In our previous article (Part 1), we showed that if we do forgive one another over minor offenses, that God will bring all of our sins back up that we had been previously forgiven for and will hold them against us in that day. And I say “minor offenses” because no matter what another may do to us or say about us…it is NOTHING when compared to our crimes against God when we were living in rebellion, lust, envy, and darkness. We were monsters of iniquity (I know I was of a truth) and we deserved a thousand hells. Five times in the New Testament you will find the phrase “forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31, 13:38, 26:18, Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14). Christ came to make a way for the Father to be able to forgive us of our sins. Forgiveness is the most powerful thing in the universe. Without it, we are doomed and hopeless. I’ve always said that the greatest attribute of God the Father is His forgiveness.
But over and over and over again in the New Testament we read that if you do not forgive one another, neither will God forgive you. This teaches us a deep, deep truth about God. He has left it totally up to you whether or not you can be forgiven. Because His forgiveness hinges upon your forgiveness. If you will not forgive someone for an offense, you will not make it in the end. You may have a profession of Christ, but you do not possess Christ. You may have ritual, but yet lack righteousness. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you attend church, are a deacon or an elder…or even a pastor. It doesn’t matter how much you help the poor, do good works, or lead a bible study. If you harbor unforgiveness in your heart toward another for any matter, then you have taken satan’s side against God.
Unforgiveness is the only thing mentioned in the entire Bible that legally binds God to not forgive you. It’s a legal matter you see. The concept is quite simple to grasp: if I commit a crime and I go before a judge, and he says to me, “Robert, I’m going to grant you probation on this DUI charge; but I’m ordering you to complete a 40-hour community service program, and attend a DUI class for two months.” I may walk free out of the jail, but if I fail to do what the judge has commanded me to do, then he is legally obligated by law to revoke my probation and charge me with the crime and sentence me to prison. Does that make the judge unfair? Not at all. In truth, he was very merciful to me and let me go, with only a few minor conditions to follow. If I fail to follow those conditions that were set forth by law, then I have did it to myself. The responsibility is totally upon me. The judge is blameless and equitable (“As for God, His way is blameless.” Ps. 18:30).
In 1st Cor. 11:27-31, we read of something very intriguing that most overlook. As this ties in perfectly with this teaching, I will quote the verses and then comment on them…and you will see a deep truth. “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.”
The first thing we want to notice is that this ordinance of Communion is so important to the Lord, that He didn’t even trust the apostles to convey this, or teach this to Paul. Paul plainly says that the Lord Himself taught it to Paul. This is very important that you see this principle. The Lord appeared to Paul and taught him the meaning and purpose of Communion. And you will also notice that Communion can be taken in an unworthy manner. Hmmmmm…what does that mean, “in an unworthy manner“? Do you notice that there is a lot being said in these passages about us examining and judging ourselves? In what area then are we to be judging and examining ourselves? In relation to the body. Is a picture beginning to emerge yet in your mind and heart? It states “ For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.” Whose “body” is being spoken of here? The body of Christ. Christ is the Head, and He is in Heaven, we are His body, and we are on Earth. Many are weak and sick…and even die because they do not discern other members in the body of Christ. They gossip about them, and they won’t forgive them. And when you don’t (or won’t) forgive other members of the body, then you are drinking “damnation” (KJV) to yourself. In other words you are damning yourself.
Many years ago, I was head usher at a certain church on Sunday evenings. One Sunday evening a guest speaker was ministering. He was saying defamatory remarks about other ministers, and he was really hammering this one minister in particular. About 45 minutes into his message, the Lord spoke to me and said, “I will remove his candlestick in less than a year, for he refuses to discern My body.” I said, “Lord, the man is only 34 years old, he’s only been married for a few years, and they have a beautiful daughter together. Can I tell him what You said to me tonight at the ministers dinner afterwards?” And the Lord said to me, “No. He will not receive it. I have already sent two other brothers to him about this, and his mind is not changed on the matter.” At the dinner that night, I ate with a heavy heart, knowing that I would never see this man again, and that his wife would be husbandless, and his 3-year old daughter fatherless in less than a year. He contracted a rare form of incurable cancer a few months later, and died in less than a year from the date the Lord spoke to me.
This issue of not discerning the Lord’s body is of paramount importance. And the more mature a person is in their walk with the Lord, the finer the line gets that we get to cross. Even the Mayo Clinic has published an in-depth article on the health risks of unforgiveness…interesting read. Unforgiveness will literally poison you…in your physical body, in your mind, in your heart. Unforgiveness is such a crime against God, that even an eternity in the flames of the Lake of Fire will not be enough to burn the stain of unforgiveness away. Many of you reading this know of my childhood, and some of the things that happened to me as a child. If anyone on the planet should be unforgiving, it is I. But I saw one day the truth that I would end up in hell if I didn’t forgive…regardless of the enormity of the crimes/offenses. Just like the song says from the movie Frozen…”Let it go, let it go! Turn away and slam the door.” Slam the door on unforgiveness and resentment. Just think about it for one moment…is it worth going to hell over? NO!!! A thousand times over…NO!!!
The interesting thing about this matter is that when someone offends us, and they realize it, they will usually ask the Lord to forgive them. And the Lord forgives them…whether you do or not. By not forgiving, the offense that was committed against you has now been laid to your charge, and you are now guilty of it. Ownership of the offense has been changed over to you. Does this make sense? You are now culpable for their sin. It’s like the get-away driver for a bank robber. The court finds him just as guilty, because he was an accessory to the crime. He had knowledge of it, and could have walked away at any time. Just like that quote I quoted last week: “To forgive is to let go of pain. To not forgive someone is the same as choosing to stay trapped in a jail cell of bitterness, serving time for someone else’s crime.” Their crime now becomes your crime. You imprison yourself. And the only way you can ever be released from prison is by proving your innocence. And the only way to prove your innocence to the Court of God is by forgiving.