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This guest post was submitted by Set Free Ministries, a Christ-centered ministry that has been helping people find freedom and healing for nearly 30 years. They offer free services on their website. You can also listen to their Rules and Tools Podcast on your favorite podcast platform.

Three Words Changed The History of All Mankind

The most powerful words ever spoken in the history of the universe were uttered in agony by Jesus Christ right after Roman soldiers had just pounded nails in both His hands and feet!

“Father, forgive them.“

These three words spoken by Jesus Christ as recorded in Luke 23:34 had a dramatic effect on the entire cosmos… and not just as evidenced by the supernatural events that followed shortly after he took His last breath. Three words changed everything! That’s the power of God forgiving sin! What an example He set for us to follow.

The Power of Forgiveness Unleashes Divine Power That Comes From God Himself

God is love.

“For God so loved the world that He gave us His one and only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Those who believe that Jesus lived and died and was raised from the dead for the forgiveness of sin will be saved. God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus Christ, and the curse of death was broken by Him when God raised him from the dead.

“Love keeps no records of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)

Now it’s our turn to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, and forgive others as we have been forgiven.

The first step towards forgiveness isn't always easy, but the rewards are immeasurable.

The first step towards forgiveness isn’t always easy, but the rewards are immeasurable.

What is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is “a conscious and deliberate decision to release the feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person who has harmed you.” Nobody feels like forgiving. However, it’s not an emotion… it’s a choice. It’s also a command of God, and the Holy Scriptures have much to teach on forgiveness.

When Jesus taught us to pray, He says, “forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

“If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

“In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you were still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26) 

Jesus talked to the woman at the well about streams of living water that will never cease. I use the analogy of a kinked garden hose when talking to people about unforgiveness. If I have a functioning garden hose, I can live in the desert. I can have a pool. I can have a garden. I will be fine. If I simply think that I will not have any water to drink, I cannot water my garden. I will not have a pool. I will not be able to bathe. I will die.

The moral of the story: don’t kink the hose that supplies living water! The opposite of forgiveness is to hold onto anger and bitterness. When we hold onto anger, we not only grieve the Holy Spirit, and restrict the supply of living water, but the enemy gets a foothold into our lives.

Finding Healing Through Forgiveness… and Forgiving

There are so many people with heavy burdens who are entangled because of unforgiveness and bitterness.

Hebrews 12:1 says let us cut off this sin that so easily entangles, and get rid of all these heavy weights that hinder us. That’s like trying to run an endurance race. There are millions of Christians today who are trying to run the good race, but can barely move because of all the unforgiveness in their hearts.

At Set Free Ministries, we have witnessed thousands of people experiencing freedom through the power of forgiveness. “David” is one of those people. David’s daughter, Heather, was raped when she was 13 years old. He said she was never the same after that… and she succumbed to cancer at age 21. David carried the pain from these traumas – and the anger towards the man who violated her – for more than 20 years. At a Set Free event earlier this year, David found the strength to forgive him.

David recalls his state of mind leading up to it. “I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think I can forgive him.” But he did. “It became very emotional… but I let it go. I let go of the hatred, the resentment. In that moment, when I said ‘I forgive you’, there was so much power in that. I could actually feel my daughter’s presence saying ‘dad, I forgive him, too.’” 

David says he has a different perspective on how he sees people. He notes there is a lot of brokenness in the world, and he’s not so critical or judgmental. He finds it easier to forgive and is more quick to ask others for forgiveness. His daily walk and outlook are different and his relationship with God is improved, and he’s building it daily.

It seems as though unforgiveness can manifest emotional and physical side effects.

It seems as though unforgiveness can manifest emotional and physical side effects.

We have over 60 million Americans dealing with depression and anxiety. I would propose that many of those issues are spiritual issues that have a negative effect upon our soul and our bodies.

In Psalm 38, when King David hid his sin, he had searing back pain, there was no health in his bones. and the light had gone out from his eyes. That’s the heavy price tag of hiding sin in the heart! When we hide anger and bitterness in our hearts, you can expect physical health issues. There’s a new book called “The Body Keeps the Score” that connects poor health with unresolved trauma that happened when we were sinned against.

Sin that is held in the heart and pressed deep down within the soul can lead to forms of depression. Until we forgive as we have been forgiven, we restrict the flow of living water and grace of God that supplies us life.

Acts 3:19 says to repent, so that times of refreshing will come. James 5:16 says to confess one to another, and you will be healed.

First John 1:9 says confess to God and be forgiven.

It’s time we too, as disciples of Jesus Christ, utter the very words of our Lord and Savior:.

“Father forgive them”…and experience the power of God.

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