Written by Jessie Mejias
The most important element of healing is forgiveness. In all the years that I have been receiving and ministering healing, I have never known any lasting healing or deliverance to occur without forgiveness.
Imagine that you had been poisoned, and were slowly dying. Now imagine someone else came to you, telling you that they had the antidote that would completely cure you. But in order to have it, you would have to let the one who poisoned you go free.
What would do? Would you take the antidote, or would you prefer to die rather than let the perpetrator go free?
God has offered us an antidote to hurt and anger, and it is 100% guaranteed to work. But only if you take it as prescribed.
What is that antidote? Forgiveness.
Choose Forgiveness and Choose Life
The choice that we face when we talk about forgiveness is simple, but serious: we can choose death or life. We can take the antidote that seems so hard to swallow, and live, letting our offender go. Or we can keep the offender in prison, and die slowly of our own bitterness each day.
When we look at what God’s word tells us to do, this choice seems even simpler:
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (New King James Version)
And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you. (Amplified Bible)
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. (The Message)
Why Do We Need to Forgive?
Forgiveness always starts with God’s forgiveness of us. It is continued in His command that we forgive one another. And it is completed when He enables us, by His grace, to release those whom we hold captive through anger and unforgiveness.
There is something about the effect of forgiveness that ripples into the heavenly realms. It has the power to break spiritual bondages. Through forgiveness, anger can be conquered, and physical healing can be reached. It is why Jesus died on the cross: not only so we could be forgiven, but also so we could turn around and forgive others.
Can you think of a better model for forgiveness than that? Even in death, Christ exemplified what forgiveness can do. On the cross, when He was forsaken by His Father, still He forgave those who crucified Him, and then turned to offer forgiveness to the thief on the cross beside Him.
He knew that with forgiveness comes freedom—for ourselves and for others.
This is the greatest reason of all to forgive. When we fail to forgive, the result is more than just bitterness. We also remained tied spiritually to the people who offended us—the very people from whom we want to be free! When we do not forgive, it is like steering a car exactly where you do not want to go. It effectively makes those who hurt us our focus, and the thought of what was done carries the same fresh feeling of hurt as it did the day we were first wounded, even if was twenty years ago.
This is nothing less than living as a slave to the past.
When We Don’t Forgive
When we have been hurt, we’re angry. We want revenge, and for those who have hurt us to suffer the way that we have. Though these are our emotions and thoughts rather than actions, they go deeper than that, because the core of anger is always the same: murder.
But what does this mean? It means that deep down, we actually believe those who hurt us deserve nothing short of death for what they have done. In our brokenness, we think that if they were dead, we would no longer have to deal with them.
As long as we harbor these feelings of unforgiveness and revenge, we are no better than murderers who sit on death row. This is the profound meaning of what Jesus meant when He equated anger and hatred with the sin of murder (Matthew 5:21).
But oddly, though we have this desire to never see our offenders again, not forgiving them means we actually hold them closer than before. Anger and unforgiveness are like invisible chains that bind us to those who hurt us.
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
But when we forgive, something breaks in the heavenlies. The chains snap off of us, and they also snap off of those we have been holding with our unforgiveness. We are set free to finally walk away, and to no longer feel the power of their hurt. They lose their power over us. We can think about them without feeling a fist tightening in our chest or a constriction in our throat. We are really free! And God is now also able to work in the other person’s life because we are no longer strangling them with our judgment.
How Can We Forgive?
True forgiveness only occurs by the grace of God. We need the Holy Spirit to show us how and what we are holding against those who hurt us, and to show us that our part is to forgive. When we forgive, we let go of our need to control, and let God give us new life. And He rejoices, because on the day that we forgive, we take one more giant step to becoming conformed to the image of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have to start by first choosing to let go of the desire for revenge; then, by asking for the Lord’s help. There are so many ways He can intercede to help us. One of the most effective, I’ve found, is the 9-Step Prayer, which you can find at the end of this article .
In all of this, we cannot forget to forgive God (because after all, He let it happen) and ourselves for our part in the sin of unforgiveness, in which we set ourselves up as judge and jury.
A Lifestyle of Forgiveness
As long as we are in these earthly bodies, we are going to face hurts. If we choose not to deal with hurt properly as soon as we recognize it, it can become lodged in our hearts and fester. But when we keep up a close relationship with the Lord and listen to Him daily, His Holy Spirit will always be faithful to show us when we are holding onto unforgiveness. The Lord can even reveal unforgiveness to us through our dreams if we pay attention.
As soon as we realize that we have been hurt, we can swiftly respond by making the choice to forgive our offenders, release them from our judgment, and ask the Lord to bless them. If you feel like you are unable to make this choice, or are blocked in some way, then you may need healing from a painful memory or experience. This kind of healing happens when we invite Jesus to show us where He was and what He was doing when we faced such traumatic experiences; doing so allows Him to bring truth to our hearts.
Forgiveness and the healing of painful memories go hand in hand. Sometimes, choosing forgiveness can remove a block to the healing of a memory; other times, healing the memory removes a block to forgiveness. I have seen both of these happen in prayer counseling.
In the first scenario, when people are having trouble seeing Jesus in their memories, choosing to forgive the offenders in question completely removes the blinders. They can then really see Jesus in the scene and receive His healing truth. In the second case, when the Lord begins to show people where He was and what He was doing, He’ll often light up their understanding with how He feels about the offender, too. This offers an enlightening change in perspective, and opens the doors to a new willingness to forgive.
The Results of Forgiveness
Whom the Son has set free is free indeed. Forgiveness is the path the Lord has chosen to set His people free.
Through forgiveness, we can have peace, hope and joy in our hearts, but there are other benefits, too. Forgiveness is the means of healing deep wounds to our spirits, thus making the way for healing of our bodies of physical ailments that may have come in through hurt and unforgiveness.
Forgiveness also paves the way for deliverance from demonic oppression. The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, and he uses whatever is already within us to accomplish his evil purposes. But when we forgive, we remove that foothold, that legal ground for him to attack us.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
Forgiveness. It is the antidote to hurt, and the balm that heals all wounds. It is the simple yet powerful solution, like the tweezer that pulls out the thorn from the angry lion’s paw. Forgiveness: it is God’s chosen way for us, and we can choose to follow it to a place of real freedom.
 The 9-Step Prayer is a great tool for helping us walk through the steps to forgiveness. It is from the book Finding Freedom Through Forgiveness by Jean C. Wulf.
- Forgive me for the anger and resentment I feel toward You, Lord; my parents; my siblings; my spouse; my children; all those who have caused me to feel __________.
- Forgive me for judging You, Lord; my parents; my siblings; my spouse; my children; who __________.
- Stir Your grace within me that I might forgive You, Lord; my parents; my siblings; my spouse; my children; all of those who made me feel __________.
- Stir Your grace within me that I might forgive the debt I feel I am owed because of the wrong that was done to me.
- Stir Your grace within me that I might release the sense of entitlement I feel to __________.
- Forgive me for my pride in my woundedness and struggle that feels as if it is more than others have had to endure.
- Stir Your grace within me that I might forgive myself for being caught in these judgments.
- Lord, destroy the fruit of these judgments in my life and my family’s life even for future generations.
- By Your grace, Lord, enable me to desire Your blessing to be manifest in the lives of all those who have hurt me.
When we pray this, we make the choice to forgive, to release the offender from our judgment, and to bless him or her. Do not leave out any of these steps. In my ministry, however, I have added a step. We bring the unforgiveness, bitterness and judgment to death on the cross, asking the Lord to destroy these at their root and then replace them with whatever He wants to give to one who is forgiving. Then I ask the Lord to show the one who is doing the forgiving a picture of what that transaction, trading the unforgiveness for His blessing, looks like.