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“This is what is written: ‘The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His Name to all nations.”[1]

The concept of the mastery of sin is so foreign to us that unless there is a complete and full understanding of the Grace of God, it cannot be a subject that can be practised, much less taught, for the avoidance of sin is what we are familiar with, and repentance for the failure of the avoidance of sin and forgiveness for the failure to avoid the sin is what we know well. As such, the repentance and forgiveness that is often sought and thought of is the repentance and forgiveness for sins that we failed to avoid, which harks back to the words of the letter from the elders of Jerusalem who adopted James the Younger’s judgement, “You do well to avoid these things.”[2]

But what would have been Jesus’ judgements concerning sin? Would Jesus say, “You do well to avoid these things,” or does not the life of Christ fulfil these words of Samuel: “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed [listen[3]] is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry”?[4] For Christ heard what the Father said, then repeated it and obeyed the Father exactly as He was commanded. By now you must surely realise that the teaching of Christ that most of His disciples rejected in John 6:53-54 is not made up by Jesus, but was given to Him by the Father, even though it brings about the judgement of Leviticus 17:10. “Any Israelite or any alien living among you who eats any blood—I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people.” For Jesus said, “the world must learn that I love the Father, and that I do exactly what My Father has commanded Me,”[5] even if it meant teaching His disciples to do something that broke the Law of Moses at Leviticus 17:10-15 to bring the judgement of having God’s face set against you and being cut off from the people.

It is as if Jesus Himself forgot His own teaching when He said, “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever practises and teaches these commands will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”[6] As such, you may say that Christ made Himself least in the Kingdom of Heaven, or rather, God did by giving Him what He had to teach so that, as it is written: You made Him a little lower than the Heavenly beings [the angels[7]],[8] the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven before Earth was created. Yet, did Christ lose anything, for this present Heaven is destined for destruction so the present Kingdom of Heaven is to be destroyed, but the Kingdom of God lasts forever?

Thus, the Spirit of the Lord is not a spirit that says, “You do well to avoid these things,” but rather, He is the One who whispers, “This is the way, walk in it.”[9] For God is not a God who shows us what to avoid, but rather the way to go, for again He said, “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”[10] The Spirit of the Lord, the attitude of the Lord, is one of being proactive rather than inactive. That is why even to Cain God did not say, “You should avoid the sin,” but, “You must master it.”[11] As such, the repentance and forgiveness that is in the Name of Jesus is firstly repentance for sins committed and forgiveness of sins committed for unbelievers that they may repent and be saved.

However, for believers, it is repentance and forgiveness of sins that they failed to avoid as they are growing up in the Lord, so that the power of sin remains broken in those who are in Christ Jesus. And as Paul wrote: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the Law of the Spirit of Life set me free from the Law of Sin and Death.[12] And how did we receive the Spirit that we may be under His Law? Or, as Paul wrote to the Galatians: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the Law or by believing what you heard?[13] We received the Spirit of Life because we believed that which we heard from Jesus: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.”[14] This was why the Holy Spirit was not ashamed of Cornelius and his household, even as Peter stood there preaching reluctantly, causing Peter to say, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptised with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”[15] For Cornelius’ household received the Holy Spirit even though they were yet uncircumcised in the flesh! But like Peter, we forget what God teaches us and are only too easily persuaded by men who seem to have a reputation, so that later Paul would have to openly rebuke him of hypocrisy when Peter reverted to the partial observance of the Law of Moses under the influence of men from James the Younger. You can read this in Galatians 2:11-21.

So the Spirit whom we received under whose Law we are set free from the Law of Sin and Death was received through repentance and forgiveness of sins. Should it surprise you that the continued practices of repentance and forgiveness of sins will continue to keep us free from sin and its wages of death?

But as believers, we repent and forgive not because we have sinned in ignorance, no, but rather we sinned because we did not believe the words of Jesus, words that we may be ignorant of for no one told us these words, but rather gave us their words in their doctrines, traditions and catechisms. Even though it was sin out of ignorance, it is still sin. For others, they heard the word but did not believe it, for the command is “Repent and believe.”[16] Thus, believers need to also repent above all else of unbelief, for their unbelief makes a hypocrite of them when they call themselves “believers of Christ”. The forgiveness they need is to repent of their lack of faith. That is why Jesus called the nine at the bottom of the mountain an “unbelieving and perverse generation,”[17] for they had not believed His words when He gave them authority to drive out evil spirits[18] and to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons;”[19] and so He told them plainly, “because you have so little faith.”[20] Thus, there is a repentance and forgiveness that must still be preached to believers that is in the Name of Jesus. It is, “Lord, forgive us of our unbelief,” or better still to cry out, “help me overcome my unbelief!”[21] How sad that it was not the nine who cried out but rather the father of the boy. Thus repentance of unbelief and forgiveness of the sin of unbelief must be preached in His Name also, for then they may find themselves suitable for discipleship.

For the faith required for discipleship is the faith to believe in the words of Jesus and not just His Name. For all who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved, but only those who hear His words and put them into practice are His disciples. Thus, the repentance and forgiveness of sin for disciples is repentance from failing to practise the words of Jesus, not failing to believe, but failing to practise what we have heard. Thus, the practice of the words of Jesus sets a disciple free from judgement that is based on failure and success. Hence, even in the area of listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, a mistake made in the hearing is still not a lie, for the Lord said, “He who works for the honour and glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.”[22] It is the Holy Spirit who knows the attitude and it is He who will manifest the word as He wishes and wills.

What it requires from disciples is repentance and forgiveness of one another. For these teachings: – “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”[23] “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in Heaven may forgive you your sins.”[24] “This is how My Heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”[25] “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”[26] “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”[27] “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”[28] are not given to unbelievers or believers, but to the disciples as they progressed in their studies under the Lord’s teaching. They are repentance and forgiveness of each other’s failures in the practice of the words of Jesus without condemnation, for the practice is the obedience, not the success.

But for the overcomers, their repentance and forgiveness, which is in the Name of Jesus, is based on their inability to master the sin as they are commanded. For though you may be even more seasoned an apostle than Paul if that were possible, you can still fail to master the very gospel you preach, which is to practise perfectly the gospel you preach yet fall short. For Paul himself, who serves as the inspiration for those who are set aside by the Holy Spirit for His work, was deceived or persuaded by the elders of Jerusalem to participate in partial observance of the Law,[29] in contradiction to what he wrote and rebuked Peter over in his letter to the Galatians.[30] What was Paul’s sin then in Acts 21, a man who should have died when he was stoned and left for dead in Lystra and yet lived, for Paul is the only living martyr documented for us in the book of Acts by Luke?[31] It was not a sin that brought him condemnation, but rather, it was the sin of failing to master the sin, the sin of reverting back to justification by observance of the Law, especially when his gospel is the Gospel of Salvation by Grace through Faith and not by observance of the Law.

Was Paul condemned? No. Was he brought under correction and discipline? Yes. Did it make him more effective as a worker and also as one who the Lord could use to teach? Yes. That is why of the 23 books or letters written by disciples, Paul is directly credited with 13 of them, with the letter to the Hebrews being anonymously penned, whilst the other 9 are penned by 5 other disciples. Even John had only 4 books, though he was given the honour of the last and greatest book, the Revelation, for love is greater than faith and hope.

Thus, not only is repentance continuous, but to be complete, forgiveness of sins is also unceasing. That is the confidence that you will have in the sufficiency of the Grace of God. For the Gospel of Jesus Christ that gives us the forgiveness of sins through repentance came by the Grace of God poured out through Jesus Christ. This Grace that came first like a shower from Heaven to cleanse us and collected into a brook to sustain us, will continue to grow into a river that can sustain a nation until it becomes a sea that can sustain the world. Grace will never stop being poured out as long as there is repentance and forgiveness, because we believe that which we have heard from He who sent the Spirit of Life.

And the Law of the Spirit of Life, which comes into existence for all because the Lord spoke what the Father commanded Him to say and the Father said, “Listen to Him,” is: “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”[32] To those who receive God’s Grace to repent and believe, more Grace is given until they have an abundance; such an abundance that it is like rain that washes away the filth in the brook, which carries it to the river that carries it into the sea, to be covered over forever. That is the abundance of God’s Grace and that is why it is sufficient; sufficient to wash all sinners of their sins as they come into the Kingdom of Heaven because they repent; sufficient to sustain a believer as they develop more faith to follow Jesus and become a disciple to enter the Kingdom of God; sufficient to sustain a nation of disciples as they practise His words until they are elected to be overcomers. And God’s Grace is sufficient for those who would aspire to the fullness of the stature of the Overcomer that even as they master sin, they will not be condemned if they fail, because the second death has no power over the overcomer, for Jesus said, “He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.”[33]

To obey and listen is better than any sacrifice or burnt offering, so, what if you hear something that if you were to obey it would cause you to be cut off from your people? Therefore, repent and forgive as you desire and need to repent and forgive, for until the Lord comes and changes us in the twinkling of an eye,[34] we will continue in our wrestle against all sin, even as we are being perfected into His likeness. For the fullness of the stature of Christ in us is the fullness of the stature of the Master of Sin, He whose rule is so extensive that even sin is subject to His rule, thus fulfilling His Father’s command to Cain, son of Adam: “You must master it. Thou shalt rule over him.”[35]

Did not our Lord and King say, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”[36] He also asked, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on Earth?”[37] So, let us ensure He does find faith, the faith of believers; the faith of disciples; and the faith of overcomers. And by His Grace we will stand before Him as we continuously repent and unceasingly forgive. AMEN


 

[1] Luke 24:46-47

[2] Acts 15:29

[3] NLT

[4] 1 Samuel 15:22-23

[5] John 14:31

[6] Matthew 5:19

[7] OKJV

[8] Psalm 8:5

[9] Isaiah 30:21

[10] Isaiah 48:17

[11] Genesis 4:6

[12] Romans 8:1-2

[13] Galatians 3:2

[14] Acts 1:8

[15] Acts 10:47

[16] Matthew 21:32; Mark 1:15

[17] Mark 9:19; Luke 9:41

[18] Mark 5:7

[19] Matthew 10:8

[20] Matthew 17:20

[21] Mark 9:24

[22] John 7:18

[23] Matthew 6:14-15

[24] Mark 11:25

[25] Matthew 18:35

[26] Luke 6:37

[27] Luke 17:3-4

[28] John 20:22-23

[29] Acts 21:22-26

[30] Galatians 2:4,11-21

[31] Acts 14:19-20

[32] Matthew 13:12; 25:29; Mark 4:25; Luke 8:18

[33] Revelation 2:11

[34] 1 Corinthians 15:51-53

[35] Genesis 4:7 [NIV, OKJV]

[36] John 14:12

[37] Luke 18:8

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