LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Forgiveness

Some of my brothers in the blogosphere know that I’ve been struggling recently with issues of sanctification, specifically trying to get rid of a darkness that has plagued my heart for a little while. Initially, I nursed the dark thoughts – not recognizing them (or not wanting to) for what they are.

When it dawned on me that such darkness is not befitting a child of Light, I sought to be rid of it. But when I asked God to pluck the darkness from my heart before it ever became those thoughts again in my mind, it didn’t happen. My thoughts returned, even though I began to be repulsed by them. And yet, they came. And persisted.

I was struggling all the harder trying to plead with God to remove them from me, even to the point of tears begging Him not to leave me to myself. It appeared to me like an endless battle. I couldn’t understand why God wasn’t sanctifying me when it seemed it would be a good and right thing to clear my head and heart of such evil. Why wasn’t God removing these thoughts from me?

In church, the pastor expounded a bit on forgiveness. In discussing a passage in 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, where Paul was advising the church of Corinth how to deal with a fallen brother, our pastor spoke about how we can only forgive when we understand the depth of how we have been forgiven. The depth and severity of our own rebellion against God, our own hatred and enmity toward His Son, our selfish prideful ways in desiring to be our own god, and everything – absolutely every “little” thing – for which we’ve been forgiven.

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
- Matthew 6:14-15

It occurred to me as our pastor was speaking that some of the root of my dark thoughts were directly linked to a lack of forgiveness on my part toward another. And because of that, these thoughts could not leave me.

It also occurred to me that I was not forgiving because I live without taking stock either of the enormity of the sin for which I myself have been forgiven or the cost beyond measure of what it took to forgive me.

If I recognize the depth and breadth and width of my sin toward God and the absolutely fall-on-your-face breathtaking cost for His forgiveness of my sin, then and only then will I be able to extend the same mercy and forgive others – no matter what I see or hear. No matter the offense. Because ultimately, all the offense or wrong directed my way is sin against God.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,”
- Psalm 51:4a

If I look closer at that root of unforgiveness in myself, I see it is nourished by pride. And that is not of God. My pride feeding my unforgiveness ultimately bringing forth flowers of evil, dark thoughts.

Confessing the thoughts isn’t enough. I must forgive. But I am only able – by God’s grace – to forgive if I truly and deeply understand the depth of my own sin against God and His Son. Only when I recognize how much I’ve been forgiven and the cost to do so, can I let go of the anger, the root of bitterness, the ugliness, and the pain that keeps me in bondage.

It’s not an overnight work. But as the Lord continues to open my eyes and my heart to His truth, I can see that great depth of my rebellion. How very undeserving I am of any of His mercy and grace. How callous and prideful I can be.

When Mel Gibson made his movie “The Passion of the Christ,” he was interviewed and asked the question, “Who killed Jesus?,” to which he replied (in essence): “I did. That is why I used my hands for the scene when the nails were driven into His hands.”

Do I see myself this way? Do I remember that every single prideful thought I have or ever had pierced His brow and drove blood down into His eyes? Do I take stock of the fact that those “little” infractions of my youth ripped Jesus’ back open wide with the Roman cat-o-nine-tails? Do I weigh the price of my foolish young adulthood against the slow walk through Jerusalem and to Golgotha, carrying a cross so heavy under a body so broken it could not make the destination without help? And do I remember that the nails that tore the flesh and sinew of the One I love did so to bear the price of my own sin against God?

Can I remember His forgiveness every day – so that I too may learn to truly forgive?

When I learn this, I believe I shall no longer carry the burden of my dark thoughts.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
- Matthew 11:30

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18 Comments:

Blogger mark pierson said...

Susan, I deeply, deeply admire your transparency.

Unforgiveness can so hamper our communion with the Father. Your friends at BC blog are your yoke-fellows. If you need us for encouragement, well, consider us as side by side with you as you embark to do whatever scriptures demands of you in forgiving this individual(s). Matthew 5:23-24.

October 02, 2007 10:41 AM

 
Blogger Even So... said...

Can I remember His forgiveness every day – so that I too may learn to truly forgive?

When I learn this, I believe I shall no longer carry the burden of my dark thoughts.


It is the truth, becasue Chirst will now bear them, as you quoted Matthew 11:30...

Blessings are upon you...

October 02, 2007 10:47 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Sometimes it is good to remember too that we see all our own wretchedness because God is shining a light on it. Just as the surgeon shines the light upon the cancerous tumor that he is about to operate on, so too, God is working in us when the light of understanding shows us our own estate, and through these things we learn anew our own utter dependency upon Christ and Him alone.

October 02, 2007 12:24 PM

 
Blogger Baptist Girl said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 02, 2007 12:56 PM

 
Blogger Baptist Girl said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 02, 2007 12:57 PM

 
Blogger Baptist Girl said...

Susan,

When I read this, it tore at my heart, when being reminded how much he suffered and why...

Do I remember that every single prideful thought I have or ever had pierced His brow and drove blood down into His eyes? Do I take stock of the fact that those “little” infractions of my youth ripped Jesus’ back open wide with the Roman cat-o-nine-tails? Do I weigh the price of my foolish young adulthood against the slow walk through Jerusalem and to Golgotha, carrying a cross so heavy under a body so broken it could not make the destination without help? And do I remember that the nails that tore the flesh and sinew of the One I love did so to bear the price of my own sin against God?

And then I remember the verse an it tore even deeper..
(Luke 23:34)
Only Luke tells us that Jesus, shortly after he was crucified, prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing"

Forgiveness for us can be difficult at times, I know I struggle to forgive too at times. I needed to hear this.
Thank you Susan.

Cristina

October 02, 2007 12:58 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Thank you, all.

I am encouraged as I realize that I would not be seeing these things were He not revealing them to me. I am likewise encouraged that He Himself will finish the good work He began.

I am encouraged since I believe that He has revealed the connection between my dark thoughts and my own lack of forgiveness - something of which I was unaware until Sunday's sermon. Likewise He revealed the path to being able to forgive - understanding the depth and breadth and width of how much I myself have been forgiven and how great a love He has to offer the sacrifice that was made to do so.

I am no longer discouraged, but I am somewhat still sad these days. I can't articulate it very well - but I think it has to do with the accounting of my own wretchedness (while it hurts to do so) and desiring to realize (in head *and* heart) how very greatly I have been forgiven - so that I may truly and really forgive.

I don't want to slough off my own awareness of my sin. It's not that I'm reliving it or bearing it myself; I'm wanting to remember so that when offenses against me occur that I may regard another with compassion, for I was once there.

I'm learning to some extent the great difference - the wide gulf - between head assent and heart acceptance. Much of that with which I whole-headedly (for lack of better word) agree - like a need to forgive - is moving into my heart.

And that's a painful realization to take in. Even though I know also that it is God's work in doing so and that it is because He loves His child(ren) - it is painful. And not an overnight change.

So.... it's okay. I have hope and confidence since it's His hand doing the moving. If it were just I, I would be afraid.

But I have hope that He will take me through the valley to truly and honestly forgive. So that all trace of any of the hurt, anger, sadness related to offenses are simply so insignificant that they can scarce be remembered.

I feel like I'm rambling about this and not making much sense. But basically it has to do with things I've long "known," but didn't realize that they weren't deeply in my heart.

October 02, 2007 2:18 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Excellent thoughts, Susan.

October 02, 2007 6:23 PM

 
Blogger Sista Cala said...

With God's help, you have exposed the underlying issues. His Light will always rule over the darkness.
I am sure you have folks praying for you, many that you may never know about. I too am praying for you.

October 02, 2007 9:12 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Thank you, Jonathan and Sista Cala.

October 02, 2007 9:57 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

As I sat in a Bible study tonight, I pondered how do we forgive?

Actually, my first thought was - do we need to forgive? That is, if David said against God and God alone did he transgress, then do others likewise only transgress against God? So is it even upon us to forgive since ultimately they sin against God?

And I concluded yes, because Scripture says that we are to forgive - so in some sense, although others sin ultimately against God, they also sin against us - because Jesus told us to forgive 70 x 7. And other Scriptures talk about men forgiving men.

So with that settled, I wondered... how?

Oh, I think I know the mental process. I've been there before. It's not like I've never forgiven, but in this case, well, I wondered, how?

And I think I found my answer - at least in part - as my eyes fell on Psalm 51:

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. "

I find that last part interesting. The bones that you (God) have broken... I'm thinking, however, that they are broken in repentance.

And I wonder if I must wait for God to empty me and then fill me with His love that I may forgive.

October 02, 2007 10:02 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Susan,
This is really a great post that really brings to life the need for us to forgive and also the price that was paid so we could be forgiven.

October 02, 2007 10:04 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jazzy,

I'm realizing these days that I need to remember both sides of this equation more often than I do

- the side of mine that imposed the necessity for the sacrifice

- and the side of His that willingly bore my sin.

And more than the mental realization, I need to have that "knowledge" moved to the heart.

I think I am often unbalanced in my remembrance - leaning heavily toward the mental understanding and less toward the actual inner parts:

"Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart."
- Psalm 51:6

I think in some cases, when the situation is not real personal, forgiveness is not so hard. But in very close cases, it's hard. Especially if the pain is over a long period of time. I don't want to get into detail; I'm just trying to say that real, lasting forgiveness of deep injury is so much more than the head forgiveness.

A forgiveness that is deep from the heart requires a real understanding (I believe) in our heads and hearts of what offense we have caused Him and what He did for us. It's scarcely able to be covered in words.

October 02, 2007 10:22 PM

 
Blogger donsands said...

"Pursue peace with all, and holiness, ... lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble"

"If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peacably with all men."

"Let all bitterness, ... be put away from you."

The Lord's forgiveness for us is complete. He can't forgive us any more than we are. His blood has cleansed us, and we need not be cleansed more.

Living a life of forgiving others, and asking for forgiveness is bittersweet. If we don't forgive, then bitterness can take root in the heart.
If we do forgive, then the peace of God will rule our hearts.

Susan you have shared some very excellent thoughts here. Thank you sister.

"So Peter went out and wept bitterly".
Peter wept, for he denied his Lord three times!

The angel said to Mary: "He is risen! ... go, tell His disciples--AND PETER--that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him".

I believe this reveals the kindness and love of the Lord for Peter, who denied Him.
Our Lord and Savior has the same love for us as well.

Sure He rebukes us, but it's with lovingkindness that He does. We need to always know that most of all.

October 02, 2007 11:35 PM

 
Blogger only1way said...

I sought to be rid of it. But when I asked God to pluck the darkness from my heart before it ever became those thoughts again in my mind, it didn’t happen


Susan thanks to you for another revealing and thought igniting entry. Your concerns are items I have puzzled over for many years as a Christian. The issue of remaining sin in the Christian’s life is one that can bring even the staunchest of God’s servants to his/her knees. I can clearly remember the way that I would try and reason with my God who was infinitely more reasonable than I. My argument went something like this … I hate sin and God hates sin. I want to be perfectly obedient to Him and He wants me to be the same. So, if we are in agreement there, dear Lord, take the sin away and make me to align myself in perfect obedience to you. A very simple formula that didn’t work. No sooner had I risen to my knees and the temptations began to rush in with, what seemed like, twice the magnitude. Needless to say, I found myself frustrated and discouraged over, what seemed to be, a losing battle to sin. I suppose one of the key verses that has enlightened me to some degree in this anomaly is found in John 14:15 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”. It doesn’t say that we keep His commandments, therefore we love Him but rather if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. So, I think that part of the victory over sin is not in trying not to sin but rather in loving Him more. The more we love Him the less we will want to sin and the greater will be our obedience to Him. So, I strive, not to sin less but to love more. But that opens up another perplexing question. How can we love Him more when all the flesh wants is to love Him less.

October 04, 2007 12:58 AM

 
Blogger James Lush said...

The joy of the journey with Jesus is the ever increasing knowledge of knowing Him and also knowing ourselves and that comes through the blessedness of brokenness and intimacy. Like Mark I too am impressed by your transparency but be assured that the Spirit of God is speaking to you and as the Word says, "For whom the Lord loves He chastens."

October 04, 2007 6:32 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

John,
Yes! Exactly!
Thank you!
Interestingly, that's kind of what I've been finding these days.
It's not necessarily overt acts of sin that snare me, but a lack of love for someone that I should have - at least according to Scripture. And that's just about impossible to manufacture on my own.
But as I draw nearer to Christ and dwell on Him - moment by next moment - well, He seems to be providing the love I lack.
He's also pointing out other areas wherein there is sin related to the unforgiveness - such as my not being content in this situation. Whereas Scripture tells me to be content in all circumstances.
As I draw nearer to Him, and confess these things He points out and stay very close to Him through the day, well, it's getting better.
I greatly appreciate your words here. They are encouraging and helpful. Thank you.

October 04, 2007 9:49 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Thank you, James.
Yes, it's true.
I must remember that.
In this chastening is demonstration of His love.

October 04, 2007 9:51 AM

 

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