Message Recap – 8/6/10 – Fight!: Part 4

Sunday, August 8, 2010

If you're just joining us, we are in the middle of a series called Fight! We've been talking about fighting with the wrong weapons or the wrong war. You can check out those messages here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

The theme verse for this series is found in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Imagine, if you will, a jungle. It's really hot and extremely humid. There are soldiers walking through the jungle, in enemy territory. Among the soldiers there's a grizzled veteran with a nasty scar. Then there's also a new recruit, fresh out of training. They are hacking through the thick jungle, when they finally find a clearing – the new recruit rushes forward, when the veteran stops him short and pokes the ground, which sinks to reveal a nasty hole with sharp spikes at the bottom.

We'll get back to that later, but keep the mental picture in mind.

Have you ever been hurt, betrayed, offended or stabbed in the back? Is there someone you just can't stand? Do you ever lay in bed at night going over and over in your head what come-back you should have come up with? Maybe every time you think about that certain person it just makes you angry. We've all been there – hurt by someone.

This week we are talking about using forgiveness as a weapon. Forgiveness doesn't seem like a weapon – it seems like a terrible, useless weapon. But remember, we're not fighting against people, we're fighting spiritual forces!

Let's look at Romans 12:17-21:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Forgiveness thwarts the enemy's trap! We are in a war, and we're in enemy territory. It's filled with traps laced with nasty spikes! Forgiveness destroys those traps!

Grudges are traps. When we start planning revenge or holding a grudge, we're setting our own trap! Taking revenge only traps you, not the other person. When you stay mad at someone, you are the one in prison, not them.

Overcome evil with good.

When you forgive, you break the power of offense over your life – you win!

Check out Matthew 18:21-35. Like the man in that parable, you may feel that you are owed something. But guess what? You owed much more, and God forgave you! Your sin was a huge debt, and God forgave all of it!

When we don't forgive, we rob ourselves of Christ's forgiveness. Jesus said, “When you don't forgive, you aren't forgiven.”

The reason we covered the Cross early in this series is because everything comes back to the cross – to sacrifice, to resurrection power, to us taking all that we are and surrendering to Him. Giving it all to Christ is the answer!

Sure, you can make the person pay, you can exact the perfect revenge. But it still won't satisfy, it still won't bring you peace. Give it to Christ!

Offense is like an infected wound. If you let it go it will just get worse and worse. You have to go to Christ to cleanse it! It's called a root of bitterness. Unless you take it to the cross, it destroys your life.

Offense is like a seed. If you plant an acorn today and go dig it up tomorrow, it's pretty easy to get out of the ground. But if you try to dig it out in 20 years, it will be extremely difficult because it has put down roots. Offense is like that! It takes root, spreads and takes over your life!

Maybe you aren't mad at anyone now. That's great! But at some point in your life, someone will do something to you that you will need to forgive. You have to understand that unforgiveness is a trap, a nasty, spike-lined pit!

How do you forgive? It's a process – it takes time. Every time thoughts of anger and unforgiveness come up, you pray for the person, you forgive them, you ask God for help. It might not happen overnight, especially if your acorn has been in the ground for awhile. But keep at it!

Forgiveness will keep you from falling into the enemy's trap – it's a powerful weapon that will help you win the battle!

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