Spiritual Weapons, Part VIII: The Weapon of Forgiveness

A Ministry of Reconciliation

Speaking to His disciples after His resurrection, Jesus said, 

“Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them,“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” (John 20:21-23)

There are a number of mysteries in this statement, but for our purposes now,  a significant statement about forgiveness is here in this passage that is often overlooked.  

I never applied this statement as applying to me personally, for it seems to concern only the disciples of Jesus who were with Him at the time.  Surely, Jesus wasn’t saying that I today can forgive people’s sins!  Why would He give that kind of authority to me?  I used to believe that only God could forgive the sins of others.

Reading more carefully, I discovered that Jesus was indeed speaking to all in the Body of Christ, the Church, for He is not telling us to forgive people’s sins but to extend the good news of God’s forgiveness to others, speaking to them in His name.   God has already done everything necessary for  people’s sins to be forgiven, for He sent His Son into the world to reconcile the world to Himself, as the Apostle Paul wrote:  

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  (II Corinthians 5:18-19)

In other words, we have been commissioned to take the good news of God’s forgiveness to the world.  He is no longer holding people’s sins against them.  If they will only turn to Him, they will see the hand of forgiveness extended to them through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who took their penalty for sin upon Himself while on the cross.   We have been given the “ministry of reconciliation,” the task of showing others how to turn to Jesus.  

This is indeed good news!  God does not look upon people as sinners but as lost sheep in need of a shepherd.

Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?  How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:13-15)

Our task as “ambassadors for Christ” is to extend this forgiveness to all through the Word of God, telling them the good news of reconciliation. And as we approach others with this attitude of forgiveness, the power of God’s Holy Spirit is given full authority to speak to their hearts in conviction and love.  As we speak, they shall not hear a voice filled with condemnation, but a voice filled with the Love of God.

Jesus did not come into the world to condemn.  He came so the world might be saved.  Nor should we, therefore, go into the world to condemn. Our message should not be “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” but instead “Sinners in the hands of a forgiving God.

God has shown me many times that forgiveness is a weapon we can use to defeat the enemy.  Primarily, forgiveness releases us from the bondage of resentment and bitterness that can cause all kinds of destruction in our lives and in the lives of others.  If I hold unforgiveness and bitterness, my prayers are hindered, and the enemy keeps me from even praying in the first place.  

Most of all, we use spiritual weapons in intercessory prayer, a time when we willingly volunteer to be a barrier between the enemy and those we are praying for.  We can quench all the fiery darts of the enemy, not only those directed at ourselves but also at others.  

Tempered in Love

For any weapon to be strong, it must first be tempered.  Likewise, unless our Spiritual Weapons have been hardened, they will break with the first engagement with the enemy.  The tempering agent for our weapons is the fire of love.  The weapons of our warfare are weapons of love since they come from the true God of love.

When people in the world would argue and debate, the Lord would have us use the Sword of the Spirit.  When people might use a bulldozer to move a mountain, God would have us believe and have faith in Him and His promises.  When others may use force or exact revenge or retribution, the Lord would have us be righteously humble before others.  When people may self-righteously condemn, Christ Jesus would have us extend His forgiveness in love.

The sum of this is love for all people and hate for the enemy, Satan and his emissaries of evil.  Our ministries must be devoted toward building up of the Body of Christ in love, increasing God’s Kingdom, and casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.

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