advancing the vision

By Arkansas Baptist News

FIRST-PERSON: Unforgiveness is our No. 1 obstacle

By Arkansas Baptist News

NASHVILLE (BP) – I believe unforgiveness is the No. 1 obstacle to the next great release of God’s power in a person’s life, marriage, church, denomination and even in a nation.

Every person has been affected by unforgiveness in one way or another. Perhaps someone has offended us, said something untrue about us, or even intentionally tried to hurt us and destroy our reputation. This may have led to our holding a grudge or having deep-rooted bitterness toward them.

Sometimes when relationships go south, forgiveness is refused. As we know, churches, denominations and personal friendships can be ruptured by the wounds of unforgiveness and bitterness.

Twenty-six years ago, through a mighty movement of God in my life and our church, the Lord revealed to me that the No. 1 sin in the church is the sin of unforgiveness. I believe it is still true today. Hurting people often hurt other people.

Nothing has built taller, deeper and thicker walls in people’s hearts than a spirit of unforgiveness. We see this in marriages, families, churches, denominations and all over America today. Unforgiveness leads to bitterness and division. Human relationships fractured by unforgiveness are damaging.

In both the Old and New Testaments, the Bible is clear that we have sinned against God and need forgiveness. Jeremiah laments on behalf of his kinsmen in Israel, “Let us lie down in our shame; let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the LORD our God, both we and our ancestors, from the time of our youth even to this day. We have not obeyed the LORD our God” (Jeremiah 3:25).

The psalmist wrote, “The LORD looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks after God. All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:2-3).

In the New Testament, the Bible says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Each of us has a sin problem that separates us from God.

That is why Jesus died in our place and for our sins, including the sins of the entire world. Peter and John told the religious leaders of their day, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

What about those who have already accepted Christ? Is there forgiveness for the many sins we commit between the time we are saved and the time we leave this earth? Does God forgive the forgiven? Thank God, the answer is yes.

The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Those of us who have believed in Christ are forgiven at salvation and forgiven as we are made more and more like Christ. As we experience the ongoing forgiveness of God that restores our fellowship with Him daily, we should forgive others.

God freely and sacrificially forgives us; therefore, we should forgive others.

Friends, never let anyone outside of your circle of love.

Forgiveness is imperative in the life of a Christ follower. Therefore, we, who are forgiven for our own sins, must choose to forgive others:

  • In our personal relationships
  • In marriage and family life
  • In the fellowship of our local church
  • In the fellowship and cooperative mission of our own denomination
  • In our nation

Refuse all unforgiveness. When unforgiveness prevails, broken relationships will always follow. The power of God is never placed upon a person, a marriage, a family, a church, a denomination or a nation when unforgiveness prevails. This is also true for Christian leaders.

If your anger is raging and your criticism of others is unceasing, you are choosing to live with unforgiveness and, at the same time, choosing to live without the power of God upon you.

Forgiveness is the better way; yes, complete forgiveness. Forgiveness is God’s way. This always leads to experiencing the power of God and the blessings that come from the presence of the Lord.

Now is the time to lead.

This perspective was originally written by Ronnie Floyd, President/CEO of the SBC Executive Committee. It was published on

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