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Forgiving Your Past

By Neil Anderson

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October 27
 
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you
 
The second step in resolving past conflicts is to forgive those who have offended you. After encouraging Cindy, a rape victim, to deal with the emotional trauma of her rape, I said, “Cindy, you also need to forgive the man who raped you.” Cindy’s response was typical of many believers who have suffered physical, sexual or emotional pain at the hands of others: “Why should I forgive him? You don’t know how badly he hurt me!”
 
“He’s still hurting you, Cindy,” I responded. “Forgiveness is how you stop the pain. You don’t forgive him for his sake; you do it for your sake.”
 
Why should you forgive those who have hurt you in the past?
 
First, forgiveness is required by God. As soon as Jesus spoke the amen to His model prayer–which included a petition for God’s forgiveness–He commented: “If you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14, 15). We must base our relationships with others on the same criteria on which God bases His relationship with us: love, acceptance and forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35).
 
Second, forgiveness is necessary to avoid entrapment by Satan. I have discovered from my counseling that unforgiveness is the number one avenue Satan uses to gain entrance to believers’ lives. Paul encouraged mutual forgiveness “in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Unforgiveness is an open invitation to Satan’s bondage in our lives.
 
Third, we are to forgive like Christ forgave in order to keep our hearts from bitterness. Paul wrote: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31, 32).
 
Your act of forgiveness will set the captive free, then you will realize that the captive was you!


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At the Threshold of Temptation

     


by Neil Anderson
March 26
AT THE THRESHOLD OF TEMPTATION
Titus 2:11, 12 
The grace of God has appeared . . . instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age
Yielding to temptation is another step toward a stronghold being established in your mind. Whenever you are stimulated to conform to Plan B instead of God’s Plan A for your life, you are experiencing temptation. The essence of all temptation is the invitation to live independently of God and fulfill legitimate needs in the world, the flesh or the devil instead of in Christ. That’s the great contest. And Satan knows just which buttons to push to tempt you away from dependency on Christ.
The moment you are tempted to get your need met in the world instead of in Christ, you are at the threshold of a decision. If you don’t immediately choose to take that thought “captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5), you will begin to consider it as an option. And if you begin to mull it over in your mind, immediately your emotions will be affected and the likelihood of yielding to that temptation is increased.
The Scriptures teach us that God has provided a way of escape from every temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). But the escape is right at the threshold of the temptation. If you don’t control the temptation at the threshold, you run the risk of allowing the temptation to control you. Rare is the Christian who can turn around after directing his will toward Plan B.
For example, a man sees a pornographic picture and is tempted toward lust. He has the opportunity to respond by saying something like, “My relationship with sin has ended. I choose to take this thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I’m not going to look at it or think about it.” And he separates himself from the picture immediately and escapes the lust.
But if he hesitates at the threshold, stares at the picture, and begins to fantasize about it, he will trigger an emotional landslide producing a physical response which will be difficult to stop. He must capture the tempting thought in the threshold or it will probably capture him.
Prayer: Dear God, I want to be obedient to Your perfect plan for my life today. I don’t want to give in to Plan B thinking. Strengthen my will to obey.