This is the fourth week in our Overwhelmed sermon series. Today we discussed the challenge of unforgiveness and resentment. Brianna suggests that living out of a false identity can be perhaps the greatest source of our struggle to extend forgiveness to ourselves or to others. The way to freedom from our unforgiveness is to remember the truth of who we are in Christ, and to be transformed more fully into our true identity by being transformed by the renewing of your mind.
We all have struggled with extending forgiveness, either to others or to our own self. What is it that makes forgiveness so difficult? What is the key to freedom for resentment? In this sermon Brianna makes the suggestion that a true understanding of who we are in Christ can be the path to liberation and forgiveness. But so often we live from a false identity. We either live in the role of “The Angel” or of “The Garbage Heap”. When we live from these identities, we remain in the chains of unforgiveness.
The Angel false identity is the one who struggles to extend forgiveness to others. The Angel tells herself things such as, “I could never forgive that person. They hurt me too many times. They don’t deserve forgiveness….” The more and more the angel tells herself thoughts like this, the tighter the chains of unforgiveness become.
The Garbage Heap false identity is the one who struggles to extend forgiveness to themselves. The Garbage Heap tells herself things such as, “My sin is too ugly. God could never forgive me for this. I don’t deserve forgiveness…” The more and more the garbage heap tells herself thoughts like this, the tighter the chains of unforgiveness become.
A picture of the truth of who we are in Christ is the key to freedom for “The Angel” and “The Garbage Heap”. For the angel false identity, we must remember that we too are sinners who have been forgiven much. Romans 5 says that even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We are all sinners, we’ve all wandered off, we’ve all hurt people and caused pain. And we’ve all been forgiven. With this truth before us, we are liberated to extend that same forgiveness to others. And by doing so, the chains of unforgiveness and resentment are broken. Forgiveness here, we must make clear, is not reconciliation. If we have been the victims of serious abuse, suffering, violence, harassment, etc; forgiveness does not mean to go and be reconciled to that person who caused you harm. Rather, forgiveness is simply “To release a debt”. By forgiving another person, we are simply releasing them of the debt.
And for The Garbage Heap false identity – we must remember who Christ says we are. In 2 Corinthians 5 we read that we are a new creation. Everything old has passed away and everything has become new! This is the truth of who we are in Christ. We are a new creation. This is the key to freedom for those of us who struggle to forgive ourselves of the pain we’ve caused. Remember the truth that we are a new creation. Our sin does not define us, our past does not define us, but Christ defines us. With this picture of our true identity before us, we must now move forward in living it out and renewing our minds with this truth. It is far too easy to forget who Christ says we are – That we’re all sinnners who have been forgiven much and that we’re all a new creation! So we must tell ourselves this truth over and over again. The more we renew our minds around the truth of who we are in Christ, the more we will be transformed and the more we are able to extend forgiveness.
Brianna offers three take home points for us to practice living in the freedom of forgiveness:
The first take home point is to remember the truth of who you are in Christ. Remind yourself, remind others, over and over of who you truly are.
The second take home point is the power of your thoughts! Our thoughts have a lot of power to them. They can either keep us in chains of unforgiveness, or they can liberate us. So be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Repeat truth over and over again! There is a lot of power in your thoughts!
The third and final take home point is to practice forgiveness. And forgiveness is just that-it is a practice. The choice to forgive is not the challenge. But practicing forgiveness is the hard part. Therefore we must practice is many times over. Continue releasing others and yourself of the pain that we ensued, and as we do this, we too will be freed from our chains of unforgiveness.
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