Last week we briefly discussed strongholds. As the word itself suggests this is an area where the enemy has a foothold and has been there for awhile. He may have had access through our being the victim of sin or of our own sin but a lie was always at its root.

This week I want to share with you almost directly from a book I am reading, “ Biblical Foundations of Freedom, Destroying Satan’s Lies with God’s Truth”, by Art Mathias. A book God has me studying deeply and I recommend it to all who want to walk in freedom and share that good news with others.

Art begins his chapter on forgiveness by saying something many would find controversial. “ There are two conditions that Christians must meet to receive forgiveness. First, we must forgive others. Second, we must ask God to forgive us.”

Matthew 6:9-15

9 Pray then like this:

    “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts,
   as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation,
   but deliver us from evil.
 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
God gives us the requirement for our forgiveness and it is a weighty one!
We will be forgiven with the same measure we forgive others.

The second condition is confession.
1 John 1:9

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Notice the “if”. What happens when we do not confess our sins and forgive ourselves? We are not forgiven and the guilt, shame, anger, regret, sadness, hatred, bitterness, etc., is still in the memory and still in our lives!
Now this is not as easy as it sounds. Why? Because Satan  has read this too. He knows that forgiveness is conditional on our obedience. Satan fights this with all of his might because he knows that we are set free when we forgive others and repent of our sins and the sin of un-forgiveness!
Art says, “ If you bury a root of bitterness, what does it do? It grows. Satan’s demons water and fertilize it, so that it will continue to grow. Our lives become so filled with pain that we believe we are unable to forgive. This is Satan’s favorite weapon, the inability to forgive.”
“ We have all been hurt. The church is filled with the walking wounded, so medicated with a “forgiveness” that is really denial, that the root of bitterness destroys us from within.”

How do we forgive?
“ We start with the sure knowledge that every negative thing that ever happened to us was planned in hell…who ever has inflicted pain in our lives—served as a tool of the devil. Understanding that moves us to forgiveness. Understanding this allows us to feel compassion toward others and separate them from their sins. God the father is the giver of every good and perfect gift, and if it is not good and perfect, it is from the devil.”
James 1:17

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Art tells us that we have a choice. To follow Satan or to allow the Holy Spirit of God to work in us to enable us to forgive. The choice is ours. The next step is how to intelligently hate the real culprit, Satan. Directing our hatred toward Satan opens a pathway to freedom by allowing us to forgive others.
Art tells us that we have been taught that anger has no place in our lives. As a result, we suppress anger or, when it occurs, we become self-accusatory.
1 John 3:8

8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
It looks like Jesus was angry with Satan if he came to destroy his works.
So how do we forgive? We dig out that root of bitterness and get rid of it!
Let go of un-forgiveness, resentment, anger, hatred and all the elements of bitterness and receive spiritual freedom.
Ephesians 4:26-27

26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and give no opportunity to the devil.
John 8:34-36
 34Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
We are free. Satan and his tormentors have no legal right in us when we confess our sins and forgive others and ourselves.

Praise God!