Transformation through Forgiveness

The subject of forgiveness is a touchy one for most people.  I freely admit that I am most people.  The idea of forgiving someone when they have wronged me, or repeatedly wronged me, is displeasing.  Or, should I say it is displeasing to my fleshly nature?

Why does God require us to extend forgiveness to those who have offended us?  Is He simply wanting us to let wrongdoing go and let the offender off the hook?  Through study and my own experience, I can confidently assure you that is not case.  God requires us to extend forgiveness for our own benefit.

Forgiveness from God

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Image via Pixabay by Rauschenberger

Quite simply, God has forgiven us a great sin debt.  This was accomplished when Jesus was crucified and died.  Our new life came through His resurrection.  By nature, we are sinners.  No matter how hard we try or how good we are, we are unable to atone for our sins.  Jesus paid a great price to free us from our sinful nature.

God freely gave us His forgiveness.  Once we accept what Jesus did as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, we become born again.  When we sin, we go to the Father, through Jesus Christ, to receive forgiveness.  We did not deserve this grace and mercy, but He freely gave it.

Forgiving Others

Because of the forgiveness we have received, we must forgive others when they sin against us.  Refusing to forgive puts a barrier between us and God.  It also opens us up to being ruled by other sins such as malice, unbridled anger, gossip, and many others.  We become obsessed with getting revenge which can be dangerous to us and others.

Forgiving others does not mean that the offense was not wrong.  It does not mean that is is okay that you were hurt.  It simply means that you release the offense to God giving Him the right to take care of it.  Trust me, God knows how to deal with other people.  Once you have released the offense (an act you might have to repeat several times), you will find that you have joy and peace.  You will realize that the offense was weighing you down.

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Image via Pixabay by McCarty V

Forgiving Yourself

Often, the person I have needed to forgive is myself.  You might find the same is true in your case.  When I keep falling into the same sin over and over, I begin to become self-condemning.  Unfortunately, this is not productive.  What is productive is bringing myself to the throne of grace, pouring my heart out in repentance to the Father.  His Word promises that He will cleanse us of our sins when we go to Him.

Once you have repented, leave condemnation alone.  If you try to carry it, you will be of no use to the kingdom of God.  It is not humility.  It is a selfish focus on yourself and an insult to the blood of Jesus.  Whether you realize it or not, you are saying the blood of Jesus is not enough when you walk in condemnation.  We do not need to do penance.  We simply need to repent and allow the Holy Spirit to transform us.

So, How about Forgiving?

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Image via Pixabay by Artistic Operations

Are you struggling to forgive someone who has done a great wrong to you?  Are you struggling to forgive yourself?  Bring that hurt to the Lord.  He is able to take it and make you new again.

Refusing forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die.  It is dangerous, and it is heavy.  You will feel much lighter when you let go of the offense and allow God to take vengeance.  Forgiveness, whether being given or received, brings transformation.

Great Transformation

It has been a long time since I last posted.  So much has happened in my personal life since my last post.  Major breakthroughs have happened in my own life as well as my family and church family.  Of course, when a breakthrough comes, other battles come with it.

Wait a minute!  Am I telling you that when you get a breakthrough, you still have battles?  Yes!  It comes as a shock, but count it all joy.  When the children of Israel crossed over into the promised land in the book of Joshua, they battled giants.  Although battles can be scary,  what is even scarier is having no battles.  If you have no battles, you are not progressing to higher spiritual ground.

Battles and Transformation

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Image via Pexels by Flickr

Of course, every single second of your life does not have to be a battle, but life does happen.  I mentioned transformation in my title.  Our battles are meant to bring transformation to us.

According to 2 Corinthians 3:18, we are changed from glory to glory.  This glory to glory change involves being changed from battle to battle.  The word transformation refers to a complete change that is often miraculous.

Look at the Eagle

The eagle is used as an illustration in the Bible and many sermons.  There is a good reason for the analogy of eagles and our walks with God.  Eagles are magnificent birds.  They do not stay on the ground and scratch around.  They soar, and when they do, they soar above most things.

During a storm an eagle will fly higher so he is above it.  One transformation that must take place in our lives as Christians is that we must learn to fly above the storms in our lives.  Yes, we are human.  Yes, we will feel pain, but we do not have to allow the pain and suffering to cause us to drop to a level in which we do not belong.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can fly higher until we are above the storm.  The storm, or the circumstance, is still occurring, but we are above it.  We can avoid being negatively affected by adverse circumstances.

Is Such Change Possible?

In ourselves, it is impossible to soar above a storm, spiritually speaking.  However, with God, all things are possible.  When we tap into the power that Christ gave us through the cross and His resurrection, we can do great things.  Of course, these accomplishments are not for our glory but to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.

I have been listening to a Christian neuroscientist as well as studying in God’s word about transforming thoughts.  According to what I have gleaned, God’s people have not even begun to tap into the power that God has made available to us by renewing our minds day by day.  Until our thinking changes, great transformation will not take place.  Romans 12:2 reminds us that we are not transformed by our own goodness or simply trying extra hard.  We are transformed by renewing the mind.

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Image via Pexels by Flo Maderebner

In future posts, I will have more to write about this.  Until then, pray about your own transformation.  Through Jesus Christ, we have been given all we need for life and godliness.  We simply need to learn to utilize what we have been given.

Do Not Throw Away Your Confidence

Having confidence in your identity in Christ can be challenging in our culture.  Society often discourages people from seeking to live a life that is godly.  Society loves to encourage us to be moral, but morality is set by the standards of people who do not know Christ.  It can make a difference.  Knowing who you are in Christ and maintaining your confidence of who Jesus is to you will be a key to living a victorious Christian life.

DO NOT THROW IT AWAY

Faith 2Depending on the Bible translation you are reading, Hebrews 10:35 states that we are not to cast away, or throw away, our confidence.  The same verse goes on to say that our confidence has great reward.  Knowing who we are in Christ and knowing that He is for us will keep us from falling when trying times come.

If you continue reading, you will find that the writer of Hebrews encourages the readers to keep the faith and encourages the development of patience.  The believers to whom the book of Hebrews is addressed had faced a great deal of persecution.  Their homes, property, and personal belongings had been confiscated by the government because they proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Many of them had been imprisoned.  Others had been martyred for the cause of Christ.  The writer of Hebrews commended these people because they had been through a great deal of persecution and remained strong and steadfast, but another trial of sorts had come upon them when the letter of Hebrews was written.

The Scriptures are not specific as to the trial these people were facing at that time, but the writer was encouraging them to keep their confidence.  They were encouraged to remember that God would reward them for their faithfulness.  They were reminded that the just must live by faith.

THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH

Knowing who we are in Christ and keeping our confidence will require walking by faith.  God is pleased with our faith in Him.  He can and will do powerful works through us to bring glory to Himself if we will remain yielded to Him.

As you are reading this post, you might be discouraged.  You might be ready to throw in the towel, so to speak.  I am not necessarily talking about backsliding.  I am talking about giving up on your work for the Lord.faith 1

I am encouraging you to remain confident.  Be confident in Jesus!  Be confident in what He is doing in you.  He will continue the work he began in you when you first believed in Him.  Be confident in who you are in Him but aware of who you are without Him.  Living by faith requires more boldness than living a normal life, but you were not called to be normal.  You were called to stand out.  You were not called to throw away your confidence.  You were called to walk by faith and be confident in Christ.

BE ENCOURAGED

Whatever you are facing, know that your faith pleases God.  Even when your faith is weak, keep pressing on, confessing it to the Lord.  He has ways of strengthening your faith.  He will not forsake you.  Do not give up because the Lord will bring you out victorious!  “The Lord is a warrior.  The Lord is His name (Exodus 15:3).”

Do not throw away your confidence.  There is much that would be thrown away with it if you did.  Keep going on this way because there is no other way that brings light and victory.

Contending for the Faith

Jude 3 contains a well-known phrase that many ministers use for sermon titles.  This one-chapter book of the Bible exhorts us to contend for the faith.  Next, the brief epistle reminded its readers that many false teachings were spreading to a dangerous level during the time period in which the book of Jude was written.  False teachings and apostate doctrines are alive and well today.  Some of the most dangerous of those are prevalent in the western portion of the world, especially in the United States.

What does it mean to contend?

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Image via Pexels by Pixabay.

The Greek word that is used for contend is epagonizomai meaning to struggle for, to combat.  The word is a verb indicating an action that is to be taken.  In other words, we are to be willing to fight for our faith.

When looking throughout the Bible concerning spiritual warfare, it is imperative to note that our struggle is not against people.  Unfortunately, people are involved when we have to stand boldly for the faith in loving disagreement.  Often, people take our disagreement with them to mean we lack love.  Although there are cases in which that may be true, a genuine child of God, learns to disagree yet still love the people involved.

Contending in Deed more than Word

Although standing boldly for the Word of the Lord often requires us to speak boldly, our actions should speak louder than our words.  If we say we believe in a certain principle, we should stand by it.  Saying one thing and doing another is one sure way to make faith-contending less effective.

When we have to speak against the actions of a person, or a group of people, it is important to do so in love.  In Ephesians 4, Paul admonishes his readers to speak the truth in love.  Speaking the truth without love often does more harm than good.  Truth coupled with love brings change.  However, it is important to note that if you have spoken the truth in love, and people are still offended, you have done no wrong.

Beware of a False Gospel

What I am about to write is without malice because I love my country.  I am thankful to live in the United States of America.  With that being said, it is vital that I make it clear that we in the western portion of the world often are used to being comfortable.  Confrontation and boldly proclaiming the gospel demand that we come out of the comfort zone.  The disease of political correctness is plaguing the Christian church in America.  Pastors and teachers will not speak out about controversial issues such as abortion, questioning one’s gender, and so on.

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Image via Pexels by Edgar Colomba.

By remaining silent, we are allowing the gospel of comfort to spread rather than the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  The true gospel saves sinners and sanctifies them.  The agape love of God loves the sinner, but when the sinner comes for salvation, He loves the individual too much to leave him in his sin.  I do not believe we have to beat people down, but I do believe we have to let them know that God has a much better way.

The book of Jude closes on a positive note.  Verse 24 reminds us that Jesus Christ is able to keep us from falling.  Our boldness and ability to contend for the faith comes from Him and not ourselves.  When I am reminded of that, it brings comfort because I am not able to stand boldly without Him.  Neither are you, but the good news is that you don’t have to stand alone.

For a more in-depth study on the book of Jude, check out the study guide I have on Amazon.

Keep Your Confidence

Having confidence in your identity in Christ can be challenging in our culture.  Society often discourages people from seeking to live a life that is godly.  Society loves to encourage us to be moral, but the morality is set by the standards of people who do not know Christ.  It can make a difference.  Knowing who you are in Christ and maintaining your confidence of who Jesus is to you will be a key to living a victorious Christian life.

Do Not Throw It Away

Faith 2Depending on the Bible translation you are reading, Hebrews 10:35 states that we are not to cast away, or throw away, our confidence.  The same verse goes on to say that our confidence has great reward.  Knowing who we are in Christ and knowing that He is for us will keep us from falling when trying times come.

If you continue reading, you will find that the writer of Hebrews encourages the readers to keep the faith and encourages the development of patience.  The believers to whom the book of Hebrews is addressed had faced a great deal of persecution.  Their homes, property, and personal belongings had been confiscated by the government because they proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Many of them had been imprisoned.  Others had been martyred for the cause of Christ.  The writer of Hebrews commended these people because they had been through a great deal of persecution and remained strong and steadfast, but another trial of sorts had come upon them when the letter of Hebrews was written.

The Scriptures are not specific as to the trial these people were facing at that time, but the writer was encouraging them to keep their confidence.  They were encouraged to remember that God would reward them for their faithfulness.  They were reminded that the just must live by faith.

The Just Shall Live by Faith

Knowing who we are in Christ and keeping our confidence will require walking by faith.  God is pleased with our faith in Him.  He can and will do powerful works through us to bring glory to Himself if we will remain yielded to Him.

As you are reading this post, you might be discouraged.  You might be ready to throw in the towel, so to speak.  I am not necessarily talking about backsliding.  I am talking about giving up on your work for the Lord.faith 1

I am encouraging you to remain confident.  Be confident in Jesus!  Be confident in what He is doing in you.  He will continue the work he began in you when you first believed on Him.  Be confident in who you are in Him but aware of who you are without Him.  Living by faith requires more boldness than living a normal life, but you were not called to be normal.  You were called to stand out.  You were not called to throw away your confidence.  You were called to walk by faith and be confident in Christ.

Be Encouraged

Whatever you are facing, know that your faith pleases God.  Even when your faith is weak, keep pressing on, confessing it to the Lord.  He has ways of strengthening your faith.  He will not forsake you.  Do not give up because the Lord will bring you out victorious!  “The Lord is a warrior.  The Lord is His name (Exodus 15:3).”

Do not throw away your confidence.  There is much that would be thrown away with it if you did.  Keep going on this way because there is no other way that brings light and victory.