When someone sins against us they may well cause soul-wounds which will hinder us in our spiritual growth unless we seek Biblical healing. The Lord has given us an outline for such healing. This teaching is found in my book The Key in My Hand along with testimonies of several who have found release from soul-bondage due to wounds.
Part 1: Teaching on Release and Forgiveness
Part 2: Testimony - "Marie"
Part 3: Testimony - "Sarah and Mike"
Part 4: Testimony - "Angela"
Part 5: Testimony - "Sven"
Part 6: Testimony - "Alex"
Part One: Forgiveness & Release!
When someone has sinned against you - done you wrong! - it is important that you do not let resentment grow within you. "See to it that you do not come short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, defiling many others" (Heb 12:15).
You might also be wounded in your soul by that sin, a wound that will affect the rest of your life if not dealt with in a Biblical way. There is a promise given to us by the Lord that will bring healing from such wounds.
Your hurt, wound, reaction, resentment, etc. act like a rope tying you to the offender. Satan is well aware of this 'bondage' and is quick to use it in holding us back whenever we seek to go on to higher ground with the Lord. You bind the offender by refusing to forgive and he is bound in heaven to the condemnation of God by his sin.
His sin against you becomes a barrier between him and God, for we cannot sin against one another without also sinning against God. God will not forgive him unless he himself asks for forgiveness in repentance (1 John 1:9) or UNLESS you ask God for His forgiveness on the offender, thereby opening heaven for him.
This is 'releasing' him from God's judgement so that God might now minister to him, even revealing the sins he committed against you, and motivating him to reconciliation.
God has given to each of us a "key to the Kingdom of Heaven" for those who sin against us. When we open Heaven for that person, we enable God to speak into his/her life, ultimately bringing healing for us of the soul-wound produced by that sin, and reconciliation.
Read Matt.16:19 when God gives "the key to the kingdom of heaven" to Peter. "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven"
Now read Matt.18:15-20 when, evidently, the same key is given to all the disciples. "Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Note that the entire context of Matt. 18 is reconciliation and restoration . v18 is to do with forgiveness (not demonic 'binding').
God has promised us that when we 'release' people on earth for the sins committed against US, then God will also forgive them in heaven. However, if we keep them bound ....we are also bound! If I hold a horse on a rope it is bound but I have to go where the horse leads me unless I loose the rope!
I advise the following procedure if you are to be set free.
Recognise that you have been sinned against.
Recognise that the offender is also a VICTIM.
Genuinely forgive him.
Ask God also to forgive him - release him.
Go ask for his forgiveness for any way you have reacted to his sin. (Telling others, etc.). This does not require your outlining what you said or did ... nor must you apologise in order to get an apology from him!
Consider Stephen in Acts 7:60 "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!"
Jesus in Luke 23.34 "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing!"
(I wonder if Saul of Tarsus would ever have become Paul the apostle if Stephen had not released him by the prayer above).
Another Scripture to consider: John 20:23. The first mandate given to the new believers by the glorified Christ. "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." - the same promise as above in Matthew, but worded differently as from a different apostle writer. (Note: you can only forgive sins - and the effects of those sins - committed against yourself).
In the testimony section that follows, all names and locations have been changed to protect the innocent. However, I have tried to keep the testimony as true to the original as possible.
Part Two: Testimony of MARIE
I first met Marie when she was twenty six. Her counsellors were trying to place her under psychiatric care and she was deeply depressed and withdrawn. She told me of her sad childhood, having been brought up in a strict Jehovah's Witness home in Canada where they never celebrated any birthdays or Christmas. There were no memories of affection from either parent and she had never heard them tell of their love for her.
At sixteen she had run away from home. Several years later, she heard the Gospel and immediately gave her life to Christ. There was one occasion when she tried to reconcile with her family but it was a painful experience as arguments arose about their differing understandings of Scripture. The parting was acrimonious and Marie determined never to see her parents again. "I hate them," she said at our first meeting.
Over the next months, I spent several hours with Marie. She looked to me as her father and I saw in her the little girl who had never grown up. Though fluent in French and English and very competent at any task she was assigned to do, her emotions and attitudes were those of an insecure teenager.
I taught her the principle of release but, every time we mentioned her parents, a barrier grew between us. She readily agreed that they had sinned against her by not giving her many of the fruits of love, self-confidence, security, value, esteem, as well as the cuddles and kisses we all needed as children. However, she was not prepared to forgive as she hated them so much.
Finally I managed to persuade her to write a letter to her parents - a letter that would never be sent - expressing all her thoughts and memories of the way they had treated her. It took her three weeks to do so and, as she later read it to me (something I do not usually allow my counsellee to do) my heart ached for this little girl locked in a woman's body. I returned the letter to its envelope and sealed it there.
(The letter is simply a way of bringing to the surface all the hidden pain deep within. It also becomes a 'contract' when all the sins and wounds are released to the Lord.)
Marie was not prepared to release her parents even though I taught her that they were no different to many parents in their inability to express love, probably because of hurts they themselves carry. I also told her I could do nothing more for her as the key to the Kingdom of Heaven was now in her hand.
Some weeks later, she came quietly into my office and asked that I help her release her parents. She prayed the prayer of Stephen - 'Father, do not lay this sin to their charge' - and then we destroyed the letter she had written. All written therein was now in God's hands. She also committed herself to pray blessings upon her parents each day.
A few weeks later, as I saw Marie grow in confidence, I told her I wanted her to go home to visit her parents. She protested strongly, but finally agreed to write to see if they would receive her. It was two weeks later that she rushed into my office, full of excitement. She had received an envelope containing two letters, a brief one from her mum saying she was welcome, and a longer one from her dad. The latter was quite clinical and cold, telling her they had changed homes and that, if she came it would be a long journey.
She would need to leave Toronto early, change trains at Montreal and then would arrive at their home quite late at night. He wasn't sure if he would see her as he had much work to do! However, what excited Marie was that he had signed the letter with "Hugs and kisses, Dad"!
As I saw Marie onto the train at Toronto, I told her I would be praying for her and encouraged her not to get into any religious arguments. "Before you return," I said, "make sure you ask your add for those hugs and kisses." She doubted she would have the courage but I assured her of my prayers towards that end.
Late that evening I received a telephone call. Marie was so excited as she told me what had happened. As she was changing platforms at Montreal, she suddenly noticed her mother and father standing there! They had journeyed some distance to meet her. Marie was walking slowly toward them when suddenly, her father stepped forward, threw his arms around her and kissed her! - and the angels sang!
What had happened? I believe that Marie had opened heaven for her father by her prayer of release. That morning, her heavenly Father had spoken through that open door to her earthly father, prompting him to take the day off work to take his wife on a trip to meet their daughter. Then, God had moved upon the father's heart, causing him to reach out in love to kiss Marie for the very first time. Of course, dad was unaware that his plans and actions were being directed by God.
Today, some years later, Marie is fully reconciled to her family. She is married to a very fine man and together, they are serving the Lord on the mission field in Africa. Many who knew her before, still find it hard to believe that this is the same girl for whom they sought psychiatric counsel.
Part Three: Testimony of Sarah and Mike
"I felt so challenged by your teaching," said Sarah, "that I went home and told Mike that I needed to release my former husband John."
I had spoken at their church in England just one month before and had now returned for a second visit. Mike stood alongside Sarah as their story of wrongs and wounds came out.
More than five years earlier, Sarah and her husband John were non-believers while Mike was married to Helen and was pastor of an evangelical church. Unknown to Sarah and Mike, their partners were having an affair, which only came to light when John and Helen ran off together!
A bitter divorce followed as the custody of children was involved. Mike not only lost his wife but was also made to resign his position in the church. However, during the divorce proceedings, he witnessed to Sarah and led her to faith in the Saviour. Later they married, sharing the pain and wounds caused by their former partners.
Five years of bitterness had followed the divorce and, as Mike reported, Sarah would become very distant and angry every time John would call to arrange a train journey for his children to visit him and Helen in the north of the country.
After my teaching, they agreed together to release John and Helen, praying blessing upon them instead of God's judgment. "Father, lay not this sin to their charge," became their prayer.
One week later, John called to arrange the annual trip north and, to Sarah's amazement, she found herself very relaxed during and after the conversation. Then a month later, a surprise call from a pastor in the north of England caused them much joy. The pastor informed Mike that his former wife Helen had attended his church and had wept her way back to the Saviour, after five years away.
"Then, last week," enthused Sarah, "he called again to tell us that John had come to church with Helen - his first time ever." "Now, we can hardly wait to hear that John has also come to know the Saviour, for when he does, Mike and I are going up to their city in the north to greet them as brother and sister in the Lord!"
Only the grace of God can do that - and He does do such miracles when we release those who wounded us, to Him! As we open the door to the kingdom of heaven, he speaks through that door to those we release.
Next time I am in that city I shall be expecting to hear the completion of this work of grace.
Part Four: Testimony of Angela
"What's wrong with me, Gareth?" said Angela as she sat in my office weeping. "Every morning I wake up in a cold sweat, fearing that Roger is going to propose to me. I get up determined to end our relationship as soon as I can. However, as the day goes on, I realise what a fool I would be as he is everything I want in a husband! He is a believer, kind and courteous. We have the same interests and he treats me as a queen."
" What worries me further is that I have done this before, ending long relationships with godly men and then spending a year regretting my stupidity. Will I never be married? What's wrong with me?"
We began to talk about her family in Australia, her childhood and teen years. She came from a godly family, her father being a successful business man and an elder in their local church. She had a brother and sister, both younger than she. As she talked a clear pattern began to emerge.
"Angela" I said, "every time you have mentioned your father, you say how much you love one another but it seems that he is negative to everything you've done. When you did well in school, he always commented that your sister had obtained higher marks; when you did well in sport, your brother had always done better; when you found that first job in the bank, he said how you should have asked him first as he would have obtained a better position for you."
The responsibility of a father (and mother) is to pour love into their (love-tank) child. This is not just cuddles, kisses and toys but also identity, security, self esteem, goals, etc. When a parent fails in this, they are sinning against that child and wounds often result. Counsellors call this dysfunction.
"Angela, is it possible that you have developed a wound which says 'I am not good enough! Not good enough for my father, so not good enough for Roger.'"
She saw this possibility and eagerly followed my teaching on release, praying a prayer of release upon her father with a commitment to walk out a personal healing. A few weeks later, Angela was diagnosed with kidney stones and, as there were no facilities for operating at the mission station where she worked, she was sent home to Australia.
She returned two months later. "How did it go?" I asked her, referring to the operation. "Oh, I had no operation" she replied, "they could find nothing wrong with me. However, I have just spent five wonderful weeks with my father! He took time off work to tour me around all his work plants, boasting to everyone of the work I am doing and telling them all how proud he is of me!! Gareth, I've fallen in love with my father - and I can't wait to see Roger again!"
Part Five: Testimony of Sven
Sven is from Sweden. He is a quiet giant, but was anything but strong when he sat alongside my desk asking my counsel. He told me how he had had few friends during his youth but had managed to develop good relationships with three colleagues in the two years he had served with this missions organisation.
Now, all three of his friends had left the work to return home and Sven had acted in a very strange way when he heard of their plans.
"I had just returned from my holidays at home and was feeling so good at seeing my friends again, until each one told me of his plans. I then borrowed John's camera and deliberately broke it. Now John has left without speaking a word to me. I have lost his friendship! I said some very unkind things to Alan and Peter and now they want nothing more to do with me. I have no more friends and am so lonely again. Pastor Gareth, why do I do such stupid things?"
We began to talk of his childhood, how he became a believer and how he had come to this mission. I can only describe his home as one of strict legalism, where he was always watched by his parents to see that he did nothing they might consider 'unchristian'. He had no friends as their small church had no other youth attending, and all other boys were too worldly for him to associate with them.
They questioned him, "Have you read your Bible today?" "Have you prayed today?" "Have you spoken to anyone about Jesus lately?", continually making him feel guilty if he didn't live up to their high expectations. They sent him to Bible School when old enough and then told him they expected him to serve the Lord as a missionary. He had dutifully obeyed.
As Sven spoke, I leaned over and punched him on his bulging bicep muscle. "Did that hurt?" I asked. "Of course not!" he replied with a look of surprise. "Sven, if you had fallen over while working on the mission tractor this morning, and had bruised your arm badly, and I had then punched you on the bruise, would that have hurt?" He nodded.
"So what causes the hurt, the punch or the bruise?" "The bruise", he replied.
I then described how I saw him as a large bruise, a wound caused by his parent's constant 'punching' attack and questions. As he had been away from home for two years the bruises of his childhood had gone and he was able to make relationships without feeling guilt and condemnation. However, during his months at home, the attack had recommenced and he had returned to the mission once again bruised.
"When your friends announced their plans to leave, you immediately felt punches on the bruise, believing yourself unworthy of their friendship. It was as though they were leaving because of you - so you had to prove your unworthiness by reacting in the way you did."
Sven fell forward onto my desk and began to weep. "That's exactly how I feel," he said, "just like a great big bruise!"
I explained how his parents had failed to pour love into their only son. They had not given him security, identity, self confidence, though I am sure they thought they were doing the best for him. He understood and, after listening to my teaching on Release, prayed forgiveness and release upon his parents for their 'sins of omission'.
Sven left that mission a short time later to return to Sweden and to enrol in a Christian ministry of his own choosing. I next saw him a year later when, with several members of his former mission, on a visit to Stockholm. To our happy surprise, he was in the welcoming party.
We all looked at one another. Could this enthusiastic, bubbling giant be the same man who had struggled in our work? It was, as Sven so gladly testified.
"Pastor Gareth," he said, "I have been set free! There are no more bruises, no more condemnation. Satan has lost me and I am at home in a fellowship of wonderful friends. Praise the Lord!" My heart could only agree!
Part Six: Testimony of Alex
I had been asked to speak to this young man who could not keep a job and was about to be dismissed yet again. He was full of anger when he spoke to me, and had many excuses why he was so badly treated.
We talked of each job he had held since leaving school without receiving a graduation certificate. He seemed intelligent enough but his actions gave the lie to this. I noticed a pattern as he talked, and at an appropriate break in his narrative, was able to show him what I had seen.
"Alex, in every job you have had, you tell me you were made to work under a strict supervisor who, apparently, was bent on making you look bad and getting you dismissed." He nodded.
"Is it possible, that you went into each job with an attitude problem against anyone who tried to tell you what to do and how to do it, rather than leaving you alone to get on with work you know you are capable of doing without their interference?" Again, he nodded, but slowly.
We then talked about school and it soon became apparent that there had been a teacher whom Alex hated for exactly the same reasons. He was domineering and controlling over all his students, many of whom were fearful and silent in his presence. Alex, however, could never remain silent and soon an ongoing feud developed between them. This led to Alex receiving many detentions and being sent to the headmaster for opposing this bully. Things went downhill quickly and he could not wait to leave that school - and that teacher.
It was with such an attitude that Alex approached his first job, only to discover that he was still subject to men he considered domineering. He did not understanding that he was now being paid to do a job and that the role of a foreman supervisor was to see that the new employees quickly learned how to do that job properly. Alex walked away.
A similar pattern followed in each of the dead-end jobs he could find, even though his employers recognised his capabilities, being unaware of his attitude.
It took a while to persuade Alex of his need to 'release' the bullying teacher who had wounded him so much, but he finally prayed Stephen's prayer, "Father, lay not this sin to his charge!"
Two years later I met Alex again. He had just been promoted to a leadership position in the department where he now worked. His employer had commended him for his work habits and had raised his salary to a level far above anything he had anticipated. He was fulfilled in his work and enjoyed encouraging the new employees who came under his supervision.
He had been set free!