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What is Godliness? The term itself is a shortened word for God-likeness, that is, in the likeness of God or like God, or the image of God. Godliness is the image of God. Now, what do you think of what you consider the virtues that are demanded of you to be godly?

Does Godliness mean that you have to love as God is love, be holy as God is holy, merciful as He is merciful, perfect as He is perfect, powerful as He is powerful, with all knowledge and wisdom and understand, being of slowness to anger and compassionate, generous, peaceable and probably a million other attributes that you could list of God as you get to know Him more and more? You could hold huge debates and teaching seminars concerning what are the most important attributes of God. Holiness? Sinlessness? His love and compassion? Whatever you consider, and whatever more you can add to this list, you are probably right. Indeed, you are right, for they are all the attributes of God. All of them form part of His image and we should have all of these in varying degrees.

That is what God is like, all power, loving, kind, gentle, just, merciful, slow to anger, compassionate, a hater of evil, generous, wise, all knowing, understanding, a peace loving warrior, good, a Father, a Son, patient and gracious, and the list goes on… even that of a servant’s attitude…

But what do you think is the most important of all of God’s own attributes in His eyes? What do you think God expects the most from His image, the one thing that He must see in His image, so important is this one attribute that without it, all the repentance and faith in Jesus’ Name counts for nothing?

To many, having power to do signs, wonders and miracles is the sign of godliness, but not to God, for the false prophet can do false signs and wonders to deceive the very elect if that were possible. To others, having love and compassion for the poor is the sign of godliness, but not to God, for Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have Me.”[1] To others still, being able to preach and annunciate deep spiritual truth is the sign of godliness; but to Jesus it is not, for Satan’s so called deep secrets[2] can give what appears to be deep spiritual truths. To some, a life of an abundance of strict rules of moralities of do’s and don’ts is a sign of godliness, but God prefers as few rules as possible, one to Adam and one to the disciples of Jesus, whereas to those who are stiff-necked and do not want to listen to Him, He added 608 rules, decrees and commands to the original ten commandments.

So, what is the one quality of godliness that God wants to see in His image, in you and me, before He would accept you as the finished work of Jesus and not reject you?

Repentance and faith in the gospel begins the process, the process of salvation and sanctification, which ultimately ends up with what God wants for Himself, which is a people that He can call His own to live with Him in New Jerusalem without the need for a temple, whereby He and the Lamb will be its Temple.

Jesus said, “Repent and believe in the good news,”[3] and those who believe in Him, He will raise to life on the last day.[4] We know God so loved the world that He sent Jesus, His One and Only Son to save the world, but now know also that out of those who believe and are saved, God will raise up through the Spirit of Sonship, the Holy Spirit, sons and daughters for Himself, who will be brought up to the fullness of the stature of Christ. Now Jesus said, “I have revealed You (Your Name) to those whom You gave Me out of the world.”[5] And Jesus revealed much, all and more than the attributes of God I have listed, that through Jesus, we have come to know His power, grace, mercy, love and so on… But what is the most important authenticator of the perfect image of God? What is the ‘proof of Godliness’ that must be present in every believer and disciple, every apostle, every prophet, every evangelist, every pastor, every teacher, and even the elect of the Lord? Otherwise nothing they do, nothing they have believed in, and nothing they have worked for will endure God’s fire of judgement.

The clue to the ultimate ‘proof of Godliness’ is held in two words of the gospel of Jesus, “For God so loved the world, He gave His One and Only Son…” The first word indicating the reason and the action prompted by the reason, a reason that is designated to be the only reason by that first word of the sentence, “For” and the action, “gave”. It is because God forgave us that He saved us, and He saved us in order that the one aspect of His Image, of His Person, that He wanted to be made known to all creation and through all creation is that God forgives.

So important is forgiveness to God that Jesus said, “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”[6] Notice that Jesus did not say, “If you do not forgive men their sins, God will not forgive you,” but rather He said, “…your Father…” That means forgiveness of sins is of paramount importance if you want to be in the family, because it doesn’t matter if you are a son of God and can do miracles greater than Jesus and can reveal the highest and deepest secrets of God yet if you do not forgive you are not forgiven, which makes you a son of God who is still subject to judgement. The fallen angels were also sons of God, as they were called in the Old Testament,[7] yet they are subject to judgement. Likewise, anyone of us who has taken up the right to be a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ and has grown up to be a son or daughter; if you do not forgive, God who has become your Father because of your faith in Jesus, will still not forgive you. If you remain unforgiven by God, nothing you have ever done counts for reward, and you will be like those who are snatched from the fire because God is merciful.

God withheld the most precious attribute of His Being, forgiveness, from Satan and his cohorts, the Beast, Death and the False Prophet. By withholding forgiveness from them, they could never possess that one attribute God so values about Himself that He sent Jesus to reveal it to us.

Indeed, the first authority He gave Jesus before Jesus could say after the resurrection that He had received all authority in Heaven and on Earth, was the authority to forgive sins. Jesus displayed His possession of this authority when He said, “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on Earth to forgive sins…” Then He said to the paraplegic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”[8] And it is written: The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”[9] They were correct that God alone could forgive sins, so Jesus, God on Earth, the Son of God, could forgive sins.

Through Jesus’ words, it is evident that God did not want to keep the privilege to forgive sins to Himself, but rather He made it known that we who are made in His likeness, were to do likewise. So important is this ability to forgive to be in us, His image, to make us truly godly, that Jesus told us clearly that it is what we should pray for. “Father, forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.”[10] And He warned us of the consequence of not doing it: “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” And then after His resurrection, He gave the power to forgive sins in His Name to the disciples: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”[11]

He gave us the power to enforce the authority He had, the same authority that He first had, which was to authenticate and validate the purpose of His mission to save this world because the Father loved the world, and the Father wanted to be known above all else that He is God who forgives sins.

When He revealed Himself to Moses, He introduced God to Moses saying, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”[12] Forgiveness is so important in God’s eyes concerning Himself, and therefore His image or likeness, that Jesus does not warn us that if we are not compassionate to others, God would not be compassionate to us; or if we are not gracious to others, God would not be gracious to us; or if we are not slow in anger to others, God would not be slow in anger to us; or if we do not abound in love and faithfulness, God would not abound in love and faithfulness to us; or if we do not maintain love to others, God would not maintain love to us; but if we “do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

In forgiveness and unforgiveness alone is there tit for tat from God to us. So, if that does not tell you that forgiveness is the all important ingredient that God wants in His likeness or image, then you have missed the mark. Without forgiveness, Godliness is marred, and fearful judgment awaits all in order to teach them how much God values forgiveness.

Everything that happened to Jesus, everything that Jesus did, was like a background prop to show off FORGIVENESS.

Luke records for us Jesus’ forgiveness for those who crucified Him and reviled Him: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing,”[13] so that in the same way we could and should forgive those who persecute us because they do not know what they are doing. That is, Jesus Himself putting into practice that which He taught in Matthew 6:14, in a situation that few of us would find ourselves in, that is forgiving those who are killing us even though we are innocent. He took the worst possible scenario that men could do to another man, and He displayed forgiveness. The perfect Image of God’s glory in the moment of His greatest suffering did not display power, not even grace, knowledge or wisdom, and neither vengeance, but forgiveness. Having done that to those who did not know what they were doing, He then took forgiveness to a place where few of us want to go, but He went there to show us what going the extra mile means in forgiveness.

You can forgive those who do not know what they are doing, but what about those who know what they are doing? How do you forgive them and say that you forgive them? And what if that person is God Himself? Both Matthew and Mark rend only one saying from the cross: “Eloi, Eloi, Lama sabachthani?”[14] What is so important about this saying that of the seven this is repeated in two Gospels, and in these Gospels they are the only verses from the cross that are recorded, whereas Luke and John recorded three each? When you look at it in this light, twice God wanted this verse, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” to capture the attention of the reader concerning what Jesus spoke from the cross.

Firstly, before you get into an argument whether God did forsake Jesus or not, remember, Jesus does not lie. If He said, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” it means that from Jesus’ perspective, God had forsaken Him, even let Him down. And He was forsaken through no fault of His own. He, Jesus, was on that cross as a sin offering by God’s will, and whatever Jesus said and did to end up pinned on that cross and cursed was because of the Father’s will, not His own. Yet now, Jesus feels and genuinely without lying, tells us and asks God, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”

God commands us to forgive so that He could forgive us, yet God has already forgiven us, which is why Jesus came to save the world. But how do you forgive God, especially if you are Jesus, because He has forsaken You? You can just see Satan smiling with glee when he heard those words from our Lord’s broken heart, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” Jesus had to experience the forsaking because we have felt being forsaken by God from Adam till now; and we have always felt that it was not our fault. He didn’t have to put that tree in the garden, and why did God make the devil in the first place? Why did God allow the devil to tempt us? Why doesn’t God put a stop to this? Why do babies die? Why this, why that? There are those who do not know God, but who feel forsaken by God, but worst of all is when you do know God, you know all there is to know of God and you have done everything according to His command, and still—God forsakes you! How bad does that make you feel?

The knowledge that God had forsaken Him would have made those nails seem like a walk in the park for Jesus. Not once did Jesus say, “I am hurting,” because of the nails, for He knew the greatest hurt He would ever feel was to experience the forsaking by God of a Man who had done God’s will. Listen again… the greatest pain Jesus was to endure was the pain of a Man who had done God’s will to be forsaken by God, not the pain of a man forsaken by God because he had not done God’s will, no, not Adam’s pain, but the pain of the Son of God. Adam may have felt the pain of God’s forsaking when he was cast out of the garden, but Adam did not do God’s will. Whatever our pain may be when we feel God has forsaken us, it is nothing compared to the pain Jesus had to feel for us to receive God’s forgiveness, the pain of a righteous Man, forsaken by God. In that darkness, it is as if Jesus could not look to God to give Him justice and to give Him relief, which is a state of mind we cannot comprehend unless we have truly become like Him.

What did Jesus do? Cry out, “Father, I forgive You!”? That would be an insult to His Father for that would have meant that God had sinned against Jesus and had wronged Jesus. No, those were not the words to be uttered, but Jesus showed us the way to go, the way a righteous Man forsaken by God even though He had only done God’s will, should go. Jesus did not come off that cross, nor did He humiliate His Father in the sight of His enemies by forgiving Him by speech, but by action. Jesus continued His work on the cross, work that made Him thirsty, and even from the cross He gave salvation to those who faced imminent death and could offer no wish of atonement except a confession of faith, like the thief who said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom with Your kingly power.”[15] He worked as a God-forsaken Man, doing and finishing God’s work until it was finished. When it was finished, He declared it by saying, “It is finished.” John recorded: With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.[16] But Luke recorded for us the final words, which were shouted, shouted in triumph, the triumph of a God-forsaken righteous Man who had finished the work God had given Him, to show once and for all, no matter what had happened, it did not change how Jesus felt about God, His Father. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”[17]

God, You may have forsaken Me, but I still trust You. Jesus took forgiveness of sins to a height that those who do not love or trust God can never go. He didn’t just mouth it, for so many of us say it yet we betray our hearts with our actions. We forgive those who sinned against us and then we stay away from them forever. Jesus took forgiveness into eternity, and through Him eternity is bathed… robed… flooded… covered… with forgiveness, forgiveness that needs no words, for it was finished by action and never made mention of again. So complete was the forgiveness that to speak of it is to insult it, but if you understand what these words mean, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit,” then you would have begun to understand the permanence and completeness of God’s forgiveness.

Not only has He forgiven us, He has committed Himself to be with us forever. Those words completed the process of salvation and sanctification for Christ. God would have a people to Himself in New Jerusalem where no temple is needed for the ritualistic washing away of sin, but where Jesus and He would be its Temple. Forgiveness reigns supreme through a God-forsaken righteous Man who committed His eternity to God.

Satan could no longer accuse God or God… neither the Father nor the Son… about his own treatment. For if Satan had sinned, and no amount of complaining about God’s injustice to him, for after all God made Satan, would amount to anything for it was drowned out. But the shout that drowned out all who complained, were complaining and will complain, that God had forsaken them, was drowned out by Jesus when He shouted in a voice, louder than any archangel’s, with words that outlast Heaven and Earth, “It is finished. Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” That power to complete the task and to shout… no whisper… to shout as only God could shout from a roman cross came from the Holy Spirit, the Unseen One, the One who was with Him from the beginning to the end. It is no wonder; blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, Jesus will not forgive.

So, elect, the power you have received is not to make you God-like through signs, wonders and miracles, not through works of compassion and love, not through rituals of holiness and self-abasement, not even holiness in the exclusivity of your love and loyalty for Jesus, no, not just that, it is for all of that and more. That more is displayed in your ability to finish the race and complete the task that God has appointed you even when you feel God-forsaken; to finish the task even when it seems that only the Lake of Sulphur awaits you, yet to be able to say, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit,” just like He did.

Thus, the practice of forgiveness of those who have sinned against you is merely ground work to learn to forgive as Jesus forgave. The power of God that heals is the same power of God that kills. We are not judges of the world of men but merely workmen to bring this world to repentance to receive the forgiveness that God has for them, so that all from the least to the greatest will know God forgives, which is why He is to be feared.

The Holy Spirit is given to disciples so that they have the power to forgive sins in the authority of Jesus’ Name. By pronouncing forgiveness, they loose on Earth what has been loosed in Heaven, but to ensure that the precious forgiveness of God is not wasted, by that same power we heal the sick, shut up the skies while we prophesy and strike the Earth with plagues as often as we wish.[18] We let the blind see and make those who claim to see blind with God’s terror. All this and more will we do so that every knee will bow and every tongue confess as we have, that Jesus is Lord, so that all may enjoy the wonders of New Earth and New Jerusalem together, forever with God.

Do not just forgive those who have sinned against you, but go the extra mile and create by the word of faith in prayer, the circumstance of their lives that would bring them to the place where they too are co-heirs with you. And, in the days to come, when you feel God-forsaken, remember you are in the company of the only truly righteous Man who was God-forsaken, yet He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”

If you think the going has been hard and the teachings are getting harder, you have yet to learn the hardest lesson of all that only the Son of God can teach you from a roman cross. AMEN


 

[1] John 12:8

[2] Revelation 2:24

[3] Mark 1:15

[4] John 6:40,54

[5] John 17:6

[6] Matthew 6:15

[7] Genesis 6:2; Job 1:6

[8] Matthew 9:6

[9] Luke 5:21

[10] Matthew 6:12

[11] John 20:22-23

[12] Exodus 34:6-7

[13] Luke 23:34

[14] Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46

[15] Luke 23:42

[16] John 19:30

[17] Luke 23:46

[18] Revelation 11:6

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