Forgiveness vs Trust

Mark Renfroe

Betrayal happens. That’s a tragic reality. It occurs in marriages, families, churches, and in the workplace. I’m a Christ-follower, so I believe forgiveness is non-negotiable. The Bible makes that abundantly clear. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 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 3:12-13, ESV). 

Most of us understand this; we simply struggle with the application, myself included. If I’ve forgiven the person in question, does this mean I have to trust them now? The short answer is no, but we all know it isn’t that simple. 

Forgiveness is often misunderstood and wrongly applied in the church. Does the woman whose husband has cheated on her need to forgive him? Yes, as much for her sake as his; but that doesn’t require that she remain with him. Does the individual whose boss has repeatedly taken credit for his or her work need to forgive the offender? Yes, but they don’t need to keep working for that person.

Betrayals may occur in a moment, but restoring trust will require a process.

I spent hours on the phone with a man who’d felt betrayed by the leaders and the organization to which he has given years of his life. In essence, he said, “This feels gross.” He knew he needed to forgive, but like most of us, he was struggling to do so. However, the bigger question was “Is this going to continue to happen?” Sadly, the realistic assumption was yes. If you, like me, are a Christ-follower, this feels complicated and, as my friend put it, “gross.”

We perhaps see this best illustrated in the story of Joseph reuniting with his brothers. He didn’t entrust himself to them immediately; first, he determined whether their lives had changed, if they were trustworthy. Although the Bible doesn’t spell it out, I feel confident that Joseph had forgiven his brothers. His response would’ve been very different if he hadn’t. 

Forgiveness isn’t an option for us. God has forgiven those who come humbly to him seeking a new life in Christ; however, forgiveness and trust don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. Navigating this is never easy, so if you’re struggling with this, pray for wisdom and seek godly counsel from those you can trust.  

Mark Renfroe and his wife, Amy, have been involved in field missions work for 30 years. Mark served as the area director for Assemblies of God World Missions and currently serves as the chief missions officer for World Challenge. 

Our High Priest

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

God the Father appointed his Son to become our High Priest. Jesus is in glory right now as both Man and God on our behalf. He is arrayed in the garments of a high priest, and he stands before the Father interceding for us, even as I write.

No doubt the Father takes great pleasure in having his Son at his right hand. The Bible does not say, however, that Jesus ascended for the sake of his Father. Nor does it say he ascended to regain his glory. No, scripture says Christ ascended to heaven on our behalf as the High Priest. “For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24, NKJV).

John caught a glimpse of Jesus in his ministry as our High Priest in glory. He writes that Jesus appeared in the midst of seven candlesticks, which represents his church, and ministered among them “…clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band” (Revelation 1:13).

In the Old Testament, God gave us an illustrated sermon of the ministry of a high priest (see Exodus 30). Everything he did illustrated the work and ministry of Jesus in glory.

Between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle was a veil, and just before the entrance to the Holy of Holies stood an altar made of gold, three feet high and eighteen inches square. Incense was placed on this altar and burned at all times.

The high priest was commanded to take care of the lamps and wicks. Every morning when he went into the Holy Place to light them, he put incense on the altar. The altar had to have coals of fire in it always, so the fire would never go out. Incense in the Bible represents prayer, and the ever-burning incense on that altar in the Holy Place represents the prayers of Jesus while he was on earth.

Jesus prayed constantly in the morning and in the evening; in fact, Jesus said he did nothing without hearing it first from his Father in prayer. There was not a day in his life that Jesus did not pray for his disciples (see John 17:8-11). 

Our Greatest Comfort

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

It was necessary for Jesus to take on human nature so he could go through everything we do on earth, rejection, pain, sorrow, temptation. Though he was God in flesh, he endured the whole human experience not as God but as a human with all our frailties. That enables him, our High Priest, to pray for us with tremendous sympathy: “For in that he himself has suffered, being tempted, he is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18, NKJV).

Consider a dear, struggling sister. She loves Jesus, but she is feeling discouraged, cast down, rejected. She thinks, “I’ve been deeply hurt, and I have no one to talk to who really understands.” Sometimes she wonders if God can forgive her for having such weak faith, and she is on the brink of giving up.

Satan stands beside her, accusingly saying, “Look at this one! She has virtually no faith. What kind of Christian is she, God?”

Jesus sees her hurt and feels her pain. He knows that her faith is weak and that she is on the verge of giving up, so he comes before the Father on her behalf and begins to intercede. “Father, I know what she feels because I’ve been there. I was rejected by my own flesh and blood. I was mocked by the religious crowd. Soldiers spat on me and put thorns on my head. I even cried, ‘Why hast thou forsaken me?’ I sympathize with this woman, Father, and I have washed away her sins. I know she still has a heart for me.”

This is where Jesus’s prayers for us come in. “Father, I would that she be forgiven for her discouragement. I would that she be given a new supply of grace from on high. Let the Holy Spirit come upon her with a special renewing of encouragement and give her a spirit of peace and rest. She is mine, Father, and Satan cannot have her!”

Suddenly, out of nowhere, the woman feels encouraged. Grace is given to her through the prayers of our High Priest. He is touched by the feelings of our infirmities, and he acts in mercy.

Jesus’s Prayer for Us

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

John 17 is all about Jesus’s prayers for his disciples and his people, for those who followed him and believed in him. However, Jesus prayed not only for his followers, but “…for those who will believe in me through their [the disciples’] word” (John17: 20, NKJV).

What a powerful truth! Jesus’s phrase “those who will believe in me” includes you and me. Jesus was praying for us when he walked this earth in the flesh. Centuries ago, we were on his mind. He even recorded this prayer in his Word, knowing we would be reading it. He wants us to know he was interceding for us to the Father. 

Beloved, this prayer which Jesus prayed for us did not vanish into thin air. It has been burning on God’s altar all this time, and God has accepted Jesus’s prayer for each of us. Our salvation is the result of his prayers. We are in him today because God answered his prayer for us.

“But he, because he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25).

Right now, Jesus is praying for transgressors who haven’t yet turned to him. Scripture says he can save to the uttermost, meaning to the end of time, all who will ever come to him.

Throughout my years in ministry, I have seen many drug addicts and alcoholics get gloriously saved. Each time, I would think, “This one had to have a praying mother or interceding grandmother somewhere in the past. God is answering those holy warriors’ prayers.”

Now I see something better than that, something far more powerful and effective. It wasn’t just a mother or grandparent who was praying for those who now believe. Jesus was praying for them all along. “I pray for them…who will believe in me through their [the disciples’] word” (John 17:9, 20).

If you have been running from the Lord, you will never get away from his prayers. The Father answers his Son, and all who resist him are hardening their hearts to the prayers of Christ who prayed for them on earth and is praying for them still.

The Blood of Jesus

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Most Christians know about the blood Jesus shed for us. When Christ lifted the cup at the last Passover, he said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20, NKJV).

We memorialize his sacrifice every time we have communion, but that is the limit of most Christians’ knowledge of Jesus’s blood. We know only about the blood being shed and not about it being sprinkled.

The first biblical reference to the sprinkling of blood is in Exodus 12:22. The Israelites were commanded to take a bunch of hyssop (a purifying plant), dip it in the blood of a slain lamb, and sprinkle it on the lintel and two side posts of their front door. That night, when the death angel came and saw the blood on the doorposts, he would pass over the house.

Please understand that as long as the blood was left in the basin, it was of no effect; it was merely blood that had been shed. The blood had power to save only when it was lifted out of the basin and sprinkled.

Why couldn’t the Israelites have simply laid the basin of blood at the threshold and said, “It doesn’t matter what we do with it. After all, blood is blood”? Suppose they had put the basin on a linen-covered table or on a pedestal just inside the door. If they had done that, the death angel would have struck that home. The blood had to be lifted out of the basin and sprinkled on the door to fulfill its purpose of protection.

This blood in Exodus 12 is a type of the blood of Christ. The blood that flowed at Calvary was not wasted; it did not fall to the ground and disappear. No, that precious blood was collected in a heavenly fountain.

If Christ is Lord of your life, your doorposts have been sprinkled by his blood. This sprinkling is not for forgiveness only but also for protection against all the destroying powers of Satan. Jesus’s blood has not been left in the basin but has been lifted out and sprinkled on your heart.