Archives for : Forgiveness

Biblical Steps to inner healing

God wants to take your wounds, pain, hurts, and sorrow! Before we begin, I want you to know that God desires to heal our wounds and take our pain and hurt from us. You know how you can love somebody so much, that you wish you could take their pain or suffering from them? That’s how Jesus feels about us… He loves us so much that He paid the price for our emotional healing in the work on the cross! Isaiah 53:4, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” He carried our sorrows in His work on the cross. The NT Greek tells us that the word sorrows here literally refers to anguish, affliction, grief, pain, and sorrow. Jesus took these things and paid the price with His own blood for us! You need to know that God desires to heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds. This is what the Bible tells us: Psalms 147:3, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Do you want to receive healing from emotional wounds, pain, sorrows, grief, and anguish? It is vital that we take advantage of what Christ has done for us, and learn to cast our cares upon the Lord. Not some of them, but ALL of them; knowing that He cares for you and wants to take those things from you. 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” Release those hurt, painful and fearful emotions into the hands of Jesus Hanging onto fear, hurt and pain can actually block the healing power of the Holy Spirit in your soul. It is vital to open up and allow the Lord to heal your wounds. Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” Jesus paid the price for the healing of our souls and to set us free from the bondage that we have come under from the bruises that we’ve received. It is important to God that we receive this inner healing… His Son paid a costly price for it! Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” In the above verse, it’s not speaking about a heavy physical burden, but a burden in a person’s soul. This is made evident in the later part of this passage where it says, “Ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Jesus is telling us to come unto Him and give Him our heavy burden, and take His yoke which is light and easy to bear. Allow your painful emotions to be released as you give them to the Lord. It’s okay to cry, sob and let the damaged emotions come out as they are given to the hands of the Lord. Holding on to the pain and hurt will only prevent you from be healed. James 5:16, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” If you can find a person to confide in, it can also be very helpful to share your burden with them and receive prayer for healing. There is tremendous healing that can take place as you share your pain with a fellow brother or sister in Christ! Realize the love of God for you; this will help you open up and receive inner healing Knowing the true nature of our heavenly Father will help us to trust Him and open ourselves up so that we can receive the healing that only the Holy Spirit can provide for us. Romans 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” After Christ has suffered and died for us, why would He withhold healing our wounded souls? We can confidently open up to Him and know that He has our best interests in mind simply by looking at what He went through on the cross for us. You are loved by God, not because of what you’ve done, but because of who you are. The Bible tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He longed to have a relationship with you even before you became His child! Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus said that the greatest love a man can show for his friends, is when he lays down his life for them. Jesus laid down His life for us – that is how valuable and dear we are to Him! John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Did you know that God loves us with the same love that He had towards Jesus Himself? Yes, believe it or not, this is true! I want you to look up this verse in your Bible: John 17:23, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” It is absolutely essential that we learn of and realize the love that our heavenly Father has for us. Without knowing the love of God for us, we cannot be filled with His fullness: Ephesians 3:17-19, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Realize God’s will for your mind and receive it! 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Abuse, trauma, hurt and pain are all works of the devil. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and restore His children to the fullness to which He created them to fulfill. When Jesus was here on earth, He went about doing the will of the Father in heaven, and this included healing all who were oppressed of the devil: Acts 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” Jesus desire for you is to heal your broken heart and set you who have been bruised at liberty: Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” He wants to restore your soul from all the damage that has been done to you: Psalms 23:3, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Extend forgiveness towards those who have hurt you Unforgiveness will hinder or block the healing power of the Holy Spirit. It will bind you up and separate you from God’s forgiving and healing power. It is vital to release those feelings that you have against others, so that the Holy Spirit’s healing and forgiving power can heal and restore your soul. Unforgiveness is a deadly poison that separates us from God’s forgiveness in our own lives and gives us over to tormenting spirits. It is hard to receive healing when one is in such a position. Consider these passages in scripture concerning the deadliness of unforgiveness and bitterness in our lives: Mark 11:25-26, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” As we can see, unforgiveness will block God’s forgiveness from operating in our own lives. Inner healing requires God’s forgiveness. Matthew 18:32-35, “Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Unforgiveness will put us into the hands of tormenting spirits. This is the last thing we need when we’re seeking healing for our souls! As if that isn’t enough, unforgiveness also puts a person in spiritual darkness and separation from God, and defiles us spiritually: 1 John 2:11, “But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.” Hebrews 12:15, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” It is absolutely essential to release feelings of bitterness and unforgiveness, in order to fully receive healing for our souls. Forgiving others will welcome the healing power of the Holy Spirit into our lives. Realize who you are in Christ Realizing your identity in Christ is absolutely vital to our healing process. You need to know that you are a new creation in Christ, freed from the darkness of your past, forgiven of your sins, and freedom and healing are yours because of the Blood that Christ shed for you! I encourage you to go through my teaching entitled, “Who we REALLY are” for more information. Stop feeding on lies of insecurity, guilt, and pain (Jesus took your pain!) My father often uses the story of two men on our shoulders, and whichever one you listen to will crowd the other one out. This is absolutely true concerning how we handle God’s voice and the devil’s voice. Just recently the Holy Spirit gave me a powerful revelation, here’s what He said to me: “You need to be discerning of the voice of the devil… it is your responsibility not to give consideration (or pay attention) to it!” (Wording may be slightly different, but that is the exact message) It is absolutely vital that we NOT listen or pay attention to the voice of the devil in our minds. God’s Word tells us that we need to be taking every thought captive to the obedience to Christ: 2 Corinthians 10:4, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” One thing you can look out for is condemnation and fear. Both of these come from the enemy. “What if” thinking is always a giveaway that there’s a demon doing the speaking. For more information about condemnation, I recommend reading my teaching on Condemnation vs Conviction. Forgive yourself – see yourself as God sees you Forgiving yourself is a vital step that we must take while seeking inner healing. We need to love and appreciate the person that Christ has made in us! It is vital to see ourselves for who we really are in Christ. If you continue to beat yourself up for your past failures, after the Blood of Christ has washed them away, then you are, in reality, denying the very work of the cross! Here are a few (of many) good verses to mediate on in God’s Word: Psalms 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Hebrews 10:22, “…draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Colossians 1:22-23, “…he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed by God to proclaim it.” (NLT) For more information on forgiving yourself, I recommend going through my teaching entitled, “Forgiving yourself.” I also highly recommend my teaching entitled, “A love relationship w/Jesus.” Speak to the pain and release it into Jesus’ hands Lastly, go to the pain, the emotional wound that is hidden within you, and confront it with the healing love of Christ. Knowing that Jesus has paid for your emotional wounds, hurts, pains, and sorrows, tell the inner hurt, painful memories, and emotional affliction to leave in the name of Jesus. Then call upon Jesus to remove those things from you. You might pray something like this, “Lord Jesus, I love you, thank you for bearing my burden on the cross. I ask that take these inner hurts, painful memories, and emotional wounds from me right now. I submit them to you, and accept your peace in place of those things which I am giving up.” The next step is to seek deliverance from any spirits that are involved in your mind or emotions. These spirits must be confronted and cast out in Jesus’ name. You may attempt this yourself as a self-deliverance, or seek a qualified deliverance minister to help you with this step. If you begin to experience overwhelming or strong demonic reactions from the below prayer, or if the spirits aren’t coming out, then it is recommended to seek deliverance from a qualified minister. If you are not yet a believer in Christ, then I do not recommend confronting any evil spirits until you do. Without Christ, the demons are nothing to mess with, they are powerful spiritual beings, and without Christ, they are not yet disarmed in your life (see Colossians 2:13-15). If you would like to accept Jesus right now as your Lord and savior, go before Him now with a prayer like this, “Lord Jesus Christ, I realize I am a sinner. I believe you died and shed your blood for the remission of my sins, so that I may have eternal life. Right now, I turn from my sins and ask that you come into my life, changing me into a new person and washing all my sins away. I receive you as my personal Lord and Savior. Amen.” A simple self-deliverance prayer might go something like this, “I now come against any unclean spirits that have been influencing my mind, will and emotions, and I take authority over these spirits

 

Forgiveness of Sin

 

Forgiveness of Sin

 

Introduction: Forgiveness of sin is truly a great Bible truth. Forgiveness is great because of the enormity of sin (that which is forgiven), the one who forgives (in the case of God), the cost of forgiveness, and the unworthiness of the one forgiven. There are three areas involving forgiveness: God’s forgiveness of man’s sins, man’s forgiveness of man’s sins in general, and the one sinned against forgiving the offender.

I. The enormity of sin. Sin (hamartia) is lawlessness (I Jn. 3: 4, ASV)

A. The enormity of sin is seen in the fact that sin separates man from God (Isa. 59: 1, 2).

a. James presents the sequential progression which eventuates in man’s separation from God (Jas. 1: 14, 15). Sin will cause people to suffer the unimaginable agony of hell for an eternity (Matt. 25: 46).

II. The blood of Jesus, the means and cost of forgiveness

A. Animal sacrifices were not efficacious in the permanent remitting of sin. In fact, there continued to be remembrance of sin – sin was “continued forward,” if you will (Heb. 10: 1-4).

B. Jeremiah prophesied that the days would come when God would make a new covenant that would offer “total” forgiveness (Jere. 31: 31-34).

a. The writer of Hebrews quotes Jeremiah and shows its fulfillment is in the new covenant that has Jesus as its eternal sacrifice (Heb. 8: 6-13, 1-5, chs. 7-10).

C. Jesus said, “For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26: 28). We are sanctified by “the blood of his covenant” (Heb. 10: 29). Moreover, Jesus’ blood reconciles the estranged (Rom. 5: 10), redeems the enslaved (Eph. 1: 7), and justifies the guilty (Rom. 5: 9). Jesus’ blood is not only presently effective but his blood flowed backward “for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant” (Heb. 9: 15). Let us now turn our focus to the three areas involving forgiveness:

III. God’s forgiveness of man’s sins

A. As indicated, man is an unworthy recipient of God’s forgiveness (Rom. 5: 6-9). There was (is) no way man could earn or procure forgiveness through a system of meritorious works (Rom. 11: 6, Tit. 3: 5). We are saved (forgiven) “by grace…through faith” (Eph. 2: 8). The word “forgiveness” (aphiemi) means “to send forth, send away…to remit…” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine). Peter said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” (Acts 3: 19). “Blotted out” is derived from exaleipho which means “…to wipe, signifies to wash, or to smear completely” (Vine). Remember, when God forgives he “remembers no more” (Heb. 8: 12). We must also not forget that man has sinned against God and it is man’s responsibility to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5: 18-21).

B. Some believe and teach that God’s forgiveness of man’s sin is unconditional. If this be true, all men would be saved because God is not willing that any perish (2 Pet. 3: 9). However, only a few will be saved (Matt. 7: 13, 14). The scriptures also present man in need of reconciling himself to God, as seen; hence, man is not passive in the matter of his forgiveness.

C. The simple way of arriving at how man procures God’s forgiveness is to observe teaching which mentions how to have “forgiveness” or “remission” of sin. It was prophesied “whosoever believeth in him (Christ, dm) shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10: 43). This belief, however, is not passive or dead (Jas. 2: 19-26). “Believeth” (pisteuonta) is in the accusative case, singular in number, masculine in gender, participle, and present tense (The Analytical Greek Lexicon, pg. 326). The contemplated belief, then, which leads to forgiveness is on going and active (see “John 3: 16, A Great Statement,” located in the archives). Furthermore, the scriptures enjoin acts in addition to the initial act of belief – acts which are “for the remission of sin” (Acts 2: 38, repentance and baptism). The totality of the teaching of the New Testament regarding how the non-Christian obtains the forgiveness of sin or salvation is: Belief (Jn. 8: 24, Heb. 11: 6), repentance (Acts 2: 38), confession of Jesus’ deity (Rom. 10: 9, 10), and water baptism (Acts 2: 38, 22: 16, see “Salvation,” accessed from the home page). Water baptism is the consummating act which puts one into Jesus Christ, where salvation is enjoyed (Gal. 3: 26, 27, 2 Tim. 2: 10). “I do not agree,” one objects. Remember, God is the offended and it is man’s responsibility as the offender to humbly comply with God’s terms of forgiveness – not argue and substitute his own plans and means!

IV. Man’s forgiveness of man’s sins in general

A. The Christians at Corinth were commanded to forgive the member who had been in sin (2 Cor. 2: 7, 6-9, I Cor. 5). The situation at Corinth did not involve a personal infraction against the individual members, as such (I Cor. 5, cf. Matt. 18: 15-17). It will be observed in this scenario, just as in the case regarding God’s forgiveness of man’s sins, the forgiveness was conditional – the sinner had repented (2 Cor. 2: 6).

V. Man’s forgiveness of man in cases of personal offences

A. One can personally sin against another (Matt. 18: 15-17). In such cases, there is a prescribed procedure that must be followed (ibid.). This forgiveness, however, is also conditional. “Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him,” Jesus teaches (Lk. 17: 3). If there is no repentance, there can be no forgiveness!

a. Hence, in all three possible areas of forgiveness – God’s forgiveness of man, man’s forgiveness of man’s sins in general, and man’s forgiveness of man in cases of personal offences – forgiveness is conditioned and contingent on the sinner complying with God’s terms of forgiveness.

Conclusion: The prophet said, “…though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1: 18). To be forgiven means to be released and free of guilt! “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1: 5).

 

 

By His Stripes We Are Healed-Isaiah 53

53 Who really believed what we heard? Who saw in it the Lord’s great power?[a]

2 He was always close to the Lord. He grew up like a young plant, like a root growing in dry ground. There was nothing special or impressive about the way he looked, nothing we could see that would cause us to like him. 3 People made fun of him, and even his friends left him. He was a man who suffered a lot of pain and sickness. We treated him like someone of no importance, like someone people will not even look at but turn away from in disgust.

4 The fact is, it was our suffering he took on himself; he bore our pain. But we thought that God was punishing him, that God was beating him for something he did. 5 But he was being punished for what we did. He was crushed because of our guilt. He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace. We were healed because of his pain. 6 We had all wandered away like sheep. We had gone our own way. And yet the Lord put all our guilt on him.

7 He was treated badly, but he never protested. He said nothing, like a lamb being led away to be killed. He was like a sheep that makes no sound as its wool is being cut off. He never opened his mouth to defend himself. 8 He was taken away by force and judged unfairly. The people of his time did not even notice that he was killed.[b] But he was put to death[c] for the sins of his[d] people. 9 He had done no wrong to anyone. He had never even told a lie. But he was buried among the wicked. His tomb was with the rich.

10 But the Lord was pleased with this humble servant who suffered such pain.[e] Even after giving himself as an offering for sin, he will see his descendants and enjoy a long life. He will succeed in doing what the Lord wanted. 11 After his suffering he will see the light,[f] and he will be satisfied with what he experienced.

The Lord says, “My servant, who always does what is right, will make his people right with me; he will take away their sins. 12 For this reason, I will treat him as one of my great people. I will give him the rewards of one who wins in battle, and he will share them with his powerful ones. I will do this because he gave his life for the people. He was considered a criminal, but the truth is, he carried away the sins of many. Now he will stand before me and speak for those who have sinned.”

What I’m Learning About – Forgiveness

I listened quietly as my friend Jamie told me the frank details of the sexual abuse she’d suffered as a child.

“I hate my father!” she blurted out. “He abused me for more than a decade!” Jamie cried. “But my pastor said if I want to heal from my childhood pain, I have to forgive.”

“What did you tell your pastor?” I asked.

“I told him I could never forgive my father, that I didn’twant to forgive him, that no one—not even God—wouldexpect me to forgive him!”

Jamie told me all the reasons that kept her from forgiving her abusive father. I’d heard many of them before. In fact, I’d used some of them two years earlier, when a friend I’d trusted to keep a confidence told several women in my Sunday school class about a painful circumstance I was going through. I felt betrayed by my friend—as I should have. But forgiveher? That was the last thing I wanted to do! I dropped out of the Sunday school class and avoided her at church. But a year later, when I reread what the apostle Paul said about forgiveness, his familiar words touched my heart in a special way: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32, my emphasis).

As I meditated on that verse, I knew I’d been forgiven much. I needed to forgive my friend, even if I didn’t feel like it. I decided to do so. Later, when I met her and told her I’d forgiven her, she apologized, and we both cried. I wish I could say she and I became good friends again—but I can’t. Her betrayal deeply hurt our friendship, and I was careful never to share another confidence with her. But God’s Word and my decision to forgive set me free from bitterness.

Facing the Challenge

Jamie and I are just two of a legion of Christian women who’ve struggled with forgiveness because it’s difficult—almost impossible—to do. Yet in Luke 6:37, Jesus says, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” He elaborates in Matthew 6:14-15: “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.” The apostle Paul repeats Jesus’ command: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). Surely Paul’s “whatever grievances” covers any kind of hurt, betrayal, or injury another person could inflict!

In talking with hundreds of women about forgiveness, I’ve discovered six myths that keep us from the healing and freedom God desires for you and me.

Myth 1:

Forgiving means the offender didn’t really hurt you.Jamie thought if she forgave her father, it lessened the severity of his abuse. Yet Jamie’s forgiveness doesn’t deny her father hurt her. In fact, it clearly recognizes the enormity of his evil—if Jamie’s dad hadn’t deliberately caused her pain, she’d have no reason to forgive him.

“Forgiveness is a redemptive response to having been wronged and wounded,” wrote author Lewis B. Smedes. “Only those who have wronged and wounded us are candidates for forgiveness. If they injure us accidentally, we excuse them. We only forgive the ones we blame.” Choosing to forgive her father acknowledges the pain Jamie endured at his hands. It also begins her healing.

Myth 2:

Forgiving means you excuse the offender’s hurtful act. When I chose to forgive my friend, I didn’t condone her cruel behavior. Forgiveness, I’ve discovered, is a response that seeks to redeem the hurt, not brush it off. An accidental “slip of the tongue” needs no forgiveness because it isn’t deliberately caused. Intentional hurts—like my friend’s betrayal—need forgiveness. When I forgave my friend, my forgiveness didn’t lessen the impact of her painful action. But forgiveness unlocked my own “prison” of bitterness.

Myth 3:

Before forgiving, you must first understand why the offender hurt you. On December 1, 1997, Missy Jenkins, a sophomore at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky, stood with her classmates and prayed before school started. Before they said their final “amen,” 14-year-old Michael Carneal pulled out a pistol and fired 11 shots into the student prayer group. One bullet severely damaged Missy’s spinal cord. Paralyzed from the waist down, Missy will spend her life in a wheelchair.

Missy doesn’t know the reason her classmate deliberately hurt her. Michael may not understand his reasons. But that didn’t keep Missy from choosing to forgive him.

“I believe hating him is wasted emotion,” Missy says. “Hating Michael won’t make me walk again. Besides, I know it isn’t what Jesus would do.”

Our human mind yearns to make all the confusing puzzle pieces fit together neatly before we forgive. However, the truth is we can forgive an offender even if we never discover the reasons for the inflicted pain. Author Philip Yancey writes in What’s So Amazing About Grace, “Not to forgive imprisons me in the past and locks out all potential for change. I thus yield control to another, my enemy, and doom myself to suffer the consequences of the wrong.”

Myth 4:

Before forgiving the offender, you must feel forgiving. Forgiveness has nothing to do with how you feel. You can feel hurt, betrayed, and angry, and still completely forgive the one who wounded you. Biblical forgiveness is an act of the will. It’s a choice you make.

Can you still feel angry after you forgive? Yes! Anger means you’re in touch with reality—it’s part of being human. But be careful to aim that anger at what your offender did, not at the offender herself. Then let your anger push you toward justice.

Myth 5:

Forgiving means the offender will face no consequences. When we choose to forgive someone, our forgiveness doesn’t “let him off the hook.” Forgiveness also doesn’t mean justice shouldn’t be served.

In December 1983, Pope John Paul II visited a prisoner, Mehmet Ali Agca, at the Rebibbia prison in Rome. In May 1981, Agca had aimed a pistol at the pope and shot him in the chest. After much pain and agony, John Paul recovered, and now he looked Agca in the eye, extended his hand, and said, “I forgive you.”

Even though the pope forgave him, Agca still faced the consequences of his crime. He served a lengthy prison sentence until he finally was released years later.

Myth 6:

When your offender is punished, you’ll find closure.On June 13, 1990, Linda Purnhagen saw her two daughters, Gracie, 16, and Tiffany, 9, for the last time. Dennis Dowthitt, a dangerously sick psychopath, strangled Tiffany to death, then raped Gracie and slit her throat. When authorities discovered the girls’ bodies, they arrested and convicted Dowthitt, and scheduled his execution.

A decade later, as executioners strapped him to his death gurney, Dowthitt apologized for the savage killings. But not even his confession, apology, and execution brought closure for Linda. She was disappointed after the execution, not relieved.

We think we can more easily forgive others if they confess the crime and apologize for the pain they caused. But don’t look to justice, imprisonment, or execution to bring needed closure and healing. Only forgiveness will do that.

The Choice to Forgive

The decision to forgive an offender is probably the hardest choice we can ever make. Some crimes seem too horrible to forgive. Our instincts tell us to avenge the person who caused us pain, not to release him from the debt he owes us. But as Christians, we can’t afford to have unforgiving hearts, for we have been greatly forgiven by God in Christ (Ephesians 4:32).

Only forgiveness can release us from a life of hatred and bitterness. “Forgiving is a journey, sometimes a long one,” wrote Lewis B. Smedes in Shame and Grace. “We may need some time before we get to the station of complete healing, but the nice thing is that we are being healed en route. When we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover the prisoner we set free was us.”

Denise George, www.authordenisegeorge.com, is the author of more than 20 books, including A Woman’s Right to Rest(Leafwood).

Forgiveness ABCs

Acknowledge the hurt. When someone deliberately hurts you, don’t try to diminish the pain and its effect on you. Acknowledge your suffering—and express it aloud to God. Scripture promises: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18), and “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

Blame the offender. If a person hurts you by mistake, she didn’t mean to inflict pain, so she needs no forgiveness. But if a person intentionally hurts you, then the pain she caused was deliberate. Say aloud: “I personally blame you, (name of offender), because you hurt me on purpose.” Correctly placing the blame readies you to begin the forgiveness process.

Cancel the debt. You’ve acknowledged the hurt and rightly blamed the offender. Now you’re ready to make the willful decision to “cancel the debt” your offender owes you. Find a quiet place to be alone and ask the Lord’s help in forgiving the person who hurt you. You might pray the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13) and meditate on verse 12: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” After you’ve prayed and while you’re still alone, speak aloud your decision to forgive: “(Name of offender), I’ve chosen to forgive you for hurting me; I’ve decided to cancel the debt you owe me.” You’ve now embarked on the process of forgiving the person who hurt you. —D.G.

Copyright © by the author or Christianity Today/Today’s Christian Woman magazine.
Click here for reprint information on Today’s Christian Woman.
July/August 2006, Vol. 28, No. 4, Page 38

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How to Avoid Temptation to Sin

Human beings are naturally inclined towards sin. Everyone feels the urge to sin at some point because sinning gives us tangible yet fleeting benefits at the cost of moral and spiritual ones. Temptation is the urge to sin. We’re judged by the degree to which we thwart our temptations. Because of humanity’s sinful nature, everyone, at some point, fails to resist their temptations. Luckily, we’re never alone in our quest to thwart our temptations. In the words of the Bible: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 English Standard Version) In this guide, you’ll learn strategies for avoiding temptation and for combating it when it does find you.

STEP 1–Identify your temptations and the personal flaws that create them. Everyone has their own temptations. Though Jesus never sinned, even he was tempted to. (Hebrews 4:15) Spend a few moments self-reflecting to identify your personal temptations. Then, pin down the personality traits that lead you to temptation – maybe you’re insecure or you’re never satisfied with yourself. Perhaps you prioritize pleasure over responsibility. No two people are exactly alike. Your temptations might resemble those of your friends, family, or other associates, but there’s also a chance that they’re unique to you. A priest, counselor, or other trusted person can help you discover your unique temptations and the flaws from which these temptations developed.If you’re having a hard time defining exactly what your temptations are, begin by pinpointing the things in your life that make you sad, then try to find a thought process or habit you possess that leads to these things. For instance, let’s say you’re in a committed relationship with a woman you love but you frequently feel intense guilt because you flirt with other women. Search your heart. Ask yourself, “what do I think or do that makes me want to act like this?” After some reflection, you may find, for instance, that you’re worried about whether you’re still attractive. The source of your temptation in this case is your sense of insecurity.

STEP 2—Set reasonable goals for fighting temptation. Your aim when fighting temptation should take into account the fact that, as a human being, you’re incapable of perfection. Don’t set an un-achievable goal like “I will never sin again.” If you do, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Realize that you will inevitably sin again (and again and again). Set a realistic goal that takes this into account.For instance, if you’ve been neglecting your child’s vocal recitals in favor of nights spent at home watching TV, you might set a goal of never missing another vocal recital (except for emergencies) and of reducing your time spent watching TV every week by four hours. This goal is well within your grasp.
For a few very serious sins, it is absolutely necessary to set a zero-tolerance goal – for instance, you should obviously never commit murder or marital infidelity. These sins can cause irreparable damage to others’ lives.

STEP 3—Take responsibility for yourself. You were blessed with free will for a reason. Don’t waste your opportunity to act decisively against your personal temptation by giving into the separate temptation of inaction! Stand up and take action now. Make it your goal going forward to not give in to your temptation. The hardest part of overcoming your temptation can be getting started. Don’t sabotage your journey before it’s begun by telling yourself you can’t do it.When Jesus died, he gave us authority over the forces of evil. (Mark 16:17) Never fear or run from the forces of evil in your own life. With hard work and sincere faith, nothing is beyond your grasp.

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James 1-Trials and Temptations

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:

Greetings.

Trials and Temptations

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Luke 14

14 And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.

2 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.

3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?

4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;

5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?

6 And they could not answer him again to these things.

7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them.

8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;

9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.

10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.

11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.

13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:

14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.

16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:

17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.

19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.

23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,

26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,

30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?

32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?

35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

1 Timothy 4

1 Timothy 4
New International Version (NIV)
4 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,[a] you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Micah 7- Fest upon the Word

7 I am upset because I am like fruit that has been gathered,
like grapes that have already been picked.
There are no grapes left to eat.
There are none of the early figs that I love.
2 By this I mean that all the faithful people are gone.
There are no good people left.
Everyone is planning to kill someone.
Everyone is trying to trap their brother.
3 People are good at doing bad things with both hands.
Officials ask for bribes.
Judges take money to change their decisions in court.
“Important leaders” do whatever they want to do.
4 Even the best of them is as crooked
as a tangled thornbush.

The Day of Punishment Is Coming

Your prophets said this day would come,
and the day of your watchmen[a] has come.
Now you will be punished.
Now you will be confused!
5 Don’t trust your neighbor
or trust a friend!
Don’t even speak freely
with your wife.
6 Your enemies will be the people in your own house.
A son will not honor his father.
A daughter will turn against her mother.
A daughter-in-law will turn against her mother-in-law.

The Lord Is the Savior

7 So I will look to the Lord for help.
I will wait for God to save me.
My God will hear me.
8 I have fallen, but enemy, don’t laugh at me!
I will get up again.
I sit in darkness now,
but the Lord will be a light for me.

The Lord Forgives

9 I sinned against the Lord,
so he was angry with me.
But he will argue my case for me in court.
He will do what is right for me.
Then he will bring me out into the light,
and I will see that he is right.
10 My enemy said to me,
“Where is the Lord your God?”
But my enemy will see this,
and she will be ashamed.
At that time I will laugh at her.[b]
People will walk over her,[c] like mud in the streets.

The Jews to Return

11 The time will come when your walls will be rebuilt.
At that time the country will grow.
12 Your people will come back to your land.
They will come back from Assyria and from the cities of Egypt.
They will come from Egypt
and from the other side of the Euphrates River.
They will come from the sea in the west
and from the mountains in the east.

13 The land was ruined by the people
who lived there and by what they did.
14 So rule your people with your rod.
Rule the flock of people who belong to you.
That flock lives alone in the woods
and up on Mount Carmel.
That flock lives in Bashan and Gilead
as they did in the past.

Israel Will Defeat Its Enemies

15 I did many miracles when I took you out of Egypt.
I will let you see more miracles like that.
16 The nations will see those miracles,
and they will be ashamed.
They will see that their “power”
is nothing compared to mine.
They will be amazed
and put their hands over their mouths.
They will cover their ears
and refuse to listen.
17 They will crawl in the dust like a snake.
They will shake with fear.
They will be like insects crawling
from their holes in the ground
and coming to the Lord our God.
God, they will fear and respect you!

Praise for the Lord

18 There is no God like you.
You take away people’s guilt.
God will forgive his people who survive.
He will not stay angry with them forever,
because he enjoys being kind.
19 He will come back and comfort us again.
He will throw all our sins into the deep sea.
20 God, please be true to Jacob.
Be kind and loyal to Abraham,[d] as you promised our ancestors long ago.

 

Desiring God- 1 Corinthians

6 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Sexual Immorality

12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”[b] 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.[c]

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

desiring god