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The Sin that Kills

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“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”[1] What sort of temptation would the eleven be facing that night at Gethsemane that Jesus was warning them of? It was that of the hours before His arrest and the events that would follow His arrest. Of all the temptations that would face them that night, what would be the most testing?

It would not be their desertion of the Lord, for indeed, the Lord forewarned them. And the action of them fleeing was to fulfil the Scriptures that not one of them would be lost. So, as much as we take the warning not to fall into all sorts of temptation ourselves, the Lord was warning them of one particular temptation, the temptation for which He was about to give His life for, the temptation of unforgiveness. For that night, they would see their Rabbi captured, tortured and then humiliated and murdered, and if they, the eleven, had grown to love Jesus, then revenge and unforgiveness would surely be knocking on their hearts.

For with forgiveness, even when we have a spirit that is willing to forgive, our flesh is weak, as forgiveness requires not only an attitude or a wish, but it also requires a deed. The Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins was not just a thought or an attitude, which God had, no, it was sealed not just with words, be they spoken or written with an attitude, that is, spirit in mind, but rather it was sealed with a very physical sacrifice. A sacrifice that would have the Lord Himself say, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”[2]

And when you look at the words of the Lord to the Father: “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me,”[3] these are not the words of One whose spirit, that is, attitude, was willing, but rather, was reluctant yet submissive. And we all know that He was in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.[4] So, when you see the Lord at Gethsemane, you see a Man overwhelmed in His soul, wreaked with anguish in His flesh, and a Man who is reluctantly submitting to the will of the Father. If He faced such trials before actually going onward to complete the sealing of the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins, it should be no wonder that unforgiveness is the greatest temptation you and I face.

Though the Lord had spoken the words at the supper, the Covenant was not set and sealed until He had finished His work on the cross. Even though the Lord had said, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,”[5] demonstrating a spirit of willingness and anticipation, when it came to the moments before the whole process would begin, Jesus found His soul overwhelmed with sorrow, and still had in His mind to say to the Father these words: “If You are willing, take this cup from Me.” Even after He was strengthened by an angel,[6] He was still in such anguish that His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

If our Lord faced such a trial before the action began to set the Covenant in its place, then how much more we face the temptation of not forgiving? If the Lord had to overcome such temptation of not, yes, not, going ahead and completing the work, then likewise, we will be sorely tempted. And you know only too well by your experience that unforgiveness is a harder sin to overcome than lust, greed, murder, or any of the evils that come from men’s hearts. When Jesus spoke of the evils that are in our hearts, which come out of our mouths, He spoke of: “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean.”[7]

However, Jesus never mentioned unforgiveness, as up until then, unforgiveness was not a sin, for it was “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.”[8] For those who are not under the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins, unforgiveness is not a sin. It is not an evil as such. For indeed, God displayed His vengeance on Israel, Egypt and sundries of His enemies; even punishing the sins of the fathers to the third and forth generation of their children. That is not exactly forgiveness is it? Now realise this: God did not covenant with anyone else to forgive their sins. In all the other seven Covenants, God promised life, blessings, inheritance, deliverance, peace, kingship and repentance, but there was no forgiveness.

So, under those previous Covenants, God would still give you life, and you’d still have to pay for your sins. God could bless you, but you remained unforgiven. God could give you inheritance, but you remained unforgiven. God could deliver you, but you remained unforgiven, and so on. All those covenants gave you blessings, but at the end, you still had to settle accounts with God. The account of sin remained unsettled, which is why you see God settling accounts with Egypt. She was ransacked by God after four hundred years of prosperity, as He did with Israel and with Canaan and so on. And with Nebuchadnezzar, Assyria and all those who were raised by God as His instruments, at end of their term, they still had to pay for their sins. They were blessed, yes, but they had to pay for their sins.

With no one else did God covenant to forgive sins except through Jesus. So, for us who are in Christ, the biggest and greatest true evil that is within us is unforgiveness, which gives rise to un-grace and doubt. For if salvation is by Grace through faith; then destruction for us must surely come by un-grace and doubt. And the fruit of ungraciousness is unforgiveness. Where then does this evil rest in us, for Jesus did not mention it in the evils of a man’s heart?

Unforgiveness does not hide in our hearts, for then our mouths would betray us. That is why you and I can appear to be pious, practising Christians, mouthing the right words and responses in public to one another, yet our weakness proves we have no strength, meaning, we have no joy of the Lord and we do not enjoy what God enjoys. Our weaknesses, that is, when we crumple at threats and problems, display the unforgiveness that is hidden deeper in us than our hearts can hide. Unforgiveness is a sin that lurks in the soul, for the salvation we wait for is the salvation of our souls. Jesus did not die to save our hearts, minds or spirits as much as our souls. For we need a new heart to be created in us anyway, a mind renewed and a spirit born again. But salvation is first for the soul and that salvation came by the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins.

The moment the Grecian Jews complained about the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked, unforgiveness came into the soul of the church.[9] And that unforgiveness has grown and manifested in such evils as the Spanish Inquisition. For all its external pomp and ceremony and multitudes of members, the history of the church has been general weakness, with few saints of strength and overall powerlessness as far as the standard of the Kingdom of God is concerned. Unforgiveness caused us to be played by Satan and manifested and cajoled by the temptations of intellectual, financial, political, military and physical powers. Like the bronze shields of Rehoboam, we used these worldly powers as a substitute to hide the truth that we lost the power, the miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit, just as Rehoboam lost his father’s gold shields.[10] And when we are weak, we live in fear.

Unforgiveness then hides in our souls that which Jesus had died to save. It is what overwhelms our souls with sorrow to the point of death, and indeed, we die because we have not learnt to forgive, for our souls needed to sleep and await Judgement Day before their salvation could be complete. However, the soul that forgives is the soul that has not sinned against the Covenant of the Forgiveness of Sins, and that is the soul that lives. For God said, “The soul who sins is the one who will die,”[11] when He said, “As surely as I live, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel: ‘The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge,’’’[12] when He was speaking of the New Covenant to come.

We die not only because we do not believe the Lord’s words of John 11:26, but also when we hide unforgiveness deep in our souls, against God, against ourselves, and against anyone, even Satan. For unforgiveness is the offence of offences for those under the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins, which has only one Law: “Forgive one another as I have forgiven you,” disguised and scattered in various teachings of Jesus, but yet it is there plainly, for He taught us to pray: “Father… forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.”[13] Even our Lord, after He was strengthened by an angel, was still in anguish. Now, look at what He did: Being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly. Even after the angel had strengthened Him with the joy of the Lord, Jesus was still in anguish. And yes, you and I are often still in anguish even after we have been reminded we should forgive, and we try, but you and I know there is more to come. Those people you have forgiven, you know they are still going to come and arrest you and torture you, humiliate you and crucify you. That was the Lord’s anguish and it is ours. This was the Lord’s answer: He prayed all the more earnestly. Why pray and not praise? Because, that is what He taught us. “Pray for those who persecute you.”[14] And pray in secret.[15]

After the angel strengthened Him, He prayed even more earnestly for those who would persecute Him, not for those who had persecuted Him. When He had finished, you see a different Man arise, not the Man whose soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, whose heart and spirit were bargaining with God, and whose flesh was in such anguish that His sweat was like drops of blood. But you see Jesus who rose up and said, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes My betrayer!”[16] You see the complete transformation of our Lord as He rose to meet with His persecutors. He did not wait for them to find Him, but rather He went to them. Now, that is strength! Strength that He needed to restrain His power, which was ever present and so ever available that when He said, “I am He,” it caused the soldiers to draw back and fall to the ground.[17] Power that was further demonstrated when He touched the man’s ear and healed him,[18] who had been struck by Peter. Strength not only to endure, but more importantly, strength to restrain Himself so that His power would not prevent them from crucifying Him.

Likewise now, we need strength, strength to endure as much as we need power to overcome. We need strength to resist the temptation as much as we need power to destroy the strongholds. And above all else, we need strength to restrain ourselves as much as we need power to project ourselves. Learning to enjoy forgiving sins is the key to that strength and the training to have that strength comes from prayer, earnest prayer for those who have persecuted you and earnest prayer for those who will persecute you.

That is why as part of your training, you are subject to persecutions as part of the one hundredfold you receive as disciples who give up fathers, mothers, houses, fields, children, brothers and sisters for the sake of His Gospel and for Him. Those persecutions are to give you substance to train yourself in forgiveness. It is also why many of us, like Paul, are plagued with thorns in the flesh, messengers of the accuser who repeatedly come at us again and again so that you are also trained to forgive those who are yet to persecute you, as Jesus did.

When we learn to enjoy forgiving those who have sinned against us, those who are sinning against us and those who will sin against us, then we have learnt to master what was, what is, and what will be as God does. So, watch and pray for those who have sinned against you, for those who are sinning against you and for those who will sin against you. Then your flesh will have the strength to endure, to resist, and to restrain all things, even death itself. The soul that forgives is the soul that has not sinned, and it is the soul that lives and need not sleep.

Thus, in the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins, there is one unforgivable sin, and we all know what it is: Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.[19] The gravity of this sin, which can only be committed by those who have received the Holy Spirit, was demonstrated to the church in Acts 5 when Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead for lying to the Holy Spirit. However, death is not vengeance that God wreaks on a person who blasphemes the Holy Spirit, for after death there is still judgement, and if there is still judgement, then there is no condemnation yet. So, understand this now. Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit and they died so that they are awaiting Judgement Day. If you have committed the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, you do not die, for there is no judgement for you, only condemnation. And so, you will be kept alive to be thrown alive into the Lake of Burning Sulphur, the fate of the false prophet and the beast.

As elect of the Holy Spirit, you will sin against the Holy Spirit in this manner: You will disobey Him, you will grieve Him, and you will even insult Him and even lie to Him or about Him. You will and can do all of these, for the things you ought to do, you will not do, but the things you ought not to do, you will do. But there will remain no condemnation for you in Christ Jesus as long as you forgive those who have sinned against you, are sinning against you, and will sin against you; and you do not prevent Jesus’ arrival.

Whoever that individual is who will be cast alive into the Lake of Fire is one who has stopped forgiving those who sin against him and has purposed to prevent Jesus from placing His feet on the Mount of Olives.

As much as we have to train ourselves to be at full strength and power to minister and fulfil the Scriptures so that our Lord can arrive, the strength you are developing now will be needed to restrain your power so that you do not prevent the false prophet and the beast from fulfilling what is written. This is the strength of the two witnesses of Revelation 11 that allowed them to restrain themselves so that the beast that comes out of the Abyss can overpower them and kill them.

Jesus was not joking or lying when He said, “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.”[20]

So, arise and shine for the glory of the Lord is upon us. Let us go. Here comes the betrayer!


 

[1] Mathew 26:41

[2] Matthew 26:38

[3] Luke 22:42

[4] Luke 22:44

[5] Luke 22:15

[6] Luke 22:43

[7] Mark 7:20-22 (see also Matthew 15:19)

[8] Matthew 5:38

[9] Acts 6:1

[10] 2 Chronicles 12:9-10

[11] Ezekiel 18:4,20

[12] Ezekiel 18:3,2

[13] Luke 11:4

[14] Matthew 5:44

[15] Matthew 6:6

[16] Matthew 26:45-46

[17] John 18:5-6

[18] Luke 22:51

[19] Matthew 12:31

[20] John 14:12

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