II CORINTHIANS 2:10-11: “If you forgive someone, so do I. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did in the presence of Christ for your benefit. I don’t want Satan to outwit us. After all, we are not ignorant about Satan’s scheming.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: Beware of the pitfall of unforgiveness! If the enemy of our souls cannot keep us from following Jesus, he will try to bind us up with unforgiveness. In fact, this is the most common pitfall for the Christian, and one of the areas Jesus taught on over and over again in His earthly ministry. Unforgiveness will leave us powerless and in prison to our own anger, resentment, and hurt. We cannot allow the enemy to outwit us!
How does this happen? The Corinthian church had made two critical mistakes regarding sin and forgiveness. First, it had allowed sexual sin to continue in the assembly without any correction. A young man was sleeping with his father’s wife, his own stepmother. The church had turned its head to this sin and allowed it to continue unchecked. Paul dealt with this and finally church discipline was applied regarding the young man and he was turned out of the church until he came to his senses and repented. This is the backdrop to II Corinthians chapter two.
What happened next? The young man did repent. However, the church refused to restore him. They did not meet his repentance with forgiveness and restoration. Instead, they met it with continual judgment and unforgiveness. This is what Paul is addressing. He is calling the church of Corinth to both forgive and restore this young man – lest the enemy outwit them. Paul knew all too well the power of anger, resentment, and hurt continually feeding the soil of unforgiveness. Before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul was bound by unforgiveness. Now, free in Jesus Christ, he knows the importance and power of forgiveness. There can be no freedom, no victory, no power of the Spirit in a heart that harbors unforgiveness.
The insidious thing about unforgiveness is that the enemy can convince us that we have every right to hold onto it. All of us have been hurt by someone in the past. These wounds are real. Many times they run deep in our hearts and minds. It is easy to replay them over and over again and justify our anger, resentment, and hurt. After all, we were the ones who were wounded, hurt, disappointed, and defrauded! We have a right to feel this way toward the offending party. The only problem is – God calls us to forgive! He knows that if we do not forgive we are actually walking into the trap of the enemy that will imprison us in our anger, resentment, and hurt. There is no freedom, no victory, no power of the Spirit – unless we forgive!
- “Then his master sent for him and said to him, ‘You evil servant! I canceled your entire debt, because you begged me. Shouldn’t you have treated the other servant as mercifully as I treated you?’ “His master was so angry that he handed him over to the torturers until he would repay everything that he owed. That is what my Father in heaven will do to you if each of you does not sincerely forgive other believers.” (Matthew 18:32-35 GW)
The parable of the king settling accounts with his servants is a reminder of God’s mercy that is extended toward us, and how we are to extend this mercy toward others. Peter was looking for justification for his unforgiveness. Certainly there is a limit to forgiveness, a place for our anger, resentment, and hurt. Yet, Jesus calls us to show that same mercy to others that He has extended to us. It is a 70 times 7 mercy. It is forgiveness that is not earned or merited. It is the Grace of God working through us what God has worked in us. It is the love of God, unmerited, and freely given. It is the call to freedom, victory, and power in the Spirit! No wonder the enemy of our souls tries to keep us licking our wounds and rehearsing our hurts. He wants to keep us bound – but Jesus wants to set us free!
Lord, search me and know me this morning. I come before You to lay down all my anger, all my resentment, and all of my past hurts. When tempted to pick them up and breath life into them, instead let me see them nailed to Your cross. Let me reckon myself to be dead to these things that used to hold me, and alive in the Spirit. Let me walk in Your love, Your mercy, and Your grace toward all!
In Jesus Name!