22 Oct 1999

To Forgive

Submitted by theshovel
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionSend to friendSend to friendPDF versionPDF version

Many of you who receive this letter have come to realize that religion has given you nothing but lies and deception regarding what is called the gospel. The substitute that is preached today is nothing more than a Jesus-flavored set of rules molded in such a way as to trap you. Now, if this is true, what are the chances that the whole idea of forgiveness we learned from this same religious mindset is even CLOSE to the real thing? It's like this: if you bought a car from someone who, you discovered, lied to you about the tires, the engine, the radiator, the radio and the paint job, would you trust the brakes because he TOLD you they were just replaced? I would hope not. But I would venture that your concept of the responsibility to forgive is built upon the deception of religion.

Let me ask you this: Have you ever been, or are you right now, plagued with difficulty in forgiving some people for some things? If so, I have some good news for you ... the whole idea that it is either easy or difficult to forgive someone has NOTHING to do with what it means to forgive. Forgiveness, as you are considering it, is not difficult, but impossible. For it is, in every sense, miraculous.

The difficult is what we learned in the world. It was the expending of energy in HOLDING ON to my reasons to be mad at you or at myself. Ha! We get it all backwards when we think forgiving is hard. That's only because we got used to the struggle, the hatred, the anger, the need to be shown right in condemning our brother or sister. Man, oh, man, are we mixed up!! Holding on to the reasons to condemn you (or myself) took up all of my energies. It took its toll on our minds and our bodies. It changed the way our faces looked. It gave us headaches, and ulcers, and brain tumors, and cancer, but by God, we were going to be justified in our judgments!! Or so we thought. Forgive means not holding on to those reasons.

When Jesus told a man that he was forgiven the religious leaders grumbled, "Blasphemer! Only God can forgive sins!" It's funny how things have changed. They KNEW the impossibility of a man actually forgiving another ... we talk about it as if sometimes it's easy and other times difficult.

But Jesus said

the son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins Matthew 9:6

Don't you hear the announcement of a brand new thing? Jesus had been born of God. You and I often hear the suggestion to forgive and we hear some duty, but it's the proclamation of a freedom.

You know, Jesus didn't forgive because he really, really wanted to ... he had to do something about the offenses. And he was killed for them so that he could take them out of the way. And so he holds nothing against us because there is nothing left to be held against us. He sees us as the new creations he has made us. To see your brother or sister that way is to hold nothing against them. In other words, forgiveness.

When I become convinced that my responsibility to forgive is one of those difficult things that I, as a believer, must bear, then I will hold on to the weight of worthless goods as if the heavy burden is the easier thing to do!! But it only appears this way as I see it through lenses that are colored by the world's logic. And I will condemn myself for my inability. I will also condemn you for yours

Why do we struggle with something that God has already done? To not hold an offense against your brother is the only true perspective ... that is, if Jesus really did take it out of the way!


New Testament: 


theshovel's picture

These comments were all transferred over from the original website

Posted: August 22-1999 by candis

This is shovel's newletter.. and oh, it is so good,and I thought I should send it on to the group. His letters always seem so timely.

Thanks Jim, for your insight and love. Yes, love, I seen it in all your words! grace, peace and love .. oh such glorious love, through our awesome God,

in Christ,

Posted: August 22-1999 by Auntie


I just hope I can get the hang of it real soon

Posted: August 22-1999 by Bruce


I forgive you for not writing this sooner!!!


Posted: August 22-1999 by Bob H

Good stuff Jim! Keep up the good work...

Posted: August 22-1999 by Mark

Okay...I'm confused about something. I have always known that forgiveness between brothers and sisters in Christ was linked to His forgiveness of us. That's not a question for me. What I'm confused about is this "conditional forgiveness" that you're toppling over here. Can you share with me an example of what you're talking about, or was it something of a straw man? (I don't mean that to sound argumentative. There are times when I create an artificial construct without any real-world examples in mind, just so I can disprove the position of the thing I've created for my own purposes. Befuddled yet?)

How do you deal with reality of emotions? There are many times when my mind is totally convinced that I need to forgive someone for something they've done, but my emotions simply will not come along for the ride. I can't let go of the anger and bitterness, no mattter how hard I try. How does knowledge of this theological truth conquer my unruly temper?


Posted: August 22-1999 by Steve

Hey Jim,

Just wanted to say your thoughts on forgiveness are very good. I agree and preach that very teaching in churches where I have served over the passed 24 years. I especially like to draw attention to the parable of the debtor and also to Jesus and the footwashing scene in Jn. 13 as paradigms of forgiveness.

On your understanding of "religion" I know what you mean, but I disagree with the verbiage. You also have religion. The question is not "Do you believe in religion?" but "How do you describe your religion?" Religion is simply a practice. When you refer to "religion" I understand you to mean "that institutional habit of going to a church with prescribed ways of so-called worship." Whatever that is...it is bad...and if it carried the title "religion" I would be in complete agreement. But religion is not itself responsible for that mess. Your "religion" is the practice of a vibrant relationship with the living Lord Jesus. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Jim, the only reason I mention this is that when you tag religion with all that is bad about the faith, you lump into that group many people from Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Assembly of God, non-denom groups etc. who are vibrant believers and who possess a dynamic relationship with Jesus, just as you do.

If you mean something else by "religion" I apologize ahead of time. I realize "the religious leaders of Jesus day" put Jesus on the cross. Their example is certainly the worst example of what religion can be and do, but it remains true that all who hold to some belief if God have a religion (a practice) as a result of that belief. Tell me what you think.

Maranatha, Steve

Hello Steve,

Thanx for your thoughts.

Well, as far as the word "religion" goes, I am not interested in conforming everybody to my usage of it. The fact is that, more times than not, the word, in its current usage represents a system of human effort. If you like the word in the context you learned it, go for it. As far as I'm concerned I think the concept behind the main usage of the word has a stranglehold on too many believers.

You have picked up on what I meant simply because I made sure that I couched it carefully to carry the sense I write of. If you read just about anything I've written you will notice a similar careful placement of my words. I do that on purpose to communicate on the level of those who hear me. If I were speaking of the freedom of Christ within a church-group setting my verbiage would reflect it to communicate within the framework of that particular group. Now, I know many among those particular groups who are in desperate need to hear the reality of Christ in a fresh way, so I do encourage you to consider that maybe some of them don't hear you in the way you think they hear you. Just a thought.

So far, the only concerns (very few) that I've received about my usage of such terms have sounded very much like yours where the person agreed with what they assumed I meant, but wouldn't use the word(s) as I did. I can live with that, as apparently, so can they.

The majority who respond to my writings have followed my train of thought very clearly. I received this response just now: "Omygosh. Do you, by any chance know me? Did you know that I needed to read (not only read but absorb) every word you wrote?" Her letter only reflected sheer relief in her freedom in Christ in this area without any hint of condemnation toward any "religion" (as you would term it).

You had written: «When you refer to "religion" I understand you to mean "that institutional habit of going to a church with prescribed ways of so-called worship."»

That's just the tip of the iceberg. "Religion", as I sense it's meaning in our current society, is the stuff that drives us (in general, "us") as we attempt to make our mark in this world. The religion I refer to needs no building, no organizational structure, no by-laws, etc. It is the same mindset that causes family members, workers, lovers, nations, etc to strive against one another in the misguided attempt of self-preservation. The "religion" I speak of in the church did not originate with the church, but simply because the mindset was carried in by each and every member. In this sense, no one is exempt. No one can point to the other in blame for all are the same. It is this mindset that I carried into the groups I joined; and it is only because it already existed in me that particular things of the mindset was strengthened by those of like mind (kind of a twist on that word, too, huh?).

Well, you asked what I thought ... hahaha! :) You probably didn't expect all of this!!

Jim :)

Posted: August 22-1999 by Heather

I was thinking the other day when someone was telling me to "let go of ...." and give it to God. That i was carrying a burden i needed to let go of.

I thought about how cliched what she said was, and how for some reason it just didn't make sense to me spiritually to do what she was tellnig me to do.

My conclusion on the matter was this (and maybe I am wrong..) : That God doesn't require or ask me to let go of things that I am carrying, that are burdening me. He tells me to COME TO HIM and He will give me rest, and a different yoke to carry. It sounds like my job is not to give up my burden, but to allow my burden to drive me to COME TO JESUS until *HE* exchanges it for His yoke instead.

(Of course I am to cast my cares on Him, but this doesn't mean they no longer burden me.) I am so tired of a gospel that tells me to "be happy" and forget all my troubles... How bout a gospel that has the power to FREE me from my troubles and I don't have to do any emotional manipulation or positive thinking to get there.

pass on to whoever you like.


In view of the reality that forgiveness is in fact the absence of transgression I had some real issue with it and oftentimes still do. But one thing I found out in the midst of my struggles is that I don't have an issue with my neighbor but rather with what I seem to hold as a fleshly perception of my neighbor, or even of my brother. You see, when someone did something that triggered in me the consciousness that detects transgressions I was filled with condemnation and bitterness. And I hated that experience, wondering how could it be. But then I saw that my hatred was not directed towards the person that supposedly offended me, but towards the legal mindset within me that finds its origin the appearance of the flesh of others Then I saw it, I have nothing at all against my neighbor, but rather, I say, against the fleshly mind that perpetuates the illusion. For if my neighbor is of the world then he is dead and justice is fulfilled; and if he is my brother, we share the same mind and the same life, so much so that offense is excluded in both cases.


theshovel's picture

Georgi, you and I share some very similar experience of awareness regarding the illusion of offense. It began to show itself with imagined offenses. There's a story from when I was a child where my mother woke up angry at one of my father's friends because he had done something wrong in her dream ... and my mom had some very vivid dreams! At that time, we all laughed about it, but it's wasn't funny at all. She talked about that dream for some time after that, and she would get angry each time, and she held onto her anger anger against this man for quite some time even though we would remind her that he didn't actually do what she remembered from her dream.

I'm sure that incident, as well as others, played an important role as I noticed how often imagined offenses could stir up the exact same reactions as real offenses. In the midst of all that, I also realized just what you're saying, that the sense of offense came from within the person who felt offended.

Thanks for putting this out there, my friend!


Add new comment

Random Shovelquote: Asking God to remove your sin (view all shovelquotes)

Now, if any of you are hearing this with the spirit of condemnation hanging over your head, it’s only because you’re trying to hold on to two radically different propositions at the same time. It’s like trying to travel east and west simultaneously. But trying to do the one while believing we are still doing the other is the very thing that leaves us confused and paralyzed. You see, asking God to help you to remove your sin is built upon the assumption that Jesus Christ hasn’t already done it. source