Forgiving Ends These
Jesus Can Set You Free
(taken from the book "I Will Give You Rest" by Edward Kurath)
Forgiveness Is Essential
We have seen that "judging" is what plants the bitter roots in our
heart that causes us to have bad fruit in our lives. This is a
serious condition, and we need a way to be set free from the
influence of these bitter roots. Forgiving and being forgiven by
God is the cure. It is the only way that the bitter root is pulled out
and replaced by a good root, which is the presence of Jesus in
God has told us a great deal about why forgiveness is essential.
1. Forgiveness is important because God said so. Jesus
is the only Judge of the universe. When we judge, we
attempt to take His place. God is not happy about this.
2. Forgiveness is important for us. When we judge
another, we sin and this plants a bitter root in our heart.
This bitter root will produce bad fruit. There is only one cure
for this, and that is the blood of Jesus. He shed His blood to
take away our sins.
How Forgiving Sets Us Free
We need His blood to wash away this sin of judging so we don’t
have to reap the resulting consequences that come about from
the operation of God's laws. The only way to accomplish this is
to forgive (from our heart) the one who wounded us, and then to
be forgiven by Jesus. When He forgives us, He pays the debt we
owe in the spiritual realm, and we are set free from the
consequences we would otherwise have to pay for our debt.
When we forgive, Jesus comes into that place inside us and
displaces the bitterness. Then we become like Him in that area.
Therefore, forgiveness is the only way we can be changed into
the image of Jesus.
If We Don't Forgive . . .
If we don’t forgive (from our heart), we won’t be forgiven by God
(though this sin will not send us to hell). If we are not forgiven by
God, we will continue to do the things we hate (we will continue
to experience the reaping from the operation of God’s laws, of
experiencing bad fruit from a bad root).
There simply is no other way to be set free.
It Is A Miracle!
Stopping the reaping from our judging takes a miracle. "It means
that free, ethical obedience can have its origin only in miracle,
quite in keeping with the view that from the fetters of flesh and sin
man must be freed to obedience by the deed of God."
We need a legal transaction to take place in the spiritual realm if
we are to be like Jesus. Once the bitter root has been removed,
and Jesus has moved into that place in our heart, good fruit
begins to grow.
What Does It Mean To Forgive?
There are two common obstacles that often make it difficult for us
to forgive. The first obstacle is that we misunderstand what God
meant by "forgive." "Forgive" is a word that is so common
among Christians that we think we know what it means.
However, most of us were taught what this word means by the
world around us, and so the meaning we have attached to it may
not be the same as what God is referring to when He tells us to
An Obstacle To Forgiving:
Sometimes this misunderstanding gets in the way of our being
able to forgive others in the process of our healing.
For instance, many of us have heard something like, “Forgive
and forget." We try to do that, and we find we can’t forget what
the person did to us. Then we think we haven’t forgiven. Or
perhaps somebody has hurt us, and we may believe that
forgiving means we need to again make ourselves vulnerable to
that person. Then something inside us resists forgiving, because
we are sure the person will wound us again. Then we find it
difficult to forgive.
God Wants To Bless You
However, God loves you and He will not ask you to do something
that is not good for you, or is dangerous or destructive to you.
Once you understand what God meant when He told you to
forgive, you will find it much easier to forgive from your heart.
Your misunderstanding of what it means to forgive may have
been keeping you in bondage.
What Forgiveness Is NOT
Forgiveness is not the following:
1. It is not saying the person did not transgress or hurt
us, when he or she in fact did.
2. It is not relieving the other person of their
responsibility, such as making excuses for their actions.
For example, “My parents couldn’t help it," or “They did the
best they could," or “I’d have done the same thing if I had
been in their shoes.”
3. It is not forgetting what the other person did. We can’t
forget, but the hurt can be removed from the memory, and
we can be forgiven for our judging.
4. It is not trusting the other person again when he or
she is still unsafe – becoming vulnerable to the person
again may not be wise.
5. It is not a “feeling." Rather, forgiving is a decision.
However, when forgiveness has been accomplished we will
feel differently about the other person whenever we think of
6. It is not saying or pretending we weren’t hurt and/or
that we weren’t angry; or ignoring the hurt feeling because
we aren’t supposed to be angry. Rather, we need to
process our feelings, not suppress them.
What Forgiveness IS
Forgiveness is deciding not to hold the other person in debt.
Unforgiveness says, “You unjustly hurt me, and you owe me a
debt. I will make you pay.” Forgiveness says, “Even though you
hurt me and owe me a debt, I am writing it off. You owe me
nothing. It is not my place to make you pay, and I release you to
the judgment of Jesus. He is the just Judge, and He will rightly
decide the case. If there is any penalty, He will collect it.”
Forgiveness does not say, “Go get 'em, God. You make him
pay.” Such a statement clearly reveals bitterness still lodged in
A Second Obstacle To Forgiving
In addition to misunderstanding what forgiveness really is, there
may be a second obstacle to forgiving. We may fear that if we
give up our resentment we won't be protected. We may believe
that a wall of resentment will protect us. This is, of course, a lie.
Holding the resentment causes us to suffer.
As I will discuss in a later chapter (Chapter 8 about honoring
parents), we perceive God in the same way that we perceive our
parents. If they were protecting and nurturing, it will be easy for
us to see God in this way. However, if they were neglectful, or
unloving, or mean, or abusive, there will be a deep sense in us
that all authorities are this way, including God. When our parents
were this way, we had to look out for ourselves and be our own
protector. Later in life we will then struggle with trusting God to
be our protector. But in reality, He is the only one who can
We Are The Ones Who Suffer
If we do not forgive, we are the ones who suffer. God is a just
judge, which means that no one ever gets away with anything,
ever, anywhere. Not everyone believes this, but it is true. The law
of God is inescapable, and whatever we sow, we will surely reap,
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a
man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7).
Because forgiving is so important, we need to remove
every obstacle that prevents us from accomplishing it,
and we need to be diligent in accomplishing it.
Remove Bitter Roots Immediately!
Bitter roots are easier to eradicate if we remove them soon after
they are planted. The longer they are allowed to grow, the larger
the root system becomes and the more difficult they are to pull
out. Gardeners understand this. When a weed first comes up in
a garden, it is small and frail. It can be plucked out easily.
However, if one neglects the garden for some time, pulling the
weeds is a big job. The roots of the weeds have then become
large and entrenched, and sometimes a large hole has to be dug
in order to remove them. Healing is easier if you remove a bitter
root as soon as it is planted.
Another thing happens if we neglect to keep up with our
"weeding." If we allow the sins to pile up, eventually they
become too obvious to ignore. People who have lived in the
country know what a septic tank is. It is a big cement tank buried
under ground into which the wastewater from a house runs.
There the waste goes through a natural process of cleansing, but
some types of waste stays in the tank and gradually fills it up.
Periodically it needs to be pumped out, or it overflows and makes
a smelly mess. Our hearts are a bit like septic tanks. If we don't
keep our own pumped out, it eventually fills up with junk,
overflows and makes a mess. It is therefore important that we
pump ours out every time some waste enters it.
In other words, we need to forgive every time we judge so that
our own "septic tank" (our heart) stays clean.
Who Do We Need To Forgive?
There are probably many people we need to forgive.
Psychotherapy and Christian counseling have both tended to
focus on relationships with our parents and our siblings. Without
a doubt these relationships were impactful, and the roots of
bitterness resulting from being wounded by them cause major
problems for us.
However, the deepest hurts, the greatest emotional pain, and the
most devastating fruit comes from judging God and judging
ourselves. Yet it may seem strange and new to be walking
through forgiveness of God and of ourselves.
Importance Of Forgiving God
Somehow it seems weird to forgive God, because He did not do
anything wrong! And perhaps it is scary to think that we may
have blamed Him. But I believe that all of us have judged Him in
It is important to recognize that for us to have judged another
does not mean that person actually wronged us. What is
important is that we perceive that he or she has wronged us. For
instance, we may feel that an individual has rejected us, and we
may have become angry and judged him. Then we may find out
later that the person did not reject us at all. Even though he didn’t
actually wrong us, we still need to forgive him and be forgiven.
Discovering that the person had not actually rejected us will not
remove the bitter root that we planted.
The discovery that he did not actually reject us may make it easier
to forgive, but it does not remove the bitter root that was planted
when we judged them. Though we wrongly perceived the
rejection, a legal transaction still occurred in the spiritual realm,
and that sin needs to be paid for by Jesus, or we will surely
experience the bad fruit from the bitter root.
This is the way it is with God. He did not do anything wrong, but
when we judged Him, we thought He did. For instance, if as a
child we were abused, it is very likely that when the abuse was
happening we judged God for not protecting us. Though we may
not be consciously aware of this judgment, we will reap from this
bitter root until we forgive Him.
Importance Of Forgiving Yourself
It may also seem strange to recognize that you have judged
yourself. How is that possible? In addition, forgiving and asking
for forgiveness for judging yourself may seem very unusual and
unnatural. But Paul said that God is the only one who has a right
to judge you. You do not have this right. I will explore this issue
in more detail in Chapter 9, "There Is Buried Treasure." Here I
simply want to point out that your relationship with yourself is
very important. You need to repair it where it is damaged, and
you need to live with yourself in a new and loving way.
Self-Judgment Is Very Common -
I have counseled people who have been working on their Inner
Healing for years and who have forgiven every person
imaginable, and yet they were still suffering great emotional pain.
I have found that the key for these people is that they had judged
themselves and have not forgiven and been forgiven.
In fact, all the people I have ever counseled have judged
themselves to some degree! I was a bit astounded when I first
realized this, because none of those who taught me about prayer
counseling had said anything about this (though I have since
found confirmation of my realization from other writers). Self-
judgment is often under-emphasized in Inner Healing.
Remember the example in the prior chapter where I cut my finger
when I was cutting up carrots. When I would say to myself, "You
dummy, why weren't you paying more attention to what you were
doing?"That was a self-judgment. I used to judge myself in that
way very frequently.
Many of us do this sort of thing to ourselves regularly. You need
to realize this self judging is very destructive.
First recognizing that we have judged ourselves, and
then walking out the healing of it is one of the biggest
keys to Inner Healing.
We All Talk To Ourselves
When people say, "Ed, this is really weird, speaking to myself and
asking myself to forgive me." To this statement I simply respond,
"When you cut yourself instead of the carrot and said, 'You
dummy', who were you talking to?" Inevitably they say, "To
myself." You see, we all speak to ourselves regularly, but it is
frequently harsh and judgmental talk. The thing that feels weird
about speaking to ourselves in forgiveness is not that we are
talking to ourselves, but that we are saying nice things.
Elements For Accomplishing
There are certain elements involved in walking through the process of
forgiving when we have judged:
1. Recognition: First, we need to recognize that we have
judged (sinned). Denial and fear can often interfere with our
ability to see what we have done.
2. Confession: Then we need to confess that we have sinned.
3. Repentance: This means to turn away from the sin. We
need to hate the sin and want to no longer walk in that way.
4. Forgiveness: We need to make a decision to forgive, and
then forgive from our heart.
5. Accept forgiveness from God. Sometimes another person
needs to verbalize to us that God has forgiven us before we are
able to accept this fact.
6. Ask the Lord to fill that place in our heart with His
presence. We need Him to take up residence in that place that
had previously contained bitterness, judgment, and blame.
7. Ask the Lord to bless the other person. If we find this
difficult to do, then it is likely that forgiveness has not been fully
8. Restitution: Sometimes we need to do something extra for
the other person, to walk an extra mile. Our relationship with the
Lord has already been restored through prayer, but in some
situations we need to do something for the other person in order
to restore our relationship with them This is the purpose of
In the case of close relationships, when you judge you have
two things to do:
1. Resolve the problem in the spiritual realm.
2. Restore the relationship with the other person.
How To Pray
Forgiveness must come from the heart to be effectual:
"So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you,
from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses"
Jesus always looks on the heart, not the behavior, and we can't
fool Him. Therefore,
It is always important that we forgive from our heart as
the living Lord leads, rather than recite a rote prayer as
though it were a magical formula.
You Need To Speak Forgiveness
Please be aware of the important position that words have in our
prayers of forgiveness. For some reason, God set up the
universe in such a way that words have power. Then God said,
"Let there be light," and there was light (Genesis 1:3). The words
that I speak bring my thoughts into reality. Once they are spoken,
it is as though a legal contract has been signed, or a legal event
has happened, in the spiritual realm. The words can be "bad"
and bring about difficulty (for example judging), or they can be
"good" and bring about life (for example blessing someone).
Though the Bible doesn't explain to us why words have power, it
does make the fact abundantly clear, that they do have great
How To Forgive God And Yourself
Accomplishing forgiveness of God and of yourself is very similar
to forgiving others who are close to us. In the case of close,
important relationships, we not only want to stop the reaping
from our Bitter Root Judgment, we also want to restore the
relationship. If we have judged a close person, this attitude has
probably affected our behavior towards them. If they are
sensitive people, our new behavior has hurt them, and we need
to take responsibility for our behavior and ask them to forgive us.
For example, imagine that your best friend completely forgets
about your birthday. You are hurt by this, and you begin to
withdraw from the relationship. Your friend can tell that you are
angry, but doesn't know why. When you realize that you have
judged him (or her), you need to pray as mentioned previously
("Elements Involved In Accomplishing Forgiveness"). This takes
care of the spiritual aspect of the problem, but now you need to
restore your relationship with him.
You need to go to your friend, confess that you have judged him,
and have allowed your bitterness to affect how you have treated
him. Then you ask him to forgive you for withdrawing, and your
friendship is restored.
In a similar way, when you have judged God or yourself, you
likewise need to resolve:
- The problem in the spiritual realm
as well as
- The problem in the relationship.
After all, these are the two most important relationships you have,
and judgments interfere with these intimate relationships. You
need these relationships to be loving, open, and intimate, or life
will not go well.
For example, suppose you judge yourself when you cut yourself
instead of the carrot, as in the prior example. When you realize
you have done this, you confess this to the Lord, forgive yourself
and are forgiven by God. Then you need to restore your
relationship with yourself by speaking to yourself, confessing
what you have done, and asking forgiveness. You say exactly
the same things you would say to your close friend when he or
she forgot your birthday.
Forgiving Is Miraculous
My "Dog Story"
Perhaps you already read this story elsewhere on
If so, just skip it.
If not, I think it will really help you to grasp the
simplicity and power of the Lord Jesus' provision
I am a jogger, and I live on the side of a mountain. In the winter it
is icy, and I can't run here; because I will fall and break
something. Therefore I drive 4 miles to town. There is a street
that is about 1 1/2 miles out and 1 1/2 miles back that is plowed
and sanded and does not have much traffic. That is my running
track in the winter.
One day a few years ago I was almost at the far end of the run
when two mid-sized dogs ran out after me. I have learned that
you don't run from dogs, so I turned on them and I shouted,
"Hey, you get back there."
They skidded to a stop. The owner was a woman who was
standing on the sidewalk.
She said, "Hey, don't talk to my dogs like that."
I said, "Lady, you have to be kidding me. We are in town, there is
a leash law here. Your dogs shouldn't be here in the street."
She called her dogs and went inside.
As I continued my run, I was very upset. I thought, "This is the
only convenient place I have to run, and I'm not going to let them
spoil that. What will I do about it? I know what. I have a foot long
steel bar in my garage. I'll carry that. Then when they come out,
I'll take care of them."
Then I thought again. It wasn't really the dogs' fault, and I'd
probably get in trouble if I hurt them. Then what can I do instead?
"I know what I'll do," I thought. "I'll carry my cell phone. Then
when they come out after me, I'll grab one of them by the collar
and call the dog warden. Then she'll get a ticket, and that should
I finished my run, drove home, took a shower, and went to my
As I sat down, I was still chewing over this situation. As I
grumbled over it, I got the distinct impression that the Lord was
tapping me on the shoulder. I knew what He wanted: He wanted
me to forgive the woman. I didn't want to forgive her, and argued
with the Lord.
"But she was so thoughtless. She had no right to let her dogs
loose, etc, etc, etc."
Eventually I knew it was a losing battle arguing with the Lord, so I
agreed to forgive her, thought I still didn't want to. I realized I
wasn't angry at the dogs. I was angry at the owner.
As I prayed, gradually I calmed down. I forgave her, asked the
Lord to forgive me for judging her. I asked Him to take out the
bitter root I had just planted, to cleanse that place, and to fill it
with His presence.
I began to recognize that she had a permanent scowl on her face;
and a healthy person would have said something like,
"I'm sorry, sir. Are you alright? Did they scare you?"
I realized that she was a wounded and unhappy person, and I
began to pray for her. I suspected that she might not know the
Lord, and began to pray for her salvation.
Suddenly it was as though I was struck by lightning: I Before I prayed, I was on the throne. She had no right to act like
realized that I was seeing her the way the Lord sees her. I
wasn't praying for her because it was the "Christian thing to
do." I was praying for her because I saw her pain and
that. I was the judge, she was wrong, I was right, and I was going
to make her pay.
Now I saw her as Christ sees her. I saw her neediness and
A miracle had occurred.
Before I prayed, I was a bit nuts. I was on the throne, she was
wrong, and I was sure I was right. I was in the mind of the "flesh."
After I prayed, I had the mind of Christ. Jesus in me (in that place
where I had just invited Him to enter) was producing "good fruit."
I was thinking the way He was, and I was acting the way He
When we forgive, a miracle occurs. It is not something we can
accomplish on our own.
We can repress our anger, or try to be nice; but we can't change
what is inside us.
Only the blood of Jesus can accomplish it. And it does!
Forgiving (and being forgiven by God) is the key to accessing
God’s provision for taking away our sin.
It is the only door to freedom.
It is the only means available for stopping the bad fruit in our lives
– for us to stop doing the things that we hate. God made this
provision, and it is of central importance that we understand what
forgiveness is and how to accomplish it so that we can then
apply this God-ordained provision for healing. Jesus came to set
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath
anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he
hath sent me too heal the brokenhearted, to preach
deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight
to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to
preach the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18-19,
Now that you understand that it is your forgiving others
and being forgiven by the Lord that will set you free
from the bad fruit in your life, it is important that you
understand that you are not a bad child who has been
caught with your hand in the cookie jar. That is not
God's attitude at all. Jesus not only provided
forgiveness for your sins, He is eager to do just that. In
fact, He will lead you down the path to freedom.
The next chapter, Chapter 6 :God Is On Your Side" tells
you about his attitude towards you.
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Copyright 2003 by Edward Kurath
Being changed into the image of Jesus