To Forgive or Not To Forgive?

Biblical forgiveness is one of the principles that is most often incorrectly taught to followers of Jesus Christ.  Some professing “Christians” believe that because they once said a prayer asking Jesus to be their Lord and Savior that all of their past, present and future sins are automatically forgiven by Almighty God.  They do not believe that they will be held accountable for any sins and that there is no need for them to repent.  That line of thinking only leads to rampant sin in the life of a person who is not a genuine Christian. We must understand that God’s forgiveness requires us to sincerely repent by changing our ungodly behavior when we sin.  If we refuse to repent, Jesus Christ is not our Lord.

Forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, means that we are given the opportunity to spend eternity with Almighty God in Heaven.  John 3:16-21 state that Jesus came to provide for our salvation.  The verses also describe the difference between those practicing evil who are condemned and people who are honoring God.  People who willfully continue their evil, sinful behavior, in spite of claiming to be Christians, are not sincerely following Jesus, and they will not go to Heaven.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. 

John 3:16-21 (NKJV)

God’s forgiveness is not unconditional.  God expects us to obey Him.  When we disobey the Lord, we will suffer the consequences.  Deuteronomy 28 clearly describes the blessings that we will receive for obeying God and also some of the results if we choose to disobey Him.  In Genesis 19:15-26, Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt because she disobeyed the Lord and looked back after being told not to do so.  The cost of her disobedience was immediate death.

My Scriptural understanding of our responsibility to forgive others has changed greatly during the past several decades.  I was taught repeatedly, and as a result I once believed, that we are supposed to forgive everyone regardless of what they did, whether they were a genuine follower of Jesus Christ or not, and whether or not they were sorry and repentant.  I no longer believe that based on several Scriptures, many of which are Jesus’ own words.  According to Luke 17:3, Jesus stated that repentance is a condition required for us to forgive a brother—a fellow Christian.

Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

Luke 17:3 (NKJV)

True Christians will obey the Lord and if they occasionally sin, they will repent and change their behavior.  They will express genuine remorse.  However, there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing who are pretending to be followers of Jesus Christ, but do not obey Him and do not repent for their sins.  We can know the difference based on a person’s actions and sincere sorrow.  John 3:36 clearly warns us that the wrath of God remains on those who do not obey the Lord.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. 

John 3:36 (ESV)

Sincere followers of Jesus Christ should always be willing to forgive others when it is appropriate to do so.  Our Most High God does not forgive everyone, but He is ready and willing to forgive us when we are truly sorry for our sins and change our behavior—repent—to live according to His Word.  God’s forgiveness can only be received through the birth, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. People who refuse to genuinely accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, and obey God’s commandments and directions, will not spend eternity with Him in Heaven.  

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Psalm 86:5 (NKJV)

However, the Lord Jesus said, in Matthew 12:31-32, that there is a sin that God will not forgive.  Blasphemy—the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence—against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven by God.  These words from Jesus show that our Most High God considers that to be unforgivable!

“Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.  Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” 

Matthew 12:31-32 (NKJV)

In Acts 5:1-11, Ananias and Sapphira tried to deceive the Holy Spirit and lied to Peter about the amount of money they had received when they sold a possession.  They kept back a portion of the proceeds from the sale.  That was not the problem.  Their sin was that they lied about it.  They were both guilty of deception and lying.  Ananias and Sapphira were given the opportunity to repent and tell the truth, but they did not do so.  They died as a result.  That may seem like a harsh consequence for lying, but it is one example of believers receiving God’s judgment for not repenting for their sin. 

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Acts 5:3-4 (NKJV)

Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?” She said, “Yes, for so much.”

Acts 5:7-8 (NKJV)

In addition, when we have sinned and have not asked God to forgive us, and have not repented for our sins, it always blocks our relationships with Him.  He will not hear our prayers if we have known sins on our accounts.  

But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear.   

Isaiah 59:2 (NKJV)

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. 

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

God does expect us to forgive as we have been forgiven in Christ.  After we make a sincere profession of faith in Jesus, ask God for forgiveness for our sins, and repent, God forgives us.  The condition of repentance is often ignored by those who want us to forgive them, but do not want to change their behavior.  At times, people may forgive someone who is not repentant because they do not want to lose that relationship.  However, that is a very selfish reason to forgive and it allows the offender to continue the ungodly behavior without consequences. That is not in agreement with God’s character and Word.  In this life or after they die, our Most High God always carries out His judgment against those who do not repent.

This is a powerful quote from John Hagee: “Granting forgiveness without demanding a change in conduct (behavior) makes the grace of God an accomplice to evil.”  Just think about that statement.  Ungodly behavior is sin and evil.  If we grant forgiveness without requiring the person to repent and change their behavior, we are making the grace of God a partner with that evil.  Godly sorrow and repentance are not optional in order to receive God’s forgiveness, and it should be a requirement for us to forgive others. 

Why would we think that we should forgive unrepentant rapists, pedophiles, murderers, and other evil people, including pseudo “Christians,” when Almighty God does not forgive such people?  Those who tell abuse victims/survivors to forgive an unrepentant, evil perpetrator are asking them to do something that our Most High God does not do!  One woman to whom I ministered told me that she would never forgive the person who murdered her daughter.  Not only was the killer unrepentant, but he denied that he had committed the crime even though all the evidence proved he had done it.  Based on God’s Word about forgiveness, I do not believe that the Lord expected that heartbroken lady to forgive the unrepentant murderer of her precious daughter.

Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 

Acts 8:22 (NKJV)

 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.    

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV)

Without faith in the One True God and His Son, Jesus Christ, a person cannot truly forgive.  The love of God makes it possible for us to genuinely forgive when it is appropriate.  A desire to obey and please the Lord is absent without that faith.  A remorseless wrongdoer cannot benefit from God’s forgiveness.  The fact that God forgives us based on our acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice and our repentance is the only reason that we have hope and the assurance that we will spend eternity with the Lord in Heaven.  Obeying God and forgiving—when it is appropriate—helps to keep our relationships with the Lord strong.

Also, we cannot base whether or not we have truly forgiven someone on our feelings.  We may still feel emotional pain when we think about the person or situation.  Many years ago, the life and career of a man I knew was seriously damaged and almost destroyed as a result of the wicked actions and lies of several people.  He was carrying an indescribable amount of pain and trauma.  Hoping to reduce his suffering, that Christian man eventually made the conscious decision to forgive the people involved, but he still felt lots of bitterness and anger regarding the injustice that had been done to him.  The bitterness and anger were attached to the emotional pain and trauma that he had suffered, which had not been released or healed.  If we forgive someone who is truly sorry and repentant, we may not always feel like we have done so until Jesus releases the pain and trauma and heals our broken hearts.

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

Luke 4:18 (NKJV)

Our Most High God gives everyone the opportunity to receive forgiveness for sins, true freedom, and healing through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Whether or not we are forgiven by God depends on our sincere acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  Our obedience to God and His Word, and our repentance when we sin, prove that our relationships with Him and Jesus are genuine.  Almighty God will never force anyone to repent, but thank God that He gives us the opportunity to do so! Otherwise, we would all be doomed to an eternity in Hell.

               Kathy Shelton

Carry on, Soldier!

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”

Matthew 10:34 (NKJV)

Jesus made this statement to His twelve disciples as He was preparing to send them out into the surrounding areas to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. Jesus was warning them about the spiritual warfare that they would encounter as they served the Most High God. The sword that He was referring to was a weapon used not in peaceful situations, but in fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Jesus also explained in the verses following Matthew 10:34 that division in relationships would occur as a result of their steadfast faith. We will experience the same things as we follow Jesus and serve the Most High God.

When we make a genuine decision to accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, it is life-changing in many ways. However, we rarely realize that we have also enlisted in a very real war in the spiritual realm. Life is not easy in general, but lives that are surrendered to the Most High God and His Son, Jesus Christ, include the reality of ongoing spiritual warfare at various levels and intensities throughout the Christian journey.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)

The Lord has provided many spiritual weapons for us to use as we battle against Satan’s kingdom, the kingdom of darkness. Ephesians 6:14-18 contains a list of some of the weapons that are necessary and successful in the spiritual battles we face in our Christian lives. They include truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God and prayer.

If we are going to be effective in the battles, we must live a life of truth just as our Lord Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). Righteousness—godly standards and principles—must also be followed in order to avoid giving the enemy any right to repel the weapons we are using against him and the kingdom of darkness. During warfare, we cannot shift back and forth from one side to the other. We must choose God’s side and stay there. If we continue to practice known sin, we align ourselves with the armies of the kingdom of darkness. Opposing the enemy requires us to reject and repent for sin and to resist the temptation to join the devil’s side by being in agreement with his lies, deception, and all other sinful and evil behavior.

Quoting Scripture, the Word of God, is a powerful weapon that will cause the armies of the enemy to flee. Becoming diligent about praying every day, as frequently as needed and for as long as necessary, is essential in the fight against the attacks from the devil and his helpers.  Praise and worship are also huge weapons that are highly successful in fighting the good fight. Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to the Lord while they were in the most horrific prison, resulting in their miraculous release (Acts 16:25-40). 

Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory.

Psalm 24:10 (NKJV)

It is not the Lord’s will for us to fight in this warfare alone. We must always remember that the Lord our God fights for us! Our Most High God is also the Lord of Hosts, the Lord of Heaven’s armies! When we need help, warrior angels are ready to assist us in the battle against the kingdom of darkness. Hebrews 1:14 says that angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for us, God’s sons and daughters. Asking Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, to send them to help us fight spiritual battles is crucial for victory, especially when we are feeling beaten down and weak.

Spiritual warfare can be extremely exhausting—physically, emotionally and spiritually. Twila Paris’ song, The Warrior is a Child, is a great reminder that “even winners can get wounded in the fight” and “even soldiers need a quiet place to rest.” No follower of Jesus Christ is strong enough to constantly fight spiritual warfare without times of rest away from the front lines. We all need those times of refreshing and recovery. We also need the prayers of other genuine believers to help fortify us in the battles. The principles of warfare in the natural realm of never leaving anyone behind and supporting the other soldiers to the death are even more important in fighting spiritual warfare!

No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

2 Timothy 2:4 (NKJV)

Staying focused on our calling as soldiers in God’s kingdom against the kingdom of darkness is also essential if we are going to be effective in spiritual warfare. The devil and his helpers will do their best to distract us with worldly matters and activities to trap us in their web of lies and deception to the point that we lose our concentration and ability to respond appropriately when attacks are launched against us. To please our Most High God and be ready to fight the spiritual battles that come our way, we must not participate in sinful behavior and we must avoid people who directly or indirectly discourage us from following Jesus’ example. During spiritual warfare we can never drop our spiritual weapons, and we must resist the temptation to run away—going AWOL—in the same manner that a member of the armed forces is absent from his or her place of assignment without official permission. We must carry on to the best of our ability using the weapons that the Most High God has provided for us and continue to fight the good fight of faith to the very end. Carry on, soldier! The victory celebration will be glorious when we meet the Lord face to face in Heaven.

Kathy Shelton

Joy to the World… Surviving Holidays and Celebrations

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 

Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV)

It should be a blessing to get together with family and/or friends during Easter, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years, birthdays and other times of celebration.  However, these days and seasons—which should be joyful—can be extremely lonely and emotionally painful times for many people.  As a result, and very sadly, the rate of suicide increases during the holidays. 

If you dread the holidays because emotional pain from the past is usually triggered, please know that you are not alone.  This is very common.  However, there is help.  Jesus can release that past pain and trauma!  As Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”  His joy is not dependent on our circumstances or any past emotional pain we have suffered.  His joy is endless and without comparison.  If we are on a downward spiral into the opposite of His joy, we must draw near to our heavenly Father and pray for His strength and joy to overshadow the emotional pain. 

My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!

Psalm 119:28 (ESV)

When emotional pain or trauma from the past is triggered during the holidays, it can be extremely difficult for those who are unknowingly carrying that pain.  They may not realize that their reaction to Aunt Carol or Uncle Harry is really partially the result of past pain that has been buried and is now coming to the surface.  Reactions to what should be happy situations can appear to be inappropriate and even unreasonable to the traumatized person and others, because they do not understand that suppressed pain and trauma are being triggered.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why are you restless and disturbed within me?
Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him,
The help of my [sad] countenance and my God.

Psalm 43:5 (AMP)

An example of emotional pain from the past being triggered after over six decades was described to me by one of my ministry recipients several years ago.  This woman, Betty (not her real name), had been married for over 50 years when she asked her husband to go to the store to buy a jar of pickles for her.  Betty told him the type and brand of pickles that she wanted, but when he returned home, he had a jar of generic pickles that was not even the type that she had requested.

This woman, who was in her seventies, said that she went into a rage!  Thankfully, Betty also had some knowledge about inner emotional wounds and quickly realized that her reaction had very little to do with the pickles.  So, she asked the Lord what was going on with her, and He revealed the root of her emotional outburst.  When Betty was a child, her family was very poor and her mother only bought things that were the least expensive.  If her mother came home with anything that was not the cheapest item, this woman’s father got very angry.  The pain and trauma that surfaced when Betty’s husband came home with the generic brand of pickles had been stuffed for over 60 years!  The end of the story is that Betty received the healing and freedom that she needed through Jesus Christ from this past emotional pain and trauma.  Praise the Lord!

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Until inner healing is received, there are several things we can do to minimize experiencing emotional pain during the holidays.  If we know that particular people, or specific situations have caused us emotional pain in the past, we must do whatever we can to limit our contact with them, or completely avoid being exposed to them, if at all possible.   We must set healthy, godly boundaries to protect our hearts and spirits.  Other examples of guarding our hearts also include not watching worldly, seasonal programs on television or on other devices, not listening to certain holiday music, and not going to some parties or events, all of which may bring past emotional pain to the surface.  It is much easier to avoid being triggered than to deal with the emotional pain once it has come to the surface.

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

Also, focusing on the main reason for the celebration is a must in order to avoid emotional pain and trauma from ruining holidays.  For example, remembering that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior—and not about the gifts, parties and social events—will help immensely.  We cannot get offended and hurt as easily if we keep the main thing, the main thing.  Jesus’ birth allowed for His death and resurrection which provided all people the opportunity to receive forgiveness for their sins and healing for their broken hearts.  Taking our focus off Aunt Carol or Uncle Harry will help prevent the pain and trauma they trigger from coming up in our hearts and spirits.  Everyone with a broken heart must focus, focus, focus on the Healer and not on the people and situations that caused their heart to be broken.  Creating new, joyful memories helps heal broken hearts as well. 

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18 (NASB)

It takes determination and laser-like focus on our part to be joyful during the holidays. Returning to a place of peace once emotional pain and trauma have produced depression, great sadness, despair or hopelessness in our hearts and spirits is not easy.  However, it is possible through the love and healing power of a genuine, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  There is never a better time to sincerely ask Jesus to be our personal Lord and Savior than the present moment.  He wants to heal our broken hearts, but He will never force anyone into a relationship with Him.  We must willingly choose to accept that gift, which will make it possible for emotional and spiritual healing to take place.  Once Jesus becomes the true focus of our lives, we can ask Him to release the pain that has surfaced and replace it with His peace and joy.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;”

Luke 4:18 (NKJV)

God loves His children, followers of Jesus Christ, very much and wants them to be set free from past pain and trauma.  Luke 4:18 are Jesus’ words, proclaiming that He came to heal the brokenhearted.  My prayer for you is that you will make the choice to accept God’s gift of salvation if you have not already done so, and that you will allow the Lord to direct your steps to receive the inner healing you need.  May God bless you with His peace and joy in your hearts, minds and spirits every day and especially during the holidays when we celebrate God’s amazing love and goodness to us.

Kathy Shelton

GODLY BOUNDARIES – No Door Mats!

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well. 

Psalm 139:14 (NKJV)

Brokenhearted people often have major problems setting godly boundaries in their lives. The lies of the enemy, Satan, can cause a trauma victim to feel like they deserved the abuse and trauma that they suffered. They may feel like a doormat, being walked on over and over, because they were vulnerable and an easy target. That is how the enemy would like wounded Christians to view themselves. Embracing the true identity that the Lord God has created for His children enables them to reject Satan’s lies!

We are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of the Most High God! The enemy would like us to forget that and see ourselves as less than the beautiful creations that we were meant to be, reflecting God Himself. When we are carrying pain and trauma in our hearts and spirits, our opinions of our worth and value can be skewed. Not having godly boundaries is agreeing with the devil that we are worth less than the enormous cost that Jesus paid to set us free. The true nature of who we are in God’s eyes can be distorted—which then causes us to accept more abusive treatment—and the destructive cycle continues. We must break that cycle by believing God’s Word and taking godly action to receive the freedom to be who God created us to be.

“I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:18 (NKJV)

Genuine followers of Jesus Christ are sons and daughters of the Most High God, the Lord Almighty! We must protect our hearts, minds and spirits, realizing that we are precious to our Heavenly Father and that He is saddened when we do not do so. God chose to pay the ultimate price for us to become His sons and daughters when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer an excruciating death for our salvation. Jesus’ death and resurrection from the dead needs to be treasured for the amazing and incomparable gift it is to us by our valuing ourselves enough to set godly boundaries!

Connected to the practice of not having healthy, godly boundaries is fear, especially the fear of man. The fear of man—and what a person may think or do if we do not make them happy and comply with their requests or demands—is one of the most difficult things for people with broken hearts and spirits to overcome. Many people learn that the fear of man keeps them from suffering additional abuse and trauma. The fear of man becomes stronger with time and brokenhearted/traumatized individuals will often do anything to please people to avoid the consequences of not doing so.

We must understand that being a born-again Christian does not mean that we are supposed to allow repeated abuse. Nowhere did Jesus say that we have to trust someone to love them. He also did not say that we have to continue in relationship with those who continually cause us severe emotional or spiritual pain. Jesus told the woman who was caught in adultery to go and sin no more. If a person is not remorseful and repentant, we should not stay in the relationship unless the Lord leads us to do so, knowing the possibility of future reconciliation. If they honestly repent and/or seek help to stop the behavior, we should cautiously and with the Lord’s direction, support their pursuing freedom from the sin. However, allowing anyone to continue to hurt and abuse us is not how the Lord wants us to live. We must value ourselves as sons and daughters of the Most High God who loves us beyond anything we can imagine. It grieves Him when we don’t set godly boundaries with people.

Not setting godly boundaries in our own lives is a trap that the devil uses repeatedly to cause us emotional pain, especially in the lives of ministers. Sincere Christian ministers are compassionate. That is why they have entered ministry. They desire to help people and this desire drives them at times to neglect the wisdom of the Lord in setting healthy, godly boundaries in their lives.

Although followers of Jesus Christ should be “moved with compassion,” that does not mean they are supposed to allow people to deceive or take advantage of them. Setting godly, healthy boundaries is so important if we are going to run the race and stay in it to the end. People will test our boundaries just like children test the boundaries with their parents. It is not a sin or an ungodly practice to protect ourselves from exhaustion and unreasonable demands from others. Saying no to people is not sin. Of course, saying no applies only to people and not to the Lord. He will never ask us to do anything that He does not give us the strength and guidance to accomplish.

Godly boundaries are good walls. However, painful and traumatic situations happen in our lives that can break down the good walls that the Lord designed to shield us from evil. We tend to develop ungodly, destructive walls as a result. Those detrimental walls can separate us from the love of God and His Son, Jesus. Harmful walls can also prevent us from receiving the healing we need for emotional, mental and/or spiritual pain that exist inside us.

We cannot be truly healed unless we allow the finished work that Jesus did on the cross to penetrate the ungodly walls that we have built around our broken hearts and spirits. Jesus will remove the harmful walls as we receive His healing, and He will replace them with godly ones. Asking Jesus to gently and safely release the pain we are carrying and replace it with His love will help us to develop godly, healthy walls, or boundaries, in our lives.

Accepting help for healing and freedom from past pain and trauma can be a difficult and frightening thing to consider, because it involves facing the truth and being honest with others about what we have endured. This is especially true if the pain and trauma were caused by other professing Christians. However, we must return to the Lord’s truth that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and ask God for the courage to begin setting godly boundaries and to restore our true identity in Jesus’ name!

Kathy Shelton

The Emotional Pain and Trauma of BETRAYAL

And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples.

John 18:2 (NKJV)

Betrayal is the most insidious form of deception and it causes deep emotional pain and trauma. If you have ever been betrayed by someone close to you, you know the extreme pain that betrayal can cause in your heart, mind and spirit. Betrayal can break your heart more quickly and more deeply than any other kind of emotional pain or trauma. It is much worse when the person who betrayed you is a professing Christian.

Jesus suffered betrayal at the hands of one of His disciples, Judas. He sold Jesus out for thirty pieces of silver!

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.

Matthew 26:14-16 (NKJV)

This betrayal preceded the transition in Jesus’ ministry to his death and resurrection. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were necessary for God’s plan of salvation to be accomplished. The betrayal of Jesus Christ was even prophesied in Psalm 41 and Zechariah 11.

Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.

Psalm 41:9 (NKJV)

Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.

Zechariah 11:12 (NKJV)

In spite of the fact that He knew it would happen, I believe that Jesus suffered great emotional pain from that betrayal. In Matthew 26:24, Jesus said, “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” What a powerful statement! “It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” The Lord takes betrayal very seriously and, as followers of Jesus Christ, we need to do the same.

That is just one form of betrayal, delivering someone to an enemy. Betrayal can occur in other forms such as revealing confidential information, or breaking a vow or a promise. It is always based in deception, which is lying. Since Satan is described as the father of lies in the Bible, we know that he and his army are at the root of betrayal. This is clearly pointed out in the following verse.

Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them.

Luke 22:3-4 (NKJV)

Betrayal can be used by the kingdom of darkness to bring disunity in ministries, families and other relationships. Many families and marriages have been devastated as the result of betrayal. Genuine Christians are often under attack from the kingdom of darkness. When professing Christians betray and attack true believers, they are assisting the devil and his forces.

A lack of integrity within the Body of Christ has led to backstabbing that resembles what occurs with non-Christians. This practice is definitely not loving one another as Jesus instructed His disciples to do. Gossip is extremely damaging and frequently involves broken promises of confidentiality. That betrayal can and has caused unimaginable emotional and spiritual pain for those who were betrayed in this way. Many of those who were betrayed by wolves in sheep’s’ clothing, phony Christians, have left churches as a result. 

All-too-common, overwhelming heartbreak occurs when genuine Christians are serving the Lord Jesus and being productive for God’s kingdom and, at the same time, being attacked and gossiped about by fake “Christians.” It may be done out of jealousy or pride, but it is always sin and causes deep wounds to those who are the targets of the betrayal. The ones doing this may not realize how much pain they are inflicting on Jesus’ sincere followers, but they are still accountable to our Most High God for their sinful behavior.

Broken trust is always a result of betrayal. Trust is not easily restored once someone has been betrayed. Whether it involves disloyalty, unfaithfulness, infidelity, gossip or any other form of betrayal, trust is always broken!

There are many examples in the Bible of situations where people experienced various types of betrayal. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Matthew 26:49). Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery (Genesis 37:12-36). Delilah betrayed Samson after learning the secret to his strength. She had a man shave off Samson’s hair and then turned him over to the Philistines for an enormous amount of money (Judges 16:4-21). Hosea’s wife committed adultery (Hosea 3:1).

Adultery, breaking the marriage vows by having a sexual relationship with another person, is an extremely damaging form of betrayal. It destroys not only the trust between the married couple, but it also defiles the soul of the one committing adultery. Ungodly soul ties are formed between the man and woman committing adultery. This negates the ability of the one committing adultery to be loyal to the godly soul ties with their spouse. The more the adultery is repeated, the more desensitized the people involved become, as with any other sin. The ungodly soul ties become stronger and the result is often another marriage ended. Having an emotional affair is also betrayal of one’s spouse and can be just as devastating as committing adultery for the same reasons.

Viewing pornography is another form of betrayal. It is a serious betrayal of a person’s relationship with the Most High God. It becomes an addiction and an idol in the heart of the sinning person, because it takes the place of the Lord in their mind, heart and spirit. Viewing pornography is also a form of adultery. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (NKJV). The betrayal by a spouse who views pornography has destroyed innumerable marriages and families.

Healing from the emotional and spiritual pain of betrayal may take a significant amount of time, possibly even years. God does not forgive unrepentant sinners and He does not expect His children to do that either. However, forgiving someone who has betrayed you—and has repented due to godly sorrow—can be an incredibly difficult thing to do. It may require that you receive inner healing prayer from a sincere believer to release some of the pain before you are able to forgive the repentant person.

If you allow emotional and spiritual pain to fester inside you, it will turn into bitterness and resentment. In time, it will also affect you physically. Dealing with emotional wounds is for your benefit and well-being. Inner healing—through the love and blood of Jesus Christ—from the pain and trauma caused by betrayal is absolutely necessary if you are going to fulfill your God-given destiny. Thank God that Jesus is able to heal broken hearts and release the emotional and spiritual pain from betrayal!

Kathy Shelton

The Importance of Godly Relationships

The Importance of Supportive, Godly Relationships While Going Through and Healing from Trauma

Supportive, godly relationships are critical as we go through and heal from traumatic situations. Traumatic situations include the death of loved ones, serious illnesses, physical abuse, sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, verbal abuse, rape, domestic violence, being the victim of a crime, divorce, accidents, devastating financial conditions and natural disasters. Those extremely painful circumstances can leave us feeling alone, abandoned, rejected, depressed, hopeless, betrayed and even suicidal at times. Negative and harmful emotional responses are often initiated or exacerbated by the lies of the devil. He always tries to discourage God’s children and lead them into a pit of despair when they are weakened by traumatic situations.

We live in a world full of pain and trauma and there is no way to avoid it. However, our Most High God provided ways for us to not just survive, but to more easily go through and heal from the effects of trauma. We must be diligent in staying connected to God and genuine Christians in order to avoid the traps of the devil that occur if we isolate ourselves due to one-time or ongoing traumatic events.

The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;

Deuteronomy 33:27 (NKJV)

 

A father of the fatherless and a judge and protector of the widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.

Psalm 68:5 (AMP)

The most important relationships that our Father God wants us to turn to when we experience and need healing from traumatic events are our relationships with Him, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Our Most High God wants to comfort us and lead us on the paths that will help us. He wants to heal our broken hearts and spirits that have been devastated by traumatic situations. However, we must sincerely accept God’s love and His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior, to be able to receive His incomparable comfort and healing. 

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 14:6 (NKJV)

Jesus also said,

 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 

Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)

Therefore, the first relationships that we should always rely on for comfort and healing are those with Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They are the most important relationships we can ever experience on this journey that we call life. Supportive, godly relationships with other people are also essential for us to continue to be comforted during, and heal after, emotionally traumatic situations. The Lord knows our need for godly counsel, prayer and support, especially when we are weary and vulnerable to the lies of the enemy.

We all need a listening ear and a kind word from a godly person to lift our spirits when we are drained as the result of emotional and spiritual pain. He will surround us with people who love us and care deeply about our pain, but they may be people other than family members. The family was created to provide that kind of comfort and support. However, we do not live in a perfect world and our own family members may be the cause of some of the emotional pain and trauma that we suffer. Feelings of rejection, betrayal and abandonment can become intensely painful when trauma is caused by our loved ones. Loneliness and a feeling of isolation are lessened when we reach out to genuine Christians.

God makes a home for the lonely;
He leads the prisoners into prosperity,
Only the stubborn and rebellious dwell in a parched land.

Psalm 68:6 (AMP)

Traumatic circumstances always break our hearts. People often carry emotional pain for years and decades without even realizing that suppressed pain and trauma are affecting them in significant areas of their lives. We were never meant to go through pain and trauma alone. Isolating ourselves during those circumstances is the worst thing we can do and only adds to the pain. That is why we must receive love and kindness from people who are living according to God’s Word—whom we can trust with our broken hearts—not in place of the Lord, but in addition to Him. 

We must reach out to godly friends, family, healing ministers and others who can provide prayer, encouragement and the love that we need for the healing process to be accomplished. Our Most High God created us to be in close relationship with Him and godly people. Cutting ourselves off from those relationships makes us incredibly susceptible to destructive feelings and to attacks from the devil. Fear of being hurt again can also cause us to be hesitant to reach out to people for help. However, The Lord will show us who can be trusted and through whom He wants us to receive His comfort and healing. We must receive God’s provision of healing for our broken hearts through His Son, Jesus, and the godly relationships with which He blesses us.

Jesus said,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

Luke 4:18 (NKJV)

Jesus came to not only save us from our sins, but also to heal our broken hearts! A genuine, personal relationship with Him is essential in receiving comfort and healing during and after times of emotional pain and trauma. Our heavenly Father also blesses us with His love and peace through supportive, godly relationships with people who know how to listen and be compassionate when we are in emotional pain. Keeping emotional pain stuffed inside only makes things worse. We must let go of our pride, reach out to the Lord Jesus and His sincere followers, and allow them to help us.  

 

Kathy Shelton

 

 

Does the Truth Really Matter?

Does the truth really matter? Doing a word search of the Bible for truth, lies, liars and lying results in an overwhelming amount of Scriptures that clearly answer this question. However, many people these days, including professing Christians, have decided and believe that truth is subjective. In other words, they believe that truth depends on their opinions and worldviews. Nothing could be further from the truth according to God’s Word!

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Exodus 20:16 (NKJV)

He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

1 John 2:4 (NKJV)

Our Most High God included not bearing false witness—not lying, but telling the truth—as one of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:16. That is how seriously He regards telling the truth. According to 1 John 2:4, if we say that we know God and do not keep His commandments, we are liars! Nowhere in the Bible does the Lord treat lying as a minor sin. In fact, there are several places in God’s Word where it states that He hates lying!

These six things the Lord hates;
Indeed, seven are repulsive to Him:

A proud look [the attitude that makes one overestimate oneself and discount others], a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
 
A heart that creates wicked plans,
Feet that run swiftly to evil,

A false witness who breathes out lies [even half-truths],
And one who spreads discord (rumors) among brothers.

Proverbs 6:16-19 (AMP)

Many people also believe that there is a difference between an outright lie, a half-truth and a little white lie. Lying is lying. There are no little white lies in God’s eyes. According to Proverbs 6:19, our Holy God hates a false witness who speaks even half-truths! A half-truth is still a lie.

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal truthfully are His delight.

Proverbs 12:22 (NKJV)

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. He delights in those who deal truthfully with others. The truth was what Jesus came to tell everyone. He was never concerned about being politically correct when He spoke the truth. Jesus boldly spoke the truth without apology! He called the Pharisees and Sadducees a brood of vipers (Matthew 12:34) and He compared them to whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones (Matthew 23:27).

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 14:6 (NKJV)

Jesus said that He is the truth. If a person claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ, but does not live and speak the truth, they are not a child of God. They are not going to end up in Heaven when they pass from this life into eternity. According to Revelation 21:8, liars will end up in Hell. There is a difference between someone who slips up and lies, but quickly asks God to forgive them and repents, and people who have made serial lying their way of life. The latter cannot abide with God, because they do not speak the truth.

Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?

He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;

Psalm 15:1-2 (NKJV)

Refusing to admit the truth does not make it any less true. Ananias and Sapphira suffered the most severe consequences when they lied about the money they received from selling their land. They immediately died after lying (Acts 5:1-11). That is how seriously the Lord views lying!

“And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, And they do not know Me,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:3 (NKJV)

It is very suspicious when people begin a sentence with the phrases, “To tell the truth,” or “Honestly.” As followers of Jesus Christ and children of God, we are supposed to tell the truth and be honest in our communication with others. We should always desire to obey God’s Word and commandments and change our behavior if it does not line up with His ways. Genuine repentance for lying is not an option if we are going to spend eternity with our Most High God. The Lord said that liars do not know Him!

Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?

Galatians 4:16 (NKJV)

Liars often think that those who tell them the truth are their enemies when, in reality, the opposite is true. God loves us and His Word is full of the truth and instructions that we need to obey to receive His blessings in our lives. Speaking God’s truth to someone we love takes courage and shows that we really care about them. Lying produces broken hearts and broken relationships. The most destructive effects caused by lying are to our relationships with Almighty God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Liars often view God and godly people as their enemies.

Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.

Psalm 86:11 (NKJV)

Walking in the truth is the evidence that we love God and that we have an awe and necessary fear of Him. Liars have no fear of God. They do not walk in His truth and their relationships are a mess as a result. Healthy, godly relationships cannot exist without truth and trust. There can be no trust in a relationship with a liar. Lying always destroys trust between people in any relationship. Slander—saying something false that damages somebody’s reputation—is a particularly evil and devastating form of lying. Liars often use slander to make themselves look better in people’s eyes, but God sees and knows the truth about everything. He has promised to bring to light the secret things that are hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of the hearts (1 Corinthians 4:5, Amplified Version).

In addition, most people who are not Christians consider lying to be unacceptable. Legally, lying under oath in a court of law is called perjury and the person who commits perjury is subject to significant punishment if they are caught. As children of the Most High God, we should always live according to His standards, which are much higher than the world’s standards. The truth protects us and allows us to take refuge in our Heavenly Father.

He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

Psalm 91:4 (NKJV)

Unfortunately many people have become desensitized to lying. Misrepresenting or twisting the truth can become habitual. Liars may also have allowed their consciences to be seared if they ever had one. They lie when they are caught like the little child with their hand in the cookie jar and cookie crumbs all over their face who says they did not eat any cookies. Liars often lie to try to cover their lies. That is an endless cycle that pleases the devil. Jesus said that the devil is the father of lies and the devil is the father of those who lie!

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

John 8:44 (NKJV)

Knowing and living the truth of the Bible is what determines if we are genuine followers of Jesus Christ. The truth sets us free. Lying never produces freedom. It only results in more bondage to the kingdom of darkness! When we admit and accept the truth, it gives the Lord the opportunity to heal our emotional and spiritual pain and trauma. The first step to inner healing is facing our brokenness. We cannot receive God’s lasting healing and freedom if we continue to lie.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8:31-32 (NKJV)

Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.

Ephesians 4:25 (NKJV)

Without a doubt, our Most High God’s principles include that the truth really matters!

 

Kathy Shelton