The Christian living site of Pastor Jim Piper, Jr.

Forgiveness: Part 1

November 01, 2012 :: Jim Piper, Jr.

Relational people have a gift of navigating through the mountain roads of friendship. Somehow they have a realistic sense that friendships come and go as a normal part of life. Reasonable people realize when they have hurt others and need forgiveness. They recognize their own humanity and as a result give the same grace to others that they seek for themselves. In this life, we are over-looked, misunderstood, unappreciated, and even “used” from time-to-time. That’s par for the course. Even worse, some of us have been abused, betrayed, assaulted, or worse. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is brother to a fallen and self-seeking society. But it doesn’t mean it is the only way to live. There is a better way.

Part One: The Island of Unforgiveness

There are few guarantees in this life but there are many truths. We cannot change truth but truth can change us. That’s what this series on forgiveness is all about – truth changing you. There is a way to live that changes the world or at least, that part of the world you most often encounter. You can change your surroundings by changing the way you live. If you live how the majority does, you will not experience the life Christ has envisioned for you.

People live on islands. What I mean by this is that most people reproduce what is produced in their environments. Their experiences, relationships, and surroundings often define the island where they live. Every human island I have encountered has a systemic and fatal disease that cannot be separated from the flesh. The flesh has been conceived in sin. We still don’t understand sin. Most believe sin is something we do instead of something we are. Our fallen flesh has been condemned to die and there is no rehabilitation process effective enough to save the flesh. It can be managed. It can be cleaned-up. It can learn new behaviors but it cannot be reformed. It must die.

That’s the bad news. The good news is Jesus Christ. Jesus is redemption. He is the one who knew no sin but became sin on the cross so that we might become the righteousness of God. That’s a lot of Bible words. What it means is this: The first step in becoming brand new creations of God is to be forgiven! Forgiveness is the gift of God made possible through Jesus. We cannot experience spiritual rebirth without applying God’s gift of forgiveness to our own person. And we will not see God’s forgiveness at work in us until it is expressed through us as we JOYFULLY forgive others!

But many of us are living on the island of unforgiveness. How do you know if you live there?

Let me suggest three typical symptoms we will find on the island of unforgiveness:

  • 1. Your tongue is out of control. A foul mouth. A reactive mouth. A degrading mouth. A lying mouth. A loud mouth. A back-biting mouth. A resentful mouth. A disrespectful mouth. As adolescent as they seem, these examples reveal a lack of love and safety. In these cases, the soul is simply responding to pain absorbed through the flesh.
  • 2. God thoughts are decreasing. Thoughts about God’s desires, his attributes and character, take a person to higher levels of thinking and experience. Thinking about God is a form of relationship and worship that brings healing and perspective to the soul. When God thoughts never occur or decrease, it is a sure sign of horizontal thinking. This is the kind of thinking that focuses on humans more than God – a constant view of what’s wrong, instead of a God-view. This happens when we allow hurt to redirect our thinking from the ocean to the gutter.
  • 3. Dark thoughts are increasing. Once our mind is in the gutter, it flows into the sewer. Exaggerated and inaccurate thoughts of enmity, disdain, revenge, and worse, entertain the dark side of one’s soul.

Forgiveness, healing, peace, and salvation come from Jesus Christ. Unforgiveness comes from the hater of our soul. This week, meditate on Ephesians 4.17-32. It will help prepare you for part 2 of this series.

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