Releasing the Past – Part 2

This is part 2 of a tag team sermon with Gary Fine:

Releasing the Past – Part 2.

Letting go of the past requires forgiveness. If you do not forgive the things done to you, you will keep reliving the pain every time your are reminded of it or will react with fear and anxiety if you are ever in a similar situation, even if there is no real threat.
Forgiveness is for your sake, not theirs.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow-servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow-servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow-servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:21-35, NIV.
Forgiving someone does not mean what they did to you was right or okay. Forgiveness means that what was done was wrong. You can only forgive a wrong. Forgiveness is not excusing the behavior.

Carrying the offense.

Sometimes the hardest things to forgive are not things done to you, but done to someone else that you care about.
The Lord has brought someone or something to your mind?  Today is the day of salvation.

How to forgive:

1. Forgiveness not declaring what someone did is right. It is declaring it wrong.
2. You must identify what was done to you or others as a sin and wrong in order to forgive it. I.e., you must face it.   You can’t bury it or excuse the behavior.  This is especially hard for those who have suffered sexual abuse, feeling that it must be something in their behavior that allowed it.
3. I often say that in order to forgive, you first have to get mad at what was done to you.  “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26, 27, RSV.  If you bury it or let it stew, and do not face it, the issue will plague your conscious and subconscious mind and come out in anger or depression.  But if you get mad and let it out, you can get over it.
4. Forgiveness is not an act of your emotions, but an act of your will. You will never feel like forgiving. You forgive because God told you to and he will clean up your emotions afterwards.  You will get release and relief.
5. You forgive not only the person but the sin committed against you or others as well. That is part of identifying the sin. “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” John 20:23, KJV.
Sample prayer: 
Lord, as an act of my will and obedience I forgive _________ for what he/she has done to me and I forgive the thing that he/she did ________.  I release you and let you go, and put you into the Father’s hands in Jesus’ Name.

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