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“Father… Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us, (who is indebted to us).”[1] There are two key words here: “everyone who sins against us” and “everyone who is indebted to us.”

As it has been said, forgiveness of sins, rebellion and wickedness is the newness that God brought out of Himself after creation was made, and rebellion, sin and wickedness were manifested in both Satan and Adam. God could not be God the Forgiver until sin, rebellion and wickedness were truly manifested. He may have had that potential, but the potential was not realised until the reality came.

The covenant He sealed with Jesus, in the blood of Jesus, is called the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins. As He said, “This is My blood of the (New) Covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”[2] And when He left, He said this to the disciples, “and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His Name (the Christ) to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”[3] Repentance begins the journey, the conception if you like, of the new creation, and faith gives growth to the new creation. However, the new creation is only accepted if it manifests not miraculous power, even though that has been the emphasis, but with the miraculous power, the true new creation that is an imitation of God is a creature that forgives as God forgives, forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.

Jesus also said, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation,”[4] which we have always assumed was John 3:16 about believing in Jesus and His sacrifice. But as you can see in Luke 24:47, He specified that besides the Gospel, repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached. We tend to preach, “Repent and believe,” and some preach faith in God without tackling the issue that repentance and forgiveness of sins are to be preached. In Peter’s first preach, he said, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”[5] He actually included three of the four key words we must include in our preaching at all times, which are: Repent, be baptised, and forgiveness, leaving out on believe, for Jesus said, “Repent,” and, “Repent and believe.” As such, His preach was aimed first to those who would repent and enter the Kingdom of Heaven, for the Kingdom of Heaven only needs repentance according to Jesus, for He said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”[6] But the Kingdom of God depends on both, for Jesus said, “Repent and believe the Good News! The time has come. The Kingdom of God is near.”[7]

As such, the Good News that Jesus said we are to preach in Mark 16:15 includes this: “The time has come. The Kingdom of God is near!” A Kingdom that would testify to its arrival as soon as the first demon was driven out following the preaching of the Good News, for Jesus said, “If I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God has come to you.”[8] Indeed, the time is near, for the Kingdom of God would manifest as soon as demons are driven out whenever the Gospel has been preached.

Those who repent only have believed Jesus’ words, which were a continuation of the message of John the Baptist who preached, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”[9] But, Jesus’ own Good News is indeed: “The time has come, the Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News!” Jesus demonstrated the advent of the Kingdom of God by driving out demons, and then He raised disciples, whom He taught all sorts of things and established for them a covenant with God that is sealed in His blood, the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins. Having done all that, He instructed them: “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation.” “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” “And repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His Name to all nations.”[10]

For the church to have full power, it must be prepared to deliver the whole message, for power is given to us to be His witnesses, and the degree to which you are prepared to be His witness is the degree to which He will give you power. When we only emphasise part of the message, that is, only part of the witness, then only part of the power is available. When we witness to the whole message of Christ, then the whole power of the Holy Spirit is available. The forgiveness of sins must be restored in its fullness as Jesus taught us.

Our repentance permits God to be in the newness He wants, which is God the Forgiver. However, Jesus made it clearly conditional for us when it came to forgiveness of sins. We repent to have our sins forgiven, yes, but having established our relationship, which is as His children, for how else can we call him, “Father,” we are to forgive as we have been forgiven, and that forgiveness of those who sin against us is not a one-off affair, but rather, it is a continuous affair.

How many times have you and I said and heard, “But I have forgiven”? Imagine God saying that to us, “But I have forgiven,” referring to our old sins when we need His forgiveness daily for all the new sins we commit against Him. Then it is obvious that our forgiving of those who have sinned against us must be continuous and unceasing, just as God’s forgiveness to us must be unceasing. This is something we have failed to practise as an unceasing continuous event, rather than a one-off event, but then, it is no wonder, for there is so little teaching about forgiveness, and what there is, is mainly about having our sins forgiven so that we might be righteous with God. It is self-centred and there is no flow of the Grace we have received in the manner that Jesus said we should, “Freely you have received, freely give.”[11]

Before we continue, there is a reason why forgiveness, as I am about to teach you, has been left to last. After all, you have been taught and have practised listening to Jesus, believing, overcoming, reigning, healing, Godliness, the powers of the age to come and so on, yet the full power that we have been looking for and believing for has not come. This is so that you may know and learn and never forget that nothing you have ever been taught, ever believed, ever practised and ever achieved counts if you have not learnt to forgive.

Jesus said, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”[12] One thing we have forgotten about is that when we were little children we knew how to forgive and not bear grudges. It was only as we grew older that we learnt to hate and hold things in our hearts against people and situations that hurt us. Thus, the humility of a little child, that is, one under seven years old or less, is the ability to forgive and forget. You see it so often, and we have done it, but we have forgotten. In a kindergarten one moment they are friends, next moment they are fighting and then they are friends again.

From then on, in that teaching in Matthew 18:2-19, Jesus spoke of dealing with a brother who sins against us, that is a fellow disciple who sins against us. And when Peter asked Him, “How many times shall I forgive… up to seven times?” Jesus replied, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times (seventy times seven).”[13] Then He told the parable of the unmerciful servant and it ended with a dire warning: “This is how My Heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart,”[14] which means the overflow of your heart, your tongue, must speak continuously of forgiveness of that brother every time you mention him. If you recall his sin, it is and must be merely a prelude to the follow up of the forgiveness of sins that is coming. If you read the Parable, you will find that the first servant received Grace and mercy as his debt was forgiven of him, but when he did not forgive his fellow servant, the grace and mercy ceased and judgement came without mercy or grace. Likewise, this may help you see why so many believers, even disciples, live lives that seem to be filled with the judgement of God rather than the blessings of God. And so we blame the devil or someone else, just like our ancestor Adam did, instead of repenting and forgiving those who sinned against us.

So now, who has sinned against us first, is it not Satan? When Jesus said to Satan, “Away from Me, Satan,” He did not send Satan to Hell as many would love to believe, but went on to say, “For it is written; worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.”[15] Jesus reminded Satan of the one thing he had not done so that he might repent. In fact, Jesus had forgiven him in a way, for if Satan did take Jesus’ advice, then the subsequent trial in Heaven might have ended with Satan being forgiven.[16] But no, he chose to war against Michael and his angels, and Satan and his angels were cast out.[17] So when Jesus said, “For the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on Me,”[18] it also meant He had forgiven Satan of his debt to Jesus personally, although Satan was not forgiven in Heaven by the Father, for the Father is the Judge. Jesus was merely the Servant of the Father who acquired the necessary testimony to convict and condemn Satan. You see, in the world, when your debtor forgives you of a debt, he has no hold over you. However, in the Kingdom of God, whose ways are not our ways, the God to whom Cain asked this question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”[19] it is that anyone who in indebted to us has a hold over us. That is why although Jesus did not sin against Satan, but as the Son of Man who was tempted so severely in the desert, Jesus showed His forgiveness to Satan, not by saying, “I forgive you,” but rather, He went further and gave Satan the word that could allow him to escape judgement: “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”

That is why those who curse Satan, bind him and attack him, live in fear of him, for he still has a hold on them. But from the day I learned to love my enemies, even Satan, and remind him of the words of Jesus, “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only,” even inviting him to worship God with us, he has had no hold over me. If there is anything I would boast of about this ministry, it is that it does not live in fear of what Satan would do to us; but rather, we live in fear of what God would do to us.

As we repent continuously and forgive continuously so that as we remain forgiven, so we also ensure our enemies remain forgiven continuously by us; and whether God forgives us or not, that is their debt. The second servant who owed the first servant money had no right to demand that the king should decree that the first servant forgive him. It is up to the first servant. Likewise, we forgive those who have sinned against us so that they are less burdened by what they owe us in order that they are better able to repay what they owe God.

Have you not seen it yet? Forgive those who sin against us is our prayer that fulfils the command of “Love your enemies.”[20] If you are expected to love your enemies, then as you can see, you have no right not to forgive your brother from your heart. The warning is clear and it is strong; if you do not forgive, my Father will not forgive you and I remind you that He is the Judge. So, the sin of unforgiveness is disobedience to the command to forgive as we have been forgiven. And to say the Lord’s Prayer without meaning and doing what we said means that we remain under judgement not blessing, and worse still for those who pray, “as we forgive those who sin against us,” but do not mean it or do it, have proved themselves a hypocrite. Now go and look at the woes of a hypocrite.[21]

James’ recommendations to avoid sin means that we stay away from repentance, not that we advocate sin, yet whether we want to or not, we will sin as Paul put it so eloquently in Romans 7:7-25, but rather, we advocate repentance and forgiveness. There is no practice of the love of enemies when you abstain from foods sacrificed to animals and meats of strangled animals and abstain from blood, and as such, the recommendations of James’ judgement are proved again to be useless.

Now, look again at the verse. It does not only say, “we also forgive everyone who sins against us,” but also, “everyone who is indebted to us.” Those who are indebted to us, and please leave mammon out of this, are those who should be grateful to us. That is, those whom we have helped along the way. They are those we have preached the Gospel to, those we have been able to be kind to and those we have done a favour for and therefore owe us a debt of gratitude, they are those who are indebted to us and we are to forgive their sins.

That is why, if you look at the time sequence of the way the Lord revealed the Holy Spirit to us from John 15 to 20 and Acts 1:8, He spoke of what the Holy Spirit will do for us, then before He spoke of the power we would get from the Holy Spirit, He said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”[22] And then He said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.”[23]

Perhaps He meant for the disciples to go out in Jerusalem and begin to forgive the sins of Jerusalem before the Holy Spirit arrived, so that Jerusalem, not only the disciples, but all of Jerusalem, would be a vessel made ready for the Holy Spirit. After all, the Father was about to pour Him out on all flesh,[24] including flesh that have not had their sins atoned for in more than five centuries, because they lost the ark. Has it occurred to us that Jesus gave John 20:22-23 to them so that the Holy Spirit might be received by the Jews of Jerusalem in a manner befitting of Him, flesh that had been consecrated to God by sacrifice like Elisha’s and Samson’s and the Jews of old when they had the Ark of the Covenant?

Thus, we are truly shepherds cleansing those who have sinned against us, and also those who are indebted to us, those who should be grateful to us. Why those who are indebted to us, those who should be grateful to us? Because ingratitude and ungratefulness was present in Adam when he claimed Eve as his own without acknowledging God, and ingratitude is the nature of our flesh that gives rise to all sin in us, just as pride is the nature of Satan’s spirit that gave rise to sin in him. We were ungrateful from the beginning, and as the coming Millennium will prove, sons of Adam will remain ungrateful to the end. That is why we must forgive the sins of those we are indebted to us so that they have no hold over us, and God is free to judge.

Now, once forgiveness is preached with repentance, then God’s Grace can flow in full power, for all the different pieces of the Ark are in place. God’s Grace forgave us, and by His Grace, we forgive.

To be continued…


 

[1] Luke 11:4 NIV (KJV)

[2] Matthew 26:28

[3] Luke 24:47

[4] Mark 16:15

[5] Acts 2:38

[6] Matthew 4:17

[7] Mark 1:15

[8] Luke 11:20

[9] Matthew 3:2

[10] Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19,20; Luke 24:47

[11] Matthew 10:8

[12] Matthew 18:2

[13] Matthew 18:21-22

[14] Matthew 18:35

[15] Matthew 4:10

[16] John 16:11

[17] Revelation 12:7; Luke 10:18

[18] John 14:30

[19] Genesis 4:9

[20] Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27

[21] Luke 11:37-52

[22] John 20:22-23

[23] Acts 1:8

[24] Joel 2:28

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