Closely related to unforgiveness is the sin of judgementalism. The harsh and negative judgements you make against others will always rebound on you.
If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stone it will roll back on him.
Many bring suffering on themselves as a result of the bitter judgements they make against others. Jesus sternly warned against allowing ourselves to fall into this trap.
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
The judgements we use against others bounce back on us and this can bring tragic results in our lives. When we judge others, we close our own hearts to God’s merciful provision for us and this can block the flow of God’s blessing.
For example, one reason why parental sins can reappear in their children is due to this principle. Bitterness held against parents for such things as violence, abuse, divorce and alcoholism can provide Satan with an opportunity to reproduce the parents’ problems in the children. This is one way the sins of the parents can be visited on the children for many generations.
…you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love me and keep my commandments.
We are set free from all generational sins when we come to Christ. The blood of Jesus has dealt with them (1 Peter 1:18-19). But we will find it hard to experience full freedom if we refuse to forgive our parents or any other parental figures who have sinned against us.
The sins of the parents
Parental relationships are crucial in a person’s development. Your relationship with your parents is of utmost importance to the whole of your life as the Scripture says, “Honour your father and mother which is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-2). The value God places upon parents cannot be overstated (Leviticus 19:3; 20:9; Proverbs 17:6).
God designed the parent-child relationship to be both a model and preparation for our relationship with God. Any rebellion or lack of respect towards parents is a serious sin against a primary provision of the Lord. Any abuse of authority or failure to fulfil parental obligations before the Lord is also a serious offence in the eyes of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
Resentment of the children
It is particularly important that you examine your heart and see if you are holding any resentment toward your parents. No parent has ever completely fulfilled God’s requirements in parenting and some parents make serious mistakes that are in reality serious sins against their children. Negative reactions to these can linger in the heart of the young person, and soon turn to destructive resentment. Jesus warned about the principle of our harsh judgements and bitter resentments having a harmful effect upon ourselves (Matthew 7:1). Experience shows the devastating effects resentment can bring within such significant relationships.
Walking in forgiveness
We have seen that anger, resentment and bitterness are at the root of much that is negative and destructive in our lives and in our relationship with others. This means we must learn to walk in forgiveness – first the forgiveness of God to us, and second the forgiveness he calls us to extend to others.
When we walk in God’s grace and his forgiveness, we are able to reject the slanderous and unjust accusations the enemy uses against us in the spiritual realm. Satan tells us that we are sinners worthy of God’s condemnation and totally unqualified to receive his blessings and favour. That was true once. But it is not true now. We are sinners no longer. Jesus’ blood has made us righteous before God. We are not even ‘sinners saved by grace’. We are the righteousness of God in Christ as Paul makes abundantly clear.
For he [God] made him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
2 Corinthians 5:21
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us principles to govern our daily life of prayer. For example, he taught us to depend on him for physical provision: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
He also taught that we are to walk in the light of his forgiveness: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Many people misunderstand Jesus’ meaning here. They think he is teaching that no sin can be forgiven until we specifically confess it to God. But remember God has already forgiven all our sins at the cross! We have received judicial forgiveness once for all.
Jesus is not going back on his word. In fact, the Lord’s Prayer calls us to remind ourselves daily that God is our heavenly Father – that we live under his judicial forgiveness and cleansing. This means we reject the kind of morbid introspection some religious teachers demand. They tell us to ‘keep short accounts with the Lord’ searching within ourselves for every imperfection and confessing every single new sin we discover, because until we do that, these sins remain unforgiven. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus took all our sins and nailed them to the cross. This means that the judgment of God has now been completely lifted from us. God has totally forgiven and forgotten all our sins – past, present and future.
Some people ask how God can forgive the sins we have not even committed yet! When Jesus died, you were yet to be born. You had not yet committed one single sin – all your sins were in the future. Jesus became your substitute sacrifice for sin more than 2,000 years ago. God has already judged all your sins on the cross, because you believe in Jesus. It would now be totally unjust for God to demand further judgement. Jesus carried your sins on the cross so that you would never have to carry them again.
We receive God’s total forgiveness by trusting in the finished work of Christ on the cross. When we trusted in Christ, God declared us righteous, not by our own works or efforts, but by his grace. This means our sins will never again be held against us by God. This truth is clearly expounded by Paul in Romans chapter 4 as he quotes from one of the Psalms of King David.
Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”
This shows us clearly that forgiveness is absolutely free – it does not depend on our works. We are forgiven because we believe right, not because we live right. Forgiveness is also total and complete. God will not allow any sin (past, present or future) to count against us. God will never impute sin or hold us accountable for the sins we commit. Instead, he imputes to our account the infinite righteousness of Christ.
Some say that this is impossible because it means we can go on sinning and it will not matter. That is not true. Holy living does not come about by living under the threat of judgment. It comes from knowing the genuine forgiveness of all our sins. We live right because we are forgiven Jesus said, “The one who has been forgiven much loves much.” In other words, when we walk in the grace and forgiveness of the Father, we leave aside the old way of living – in fact, we die to the old way of sin when we escape from its guilt and condemnation. Look at the way Paul deals with this point.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
We are set free from sin by walking in the forgiveness God has given us, and not by the constant thought that there are always more sins to be forgiven because we live imperfect lives.
When Jesus tells us to ask the Father daily to forgive our sins, he is talking about parental forgiveness, not judicial forgiveness. We are made right with God through the once-for-all judicial forgiveness granted at the cross. But, walking in parental forgiveness means fellowshipping with the Father day by day, depending on his grace and the continual cleansing of the blood.
By calling God “our Father”, we remind ourselves that all our sins have been dealt with at the cross. We come back to the principle of grace. Knowing the blood of Jesus has cleansed us and keeps on cleansing us from all sin, is the secret of walking in victory. John, the disciple who knew more about the love of Jesus than anyone else, teaches this principle in his letter to Christians:
My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
1 John 2:1-2
What does he say – we must confess our sins, otherwise we will be condemned? No! He reminds us that if we sin we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence – one who maintains our position of ‘no condemnation’ before God. Earlier in his letter, where John talks about the need to confess sins he is referring to how we came to Christ by confessing that we were sinners and needed God’s salvation. John makes it clear that the ‘blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing us from sin’ (1 John 1:7). Once we have confessed our sin and received God’s gift of salvation we walk in the forgiveness of God.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
1 John 1:8-10