Forgiveness — Part 3

Overheard:

“But aren’t we supposed to forgive, forget, and move on?”

In Part 1 of this series on Forgiveness, I outlined how we have arrived at such a fractured and unbiblical view of what forgiveness is and is not.

In Part 2, I discussed the foundational aspect of forgiveness. The first of the three types of forgiveness in the human experience is JUDICIAL FORGIVENESS.

The second type of forgiveness is INTERNAL FORGIVENESS, and this is the one we are responsible for.

Internal Forgiveness

This level of forgiveness is almost impossible unless we have already gone to God and received His (Judicial) forgiveness.

That provides the seed-bed for us to forgive others. If we don’t have that foundation of God’s forgiveness of us as the foundation for our own forgiveness of others, in practice we end up setting our own standards for forgiveness.

What happens is we almost can’t help expecting those people to live up to a standard for forgiveness that we have set in our own heart. We may even be able to rationally explain why our stance on what it will take for us to forgive. But if we have not gone to God and been forgiven in Christ, we have only human standards to work from.

Then it becomes between them and us and not them and God.  I have to be able to say that it is between them and God to live up to His standard; not between them and me for them to live up to my standard.

When we are living in unforgiveness, it is like carrying a backpack full of sharp, jagged rocks. We tote them around and, while we may learn to live with the pain and discomfort, our life lacks joy and God’s peace.

When we are able to forgive, we remove those jagged rocks and hand them over to God.  We walk away from them and leave them where they belong. When we walk in unforgiveness, we are trying to bear something that is not ours to bear.  Let that person be God’s business, not yours.  Romans 12:19:  Leave room for the wrath of God (“Leave it to Me,” says God).

Internal Forgiveness is NOT “forgive, forget, move on, and leave myself open to be misused/abused all over again.”

Internal Forgiveness is where I no longer demand or expect revenge or retribution for the wrong done to me. It is not me declaring my offender, “Not guilty!” It is me declaring my offender “Responsible to God for what you have done.”

I can do this without being face-to-face with my offender; I can do this with someone who has passed on to their exit interview and who I will not see again in this life. I can do this to someone present in my life, or someone from my past.

By entering into Internal Forgiveness, I am the one who is released from the event(s) that took place. I am not responsible or accountable for the wrongs of another – I am only responsible for what I DO with what others have done to me.

This is connected to Judicial Forgiveness in that both are precursors to the third and final type of forgiveness (which we will examine in the upcoming Part 4), “Relational Forgiveness”.

As we learned in Part 2, God is the only one who can extend JUDICIAL FORGIVENESS. As we learned today in Part 3, we are the only one who is responsible for INTERNAL FORGIVENESS. Next time we will see that the offending party has the greatest amount of responsibility and work to do in RELATIONAL FORGIVENESS being extended.

 

Forgiveness – Part 1

Overheard:

“But aren’t we supposed to forgive, forget, and move on? Isn’t that how Christians are SUPPOSED TO forgive?”

Unforgiveness weighs us down and isolates us from one another. Forgiveness lightens the load and restores community.

Unforgiveness separates us from God, from others, and from the truth. Forgiveness reconciles us to God, to others, and restores our connection to the Truth.

Unforgiveness is the heaviest burden a person can carry, yet it is the easiest one to take on. Forgiveness I can be the most difficult journey to undertake.

The only escape and relief from Unforgiveness is: FORGIVENESS.

Many people outside and (especially) inside Christianity misunderstand forgiveness. Combinations of defective hermeneutics, logic, and homiletics, added to a certain level of emotionalism, plus one person after another repeating the same misinformation, has created an unbiblical and unhealthy view of forgiveness.

I want to tackle forgiveness from a Biblical, practical, and authentic perspective. Only by understanding forgiveness from God’s perspective can we experience and extend true forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a component of redemption.

The Defective-Hermeneutics Spiral

In Psalm 103:12 we read:

“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

In Isaiah 43:25 the Lord is quoted as saying,

“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”

Then in Hebrews 8:12 (quoting Isaiah 43:25; Jeremiah 31:34; Jeremiah 50:20; and Micah 7:18-19) we read,

“FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”

These passages are conflated, over-extrapolated, and the doctrine of “Forgive-Forget-and-Move-On” results.

Because of a misunderstanding of the Biblical languages and a weak approach to hermeneutics, we are often taught the phrases “remember no more”, and “will not remember”, mean that God develops the equivalent of “Divine Amnesia”.

This is not at all the case. Both the Hebrew and the Greek words used in these and comparable passages where remembering is employed in this manner, are referring to a “being mindful of; mentioning” and similar concepts.

When this misunderstanding is combined with a decontextualized Philippians 3:13 where Paul speaks of “forgetting what is behind”—which is referring to his pedigree and accomplishments as well as what others have done to him—we arrive at the defective idea that, as Christians, we are to, “Forgive, forget, and move on.”

Nothing could be more unbiblical as regards forgiveness than this idea. In fact, this false teaching regularly retraumatizes people and, very often, becomes propagandized so strongly that spiritual abuse results.

It is important that we take hold of God’s view of forgiveness and adhere to it if we are to live free, healthy, and become able to walk in authentic, godly forgiveness.

In this series of posts, we are going to look at the three types of forgiveness described in the Bible: Judicial Forgiveness; Internal Forgiveness; Relational Forgiveness.

Since forgiveness is analogous of Christianity, this seems like a good place from which to launch a new blog – don’t you agree?