All of us have a serious spiritual problem and it is called sin. All of us have a deep indebtedness because of our sin! All of us are in a deep, dark hole because of our sin! OUR DEBT TO GOD IS FAR GREATER THAN WE CAN PAY! One writer put it this way: “Our pockets are empty while our debt is millions. We don’t need a salary; we need a gift! We don’t need swimming lessons; we need a lifeguard! We don’t need a place to work; we need someone to work in our place! AND THAT SOMEONE IS JESUS CHRIST!” I Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have healed (or forgiven).” 2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Jesus traded places with us! He became sin and we became righteous! Our Master has forgiven us an insurmountable debt of sin through Jesus Christ! Hence, grace is a gift from God; Grace is “God’s unmerited favor.” His goodness toward those who have no claim on, nor reason to expect, divine favor. The principal manifestation of God’s grace has been in the form of a gift (the gift of forgiveness in the concept of salvation). Paul writes: “Thanks be to God for his unspeakablegift.”2 Cor. 9:15
DOES GOD DEMAND THAT WE REIMBURSE HIM? When our feet take the wrong road, does God demand that we cut off our feet? When our eyes look where they should not look, does God blind us? When we use our tongue for profanity or gossip instead of prayer and praise, does God cut it out? No, God does not demand payment from us. The payment was made through His Son Jesus Christ! All people are debtors.
Thus, forgiveness is the most basic Christian quality. Without forgiveness, we would not have Christianity as we know it. Without forgiveness, we would all be doomed to hell, condemned sinners without hope of any kind. Knowing this, a proper understanding of forgiveness will transform our relationship with God, with others and with ourselves.
The meaning of the word “forgiveness” is: to dismiss, to release, to leave or abandon. We hear of a judge that has “dismissed” the charges against a defendant. That person is then forgiven of any wrong doing. We hear of a person that is released from an obligation, such as a loan or debt. That person is then forgiven. The word forgiveness also has the meaning to restore someone back to their original condition. The person who has been forgiven of a sin is then restored to the condition of not having sinned: the sin has been dismissed and he/she has been released from any penalty. The case against him/her has been abandoned or dismissed.
Forgiveness is a characteristic of God. Forgiveness is a gift of God. Forgiveness is a privilege from God. And because we are beneficiaries of this privilege, responsibility is place upon us to also forgive others as we too have been forgiven. But, truth be told, forgiving people can be one of the toughest things that Christ commands us to do, but it is something that we are commanded to do all the same.
King David was, for most of his life, a man of great faith. However, he fell from his high standard when he committed adultery with Bathsheba the wife of Uriah and then had Uriah killed. God’s judgment on David was that he was not to be allowed peace, and that his wives would be taken from him. The fulfillment of the sentence came in a great degree when Absalom the Son of David rebelled against him and tried to take the kingdom from him.
Absalom proclaimed his ruler-ship of Israel from Hebron and David was forced to flee for his life. The people of Israel tended to follow Absalom, but David’s warriors and companions went with David into hiding. The exception was Ahithophel. “Absalom also sent to Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, an invitation to come from his town, Giloh, for the sacrifices he was about to offer. So the conspiracy gained strength, and the people with Absalom increased in numbers.” (2 Sam 15:12)
The question here is why Ahithophel should turn away from David when all David’s other companions remained loyal. The answer is found in the lists of the names of David’s mighty men in 2 Sam 23. Among these we find Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite (2 Sam 23:34) and Uriah the Hittite (2 Sam 23:39). It seems that this group of 37 fighting men was one of the elite units of David’s army. There would be special closeness between them; they would stand up for one another. Thus when David had Uriah killed it is likely that the members of this unit were shaken in their loyalty to him, and Ahithophel had such strong connections to the unit that it is likely that he also was affected by this.
But there was a closer connection still between Eliam and Uriah the Hittite; it seems that Uriah married Eliam’s daughter: “David had inquiries made about the woman and was told, ‘She is Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam, and wife of (Joab’s armor-bearer) Uriah the Hittite’” (2 Sam 11:3). When David seduced Bathsheba he was seducing the daughter of Eliam and the granddaughter of Ahitophel. It seems that the episode had turned Ahithophel against David so that he was willing to support Absalom’s revolt. He never forgave David for seducing his granddaughter and having his grand son-in-law murdered. One can only imagine what the state of Ahithophel’s mind and heart when David went ahead to marry Bathsheba.
You know, believers need to learn that, “you are never so spiritual or so godly that you are immune to an unforgiving spirit.” The attempts by David to cover up his crime must have really angered Ahithophel. Maybe this ate him up on the inside. A deep hurt will not destroy us, but how we handle it will. Thus, Ahithophel left his place of service (2 Sam. 15:12). He disregarded David’s repentance (2 Sam. 12:13; Ps. 51:3-4), joined the Absalom conspiracy (2 Sam. 15:31), and gave vengeful counsel (2 Sam. 16:22; 17:1-4). Another lesson we learn is: While we might be the victim of someone else’s sin, our reaction can also make us become the assailant.
2 Samuel 17:23, “When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not acted upon, he saddled his ass and departed, going to his home in his own city. Then, having left orders concerning his family, he hanged himself…”His defeat commenced when he refused to forgive even when God did. His defeat continued as he sought revenge. Romans 12:19, “Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” His defeat consummated when his counsel was rejected. Dear friends, possessing an unforgiving spirit can lead to disastrous consequences.
Ahithophel’s heart was enslaved to the past and the people that have hurt him. He filled his soul with all the deadly delicacies of revenge, accusation and unforgiveness. It is important to observe that unforgiveness is to the soul as toxic waste is to the environment. The toxic waste in our souls is more deadly than anything technology can manufacture. Anger and grudge are two awful and deadly beasts. They both oblige us to be unhappy and unhealed. Sometimes a grudge starts with a tangible offense, but over time it imbeds itself cleverly. All that is left then is a sensation of mistrust or dislike.
Unforgiveness is an internal standpoint hurting the wounded more than the wrongdoer. The offender may carry on with life whereas the injured person clutches to new pain with the memory of the transgression. Those negative memories and feelings bring repeated sufferings. Some wrongs seem unforgivable because they are unforgettable. But forgiving does not equal forgetting. Forgiveness is purely the waiving of our right to penalize. Forgiving is forgetting that you should blame or punish the one who hurt you.
Let us be clear about this, forgiveness does not vindicate an offense. It is forgiveness that releases us from the offense. A forgiver quits shouldering the burden of injustice, and receives in that place freedom and eventual healing. As we release the right to revenge, blessings and opportunity flood into our lives because grudges are dams that hold back liberation. Once that dam is broken renewal begins straightaway. You have most likely heard someone say, or maybe you have said yourself “I will forgive them when they come and say they are sorry.” This is not God’s way God says “I forgive you, now will you accept it by confessing and repenting?” If we wait for a confession to forgive, most often we will be waiting a long time.