Random Blog Clay Feet: April 07, 2008
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Monday, April 07, 2008

The Counterfeit of Forgiveness

When we refuse to forgive, we are actually attempting to replace the role of the Holy Spirit in someone else's life. We subconsciously believe that our resentment, anger and coldness toward them along with all of our ways of trying to make them feel ashamed and terrible for the offenses that they have done will somehow force them to repent and restore our peace or maybe our relationship. It is our indulgence in the counterfeit spirit of conviction. We want to convict them through condemnation instead of kindness. We believe we might be able to force them into repentance. But the actual result is that we ourselves suffer the consequences of condemnation more than they do. Whatever we carry around in our container to dispense to others will permeate the container itself.

The gall of bitterness is one of the counterfeits of the oil of the Holy Spirit. It is a caustic acid that will eat away from the inside any soul container in which it is held. Jesus took into Himself all of this acid bitterness in the last three days of His life and it finally ate a hole in His heart and killed Him. If we refuse to allow Him to remove it from our hearts we too shall suffer the same agonizing death that He suffered. That is one reason that Jesus demonstrated that death, to reveal to us the true consequences of holding onto sin in our hearts. In the meantime we will suffer all of the pain from the etching and agitation in our own spirit and soul from this caustic poison inside of us. We cannot afford to try to keep this most malignant poison in us. It seems to promise to be a useful weapon against others to get even for their infliction of pain on us but it always ends up hurting us far more than it hurts them.

We may dilute this acid by mingling in the salve of the true Spirit and filling our minds with healing truths. But if we do not allow the convictions and gentle pleas of the Spirit of Jesus to access every chamber of our heart and give it permission to completely neutralize the springs of poison still buried in our memories, eventually the acid will continue to damage our insides and it will ruin our lives both now and for eternity.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and bitterness and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, which is the bitterness, anger and pain that causes dissonance and damage to our insides and our relationships. But we must first respond to the gentle promptings and invitations of the Spirit to agree with God's assessment of our real condition (confession) and allow Him permission and access to infuse us with the healing antidote of forgiveness and grace.

When we begin to truly understand the real nature of forgiveness we will be even more amazed at what God does in forgiving us. Forgiveness means taking full responsibility for the pain that someone else has caused us and not holding it against them in our heart any longer. It is true that God forgives us for all of the pain that we have caused His heart and does not hold our sins against us – ever. But even beyond that He does something far more amazing. He not only takes into His own heart full accountability and responsibility for the pain of His own heart, but in Jesus Christ He took into His heart every single effect of sin that ever touched the life of any human who ever exists, whether they want Him to do it or not.

This creates the situation where He can now offer us the opportunity to release this pain from our own hearts as soon as we are willing to release those who have sinned against us from responsibility for our pain. As long as we refuse to forgive we account the other person as the owner of our own pain. Since only the owner of anything has the right to give it away, we cannot be free to give Jesus our pain if we refuse to acknowledge full ownership of it. Only as we take back ownership of the pain that others have caused our hearts and minds can we move to the next step and give Jesus permission to assume ownership of it and release our hearts of that pain with His grace and love. Only then can the caustic acid of bitterness be completely removed from our insides and we can begin the healing journey to complete wholeness and freedom and joy.

We think secretly that if we forgive those who have wounded our hearts deeply that this will leave us defenseless and vulnerable to be hurt again. In a way that is true and we certainly can be hurt again. But this supposed defense is yet another counterfeit that is a false promise of safety for our hearts. The only real protection we can have against destructive pain in the heart is not a hardened wall around our hearts to keep us from feeling pain again but to be filled with so much grace and forgiveness that any pain that does occur will be swallowed up and neutralized in the healing presence of the grace of God filling our minds and hearts with instant forgiveness. We will learn that as we immediately take ownership of any pain we experience from others instead of holding it against them and making them accountable as the owners, then we can just as immediately turn ownership of that pain over to Jesus and in exchange receive His peace, His love, His healing grace that will transform us on the inside in totally unexpected ways. We will begin to really experience the life that Jesus offers, the abundant life.

The world's belief about survival and living life successfully is to protect ourselves against being hurt using whatever means necessary. Most of our lives revolve around the avoidance of pain which is rooted in fear. But God's method's are very different and must be exercised by faith in His ways and wisdom, not because they make sense to us, because He knows what is best for us. What feels sensible to us is what the flesh believes and it will always direct us toward the world's wisdom and logic and solutions that are deeply embedded in our logic and our natural reasoning. God's ways often appear irrational and unreasonable but are the ways that will bring true healing, wholeness and will restore us to our original design that presently makes very little sense to our ways of thinking.

When someone has violated us or someone we care for deeply, our natural instinct is to shut them off from our hearts, treat them with disdain, coldness and hostility. We may even wish them ill and hope that they will suffer intensely for the sins that they have perpetrated against us or our loved ones. This makes us feel a little more powerful, a little more in control. And control is something we somehow believe will make us safe again. Control is a way of building or maintaining the hardened wall around our heart to keep others from hurting us very much.

But control is another counterfeit that will let us down when the crunch times come. God never controls us in the way we imagine control most of the time and the way that we want to have it. Control is the enemy of freedom and perfect freedom is the environment in which we were designed to thrive. God will never destroy freedom with control and force for the sake of appearances, but we are ready to do that most of the time. God will allow natural consequences to affect our lives but He will not indulge in the enemies deceptive tactics of control for the sake of conformity. That is one of the core principles of the external-based world of Satan's government. God's empire is built securely on internal transformation and motivation based on the constant influence of grace, humility and perfect love – never control.

I am facing these issues in a very real way right now and want to learn these principles at the deepest levels of my own heart, not just in explanations and understanding the theory. I do find it helpful to work through the growing awareness of God's ways, but unless my heart also receives and experiences what I am perceiving I will lose the most important part of the lesson and will be eventually be exposed as a hypocrite. I already have plenty of that to deal with and want God to transform my heart and life to be more in line with the true reflection of His beauty and attractiveness.

As I look inside I see desires and fears and pain that are indications that the healing oil of forgiveness has not yet neutralized some of the acid of bitterness against those who have hurt me deeply or damaged the lives of those I love. I can easily justify my resentments but that path will never get me to true freedom and wholeness. It will only circle me around back into more misery and will keep me trapped in the vicious cycle of illogic, depression, increasing isolation and bitterness. If I choose to cling to my pain and believe the false logic of my flesh in my attempts to protect myself, I will remain circling around in the wilderness much like the Children of Israel did in the desert after Mount Sinai. I know this wilderness all too well and I want to be filled with the faith of Joshua to take bold action to follow the lead of God in a new and uncharted direction.

This bold new direction will involve facing impossible odds and terrifying obstacles that threaten to destroy me. They are designed to keep me securely in my old box thinking, but to stay in my “safe” box with all my bitterness and fears is to suffer even more caustic damage from the acid of bitterness. I want to get out of the box, to be filled with holy boldness to cross swollen Jordan Rivers, to face giants and high walls and overwhelming armies set against me and enter into the land of milk and honey where I can grow and thrive and enjoy new adventures.

But entering that land of abundant life requires that I embrace the presence of the One who knows how to get me there safely. It means giving Him my fears and allowing my heart to have its defensive walls collapse before His holy armies of love that sing and celebrate instead of threaten. I must allow Him to plunder my own heart and take possession of everything I consider valuable so that He can rebuild me into His holy temple and set up His throne of love within me. My flesh and all its logic and protection mechanisms are really the enemies in the promised land that must be conquered so that God's Spirit can make me safe to be His homeland. Then He can launch His campaigns from this home base to take down every stronghold that still resists His love and forgiveness. I will then be able to see those who have hurt me and those I fear through new eyes and realize that they are also victims of the enemy and not the enemy themselves.

If I refuse to forgive those who have hurt me deeply I am also labeling them in my mind as the enemy and am setting them up as having the character and motives of Satan. But it is a deadly risk to accuse others of having the character of Satan, for accusation itself is the essence of Satan's character and name. By refusing to forgive I not only determine in my heart that my enemy is much like Satan but I fall prey to becoming more like Satan myself through my own indulgence in accusing.

God never, ever accuses. God never, ever forces. It often appears that He does because of the many things He allows or even utilizes already in place in order to draw people away from the false to look to Him for life. But God does not initiate these false motivations, He only captures them in His secret, amazing ability to bring good out of any evil situation whenever He is allowed. God can take all things and all situations and work them out for good in the lives of those who respond to His invitation to abide under the shadow of the Almighty. He is trustworthy and all who choose to trust Him will not be disappointed in the end.

God, please continue to pour Your healing spirit of forgiveness into my heart and neutralize the poison of bitterness that intensifies my pains and my false illusions of safety. Show me Your face more clearly today. Be with all of us in our sorrow and grieving and fill us with the peace of heaven that transcends all logic or explanation. You have promised to always be close to us and never, ever leave us alone. But open our senses and our hearts to know and feel Your presence more clearly. We need Your comfort, Your perspective, Your compassion, Your forgiving love in our hearts.

Father, there are a lot of dynamics for potential conflict, bitterness and resentment in our current situation. Please pour out barrels of the oil of grace into our lives and overwhelm us with fresh revelations of Your awesomeness, Your beauty, Your compassion, Your perfect ways. Open our hearts to forgive each other and those we struggle to see without fear or anger. Give us new hearts, new minds and a completely new spirit to see others as You see them and be filled with Your compassion for them. Take this opportunity to advance Your desire and plans for reconciliation and bonding in all of our lives so that Your glory can be more clearly exposed before our eyes and the world will be more amazed at what You can accomplish.