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Law of Forgiveness

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Before we get into the Law of Forgiveness, let’s be clear that we understand what a law and a covenant is. A law is a command that governs a code of conduct. Obedience or disobedience to the law generates a different result of punishment or reward. In man’s world, we are disobeying the law when we commit murder. The punishment of murder is a jail sentence or a death sentence. The reward for obeying the law is your freedom and life. A covenant is an agreement between two people with a common purpose. Both people have to keep the covenant or stick to the agreement, so that the purpose is fulfilled. It will involve a cost to both people. In man’s law, that cost is called “consideration”, and a contract is not valid unless there is consideration on the part of both people.

You will remember the declaration that the Law of Grace is threefold as it is grace from the Father, the Son and the Spirit. For the condemned, it is grace from the Father in the Law of Grace in John 3.16: “For God so loved then world He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The second Law of Grace is for the believers and disciples of Jesus, is John 6.53-56: “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is real food and the blood is real drink. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me and I in Him.” The third Law of Grace is from the Holy Spirit for overcomers is in 2 Corinthians 12.9, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

The first foundation of the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins is the three-fold Law of Grace. It is the covenant established between the Father and the Son only. The Holy Spirit’s role in this covenant is the Helper. The Holy Spirit helps by making sure that covenant is enforceable and even though the covenant is between the Father and Jesus, the Holy Spirit has a part to play.

The Holy Spirit is not part of the covenant because He is not a party to the express agreement between the Father and the Son. This is why the third Law of Grace does not involve a sin. The sin against the first Law of Grace is disbelief that God sent His Son Jesus into the world to save the world, and the sin against the second Law of Grace is disobedience in eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of Man. Both contain a promise of eternal life, but the Law from the Spirit of Grace is simply a declaration, which confirms His role as our Comforter, Counsellor, Strengthener and Helper.[1]

It is because the Holy Spirit is not a party to the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins that the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin. Jesus said every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.[2] The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a testimony of a man of God, the false prophet, in the temple of God declaring that the power to heal and deliver God’s people does not come from the Holy Spirit, but from the beast whose wound was healed.

Why is the eternal sin the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and not something else? Because of this principle in Numbers 15.29-30 when the Father made a differentiation between someone who sins unintentionally and someone who sins defiantly, or intentionally, “But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the Lord, and that person must be cut off from his people. Because he has despised the Lord’s word and broken His commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him.” The false prophet, who will blaspheme the Holy Spirit, will sin intentionally and defiantly. He is being raised up by the Holy Spirit and he knows and understands fully the consequence of his betrayal.

We are the beneficiaries of the covenant solely by Grace through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. It is unlike the other covenants God had established because He did not make this covenant with a man. For example, God made a Covenant with Noah and the living creatures that never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood to destroy the whole Earth.[3] God made a Covenant of Blessing with Abraham and his descendants.[4] He made a Covenant of Peace with Phinehas and his descendants because Phinehas was zealous for the honour of his God.[5]

The Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins is sealed with the blood of the Resurrection and the Life. The Father sent His Son into the world- the Son had authority to lay down His life[6] – and the Spirit raised Him back up in three days because of Jesus’ authority to take up His life again.

How can it be said that the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins was established between the Father and the Son? Read the words of the Father to Jesus that are hidden in Psalms 89.19-29: I have bestowed strength on a warrior; I have exalted a young man from among the people. I have found David My servant; with My sacred oil I have anointed him. My hand will sustain him; surely My arm will strengthen him. No enemy will subject him to tribute; no wicked man will oppress him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down his adversaries. My faithful love will be with him, and through My Name his horn will be exalted. I will set his hand over the sea, his right hand over the rivers. He will call out to Me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’ I will also appoint him My firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the Earth. I will maintain My love to him forever, and My Covenant with him will never fail. I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the Heavens endure.” This is the Father’s covenant with Jesus, and Jesus’ covenant with the Father.

The Book of Psalms contains numerous conversations between the Father and Jesus. Yes, the Father called out to “His son David”, but He really meant Jesus. Does God have a habit of calling a person by another name, like a nickname? Yes, first of all, it is written in Mark 3.17 in the NLT: “James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”).

“David” is a nickname for someone whose character is after God’s own heart. Just as “Cyrus” is a nickname for someone who rebuilds the city and set God’s exiles free.[7] Isaiah 45.13: “I will raise up Cyrus in My righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild My city and set My exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the LORD Almighty.” Isaiah prophesied about Cyrus before Jerusalem was conquered by Babylon. In the time of king Cyrus, the king of Persia who conquered Babylon, the Lord moved on the heart of king Cyrus to make a proclamation to rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem. Are we not being led here to rebuild the temple and restore the foundation of listening to Jesus, because the storm is coming and it will beat against the house of God?

We are the beneficiaries of this covenant because we benefit from the grace of the Father to the Son, and the Son to the Father. The Holy Spirit’s grace to both Father and Son is that He helped to make sure the covenant is fulfilled. We did nothing to deserve it and that is why it is pure Grace. At least Abraham had to walk before the Lord and be blameless. Phinehas had to kill the Israelite and the Midianite woman in display of his loyalty. All we need to do is to believe in the One sent by the Father. This is the abundant generosity of the Grace of our God Almighty. That is how little we have to do to gain life and life to the full.

Your understanding and acceptance that the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins is firstly established by the grace between the Father and His Jesus (and not between the Lord and us) is very important. Because if you can understand and accept this, it will become clear that we have no righteousness of our own- that our salvation is based on God’s forgiveness due to Their generosity of grace TO EACH OTHER, and not to us.

The Lord enjoys forgiving, but They first enjoyed being generously graceful TO EACH OTHER. If you can accept that you were but a rebel who sinned against the Lord by forsaking God through disbelief and disobedience- that you did nothing to deserve to benefit from the grace of God to God- and the Law of Grace is truly about the grace of God to Each Other and not to us, then you will find the burden light and the yoke easy to obey the Law of Forgiveness under this covenant.

The first foundation of the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins is God’s Grace, because grace must come before forgiveness. Without the pre-requisite existence of grace, forgiveness would not flow. Grace is the source of the act of forgiveness. Just like imagination is the source of a creation. So grace is the quality, and forgiveness is the action or consequence that flows from that quality.

Grace is and was before the foundation on the world. The Lamb was slain before the creation of this world, and then the Word of God became flesh. Jesus came full of grace and truth and on the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[8] When the Lamb was slain from the creation of the world, God had already forgiven us. When Jesus said those words on the cross and He said, “It is fulfilled,[9] the covenant was fulfilled.

It is like if you had a credit card bill of $100 to pay. Just because you have $100 sitting in your bank account doesn’t mean you have paid your credit card. It is not done until you transfer the money across from your account to your credit card. Then the only thing left is for the credit card company to process the payment.

So it is, God had already forgiven us but it cannot be officially declared and the accounts balanced until Jesus breathed His last on the cross, and the slate was wiped clean. All sins (except the eternal sin) are forgiven. The only thing left to do then was for the Holy Spirit to raise Jesus back to life.

In God’s perspective, forgiveness actually comes before repentance. If there is no grace and forgiveness in the person you sinned against, you can repent all you want but your sins will not be forgiven you. For us, since our ways and thoughts are lower than God’s, we often think, “Oh, this person did something wrong against me. Since he said sorry and he seems to mean it, I shall forgive him.”

Listen to the consequence of the first Law of Grace in John 3.17-18 (Peshitta), “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved by Him. He who believes in Him will not be condemned; and he who does not believe already stands condemned for not believing in the Name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Are we all condemned already, or are we all forgiven already?

In man’s law, there is this concept called “opt in” or “opt out” for lawsuits of class actions. Class actions are for a group of people who suffered the same damages. Class action suits can help people who have been harmed by another party, such as a product manufacturer or developer, a lending or other financial institution or an insurance company. Say if all of us got cancer from drinking this bottled coke, then the class action would include everyone who drank from it. “Opting in” means that you have to actively choose to be included. “Opting out” means that you are already included but you have to actively choose to be excluded.

John 3.17-18 demonstrates this very important point on the generosity of God’s Grace, which is His nature of abundance, when Jesus said, “He who does not believe already stands condemned.” This means we stand condemned due to sin, but we are already forgiven because God sent His Son to save the world. It would be a different matter if the Father sent Jesus to condemn the world. Your faith and repentance honour the forgiveness of God, and make available to you the outcome of God’s forgiveness, which is eternal life. Your faith and repentance make you eligible to be a beneficiary of the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins that was set in place by the agreement between the Father and Jesus, whose intent was for the world to be saved and mankind to be forgiven, and that neither be condemned for sin.

Salvation in the Name of Jesus Christ is an “opt-out” process. You have a choice to reject the forgiveness already given in His Name due to the covenant set in place by the seal of Jesus’ blood. Once the blood of the Lamb sealed that covenant, it meant that NOTHING else, no other name, blood, faith, words, works and religious practices, has the power[10] and authority[11] to forgive sins. It was Jesus’ blood alone that was poured out for many the forgiveness of sins. Jesus could not say, “His blood was poured out for all for the forgiveness of sins,” as that would be a lie. “Many” means “all minus Satan, the beast, the false prophet, death and Hades” who will be going into the Lake of Burning Sulphur.

I have always asked the Lord about this “opt in/opt out” issue because I wanted to understand the extent of His grace and thus His generous nature, and how our repentance falls into place when there is already such abundance of His grace and forgiveness.

The point of repentance of our sins is to honour the Lord, the Lord and the Lord who in Their abundance of Grace laid down sacrifices, something or someone that mattered to Them, so that we may receive forgiveness of sins in Their righteousness. For couldn’t the Father forgive our sins without sacrificing Jesus as the sin offering to the world? Of course He could. There is no one to stop Him. He didn’t have to send Jesus and the Holy Spirit. He could just declare from a cloud, “I forgive you all, now leave your life of sin,” and we would be none the wiser.

Yet, how then would the Book of Life read if the accounts of sins and forgiveness of sins were not balanced righteously, but casually written off like a company writes off bad debts? How then can the Lord say He delights in exercising kindness, justice and righteousness on Earth? How then would He be known as God the Forgiver who is righteous and just? How then would His perfection go into its increase? There is a way to do things righteously that always involves a cost, and that way is the narrow path and few are found on it. Then there is way called the easy way because there is no cost, and that is the broad road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. That is why the Lord said His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than ours. There is no disputing that.

The point of repentance is to honour forgiveness. If you believe in the Son, you would naturally repent. Belief and repentance go hand in hand- they are part and parcel. That is why we cannot preach a gospel of faith in Jesus Christ without preaching repentance in His Name. It is like drinking His blood without eating His flesh. It is like being baptised with water in repentance for the forgiveness of sins,[12] but not be baptised with the Holy Spirit for the authority to forgive sins and the power to back up your testimony about this authority given by Christ to disciples, as a witness of Jesus together with the Holy Spirit.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is Jesus giving us the authority and power to forgive sins as His witnesses of the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins between the Father and Him. We are called to be His witnesses with power and authority, and such power and authority were not meant to be used for selfish purposes, nor to be substituted with the so-called powers of the world. That is why Jesus tied His words together this way, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth.”[13]

When the chief priests and the elders of the law attacked Jesus on His authority for teaching in the temple courts, Jesus counter-attacked with a single question. He asked them, “John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from Heaven, or from men?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” They were too afraid to answer because they valued praise for men.

In truth, the baptism of John with water for repentance for the forgiveness of sins was from man, and not from Heaven, even though John the Baptist was sent by God to prepare the way for the Lord. It is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that comes from Heaven.

The point of repentance of our sins is to honour the One who first forgave us. You were already forgiven before you repented, because you were loved. Your repentance honours that love.

The second foundation of the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins is the Law of Forgiveness. The Law of Forgiveness is two-fold. The first Law of Forgiveness is “Love your enemies.[14] The second Law of Forgiveness is “Love one another as Jesus has loved us.”[15]

Why does the Law of Forgiveness contain the word “love”, rather than the word “forgive”? Jesus did not just say, “Forgive your enemies,” because He was applying a teaching He laid down just before He taught on the love of enemies. He said, “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles”; “Whoever compels you to carry a burden for a mile, go with him two.”[16]

Why did Jesus say that? Because God so loved the world He sent Jesus. Forgiveness without love and love without forgiveness have no strength to endure. For us, it is the people we love the most who have the power to hurt us the most. And it is in that love that we must find strength to forgive them so that that love is not lost. The relationship between love and grace is this – a love without grace has no strength to endure any trials and tribulations, which are bound to come because we men are imperfect. A love without grace will not strive to forgive, because forgiveness involves a personal cost. And that love will be easily lost if anything adverse comes up. It takes a lot of grace and love to endure patiently and persevere with rejoicing; otherwise the love will grow cold or lukewarm. As I have said before, whenever we find ourselves low in joy, rejoicing and delight, look to the Father and always remember that He is good and righteous. If you don’t at least look to the Father, but instead look to the right or to the left, our anchor in Jesus will weaken, because Jesus always looks to the Father.

Jesus said he who has been forgiven little, loves little.[17] In the same way, he who has forgiven much, loves much. And how can we come to the understanding of how much God has forgiven us unless the Holy Spirit shows us the condemnation we have been spared from – our fate and the fate of this world if Jesus did not lay down His life – how much ruin we had brought to God’s original plan for mankind and the world when we first ate of the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – the weight of the sin of mankind on Jesus’ shoulders when He was on the cross – the pain in the Father’s heart when He gave these words to Jesus to say, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” and when Jesus gave back these words to the Father, “My God, My God, for this was My destiny[18] – our true state of wretchedness, pitifulness, poorness, blindness and nakedness because we sinned against the Lord – the height from which we fell – the darkness in our hearts and the stench of death amongst us when we forsook believing, following and listening to Jesus?

If we begin to understand what we had done to the Lord, the Lord and the Lord, then we will know that nothing that anyone else does to us can compare to what we did to God. If we do not put it in God’s perspective, then we would feel justified in our eyes to hold grudges, or forgive sparingly, bitterly and indifferently.

It is a good thing to say that we deserve to forgive those who wronged and hurt us, because then God will also forgive our sins. This way we won’t be drained of power and strength. It is a better thing to say, our enemies deserve to be forgiven because their sins against us are nothing compared to our sins against the Lord.

But it is a greater thing to not say anything or reason with it, but to just practise forgiveness unceasingly and joyfully because our delight is in the words of Jesus. “Oh, Jesus told me to love my enemies? Okay, I will try and do it just because Jesus said so. It might be hard at first, but I am sure He is right and whatever He says is good for God and good for me.” That is the innocence and faith of a child. You don’t also have to be shrewd as a serpent when you are dealing with the Lord, do you? Jesus only commanded this to His disciples because He sent them out like sheep among wolves.[19]

The first Law of Forgiveness is “Love your enemies.[20] Loving you enemy is the extra mile of forgiveness. And how do you show love to your enemies? Do not be deluded that we can love our enemies the same way as we love our friends and family. That is not the correct view or application of wisdom. Loving your enemy is simply this:

· Pray for those who persecute you;[21]

· Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you;[22]

· Pray for those who carry you away by force and persecute you.[23]

It takes practice, like all things. Some days, it is easier, some days it is not. In any event, we must put Jesus’ words into practice. The reason lies in the purpose of the covenant.

But first, how do we know that we have forgiven our enemies? It is when you want someone who has hurt you to be more blessed by the Lord than you are; when you pray that their family is saved in Jesus as yours is, and you pray that their place in eternity is at least equal to yours, that you have begun to forgive them. Then you did not lord such forgiveness over them, because this would cancel out grace. Just as Jesus does not lord His forgiveness over us, put us down all the time and keep reminding us of our failings. But He said in John 14.12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” Can you cope with the thought that someone who has deliberately or repeatedly hurt you would be greater in the Lord than you? Can you cope with the generosity of God’s Grace?

The second Law of Forgiveness is “Love one another as Jesus has loved us.”[24] How do you show love to your fellow disciples as Jesus has loved you? Love your fellow disciples, i.e. your brothers, for both is simply this:

· If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”[25]

· 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.”[26]

· “… Forgive your brother from your heart.”[27]

Therefore, according to the full counsel of the words of Jesus in Matthew 6, we should practise forgiving the:

· sins[28]

· debts[29]

· offences[30] and

· faults[31]

· trespasses[32]

· transgressions[33]

of our brother, sisters and mothers in Christ, for they are our fellow disciples,[34] and of our enemies. I note that we are also to forgive faults because it is written in the Peshitta, “For if you forgive men their faults, your Father in Heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive even your faults.”

The purpose of obeying the Law of Forgiveness is two-fold. The first purpose is that it enables the Father to forgive your sins as you continue to love and forgive your enemies and brothers. This is for your personal benefit and it enriches your relationship with the Father because He enjoys being the Forgiver. When you pray for your enemy in secret, the Father will reward you.[35] The second purpose exceeds the first, because the Lord receives what He desires. Jesus irrevocably tied love of enemies in with Sonship, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven.”[36]But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.[37]

The Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins is in truth, the Covenant of Sonship. The inheritance of this Covenant of Sonship is compassion, perfection and mercy, for if we love our enemies, we will be perfect and merciful as our heavenly Father.[38] The other covenants God established promised no such heritage, but they promised life, blessings, peace, inheritance of land, which included a promise of deliverance and healing, repentance and kingship.

This is the truth: Jesus said the world must learn that He loves His Father and that He does exactly what the Father commanded Him. What Jesus also meant is that the world must learn that Jesus kept His covenant with the Father by doing what the Father commanded Him because He loves His Father. When you keep your covenant with someone, you honour that person.

The Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins is also the Covenant of Sonship. Firstly, because it is the covenant between the Father and His Son Jesus. Secondly, because we, son of men, partake in the benefits of the covenant when we obey the Law of Grace, which is to believe in Jesus and eat His flesh and drink His blood, and when we obey the Law of Forgiveness by loving and forgiving the sins, debts, offences and faults of our enemies and brothers. If we do not hold our positions and keep the covenant by obeying its laws, how then will the world know that Jesus loves the Father and that He does exactly what the Father commanded Him?

Do you know how we know that Jesus did not hold any unforgiveness against us for killing Him on the cross and that He has confirmed this Covenant of Sonship with us? It is when Jesus said to Mary Magdalene after He arose from the dead, “I am returning to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.”[39]

Jesus kept His covenant with the Father by doing exactly what He commanded. If you obey the Law of Grace and the Law of Forgiveness, and the third law of the covenant, which is the Law of Repentance, you are also keeping Jesus’ covenant with the Father by doing exactly what Jesus commanded you, because the Father commanded you to listen to Jesus.

The Laws of Grace, Forgiveness and Repentance, are the three laws enacted under the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins. It is faithfulness and obedience to the commands of Jesus under the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins that makes you a son or daughter of God. Faithfulness and obedience to the Laws of Moses does not make you a son or daughter as that is a different covenant. You cannot enter into a contract to buy a house when you are holding a contract to buy gold. It is simply not valid.

Today is the day that the world learns that Jesus keeps His covenant with the Father and that He loves the Father and that He does exactly what the Father commanded Him. Thank You Father.


 

[1] John 14.26 AMP: “Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby)”

[2] Matthew 12.31

[3] Genesis 9.11

[4] Genesis 17.7

[5] Numbers 25.10-13a

[6] John 10.18

[7] Isaiah 45.13

[8] Luke 23.34

[9] John 19.30 Peshitta

[10] Or ability

[11] Or right

[12] Mark 1.4

[13] John 20.22 & Acts 1.8

[14] Matthew 5.43

[15] John 13.34

[16] Matthew 5.41 NIV and Peshitta

[17] Luke 7.47

[18] Matthew 27.46 NIV and Peshitta footnote 1

[19] Matthew 10.16

[20] Matthew 5.43

[21] Matthew 5.44

[22] Luke 6.27-28

[23] Matthew 5.44 Peshitta

[24] John 13.34

[25] Matthew 18.15

[26] Luke 17.3

[27] Matthew 18.35

[28] Matthew 6.12 NIV

[29] Matthew 6.12 NIV

[30] Matthew 6.12 Peshitta

[31] Matthew 6.14-15 Peshitta

[32] Matthew 6.14-15 NKJV

[33] Matthew 6.14-15 NASB

[34] Matthew 12.50 & John 8.31

[35] Matthew 6.6

[36] Matthew 6.44-45

[37] Luke 6.35

[38] Luke 6.36 NIV & NLT

[39] John 20.17

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