Premier Christian News reports that in the letter that Rev Vlasenko, head of the Russian Evangelical Alliance, wrote to the World Council of Churches, he specifically apologized for the actions of the Russian government and asked for forgiveness:
“Today, as a citizen and as General Secretary of the Russian Evangelical Alliance, I apologize to all those who have suffered, lost loved ones and relatives, or lost their place of residence as a result of this military conflict.”[…]
My prayer is that you will find strength from the Lord to extend your hand of solidarity and forgiveness, so we can live as the people of God to our world.”
It’s an interesting request that may have broader implications when it comes to spiritual warfare.
The role of forgiveness in spiritual warfare
In the Book of Daniel, we see definite indicators of spiritual warfare in Persia. Israel had been taken into captivity by Babylon and after it was in turn defeated by Persia, Daniel sensed a time of change was coming that would involve a great conflict (Daniel 10:1).
While this battle raged in the spiritual realm, two critical things took place in the physical world.
The first involved Daniel’s three weeks of prayer and fasting that seemed critically tied with the godly angels’ battle with the demonic forces over Persia. (compare Daniel 10:1-3 with Daniel 10: 12-13).
BUT EQUALLY IMPORTANT is what took place earlier in Daniel chapter 9.
The Prophet Jeremiah had prophesied that God would send Israel into captivity because of its sin for seventy years. At the end of that period, God would allow them to return home (Daniel 9:1-2).
When Daniel realized that this seventy-year judgment was up, he entered into a time of prayer, but it is what he prayed that is intriguing.
He started by confessing the sins of his ancestors, the people of Israel and even the sins of Israel’s kings.
5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.Daniel 9: 5, 8, 16 and 19 NIV
8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you.
Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.
And then Daniel finished this prayer, by asking God to forgive all of these sins including his ancestors, the Jewish people, and Israel’s kings:
19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”Daniel 9:19
All these people were dead by this point, but in this bizarre prayer, Daniel asked God to forgive their sins that led to Israel’s captivity.
And as strange as that sounds, it falls in line with something that Jesus said recorded in the Gospel of John:
22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:23)
Jesus said that if we forgive other people’s sins, they are forgiven. Now, this absolutely does not mean that these people are Christians, but it seems as believers we have the authority to ask God to forgive certain acts of sin.
And when we do that, these sinful acts will be forgiven.
And this may play a vital role in spiritual warfare, because in his prayer asking for Israel’s forgiveness, Daniel also spoke of curses that had come upon the nation because of its sin (Daniel 9:11).
I believe these curses give Satan the legal authority to put people, government leaders, and even nations into spiritual bondage.
By asking God to forgive these sins, it breaks the legal stronghold that Satan not only has over a nation but even an individual.
Does this suggest if you are praying for a person’s salvation or even our children, it’s prudent to ask God to forgive some of their specific sins as it could potentially weaken Satan’s hold on them?
Possibly. Because this in turn would make them more open to the Gospel and the moving of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible states that Job was one of the most righteous men in the era before the flood (Job 1:1).
So what made him so righteous?
We are told that one of the things Job did was make sacrifices on behalf of his children for their sins, even for the ones they unknowingly committed.
“Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts,” Job said.
Yes, Job asked God to forgive his children’s sins (Job 1:5).
Even as He was hanging on the cross, Jesus asked His Heavenly Father to forgive those who had participated in the crucifixion (Luke 23:34).
I am not going to be adamant on this, but it leaves the impression that forgiveness may be an important element of a believer’s arsenal when it comes to spiritual warfare and prayer.