Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Press Delete

Leslie Basham: You hear the name of an old friend who betrayed you and your blood begins to boil. Are you justified in being angry with them after all these years? God has one word to say on the matter: "Forgive."

It's Wednesday June 23; and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Each of us could probably tell of a time when someone we knew hurt us terribly. If we try hard enough, we could still remember how crushed we where when we were lied to by someone we trusted or how embarrassed we were when the coach scolded us in public.

But could it be that we are still nursing those hurts? Today Nancy Leigh DeMoss will help us learn to find healing. Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I know just enough about computers to be dangerous. But one thing I have learned the hard way and that is the meaning of this little button that says DEL. What does that stand for? Delete!

And what happens when you press the delete button? Whatever you've done is gone. Now they are nice to give you a little prompt, "Are you sure you want to delete?" But I have found myself at times just moving too quickly and losing material. When you press that delete button whatever you've done is gone. If you haven't saved it, it's gone.

And I think this is a picture, a great picture in some ways, of the whole meaning of forgiveness, what it means to forgive. When we choose to forgive, we are really saying, "I am choosing to press the delete button. I am eliminating this offense. I'm releasing the offender from the offense." 

As we look at the Scriptures in the Old and New Testaments, in the original languages, there are a number of words that are translated into English with the word "forgive." But those words in the original meaning are rich in meaning.

Here are what some of those words mean. To forgive is "to carry away," "to bury," "to cover over," "to pardon," "to reconcile," "to let it go," "to send it away," or "to graciously restore."

There is a wonderful verse in Colossians 2:14 where Paul says, "God has forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that were held against us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."

Now when we read in that verse about the handwriting of requirements against us, that's a reference in that culture to a handwritten certificate of debt. Somebody owed you money, you wrote out a certificate that said that they owed you money.

The fact is, we owed God an unpayable debt for violating His law and as a result we were under the sentence of death. And Paul is comparing God's forgiveness of our sins to wiping ink off a parchment, pressing the delete button if you will.

He's saying that through Christ's sacrificial death on the cross, God has totally erased, He's wiped out our certificate of indebtedness and He's made our forgiveness complete. That's the way He challenges us to forgive others.

He says, "God has taken that certificate of debt and He's taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."

Now that brings back something we don't understand in our day and age because we don't use crucifixion today. But in the Roman era when criminals were crucified, many of you are aware that a list of their crimes was written and it was nailed to the cross above that prisoner's head so that, as people would walk by, they would see this is what this criminal was guilty of.

He's a murderer, he's a thief, he's a kidnapper, whatever he did, the list of his crimes were written out and nailed to the cross declaring the violations that he was being punished for.

In fact, you remember that when Jesus was crucified there was written above His head the words, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." That's the worst thing they could find Jesus guilty of.

But what happened when Jesus died was that all of our sins were put to Christ's account. They were nailed to His cross as He paid the penalty in our place for all of those sins.

And as He died, He satisfied the just wrath of God against our crimes, the punishment for our sins was paid in full.

What a picture of God's forgiveness. As our crimes were nailed to the cross and the penalty was paid, the requirement of God, a Holy God, was satisfied. And so God says that He has forgiven our sins in this way, all of our trespasses, and then He calls us to forgive everyone all the sins they have committed against us.

When we forgive we are really making a promise, a promise never to bring that sin up against that person again. We won't bring it up to that person, we won't bring it up to God and we will not bring it up to others. It's a promise.

That doesn't mean that we will automatically forget what they have done or that we will never have difficult emotions dealing with and thinking about what they have done. But it means that we will never hold it against them again. We're clearing their record. We're saying that they no longer owe us that debt. It's been paid in full. As Christ has forgiven me, so I forgive.

Sometimes I hear a woman come to me and say, "I have forgiven my husband or my father or my pastor or this situation or that. I have forgiven this person, but "¦," and then they begin to list to me all the things that person did against them.

Now I know in their heart they may think they have forgiven. But the fact is, if they are still holding it against that person, still listing it, still bringing it up against that person to others, then they really have not cleared the record, they really have not forgiven.

Now in a sense that motivates me as we talk about this matter of forgiveness because I know that it's something most of us need to hear, and that most of us need to hear it again and again as new hurts come into our lives.

We need to be reminded of the ways of God in forgiveness. But it also saddens me to realize that the vast majority of us as Christian women are walking, in some degree or another, in unforgiveness.

In fact, how can we expect our world to believe our Gospel when we tell them that we know a Christ who has forgiven us and will forgive them, we're offering this Gospel of grace and forgiveness but they know us, they work with us, they live next door to us, they hear the way we talk about the people who have wounded us, (about the ex-mate, about the grown son or daughter, about the parent, about the employer or employee)--they hear the way we talk about those people and they know that we, who claim to have this great Gospel of grace and forgiveness, have never fully forgiven others.

And, understandably, ours is not a message they are drawn to believe.

You know, I believe that when we as Christian women begin to live out the forgiveness that we have received from God, that the world around us is going to stop and take notice and say, "Now that's a message I am interested in hearing."

I believe that the world is dealing with guilt and shame and the weight of sin and that many would want to know the Christ who can forgive if they can just see that forgiveness lived out in us.

In the next several sessions we are going to talk about some of the results of refusing to forgive; what happens when we don't forgive and also how we can forgive and how we can go from forgiveness through to the process of healing over those wounds and hurts of our past.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been helping us recognize the power of forgiveness. If you want to grow as a forgiver, we hope you'll pray with Nancy who's coming right back.

We also hope you will consider going through a study called Forgiven, Forgiving and Free. It includes a DVD with Nancy's teaching on forgiveness and a study guide. It would be perfect for a women's class at your church or a group at your home or you can go through the material on your own. That's what one of our listeners recently did. Here's some of what she experienced while watching Forgiven, Forgiving and Free.

Listener: One thing that I got out of the video was, How do I respond to a person or people who wronged me; the idea of actually identifying them for myself.

And then writing the person's name down on paper (actually, you know, [there was] more than one person that I learned I am angry with or that I haven't forgiven), write how they have wronged me or sinned against me.

A point that she brought out was that forgiveness is not pretending it never happened. It's just acknowledging that it did, acknowledging the pain, and that is so interesting because I like to run away from the pain, but acknowledging that the pain is there, getting it out of me and putting it on paper and putting it before God. Saying it's a real thing.

To put it before God, not just that I'm writing it down on paper and never remember it, that's not true. But to put it down before God and say, "God these are my angers, my hurts."

Doing this has helped me to realize that it is not something that I can keep putting off in the background or putting it on the backburner. It helped bring it before, it revealed to me some pain that I hadn't really identified before, that I learned was there. By identifying the people, it helped me identify some of the pain I didn't realize that I had.

As a result of this, I think it will actually help me keep an eye on and actually keep short accounts for the future. Because one thing that Nancy did bring out was that there will be pain in life, that's just the way life is. And so this will help me to keep a shorter account instead of letting it just ball up inside or deeply bury it within me.

Leslie Basham: To order a copy of the DVD and study guide called Forgiven, Forgiving and Free, just call us at 1-800-569-5959,  or order on-line. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Maybe you are finding it hard to forgive in a certain situation. Could we pray with you? You can send your requests to Revive Our Hearts. Tomorrow we will learn why unforgiveness is like a prison. We hope you can be here. Now here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Father, I just want to thank You with all of my heart for that day at Calvary when You pressed the delete button and extended to me full, complete, unconditional forgiveness for all my sins.

And forgive me, Lord, for how often I have held against others their sins, when You have been so gracious to forgive me of my sins. And forgive us, Lord, as Christian women being in so many ways unforgiving, for refusing to extend Your grace and forgiveness to others.

But thank You that You have made provisions for us, and we just cry out to You for mercy and we ask, Lord, that you teach us to forgive. And may we make that tough choice but right choice.

The choice You will bless is to press the delete button, to make a promise, "I will clear that person's record. I will never bring up that sin against that person to that person, to God or to anyone else." In the process we know that we will be truly set free as well. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

Leslie Basham:

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

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