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Forgiven or Not

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The gospel of Matthew records for us:  “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” But Mark only recorded: “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” And Luke likewise recorded: “This cup is the New Covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.”

So if you are like many who do not read the full word to get its entire counsel, you will have heard from Mark and Luke about the New Covenant, but you may miss the purpose of its establishment.  The blood of Jesus is specifically poured out not for blessings, but for the forgiveness of sins, which in itself is a great blessing.  As such, make no mistake… when you put your life into the hands of Jesus, the covenant you have with God is not the Covenant of Life, Blessing, Deliverance, Priesthood, Kingship and so on… but very specifically is for the forgiveness of sins.

You see, those who remain under God’s covenant with Noah only need not forgive sins.  To avoid being destroyed by a flood that lasts 40 days or nights, they merely have to find a rainbow in the clouds and remind God of His covenant with them.  Without forgiving anyone’s sins, they are able to live secure in the knowledge that God will never send a flood to wipe out all life again.

Those who choose to live under God’s covenant with Abraham do not have to forgive sins either to be blessed as Abraham was blessed.  For them the circumcision of the flesh is sufficient to live secure in the knowledge of God’s promises to Abraham: “The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” That is why to this day the descendants of Abraham through his wives – Sarah, Hagar and Keturah – remain in firm possession of all the different parts of Canaan, regardless of the nationalities and religious affiliations.  Those who participate in the circumcision of the flesh are under God’s covenant with Abraham.  Like those under Noah’s covenant who only need to find the rainbow in the sky, the descendants of Abraham only need to have their flesh circumcised to remain possessors of Canaan.  And like the Noahites, they need not forgive sins to receive the blessings promised in their covenant.

Also likewise with Israel, Phinehas, David, Solomon, Isaac and Jacob… none of their covenants bear these words – “forgiveness of sins” – for them to receive the blessings of their covenant.  Even the Covenant of the Repentance of Sins that God had with Solomon does not require the people of Israel to forgive the sins of their enemies to receive the blessings.  For their repentance causes God to forgive them as He said, “…if My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Nowhere, however, are they required to forgive the sins of others as it is required of us who have taken up our rights to be children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, the Establisher of this New Covenant, a covenant with the specific purpose of the forgiveness of sins.

As the Lord said when He told us how we should pray, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” But look again and see what He said in the next line:  “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” In the first instance, He spoke about forgiving those who sinned against us, but in the next line, that forgiveness is extended out to all men, not just those who sinned against us, even though you can argue that is what He meant.  That is true, but because the precise word does not include ‘who sinned against you’ the second time as it did the first, then you should extend this to all men and not just those who have sinned against you.  The witness of this line of thought that Jesus really meant that we are to forgive men their sins regardless of whether they have sinned against us or not is His first command given to the disciples after His resurrection.  The first post resurrection command, the first thing, Jesus wanted His disciples to begin doing was not to go and preach or baptise the nations… but rather, as He walked into the room they had locked themselves in out of fear on resurrection evening, was… “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Again you can see the levels of maturity that Jesus expects from every disciple as they grow in Him.

In Matthew 6.14 to the infantile disciples, He commanded to forgive those who sinned against them.  As infants we tend to remember most those who have sinned against us and offended us.  Then He went to the next level of growth – “But if you do not forgive men their sins…” – pointing out a stage of growth where you are mature enough to receive the Holy Spirit’s power and together with the power of His Name are able to forgive anyone their sins.  So to those disciples who remained with Him from the beginning and did not take part in the great desertion of John 6.66 over a hard teaching, Jesus gave them the power and authority that “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven…” and also spoke of the final stage of growth in maturity – “…if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” A place where some will grow to a maturity that would allow them to know the Holy Spirit well enough to recognise those who have spoken against the Holy Spirit and so have committed the unforgivable sin.

However, as in all things of God and Christ, there is a growing process, there is a requirement of time spent in learning, studying, practising and being forged before you can be used, each at their varying levels of development and maturity.

So the first step of the practice of forgiveness of sins, until that practice achieves the required standard, takes place using those who have sinned against us.  Then it takes place with those who have not sinned against us at all… but merely people we know or are associated with or have heard about.  In fact, these people may have no relationship with us as far as sin against us is concerned.  However, those who are at least mature adolescents and no longer children will also see that we are also related to other people through sin, not because they sinned against us, but because we have sinned against them or have sinned with them.

Indeed, it is often we who are the disciples of Christ who have evil thoughts against others, slandering them, coveting over their possessions and withholding from them the real gospel because of our own laziness and prejudicial ignorance (and vice versa), so that we are as guilty of sinning against those to whom we are sent to bring the good news as they are guilty of sinning against us.  However, since we are supposed to be the ones who can see and they are the ones who are blind, who is guilty of a greater sin?  Truly it is us who call ourselves Christians.

As well as sinning against others, we are also guilty of participating in sin with others when we join in their schemes that forsake the word of God for the sake of convenience, commerce, political expediency, ambition and tradition.  To blindly follow another disciple without first ensuring that you are following Jesus first puts you into this category, just like Peter who sinned with James the Younger when he acted like a hypocrite in front of men from James and sinned against Barnabas by leading him astray by his hypocrisy. Or James the Younger when he led us all astray with his recommendations and the participation of the whole church in condoning his recommendations to us gentiles in the letter of Acts 15.23 means that we have all sinned with James the Younger.

Now, you will not be able to enter the next level of maturity if you have not practised that which was required to the satisfaction of God.  In this we are not speaking of salvation, but rather, growth to attain the qualifications for office and entrustment.  Some are only able to handle one talent, others two and others five.  The one who was given the five talents by the master must have worked harder (that is, practised more) than the ones who received the two and the one talent.  So likewise, you will not see the command to forgive includes forgiving those whom you sinned against and sinned with unless you have become an expert in forgiving those whom have sinned against you.  An expert is one who knows what to do and how to do it in an instant whenever the situation arises.  An amateur is one who does not recognise the situation and hesitates in his course of action.  If you have put into practice a daily regime of repentance and forgiveness of your sins and of those whom have sinned against you, you will see that the forgiveness of those you sinned against and sinned with is a natural need.  For the law of sin that lives in your flesh will inevitably cause you to sin against and sin with others more than others sin against you.

Indeed, the reality of an average ‘Christian’ life is that you would sin more often against or with others than others sin against you.  As such, the forgiveness of the sins of those you sin with or against is in fact more pertinent.

So important is the forgiveness of sins required for participation in this New Covenant that Jesus put the two greatest blessings of the New Covenant with the need to forgive, not the need to be forgiven.

Again, in His early teachings to the disciples when their journey with Him was in its infancy (in the first year of discipleship), Jesus forgave the sins of the crippled who was lowered through the roof of the house, and when questioned by the teachers of the law, He said, “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on Earth to forgive sins….  Get up, take your mat and go home.” Jesus made healing a sign of His authority to forgive sins.  So likewise, the sign of healing that accompanies believers is the confirmation that in His Name sins have been forgiven amongst those who have heard the gospel.  Healing is a blessing of the New Covenant that Jesus has placed together with the purpose of the covenant – the forgiveness of sins – so that healing is both a sign of the validity of our authority and a sign of God’s compensation to sinners who need their sins forgiven.  The healing of the sick that accompanies the preaching of the gospel is then confirmation of God’s willingness to forgive, and the healing of the sick by those who preach the gospel is a sign of the authority of the Son of Man that He has received from God.

And later in their final year with Him, no, in their final week with Him before the crucifixion as He gave them a foretaste of the power they will receive, He made forgiveness as the condition that is required to activate the power of a prayer spoken with faith and without doubt when they walked passed the fig tree He had cursed the morning before, saying, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in Heaven may forgive you your sins.”

And when you have practised and enjoyed forgiving not only those who have sinned against you, but also those you sinned with and sinned against… then you will be ready to be taught whom not to forgive so that they are not forgiven.  However, for now practise forgiveness until you have truly forgiven, and the signs that confirm your achievement will manifest.

So dangerous is unforgiveness to anyone who says he is a believer or disciple of Christ that in truth I would say it is more dangerous than Satan.  For without forgiveness you have no covenant with God through Jesus Christ.  If you do not forgive, you are not forgiven.  So if you wonder why as a ‘Christian’, as a believer or disciple, the Bible does not yield its nourishment to your spirit, it is because you have not forgiven.  If you wonder why what you asked for in prayer never happens, it is because you have not forgiven.  If you wonder why you experience no healing by God’s power or you cannot heal the sick, it is because you have not forgiven.  It is not that God has not forgiven you, it is not that you will not be saved eventually, for God has promised, “…everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved…” So like the thief who said to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom,” who had no time left to tithe or to forgive even, was saved.  So, have faith in God… for you who call on the Name of the Lord like that thief will be saved.

But we are not speaking to those whose only concern is about salvation, but to those who are seeking to grow and mature and be fit for service to usher in the arrival of Jesus Christ.

So, as the Lord has said, “Consider carefully what you hear… how you listen,” and if your life as a believer or disciple of Christ has been barren of healing and power, it may just be that you have not forgiven, not only those who sinned against you but also those whom you sinned against and sinned with.  Perhaps then you might see what Jesus meant by the 30, 60, 100 fold harvest that comes from the heart that is good and noble.

Forgiveness for you, elect, is the key to being blameless when you do not forgive and they are not forgiven.

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