Copyright 2014 Theresa Harvard Johnson
If ever there was a poison plaguing the Body of Christ, it is the toxins that fall from deep roots of unforgiveness. I can testify to this truth in my own lif. I desire to be WHOLE and fully free from the issues of my heart that have bound me for over 30 years... and that have found themselves threatened to be compounded with each new wounding. You see, wounding will occur! How we respond to it and process it, however, is another story. In my own life unforgiveness was one of the most misunderstood hindrances to my freedom from sin. By revelation, I learned that it was also the cause of a re-occuring illness in my life that I just gained healing from due to a process of letting go.
I had my understanding tucked away in a tight box that says: "I have already forgiven." People of God, I am here to tell you that forgiveness can be a lifetime "in the making" and that the measure of forgiveness that we believe we have given may not represent the depth of forgiveness that God is seeking in us. Could it be that the "forgiveness" that we sometimes believe we have is only a surface level... of which we have convinced ourselves that it is complete?
Let me say this: "Forgiveness is the continuous work of Holy Spirit in us to overcome offenses. It is not the work of our verbal or emotional decisions alone to forgive. Those can often mark the beginning of the process."
Matthew 6:14-15 CJB it this way: “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours.”
Before going any further, let us define two key terms for the purpose of this article:
Sin: Any act, thought or posture that opposes God’s will or his word. This could be an act committed by a person or ungodly responses to acts committed against a person.
Forgiveness: The act of giving up one’s perceived right to be angry, bitter or otherwise resentful toward someone in exchange for God’s love. It means to let go of any place of foreboding or malice held in one’s heart concerning anything or anyone.
Forgiveness does not mean you are stating that the sin committed against you is or was okay. It does mean, however, that you are not giving that sin done against you or that sin that you committed any more room to control your life. It means that you are ready to allow God saturate you in his love, and bring liberty fully into your heart.
Proverbs 18:14 CJB provides some additional insight on how sin, based on the definition above, may affect a believer. This is very, very important as it relates to the extended effects of unforgiveness on the body and mind. It reads: “A person’s spirit can sustain him when ill, but a crushed spirit — who can bear it?”
In this passage, two dimensions of sickness or illness is being uncovered: (1) Physical, and (2) Emotional. The psalmist infers that “when a person is physcially ill” their spirit can sustain them through the illness if they are strong in the Lord. Then, he says, if a person has a crushed or broken spirit (meaning spiritually weak and unable to fully bend into God) they are not properly equipped to bear the physical illness. This infers that the weight of the illness could very well lead to death – either physical or spiritual. (You can further investigate this on your own through the scriptures.)
This passage also confirms that physical illness is difficult in and of itself; however, when it is complicated by a “crushed spirit” it is exacerbated or intensified. In other words, a “crushed spirit” is one that is severely weighed down or beset by sin. The inability to forgive, based on numerous texts available in the scriptures, produces a sin-state so severe that it causes God to withhold his forgiveness of sin.
As believers, we do not often consider the consequences of this or the impact that this can have on our ability to heal – physically and emotionally. Remember, physical illness affects the physical body; but the “crushing of the spirit” affects the human spirit and the mind, the seat of our will, mind and emotions. In short, this means that the consequences of failing to forgive have implications that may reach beyond on ability to truly understand or
Perhaps one of the best known, most dismissed and misunderstood passages of scriptures in the Bible that address the spiritual roots of sickness and disease can be found in Deuteronomy 28 . The significant passages begin by saying: “But if you refuse to pay attention to what Adonai your God says, and do not observe and obey all his mitzvot and regulations which I am giving you today, then all the following curses will be yours in abundance…”
While we are no longer under the curse of the law due to Christ’s sacrifice, we must still operate inside obedience to maintain the in-and-out-working of salvation in our hearts. In other words, we must still obey God and follow the pattern of Christ. Failing to do so causes us to walk outside of Christ’s covenant with us and leave us at the mercy of the adversary and his agents who desire to see the calamity spoken of in Deuteronomy 28 walk itself out in the midst of our lives.
The key here is knowing that all sin, including unforgiveness which is covered in Deuteronomy 28 , is rooted is sickness and disease. According to an article in the January issue of Harvard Women's Health Watch, forgiving those who hurt you can improve your mental and physical wellbeing. Further, the article states: “Researchers found that mentally nursing a grudge puts your body through the same strains as a major stressful event: Muscles tense, blood pressure rises, and sweating increases. One study found a link between forgiving someone for a betrayal and improvements in blood pressure and heart rate, and a decreased workload for the heart.”
In an article published by the CBN Network, medical reports show that “unforgiveness is classified as a disease, which is defined as some process that overwhelms normal function. It's important to treat emotional wounds or disorders because they really can hinder someone's reactions to the treatments -- even someone's willingness to pursue treatment, said Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.”
This brief discussion can be summed up with this passage of scripture and understanding: 1 John 1:9 CJB says, “If we acknowledge our sins, then, since he is trustworthy and just, he will forgive them and purify us from all wrongdoing.”
We are promised purification or a “refining” when God grants us his forgiveness. This refining is about full restoration.
Proverbs 4:23 CJB says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
 Power of Forgiveness-Forgive Others, Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Women’s Health Watch (Monthly Newsletter: December 2014), Harvard University School of Medicine, http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/power_of_forgiveness
 Lori Johnson, Holding Grudges? Forgiveness key to healthy body, CBN News Health & Science (January 2012), http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/healthscience/2011/june/holding-grudges-forgiveness-key-to-healthy-body/
- Last Updated: 06 April 2017
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