Freedom Series Part 3 – Freedom From Offense, Rejection & Unforgiveness
This is the last part of a series I will be doing on freedom. I may do another one of these down the road sometime since I love the topic of freedom. This one will focus on freedom from offense, rejection and unforgiveness. Since Greg Henry has been talking about this for a while now I have learned a lot and it has helped me greatly so I thought I’d share. You can view his sermons on Freedom From Offense here and Freedom From Rejection here. My take is below.
First let me assure you that I am not able to write about freedom from offense and rejection because I have never been offended or rejected. As a matter of fact, if I were to write a book about my life, the chapter I’m in right now would probably be called “First Dates & Interviews” because I feel like I’m in a perpetual state of going on first dates with girls and interviewing for jobs. On one hand, I’m grateful that some of these women and potential employers would even consider me. On the other hand, it can become frustrating that none of them ever work out in the long run. Then the thought that the enemy tries to plant is, what’s wrong with you? Then well meaning people will try to give you advice about what to wear, what to say, where to go, etc. It’s hard work trying to get people to like you by how you dress, the way you talk and all those things. But this is the cycle I was in for many years before I was set free from these things.
There is a common cycle that we tend to get into that goes like this; first we get offended, then we feel rejected then we have bitterness and unforgiveness in our hearts. I’ll focus a lot on the getting offended part first since that is where it begins. If we can nip that in the bud we can get to the root of the problem.
Let’s take a look at the Greek word translated for offense:
1) the movable stick or trigger of a trap, a trap stick
1a) a trap, snare
1b) any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall, (a stumbling block, occasion of stumbling), i.e. a rock which is a cause of stumbling
The part about causing one to stumble is particularly interesting. We get so easily offended nowadays and it causes us to stumble at the truth resulting in us losing sight of who we really are. We then take those words on as the truth and it shapes the way we live our lives without us even realizing it. Sometimes it’s not even something that is real, we just think it is. For example, some people may get offended because the pastor didn’t say hi to them but it’s not something he even meant to do. Now they go around thinking all these things about how bad the pastor is and how he doesn’t treat them well when he didn’t even mean to not say hi to them.
In my personal experience, sometimes I get offended by how few people read this blog. Then I start trying to figure out what that says about me and ask why they don’t like me? All the while it could just be that they didn’t see my blog post, maybe they don’t like that particular topic, maybe they are too busy to read it at that time. It could be a number of things that happen but it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like my blog or me in general. But before I know it I can be so far down the road with these thoughts that I don’t even think twice about whether they are true or not, I just accept them as truth. See how this offense gets us to start stumbling at the truth of who we really are and what God says about us?
I didn’t really grow up with the church crowd, so when I started going again I felt like if I was myself I would be offensive to them. I also thought I was offensive to God. I learned to hold back who I really was and that affected my relationships. It wasn’t until I started listening to Greg that I was really set free from this lie and able to be myself again. I remember one particular message that he referenced the definition of justified, which is the state of him who is as he ought to be. He kept saying you are as you ought to be. It was a foreign concept to me at the time. I was so used to being told that I wasn’t doing enough or feeling that I didn’t have enough. It was so refreshing to hear that I was as I ought to be. It felt scandalous at first, but I knew in my spirit it was right.
Who Told You That?
Why was it so hard for me to accept that I was as I ought to be? I was stumbling at the truth because I believed lies that other people told me or lies that I was feeling that weren’t even true. Either way, it made it very difficult to accept the truth. How could this be?
I never took a step back from the things I was hearing and feeling to ask myself; who told me that? In other words, was that a lie from the enemy or the truth from God? I just accepted that because I felt it, that it was true. All I could see is what the offense was telling me to see, not the spirit of God. As we begin to take these lies on, we become blinded by the offenses. But if the truth sets us free, then anything that puts us into bondage to something is not the truth.
It’s very liberating when you come to the realization that people don’t have the power to harm you and that your life doesn’t have to be ruled by other people’s opinions. It’s not actually them that is offending you, it’s what you are believing that offends you. If you don’t look to people for justification then they can’t hurt you.
This frees you up to be yourself again. As you find yourself you will see that you can express the Father in ways that nobody else can. Also, the very things that you may struggle with are the very things that God can set you free from and then use to set other free from that exact same thing. You don’t have to be ashamed of it. We all stumble at the truth sometimes and it helps when we find others who have overcome our same situations and can relate to what we are going through.If you live for acceptance from others, you’ll die from their rejection. ~ Lecrae Click To Tweet
What Eyes Are You Seeing With?
Remember I started this series out by talking about recovering our sight. This is huge when it comes to the topic of rejection. The questions we want to ask ourselves when we think we are being rejected are; Are they seeing the real us? With what eyes are they seeing us with?
To answer the first question, I would say no. They have not really seen you. To answer the second question, I would say they are seeing you with eyes that have been perverted by the devil. The wisdom of the world causes people to not see you for who you really are. They see things about you that are born from a lie planted by the enemy. They don’t know the real you. Imagine trying to see somebody in a room that is pitch black. You may see something is there but you don’t see it for what it really is. That’s how people who are rejecting you are seeing you.
Greg gave a great analogy in his sermon about rejection that I’ll paraphrase here. Say I want to give you a nice car. I tell you to go by my house and take a look but somehow the address gets mix up and you end up looking at a real junky car. You then decide to reject my offer. Having not seen the real car that I wanted to give you, have you really rejected it?
Think about the rejection Jesus dealt with and why that happened. The scriptures say Jesus was in the world, but they knew him not (John 1:10). Also, that had they known who he really was they would not have crucified him (1 Cor. 2:8). They rejected him because they couldn’t see him for who He really was. Had people people known who He really was and had people known who we really are, they wouldn’t have said and done the things they have done to us.
They Know Not What They Do
When we start to feel offended and rejected, it’s a huge indication that we need to guard our hearts. Guard our hearts from what though? What does that mean? Remember the heart speaks of our belief system. We are guarding our beliefs from the lies of the enemy about us either spoken through others or planted in our own thoughts. Our emotions start to run high and the enemy will try to take advantage of us by coming and planting a lie. If he can get a lie in there, we will live our lives through it. So if we feel offense coming on, we need to go back and remind ourselves what God says about us.
We see the ultimate example of this when Jesus was on the cross. Remember he said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. Here he was suffering the worst death known to man and he was forgiving the people responsible while on the cross. How can we find that kind of a life born in us? Is it even possible? Yes it is. Jesus was able to separate the person from the belief system they were under that was causing them to sin against him and so can we.
Remember the shooting at the South Carolina church last year? Many members of that church publicly stated that they forgave the shooter, even after he killed their family members. I know many of you probably think that is crazy, but I’ll tell you this, it’s much better than living the rest of your life in bitterness. Forgiveness actually does much more for you than it does for the other person. It’s a blessed life when you can bless the very people who sin against you. But it’s important to note that these people were not able to do this in their own ability or just because they are some super holy people. What made this possible was them fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit, who is the comforter that can cast out these lies and free them up to see the truth of the matter. As Greg says, “you don’t do the truth, the truth does you.”You don’t do the truth, the truth does you. ~ Greg Henry Click To Tweet
When it comes to forgiveness, some of us need to forgive others, some of us need forgive ourselves and some of even need to forgive God. If you need to forgive others, it makes it much easier when you remember how much you have been forgiven and what God thinks about that person. Stop blaming them for the way you feel. Most times the people close to us who have the ability to offend us the most are trying their best but just can’t do it perfectly. Let them off the hook. You can never find justification in their approval or love for you anyways. You can only find it in Christ.
If you continue to choose to not forgive, then you are opening a door for the devil to come in and wreak havoc. I used to be of the mindset that I would treat others as they treated me. If they loved me, I loved them. If they hated me, I hated them. I soon found that was a very miserable and weak way to live though. You are putting yourself at the mercy of how others treat you. It’s a much more enjoyable and powerful position to be in when you are free from unforgiveness.
Same goes for forgiving yourself in regards to letting yourself off the hook. Sometimes we may think it’s humble to go around saying things like “well I’m just a sinner” but it’s actually self-centered and prideful. You are focusing on what you have done, not what God has done for you in Jesus. Also, you are exalting your own opinion above God’s. He wants you to enjoy your life more than even you do. It doesn’t bless Him to see you living in guilt and condemnation. He desires to set you free from it. I know it may be hard sometimes but just invite Him in to persuade your heart of the truth.
If you need to forgive God then it’s probably because you have either gotten into pride or are believing a lie about Him. You may be upset at God because you think He allowed a certain thing to happen or didn’t do something that you thought He should have. For one, we have to trust that He knows best. And two, we need to be reminded of the scripture in John 10:10:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” NIV
We live in a fallen world and we may not have all the answers but we can be sure of this, God brings life not death.
Well that does it for this Freedom Series. I would encourage you to go back and read some of these blogs and listen to some of the sermons I linked to in this series again and again. There may be some time between when the cell is unlocked so to speak and when you actually find yourself walking in freedom. If you are hesitant at first it’s ok. Just continue filling your heart with messages like this that have the power to set you free and they will bridge the gap for you. I’ll leave you with one final verse:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Gal. 5:1 KJV