Jentezen Franklin - Justification For Unforgiveness
I want to talk to you for just a few moments about, "How to Justify the Greatest Justification that You Can Have for Unforgiveness". What a strange title. I want to tell you how to justify unforgiveness in your life. When I think of the great temptation of Jesus, I think of the wilderness and so, in Matthew 4, it's labeled that in most Bibles. Any study Bible will call Matthew 4 the great temptation of Christ, when for 40 days He fasted. It was unreal where he was in the wilderness, the Dead Sea. It's a hostile terrain, bleak circumstances, hot and miserable. He fasted for 40 days under these conditions that we can't even imagine.
I've been on a few protracted fasts, never 40 days like that, but to go without food a week, two weeks, three weeks in the comfort of your own home is still an enormous, enormous challenge, but to do it out in nature, and particularly in a desert, in this area, this region, we can't imagine. And, in those Judean hills and deserts, there Christ for 40 days fasted and then Satan came to tempt Him, the Bible said. Satan himself, face-to-face with Jesus, at the end of the 40 days, and he said, if you're the Son of God, turn this stone into bread. You're hungry, you're starving, you're about to just stop existing, you're so famished. You could die out here. You haven't eaten in 40 days, and you've got a long journey ahead of you to get out of the wilderness. And he said, turn the stones into bread, and Jesus said, "It is written".
Then he came with the second temptation, the great temptation of Satan. He took Him to the pinnacle of the temple and he said, "Jump off, for the Scriptures say that He's given His angels charge over you. They'll catch you at any time". He adds those words, and those words were not in the original text in the Book of Psalms when that was written hundreds of years before by the psalmist, David. The devil will always add, or misquote, or misdirect Scripture. Any time he's quoting them, he's quoting them to misuse them.
And then, thirdly, he takes Him and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world, and he says, if you'll just bow down and worship me, I'll give you these kingdoms. I love the wording of the New Testament. It said, "He showed Him the kingdoms of this world in a moment"... In a moment. But the Bible says in Isaiah that of God's kingdom, there will be no end to the increase of His kingdom, which means Satan could show you his kingdom in a moment, but it'll take us all of eternity, we'll still be discovering aspects of the kingdom of God. And then afterwards, the angels came and ministered to Jesus when He resisted the devil, and that's called the great temptation.
But, I believe the greatest temptation of Jesus Christ was not in the wilderness after the 40 day fast when He faced Satan face to face. I believe the greatest temptation Jesus ever faced was in the text that I just read. When, in the Garden of Gethsemane, His sweat became as drops of blood, where there He knew that He was within hours of being hung on a cross. He knew that He would hang there naked, and He knew that they would clear their throats, the passer-byers, and they would put spittle on Him. He knew that within hours the blood would be pumping through the nail prints in His hands and in His feet. He knew. He knew for sure what was coming in just a few hours as He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had known it was coming since He was at least 12 years of age, and now He was 33 years of age.
The Bible said, in Hebrews 12:2, that, "For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross". The greatest temptation of Gethsemane was not the agony of the nails, the piercings, the whips, the hammer, the cross. It was not the hanging on the cross as a spectacle, laughed and mocked and spit upon. The greatest temptation came when He knew He could justifiably get out of doing what the Father wanted Him to do. You say, oh, He couldn't get out of dying on the cross. He most certainly could have. He didn't have to go through with it.
I think this text clearly shows that He didn't have to do it. And given His historical account of the decline and fall of Roman Empire, He says that a legion in the Roman army was 6.500 soldiers. So, when Peter cut off the high priest's servant's ear and Jesus said, "Why are you doing that? Do you not understand? Listen, I could call 12 legions of angels". In other words, if a legion is 6.500 solders, He was saying, if I can call 12, I can call 78.000 angels this very present moment. Instantly, they would show up and they would wipe out the population of the Roman army. Don't you know that I could pray right now? All I've got to do is ask the Father, and He'll do it.
Now, either He could or He was lying. Either Jesus meant what He said when He said, do you not understand? I have 12 legions on reserve right now, and all I have to do is say, no, I'm not going to forgive them. I could justify not forgiving them. I'm sinless. I'm without sin. I've done nothing, why should I die for them? All I'd have to do is say, Father, angels now, and heaven's angel armies would show up and surround Me. No one would lay a hand on Me.
The single greatest trial Jesus faced was in the garden, when He had to pray so hard that His sweat became drops of blood, and then He made this statement. "Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me", which meant right then it was possible. Just pray, the Father was saying, and I'll send 12 legions of angels. Why 12 legions? Why did Jesus say 12 legions? Why not 40 legions? Why not 20.000 legions? He heard a distinct number from the Father. The Father gave Him 12 legions, because that was what was on standby, ready to step in. He could've stopped right then.
That was the point of the greatest temptation Jesus ever faced, because He knew He could get out of it, listen, and totally be justified. But nevertheless, I could call 12 legions of angels. But nevertheless, I have no fault, I have no sin, I am undefiled. But I choose, because I know You want Me to do this. I could justify easily not doing it. Nobody would blame Me for not doing it. The angels wouldn't blame me for not doing it. Nobody would blame Me for not doing it. But Father, I say no to the angel armies. Nevertheless, not My will, but Your will be done.
He who knew no sin became sin so that we could become the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus. One translation said God treated Him the way we deserved to be treated, so that we now are treated the way He deserved to be treated. When I think of how He bled, how He suffered, how He died, He could have called 78.000 angels. One angel slew 185.000 Assyrian soldiers, and He had 78.000 ready on standby, with swords drawn, ready, and He chose in that moment to release forgiveness instead of justify not forgiving.
And our greatest, most deepest, severe temptations always come when we feel the most justified. When there's no justification for our temptation and our yielding to doing what we know we shouldn't do, that's one thing. When it's clearly no sense of questioning whether it's right or wrong, that's one thing. But what I believe the greatest temptation that comes in our life is when you can justify not doing what you know the Lord wants you to do. It's when you could be so justified that others would even pat you on the back and say, "Absolutely, I agree". Others would say, I don't blame you. Others would say, it's about time you stood up for yourself.
Those are the moments our greatest temptations come, when we can justify not doing what God said the most. That's when we are in the test and trial of our life, and heaven is watching. That's when we must be so, so careful, is when you can justify being offended at somebody, you can justify being hurt and never speaking to them again. You can justify. You've got stuff, and people will tell you you're absolutely right, but God said, "I could have done it, but I didn't do it for you, and now I don't want you to justify your unforgiveness to Me".
Watch, Bible examples, real quick: Abraham: "Offer your son, Isaac, bring him to Me. Put him on an alter. Whom you love". Whom you love. I want you to see Christ in this. The father loved the son. Abraham loved Isaac. Waited, 25 years for him. The Heavenly Father, loved His Son, Jesus. And we forget that Isaac was 17-21 years of age, and the old Abraham was a hundred years old. If the boy had wanted to, he could have resisted. He could have said, when the father raised the knife, and said, "Son, just trust me; I've heard from God". He could have easily said, "You've crossed the line, you've lost your mind, you've turned into a fanatic". But, see the son, submitting, to the father.
In that moment, he could've fought and resisted, and justifiably so. "You've lost your mind, Dad". And, even Abraham could've argued back to God: "You're asking me to do what You forbid the Moabites to do; You cursed the Moabites for throwing their children into the fire, and, You're telling me now, to sacrifice my child". But, in complete obedience, knowing what God had told him to do, even when he could justify not doing it, Abraham raised the knife, and when he did, one angel showed up and said, "Stay your hand". Stop your hand. And then, the angel said, "God said, 'Now I know'".
It was a test, see. The greatest test comes, the greatest temptations come, when you can justify giving in to that temptation. And when Abraham was willing to do what God told him to do even when he could justify it, God said, "Now I know, and I release manifold blessings upon you and your seed. I don't want you to kill him; I just wanted to see if you could pass this test". And watch this, watch this: One angel stopped Abraham from killing his son, but 78.000 angels couldn't stop Jesus for dying for you. I'm saying that we need to understand our greatest moments of temptation come from our greatest justifications.
What about Moses? The guy lives 80 years of his life in deserts, and he brings God's people out of bondage, and he does everything right. He goes through every trial and passes it, and he gets in the desert and he gets aggravated at the people murmuring and complaining, and he takes a stick and God said, speak to the stick, don't strike it. But he struck the rod, and when he struck the rod, the Bible said that God said, "Sorry, you're not going into the Promised Land".
Can you imagine? After 80 years of trying to get God's people free, and you're there at the border, ready to go over, and God says, "Um, I've got an announcement. Moses isn't going". What do you mean? He hit the rod and I told him to speak to the rod. Moses could've justifiably said, I'm mad at you, God. I don't get You. I'm upset with You. You're unfair, You're unjust.
I'll tell you something. There will come times in your walk with the Lord, the biggest room in your life better be the room where you don't understand what God is doing. But I might add this, he did get to make it into the Promised Land because after he died and Jesus, 2.000 years shows up later on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the Bible said that Moses and Elijah showed up in the Promised Land. I've got a feeling when Moses landed down and put his feet on the Mount of Transfiguration, he threw up his hands and he said, I finally made it in, cause God is faithful.
Stay with me a moment. Joseph, his brothers tried to kill him! He was closest to losing it, not when his brothers threw him into the pit, that wasn't his greatest temptation. Not when Potiphar's wife accused him of rape, falsely. Not when he was in prison for 13 years for a crime he didn't commit. Not when the butler, and the baker, that was not his, when they forgot him, even though he helped them.
None of those things were his greatest temptation. His greatest temptation is this tender scene when the famine is on and his ten older brothers come staggering in famished and starving, and there's no food anywhere on the earth except in Egypt. And they don't know it's Joseph. He's disguised himself, but he's the second most powerful man in the entire world and ten brothers are standing before him and he's on the throne in his disguise and they think the man on the throne is an Egyptian, and he can't speak Hebrew. So, they start talking among themselves in Hebrew.
And one of the brothers speaks up and says, "This is the judgement of God! He's gonna get us back for what we did to our brother Joseph 20 years ago"! And in that moment Joseph faced the greatest temptation of his life. When he could have given back to them the same treatment they gave him. He could have got 'em back. He could have hit 'em with everything he had. He coulda had their heads, and anybody would have said it's justifiable, because of them you went to prison for something you didn't do. Because of them, you went through untold pain and sorrow, misunderstanding.
And the Bible said, When he saw 'em and heard 'em say that, that Joseph gets up and leaves the throne and goes behind a curtain. And takes whatever disguise off and he weeps. And he comes back out, and when they see him, they're astonished it is Joseph. And now they're trembling in fear, they know he's about to give it to 'em, just like they did him when they threw him in the pit. And all of a sudden, he looks at them and says, "Fear not", he's passing the test. "You meant it for my evil, but God for meant it for my good. And I'm not gonna get you back, I'm gonna lift you up, and I'm gonna love like I've never been hurt".
Come on, give me a big amen right there somebody. Our greatest temptations are our greatest trials and test come when we've been provoked the most and we feel justified in our actions. But our greatest temptations come when we have greatest justification. Now, you fill in the blanks. What are you thinking about doing that could be justifiable in doing, but deep down on the inside you know God told you, don't do it to 'em? What about in your marriage?
You know, your greatest temptations in marriage is when you feel like you're justifiable, that I can hold bitterness, I can hold anger, or if a spouse has been unfaithful, they've been unfaithful to me. He's not showing me any attention, I'm gonna get him back. And there are people who will tell you, absolutely, honey. He's a dog. He's treated you like a dog. Just do it. Get even. Money and business deals: somebody ripped you off and it would be so easy, I'm not saying you don't take advantage of the laws of the country and all of that. I understand all of that, but I'm just saying there are times when the Holy Spirit overrides everything and says, I require of you just to release it, and go on down the road and I'll bless you. That's a distraction from the enemy, and thousands of dollars, and tens of thousands of dollars, and sometimes we can so justify taking somebody out.
Let me tell you how you know you've forgiven somebody. When you have the power in your hand to get 'em back and you don't use it, you have forgiven them. You have forgiven them. The tithe is the Lord's. Two things, God says, is His. The tithe is the Lord's, and "'Vengeance is mine,' sayeth the Lord". What about young people? Your greatest temptations will come when you can justify, everybody else is doin' it. Nobody else is living the standard that I'm living. Everybody else is doin' it, so why can't I do it? Everybody else is living that way. Everybody else is doin' it, so why can't I?
But, listen to me. I don't care if everybody else does it. It does not give you the right to do it if the Holy Spirit has convicted you. That's your test. And I don't care what other people's convictions are. If the Lord tells me, don't touch it, then I'm passing the test when I could justify I can touch it. Our greatest temptations and trials come at our greatest justifications. Don't get withered up. Don't get bitter. You can justify why you hate that daddy that was never there. You can justify why you'll never speak to that family member again. You can justify it, but God says, I could have done the same in the garden when I faced your sin. And this is your greatest test.
I wrote this down the other day. I want you to get it. Here's how you know if something's sin or not. If you feel guilty the next day, it's sin for you. I don't care if other people did it, because other people did it and they don't feel nothin', cause they're heathens. But if you do the same thing the next day and you feel guilty, it's sin for you. What about Ezekiel? Listen to this story. God comes to Ezekiel when his wife dies. His wife died. And he's in mourning, and the Lord said, "Thus sayeth the Lord, 'Mourn not, weep not, grieve not.'"
She died that day. And God forbid him to cry and grieve. "So, I did as I was commanded, and the people asked, 'What's wrong with you? Why aren't you crying? Why aren't you weeping'"? And he wouldn't cry, and he wouldn't mourn, and he could've justifiably cried, and wept, and mourned, which Cherise would be very upset if that happened. She wants me to have a nervous breakdown if she dies. She's already told me that, and so, she expects it. She said, you better weep, sobbing. But God told this preacher, said, "because I'm going to use you as an illustrated sermon". He said, "When the nation is enslaved and carried away into Babylonian captivity, just like Ezekiel didn't weep and mourn, your God won't weep and mourn".
Now, isn't that crazy? What are you sayin'? I'm saying that under the sound of my voice right now are people in this room who are justifying why you have a right to not forgive, to not release that situation to God. And the Lord gave me this little message to tell you that's not what He did for you in the garden. He could've called 72.000 angels, but He didn't do it for you, because He wanted to take your sin and hang it on the cross, and bleed it away. And now He turns around and He says, stop justifying your right to be upset and never speak again, and never love again, and never forgive again. Stop it. That's the test, and if you pass the test, it doesn't mean everybody belongs in your life. It doesn't mean everybody belongs at your table. That's not what I'm saying. You have to go deeper than that if there's deeper issues, but the point is you do have to forgive them, as your Father forgives you.