That title got your attention, didn’t it? Now this is by no means a study to smash your faith. Yet that title is 100% true. Therefore, I’m not only going to tell you why this is true, but I’m also going to share what solution God has for this, accompanied by my very own testimonies on this specific topic. Everything I’m about to share is not taught merely from theory, no, I have lived through it and applied it myself. One of the biggest problems and main reasons why even ‘Christians’ will end up in hell, is because of unforgiveness. The last thing I want is for that to happen to you. Once you die and open your eyes in hell, there is no way out. Ever. But today you still have a choice. The good news is that hell wasn’t made for you.
Before I continue, I can’t assume that everyone who reads this is a Christian. By a Christian I mean someone who follows Jesus and who follows in His footsteps, not simply a ‘Church goer’. If you’re not following Jesus yet, I want to urge you to first read my study ‘How to receive salvation’, before you continue reading this study.
The whole purpose of the gospel of Christ is the forgiveness of sins. From the very beginning, all the way to the end of times. It starts by the conviction of our sins and the realization that no matter what we do, there is nothing that can justify, undo or erase our sins. Nothing but the Blood of Jesus. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven and there is no other way by which man can be saved (Acts 4:12). What a marvelous grace that Jesus is within reach and available to all who want Him as their Savior and Lord! And even when we follow Him and fall for sin (not to be confused with purposely choosing to sin), then there is grace still.
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
God has made it clear to us that the first step to forgiveness is the acknowledgment of sin. In other words, to plead guilty and to stop pretending. To have a change of mind. The word repentance doesn’t mean to just stop committing sin, because in many cases that is impossible. The word repentance means to have a conviction, a way of reasoning, that transcends our carnal mind. It means to put the Word of God on such a level, that we accept and embrace it, before our carnal mind begins the process it, even before we understand it. Then, whenever we have sinful thoughts or commit sin, we verify our thoughts and deeds with the Word of God, to bring those back in line with His will, starting by acknowledging our wrongdoings. Then the Word of God begins to release the power of God within us, enabling us, step by step, to leave those sinful thoughts and deeds behind us. Following Christ is not just about the forgiveness of sins. It’s about change. Real change. From the inside out. That is a daily walk with Him, while daily studying and learning from His Word, the Bible.
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
How many of our sins are being forgiven? The word says that at the moment we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord, under the confession of our sins, that He has forgiven all of our trespasses. There is none left. At that moment our eternal destiny changed from hell to Heaven. What a miracle! What a grace!
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do
In Luke 23:34 we can read this expression from Jesus. What a powerful expression this was! How unfair was it, that He was treated like that. Humiliated, beaten, wounded and crucified. For sins He had never committed. That was so terribly unjust and unfair. Jesus had every reason to be angry. He had every reason to think: “O wait until I deal with you on the day of judgment!”. Yet His attitude was so completely different than that. Instead He cried out to Father God, while hanging on the cross in extreme pain and suffering, saying: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do!” In everything He did, He has set the example for His followers. Jesus wasn’t like most Christian leaders, telling people to do or not do things, while ignoring their own sayings. He was as real as it gets. Knowing what example He has set for us, it may make you wonder what He expects from His followers. Let’s look at what He said.
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.
Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
Heaven or hell
Indeed this is an issue of Heaven or hell. Forgiveness is not optional for the followers of Jesus. Sure, you may choose not to forgive, but with that decision you’re also rejected as His follower and as God’s child. That decision changes your destiny from Heaven back to hell, where you were once saved from. Yes, that’s how far it goes. Frankly, I don’t care what other Christian leaders are telling you, if you’re being told something different. The Bible is clear. You can lose your salvation by holding a grudge against someone and by not forgiving someone. Like Jesus said, the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. If you don’t forgive, Jesus will not forgive you either. The Father will not forgive you and reject you as His son or daughter. That means that from that point forth, all your trespasses are being held against you and you shall be declared guilty on the day of judgment. The Blood of Jesus no longer covers and protects you. Then Jesus will condemn you to hell. In a split second you are removed from His throne of judgment, to your eternal destination in hell. With no way out. Ever.
Sure, you may choose to believe differently. You have the freedom to do so. But you’re not free from the consequences and ultimately, you can’t hide behind the opinions of Christians leaders, for it is your decision what you choose to believe. This sounds harsh, but I would rather have it sound harsh and change your point of view, so you will make it to Heaven, than that you suffer again, because of unforgiveness and eternal condemnation.
Don’t you know what they did to me?!
There are many horrible things that may have happened to you. Many people have suffered very unspeakable things, such as sexual abuse, mental abuse, domestic violence, bullying, humiliation, deceit, fraud, etc. Whatever it was that has hurt and damaged you, I know and believe it was painful, unjust, unfair, even leaving marks on your body or in your soul. Let me start by telling you that God is not unfair or unjust. His commandment to forgive everyone does by no means approve what was done to you. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you approve what they did. That’s not what forgiveness is about.
When something bad is happening to us, at first we go in survival mode. But then the anger comes. That is a perfectly healthy response, but what you do next determines how long the process of healing is going to be. Unfortunately, from that moment on, many people are start holding a grudge, seeking revenge and/or taking justice in their own hands. It becomes a matter that consumes their thoughts and filles their hearts. That is the root for bitterness, which will start growing in your heart and will ultimately destroy every good work God has done in your life. For if you don’t overcome your pain, your pain will overcome you. From that moment on your life will never be the same. All these painful events will keep following you in your thoughts and feelings. It will heavily influence all the decisions you make and will (eventually) lead you on a path to destruction. This means that you’ll become a victim again, because of those consequences. The bitterness makes that you’re becoming imprisoned in your pain. Even if you would manage to get your revenge, it will feel good for a moment, but right afterwards the pain is back and just as bad, or even worse than before. Other than that, it is a common fact that wounded people are wounding people. You become the kind of person people don't like to be around.
How to be free
When God commands us to forgive, there is a wisdom behind it. Surely it’s not His aim to hurt you more or to give you an impossible task. What many fail to see is that by forgiving the people who have hurt them, the process of healing starts. A well-known quote about forgiveness is the following: "To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." When God asks something from you, He always has your best interest at heart, even when we fail to see that at the time. After all, He knows where your current attitude and condition is leading to.
When someone hurts you, and I’m not talking about taking offense, then they sin against God and His law as well. That means that He should be the Judge. Just to be clear, when the sin that was committed against you also violates the laws of the land, you do need to file a police report as well. This is not only your civic duty, it can also mean that society can be protected against the same malpractices in this way. It is also your duty towards God, for He has established the authorities over us. So by all means, don’t skip this part if it applies to your situation. However, when it comes to your personal attitude towards that person and towards God, you really need to live in an attitude of forgiveness.
Many people respond the same to this seemingly impossible request of God. Most say: “I can’t, I just can’t forgive this person.” Let me tell you something comforting. That is true. Indeed you can’t forgive that person. Indeed it is to hard to do. That’s where you need God’s help. Even more, God doesn’t expect you to be able to forgive. Instead, what He’s asking from us is if we are willing to forgive. We must understand that forgiveness is a decision of our will. So the real question is this: When God is asking you to give up your grudge and to forgive, are you willing to make a choice with your will to forgive that person (or persons), even when you can’t actually forgive from your own strength? Let me give you an example of this.
My first radio station
At the age of 15 I became involved in a radio show. In the years that followed I became crazy about it. There was nothing I wanted to do more than to be on the air, making radio. Everything in my life was focused on that and on making this my full time job one day. Several years later, at the age of 24, I was contacted by the manager of the radio station. He told me he was selling the radio station and that he was quitting, which meant that my hobby would come to an end. In my youthful rashness, I called him back shortly afterwards and asked if I could buy it from him. To cut a long story short, he told me I could buy it from him and not long after that, I was the new owner of the radio station, which I renamed to Altena FM. This all happened in 2003, so we’re not talking about the station that is currently using the name Altena FM, although it was in the same area. Suddenly my face was on the cover of several newspapers and everybody knew that I was the new owner. It really felt like this was the moment I had been waiting for my whole life. What could go wrong?
My lack of experience in corporate acquisitions quickly became apparent. There appeared to be skeletons in the closet, meaning that there was a stack of unpaid bills that I wasn’t made aware of when I bought the station. It soon became apparent that I had been ripped off. When I confronted the former owner and station manager, he told me those were my bills now. I tried to file a police report against him, but they considered it a civil matter. For a civil case I needed a lawyer, which I could no longer afford. Everything started to fall apart. The story quickly blew up in the media and suddenly my face was on the covers of the newspapers again, while my name was dragged through the mud and this former owner didn't own up to his mistakes and even denied it all. All my money was gone. All my investments were gone. My savings account, which was reserved for my wedding, was completely emptied. I was forced to sell the radio station and my dreams were gone. Really, I could kill this guy. Even more, in my mind I had already started making plans to do so. Until God stopped me and told me that that was enough. Then I heard this same message about forgiveness, which made me furious at first. How could I forgive this man? I couldn’t. But then God told me that all He required from me was a decision of my will. Was willing to forgive, even if I couldn’t actually do it? My answer eventually was YES. However, I made it clear to God that He needed to do it in me, for I really couldn’t do it from my own strength. That was everything I did. I just told God I was willing to forgive and that was all.
More than a year later I was in my home, when the doorbell rang. When I opened the door, this man was standing in front of me. At that time he was working for the postal services and he had to deliver a package at my home. At first I was surprised and of course, I took the package from him. He didn’t say much and left as soon as I had the package. But while I walked back inside, I became even more surprised, because suddenly I noticed that there was no grudge or unforgiveness in me left against him. That really caused short circuit in my brain, for that was impossible. So I tested myself, and tested myself again, yet there was not a single bad feeling left. Even more, I could feel compassion for him! I can tell you that had nothing to do with me, for I wasn’t able to do that. The power of Jesus Christ, through the Holy Ghost, had done this work inside of me, enabling me to completely and utterly forgive this man. Still I stand amazed, but I am so thankful that He did that in me. Thank You, Jesus!
Several years ago one of my friends took the courage to share his history of how he had been a victim to sexual abuse and how it had ruined and was still ruining his life. His wife, he was sitting next to him, told us she hated the man who did that to her husband. Both of their faces were contorted with hatred. When I started to share about forgiveness, the tension in my living room was growing and the atmosphere became explosive. As I just explained to you, I also explained to him that forgiveness is not the same as approval. The only thing God told me to do was to testify, while the Holy Ghost was convincing this couple. At the end of the evening they finally decided that they were willing to make a decision to forgive the perpetrator, even though they had no idea how to do this practically.
At the moment we all joined in prayer, and when he and his wife were telling God that they were willing to forgive, the Comforter immediately stepped in and started His work of healing restoration in their hearts, while tears started to flow. Personally I believe that the Holy Spirit had been waiting for that moment for so long, but He couldn’t step in as long as they were holding on to their hate and grudges. As soon as they told Him they wanted to let it go, He didn’t waste a second. It was so very clear that that burden had finally be lifted from their shoulders. Their facial expression completely changed. Sure, they still had a way of restoration to go, but I saw such a relieve. I can tell you that the process of restoration eventually was successfully completed.
Those following the developments in our ministry know that – at the moment I’m writing this – we are falsely being persecuted by our government. You can read more about that in the Drechtsteden File. The consequences of this persecution are that we haven’t had any income since November 2017 until this present day, that we were evicted from our home and are homeless ever since, that we’re not allowed to work in our own nation, etc.
Especially at the beginning of this case (at the end of 2017 and during 2018) I was able to kill the officials involved. Many times I imagined how I would kill them in several different ways. That was how much I hated them. If I still would have followed satan in those days, that surely would have been their end. Surely there is nothing wrong with you when those kind of thoughts are being offered to you, for those thoughts are not yours, but an attempt of satan to make you accept the thoughts. In my case, he succeeded for a while, as I played with the imaginations. Again I had to repent, for I should have known better. I know the key of forgiveness. I know how this works in God’s Kingdom. And I couldn’t afford not to forgive.
At some point during the case I made a decision with my will and choose to forgive them. Even more, I wrote them a letter, telling them I had forgiven them. That didn’t change the case, for they just continued with their injustice, but it did change me. It restored my relationship with Jesus. In the end, that’s all that matters. Even when injustice continues to prevail. Even when it hurts. I want to be His. I want to belong to Jesus and do His will. And when I do that, He will take care of me, heal me and restore me.
So now it is up to you. Today you can make a decision as well. Today you can be delivered from that burden you have been carrying with you. Today your process of healing and restoration can begin. Today you can start leaving the past behind you and starting anew. It’s your choice. If you want to make the right decision, then simply tell God with your own words. Tell Him that you make a decision with your will to forgive that person and call him or her by name. Tell Jesus that you surrender it all to Him. From that moment on, keep standing in that faith. Whenever you find yourself struggling again, remind yourself and God that the matter is now in His hands. Now watch what Jesus is going to do for you!