way he was when Jimmy didn’t understand. Love (Jesus) showed Pastor Jimmy why he needed to forgive his dad. This is why we can’t wait to “feel” forgiveness.
“Lean not into thine own understanding” Proverbs 3:5. There are reasons to forgive that God knows of, and we simply don’t. Danger to us is the passing of time we allow in harboring unforgiveness — it creates the opportunity for a stronghold of the enemy to entrap us. Now I know why Jesus delivered some of the toughest Scriptures for the Body of Christ to digest in Matthew 5:39–45. The highlight of the Text summarized in verse 44:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you. That ye may be the children of your Father in Heaven; for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.
I would encourage you to stop here and read the entire Text before moving on. I must admit I have plenty of times been disobedient in not following His command spoken of here, and suffered the results, believe me. In Matthew 5:25 Jesus warns us of the most dangerous tool the enemy uses to blind us from the Truth, to block His blessings in our lives, and keep us from understanding His will in our lives — the stronghold. If the enemy can do this, he has us hook, line and sinker. Everything stops no matter what amount of the Word we can memorize or how many small groups we lead or how many sermons we can preach to great applause. The danger of a stronghold developing stops us dead in our tracks.
Agree with thine adversary quickly whiles thou art in the way with him (right when the offense or sin against one another happens) lest at any time the adversary (Satan) delivers thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
— Matthew 5:25
Have you ever observed a person trapped in bitterness? They never bothered to address their issue with the one who offended them? I am a nurse, and medical professionals say all the time that this person is a “prisoner of their own bitterness”. Here is a worldly phrase that has its roots in the Truth, the Word of God.
Obedience is critical at the time of offense, no matter how you feel at the time! Quickly repent of taking offense, despite how right you may be at what someone has done to you and ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to forgive. And don’t condemn yourself if you still feel the feelings — just trust above and beyond those feelings. REBUKE the enemy in Jesus Name! Remember those feelings are Satan’s attempt to keep you in unforgiveness and bondage. And bear in mind that forgiveness doesn’t mean that what happened to you us OK. It simply means that we trust that God understands the one that offended us, and is the only One to judge in the end. He is a just God and He loves JUSTICE. Let the consequences of the offense be in God’s hands and, whether we “feel like it” or not, just be obedient knowing it is our obligation to simply trust Him. If we wait for our feelings to forgive come, those feelings may never come. Trust me, your feelings of love and forgiveness will only come when you first commit to God your desire to be obedient to His Word and forgive. Then and only then will you have the compassion of Jesus overtake the anger, bitterness and offense Satan himself has plunked into your mind and heart. And, warning: if you allow that offense to stay in your mind, then it travels and becomes a stronghold in your heart.
In my own life I have suffered physical abuse, verbal abuse and gross injustices that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But I must tell you now, that when I was angry, hurt and bitter, a stronghold of the enemy was planted in my heart and mind. Not only did that blind me to the one who committed the offense, but I can see in retrospect how it limited my walk in Him, and it destroyed the ability for Him to open the windows of heaven for me and show me His Will.
We wonder why “bad things happen to good people”. We can’t judge or criticize others when bad things happen, but have great compassion and prayer for them as it could so easily be us in the same circumstances. We must continuously evaluate our own walk in Him.
Wherefore my beloved brethren, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
— Philippians 2:12
I know that when a prayer wasn’t answered, I wasn’t blessed, prosperity seemed far away (after all I tithed — isn’t that the answer to financial prosperity?) and things just went south, could it be due to my own disobedience to the Word? How many times did I think I was being obedient, and yet blew off the condition of my heart? I now understand what grace and the abundant life is. Because God loves us all equally and wishes for all of us in Christ to have an abundant life, we can’t question this as His lack of love or believe the lie that He wants to bless others but not us. But instead of blaming ourselves as “there is now, therefore, no condemnation in Christ Jesus” we need to see Him as our Heavenly cheerleader encouraging us that the path to His abundant life is trusting that what He said is Truth, no matter what our fleshly feelings tell us. How many times as parents do we come across to our kids as harsh, yet we know from life experience that to obey eliminates a lot of pain for our kids? Jesus, our Advocate before the Father, wants to eliminate the pain!! He is not condemning us when we are disobedient, but our encourager so the abundant life can be ours! But we have a choice, and God will not go against our own choices and will. And Satan is happy as a clam to throw another rock, another incident in our paths when we live in disobedience by harboring offenses. Stop and think about it. When you are angry, have bitterness, and then a stronghold of offense, are you pursuing actions that advance the Kingdom? No way. You are caught up in the cares of this life, for sure, and the enemy is winning.
Thus this is the truth of obedience. When we disobey by harboring offenses and bitterness in our hearts, we are blind to the truth, we stop the victory in our walk in Christ. We cause ourselves to miss the Truth in our circumstances and thus miss the victory and abundant blessings He so wishes to bestow on us. Most importantly, we miss His divine will for our lives. I do highly recommend a book written by Biblical teacher John Bevere, called The Bait of Satan. It is offense that opens the door for the enemy to trap us, blind us and block the abundant life that He wants for us, and in that abundant life, we find His will for our lives.
I am quite sure that for the most part, all that are reading the Personal Update are aware of us living in the Last Days. But are we caught up in the cares and concerns of this life on a day to day basis, not fulfilling what His will is in our lives, due to an offense? Think about it. For example, maybe you decide against having a Bible study small group at your home as you are “busy” since you have had to work overtime on the job, to hold off financial disaster since a brother or sister destroyed you financially and betrayed you? Do you really not have the time, or are you caught up in your own heart and exhausted from the after-effects of anger and bitterness? Just one of many examples of issues we all are faced with — but need to decide to deal with according to the Word, or live entrapped by the circumstances.
In closing, read Psalm 51:10–13. Let us all examine our hearts in this final time of the Church Age and gain victory by destroying the Enemy of our souls with the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:13–18 — the whole armor of God — put it on). We don’t have much time, and we need to find out His Will for our lives in order to “improve our report card” as Dr. Missler would so aptly say. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to whatever is amiss in our lives so He can “create within us a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within us”. At the end of the passage of Psalm 51:10–13 is “Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.”
Isn’t that what it is all about?
By the way, I intentionally added the words End Times to the title of this article as I know, of myself, I might not read another simple message on “forgive one another”.
God bless K-house, our ministry, K-House president, Ron Matsen, and his family, and all Bereans as we go about His business in these Last Days.
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God is using this ministry all over the world to equip believers through a serious study of the Word of God. We ask for your prayer support and financial support. To partner with us, please contact us at Legacy@khouse.org.
Koinonia House Legacy Project
If you have any questions please contact me via e-mail at GunnarJ@khouse.org.