Unforgiveness vs. Inner Healing

February 4, 2017

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”  (Matthew 6:12)

The greatest obstacle to inner healing is unforgiveness. Those who work in ministries of healing claim that the lack of forgiveness on the part of a victim can retard their own inner healing.

Can you see why Jesus instructed His disciples to pray every day: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors?”  The original language has it, “As we have already forgiven our debtors.” Do you think Jesus knew how important it is to our inner healing that we should forgive those who sin against us?

Some are bothered by the way Jesus offers commentary on this petition in the Disciple’s Prayer.  He commented that if we do not forgive we are not forgiven. It almost sounds as if we are forgiven because we forgive. He defuses their confusion with a parable that is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 18.  A man is forgiven a very large debt in the millions of dollars, saving him from debtor’s prison and having his family sold into slavery.

But on the way home he meets a man who owes him twenty dollars. He grabs him by the throat and orders him to pay him every cent or he will have him put into debtor’s prison. Both events are observed and shared with the one who forgave him the large debt. He is recalled and his forgiveness is revoked. Jesus comments on that story, that if we from our hearts do not forgive, we are not forgiven.

The point is that if we are a forgiven person we will be a forgiving person.  If we are not a forgiving person we are not really a forgiven person.

Dick Woodward, 09 January 2013


Confession and the Blessings of Salvation

October 29, 2016

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   (1John 1:9)

In the original Greek language, what we translate as confess is a compound Greek word: to say and the word for sameness.  It literally means to say the same thing God says or to agree with God.  If you know the Word of God and are in the Spirit enough to be convicted by the Holy Spirit, you can know what God says and how He feels about what you have done.

Your confession is to agree with Him. Our responsibility is to agree with Him.  God does all the rest.

God knows when we are lost.  Because God loves us He very much wants us to agree with Him that He might recover us and lead us into green pastures and still waters that flow to a table of provision and a full cup that never empties.  That’s why God wants us to confess our sins and start climbing in the right direction spiritually.

God is not a divine policeman with a huge club just waiting to crack us over the head when we step out of line.  The ministry of Jesus is summed up in the Gospel of Luke this way: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)  That Gospel shows us in beautiful ways the blessings that come into the lives of lost people because Jesus finds them and leads them to the blessings of salvation.

Dick Woodward, 02 October 2012


Forgetting What God Forgets

February 24, 2015

For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins I will remember no more.”  (Jeremiah 31:34)

When we sin, we need to look up and believe the first fact of the Gospel, which is the Good News that God forgives our sins because Jesus died for our sins. Then we need to look around, forgive those who have sinned against us and seek forgiveness of those against whom we’ve sinned.  We also need to look in and forgive ourselves.

When we place our trust in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, we need to forget what God forgets and remember what God remembers.  In the New Testament we are promised that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (I John 1:9)

However, God remembers that we are sinners.  We forget we are sinners. (That is one reason we fall into sin again & again.)  After we confess our sins, we show our faith in God’s promise is flawed when we remember our sins as guilt baggage long after God has forgiven and forgotten our sins.

A Catholic Monsignor in Paris was told about a nun who talked to Jesus every night. When the nun was summoned to meet the Monsignor, he asked her, “The next time you talk with Jesus, ask Him this question:  What sins did the Monsignor commit in Paris before he became a priest?”  He instructed the nun to report back after she asked Jesus his question.

Several days later when the nun requested an appointment with the Monsignor, he asked her, “Did you speak with Jesus again, my child?”  She replied, “Yes, your Reverence.” He then asked, “Did you ask Jesus my question?”  The nun said that she had indeed asked Jesus his question. “And what did Jesus say?”  The nun replied, “Jesus told me to tell you He doesn’t remember.”

If we believe what the Bible teaches about the forgiveness of our sins, that is the answer we should expect to hear.

As we receive by faith the inner healing of salvation, we simply must discipline ourselves to remember what God remembers and forget what God forgets.

Dick Woodward, from In Step with Eternal Values


Letting Go … to Let God

January 23, 2015

“… but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ” (Philippians 3:13-14)

As we move forward into this new year and consider our priorities many of us could say, “These forty/eleven things I dabble in.”  But spiritual heavyweights like Paul write: “One thing I do.” They can write that they have their priorities sifted down to one thing because they forget those things that are behind.

We all have things we need to let go of so we can press toward the goal of what God wants us to do now and in the future.

There’s a story of a man who fell over a cliff but managed to grab hold of a little bush that was growing out of a cliff about forty feet from the top.  He frantically shouted, “Help!” several times but his voice simply echoed back to him.  Desperately he yelled, “Anybody up there?  A subterranean voice answered, “Yes!” He then yelled again “Help!” Then the voice said. “Let go!” After a brief pause the man shouted, “Anybody else up there?”

Sometimes it takes a lot of faith to let go.  It may be that we need to let go of things that we cannot do and only God can do.  It may be we need to let go of things we cannot control.  And, sometimes we need to let go of hurts that people have inflicted on us and we cannot forgive them and just let it go.

Do you need to let go and let God so you can unload baggage and move forward with God?

Dick Woodward, 11 January 2013


Will the real sinner please stand up?

August 26, 2014

…When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?”  (Luke 7:42)

It is true that some of the greatest Christians were once the greatest sinners. As we read the seventh chapter of Luke (verses 36-50), we cannot help but think of The Confessions of Saint Augustine.  It is not necessary to sin much to love God – we should be careful not to give that impression.  There is really nothing good about sin… It it true, however, that the truly repentant contrite sinner can love much because he (or she) has been forgiven much.  This was a driving force in the lives of King David, the Apostle Paul and Saint Augustine.

At issue here are the condescending thoughts of this Pharisee toward the woman (who is washing Jesus’ feet.)  As he compares himself, the Pharisee is self-righteous.  Like his colleague in Luke 18, he is looking upon this woman with an attitude, “I thank God I am not as other people are – sinners!”  The question of Jesus focuses this for him and for us.  The Pharisee was the man who had been forgiven the smaller debt, which means he saw his sin as a very small thing. This teaching also focuses that the way we perceive ourselves has a profound effect upon how we perceive others.  Positively and negatively our self-image is a strong force in our horizontal, interpersonal relationships.

The subtle message of Jesus to this Pharisee is that the real sinner at that luncheon was not the woman whose sin was obvious and known to everybody.  His message to her was the good news, that, because of her faith, her sins were forgiven.  When the real sinner stood up at that luncheon, however, he was a sinner named, “Simon, the Pharisee.”

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook (p.137)

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us sinners.”


Multi-facted Forgiveness

July 25, 2014

“…If you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins…” Matthew 6:14-15

We need forgiveness in three dimensions: when we look up, when we look around, and when we look in.

If we believe the Gospel, the first dimension is a given. The great Bible word for that is “justified.” It literally means to ‘un-sin’ our sin. You can break up the word this way: just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned. Plus, the word means that He declares us righteous. In the 18th chapter of Luke, Jesus pronounced that anyone who prays, “God be merciful to me – a sinner,” is justified. Can you see why I say the first dimension of forgiveness is a given if you believe the Good News?

The second dimension is more complicated. You need a special measure of grace to forgive those who have greatly harmed you. And you can’t control whether or not those you have hurt will forgive you. But Jesus mandated that we have forgiveness in this second dimension. When He taught his disciples how to pray, He literally told them to pray, “Forgive us our sins as we have already forgiven those who have sinned against us.”

At the end of His teaching His disciples how to pray He added a solemn commentary: “If you do not forgive those who have sinned against you, then My Father in heaven will not forgive you your sins. In other words, if you don’t have forgiveness in this second dimension you lose your forgiveness in the first dimension. What a solemn truth!

Those who have sinned grievously will tell you that the third dimension of forgiveness is the toughest one. When devout people fall into sin, they especially have a very difficult time forgiving themselves.

Pray for forgiveness in these three dimensions because the greatest obstacle to inner healing is un-forgiveness.

Dick Woodward, 17 January 2009


The Remedy for the Wrath of God

September 27, 2013

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16)

The gospel Paul proclaimed was the good news that God will not only pardon and forgive our sins, but through our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ God will make it just as if we had never sinned.  God will also declare us to be as righteous as if we had never sinned.

In Psalm 51 David literally asked God to un-sin his sin.  David was a prophet and when he prayed that petition he knew the fulfillment of the answer would be in the word “justified.“  It literally means that God makes it as if our sin never happened and He declares us to be righteous.  If you have ever grievously sinned, you know that the cry of your heart is wishing your sin had never happened!

That is precisely what the good news of the gospel proclaims.  Imagine two men convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.  After 25 years one of them is pardoned by the governor.  Evidence is discovered that proves the other man is innocent of his crime.  He cannot be pardoned, he needs to be exonerated as if he never committed the crime.

Man’s law can do that.  Only God, however, can declare a guilty man as innocent as if he never committed a crime for which he is in fact guilty.  That is what God has done and is God’s only remedy for His wrath.

If you believe the Good News of the Gospel, then open your heart to receive this remedy.