True forgiveness. What does that really look like? What does it feel like? Can I say that I forgive someone but deep down not really forgive them? In this article, we're going to tie together many of the concepts in this series and uncover why it's so difficult to forgive and why most people are still imprisoned in their own minds by the offense that was laid against them. Then we'll unpack the truth and mechanics of how forgiveness works and how to use those mechanics to finally get rid of that pain NOW!
The Power to Truly Forgive
You've been deeply hurt. The person who hurt you has asked forgiveness but the pain just doesn't want to go away. Did you forgive them if you still feel pain? Or worse yet, what if the person who hurt you hasn't repented, is deceased, or continues to hurt you? How do you let go of that and move on with your life?
For the believer, this issue of forgiveness is one of the most foundational issues in all of the Bible. Without it the body of Christ can have no unity and the individual can have no peace. Without it truly being realized in a believer's life, a person remains in prison behind the bars of their own mind, constantly living with a bleeding heart and a plate full of pain. This issue is so important and so serious that our own forgiveness is at stake on Judgment Day. In Mathew 6:14, the Scriptures tell us that if we do not forgive others, we ourselves will not be forgiven. That's about as serious a statement as they come. Our own forgiveness is dependant on us doing this right. So let's dig right in and see if we can't uncover how to actually be set free from the pain of unforgiveness.
First of all, it is important to remember that pain needs two things: time and resistance. And since we're dealing with a trauma that's already happened, we're dealing with the past. There's our "time" element that the mind needs in order to create the pain through its most powerful tool: judgment. The mind doesn't want to live in the present because in the present there's nothing for it to do to satisfy its carnal nature. It needs something in the past to judge or future to project. This is where the enemy works. If he can create a false judgment or projection then he can control the individual through the negative emotions associated with his kingdom. Even though they might be saved and their souls are not under the jurisdiction of his dominion, he can make them miserable for their entire lives by surrounding them with his negative emotions, causing them to barely breathe through the fog of his lies. But once we understand his tactics, we can be totally free from the pain.
With that in mind, here are the three steps that are needed to finally be able to forgive and be free from offense:
1. The person is not the same as the act itself.
There are two parts to an individual. There's the spirit-man, which would never hurt anyone because it is made in the image of the Creator, and there's the soul-man, that tainted sinful mind, will, and emotions that drives most of us to break the Law of God and hurt our fellow man. It is predisposed to sin and continues to eat from that tree almost unconsciously at times. It defends itself, prides itself, judges itself, and does whatever it takes to protect itself from the egotistic attack of another soul. It is the soul of a person that has been inflicted with the systemic, deadly illness of sin. And once you understand that it was the soul-man of that person that sinned against you and not the real person that would never intentionally violate you, it's easy to extend compassion to that poor "soul" who has been infected with such a deadly disease that caused such an act of offense. An offense, I might add, that they will be held accountable for both in this life and in the next, as nothing escapes consequences and judgment of the Most High.
So we're allowed to judge the act as unbiblical and even heinous, but we must put it on the carnal soul of that "deathly ill" person and not on the spirit of the man who is made in God's image. And if the spirit-man was allowed to grow and be nurtured to such a degree that it was able to overtake the soulish part, the crime against you would never have taken place. But due to all the conditions that led up to that carnal decision of the mind that offended you (the previous generations that influenced them; their own traumas and sins committed against them when they were a child; their own fear, anxiety, anger, hurt, depression, pain, etc.; and their own sins along the way) the spirit-man was prevented from truly displacing the soul the way it was supposed to. All of these variables are what the Creator sees when He sees us in our own sins and is what caused the Messiah to declare "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." He was not seeing the act only but the blindness of their souls that had been influenced by millennia of demonic principalities that ultimately go back to that ancient serpent himself. This is why, during Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement...Judgment Day), the high priest laid his hands on the La Azazel goat and transferred all the sins of Israel to a goat with one of the names of Satan. Yahweh was placing Israel's sins on the one from which all sin originated. We can only conclude, therefore, that "we do not fight against flesh and blood" and that the person that hurt us was, in fact, being influenced by nefarious forces and their spirit-man was not strong enough to ward off such an attack. This understanding can only lead us to a position of compassion for such a condition, making forgiveness not only attainable on a heart level but almost insignificant in light of the sickly position of the offender.
This in no way excuses the perpetrator of the crime or lessens the effects of the offense, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7). It just proves that there were more forces at play in their decision to hurt you than just them and that they truly did not understand the ramifications of what they were doing ("know not what they do") or they would have never done it in the first place. If they'd known, that would've meant that the spirit-man was fully awake inside them, fully displacing the soulish man and having full knowledge of the Scriptures on the matter. The religious leaders most certainly knew what they were doing when they crucified Christ. So how can He say that they "know not what they do"? Because they certainly could not see the eternal ramifications of their act or they would never have committed such a crime to begin with.
In the same way, those who hurt us arec learly operating from the soul-man without the full knowledge of the ramifications of their actions either on themselves or on you. This is why, through His example, Yeshua showed us exactly how to treat offense. He knew that the persons offending were operating under the blinding power of sin. This knowledge is what created the compassion in Him to make such a statement of love. And we should make the same statement. We must separate the real person from the soul person that committed the sin.
2. Your sin of unforgiveness is equal to their offense
As a matter of fact, the soul, and the mind that drives it, has so powerful a grip on us that the person who has taken the stance that they just can't forgive has no idea that they have done this unconsciously, allowing their carnal soul to dictate their actions in the EXACT same way the perpetrator did who caused the offense in the first place, making both completely equal in their sin! Because what's the difference between the one who caused the offense, who was under the powerful influence of the carnal mind that is driven to rebel against God's Word, and the person who is offended, who is also bowing to their carnal, rebellious mind as it refuses to obey the Scriptures in the law of forgiveness? Which sin is greater?
Your mind and ego will no doubt defend itself and say that "their sin is greater," having no idea that it is the enemy camp that is trying to control the mind with its lies so that it can keep you in prison behind its powerful, painful bars. But are you sure their sin is greater? ***For your heavenly Father forgave you your sins that led to eternal death--a debt you could never have paid or repay. Was the sin committed against you worthy of eternal damnation in hell? Even if it was, do you believe you have the right to sit in the Judgment Seat of Christ and make that decision? If not, then it falls into the parable of the Unforgiving Servant where the king forgave his servant ten thousand talents, equivalent to about 60 million days worth of wages, but the servant refused to forgive his own servant who only owed him about 100 days worth of wages. When the king found out that he did not extend forgiveness to his own servant after he was forgiven a sum that would be impossible to ever pay back, the king ordered him to be delivered to the torturers until his debt was paid in full. It is at this point that Yeshua says, "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses" (Mathew 18:35). Their sin originated from the flesh and your sin of unforgiveness is originating from the same flesh. And according to the above parable, a case can be made that your sin is actually greater.
Once you realize that it was your own sin that crucified the Son of God, it's much easier to forgive your brother. You then come to the point where you recognize that to not forgive serves no purpose but to continually inflict pain on yourself and to bolster your ego.
3. No one can steal who you really are.
" For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8: 38-39). In other words, there is nothing anyone could ever do to you that could affect who you really are in Christ and how He feels about you. People can attack you, slander you, and gossip about you, but that's not you. Not the real you. You are valuable. You are loved. You have been bought with the price of the blood of the Son of the living God. Your identity is in Him and not what people say about or do to you.
Friends, when your identity is wrapped up in what your mind says, there will be no room for what your heavenly Father says about you. When we let our minds judge a person because they hurt us, we're choosing to gain part of our identity from our carnal flesh and its attempt to satisfy its ego by fighting to stay in the superior position over the one who offended us. When we take the superior judgment position, the Creator has no right to judge because His seat is already taken. It's only when we take the inferior position of non-judgment, handing it all to the rightful Judge who knows all, does He judge righteously, defending the one in the weaker position if he is, in fact, in need of defense.
Bottom line? Stop listening to your mind. The enemy uses it to tell you that you should be angry at the offense and that you should do this or say that. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy and he uses our mind, will, and emotions (our soul-man) to do it. He knows that if he can manipulate our emotions and get us to follow our carnal mind that is wrapped up in ego that he'll have stolen our identity away from what Christ says to what His fallen creation says. And he knows that the end result of this is idolatry. That's right. Idolatry. When we choose to let others define us...which is what offenses do...we are giving them more power over us than the one we call "Lord."
Once you stop judging the person who hurt you, realize that your own sin is just as great as theirs, and understand that the only one that can steal your peace, joy, and the love you receive from Christ is your own carnal mind that is constantly trying to defend its own ego and pride through judgment, it is at that point that you will become totally free from pain. It is when you refuse to let your mind take you back to the past so it can judge it, which is what creates the pain, and you force yourself to live Christ NOW, that all pain melts like snow in the spring. When we stop resisting the events that happen to us and stop judging them as good or bad but let them just "be," our minds will be paralyzed to create the pain to begin with. For the believer, there is no such thing as a negative event because "all things work together for our good" (Romans 8:28) and we are commanded to "count it all joy when [we] fall into various trials" (James 1: 2). The ultimate message of the Bible is that ever since the fall, the enemy has been trying to get our identity in anything other than the Creator and the Creator has been trying to get mankind to receive their identity from Him. That's why He promises His children that if we love Him, He'll take the negative and sinful events of this world and turn them around for our good, giving us more than we started with. All we have to do is sit back and let Him be the judge, forgiving those who trespass against us.
Ultimately, it all boils down to one thing: YOU're the one who's been in control of your own pain this entire time. You've allowed the enemy to trick your mind into believing that you have the right to be offended in order for it to defend your pride, thus taking the place of God, the true avenger of our being. This is idolatry, the mastered art of Satan himself. Don't follow your mind. You are not your mind. Your mind was hijacked 6000 years ago by the seeds from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Follow love. Follow God. Follow His Word. It's the only way out of your pain. If He really is your God, your Elohim (Ultimate Judge), then everything that comes to you will always be used for your good.
With that, I will end this series with a 2000-year-old quote from Marcus Aurelius:
"Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your need?"