Ephesians 6:10-16 describes the Armor of God and instructs us how to wear and use it.
Let’s begin by looking at verse 11. It reads: "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes."
Would you not agree that the issues in your life that you need to forgive were events when the devil used humans in his scheme to take you down? Of course this is true.
When you choose to forgive, you are taking a stand against the devil’s schemes. To do this, you need some heavy duty armor.
First up, you must put on the belt of truth. Lies have knotted you up inside ever since that offense happened. You may have told yourself that people are just out to hurt you. Maybe you thought that God failed you by allowing that person to hurt you. Well God is not a failure and that thought is a lie you must take captive. These lies cause anxiety and fear which tear up your stomach. Put on truth like a belt. Reign in those feelings and replace them with truth.
Next, we see the breastplate of righteousness. Verse 14 says: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, . . .” You need to guard your heart, seeking to be in right standing with the father, pleasing Him in all things.
As you wrap yourself in truth, and guard your heart with right actions, peace will rise up in you. You can’t forgive anyone without a desire for peace. Verse 16 reads:“and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
After your belt, breastplate and shoes, you need to grab up your shield of faith. Verse 16 continues . . .”In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
Make no mistake, the enemy won’t just disappear because you have accepted truth, chosen to make your heart right, and sought out peace by faith. He’s waiting with flaming arrows. Doubt, pride, anger and fear will attack you over and over again.
This is when you must heed Verse 17: "Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
With your mind washed in the word, renewing takes place. You find yourself ready and willing to forgive your enemy. Let the Spirit lead you, not the flesh. Walk by faith not feeling.
This is where we tend to grow complacent. We think that since we’ve offered forgiveness, we are free and the attack is over. If only it were that simple.
Forgiveness is just the first step. You must stay on guard. You have to follow the battle up with prayer. Don’t skip that step. Every time those feelings of hurt and anger rise up, pray for the grace to walk in forgiveness.
Verse 18 says: And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Pray and don’t stop.
Prayer: Abba Father, I am ready to forgive. As I’ve sought you, you have shown me the truth in every lie spoken over me and every lie I’ve told myself. You’ve shown yourself as my defender and I trust you to take up my case and guard me as I choose to walk in forgiveness. Let my thoughts, words and actions bring peace and may the forgiveness I offer show my faith in you. Guard my mind. Lead me by your spirit and teach me to turn to you when this journey throws up roadblocks. Amen.
Truth: Forgiveness is a journey. Every step, from discovering the offense to setting it right and attempting to establish peace, is a battle. Go in prepared and don’t expect the attack to stop with the words “I forgive you”. Satan wants you defeated. Pray continually.
Do you feel held back in the area of forgiveness?
Are you worried that forgiveness would somehow condone the past or excuse a serious wrong done to you?
How can an abused wife forgive her husband or a child victim offer forgiveness to their molester? Even if a person’s forgiveness is deep and all the hard work of healing done, can it ever be forgotten? These are big questions that often leave us stuck on the forgiveness issue as we cling to our offenses, too scared to put them down.
Psalm 103:12 reads “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Hebrews 8:12 says: "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
God is able to forgive and forget our sins. Yet, when God forgives and forgets, He has the benefit of examining the heart. He can see the internal contrition that has led that person to repent. He knows if the person will mess up again or stay faithful to the changes they have made.
We don’t have this luxury. We don’t know if a person will hurt us again or if their commitment to do right by us is sincere. In this way, forgetting looks like a gamble.
Scripture stresses the importance of forgiving others. God commands it, so we can’t get out of it. Matthew 6:15 sternly warns us “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” A lot is at stake if we don’t forgive those who have wronged us.
Here’s the good news: There is no scripture saying “Forgive and forget”. Forgetting is not required. I would even be bold enough to say that forgetting isn’t always wise. God created our memory for a purpose.
To forgive a serious offender, you must choose in your heart to address all feelings of hate. Remove them through prayer. Forgiveness is challenging, but God is willing to walk beside you in the process. Forgiveness doesn’t erase the wrong done to you. Pretending it never happened will get you nowhere. Forgiveness is simply a heart decision to hold nothing against a person for the wrongs they committed against you.
Forgiveness doesn’t equal trust. There are some relationships that need to end and others that God may wish to restore. Seek His wisdom and move in it.
As you walk in forgiveness, be aware that the enemy would like to keep you bound to fear and anger. He hates forgiveness. He’ll seek to wind you up again. Don’t let him.
Sometimes you’ll have to remind yourself that you’ve forgiven. That’s okay. Just keep at it. Living forgiveness brings emotional and spiritual healing. It keeps you from destruction through the attacks the enemy has launched at you through human hands.
Prayer: Abba Father, I’m scared to forgive. I’ve built my anger into a safe spot, a wall for me to hide behind. Help me to walk out the forgiveness process. Teach me to look to you as my refuge and not try to defend myself in my own power. Thank you for my memories, the good, the bad and the ugly. They have served as warnings in the past. Thank you for the wisdom you give me through your Holy Spirit. Help me to know if forgetting is wise. Help me to know what forgiveness should look like in my situation. Expose any areas where bitterness hides so that I can address it and be free. Teach me to love the unlovable. Give me a heart for those who have hurt me and help me to walk out forgiveness by faith not feeling. Amen.
Truth: Forgiveness is a crucial part of your faith. God instructs us to forgive and warns us of real penalties when we choose to withhold it. Proceeding with caution does not imply an incomplete forgiveness. Forgiveness does not equal trust. God will give you wisdom on how to proceed (whether to heal a relationship or let it go). Your only responsibility is to forgive.
*This devotional originally appeared in My Journey of Faith's Day by Day Devotions.
Feelings lie. They tell us we are secure when we are headed for judgement. They tell us we are reliable when we are as shifty as the waves. They tell us we are on the right path when we are headed for death. They cannot be trusted. Feelings lie.
Many times in scripture, God asked his people to act against their feelings. He told them to be brave. He pushed them to trust. The beauty of faith is the act of taking God at his word. Faith in God led people to leave their lands for a promise they couldn’t see. It led His people to believe the impossible when the evidence seemed stacked against it. Faith ignores feelings. It pushes past the doubt.
Sometimes I don’t feel like forgiving people who have hurt me. My feelings say they don’t deserve it. My feelings say weren't punished enough by God so, I’ll punish them myself. My feelings say that I must protect myself, hold them at bay, hold everyone at bay. Don't trust anyone. My feelings isolate me, nurse the grudge and lead me into sin. My feelings lie and so do yours.
Mark 11:22-26 says: “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
There are a few people who I have not forgiven face to face because it would not be safe or wise to be in their presence. In those cases, I forgive in my heart. In this way, I take control of my feelings. I choose to have faith that God has done a work in me through my forgiveness, even when that person shows no remorse. In forgiving, I also pave the way for God to hear my prayers.
This rejection of my feelings opens up the door for God to move on my life, to answer prayers and to bless me in ways I can’t possibly expect.
God always shows up when His people act in faith, not feeling.
Are you holding onto your offense like a faithful friend?
Proverbs 19:11 says: “A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”
Are you afraid that forgiveness will make you vulnerable and pave the way for you to be hurt again?
Psalm 16:1 says: "Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge."
Are you taking refuge in God or are you taking refuge in your feelings? Only God can keep you safe.
He’s asking you to do something huge. He’s asking you to believe in Him enough to lay down your hurt. 1 Peter 5:7 says: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
Trust God with your deepest hurts. Ask Him to reveal truth to you and suppress any feelings that are contrary to it. Walk by faith. Don’t lean on your own understanding. Forgive anyway.
Prayer: Abba Father, Please help my feelings to fall in line with your will for me. Help me to forgive when I don’t feel it yet. I still hurt. I feel wounded and I don’t know how to let this go. Help me to release my anger and my fear to you. Guard me so that this offense would not be repeated. Clean my heart of any bitterness so that I can move forward in freedom with complete faith, and no longer be ruled by faulty feelings. Amen.
Truth: Feelings lie, but God can be trusted. Forgive because He asked you to. Trust Him to heal the hurt that lingers and lead you to freedom.
*This devotional originally appeared in My Journey of Faith's Day by Day Devotions.