by Kenneth Copeland
One of the greatest acts of God’s love is to forgive in the midst of personal conflict and walk in harmony in the midst of strife. We have the ability to operate with the highest form of faith just by following the outline Jesus has given us in the Word.
I want to share with you the power God has given to us when we walk in the light of forgiveness. As we look at the Word together we will see, beyond any doubt, that there is a very close relationship between forgiveness and the love of God.
Mark 11:22-24 has got to be the most well-known scripture reference there is on the subject of faith. Jesus is teaching about the God kind of faith and how it operates. He says:
Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore, I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
Let’s read on. I want to focus attention on His words in verses 25 and 26. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neiher will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Jesus makes the act of forgiveness an integral part of the faith life. In verse 26 He very plainly states a spiritual law: If you do not forgive, then your Father in heaven will not forgive you. This ties in closely with His teaching in the 18th chapter of Matthew where He explains to His disciples about the power of agreement.
Matthew 18:19 says,
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.
The Amplified translation says, …if two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, together make a symphony)….
Jesus places a tremendous importance on harmony and agreement between believers and forgiveness plays a vital part in that harmony. When Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, Jesus answers, Until seventy times seven. (That Isaiah 490 times!) Then He relates a parable in Matthew 18:23-35. (Get your Bible and read those verses now to get them fresh in your mind and spirit.) A servant owes his lord a debt equivalent to millions of dollars today. Though he is forgiven of that large debt, he goes out and refuses to forgive a fellowservant of only a 15 cent debt! When the Lord hears about it, He delivers that servant to the tormentors. Verse 32 says He called that servant a wicked servant. God looks at unforgiveness as wickedness.
This parable shows the consequences of walking in unforgiveness. The servant was forgiven of a large debt, but then would not release his fellowservant of small, insignificant debt. His attitude of unforgiveness cost him much more than the debt he owed.
There can be no room in our lives for unforgiveness. When a believer is unwilling to forgive, he puts himself automatically in a position where Satan can torment and attack him. I want you to realize it was only a 15 cent debt that caused that servant to be tormented. It is the little 15 cent debts we tend to overlook. If someone does or says something to you that hurts, you usually try to shrug it off; but that is the kind of thing that Satan will try to take advantage of. The little 15 cent debts we don’t forgive are what gives Satan place in our lives—the small things we do and say, the cutting words and unkind remarks. Many times these things occur with people in the world that we don’t know personally, so these incidents of aggravation, etc., are easily forgotten and never forgiven. These things may look unimportant, but remember: We are commissioned to take the message of forgiveness to the world (II Corinthians 5:18,19), not take it from them. God has forgiven us of a life of sin, yet we hold little things against each other.
As I was praying about this, the Spirit of God showed me what happens when we allow unforgiveness to build up in our spirits. I saw a pipe stretching between God and myself. The pipe was a funnel for the power of God. At God’s end, the power was flooding in, but at my end, there was only a trickle coming out. Something was clogging the pipe somewhere along the way. The Spirit of God showed me that unforgiveness was stopping the flow of God’s power. Those little 15 cent debts had been like silt—tiny bits of dirt and filth—that had built up a wall inside the pipe. When I recognized that, I quickly repented and allowed the Holy Spirit to purge my spirit of the unforgiveness and clean out the pipe so God’s power could flow unhindered.
Jesus knew the importance of forgiveness and that is why He connected it so closely with the operation of faith in Mark 11. Faith will not work in an unforgiving heart. Galatians 5:6 says that faith works by love. If you are holding anything against another person, then it will hinder your faith. By harboring that unforgiveness—no matter how small it may seem—you literally tie God’s handsBut if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. This is spiritual law. You can’t make it without His forgiveness!
We are instructed to forgive one another even as God has forgiven us—freely, unconditionally. We are to forgive with grace, undeserved favor, and blessing. Love takes no account of evil done to it—pays no attention to a suffered wrong (I Corinthians 13:5, Amplified Bible). Jesus said, But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:44,45).
The things that people do or say to you can get close enough to hurt you only if you act out of love yourself. If you resent and hold an offence against someone, it injures you. Unforgiveness, like strife, is a thief that cometh but for to kill, to steal, and to destroy. It holds you in bondage and renders your prayer life powerless.
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.
The Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by W. E. Vine states that the word translated forgive means “to loose from, to release.” This scripture is saying, “Loose, and you will be loosed.”
When you forgive as God forgives, you let that person go free from the transgression. You release him from guilt, unconditionally. You let go of any resentment against him. It is as though it never happened. Refuse to hold anything against him even if Satan continues to bring it to your mind. No doubt he will; Paul told the Corinthians to forgive lest Satan gain the advantage over them (II Corinthians 2:7-11). Unforgiveness gives Satan the advantage. Refuse to dwell on it in your thought life again because you have forgiven him as God has forgiven you.
To forgive others as God forgives us requires an act of faith. God’s forgiveness is the supernatural ability to totally eradicate from your consciousness any thought or memory of an incident.
There is a realm of forgiveness that every believer can walk in. It cannot be done through your own natural ability. It is a supernatural act in which you exercise your faith, the love of God and the power of forgiveness until that incident is completely and totally eradicated from your consciousness just as it is from God’s. Every believer must learn how to live and walk in that realm of forgiveness.
And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses (Mark 11:25, 26).
Make the quality decision to forgive as an act of your will. Jesus said forgive “when you stand.” You cannot stand for a month or even for a week. When you forgive, you give up resentment against another—that only takes a moment. You are forgiving in obedience to God’s Word; you are acting in faith on His Word. You are going free.
When you refuse to forgive, you close the door to forgiveness from the Father but when you forgive, you will be forgiven by the Father. When you have God’s forgiveness, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
When you forgive, you not only free the other person but you also free yourself from unforgiveness and strife.
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Corinthians 7:1).
You have cleansed yourself from strife, unforgiveness, and the other enemies of love. Now that you recognize the evil works of these tools of Satan, refuse to give them place in your life. Stay cleansed of them and allow the love of God to work in you unhindered.
II Timothy 2:19-21 says,
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
It is so important to have a forgiving heart. In order for us as believers to effectively reach the world with the Gospel—the Good News of Jesus Christ—the power of God must be allowed to flow through us. We cannot be used at best by the Holy Spirit when our spirits are clogged with bitterness and resentment and unforgiveness. This places a serious responsibility on our shoulders.
Only when we have forgiving hearts will true harmony come into our homes and bring us into a position of total harmony with God and with one another. The fourth chapter of Ephesians deals with keeping harmony in the body of Christ. I encourage you to spend time meditating on those scriptures and allow them to get down into your spirit. The last verse says, And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
It is time for the body of Christ to come to maturity in this area. We have studied much about how to operate proficiently in faith. Now we must operate just as proficiently in forgiveness and love.
What I am sharing with you is spiritual truth. It is totally contrary to the world’s way of thinking and goes against the grain of human behavior. To live and walk in forgiveness, you will have to resist pride. At times, you will have to go to your brother and ask his forgiveness. You will have to forgive him, even though every ounce of your being wants to strike out against him. You will have to forgive others, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you. But remember, you cannot make it without God’s forgiveness. You cannot have His forgiveness unless you forgive.
Forgiveness requires an act of your will. You cannot depend on your feelings. Most of the time, you will have to forgive—not because you feel like it—but simply because the Word says you must. Every time it must be an act of faith. It is impossible to please God without faith.
It is a simple matter to purge or cleanse your spirit of unforgiveness. You merely have to stand on the Word in faith.
- Confess the sin of unforgiveness according to I John 1:9.
- Forgive as an act of your will and obedience; not your feelings. Forgive by faith and God will honor it.
- Believe that you receive forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness—including any remembrance of being wronged. God’s power is cleansing power. You are forgiven even as He forgave. It will cleanse your consciousness completely.
- Praise God and give thanks that it is done. The act of praise is very important. You are a priest of God; you have been purged and cleansed. Now you are in the perfect position to offer a sacrifice of praise unto God. Hebrews 13:15)
If Satan brings a symptom of unforgiveness to you, resist him by saying, “No, I have already forgiven that person by faith and I have received my forgiveness according to God’s Word. I refuse to remember.”
Standing by faith in this area is the same as any other. Don’t be moved by what you see or feel.
Make it your goal to develop and maintain an attitude of forgiveness. See that you keep your heart clean before God. Be quick to repent when you are faced with opportunities for strife. Don’t allow Satan any place in your life.
Use this confession of God’s Word to activate the power of love and forgiveness. Close all doors to Satan. Keep the pipe clean and the power of God flowing!
“Father, in the Name of Jesus, I make a fresh commitment to You to live in peace and harmony—not only with my brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, but with my friends, associates, neighbors and family.
“I let go of all bitterness, resentment, envying, strife, and unkindness in any form. I give no place to the devil, in Jesus’ name.
“Now, Father, I ask Your forgiveness. By faith I receive it. I am cleansed from all unrighteousness through Jesus Christ. As I forgive and release all who have wronged and hurt me, I ask You to forgive and release them. Deal with them in Your mercy and lovingkindness.
“From this moment on, I set myself to walk in love, to seek peace, to live in agreement, and to conduct myself toward others in a manner that is pleasing to You.
“It is written in Your Word that the love of God has been shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost. I believe that Your love flows out from me to everyone I come in contact with. In Jesus’ Name, I receive it done. Amen.”
Jesus said, A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:34-35). The evidence of our dedication to God is the love we have for others. It is that true, pure, unadulterated love of God manifesting itself in our lives that sets us apart from other people.
God’s love is the most powerful force in existence. Satan knows that. He knows what the love of God can do and the tremendous power that lies in forgiveness. He learned first-hand just how powerful the love of God is when he faced Jesus of Nazareth 2,000 years ago. At Calvary, what looked like victory to Satan turned out to be the ultimate defeat. Jesus died on the cross, but He didn’t stay dead. Three days later He came up from the grave bringing with Him the keys of death and hell (Revelation 1:18). He stripped Satan of his authority over mankind. He did this because of His great desire to forgive the human race. Having gone through all this to bring forgiveness to us, He sent His Spirit to dwell in us and make us like Him. Then he turned that authority to rule in His name in the earth over to believers—the ones with His power to forgive living in their hearts (Matthew 28:18; Mark 16:15-20). The power of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit enable us to live a life of victory through His love.
A revelation of the love walk and forgiveness in our spirits allows that power to flow. Make the quality decision today to commit yourself to God’s Word concerning love and forgiveness. I guarantee…you will never be the same.