Satan is a liar.
There is no truth in him…..everything he leverages in the brokenness of our world and in the fallenness of our flesh is deceptive. One of his favorite things to do is to lob accusations at us that remind us of our sins. He loves to take us back to the dark – secret – repressed memories of our sinfulness and then accuse us with so much veracity that we begin to believe him when he tells us that there are some sins that God can’t forgive. The problem with this is simple…..God, through Jesus, is able to forgive any sin you and I bring to the table. The full wrath of God was poured out on Christ at calvary. So when Satan, the accuser, begins to accuse you of something don’t allow him to coerce you into believing God can’t forgive you…..if you don’t resist him he will have you right where he wants you…..in your shame. The cross is more powerful than your worst sin.
I personally think Satan’s bigger victory is found in how he manipulates Christians. Once a person has been given life through Jesus he changes his strategy…..he re-words the lie. The enemy works overtime to convince saved people that there are some sins that they can’t forgive. The offense was too great, the sin was to depraved, the crime was too heinous……you can’t forgive.
I understand that when we are encouraged to forgive those who have hurt us there is immediate pushback because of the horrific things may have happened over the course of our lives.
– sexual abuse
– physical abuse
– mental abuse
The last thing Satan wants is for you and I to extend forgiveness to those that have hurts us……because as long as we hold on to unforgiveness he holds on to that part of our heart.
When Satan has you living where you can’t forgive….he has you living in a place where you aren’t fully living in the power of God’s forgiveness….you and I have to learn how to forgive.
As far as I can tell, forgiveness is not an option for believers so we have to grapple with why it is so hard for us to forgive.
I personally think it is because the enemy has redefined our definition of the word: forgive.
3 lies about forgiveness:
Lie #1: Forgiving = forgetting
The enemy wants us to believe that to forgive is to forget. This is a lie because it is not possible to just simply remove the memory of some offenses from your mind and your heart.
Satan’s strategy of getting us to believe that to forgive is to forget is really genius on his part. He knows that we get this from passages in the scripture that say things like “I will remember their sins no more.” So he takes that and twists it to his advantage. Larry Osborne suggests that when the Bible speaks of God not remembering it doesn’t mean he has literally forgotten. It means “He doesn’t respond to you in light of it.” For God to actually forget…..creates a theological dilemma: if we don’t forget then we would know something God doesn’t know!!
He remembers in that He is aware of the sin…..He just doesn’t respond to us in light of “it” anymore.
A lot of times we don’t forgive because we think it means forgetting. Of course you remember what happened….some of your memories are HD and as if it happened yesterday. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting…..it means you no longer respond to the offender in light of the sin.
Lie #2: Forgiveness = removing all consequences
Eternal forgiveness is a clean slate…..earthly forgiveness sometimes still includes consequences.
When God forgives from an earthly perspective He doesn’t remove all the consequences. God models this in His interaction with David after his sin with Bathsheba.
 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.  Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die.” (2 Samuel 12:13-14 ESV)
Although God had forgiven David of adultery, murder and a slew of other things eternally….there were still earthly consequences. David would reap what he had sown.
The enemy has you right where he wants you if you think forgiveness means there are never any consequences.
If your child was molested by a family member forgiveness is possible.
- Will it happen over night? No.
- Will it be easy? No.
- Will you be able to do it simply because you “should?” No.
- Will you be able to forgive in your own strength? No.
- Is it possible for you to forgive this family member for such a terrible sin? Yes.
The lie that to forgive is to forget coupled with the lie that to forgive is to remove all consequences….makes forgiveness nearly impossible.
Accountability is not in opposition to forgiveness. There should be accountability. There should be consequence. The family member that sinned against your child won’t be on the sitter list….most likely ever again. The heart of forgiveness rests in a person’s willingness to leave those things up to the will and method of God. True forgiveness is when we are able to say to the one that sinned against us “We are starting over….your sinned redefined the relationship….we are not picking up where we left off…..we are at square one.” Honestly, to not respond to someone in light of their sin, when you were the one they offended, requires supernatural help. The good news is that you, through Christ, have access to the power of the Holy Spirit.
My guess is there is someone reading this who has been wounded deeply by the actions of someone else and there is something in you that wants to get even…..
Lie #3: Forgiveness = getting even
The enemy wants us to believe that we are owed something. His desire would be for us to become so focused on what we have lost temporarily that we wind up neglecting to celebrate all that we have eternally through Christ. When we focus on what has been taken from us we want to get even. The old adage is “hurt people hurt people.” Somewhere along the way we have started to believe this is an appropriate response when we have been hurt. The Bible actually teaches something very different for the individual…..the Bible teaches that when punched in the face – turn and give them the other cheek! We are commanded in the following way:
 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:17-19)
He will deal with it all in the end. The war is not ours to fight.
Forgiveness is no easy task……but neither was the cross. Every believer (redeemed child of God) has the power to forgive through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Let’s agree to stand up for a proper definition of forgiveness……and call out Satan’s redefinitions for what they truly are…..LIES.
****I appreciate very much the teaching of Larry Osborne that greatly impacted my thoughts on this topic****