Saturday, January 23, 2010


23 January 2010


Matthew 6:12,14,15
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

We see here that we really must forgive – and we know this to be true from experience, too, since we’ve seen unforgiveness damage people, and bitterness destroy people.

Yet we read what the Pharisees said in Mark 2:7.
7 “Why does this Man [Jesus Christ] speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
This is also written in Luke 5:21.

I understand why the Pharisees said this, since the Law states “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, so I agree with the Pharisees’ second question and the implied answer.

Yet there are at least two examples in the Old Testament where people forgave others:

1. Joseph forgave his brothers after they sold him into slavery.
2. David forgave Absalom after Absalom killed his brother Amnon.

But I noticed that it took them both quite a while to forgive, though they truly did. Also, notice that both cases here are within families, so what we see are two examples of brotherly love, or familial love, (phileos), enabling these two men to succeed in their efforts to forgive.

But where does that leave us? We don’t have familial love for everyone. Yet we need to forgive, and we find that the power to forgive is not in us. What to do? Are we trapped in unforgiveness with no hope?

We’ve all been there, (or are there). We’ve been hurt (and have hurt others, of course, but never mind that!) Revenge seemed so sweet. We wanted to “get even”! Yet deep down we knew revenge wouldn’t make it right. It would just make us feel good for a few minutes and then, alas, increase the hostility between us and the other party, making the whole mess even worse. And yet, we did it! We “got even”! The McCoys and the Hatfields warred for several decades. They kept on “getting even”. Why?

Alas! “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24. Well we know who will. Hallelujah!

OK, how does this deliverance work? Simply put, we desperately need to be operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. And to be operating in this power, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit and “die to self”. By saying “die to self”, I’m saying that we must acknowledge that we are needy people and that our pride, greed, and unbelief must be renounced (crucified, if you will). Then we can truly forgive.

A corollary to this is – if we sense that we are able to forgive, we know it is the Spirit of God working through us. Said another way, the ability to forgive is evidence that one is filled with the Holy Spirit. The Amish folks that forgave the schoolhouse killer a few years ago were operating in the power of the Holy Spirit.

OK, let us go on.

Well, are there two types of forgiveness? Is there God’s type, which washes a person clean, vs. “our” type, which doesn’t have any effect on the one being forgiven?

Related to this – is forgiveness of others merely for our own benefit? Is it just an annoying hurdle to get over to get to a place of blessing and favor from Father God?

To answer the above questions – no! Jesus addresses this in John 20:23.
23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

This is also implied in Matthew 18:18.
18 Assuredly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
(Do not treat this power lightly! Use it!)

Therefore, if you truly forgive someone, and that person knows it, that person is really set free and washed clean. But remember, you did it as an ambassador or agent of the Lord God, and you did it by the power of the Holy Spirit in you, not by your own power. You performed a priestly function.

Jesus taught and demonstrated by His life that maintaining healthy relationships and friendships is a key element in His kingdom, and forgiveness is an essential part of it. How often? 490 times a day (at least!) as seen here.
Matthew 18:21,22
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. (But who’s counting?)

So forgiveness is not just a hurdle to get over occasionally so we can get on with life – it is a core element in life itself.

This was a new concept - a hard saying - to the people of that day. I did a scan of the word “forgive” in Strong’s Concordance, and it is clear that in Old Testament times the Lord God was the only one asked to forgive – to forgive His people. People had to pay or atone for their trespasses and sins, or run to a city of refuge if they mistakenly killed another. Person to person forgiveness is not a commandment in the Old Testament, although Judaism now embraces it.

Right after Jesus said to Peter, “seventy times seven”, He shared the parable of the unforgiving servant, in Matthew 18:23-35. This is quite long, so I’ll just summarize it here by saying a servant was forgiven an enormous amount by the king, and then turned around and refused to forgive a fellow servant just a small amount. When the king heard about it, he was very angry and rescinded his forgiveness. The unforgiving servant lost out big time. This parable ends with verse 35:
35: So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.

Now let me quickly mention a question that often comes up. Should I confront the offender or “just let it go”? My answer to that is – one needs to get the “peace of God” on this, one way or the other. According to Colossians 3:15, the “peace of God” in our hearts calls the shots, it determines the direction of our lives. This peace is controlled by the Spirit of God, who resides in believers. I advise you to read this in context. Either way (to confront or not), we need to forgive.

“This is really hard, Larry. Have you experienced this, or is it just theory?”

That’s a good question. It truly is hard, which we all know, because trouble comes to everyone, yes, including to me. Nevertheless, Philippians 4:13 says,
13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
(It’s really true.)

Let’s wrap it up with this:
If you examine yourself now and find that you are not in a place where forgiveness of others is possible (but you want to be in such a place) – or if unforgiveness is gripping your heart and soul and you’re sick of it - cry out to the Lord God for the power to change, to be able to forgive, to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus truly is a savior! He most certainly will give you the power to forgive.
(Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quoted is from the New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
Larry Carroll

Sunday, January 10, 2010


10 January 2010


Here's a word I've grown to really like - "nevertheless". It has several synonyms, such as nonetheless, however, "even so", notwithstanding, yet, and "all the same".

These words allow us to express contrasting perspectives, thoughts, and ideas within the same sentence - well, at least within the same paragraph.

In a discussion with another person, these words allow us to concede a point, yet gently disagree, more gently than using "But!"

However, the word "but" has its place, when the second thought is expressed to override or cancel out the first.

The Bible uses these words extensively.

Here are two of my favorite sections where "Nevertheless" is used:  

Philippians 1:21-25  
21 For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.
23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.
25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith,

Philippians 4:13,14
13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.

Here are two of my favorite sections where "But God" is used:

Ephesians 2:1-6  
1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.  
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

Romans 5:6-8
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

All scripture quoted is from the New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Larry Carroll