Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery Lesson 17- Forgiveness

Principle 6: Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.  
Happy are the merciful. -Matthew 5:7

Happy are the peacemakers. -Matthew 5:9


Step 8: We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. -Luke 6:31 


Step 9: We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. -Matthew 5:23-24

Lesson 17 continues to propel us forward in our recovery journey into the realm of forgiveness. This step includes both asking for forgiveness and forgiving others. Although it may not seem like a difficult part of recovery, I assure you that it is.

Many individuals have stalled out right here, on this very issue. Although wonderful in theory, forgiveness is much harder than it appears. As tempting as it might be to gloss over this part of the steps, it is here for a reason, and that reason is Jesus.

We are called to ask for forgiveness and to forgive others, and Jesus calls us to do so for a reason. Hanging onto bitterness or guilt are like poison to our very souls. As believers, we are called to a life of freedom in Christ, not one burdened down by guilt or pain.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. -Ephesians 4:32

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. -James 5:16

Forgiveness from God

The most important person from whom we should ask and receive forgiveness is God. When Jesus died on the cross, God’s only son, He made a way for all of our sins to be wiped clean and paid in full. It is a free gift for those who choose to accept it. No matter how bad we think our sins might be, there is forgiveness if we simply ask and receive it.

God puts people right through their faith in Jesus Christ. God does this to all who believe in Christ, because there is no difference at all: everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence. But by the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with Him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free. God offered Him so that by His blood He should become the means by which people’s sins are forgiven through their faith in Him. -Romans 3:22-25

I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. -Psalm 32:5

Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. -Ecclesiastes 7:20

Forgiveness from Others

Recognizing those we have wronged and asking forgiveness when appropriate is an important step in our recovery. It is important to realize that regardless of the response we might receive, we are doing this for our own personal recovery. We cannot control or predict how others will act or react to our request of forgiveness.

Consider talking to your sponsor about ways in which to best go about asking for forgiveness, especially if you feel it could be a delicate situation.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. -Proverbs 28:13

Forgiving Others

Forgiving others is often a process. The deeper the hurt, the more of a struggle it is. If you have been hurt deeply by a loved one, you may think that it is impossible to forgive the pain and heartache that has been caused- and you would be absolutely right.

It is impossible for us to forgive under our own power. It is against our very nature. In order to truly forgive, we have to accept God’s help. Only He can give us a heart willing and able to let go of our pain and allow His healing balm to soothe our wounds as we forgive those who have hurt us.

It is important to remember that forgiveness is not forgetting- neither does it minimize or undo what has been done. Forgiveness means letting go of the hurt and pain, taking the power away from the one who hurt you and ultimately handing that power over to God.

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. -Colossians 3:13

Then Peter came up and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.’ -Matthew 18:21-22

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. -Mark 11:25

It is possible to forgive those who have wronged you without them asking for forgiveness. You don’t have to wait to let go of your hurt and pain. Simply hand it over to God, and let Him take care of the rest.

Note to Victims of Abuse

If you have been the victim of sexual abuse, physical abuse, or childhood emotional abuse or neglect, you may have a difficult time addressing this issue of forgiveness. As hard and as daunting as it might seem, it is worth it to do the work to begin the process of forgiveness in your heart. Nothing can undo the pain and trauma that was caused, but there is a difference between being a victim and living like a victim.

God is offering you freedom from your pain, and as hard as it may seem, He is calling you to let go of the pain and allow Him to help you forgive. He can take the ashes of your past and make them into something beautiful if you will let Him.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. -Isaiah 61:1-3

Celebrate Recovery has a revised version of steps 8 and 9 for victims of abuse. 

Step 8: Make a list of all persons who have harmed us and become willing to seek God’s help in forgiving our perpetrators, as well as forgiving ourselves. Realize we’ve also harmed others and become willing to make amends to them.

Step 9: Extend forgiveness to ourselves and to others who have perpetrated against us, realizing this is an attitude of the hart, not always confrontation. Make direct amends, asking forgiveness from those people we have harmed, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Forgiving God

Sometimes things happen in this life as a direct result of living in a sin-filled world. Bad things do happen to good people. Unfortunately, it is part of this life on earth. When bad things happen, sometimes we can become angry and hold a grudge against God. If that is the case, we need to let that anger and bitterness go in the form of forgiveness.
It is important to note that God never does anything wrong- He is perfect in all that He does. However, just because He is perfect doesn’t mean that we cant feel pain, anger, or any other myriad of feelings towards Him.
God is sovereign, meaning He is completely in control. However, He gives us free will, which means that sometimes we don’t make the best choices. As a result of these bad choices, sometimes other people get hurt. How this sovereignty of God and free will of man come to terms with each other has been a debate of the ages, and is not one I wish to tackle.
There is one thing I am certain of, and that is who my God is. If you are struggling with coming to terms with the circumstances of your life, I challenge you to dig into God’s word and see for yourself who He really is. Your questions will probably not be answered, but you will come away with a peace and assurance that you are resting in the hands of a Savior who loves you deeply.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. -John 16:33

Forgiving Ourselves

Sometimes the person we need to forgive the most is the one who we see in the mirror every day- ourselves. We all make mistakes, and fortunately we have a Savior bigger than even the biggest mess we could ever find ourselves in. If He can forgive us, then we need to be able to forgive ourselves.


Have mercy on me, O God, because of Your unfailing love. Because of Your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against You, and You alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in Your sight… Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; You have broken me- now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” -Psalm 51:1-4, 7-10

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