In the Word this morning studying. I began looking up scriptures I found in an article. I think I found this article on Barnabas Ministries some months ago.
Quoting "the idea of forgiveness is frequently defined incorrectly in an unhealthy church. in that environment, forgiveness often means a denial that any damage or hurt took place, and a denial that wrong was done. As might be expected, such definitions of forgiveness don't validate the offenses done to members of the body of Christ but rather serve to perpetuate the unhealthy environment. Thankfully, such definitions of forgivenss are not consistent with the Scriptures."
In Luke 23:34 I find one of the readings of the account of Jesus on the cross. "Father forgive them; for they know not what they do." Yet after Jesus resurrection the account in John 20:22-23 He says to His disciples "Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit (paid for) they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain (keep in mind or remember), they are retained."
So the disciples did confront sin. They called it sin.That is the only way repentance, forgiveness and restoration will work. Call sin what it is: Sin.
When I look at the accounts in Acts when Peter first spoke to the crowd on the day of Pentecost he said (Acts 2:23) " Jesus...ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucifed and slain" When Peter was finished with his "plain" speech in verse 37 "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart".
I began to study different instances in the Bible where people were pricked and how they handled it.
Now the word prick means to pierce slightly, affect with sharp mental pain, to urge or goad, to cause a stinging sensation. When we are pricked spiritually it hurts. When I have a paper cut or a splinter it is not big but it hurts. If I clean that cut and put salve on it, in a few days it is cleared up. But if I ignore it, a serious germ could get in my body and make me very sick. Some pricks with a larger item may need a surgeon to take something out or stitch up a wound.
Now God uses His Holy Spirit to prick us spiritually when sin is involved. Here are some more examples of spiritual pricks, how they were accepted, and what took place:
1. Acts 2:37 Peter's sermon caused his listeners to be pricked in their heart. Many of the listeners said "Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said..Repent" Peters' word was gladly received and revival broke out! This is where these new believers continued, grew, and met the needs of each other.
2. Acts3 After Peter and John through God healed the lame man at the gate of the temple, Peter preached again. He said "You delivered up Jesus to be crucified, you killed the Prince of life but God raised Him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. Repent." The priests, captain of the temple and the Sadducees were grieved or pricked. These religious leaders took hold of these disciples until the next day. Still a revival broke out and people believed. Yet these sinful religious leaders, hearing again Peters' words, recognized the disciples were of God and marvelled. Still they would not admit it. It left these hypocrites between a rock and a hard place because even though their heart had been pricked they did not want to admit it. Instead they threatened the disciples.
3. Acts 5 When Ananias and Sapphira lied about their money, their hearts were so hard they couldn't even feel the spiritual prick. No one cared if they gave their money or not. But lying about what they were doing was what got them into trouble.Their hearts we so hard they couldn't even feel God's Spirit dealing with them about their willful sin.
4. Acts 6 and 7 Stephen spoke real plainly here to a crowd whose heart was pricked but that crowd chose not to listen and stoned Stephen.
5. Acts 8 Simon the sorcerer believed but wanted to buy the gift, giving the Holy Ghost by laying hands on people. Simon's heart was pricked, he was told to repent. Simon's response was "Pray for me that the evil things you have spoken don't happen to me"
6. Acts 9 Saul/Paul was approached by God on the road to Damascus. God said "it is hard for you to kick against the pricks" We know Paul's response was "what do you want me to do?" And his life story tells us how he accepted willingly those pricks, repented and was used mightily of God.
7. There are many times through the writings of Paul where in his letter to a congregation he pricked them because he loved them and wanted them to make heaven. So he was showing them where they needed to repent.
8. Paul specifically confronted Peter, recorded in Galations 2:11. This was a prick to Peter spiritually. In verse 14 Paul said this to Peter before them all. In reading the rest of the account you don't hear of Peter resisting Paul's words. The writer of the article I referred to earlier said of this Biblical incident "The gospels record the sins of the apostles and others at various times...It is doubtful that Peter would ever say,"Can we quit talking about that Gentile incident in Antioch now?" or can you imagine Peter wanting to remove stories of his sins during the earthly ministry of Jesus from the gospels? The church's ability to clearly identify right and wrong is a higher priority than protecting any church system or leader." Amen to that!!!
So when God through his Spirit or through a godly brother or sister sends pricks to our soul, how will we respond? a. heart too hard to feel the prick/ b. bitterness, deceitfulness, revengeful/ c.confession of sin, humbleness, willing to do anything it takes to make it right, even confess to others if necessary.