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August 18, 2017

Recently we were able to help a lady we met who had been kicked out of where she had been living. It was tough situation for her so we did what we could to help. Wanda spent long hours talking with her and soon discovered much in this lady’s past where she had been traumatized by others. To help her Wanda and I walked her through some of the inner healing principles that we had learned from Elijah House and knew worked. When I got to the point about forgiveness she balked. Immediately barriers went up and she said she would not forgive. As I listened I realized that her problem wasn’t unforgiveness but that what she had been taught and seen about forgiveness was wrong.

A long time ago, when I had my business in Sherwood Park, our family had accrued a great deal of debt. We had just bought a house and a car plus we had a few student loans. Taken together these loans put a significant strain on our finances and emotions. About this time the prophets, especially Nita Johnson, were telling the people of God to get out of debt. They had good reason to do so because the coming wave of evil was going to swamp many who were in bondage to the systems of this world. God was, and is, warning His people to get out of debt for their own protection against what is coming. Since we wanted to obey God we made plans to pay down our debt and He blessed us with the funds to do so. We were almost debt free when God led us to pull up stakes and move to Prince Edward Island, Canada. With the sale of our house we were then able to eliminate all of our outstanding debts.

Now you might be wondering why I am talking about debt when this blog is supposed to be about forgiveness. Let me explain. In Jesus’ prayer He taught us to pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors.” Matthew 6:12. In order for forgiveness to work there must be some form of trespass, or debt, outstanding. You must be owing somebody or owed by somebody. If the debt is yours then you owe somebody and if the debt is theirs then they owe you. Forgiveness, then, is the act of relinquishing the debt. It means you owe nothing and nobody owes you. With money it is fairly easy to see this transaction but in the spirit it is much harder.

God began to show us this principle as we lived in the little blue house in Bridgetown. We had a neighbor lady, Robin, that would cut right across our front yard to get to the little park next to our house. This trespassing bothered us because the windows of Fanny and Ida’s bedroom were at the front of the house. When somebody walks 4 to 5 feet from your window, and you are not expecting it, it can be very disconcerting. To stop this trespassing we put up a little rope fence to let her know we did not like her trespassing on the property we were renting. She did stop. Now this little episode got us thinking about how we trespass in others’ lives and they trespass against us. It causes friction and debt. I know we were getting very angry at Robin for her trespassing and it wasn’t good. The fence did stop her but the anger was still there. We had to do something with it because even though it was a small thing, if it was not properly dealt with, it would eventually turn rotten and lead to bitterness.

What we learned was that God wanted us to release any trespass or debt we had against anybody to Him. We needed to forgive them. This action had nothing to do with the person that hurt us in any way. They would still need to answer for what they did before God. What we needed to do was release God to bring His justice about. By holding on to the debt or trespass what we were saying was that we were the judge and the other person needed to ‘pay up’. The problem was that A) we are not capable of judging others and B) we only hurt ourselves by holding on to the debt. If we don’t forgive then we are saying two things to God. First we are saying that we are more powerful, all knowing and wiser than Him and therefore are more than competent than Him to pass judgement on others. Secondly we are spitting in Jesus face and saying that His blood has no power over the trespass done against us. Now does anyone seriously think that those two statements could possibly be true under any circumstance? I didn’t think so. The fact is that God is so much greater than us in His wisdom and righteousness that we haven’t a leg to stand on in unforgiveness and since Jesus’ blood was more than enough to cover my egregious sin why would it not be enough for those who trespass against me?

God’s righteous judgment and Jesus’ blood cover all wrongdoing, debts and trespasses. No exceptions. None. I can safely get out of the business of holding debts against others by forgiving them. This incurs no loss to me or to them. What forgiveness does do is prevent satan from having any way to bring misery and pain into my soul. We discovered that after the initial trespass, which may be very small, satan will pour more wounding into the trespass until it becomes so inflamed the person can think of nothing else. We saw a stark example of this over a little piece of fudge.

One day a neighbor lady in Bridgetown made and brought us some fudge. Now we knew this neighbor lady had been gossiping about us. We were not about to accept any gift from her hand so we returned the fudge. Now I am not going to take the high road here. We may not have been the nicest in returning the fudge as we were in a bad place but we certainly meant no harm. Like the rope fence we were simply putting up a boundary that we thought was acceptable. Now a year went by and we had no contact with this lady. After this time Wanda went to talk to her about something. The lady’s response was so full of anger and hate that it shocked Wanda. I tell you this story only to illustrate the example that when a debt is incurred in the spirit, if it is not forgiven, it will grow in magnitude and the offended person will try to ‘collect’ the debt with ‘interest’. It is that ‘interest’ that satan adds to the debt that makes us lash out and want to hurt the one that originally hurt us. The problem is that the ‘interest’ is much greater than the original debt. If ‘interest’ is extracted it will cause a never ending cycle of debt between two people. Forgiveness stops that escalation cold as it releases us from having to ‘collect’ on the debt and any ‘interest’ we feel may have occurred.

Now before forgiveness can happen properly I must be clear that you must be given full latitude to express your emotions and know that what you feel is real. The emotions that come from the debt and trespass must be expressed. To not do so will harm you. You need to know that your emotions are valid and important. There is no such thing as an unexpressed emotion so it needs to come out before forgiveness can take place. You need a chance to tell God how you feel and understand that He is listening. As one who has been the person God has chosen as a listener in identificational repentance as people give voice to their trauma I cannot overemphasize this. Your pain is real and God knows it. After you have had a chance to pour your heart out before Him, alone or to another who will listen, He will then ask you if you wish to let go and forgive the other person. It is a simple choice but He always will respect your free will. God will never make you forgive. If you say ‘yes’ the next step is easy.

Forgiveness is simple to do. I tell people to close their eyes and see a box before them. I then ask them to take all the offense that one person has done against them, with all the interest, and place it in the box, then close it. Then I tell them to pick up the box, walk a few steps forward, then lay the box at the foot of the cross of Jesus. At that moment I get them to pray out loud a prayer of surrender and forgiveness, letting go of the box and leaving the contents with Jesus. Try it, it really works. Forgiveness does nothing for the other person but it does release you from all the weight and pressure that debt brings.

Keep in mind that there are times when forgiveness will not come. God respects that and so do we. Free will trumps everything and no one can force another to forgive, not even God. In those instances, I agree with the person but I clearly show them Matthew 6:14-15. “For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.” God will accept your choice but He cannot grant you forgiveness. If you receive forgiveness for your debts and trespasses from God through Jesus’ sacrifice but do not grant that same forgiveness to others, then there is no other debt repayment system available to you. At that moment no one can help you unless you change your mind and choose to forgive.

As a battle strategy forgiveness significantly impacts ‘self’ and its power to hurt. The ‘self’ nature feeds continually on unforgiveness. Unforgiveness enables ‘self’ in a major way, growing it exponentially and destroying spirit. Forgiveness breaks this cycle and the power of ‘self’ to control you. Today I encourage you to check in with the Holy Spirit and make sure that you have no debts against others and that all your debts are forgiven, covered by Jesus’ blood.