Jesus made it abundantly clear that if we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts—we will not be forgiven. I believe that this statement deals with how we experience or feel forgiveness, rather than being held guilty of our sins in a way that would affect us at the judgment. If that were the case then we would be saved through Christ’s blood—and our willingness to forgive. Since the Bible teaches that salvation is by grace alone—we know that this has to refer to something other than actually having sins unforgiven because we refuse to forgive others.
How can we “feel” forgiven when we refuse to forgive others? There will be a block in your spirit to sensing the forgiveness of God if there are those you will not forgive. Jesus tells the story of two men who owed debts. One owed billions and could not pay. The king chose to write off every penny of their debt. That servant then went and choked a man who only owed him a couple hundred bucks. Having had this servant thrown in jail—the servants who watched were horrified—knowing how much the offending servant had been forgiven. When his master found out he was furious. He took the unforgiving servant and threw him into the dungeon and said that he would stay there until he had paid up every last cent of the billions he owed. Not only this, but this unforgiving servant was also to be turned over to the torturers in the meantime. The point of the parable was this. Jesus said God would do so to the one who would not forgive others from his heart.
What I want to point your attention to is that word, “torturers.” Who are they? What do they do? I’ve watched over the years and I think I may know. The torturers are the spirits who work to breed fear and a sense of condemnation in the one who won’t forgive others. This condition will remain in the heart of the one who will not forgive—until they forgive others. Having both dealt with this sin in my own heart—and having helped others—I can tell you with certainty that this condition is like being tortured. You go about your life protecting your own hurt—thinking that by holding to it and by not forgiving others—you will somehow help yourself in the midst of your unforgiveness. But the fact is that even as you do this you are hurting yourself more than you will ever affect the one you refuse to forgive. That unforgiveness will eventually turn you a growing shade of bitter. In time that bitterness will begin to affect EVERY area of your life. The torture is often this . . . you cannot get the hurt or the incident from replaying in your mind constantly. This only makes the bitterness worse. Your only hope is to go to God with the sin of your bitterness and unforgiving spirit. Then God works in you and you choose to forgive the person with whom you are bitter. That one choice releases the power of God for you to finally “feel” forgiven. Oh that we would see this—and let go of ALL our bitterness. For only then will be come to the place of once again “feeling” forgiven. The truth here is simple - want to feel forgiven again? Then forgive . . . for when you forgive, you will once again feel forgiven. Reject this - and the unforgiveness you hold will dominate your feelings - and you will continually struggle to know you are forgiven.