Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Price of Forgiveness

Leslie Basham: We may be able to get by by doing some things halfway, but not forgiveness. It's an all or nothing proposition. It's Tuesday, June 29; and you are listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Have you ever watched children learning to swim? Some kids start dog paddling right away but others cling to the edge of the pool too afraid to let go. Well in the same way, some of us are hanging onto old hurts by refusing to forgive and are missing out on the freedom we can have in Christ. Let's join Nancy Leigh DeMoss as she encourages us to dive in and experience the joy of forgiveness.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We've been talking about the whole subject of forgiveness and just before this session, someone pointed out to me that there is a whiteboard behind me that has an eraser on it that says, "Erase all."

What a picture that is of forgiveness. We've talked about pressing the delete button on our computers and how that's a picture of our choice to clear the record of our offenders. And that we need to choose, as an act of our will, to fully forgive those who have sinned against us.

When we choose to forgive, not only are we releasing those whom we may have held hostage, but God then takes His great key of grace and opens the prison cell where we have been held prisoners and sets us free.

A woman wrote to me after hearing this truth and she said "The Lord had me release a prisoner today that I have held captive for over sixteen years. Now God can restore the years that the locusts have eaten."

Could it be possible that someone in this room has been holding someone else a prisoner in unforgiveness for sixteen years or maybe even longer? We noted in our last session that when we refuse to forgive that we become subject to what Jesus called "tormentors," those things that keep us in bondage.

And we said that sometimes these are even chronic physical or emotional disorders that can be affected by our refusal to forgive. Now I'm not saying that those pains aren't real, but I'm saying sometimes they are occasioned by our unforgiving spirit.

Let me illustrate that for you with another note I received. I did a conference and asked the women to fill out a prayer card telling us how we could pray for them.

At the end of the conference one woman wrote this note. She said "I had requested prayer on my prayer card for a back problem. After I made the decision to forgive my sister and my mother, I noticed that the pain in my back was gone. I have had this pain for several months." It sounds like a tormentor to me. She said, "I believe I have been healed in my heart and in my body by stepping out to forgive."

Now, I'm not going to promise you that if you step out to forgive, that all of your aches and pains will go away. There are other reasons for aches and pains besides bitterness.

But, I tell you what, if I had aches and pains, and when I do, I think it is wise to start by saying, "Lord, is there something that I have been holding in my heart, in bitterness or unforgiveness, that could be exacerbating or making this problem worse." It doesn't hurt to check, to ask so that God can show us what He may be seeing that perhaps we haven't even been able to see.

Now, I want to read another note that I received from a woman. It's a tough one but I read it because it raises a couple important questions about this whole matter of forgiveness.

This woman said, "I've been struggling with my husband's use of pornography. >Lot's of money gone, broken trust, accusations and blame towards me. I have resisted forgiveness, but today I have made a choice to forgive my husband for 25 years of unfaithfulness in the use of pornography. He's 50 this year and I believe this is his 'year of jubilee.' I think the Lord was waiting for me to surrender and forgive him and release him from prison."

Now I think that raises this question. One of the reasons we sometimes find it difficult to forgive is because we think, If I forgive, does it mean that his sin doesn't matter anymore?

We are afraid that that means the offender will be off the hook, that they will be released from their wrongdoing. And what if they haven't acknowledged their sin and repented? Does forgiving mean that their wrongdoing doesn't matter anymore? The answer to that is no, that is not what that means.

Forgiveness does not let the offender off the hook ultimately. What it does is release the offender from my hook and put him on God's hook. It releases the offender from my custody and turns him over to God recognizing that God is the only ultimate true and just judge, that God didn't make me the judge, that vengeance is God's. You see when I refuse to forgive, I really am putting myself in the place of God.

There is a powerful illustration of that in the Old Testament. In fact, this whole matter of forgiveness is powerfully illustrated through the life of Joseph, who, as you remember, and you can go back and read the last thirteen or so chapters of the Book of Genesis, and you can see how from the time he was a boy, he was wronged in one way after another.

But at the end of the story when Joseph's brothers, who had so sinned against him, came back to him and said, "Are you going to hold this against us?" Joseph said to them, "Am I in the place of God?"

He recognized that if he exacted vengeance on his brothers and now he was in a position where he could have; in fact, he could have had vengeance on everyone who had ever sinned against him because now he was second to Pharaoh in the land but he said, "I am not God. And if I take vengeance on this person, if I refuse to forgive, I am really putting myself in God's place."

Now that leads to another important point about forgiveness and misunderstanding this point has led, I think, a lot of people into a lot of unnecessary bondage. Let me explain it this way.

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean forgetting. To forgive an offender does not necessarily mean that we forget the offense.

Now someone sitting here is thinking, But I thought forgive means to forget. You are supposed to forgive and forget. In fact, doesn't God forget all of our sins? The Bible doesn't say that.

You say, "Oh yes it does. It says he forgets all of our sins." You won't find that in the Bible. What does the Bible say? And let me ask this. How could a God who knows everything forget anything?

What God says is "I will not remember your sins against you again." God is saying, "I won't hold your sins against you. I am going to choose not to bring them up." That's what forgiveness is.

You say, "But if I could just forget all of the pain. Wouldn't that be wonderful?" Well, yes in a sense. And of course, we all wish that maybe God could just take this divine eraser and erase all of the painful memories of our past.

But I'm not so sure that on this side of heaven that would be an ideal thing. If you and I could not remember any of the pain that we have experienced from having been hurt or wounded by others, how in the world could we have mercy and compassion and be tenderhearted toward hurting people.

You see the pain of my past can be, the pain of offenses that I have experienced in my past, can be actually a means of my extending grace and mercy and kindness to hurting people.

So God doesn't necessarily allow us to forget all of the hurt that we have experienced. You can forgive without necessarily forgetting all of the hurt. But those painful memories may be a reminder of the grace and the forgiveness of God on your behalf, the meaning of His grace.

And if God chooses, He is more than able to release you from any of those memories that He knows will not bring ultimate glory to Himself.

Now, another point about forgiveness that we often forget is that forgiveness is not cheap. It is costly. To forgive means that we must have a willingness to take on ourselves the cost of someone else's sin. Someone has to pay.

Let me just pick on Holly back here. Holly and I have been friends for a long time. Suppose that Holly and her husband get into financial trouble and I realize that and I have a little extra income at the moment and I call Holly and I say, "You know, I want to give you a gift of $1,000 for you and your husband. And if you could just pay me back $100 per month for ten months then that way you can pay back this debt, it's a loan."

And Holly says, "Boy, we are so thankful for that. Thank you very much and we will send you $100 per month for the next ten months."

Well the first 30 days goes by and no check from Holly and her husband and I just think, Well, maybe they just forgot. The next month goes by; no check from Holly and her husband and I think, They must have just had a really busy month.

Well, the third month, I've got to follow through on this now and I call and I find out that they have no intention of paying back this loan. They are just not taking this seriously. And then suppose just for the analogy here that God pricks my heart and says, "You know, I've blessed you and you could make this a gift. Why don't you do that? Let them know that the debt has been forgiven."

Now I keep a very meticulous, detailed ledger of all of my finances. I have debits and credits and if I had made this $1,000 loan, it would be recorded in my ledger, in my financial journal. So when I call Holly and I say, "God has just impressed my heart that I am supposed to make this a gift and that you don't owe it anymore."

Now, who has to be out the $1,000? I'm out the $1,000. I have got to be willing and able to absorb the $1,000. Someone had to pay. That forgiveness was not cheap. It was costly.

And by the way, can I go back to Holly the next month and say, "You scoundrel. You need to pay me this $1,000 that you owe me." Can I do that? Not really. Why? Because I have forgiven.

The record has been cleared and I have written it off my journal. It's no longer something that is owed to me. It is something that has been paid in full.

Leslie Basham: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss helping us understand that there is a cost to forgiveness. She will be right back in just a minute to remind us of the incredible price Jesus paid for our forgiveness.

Now, I have something important to say, "Free! Free, Free, Free, Free, Free, Free, Free, Free!" Did I get your attention? We want to give you a free booklet by Nancy that will help you apply today's message to your situation.

It's called Freedom Through Forgiveness. It will help you explore your own heart on this issue. And it will lead you through a Bible Study to help you learn more.

To get your free copy, just call us at 1-800-569-5959, or order on-line at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can also write and let us know what God is doing in your heart regarding forgiveness. When you write, make sure to ask us for your free booklet.

Where does forgiveness start? Nancy will talk about that tomorrow. I hope you can be back. Now, here's Nancy to close our time.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The Gospel of Christ is that Jesus was willing to pay the price of my indebtedness. His forgiveness of me was costly. It cost Him everything.

And now He is saying, "Would you be willing to pay the price out of what I have given you, out of the rich, limitless, infinite treasure stores of My grace that I have poured out upon you?

Would you be willing to write off the debts that others owe to you? How about it? What does someone owe you? How costly will it be for you to forgive?

Would you say, "Lord, by Your Grace and the riches that You have given to me, I am willing to pay that price, to write off all of those debts, to absorb that cost myself." When you do, you will be free.

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

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.