Wounds can fester into infections if left untreated. That's exactly how unforgiveness works. Whatever was done to us pierced our skin, but if we keep prying it open and looking at the wound, it won't be able to heal... instead, because it is continually exposed to the dirty air, it becomes infected. That infection in the spiritual realm is welcoming to unclean spirits, which fester the wound even more. If something isn't done, the person ends up facing demonic harassment and torture, and becomes a very bitter and unhappy person.
I have an idea of what you may be saying right now, "This person has NO clue what they've done to me! They don't deserve anything at all! Much less MY forgiveness!!" They certainly don't deserve your forgiveness, much less God's... but none of us deserve what Jesus did for us either. Those who killed Jesus didn't deserve anything at all, but look at what He said just before He died, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" Look at the deep and rich mercy and love that Jesus has towards us... none of us deserve it! But He loves us for who we are, not because of what we've done. He wanted a relationship with us so much that He gave His life for it! When we grasp what Jesus has done for us, it makes it a lot easier to pass that grace along to others. We aren't letting them off God's hook, we are merely releasing our souls from bondage that un-forgiveness brings us under. You aren't forgiving them for their benefit, but for your own good! Your soul, not theirs, is what is being held in bondage because of the feelings you've allowed yourself to harbor inside. Why should you allow what they've done to continue to bring you under bondage? I wouldn't! I would let that poison out of my heart... give it to the Lord and seek Him to heal the wounds they have caused.
Forgiving others is sometimes very hard, but it is essential if you want to break out of the bondage that it's brought you under. Forgiving others opens you up for the Lord to begin healing your soul (inner healing). Since unforgiveness blocks us from receiving God's forgiveness of our sins (Matthew 6:15), it puts up a wall between us and the source of our healing.
The steep price of unforgiveness
I have seen so many people in spiritual bondage due to unforgiveness. It is a common source of bondage and demonic harassment, as Jesus warns us about in Matthew 18:23-35.
Matthew 18:34-35, "And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."
That is nothing less than a strong literal warning that a person can fall into the hands of demonic spirits for torment and harassment if they are unforgiving and bitter inside. I have seen it again and again, it is not an uncommon scene to find a person harassed by demons because of bitterness in their heart. Bitterness is also known in the Bible as spiritual poison:
Acts 8:23, "For I perceive that thou art in the gall (poison) of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity."
Unforgiveness not only gives demons the right or ability to torment us, but it also prevents God from forgiving our own sins! Now this is serious, this means that when we cry out for God's help, but have unforgiveness in our hearts, He looks down and our sins are before Him. It puts up a wall in our relationship with our heavenly Father. Jesus was very clear that if we are to be forgiven, we cannot be unforgiving towards others:
Matthew 6:15, "But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Beyond this, bitterness is also a very common means for a born again believer to become spiritually defiled, that is, polluted or unclean spiritually:
Hebrews 12:15, "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled."
Notice the word 'many' in the above verse... this is a very common means for people to become defiled and open themselves up for spiritual harassment from the enemy.
Give to God the things that belong to Him
Unforgiveness is actually taking something that belongs to God, and taking matters into our own hands. God's Word tells us clearly that we should allow God to bring His wrath upon that person, and let Him have the room to repay those who wrong us:
Romans 12:19, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."
Those who have wronged us will reap what they sow. If you chose to forgive somebody, they may be off your hook, but that doesn't mean they are off God's. God's Word tells us clearly that what we sow, we shall reap:
Galatians 6:7, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
What unforgiveness actually is
Unforgiveness is actually a form of hate against another person. If a person hates somebody, it is a sign that the person is lacking love in their heart. Why? They are not firmly rooted and grounded in the love of Christ, and Christ's love is not flowing through them. As simple as that sounds, that's how it works.
What somebody may have done against us is one thing, but if you take Satan's bait of unforgiveness to heart, it will do much more harm than they did. Do you want to continue to allow their mess to trouble you even more? Have they not done enough damage? Allowing yourself to hang onto hard feelings and become bitter is only causing your wound to become even more infected spiritually. Honestly tell yourself, what good is it doing you to hold onto the hurt and bitterness that the enemy has tried to plant within you? It is doing nothing but harm, and is holding you in bondage spiritually. The only reason you are holding onto those feelings is because it feels good inside. Don't let this fool you, bitterness is known in the Bible as spiritual poison:
Acts 8:23, "For I perceive that thou art in the gall (poison) of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity."
The reason Satan wants you to hold onto that bitterness is because it is poison to your soul. Jesus said that the devil came to steal, kill and destroy. Satan wants to do just that to you. Know wonder Satan makes unforgiveness 'feel good'... he wants your soul to be poisoned!
Don't let him do this to you... stop him dead in his tracks! Release yourself from those hurt feelings, and let them go... stop holding onto those feelings, and let that poison out of your soul!
How to deal with unforgiveness
As I have pointed out, unforgiveness is a form of hatred, which is actually a lack of love. If you are bitter with somebody, then the love of Christ is not flowing through you. So how do you solve that problem? You need to grow in God's love. You need to come to realize that deep and beautiful love that He has for you. As you learn of His love for you, your spirit will respond and you will love Him in return. When you love Him, your love will begin to flow through you to others around you. When that happens, it becomes more natural to see Christ's forgiveness flowing through you to them.
How do you come to know the love of God? You spend time with Him. You research His Word to see what it has to say about His great love for you! Work on developing an intimate relationship with Him, and you will come to know His love. Here are some verses that can get you started:
John 10:11, 15:13, "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep... Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
1 Corinthians 2:9, "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
Romans 2:4, "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"
1 John 3:1, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God..."
Look at this one... you aren't loved for what you've done... but because of who you are! Even before you came to Christ, He loved you so much that He died for you!
Romans 5:8, "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." (NLT)
1 John 4:9, "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him."
If you have a hard time forgiving others, it's because the love of Christ isn't flowing through you. How do you solve this problem? Start working on your relationship with your heavenly Father so you can come to know of His great love for you, and then your spirit will respond and His love will begin to flow through you naturally. When that begins to happen, forgiving those who have wronged you will become much easier.
It is nearly impossible for somebody who is flowing in the love of God to hold bitterness (a form of hate) inside! If you struggle with bitterness, it's because you lack the love of Christ in your life! You need to become grounded and rooted in the love of Christ, if you want His love to flow through you!
I believe Jesus made it clear that if you love Him, keeping His commandments will naturally follow. If you love Jesus, carrying out His love will come naturally to you:
John 14:23, "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."
What was His big commandment? To let His love flow through you to others around you, and love them as He has loved us:
John 13:34, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."
The key to forgiving others... grow in God's love!
If you reach out to God, and seek a deeper relationship with Him, He will draw near to you, and you will find that deeper relationship with Him. God's Word is clear about this fact:
Luke 11:9-10, "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." James 4:8, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you..."
The relationship is yours for the taking! Christ wanted this relationship with you so badly, that He gave His life for it! Your heavenly Father wants this intimate relationship with you even more than you do.
What kind of a relationship does God want with us? An intimate love relationship! The Lord gave me a powerful revelation of this not long ago, and I wrote a teaching on it. It is a must-read if you want to take your relationship with the Lord to a deeper level. The teaching is titled A love relationship with Jesus.
How do you forgive somebody?
Forgiveness is a choice. We must choose to forgive those who have done us wrong, then lay the whole mess in God's hands, and leave it there. Give your hurts and hard feelings to Him. Think about Jesus... here they murdered Him (they didn't do that to you or I!), and yet one of the last words that left His mouth were crying out "Father, forgive them!" Look at the depth of God's love for us! God's deep love for us was expressed through Jesus' death on the cross. When we begin to comprehend the great expression of love that was towards us, that same love will begin to grow in our hearts, and flow out to others. That is why it is important to grow in God's love and become well aware of how deep and rich it is, because when we understand His love for us, we will find that forgiving others becomes naturally and the choice becomes much easier to make.
A little real life story
One time I had somebody say some things that was very belittling about me, and most people would have been offended. After they were gone, the Lord spoke to me... He told me to go turn on some worship music and spend some time with Him... I did... and within no time, instead of thinking about what they've done to me, I was weeping before the Lord for them in prayer... begging God from the bottom of my heart to bring them to come know Jesus... I felt a love inside me well up that was not mere human emotion... I felt the love of God flowing through me! Instead of letting it get to me, and looking at what they had done, I got my eyes on God's love for me, and that love flowed right through me to them... as a result, I loved them as Christ loved me. It's one of the most beautiful feelings in the world!!
My advice to you
First, sit everything that bothers you on the back burner, and seek your heavenly Father's love. Seek out a living relationship with Him and seek to learn of His deep love for you... it will change your life! If you are up to reading a book that will lift you up and build your relationship with God... I recommend a book called Blessed Beyond Measure by Gloria Copeland. I want to warn you, it is known to change your whole perspective on life!
Second, make the choice to release those hurt feelings, and allow God to heal the wounds. As you grow in His love, this choice will become much easier to walk out. If you continue to seek out a loving relationship with Him, it will change your whole perspective on life, and forgiving others will come naturally, and healing of those wounds will also become a very real and tangible reality.
Text by Christopher Anderson & unknown sources