132. Feeling Guilty? Is It Conviction By The Holy Spirit Or Condemnation By The Devil?

A friend remarked recently that the motivating factor in the incredible change in his life came through a deep conviction by the Holy Spirit. The experience  gave him a sense of his lost-ness and a feeling of guilt from deliberately living life without God. He also shared that when he first started going to church, a sense of guilt remained for some time. But it raises the question as to whether new believers (or sometimes more mature believers) are suffering from unnecessary guilt.

We need to remember that we live in a fallen world and that none of us are, or ever will be, perfect. One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit of God whom we received at our conversion to Christ, is to convict us of our sin. Jesus said in John 16:8, And when he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. The word for “convict” here is  ελέγχω (elegchō). It has meanings in the New Testament such as these, to convict, expose, reprove, rebuke, show fault, to prove to be wrong. It is used in a similar sense in Jn 3:19-20, where it is said that light “exposes” darkness,  Jn 3:19  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.Exposed” here is our word (elegchō).

As many have discovered, the Holy Spirit exposes the sinfulness of sin to human hearts. However humans by and large have no great desire to change. That is why light is so threatening to many people. They believe that if they get close to the light, their sins might be exposed and they don’t want to be unmasked in that manner.  By contrast believers are not afraid of the light because they want to walk in the light, in ways that honour God.  They welcome the light that exposes any sin in their lives, so that they can repent of it and then can ask and receive God’s forgiveness and cleansing.

It raises the question however whether believers should have feelings of guilt? Of course they should if they are guilty in any way. But the Christian life is meant to be an ongoing growth in maturity and in holiness. The Holy Spirit can and does convict believers of their guilt when they transgress or step out of the will of God for them. In spite of our growing likeness to Christ, there will never be a time when we can go it alone. We will always need the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to bring about that transformation. He shows us our faults (convicts us). But He also empowers us to overcome those faults by His grace, love and power.

Throughout my ministry I have come across many believers who were weighed down with guilt. Why? Because they had failed to recognise the difference between the ministry of the Holy Spirit in convicting us of sin and the strategy of the devil in seeking to make us feel guilty. I once put in a diagram to show the difference.

What is the difference between:-  Conviction by the Holy Spirit?  Condemnation by the accuser? (Reading across the columns from left to right). 

The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin  so that we might repent of our guilt and sin So that we turn to God to ask for and receive God’s forgiveness The end result. So that we might walk in freedom from guilt by the grace of God
The Devil (as Diabolos the accuser) accuses us and condemns us of our sin so that we might feel guilt and remorse (but not repentance) So that he may entice us to turn away from God in our guilt, feeling worthless and useless and “dirty” The end result. So that we might be held captive in our “guilt” to the Devil.

It was quite amazing when I taught this truth in large seminars that so many attendees suddenly realised what was going on in their minds and in their lives.  Some of them later admitted that they had been having troubling thoughts. They were rejoicing in their salvation, but were often plagued with condemning thoughts. Sometimes this had led to thoughts of self-condemnation. Other times they had felt that they were too unworthy to keep on serving God. Many of these folk realised that there was a battle going on in their minds.

We need to remember that our thoughts come from various sources. The Bible teaches something that many of us have come to realise. That is, the Satan, the Devil (Diabolos)  is able to plant thoughts in our minds. He can do that in the realm of temptation as he sows tempting possibilities in our minds. But he is also known as the “accuser” which is the meaning of  the word “diabolos”. As the diagram above shows he accuses us so that we begin to feel condemned and guilty, so that we come more under his power. That is why we need to take stock of what is going on in our thinking.  We need to learn to recognise the origin of the thoughts that form in our minds. Are they from God, from Satan or just our own reflections? Is God trying to convict us of something in our lives that is not according to His will for us? As we respond to Him, we learn to walk in greater freedom. Or is it Satan having a go at us to lead us away from God.

Well, how do we discern what is going on in our minds? St Paul shows us the answer in 2 Corinthians 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. It means not allowing our thoughts to get out of control. Rather we are to take every thought to Jesus to let Him rule on it so that we continue to live in obedience to Him. If we continue to dwell on our thoughts  we can begin to “own” them as the product of our minds, when in fact they may have been thoughts planted by Satan. The German reformer Martin Luther  saw the danger of dwelling on our thoughts. He said regarding temptation, “You can’t stop the birds flying over your heads, but you can stop them building nests in your hair.”  In other words, temptations are sure to come to all of us. It is inevitable in a fallen world where the Devil is opposed to God and to His children. But what we can and must do is to stop those tempting thoughts from taking root in our minds. Otherwise we give them power by feeding them by dwelling on those thoughts.

If you have a troubling thought in your mind you are able to do something about it. You don’t have to remain a “victim”of a diabolical attack. You can take the thought to Jesus for Him to deal with. You could pray a prayer like this one.

“Dear Lord Jesus. I thank You that You know everything about me. You know every thought I have. I confess that I have been focussing on this particular thought ….. . I want to obey you in all that I do. If this thought is from You then give me peace about it and the grace to act on it. If this thought is not from You, I ask that You break the power of that thought in my mind so that I don’t continue to focus on it. Please renew my mind so that You become the Lord of my mind. I ask this so that I might bring glory to your name in all I think, say and do. AMEN.” 

Blog No. 132.  Jim Holbeck. Posted on Saturday 23rd November 2013

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224. REPENTANCE. As seen in the ministries of John the Baptist and of Jesus

Many years ago a famous writer A.W.Tozer penned a book with the title, “Worship, The Missing Jewel Of The Evangelical Church.” It was a challenging book and led to changes being made in church services and in church life and personal lives in many churches around the world. Perhaps it might be time for another book with the title, “Repentance, The Missing Jewel Of The Christian Church.” Certainly, there is a loss of emphasis on repentance in many denominations and churches worldwide.  That is surprising when we consider the accounts of preaching in the New Testament.

It may be helpful to look at some of the major words used for repentance in the New Testament. The first word is the Greek word translated as “repent” [metanoéō, μετανοέω] with the associated noun “repentance” [metánoia, μετάνοια]. The basic meaning is seen in the components to the word. The “meta” is a preposition meaning “ with” or after”.  The “noia” is derived from “nous” meaning mind, reason or intellect. So “to repent” can mean to have an after-thought, or to change one’s mind. It can mean a change of mind accompanied by a change in direction, a change in behaviour.

The other word used in the New Testament that has some bearing on the meaning of repentance is the word [stréphō,  στρέφω meaning “to turn”] and its derivatives, especially [epistréphō,  ἐπιστρέφω].

 JOHN THE BAPTIST PREACHED REPENTANCE

A change in behaviour was obviously what was in the mind of John the Baptist as he began his preaching. His clarion call to the people of his day was this, Mat 3:2 Repent [metanoéō], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” How did his hearers respond?  Mat 3:5 “Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins”. Repentance involved confession of sin in order to be forgiven. Both Mark and Luke record that he preached “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3.

But that confession of sin had to be sincere. When some of the Jewish leaders of the day came to see what was happening he challenged their insincerity. Mat 3:7 “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” John the Baptist was looking for a change in their behaviour. To rely on their status was insufficient. Mat 3:9 “And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham”. An eventual time of judgment by the coming Messiah, Jesus, would see the recognition of good fruit [wheat] and the destruction of what was not good, [the chaff.] Mat 3:12 “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

In many ways John the Baptist was preparing the way for the coming King but it must have been a shock to the religious leaders of the day that he expected them to repent and be baptised as well. Luke records these tragic words about those leaders who were not willing to repent, Luke 7:30  “But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him”. Failure to repent = a rejection of the purpose of God! Repentance is obviously very important in the sight of God!

 JESUS PREACHED REPENTANCE

Jesus, after His temptations in the wilderness, began his ministry, Mat 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He too expected change in the behaviour of those who witnessed His miracles and heard His teaching. If they failed to repent then they were guilty in His sight,  Mat 11:20 “Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.” He emphasised their guilt by comparing them with those in the past who had not turned to God from their sin, but may have, had they been given the greater opportunities the present generation had been given, Mat 11:21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” Greater opportunities always bring with them, greater accountability

Jesus contrasted the positive response of the people of Nineveh who repented at the preaching of Jonah with the lack of response to His ministry from His hearers,  Luke 11:32 “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” He taught about the necessity of repentance in very strong terms, Luk 13:3 “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.’ AND Luk 13:5 ‘No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

 True repentance on the part of one person can lead to rejoicing in heaven. As Jesus said, Luk 15:7 “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” AND Luk 15:10 “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” On the other hand His people were to believe those who came to them saying that they had repented of their sin against them, Luk 17:3 “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” It takes a lot for people to repent so any expression of repentance is to be taken seriously. Jesus’ ministry was directed, as He said, not to those who felt no need to repent but to those who admitted they were sinners, Luk 5:32  “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance .”

 During His ministry Jesus sent out His 12 apostles with a message of repentance, Mar 6:12 “So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent.” The hearers were meant to respond to the message that God’s kingdom had come in Jesus. After His resurrection Jesus told His disciples what their message should be. He linked repentance with forgiveness of sins. They were to preach Christ as the One in whom forgiveness of sins could be obtained through repentance. Luke 24:45 “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” But did His disciples fulfil that commission? We will see in another article that they did! Before we do so we look at the other words we mentioned especially [strepho, στρέφω and epistréphō, ἐπιστρέφω both meaning to turn]

Other words associated with aspects of repentance

In Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, Zechariah was told by an angel that Jesus would have a God-given role in bringing many Israelites to God, Luk 1:16  “And he will turn [epistréphō] many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17  and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn [epistréphō] the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” His ministry would “turn hearts“ and they would respond to God.

However not everyone’s heart would be turned to God through His ministry. Not all would repent. Some would have hardened hearts which would be resistant to His message, Mat 13:15 “For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn [epistréphō], and I would heal them.” However in a similar passage in John 12:40 a different word is used. “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn [strepho] and I would heal them.” Their healing was dependent on their turning to God. They had a choice. They were accountable for their choices.

Jesus warned them later that entrance into the kingdom of God was also dependent on their humbling themselves and turning to Him, Mat 18:3 “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn [strepho] and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  The turning to God in these cases involved a decision on the part of the hearers to humbly respond to the message Jesus preached, an aspect of repentance. There needed to be an ongoing repentance in believers which meant that they would not turn back from God.

 Jesus warned Peter that Satan was trying to bring him down.  Peter would soon after deny Jesus but Jesus had prayed that his faith might not fail. He would turn again after those denials and become a strength to his fellow disciples, Luke 22:32  “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Turn is [epistréphō.] It would be a turning back to his role in strengthening his fellow disciples.  Which of course he did.

What all these passages are saying is that repentance is a choice we humans need to make. We need to change our minds about living our lives in our own way and turn to God to live our lives in His way. In doing so we  to receive His forgiveness for our sins and also the gift of His Spirit who can enable us and empower us to live life in God’s way. We will go on to examine what that involves for all of us, but it obviously means active involvement in our relationship with God and not passive detachment from Him or from His plan and purpose for us! More on that soon!

Blog No.224.  Jim Holbeck. Posted Monday 24th July 2017.

 

 

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223. REPENTANCE. What is it?

Today many people around the world are saying that the church is dying. That may be so in some parts of the world, but in other parts of the world the church is growing rapidly. There may be many reasons for this but perhaps one reason may be this. In the areas where the church is growing the new converts have had to face many difficulties in coming to faith. For them, their new life as Christians would be a radical departure from their previous lives. Their commitment had to be a deep one if they were to embrace the Christian gospel and the Christian faith. Obviously many have made that commitment.

One aspect of this may be the deeper repentance we see in some folk rather than the shallow form of repentance we see in others. There are those who come under a deep conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit and in response want to become as committed to God as is humanly possible. Others allow the distractions of the world to crowd out what the Spirit may be doing in them. They quench the work of the Holy Spirit in them and may become carnal or fleshly believers rather than fulfilling their spiritual potential. Jesus warned about this sort of shallow response to the word of God, Luk 8:11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.”

By contrast those who allow the Spirit to take the word deep into their hearts are the ones who become fruitful. “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Lk  8:15. Where the word takes deep root in a person’s life there will always be a deeper form of repentance. As the words from the hymn “At even ‘ere the sun was set” put it, “And they who fain would serve Thee best, Are conscious most of wrong within.”

We look then at what repentance is not and then it what it really is.

What Repentance Is Not

i). It is not just sorrow or remorse or regret. For example Judas Iscariot didn’t repent. He regretted what he had done in betraying innocent blood but he didn’t turn to God to seek His mercy in forgiveness. He ignored God’s grace.  Paul wrote, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Cor 7:10. Judas’ sorrow was worldly and not godly.

ii). It is not rationalisation of our sin. There is no freedom in rationalisation (giving a reason for the sin). Eg., “I did it but this is why I did it.” (That statement doesn’t admit any personal guilt but gives only an explanation of behaviour.) Or “It wasn’t my fault that …” (That statement seeks to divert the blame.)

iii). It is not projection of sin onto others. Projection of sin onto others seeks to avoid personal accountability before God. He is not fooled! Human history is littered with examples of projection of guilt onto others. From Eve and Adam in Genesis onwards. As one godly African bishop said many years ago, whenever we point the finger of accusation at the sins of other people we need to remember that the other three fingers are pointing back at us. What we are trying to do is to point away from ourselves to those people who exhibit more evident examples of the sins we perhaps recognise in ourselves. Our purpose knowingly or unwittingly is to encourage people to look at them rather that at us!   God knows our motives in doing so, even when we are blind to them ourselves. We now look at what repentance really is.

What Repentance Really Is. (As seen in the Old Testament)

There are a number of words in the Septuagint Greek version of the Old Testament associated with the concept of repentance.  A major one is the word meaning “to turn” [epistréphō ].  It has a number of cognate words but they are used in terms of turning from someone or something to God. Here are some examples.

A very powerful passage which brings out this truth is found in 1 Kings 8:47-50. It is part of the prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the temple. This also has many other phrases, which are underlined, that describe what repentance is all about. The theme is that God is faithful to His promises to His people. However they need to be faithful to Him in that covenant relationship as well. Solomon prays that if God’s people sin, they will need to repent and turn back to God.  8:47, “and if they have a change of heart [epistréphō  is the word for change] in the land where they are held captive, and repent [epistréphō ] and plead  [déomai] with you in the land of their conquerors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrongwe have acted wickedly.”  This contains the main elements of repentance. For example there is the change of heart about their behaviour; the turning back to God; the pleading with Him for mercy; the acknowledgment and confession of their sin.

In the following verse 48, the turning back to God has to be whole hearted, with all one’s being,  “and if they turn back [epistréphō ] to you with all their heart and soul [echoes of the same phrase used in the Shema, the Hebrew word for ‘to hear’  in Deut 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”] in the land of their enemies who took them captive.” If they were meant to love Him in such a committed relationship, then if they sinned against Him they would need to turn back to Him with every fibre of their being.

Their true repentance would lead to prayer to God in which they would be pleading for His mercy and for His forgiveness for all their sins, “and pray   to you toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; 49 then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their pleaand maintain their cause 50 And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offences they have committed you, and cause their conquerors to show them mercy.”  

The  turning away from sin is brought out in Ezek 14:6 where 2 similar words are used. “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent [epistréphō] and turn away [apostréphō] from your idols, and turn away [epistréphō] your faces from all your abominations.” Repentance here means turning to God from idols and from the sins they were committing.

In a similar passage in Ezek 18:30 the people are commanded to turn from their transgressions and iniquity. “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent [epistréphō] and turn from [apostréphō] all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.”

God’s grace towards His people is seen in the fact that He works within them to motivate them to respond to Him.   But if they sin they personally have to turn to Him in a whole hearted response to Him. Jer 24:7 “I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to [epistréphō] me with their whole heart.”

An example of repentance in the Old Testament. King David

In previous articles I have written about David receiving forgiveness from God for his sins and especially his sin regarding Bathsheba. They are to be found on this site in articles number 014 on Psalm 32 and number 015 on Psalm 51. However we will look briefly here to see how those Psalms are portrayed in the Greek version of the Old Testament.

Psalm 32 and repentance

David began his psalm expressing the blessing of being forgiven by God. He also recalled the emotional and physical distress he experienced while he refused to repent and turn to God. But eventually he did repent and his explanatory words in verse 5 are instructive regarding the meaning of repentance, “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” 32:5. There were 3 aspects to his repentance.
i).  Acknowledgement of the sin committed. Psa 32:5 “I acknowledged my sin to you”.  The Greek word is [gnōrízō]. It means to make known. David made known his sins to God even though He already knew about them!  But it was important for David to be honest before God and not to live in denial. He acknowledges before God that he had sinned.

ii). The uncovering of the sin before God.  “and I did not cover my iniquity”. Sin inevitably leads to a “covering up”. Just ask Adam and Eve what they did after they both sinned.  They both covered up their nakedness and tried to take cover from the gaze of God.  “Cover” is from [kalúptō] meaning to cover up or cover over. David didn’t try to hide his sin from God but opened his life to Him in repentance.

iii).  The confession of the sin to God. ‘I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.”‘  David admitted his guilt to God and was rewarded with the experience of God’s forgiveness, “and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

Psalm 51 and repentance

We see David’s repentance in the following phrases, “Have mercy on me, O God.”Blot out my transgressions.”  “Wash me.”   “Cleanse me from my sin!”  “My sin is ever before me.”
“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight. ” 7 “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” 10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

David recognised in his brokenness before God that his sin could separate him from God. He prays for that not to happen.  “11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” He wanted to help others turn back to God as he had done,  13 “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.” [“Return” is epistréphō the word we looked at above in terms of turning from sin back to God.] David had turned back to God and wanted to help others do so. True repentance!

There are many other truths to examine regarding repentance but we will leave those to a later time. There are enough truths in the above material to encourage us to see whether we ourselves may need to do some repenting or not!

Blog No.223. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Thursday 20th July 2017

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222. REPENTANCE. The need to repent of sin. But what is sin? Gaining a little understanding from some New Testament words for sin.

There is something missing in some of the preaching in today’s world! It is the call for people to repent of their sin and turn to God for forgiveness and for His help to turn away from sin. As we saw in my previous article, the call to repentance came from the lips of John the Baptist, from Jesus and also from Peter on the day of Pentecost. [Peter, Mat 3:2  “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus, Mat 4:17 ‘From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.’  Peter, Acts 2:38  “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”]

To understand what it means to “repent of sin” we need to be reminded of the nature of human sin. If sin is seen as just a little irritant in the world then why would one have to go to the trouble of repenting of it. But if sin is seen as damaging those who indulge in it and bringing physical, emotional and spiritual damage to those who are the victims of it then it becomes a very serious matter indeed. It has to be repented of for the sake of the doers of sin and those who are harmed by the sins of other people.

To help us understand the horrific nature of sin I have looked at some of the main words used in the New Testament to describe human attitudes and behaviours that are seen to be sinful in the sight of God. As we examine them we will see how all embracing and widespread is human sin in history and throughout the world.

[The words are underlined in a selection of verses below. One thing to note is that some of the words begin with the letter “a” or alpha, “ἀ”. The reason for this is that in the Greek New Testament language to place an “a” at the beginning of a word changes it to the opposite meaning. We see that in Greek-English words like theist and atheist, gnostic and agnostic etc.  For the sake of busy people who may not have the time to do some research and for those who love words I have added some words in the New Testament Greek text. ]

1.]  Do Wrong, or to harm someone, adikéō, ἀδικέω. (Noun is adikia = unrighteousness]

To be guilty of injustice. (Here the word is derived from dikaios meaning ‘righteous’ but has an “a” added at the beginning to give the meaning ‘unrighteous’. The verb is found in the following verses.]

In the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, Jesus has the owner saying to one of the labourers who worked longer than some of the other workers, that he was not guilty of injustice by paying him only what they had agreed upon before work started. Those who started later received the same payment. The owner told the one who was complaining, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?” Mat 20:13. It could look like a case of injustice, Rather, justice had been done, as the promised payment was made. To pass less than the agreed amount would have been an injustice or a case of wrong doing towards the labourer.

 To cause harm. Luke in Acts 7 uses the word several times in the one passage to denote physical harm. In writing about Moses he wrote of the striking down by Moses of an Egyptian who was causing physical harm to an Israelite. Act 7:24  “And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. … 26  And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarrelling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ 27 But the man who was wronging his neighbour thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us?

When Paul was being judged by Festus he pleaded his innocence of the charges the Jews had laid against him. He said he had done no wrong against them, Acts 25:10  But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. 11 If then I am a wrongdoer [Literally, “I do wrong”] and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death … .” Paul did not set out to do harm to the Jews.

Paul also wrote that he had never wronged anyone in Corinth using terms that explained what doing wrong involved.  2Cor 7:2  “Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one.” Corrupting someone or taking advantage of them would indeed be a case of wrongdoing towards them.

2]. Lawlessness, wickedness. [Anomia. ἀνομία.]

Here the word is derived from the word for ‘law’ which is ‘nomos.’ To place the “a” at the beginning of the word changes its derivatives to the opposite meaning, so ‘lawful’ would be changed to ‘unlawful.’

Jesus gave a warning to those who gave the outward impression of belonging to Him but whose hearts were not right with Him, that they would be unmasked on the day of judgment. They had worked lawlessness and had not acted in righteousness.  “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.‘ Mat 7:22-23. Similar warnings are to be found in Mat 13:41, 23:28.

Humans are accountable to God for how they live. Sin is lawlessness because it is a rejection of God’s law and standards and ultimately a rejection of God Himself. “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” 1 John 3:4.

The good news of the gospel message is that people guilty of lawlessness can be forgiven,  “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds [literally the plural “lawlessnesses”] are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Romans 4:7.

How are they forgiven? Because of what Jesus did for them on the cross, “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works”. Titus 2:14. [Setting people free from the penalty and power of sin.]

However forgiven believers have an obligation to keep on turning from evil behaviour to living righteously, “I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.” Rom 6:19. [The choice to always live righteously by the power of God.]

 3]. Disobedient, unruly, insubordinate, not subject to. (Anupotaktos, ἀνυπότακτος.)

This is another example of placing an “a” [in this case an “an” because the next letter is a vowel] in front of a word to give it the opposite meaning. The word derives from the verb [hupotássō] meaning to submit to or to obey, so that the opposite meaning is to fail to be subject to, or to be insubordinate or rebellious. That is seen in the following verses where some people were seen to be in rebellion to God’s laws or to Himself.

1Timothy 1:9  “understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers”

Titus 1:6  if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.

Tit 1:10  For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.

Hebrews 2:8  “You have put all things in subjection under His feet.” For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him.”

It has to be admitted that there is plenty of rebellion and insubordination in today’s world! [Having just witnessed the violent behaviour of the crowds at the G20 conference in Hamburg, Germany, one has to say that silent protesters were often swamped by crowds of insubordinate anarchists, disobedient and even violent towards the authorities.]

 4]. Rebellious. Disobedient. (Apeithes.  ἀπειθής.) (Noun = apeítheia, disobedience)

This word is found in the New Testament is its noun, verbal and adjectival forms, ‘disobedience’ 6 times, ‘to be disobedient’ 15 times and ‘disobedient ‘7 times.  There are a lot of warnings about disobedience in the Bible!

The words stem from the word [peíthō] to persuade. With the “a” in front means unwilling to be persuaded, or to be disobedient.  Perhaps a few examples from each form would give us some of its meaning.

Noun, ‘disobedience’.  Twice unbelievers are called “sons of disobedience.” Eph 2:2 “ in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—“ AND Eph 5:6  “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”

 Verb. It is interesting to note that disobedience can be to the person of Jesus, to the word of God and to the gospel of God. John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

1Pet 2:8  and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

1Pet 3:1  Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,

1Pet 4:17  For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

 Adjective. Paul had a vision from God. He obeyed it. Act 26:19  “So King  Agrippa I did not prove disobedient  to the heavenly  vision,

Those in rebellion against God are disobedient to Him and to His representatives. Rom 1:30  slanderers,  haters  of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful , inventors of evil,  disobedient  to parents.

2Ti 3:2  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,

Paul wrote of his life before his conversion, Tit 3:3 “ For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.”

 5]. Sin. To miss the mark. (Hamartánō. ἁμαρτάνω.)   (Noun is hamartia,  ἁμαρτία.)

This is a common word for sin in the New Testament. The word can mean to sin, to miss a mark, to err in some way.

Judas Iscariot sinned, as he explained, Mat 27:4, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” 

People sin against each other in ways that needs to be forgiven. Mat 18:1  “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”

Mat 18:21 ‘Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”’

Luk 17:3  Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,

The prodigal son confessed his sin to his father. Luk 15:21  And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

The origin of sin and death is seen in the disobedience of Adam. Rom 5:12  “Therefore, just as sin [noun]  came into the world through one man, and death through sin [noun], and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” [verb]

Sin is universal. 1Jn 1:10 “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us”.

Sin can be forgiven through Christ. 1Jn 2:1 “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”.

 6]. To fall short. To be inferior or lacking something. [Husteréō, ὑστερέω.]

A sincere young man told Jesus that felt he lacked something.  Mat 19:20 ‘The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?”’ Jesus told him what it was. Mar 10:21 ‘And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me”.’

We fall short of God’s standards. Rom 3:23 “ for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

We are responsible for drawing on the grace of God lest we fail to do so and thus sin.  Heb 12:15  “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” AND Heb 4:1 “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.”

 7]. Transgression. Law breaking. Wrong doing. (Parabasis = παράβασις.) ( Verb is parabaínō = παραβαίνω = to transgress, go aside, break the law. ).

These next 2 words begin in the Greek with “para”. This means “to the side of” or “beside”. We use it in English for paramedic and many other words.

Examples of the word are found in the following verses.

Rom 2:23 “You who boast in the law dishonour God by breaking the law.”

Rom 4:15  “For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.”

Rom 5:14 “Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.”

It was possible for people like Judas Iscariot to turn aside from what appeared to be God’s purpose for them. Act 1:24  “And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25  to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

Biblical history shows that transgressions in Israel’s history were punished, Heb 2:1 “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution.”

However Jesus died to redeem people from their transgressions, Heb 9:15 “Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant”.

 8].  To fall. To do wrong. To err. (Parapíptō = to fall, to err. Paraptoma = παράπτωμα = a fall beside.)

Some people certainly do us wrong but we are meant to forgive them in the same way we want God to forgive us, Mat 6:14 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

Paul wrote of the difficulty of bringing people back to repentance if they were to fall away from God’s grace, Heb 6:6 “and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”

God loves to forgive and to bring about reconciliation. He has made forgiveness possible through the death of Jesus on the cross, 2 Cor 5:19  “that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation”.

 SUMMING UP:-

In the above we can see that sin is varied in its forms but is universal throughout history and throughout the world.

Sin comes from wrongly using the freewill God has given us, to do our own thing, to pursue our own will, rather than His will. In our free will we choose to disobey His laws and to turn our back on the grace He can give us to help us turn from evil to fulfil His will and purpose for us.

BUT the good news is that all of us can be forgiven if we choose to repent of our sins and turn to Him for forgiveness. Forgiveness is available for all our sins in Christ alone.

The following verses remind us of His amazing love and grace in making forgiveness available to us in Jesus.

Eph 1:7-8, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.”

Col 1:13-14, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Acts 10:43, “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

1 John 1:7-9, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Having understood [to a small extent] the various types of sin we can now look in the next article at why and how we need to repent of it.

Blog No.222. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Monday 10th July 2017

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221. REPENTANCE. Everyone needs to repent of sin to have victory over it. But just what is sin?

In the previous article we looked at what was involved in becoming a well-balanced Christian. One who is able to draw upon the Lord’s resources to become the person God wants one to be. Also learning to do the things He wants one to do.  The diagram in the previous article has the 3 R’s and the 3 S’s involved in living in Christian maturity. The first “R“ is for Repentance.

Repentance? We need to realise what sin is, in order to understand what it means to repent of it. What is sin? One could simply say that in the Old Testament, the breaking of any of the 10 Commandments [the Decalogue] given by God to Moses on Mt Sinai, would constitute sin. Likewise in the New Testament the breaking of either of the two Great Commandments taught by Jesus would also constitute sin. For example in Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus answered this question by a lawyer, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 36. He replied,  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”22:37-40.

 It doesn’t take a great deal of humility to realise that everyone has been guilty of breaking both of these Great Commandments taught by Jesus.  Just think of the most holy upright person you know. No! Not you! Think of another wonderful person! Can you imagine that person loving God for every millisecond of their life with all their all their heart and with all their soul and with all their mind? Have there not been times when that person failed to worship God as they should have done? Were there not times when they failed to obey perfectly one of more of the 10 Commandments? Coveting the neighbour’s car or his wife or his status in the community? Or for country readers, the neighbour’s better looking crops or his latest John Deere tractor? Or was it a Case or a Kubota or a Massey Ferguson? Or the only tractor I ever drove in the 1950’s, a McCormick-Deering?

St Paul thought he was doing pretty well at obeying God’s commandments until he realised that he too was guilty of covetousness, Rom 7:7 “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.” It was the command not to covet that highlighted his own covetous nature. In fact Paul wrote in that Colossians 3:5 that covetousness is idolatry. No one has ever perfectly loved (and obeyed) God for every moment of their lives.

Even the Second Greatest commandment Jesus gave us is pretty challenging as well. Loving our neighbour as ourselves. Again thinking of that person you so much admire as a “good” person.  No! No! Not you! I mean the other person you were just thinking of!  Were there not times when he could have helped you but he didn’t even offer to do so? Were there not times when he drove into the spare parking spot just ahead of the much older driver who was endeavouring to park there? Were there not times when he took the best seats, leaving his neighbours to find seats further away from the action? Were there not times when he allowed the music to play too loudly at his party next door while you were trying to get to sleep?  Yes, he has sinned! You recognised it! But haven’t you done similar things to a greater or less degree? He was not perfect. Neither are you or any of us.  St Paul expressed it like this in Romans 3:10,  “… None is righteous, no, not one.” And in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  No one has shown the love and attention to others that they have shown to themselves. So all humans are guilty of breaking the two Great Commandments that Jesus taught us.

I once read the story of a young Christian who was trying to get a friend to understand the sinfulness of sin.  Eventually he said with some degree of exasperation, “Do you realise that you have been guilty of breaking the greatest command of all?” He wasn’t quite prepared for his friend’s vehement retort, “How dare you say that! I’ve never committed adultery at any time in my life!” Well it was good that his friend understood that adultery was sinful. But it was sad that he failed to realise that there were a whole lot of other things that were sinful as well. Especially failing to love God with all one’s being.

Some years ago I thought that I should do some teaching on the way sin is described in the New Testament so that we might better understand what it entails, how we might recognise it and how we might have victory over it. At the end of one of those seminars a woman came forward to thank me for the teaching. Her thanks could have been better worded! She said, “Thank you Canon Holbeck for the teaching. I didn’t really realise what sin was until I met you!” It was not that she thought I was the incarnation of evil! Rather she had never been exposed to Biblical teaching on the nature of sin until she attended that seminar!

One cannot understand the greatness of the love and mercy and grace of God in forgiving sin until we realise how horrific it is in the sight of God and come to see how damaging it is to us and to others. In the next article we will look at how sin is described in the New Testament and why it was that both John the Baptist and Jesus began their ministries with the command for their hearers to repent. [John in Mat 3:1  “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2  ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’.” Jesus in Mat 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’.”]

The apostolic church also began with the message of repentance from the lips of Peter, on the Day of Pentecost, Act 2:38 ‘And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Repentance on our part is necessary to enable us to receive forgiveness from God.

The next article will bring out some of the main terms used in the New Testament to describe the various types of sin that humans commit against God and against their fellow creatures. But there is no need to be depressed! It will be followed by the good news that God can forgive sins of various types if we trust Him and receive His Son in whom alone all forgiveness is to be found.

Blog No.221. “REPENTANCE. Everyone needs to repent of sin to have victory over it. But just what is sin?”  Jim Holbeck. Posted on Monday 3rd July 2017

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220. Changing The World Through Believing Prayer! Helping people move from where they are, to where God wants them to be! (The audio of a sermon preached on 18th June 2017 refers to the diagram.)

How can you pray for people in a way that helps them move from where they are at the moment, to where they are open to receive all God has for them in His Son?  How can we help people become the people God has eternally planned for them to be and to do what He has eternally planned for them to do?

In the diagram below I share what I believe are the essentials for humans to take hold of for today. It shows the truly wholesome life all of us are meant to live. We can actually use the diagram as a guide for helping us pray for people. We can pray it for ourselves as we move clockwise around the circle.  Someone might ask us to pray that they be filled with the Holy Spirit. However they really need to have repented of their sin, renounced all evil, received Christ as their own personal Saviour and submitted their lives completely to Christ before they are open to be filled with the Spirit of God.

The diagram can help us in counselling other people for it covers most of the things that are necessary for being whole in body, mind and spirit.

Changing the world

In this world of hatred, violence and terrorism, we can make a difference by praying for peoples all over the world that God might work in their hearts and minds to enable them to be willing and able by the grace of God to change as God prompts them to move from where they are to where He can fufil His purposes of love through them.  In the accompanying audio I give some examples of folk who were once in bondage but who came to freedom in Christ through ministry based on this diagram.  I also suggest how you might pray for a relative or friend (or even an enemy) so that you can see them being changed by the grace and power of God as you continue to pray for them.

Just 20 minutes looking at the diagram while listening to the audio could help you change the world for good!

Core 5 summary Picture1

Posted in Evangelism, Forgiveness, Healing, HEALING MINISTRY Core Teaching, Prayer, Real Life Stories, Salvation, Sanctification, Temptations, TOPICS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

219. SUMMARY OF TEACHING ON FORGIVENESS. (And suggested ways on how to use the material on Forgiveness)

The material on Forgiveness is actually the content on a book on Forgiveness which I have not had an opportunity to publish at this time. So I am making the material available for anyone in the world to download. (It would be helpful though if people were to acknowledge the source of any of this material if they use it publicly).

i). It can be used for personal study or meditation.

ii). It can be used in Bible Study Groups or for helping others understand what is entailed in forgiveness. (Much of the material has already been downloaded and used in Bible Study Groups in Australia.)  I have also added “Suggested Questions to Ponder” at the end of most articles to help leaders facilitate discussion on the material.

iii). It can be used as resource material for sermons or for material for teaching sessions on Healing.

iv). Parts of the Practical Forgiveness material in Section 4 would be helpful to use in counselling situations in order to enable people to “really forgive.” (Excellent too for helping oneself deal with any unforgiveness and associated bitterness and resentment in our own personal lives.)

The structure of the material below is as follows, giving the blog number on the blogsite and the topic of the article.

For your convenience I am making links in this article to all the different topics so that one only has to find this article No.219 and then click on the number of the topic you want to look at, to be taken to that topic. (Or use could be made of the INDEX to blogs on the right hand side of the articles.)

Section 1. GENERAL TEACHING ON FORGIVENESS

No.001. FORGIVENESS. To Forgive. Is it possible? 2011/02/04

No.002. FORGIVENESS. Do I Need To Be Forgiven? Do I Need To Forgive? Some answers. 2011/02/06

No.003. FORGIVENESS. The Freedom That Comes From Forgiveness 2011/02/08

No.004. Forgiveness. How Can We Understand What It Means? 2011/02/11

Section 2. FORGIVENESS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

No.005. FORGIVENESS. God’s Nature Is To Forgive. (Selichah). 2011/02/11

No.006. FORGIVENESS. God Brings Release To People. (Salach) Part 1 of 2. 2011/02/14

No.007. FORGIVENESS. God Brings Release To People. (Salach) Part 2 of 2. 2011/02/15

No.008. FORGIVENESS. God Removes Our Sin From Us. (nasa). Part 1 of 2. 2011/02/22

No.009. FORGIVENESS. God removes Our Sin From Us. “nasa.” Part 2 2011/02/23

No.011. Forgiveness. God Covers Over Our Sin. (Kaphar and Kasah) 2011/02/27

No.012. Forgiveness In The 21st Century. A Practical Example 2011/02/28

No.013. Forgiveness. Genesis 45-50. The Story Of Joseph 2011/03/04

No.014. Forgiveness. Psalm 32.  A King Found Forgiveness.  2011/03/05

No.015. Forgiveness. Psalm 51. A King Wanted To Be Forgiven. 2011/03/07

No.016. Forgiveness Of All Sin. Psalm 103. 2011/03/11

No.017. Forgiveness. Removing The Stain Of Sin. Isaiah 1:18. 2011/03/13

No.018. FORGIVENESS. Isaiah 43:25. Sin is blotted out and not remembered. 2011/03/14

No.020. FORGIVENESS. Why “Good Friday” Is “Good”. God blots out our sins. Isa 44:22. 2011/04/21

No.027. FORGIVENESS. HEALING. Isaiah 53:4-6. The Messiah To Bring Peace. 2011/07/11

No.028. FORGIVENESS. Jesus The Messiah Died to Bring Healing. Isaiah 53:4.    2011/07/25

No.029. FORGIVENESS.  Jesus the Anointed, the Messiah Died For Sinners. Isaiah 53:5-6.  2011/08/03

No.030. Forgiveness. Abundant Pardon. Isaiah 55;6-7.   2011/08/08

Section 3. FORGIVENESS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

No.209.   “STUDIES ON FORGIVENESS.” Is It Possible To Be Forgiven? Is It Possible To Forgive? The Good News! (1st in series of 10).

No.210. FORGIVENESS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. The Meaning of Forgiveness.  (2nd in a series of 10). 2017/04/14

No.211.  “Forgiveness in the Teaching Of Jesus.” (The Parable Of The Unmerciful Servant. Matthew 18:21-35. (3rd in a series of 10).  2017/04/14

No.212. Examples Of Forgiveness In Action In The New Testament. Jesus. Stephen. Paul. (4th article in a series of 10.) 2017/04/14

Section 4. PRACTICAL FORGIVENESS

No. 213. PRACTICAL FORGIVENESS. Alternatives To Giving Unhelpful Advice such as Saying No.1 “You must forgive God!” (5th in series of 10.)  2017/04/17

No.214. PRACTICAL FORGIVENESS. Alternatives To Giving Unhelpful Advice such as this saying No.2 “You must forgive yourself.” (6th in series of 10.)  2017/05/01

No.215. PRACTICAL FORGIVENESS. Alternatives To Giving Unhelpful Advice such as Saying No.3 “You Must Forgive and Forget!” (7th in series of 10.) 2017/05/01

No.216. “HOW TO REALLY FORGIVE ANOTHER PERSON.” (8th in series of 10.) Some Suggested Steps For Doing So 2017/05/01

No.217. FORGIVING THOSE WHO HURT OUR LOVED ONES. (9th in series of 10.) 2017/05/01

No.218. A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO REALLY FORGIVING ANOTHER PERSON. (10th in series of 10.) 2017/05/02

Blog No.219.  Jim Holbeck. Posted on Wednesday 3rd May 2017

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218. A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO REALLY FORGIVING ANOTHER PERSON. (10th in series of 10.)

There may come a time in many people’s lives where they come to this stage. “I know I should forgive! I now really want to forgive! But just how do I go about doing it?”

In the article which follows we look at how we can put the suggested steps in the previous article No.217 into practice.

What follows can be used by individuals who have decided to forgive another person
It could be used in small groups to show how one can forgive
It could be used by a Pastor or Minister in leading someone through the steps of forgiveness
It could be used in a large group as the culmination of a teaching day on Forgiveness

INTRODUCTION

In the previous Chapters we have looked at what it means to forgive another person. In this Chapter we put what we have learned into practice.

The suggestions that follow are for those who have come to the stage of saying, “I know I should forgive that person. I have now decided that I will. But how do I go about it in practice?”

In this chapter we turn the teaching in the previous chapter into a prayer in which we actually forgive another person.

I have used this with individuals in a prayer-ministry session when someone has asked me to help them to pray that they might forgive someone who hurt them in the past.

I have also used it in larger groups in teaching seminars and even with a group of close to two hundred people during a Mission at a church in Florida. On that day we previously had two sessions of teaching. The first was “The Freedom Of Knowing We Are Forgiven By God”. The second was on “The Freedom That Comes From Forgiving Others”. This final session was on “Let’s Put It Into Practice” as I led people through the prayer that follows.

I had asked people to think about someone they knew they should forgive and wanted to but didn’t know how to do it. I suggested that they didn’t have to begin with their most difficult person to forgive. They could start on someone who hadn’t done as much damage as others and then later graduate up to the person whom they though they would never be able to forgive.

I was surprised how readily people became involved in the process in Florida. In fact there was only one man among the group who seemed to be not participating. At the end of the session an elderly woman came to me and said, “Well I’ve got my first one out of the way. I’m ready for the next one now.” Other people said similar things but in less blunt language. However next morning I saw the man who had seemed not to be participating on the previous day, coming towards me. I must admit my heart sank and I imagined him coming up to tell me what he didn’t like about the previous day’s teaching. He began by saying, “You probably noticed that I wasn’t involved in the forgiving part yesterday.” It wasn’t the time for me to say a loud “AMEN brother!” Then he went on to say that the teaching had got through to him and that he felt very “raw” emotionally as a result. He had wanted to forgive someone desperately but feared if he began the process he would just fall apart emotionally in the presence of 200 people. Then with a smile he said, “But I did it last night when I got home. I was able to forgive someone whom I had never been able to forgive before”.

The important thing to note about what we are about to do is that it is not a gimmick. The process actually works. It works not because it is a clever technique, but because people are entering into a relationship with God in prayer. Through prayer they seek His help to forgive that other person or those other people. He helps them to do what they could not do without His help.

In the following we use the outline from the previous chapter and turn it into a prayer. I have retained the sections in the Notes for convenience but it is really one long prayer seeking to cover all the facets in the teaching in the previous chapter.

PRAYING TO THE LORD

The information on how to really forgive others has been given and now is the time to act on it. We do so in prayer. As we pray we should hold up before the Lord the person we want to forgive. Then we pray something like what follows in the suggested prayer.

1). RECOGNISE THEIR GUILT – THEIR SIN AGAINST US. FACE THE FACTS!
• “Lord I now bring that person/those people before You. I choose to forgive them of their sin against me.
• I forgive them of their sins of commission against me. The things they did or said that hurt me. (This … and … and … and … )
• I choose now to forgive them of their sins of omission. The things they should have said or done and didn’t and I suffered as a result. (I forgive them of failing to do this ….and …. and ….and…. )
• I forgive them for not loving me as they were meant to do and especially when ……….

2). DECIDE TO FORGIVE THE PERSON OF EVERYTHING AND TO RELEASE THE SIN
• Lord, I choose to forgive them of everything large and small. I am letting all those sins go. I no longer want to hold on to them
• I choose not to keep focussing in a negative way on those people or on their sins or on the hurts those people gave me.

3). VERBALISE TO GOD, OUR FORGIVENESS TOWARDS THEM
Lord, I speak out these words of forgiveness. “I forgive them of all those things in the name of Jesus Christ.”

4). ASK GOD TO FORGIVE THEM AND TO BLESS THEM. (Jesus said, Lk 6:27, “… Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”)
• Father I ask that you might forgive them as Your Son Jesus asked You to forgive His enemies as He hung on the cross.
• I ask You that You might bless them, especially that they might come to know You and to love You.
• I ask that they find Your plan for them and fulfil it by Your grace.
• I ask that You might heal them of all that needs healing within them.
• I pray that they may come to be in the centre of Your will for them.

5). ASK GOD TO FORGIVE ME OF ANY PART I PLAYED IN CONTRIBUTING TO THE SIN
• Lord show me if I contributed to their sin against me in any way whether it was deliberate or in ignorance.
• I ask You to forgive me of what I did or said that contributed to their sin against me.
• Lord I refuse to accept guilt that wasn’t my fault. I reject false guilt in Jesus’ name.

6). ASK GOD TO HEAL ME OF THE DAMAGE DONE TO ME
• Lord, I realise that all sin has an effect. I ask that You would heal any damage caused to me through the words, deeds, and attitudes of those people, especially ……………

  • Lord I thank you by faith for the healing you are now imparting to me. Heal me for Your sake so that I might do Your will to Your glory for the rest of my life.

7). AFFIRM TO MYSELF (AND TO OTHERS WHERE APPROPRIATE) THAT I HAVE FORGIVEN THEM
• Thank You Lord for the grace You gave me to be able to forgive those people.
• I declare in Your sight that I have forgiven them of all their sins against me.
• I thank you Lord that You are healing me as I ask for Your healing.
• I choose to focus on Your healing power in my life and not on my previous hurt and pain.

8). PRAY, “LORD, WHAT SHALL I DO NOW?”
• Lord what should I do about those people? Should I contact them? I need Your wisdom.
• Lord what sort of contact should I make with those You want me to contact?
• Lord what attitude do I need to adopt as I make that contact? Help me to be confident in You and give me grace to be appropriate in my approach to them.

Thanksgiving for God’s grace in being freed to forgive

• I thank You Lord that You gave me Your grace to work through this forgiving process. Show me Lord if there are other people You want me to forgive.
• I thank You for the continuing grace You are giving me to become the person You want me to be.
• I thank You Lord that I can dance right now in the freedom of my forgiveness.
• I thank You that I can be free even if those people I have forgiven still reject me.
• I pray that You would work in their hearts so that there might be reconciliation with them in the days ahead if that is part of Your purpose for me.
• I thank You that I am free right now. Help me now to live for You to Your glory. AMEN

AN ADDENDUM. FORGIVING OTHERS. Some verses to reflect on

The Example of Joseph who forgave his brothers
Gen 50:17 … Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

The Example of Jesus as He spoke from the cross
Lk 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

The Example of Stephen as he was being stoned to death
Act 7:59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

The Teaching of Jesus to His disciples
Mat 6:12, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

The Teaching of Paul in his epistles
Eph 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Col 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

1). What do you think is the hardest part of forgiving someone who caused you harm? Can you describe just why you think it is so difficult?

2). How do you think you can overcome your reluctance to forgive that other person? What Bible verses might help to motivate you to go through the forgiving process?

3). What should you do if after having prayed through the prayer of forgiving someone, you then remembered some other hurt they had caused you?

4). How would you explain to someone enquiring about forgiveness, the meaning of the phrase mentioned in previous articles, “It only takes one to dance, but two to tango?”

Blog No.218.   Jim Holbeck. Posted on Tuesday 2nd May 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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