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“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”[1]

If you look at what the Lord said, “when you have done everything…” which means that none of us, not one, can say these words, “We are unworthy servants, we have only done our duty,” to the Lord, for there is not a person who can say they have done everything they were told. Certainly, not one of us has done everything we were told, much less everything that is written, which Jesus told us to do. So, the truthful confession for all who have begun to listen to Jesus and put His words into practice is this: “We are unworthy servants, we have not done our duty,” and in particular, our duty to forgive.

Apart from the fact that the Covenant is called the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins, we should not forget the first instruction that Jesus gave the disciples as soon as He caught up with them where they were hiding. It is: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”[2] Here is the Lord after the Resurrection, and the first order of the New Day or rather the first rule of the New Order is forgiveness, not vengeance, not love, not faith, not hope, nor prayer or fasting, and not even repentance. The first thing on the heart of Jesus as He appeared in triumph before His friends who saw Him die, saw Him buried, or had heard that He died and was buried because they were not there, is FORGIVE SINS. As such, we do not apologise for our emphasis from now on, in our listening to Jesus, about the forgiveness of sins. And we do not apologise either about our insistence that we be forgiven as we repent, for sin is disobedience to God’s command, and any servant who has not done everything he or she was told is sinning. As such, not one of us stops sinning, although what we practice is not sin but righteousness, because we are practising the words of Jesus. However, because of the incompleteness of our practice, we still end up being sinners.

So, we take the lowest attitude and take our place beside the chief prince of sinners himself, the apostle Paul. For Paul did not always do everything he was told to do either. Nor did he do everything he knew he had to do, leaving for us the legacy of having to deal with the men from James and their teachings. For if Paul and Barnabas had stood up in Acts 15 and opposed James the Younger with his recommendations, then we would not be the ones called upon now to deal with them. In their failure to stop James’ rise in influence within the church at Acts 15, Barnabas paid the price of being led astray by the hypocrisy generated by the men from James,[3] and Paul himself paid the price of watching his hard work at Galatia destroyed by these disciples of James. Peter paid a price as well to be named by Paul in Galatia 2:11-12 for falling into hypocrisy.

Am I criticising our senior brothers as if we could have done any better? Not at all; they did far better than we could have at their task, for it was their task to start the church age. But, it is our task to bring the time of the Gentiles to an end. So, be aware, men of much better stature than any of us still made mistakes, and any form of complacency, self-righteousness, piety or pride will also be our undoing. For if Satan cannot stop us, he will distract us, and if he cannot distract us, he will lead us astray. An army that follows its retreating enemies, is in fact being led by its enemies and not its commander. So, be aware that Satan is just as well versed, in fact, better versed, at the tactics of warfare than you and me. And the only place for us is to remain in the Lord, and led by the Lord; and the first order given by our Lord when He came back amongst us the first time, was forgiveness. The place He went to prepare for us as He promised in John 14:3 was a place from which to forgive sins. That is the stronghold He has prepared for us, a stronghold so powerful that Satan’s most powerful weapon has no effect. Sin has no power once it is forgiven. A debt is no burden once it is forgiven, it holds no threats and is merely a memory, more like a dream from which one awakes.

An unforgiven sin remains a poison, for an unforgiven sin is one where even if repentance had been made, it is still used to hold that person in the past as if he was still sinning. Understand this; forgiveness does not prevent sin, but annuls present sin. That is why Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”[4] So, do not even worry about the sins of tomorrow if you cannot forgive the sins of yesterday and today, especially today. For an army that cannot get over yesterday’s defeats cannot hope to win the battle today, and the army that cannot win the battle today has no hope of fighting tomorrow. For, unlike the world, we do not fight another day, but we fight only today. So, forgiveness must be forged now, today, for in the eternal life that is now, as Jesus said,[5] we will above all else come to know that it was forgiveness that permitted us to enter into eternal life. And the first thing we should have learned about in eternal life, is that God forgives and He enjoys, nay, He loves to forgive. God, who is Love, enjoys forgiving and forgiving abundantly, for forgiveness gives the depth to God’s Love.

So, if we are to attempt to plumb the depths of God’s Love, we will begin to see it in His forgiveness, and we will appreciate the abundance of His forgiveness when we learn to count the abundance of our sinfulness in God’s eyes. So, end the days when we come before God like the Pharisee of Luke 18:10 and list off the things we do right and the sins we have avoided, saying, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”[6] But become like the tax collector who said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’’[7]

And in our case, “Lord, have mercy on us, for we are truly unworthy servants—not even fit to be called servants for we have not done everything we have been told.” That must be your secret attitude, having done all you can, to stand and be judged as one not worthy of being a servant, and to be your own harshest judge, in the fervency of your repentance. Not even taking the lowest seat at the table, but to stand as one who still needs to finish his work and not sit or lie down. Then having that attitude firmly in place, strive with all your might, heart and soul, making every effort to enter through that Narrow Door, the Door for the one who has done everything they were told. For, that is what our God deserves.

He deserves to have servants of the highest calibre, capable of doing and who are doing the things Jesus has shown them, and even the greater things than these,[8] and yet who judge and consider themselves rightly as servants who have not done ALL they have been told. If the servants strive to do all they are told, yet judge themselves as unworthy, then none of the other servants who do what they please can stand. In this way, as Paul wrote: We will keep on doing what we are doing in order to cut the ground from those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.[9] So that, if one who can open the eyes of the blind, cause the lame to walk, and so forth, only considers himself or herself an unworthy servant, then what can those, who can do nothing except talk, boast about? That is why for the sake of the Lord and His martyrs, we must strive to do all things as the Lord has commanded us, and still consider ourselves unworthy to be even servants.

And in order to fight this battle, Jesus knew there was a place we needed, a stronghold He had to prepare for us, so strong that not even the best of Satan can penetrate. The stronghold called “Forgiveness” is the place He prepared for us and took us to as soon as He came back amongst us the first time. That is the true stronghold of the Holy Spirit, and if we are encamped there, then no one can sack the land, for strongholds are not just places of refuge, but rather, they are a place from which dominance and therefore dominion can be asserted. It is a place impenetrable to attack, as well as a place from which overwhelming attacks can be launched so that no enemy can occupy the land. By and large, the church, which speaks of spiritual warfare, sees strongholds as places of refuges for a Christian and a place of resistance for the enemy. But rarely sees it as a place from which the threat of overwhelming attacks can be and are launched with impunity, much like a gun battery can rain down artillery on the enemy and cut them to pieces before they approach. It is also a place from which to attack an enemy stronghold with long range impunity. For it is written: “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third generation and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.”[10]

Since Jesus made “forgiveness” the centrepiece of God’s Love by making the word of the Covenant “Forgiveness”, so God extends forgiveness to a thousand generations of those who forgive as He forgives and keeps His commands. A thousand generations… from Abraham to Jesus there has been only 42 generations, and that’s almost half of history, so a thousand generations will surely cover all the generations from Adam to the end of the Millennium. Forgiveness gives range to love to cover the one thousand generations, whereas, the punishment of sins covers only three to four generations. Since Satan’s prime weapon is sin, so that we would be tempted into sin and be punished by God as well, his weapon only has a reach of three to four generations, but God’s weapon, ultimate weapon, forgiveness, has a reach of one thousand generations. No wonder the Psalmist said, “If You, Oh Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You, there is forgiveness; therefore You are feared.”[11]

The strength of a stronghold is not only in its height or width or breadth, but its depth. How deeply a wartime bunker is buried is what makes it impenetrable and ultimately, indestructible, not how big or high it is. So, a stronghold with no depth is useless and can be knocked over. Forgiveness gives depth to love, and when forgiveness is the roof of your love, not the attraction, then love can begin to reach up and spread out to the left and right, without fear of being rooted out.

That is why when Jesus came, He came as One who had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him,[12] so that the root of the love for Jesus was never based on attraction. Mary loved Jesus, but that love did not take its root in attraction, but forgiveness, because through Him, her many sins were forgiven. Satan, on the other hand, uses attraction as the basis of his type of love, and when the church uses tactics that attract people to them, they are building on very shallow roots.

So, we rebuild the stronghold, or rather, we return to the place, the stronghold prepared for us by Jesus, the stronghold called “Forgiveness”, for we are truly unworthy to be servants, for we have not done everything we are told to do. Even now, I have not taught you all I am supposed to teach you tonight. “Lord, forgive me,” and when I ask that, I am in the stronghold of God’s Love, “Forgiveness.”


 

[1] Luke 17:10

[2] John 20:23

[3] Galatians 2:13

[4] Matthew 6:34

[5] John 17:3

[6] Luke 18:11-12

[7] Luke 18:13

[8] John 14:12

[9] 2 Corinthians 11:12

[10] Exodus 20:5-6

[11] Psalm 130:3-4

[12] Isaiah 53:2

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