by Lisa Gould
Unforgiveness is a force that can hold us back from living an abundant life in Christ. It leaves many in a quandary because we know God’s word says we need to forgive, but to release forgiveness to others is not always easy.
Many times we don’t forgive because we have a misunderstanding of what forgiveness is. The enemy lies to us about what forgiveness truly looks like. He holds us in bondage with those lies to prevent us from forgiving. He does not want us to be free to be all God has called us to be. One of the most effective lies of the enemy is to convince us that if we can’t forget what a person has done, we have not truly forgiven.
Forgiveness is NOT forgetting what someone has done. If you are waiting to be ready to forget what someone has done to you before you forgive them, it’s probably never going to happen. Although we can’t forget, we can forgive.
We must first look at the forgiveness God gives us. If we repent and accept the free gift of God’s redemptive, Fierce Forgiveness for our sin, and then forget why we needed to be forgiven in the first place, where would our testimony be? If I come to Christ, receiving His forgiveness for my sin and then “forget” that I had an abortion, committed adultery, and truly had broken all of the 10 commandments, the power of God’s forgiveness would be diminished. I wouldn’t have a testimony of my life before Christ and after Christ if I forgot why I needed to be forgiven. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the power of our testimony (Rev 12:1). It is the power of our overcoming testimony that draws others to Jesus.
People look at those of us whose lives have been transformed because of Christ’s forgiveness; they see and even hear that we are no longer who we used to be. The testimony of our lives spurs others on—if Jesus can forgive us, then He can and will forgive them. We can testify that He is no respecter of persons; what He does for one He will do for all (Rom 2:11-16).
When the Word talks about God “forgetting” our sin, it doesn’t mean He literally forgets it. It means He no longer holds us accountable. If God literally forgot our sins, there would be no Bible stories like David’s. He committed adultery and murder, yet God called David a man after His own heart because, despite all his sin, David was repentant. David recalled in the psalms how he had been forgiven for his sin giving God the glory. God didn’t forget what David had done; He chose not to hold him accountable once he repented.
In spite all of our sin, God CHOOSES to turn His back on the sin we have committed when we come to him in repentance. He FIERCLY forgives it, all of it, every last bit of it and lavishes His love and grace upon us! His forgiveness is FIERCE–overwhelming, overpowering, piercing, sudden, extreme, relentless, strong, harrowing, passionate, wild, brave and intense! I will never forget how I have been forgiven. When I think about how much He forgave me, it takes my breath away and leaves me in awe.
Isaiah 43:25 says that God blots out, or forgets, our sin. He chooses to turn His back on our sin extending His grace, mercy, forgiveness, love and acceptance so our past sin no longer brings shame upon us; nor can the enemy condemn us or hold us in bondage. The Father doesn’t want us to live with the memory of his forgiveness so we dwell upon the shame of that sin but to focus on how His Fierce Forgiveness has redeemed our lives. The power of the blood of Jesus Christ gives us victory over our past sins. We can then tell others about our journey– how we have experienced His forgiveness to live free.
Forgetting what has been done to us by others is not even a possibility unless we have some kind of operation to wipe our memories clean. That would make us robots. God gave us a memory for a reason. If someone has abused us or our children, committed adultery, stolen from us, or broken trust in some other way, forgiving them is essential. Forgiving someone does not, however, automatically mean that the relationship is restored, especially if that relationship could be harmful. Even when continuing the relationship would not be harmful, restoration cannot happen unless there has been true repentance on the offender’s part. Repentance is a military term meaning to pivot on one’s heals, to turn and go in the other direction. It means to stop doing one thing and to start doing something else.
Even if it were possible, forgetting every time we forgive could mean a whole lot of trouble for us as we would always have the possibility of going back to unhealthy or toxic relationships. Setting appropriate boundaries with people who choose a pattern of behavior that is harmful to us does not mean that we haven’t forgiven them. It does mean that we are not going to forget how we have been mistreated and continue to allow that mistreatment. Forgiveness and restored relationship are very different things. Restoration in relationship requires the fruit of repentance Matthew 3:8–a positive change in the heart and behavior that can bring about restoration of trust and restoration of relationship.
We have a memory so we can give God glory for what He has done! It reminds us that we desperately and continuously need His Fierce Forgiveness. We should choose to extend forgiveness to others because of the forgiveness we have received, not because we are going to forget the sins that others have committed against us. Don’t let the lie that forgetting and forgiving go together prevent you from choosing to forgive.
Lisa Gould describers herself as an ordinary lady who encountered THE extraordinary God! Growing up in an abusive home Lisa had an abortion at 18. She married an abusive man at 19 and then got radically saved at the age of 25. She began to realize her identity in Christ and that He did not intend for her to live in abuse. Lisa and her children have been set free from it all! She worked her way off welfare to become a daycare provider and then a kindergarten teacher in a Christian school for 10 years. She now has been a member of
the staff of New Life Church in Maine for the past 6 years building volunteer teams and overseeing close to 300 people in those ministries. She ministers to many women one on one to speak identity in Christ to them through encouragement, prayer and guidance by the power of the Holy Spirit…. which is her ultimate passion! She lives in Kennebunk Maine with her husband David of nearly 18 years. They serve together in providing spiritual guidance to couples through a program called SYMBIS( saving your marriage before it starts) and assist in facilitating a drug and alcohol program within the church. They have 5 grown children between them who live from Maine to British Columbia Canada and places in between. Lisa will never forget the Fierce Forgiveness she has experienced through Christ’s redemption and love! She is now in the process of completing a book on her testimony and the power of Fierce Forgiveness.
Lisa served on the Conference Steering Committee for the Women of the Word Fall 2015 Conference. Her testimony of that event is: “What an amazing time in the Lord we had at our Women of the Word conference. The conference was an intentional, appointed time of God’s daughters coming together to see His hand move in their lives. As God’s vessels, each of the speakers brought a word in due season for women collectively and individually. This was not just another status quo event to attend and then go back to living life as usual. This conference has already and will continue to have a ripple effect on women as they received salvation, healing, strength, courage and have become equipped (meaning to mend the broken places) to carry out their destinies. The women who attended will be an example to others of God’s power to suddenly transform them. Those who attended will be contagious for the Kingdom as they encounter their families, friends, work colleagues and home churches. Revival is coming and we must be equipped as his daughters for such a time as this! Women of the Word is a tool God is using to accomplish this in the earth.”