POWER OF FORGIVENESS
The power of forgiveness is demonstrated in the Gospels as the literal separation of sin from the sinner. There was a miraculous physical manifestation; they were instantly healed. Lepers were cleansed, the blind regained sight, the deaf could hear, and the lame could walk. In every case of healing that Jesus met, the miraculous power of God worked. Their sins were forgiven (LITERALLY REMOVED) and the evidence was obvious to everyone. Both Matthew (9:1-8) and Mark (2:1-12) give an account of the same event when a paralytic man is let down through the roof of the house because there was no other way in. But Luke’s account (5:17-25) as a physician, brings us the story with more depth and clarity, adding something that Matthew and Mark miss. In verse 17 the word power derives from the Greek word dunamis or spiritual miraculous power. This is the power that comes from God alone. Power that can move mountains, that can heal the sick, and casts out demons. In verse 24 the word power here comes from the Greek exousia which means authority and jurisdiction. Read it for yourself with an emphasis on the meaning of these words. The spiritual miraculous power of the Son of God was present to heal them, and the Son of man had authority upon earth to forgive sins. When Jesus commanded the sick man to get up and take his couch and go home, active miraculous and authoritative power was sent forth, and the effects of sin on the body were removed, and the man was free to do as he was told.
“the power of forgiveness is demonstrated in the Gospels as the literal separation of sin from the sinner. They were instantly healed.”
Note: Not all of the details are necessary to tell this story and they have been omitted. In 2000 my young sister died from bile duct cancer at the young age of 40. Although her physical battle lasted about 5 months, what took her from us was the festered un-forgiveness she held for our father for most of her life. It was a bitterness that consumed her and destroyed her own marriage as well. I labored for more than 20 years to try and get the two of them together again, and hoped that she would forgive him. In the end, even though she couldn’t bring herself to forgive him, the short time that they had together was beautiful. But that’s not enough, and it isn’t the end of the story. Just 3 years later our father died of the same disease. The doctors said that this form of cancer is rare, but that two people in the same family should die of it in such a short span was unheard of. I was living in North Carolina at that time and travelled to Upstate New York a few weeks before his death to spend some time with him. He was a broken man; unable to forgive himself. He blamed himself for his daughter’s death and everything that had ever happened between them and the rest of the family. He asked me to forgive him for all he had done to me (“whatever it was” he said) and I talked with him about it all and tried to get him to accept Jesus. But he had been brought up in a Catholic household; they were not firm believers and he felt that based on all of his understanding, that he had all he needed. I asked if I could pray for him and he agreed. I said that I forgave him for what he felt he had done, I cursed the cancer and prayed for a complete healing. At the time I was unaware of the power of forgiveness and the next morning I went home, and he went off to his doctor’s appointment. He phoned me a week later and said that the doctor did some tests and reported that there was a small reduction in the tumor that was unexplained and hopeful. But my father couldn’t accept my forgiveness- he felt he was unforgivable and within weeks he died a very painful death. At the time I was in ministry school and when I returned home I talked to my teachers about what had happened. One offered up a truth I did not know. Bile in the Old Testament is synonymous with bitterness.
There was a physical manifestation tied to the sin that only forgiveness held the prescription for-but I didn’t see it and so I didn’t recognize the power given to us through the Holy Spirit to overcome it. Shortly thereafter at the urging of family and friends I went to my doctor for a consultation. Unfortunately I was told that my regular doctor was overseas on an extended vacation and I was left to see one of his fellow doctors instead. We discussed my family history and what had happened with my sister and dad. He recommended that our first step would be an x-ray of the liver and ducts and he scheduled an appointment. A few weeks later I went back for the results and they were clear- I had the same disease. A CAT scan was arranged as a follow up to determine the extent of the issue. I resumed school as the new year began and one evening at a worship service I shared all that had happened with a group of friends. One immediately declared that we were going to pray. While they laid hands on me and prayed I closed my eyes and silently prayed that in the name of Jesus my Heavenly Father would forgive me of any bitterness I might have held over my dad and the family history. I only recall a feeling like a gentle electric shock through me followed by an incredible peace. My friends reported feeling knocked back and witnesses saw at least one knocked back a few feet. The next day I had the CAT scan test and a follow up with my own doctor was scheduled for another 3 weeks out. He could not have known anything from the start as he was away when I first went to see him. On the day of our appointment, I waited while he reviewed the original x-ray and the CAT scan results. He looked at them for what seemed like a very long time. Finally he said to me “Well Mr. Hartley; I don’t know what happened. The x-ray is very clear that there is evidence of a mass. But the CAT scan is completely clear. I don’t know what to say.” I told him “I know what to say. I was a completely healed by God.” I had experienced the power of forgiveness.
What happens today when forgiveness is given misguidedly? Sometime later the sinner has come to some form of effect; disease, death, or relapse, and we say “Oh poor so and so. Isn’t that sad. A while back I forgave them for such and such. I’m glad I had that opportunity.” We don’t connect the dots. Churches don’t teach about power today (Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 2 Timothy 3:5)- and it leaves the door open for the worst. But you will find me doing it. It is a foundational Spiritual truth. Read the life and teachings of Smith Wigglesworth and tell me it isn’t for us today.
Here’s something I want you to get REALLY EXCITED ABOUT. In the Gospels Jesus encountered sinners who were experiencing the [after] effects of their sins. He forgave (literally removed the sin from their soul and body) and healed them-after the effects set in. BUT what if we could pray for forgiveness BEFORE the effects of sin take root?! To witness the power of forgiveness first-hand. HOW COOL IS THAT?! We GLORIFY God, bear much fruit, and give someone another chance (I’M A VERY BIG BELIEVER THAT OUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS A GOD OF SECOND CHANCES). We rob Satan of the opportunity to take another life. I want to encourage you to consider some of these points (these are my own and I make no claim to knowing everything):
If you are asking for forgiveness-
1. Forgiveness has to be specific. If you’re just going around asking people to forgive you for anything, that isn’t forgiveness. That’s a guilt trip that Satan is dropping on you and all you end up doing is spreading that. The other party is going to think they have to invent something just to give you false peace. And that isn’t going to give you peace it’s probably going to cause you to think of more people to confront. 2. It needs to line up with Scripture. If you drop a hammer on my foot that doesn’t require forgiveness. That requires an “I’m sorry,” an ice pack, and a beer. 3. You need to be truly repentant. You must be willing to accept the TRUTH that you have sinned against God and against someone else, and you must be prepared to sin no more. (To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness though we have rebelled against him; Daniel 9:9)
If you are offering forgiveness-
1. Be sure in your heart that forgiveness is needed (see number 1 above). Do not agree with someone if it isn’t right. Ask them what they believe they need forgiveness for and discuss those things with them until you come to an agreement. 2. Be sure it’s Scriptural. You’re involving God and the other person. 3. Be sure that when you have come to an agreement and believe that it’s Scriptural to pray for forgiveness IN THE NAME OF JESUS. This is where the power lies. (Again I say unto you That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 18:19)
The two of you-
1. Be sure to GLORIFY GOD. (And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back and with a loud voice glorified God Luke 17:15) (And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight and glorified God. Luke 13:13). 2. Be sure to follow through on whatever God instructs. If it involves money repay it. If it involves property restore it. If it requires reconciliation do it. God’s ways are not our ways and when Jesus says go and sin no more it isn’t against what we perceive only as right wrong or otherwise. It’s God’s ways and sometimes that doesn’t line up with our comfort zone. I believe that the time has come when the Scriptures say there will be a form of godliness in the church that denies the power thereof. I believe that TODAY we can ask our Heavenly Father to forgive us and that HIS power is available to remove our sins and heal us. HOW COOL IS THAT?!