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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Why Someone Won't Forgive You

I have received numerous emails from people who are heartbroken because people they care for deeply will not forgive them for something they have done. Each of them has admitted to me their wrongs. They have all asked- no begged for forgiveness. Each of them is being hurt deeply by those who won't forgive them. They want to resolve the conflict. They want to peace to be declared because they have already surrendered. They have no idea how to receive this peace. So, they live with the pain.

The pain takes two forms. On the one hand they know that they are guilty of destroying the trust the others had in them. So, they can never escape the knowledge of the pain they have caused. On the other hand, the pain remains because of the broken relationship. They would be forever grateful if they could just receive forgiveness and mend what they have broken.

How can a person who calls himself a believer continue to deny forgiveness? They hold onto the pain of betrayal. They hold onto their disappointments. They hold onto them because they have done something that they have no even realized. They have given the devil a foothold.

It is natural to be angry when someone hurts you. The hurt is so great that you just want relief. Sometimes you can actually use this hurt to regain control. You rehearse and remember the hurt more deeply so that you will never let this person get so close to you that they can hurt you again. This gives the devil a foothold. He has disrupted the peace of Christ in the lives of the one hurt and the one causing the hurt. He has crippled the cause of Christ in the lives of these and those who observe them.

I don't think that a believer would intentionally give the devil a foothold. This word has been translated "opportunity" by the ESV. It literally means "a place." Figuratively it can mean an opportunity or condition. Please understand it both figuratively and literally. The devil has been given a place that was not his. He could not claim it but he could be invited in to live there. The devil has been invited into the "house" of the person who will not forgive. The devil, who is called the accuser of the brethren, continues to accuse the one who has done the wrong. He continues to stir up the anger and hurt. He will continue to do so until he is evicted.

So, the hurt person, acting emotionally because of the pain, embraces the pain so that the devil who desires all of God's creation to be in pain is given a place in the hurt person's life. The person cannot forgive without considering the true price of the forgiveness.

I didn't realize who I was fighting at the time but I had pain that I struggled to forgive. I could not forgive the person even though I knew I must. I would continue to remember the pain and increase my anger even as I fought to forgive. I had no victory. So, I realized that Jesus died for all sins. He died for those committed against Him. All sins against me are also sins against Him. The wrong does not change because others besides Jesus are hurt. Therefore, I literally said, "I see (that sin) being carried by Jesus on the cross. I see Jesus dying for (that sin). I cannot claim it as a wrong any more because Jesus has paid for it."

I wish I could tell you that I did that just once and I was through but the devil also uses my memory against me at times to accuse the person again and again. I, therefore, kept saying what I knew to be true. Jesus died for the sins against me too.

And I forgave.

The person who won't forgive has a place for the devil. He must be evicted. He must be told that Jesus forgave those sins against those who are hurt too. Otherwise, I don't believe forgiveness will ever be granted.

Ephesians 4:26-27 (ESV)
26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.


Anthony Chia said...

I will take the 1st 2 points of my series on “Do I have to forgive?” which can be found on my blogsite, to address the issues talked about here.

Point No 1 – We have to forgive because we have unmerited forgiveness from God (unmerited, meaning, out of grace).

Point No 2 – We have to forgive as God forgave us.

The supports for these 2 points come from Col 3:13 and Eph 4:32:

Col 3:13 – “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Eph 4:32 – “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Because we have received forgiveness from God, we are to forgive. When we received God’s forgiveness, we received it, out of grace (we did NOT merit it), as such, in gratefulness, subsequently we should be forgiving towards others; and

in the manner we received, we give, or freely we received, freely we give (Matt 10:8b). In other words, we are to release forgiveness also out of grace, without the counterparty meriting it.

Therefore, can someone NOT forgive another? The answer is no. In the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matt 18:21-35), the concluding words of Jesus was this (v35): “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

This parable (as a metaphor) gives us the picture of the situations of both the person who is needing the forgiveness and the person who is to forgive.

For the person needing the forgiveness:
He CAN BE caused the unforgiving person to be under torment. Ps Prentis elaborated this already; the guilt and pain of having done the wrong weighed in, and then, the non-closure regret from inability to secure forgiveness and reconciliation, torment the unforgiven person.

I say, “CAN BE”. Some (ones who have been wronged) may think, “He done me wrong; He doesn’t even feel guilty, what pain does he have? I am the one who has experienced the pain! What closure? I am the one needing to sort out the loss I suffered and close off the episode on my own; he has NOT and is NOT contributing to any of it. He deserves it, any non-closure that he is experiencing; he ought to have thought of the consequence before he did the wrong against me! I am NOT tormenting him, he brought the torment on himself; nothing to do with me. I don’t want to hear any of it, anymore!”

For a moment, if these thoughts or words were from God, where would we be; we who wrong God and wrong one another?

The other thing is this: Many of us (true) are NOT in torment from our sins, NOT as yet; and when we have NOT been convicted of the wrongs/sins we have done, we “generally feel ok”; but when we have been convicted, and suppose God would NOT forgive us, would we NOT be consumed by guilt, pain, and regret, and be tormented by it all?

One chap in the Bible was so tormented that he hanged himself. Of course, one can argue that Satan caused him, Judas Iscariot, to hang himself. But as Ps Prentis rightly said it, we have to be careful we do NOT let the evil ones (Satan and his minons) have a foothold in ourselves; for Satan came to steal, kill and destroy men. Satan uses the negativities in our lives to persuade us to harm others or ourselves. That is why a person who commits suicide, commonly has a lot of negativities in his life. We have to be careful we do NOT become an accomplice of the evil ones. The one you do NOT forgive (and so, NOT releasing forgiveness to him), may or may NOT commit suicide, but you are harming him, along Satan’s primary purpose of stealing (peace, joy, etc), killing, and destroying men. So, is it serious or NOT, that one is NOT forgiving another or others? It is.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

The person who is to forgive:
With what I have said concerning the situation of the one needing forgiveness, can you now appreciate the very strong overtone of the concluding words of Jesus, of the Parable: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” The “how” there, is that the Father God will let us be tormented, likewise.

A little digression: From a counselling standpoint: may I suggest that for a counsellee who are in torment, apart from hearing him out on how he is NOT forgiven by another or others, check to see if he, himself, also, has NOT forgiven others who had wrong him!

Some may argue, “Bro Anthony, maybe you are wrong, the last verse (v35) should NOT be interpreted in such manner; a loving God should NOT be suggested to hold such kind vindictive posture.” Call it vindictive if you like, but God is justified when he has warned. What other like-verses? Matt 7:2 – “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matt 6:14-15 – “14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Or if you want an OT verse, consider this verse, 1 Sam 15:33.

“In the same way” was clearly employed by God, and it continues to apply. One of the problems with many erroneous expositions of Scriptural prescriptions lies in us being “blind” to this “in the same way” or “as”, used in Scripture. All these key verses given here, employed that; we see it in the 2 verses I quoted at the outset of this comment, Col 3:13 & Eph 4:32, Matt 18:35, Matt 7:2, Matt 6:14-15 and 1 Sam 15:33.

About Col 3:13 & Eph 4:32, it is clear, the 2 verses are talking about the manner in which we are to forgive, and NOT timing; the use of “as” for timing, would be like “AS I pass out” these song sheets to you; you “pass them on”, but in this case, it wasn't used this way. It is about in the same way, God forgave us, we are to forgive, meaning we are to forgive another, by grace, without the person having merited our forgiveness.

We also need to distinguish between: firstly, we are to forgive (and that is to forgive from the heart; there is a reason Matt 18:35 was worded that way, “forgive from the heart”), and then we are to release the forgiveness.

To keep it short, I will just say (without elaboration), to forgive, we are to forgive by grace, without it being merited by the offending party (to forgive, regardless); and to release forgiveness, we have to release it on prima facie repentance. We are commanded to forgive, regardless, and then Scripture did suggest the “when and how” to release the forgiveness (got to do with, and in line with, how we function as a brother’s keeper).

Lastly, ask yourself this question: “If the person is here, asking you to forgive him, can you release it to him?” If you cannot do it, it means you have NOT firstly, forgiven him, from your heart!”

May God bless the reading of this comment.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions