To forgive someone is an act of your will and a finished work of Christ in your heart. Literally, it is releasing someone from the penalty of their offense against you. Though they are guilty of the offense and rightly are indebted to you to meet the punishment connected with the offense, you make the decision from your heart to remit them from the debt.
Now, this all sounds simple, and with the grace of God working in you, it is, but many times we make it more complicated than it has to be because we fail to do what needs to be done to win the battle.
Consider this: Before one can come to this point of resolve, one must overcome the battle that rages inside of themselves that follows an offense. The battle is with their flesh; with their soulish realm, for the flesh wants payback, revenge, perverted justice and punishment to come upon the offender for what they did.
One must win the battle over their flesh in order to succeed in the area of forgiveness.
Understand, your flesh “talks” to you very convincingly about keeping alive your resentment and anger. Even though you may plead the blood of Christ over your mind, thoughts, and emotions, your flesh perseveres to keep alive the perverted desires that come from your self-righteousness, and you can find yourself having a debate with your flesh about what you should and should not do to your offender even when you have made up your mind to forgive.
This debate can go on for days and even years at a time if you have not learned how to crucify your flesh. And if you ever lose this debate you can find yourself sinning against God by not demonstrating the conduct of heart He commands of those who have been offended.
You see this battle is real and it happens in the mind. Every one of us steps into this battle the moment we are offended or transgressed against. No one escapes it, yet there are some who have learned to do what the Lord has commanded us to do with ungodly thoughts and desires.
We are told in 2Corinthians 10:5 that –
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.
The Lord tells us to be mindful of those self-righteous arguments that we say to ourselves:
“They had no right doing that to me, I’ll get them for that”
“I’ll kill you for what you’ve done to me, I hate you”
These thoughts have to be arrested. They must be brought under the obedience of Christ because they go against the knowledge of God. That means we must rethink those thoughts and replace them.
We must capture each one and “make it” obedient unto Christ.
“I’ll get them for that” becomes “God will avenge me”.
“I hate you” becomes “I love you because you are my neighbor but I don’t like what you did”.
If we are going to defeat this flesh we must have faith in the spiritual weaponry we possess. We must trust in the power that Christ has over the devil to demolish our ungodly patterns of thought.
You see, the battle is won by not allowing the thoughts of revenge, payback, punishment, etc. to run wild inside of your thinking. The battle is won when you capture every one of those thoughts and make them obedient to what Christ has told you to do toward your offender or your enemy or someone who persecutes you.
Christ will bring those thoughts into submission inside your heart once you have arrested them and you will then find victory over them. So don’t get frustrated if you find yourself battling with thoughts of whether to forgive or not.
Just follow 2Corinthians 10:5 and watch the Lord fight for you.