One of my favorite movies of all time is ‘A Knights Tale’, in which Heath Ledger plays the role of young William Thatcher; a peasant masquerading as a knight with the hope of changing his stars.
In one of the scenes William, who is in the stockade after being found out, is awarded with a knighthood by Edward, the Black Prince of Wales who states:
“He may be of humble origins. But my personal historians have discovered that he descends from an ancient royal line. This is my word. And as such is beyond contestation. Now, if I may repay the kindness you once showed me. Take a knee.”
Definitely one of my favorite movies! Anyway, let’s not digress too much. The relevance of this story will be discovered later. Now, where were we? Ah, yes! That blooming Culprit!
So who is this culprit that’s causing you to miss out on God’s fullness in your life and may have caused you to stumble one too many times?
Who is this culprit that leads you to bitterness which is cancerous to your soul and hazardous to your health?
Who is this culprit that stifles your growth in the Lord and causes your offerings to be in vain?
Who is this culprit that prevents God from hearing your prayers and you from knowing the will of God?
Who is this culprit that may have kept or may be keeping you in bondage?
The culprit is (drum roll please) ‘UNFORGIVENESS’. Yes!
Unforgiveness is a disease that needs to be treated, and quickly, if you are to reach your full potential in Christ.
The title of this study is – Don’t even bother praying if you haven’t done this! What do you need to do? Forgive. With such a bold statement for a title we need to go to the Word to clearly see the picture the Lord is painting for us. My thoughts on this matter don’t mean anything if they are not aligned with His Word.
Let us start with the Lord’s Prayer. There is a portion of the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught his disciples in – Mathew 6:12 that goes:
“Forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.”
The term forgiven here is a past participle. Which means it is something that you have already done. Completed. Finished.
But this verse in itself does not shed enough light as the Greek root word is the same for both forgive and forgiven. The word is aphiēmi [a-fe-a-me] and signifies to send away, set free and also to let alone.
So let us press on to get a clearer picture.
Know that whenever Jesus brought up forgiveness it was always in regards to prayer.
This is what He said after teaching His disciples how to pray in Mathew 6:14-15
14“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
I’d like to make it clear right now that forgiveness has nothing to do with your eternal salvation. In other words, you can’t forgive your way into heaven. If we could, we’d reduce God’s grace to works. And trying to be saved by works is tiring and a waste of time. But GRACE ROCKS! So let’s thank God for His grace!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.
The benefits of forgiveness is for the here and now and this will become clearer as we go.
Know now that it is pointless to go before the Lord if you haven’t forgiven those who have wronged you. It renders your petition useless and denies you the right to be heard and the right to be answered.
For confirmation of this let’s look at what Jesus said in Mathew 5:23-24
23“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
And in Mark 11:25
25“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
And for the magnitude of forgiveness let’s look at what Jesus told Peter in Mathew 18:21-22
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
That’s an awful lot of times, don’t you think?
Note that these are the words of our King. And as such, is beyond contestation. Seeeeee…I told you the story had relevance. *High five!*
Now that you know who the culprit is, the next chapter will address the root of this disease. You can also look forward to learning the fruits and the consequences of unforgiveness and clearly see the web of deceit that this culprit weaves when left unchecked.
Praise God for the Spirit of Truth that brings revelation!
There’s so much more to come – Stay tuned!