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The Destructive Power of Unforgiveness Part 3

If we could see into the invisible world, we would be shocked at all the havoc that is released in our lives through unforgiveness. Unforgiveness opens the door to adverse effects on our minds, emotions, bodies, and relationships.


This blog post is part 39 of the series Seven Invisible Barriers to Spiritual Growth.
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Unforgiveness Releases the Tortures

Jesus revealed another interesting insight about the effects of unforgiveness in the parable of the unmerciful servant. We are not going to look at the whole parable, I will do this on another post, but only the end of the parable. It is very fitting for this post.

The gist of the story is that the king forgave his servant a massive debt that he could not repay. Then this servant turns around and puts a fellow servant in prison because he could not repay back a tiny, tiny debt (in comparison to the debt he was forgiven).

The king hears about the actions of the first servant and tells him that he should have had mercy on his fellow servant as the king had shown him mercy. Now let’s look at the two verses that are important for our purposes:

And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart. (Matthew 18:34-35)

Jesus tells the people that the person in the parable was turned over to the torturers until he paid everything owed. Then comes the shocking news. Jesus tells the crowd and you that the Heavenly Father will turn you over to the torturers if you do not forgive.

If you are feeling tormented or tortured in your life, check to see if there is any unforgiveness in your heart. God sends the torturers so that you will recognize your need to forgive. You will not have peace in your heart until you forgive.

Unforgiveness Robs Your Peace

If you harbor unforgiveness in your heart you cannot experience the peace that God wants in your life. Unforgiveness is unresolved hurt, anger, resentment, hatred, and bitterness. You cannot experience true peace when these things dwell in your heart.

As we saw in the last point that when you harbor unforgiveness God turns you over to the torturer. He does it so you will recognize the futility of holding onto unforgiveness and forgive those who hurt you so God can forgive you and bring you peace.

Every time the memories and pain surface they are a reminder of your need to bring them to God and release them in forgiveness.

It is no different than the reason God allows us to feel physical pain. When your knee starts hurting you bad, you go to the doctor to see what is wrong. When our heart is hurting we should go to God and ask Him what is wrong.

God has a solution for the hurt, anger, resentment, hatred, and bitterness. It is called forgiveness. When you truly forgive someone from your heart all of these things go away and God gives peace in their place.

After you forgive you can remember the old situations that would normally cause you great pain without any pain at all. You will always remember what took place, but the events will no longer have a hold on you.

Forgiveness is God’s pathway to healing. No matter what has happened to you in the past, God will help you forgive and receive His peace.

Unforgiveness Destroys Relationships

God has created us to live in healthy, thriving relationships. He is the one who created marriage and families. He wants husbands and wives to love and respect one another. He desires for parents to love and encourage their children. He tells children to honor their parents.

God gives great insight into how we are to act in the various relationships we have. He speaks of how we relate to governmental authority, church leadership, employers, and friends. God’s plan is for us to be in right relationship with everyone.

The enemy wants to bring envy, strife, and division. He wants to bring death to every precious relationship that God has established. His goal is divorce, self-centered parenting, rebellious children, church splits, overbearing leaders and pastors.

That is why the enemy so strongly encourages unforgiveness. Unforgiveness brings a breach in a relationship. It allows death to creep in and begin to infect a relationship.

I have heard too many stories where brothers and sisters have not talked to one another in years because of something that happened in the past. One of both would not forgive and so they remained alienated.

Husbands and wives live together but here is no peace in the home because of unforgiveness. Best friends become worst enemies because of some altercation. The person you love the most is the person who can also hurt you the most.

God wants to mend your relationships. It is His heart to see marriages restored, prodigals return home, and churches healed. The only problem is that it takes two to restore a relationship. Both parties must desire this to take place for it to happen.

But what if the other person does not want to restore the relationship? This certainly happens. There is nothing you can do to make the other person desire relationship. You are only responsible for your own actions.

Let restoration start with you. You can’t make a person forgive you. You can’t make another person reconcile with you. You can forgive. You can open the door for reconciliation. Take whatever steps you need to make to get things right with God.

Unforgiveness Can Cause Sickness

There are many articles linking bitterness and unforgiveness with sickness. Remember that unresolved anger gives place to the devil.

I still remember the first time I heard about the connection of sickness and unforgiveness. I was listening to one of my favorite teachers, Ted Roberts. He was telling the story of a ministry time he had during a men’s retreat.

A man came forward and asked for prayer to be healed from cancer. As Ted was praying for him the Lord revealed to Ted that the sickness was related to unforgiveness the man had toward his father.

Ted told the man what the Lord had showed him.

The man’s response was immediate and seething with rage. “I will never forgive him for what he did. Never!”

Ted spent time ministering to him and was able to lead him in forgiving his father. He said that once that was done he prayed for his healing and the man was healed.

Unforgiveness is not the cause of all sickness, but it definitely is the cause of some. It is like a slow-working poison damaging not only your body but your soul. As this post ends, I want to encourage you one last time to be a forgiving person.

Forgive those who have hurt you. Give them over to God who will righteously judge them. Let go of all your anger and bitterness and receive God’s forgiveness and peace.

Just in case you need to forgive someone I am including the exercise from last week. Take you time and be thorough. The quality of your life may depend upon it.

I encourage you to set aside some time to do this exercise. Get a piece of paper and ask the Lord everyone you need to forgive.

  1. Write every name the Lord brings to your mind. Don’t stop writing until the names stop coming to your mind.
  2. Wait a moment and then ask the Lord if there is anyone else. It does not matter how small or big the offense against you.
  3. Choose to forgive each person for what they have done to you, one by one. Ask the Lord to help you be a forgiving person.
  4. Do the following for each person on your list.
    1. Choose to forgive them by name.
    2. Say the specific things for which you are forgiving them. Don’t say a generic prayer. They did specific things to hurt you, forgive them specifically. For example, “I forgive my mom for knowing about but not stopping the sexual abuse of my father.”
    3. Release them to the Lord
  5. Thank the Lord for forgiving you and helping you to be a forgiving person

Here is a sample prayer to help guide you if you need help:

I choose to forgive __(name)__ for ____(specific thing)_____ (as many times as necessary). I no longer hold anything against ___(name)___ I choose to release ___(him/her)___ into Your hands as righteous judge.

Going through this list may bring up some painful memories. Invite the Lord into the situation. Give Him each and every painful emotion you are experiencing. Don’t ask Him to take them away, give them to Him. Once you have given Him every hurt ask Him to heal your heart.

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About the Author

Terry Tuinder is the co-founder of Experiencing His Victory. His experience includes thirty-one years of pastoral ministry, an earned Doctor of Ministry degree from The King's University, and nineteen years involvement in deliverance ministry. He helps people grow in their relationship with God.