Grasping The Eternal – Part 1

5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.

6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.

8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?

9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Mat. 16:5-12

The disciples of Jesus (if they had any wits about them) must have thought that Jesus was about to start a cult – THE CULT OF UNLEAVENED BREAD, it would have been called. Yes, it appeared that was the direction Jesus was headed. Now, if it had turned out to be so – which, bless the Lord, it turned out not to be the case – that would have been an Old Testament cult. Unfortunately, today, in Christianity, there are so many such cults, cults that are embedded in the Old Testament. There are people today who will defend the old covenant to their death at the expense of the new covenant. Well-meaning men, but who have no idea of the work of grace that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished at the cross. Such men, such churches, are steeped in law.

I heard one ‘apostle’ from Philadelphia, in the U.S., claim he bars men in his church from sitting together with women in the pews for the sake of discipline. Yep, those were his very words. He doesn’t want the men in his church, he said, looking down strange women’s exposed cleavages, or have them dropping their pens every now and then in a desperate attempt to look at their female counterparts’ beautifully-formed ankles and leg calves!

The Old Testament law, under which many churches today are entrenched, is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. With the gospel of Jesus Christ, law works; but it works the exact opposite of Godliness. The Bible says in Hebrews 10:3:

“But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.”

All law does is to remind one of sin. Or, to put it more clearly, it makes you aware of sin. That is what it says also, very clearly, in Romans 7:7-11:

“7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. 9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.”

It couldn’t be stated clearer than that.

I love this preacher from Philly, he is a well-meaning man, but he has got it all wrong. He does not have the revelation of the gospel of grace. By doing what he is doing, he is putting law on God’s people. And you cannot lead people into God’s righteousness by harnessing them under Old Testament law. By his own admission, all the men seated in his church are unrepentant sinners who need the law to keep them from committing sin! His ‘church’ therefore ceases to be the church, but a cult.

On the other hand, the gospel of “Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23) – which the Apostle Paul preached, glory to God! – is solid gold. It is the power of God. God’s grace, that comes through the working of the cross, breaks the power of sin in our lives. If, say, a short-skirted woman were to sit next to me, a man, who is being ministered to under the new covenant (the true gospel of Jesus Christ, whereby I am crucifying my flesh daily) that short-skirted lady would not make the slightest difference to me in the natural. If she had the most visible cleavage, still it wouldn’t make any difference. The likely scenario is that I would yearn for her in a Godly manner. On the other hand, when you are under the ministry of law, in such a situation you would not be free. You would be under pressure. Your un-crucified flesh would give you problems. The very thought of looking at that woman would have you beginning to fret. That is the difference between law and grace. Grace sets people free; law binds them. Preachers are stunting and ultimately killing God’s people spiritually by preaching law instead of grace to them. The law cannot set anyone free from sin.

Anyways, back to Jesus and His disciples…

[To know Christ is to understand grace]

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Grace Only In The Cross

This post is based on Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5 through 7. Imagine Jesus was speaking these words to people who did not know anything but law! What hope did He have that His words would change them? Could the law they were under change them even by hearing such beautiful words?

But Jesus was speaking of a time that would come, after His crucifixion, when there would be a revelation of the cross in the hearts of God’s people through the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember, before the Holy Spirit was shed forth on the day of Pentecost, the risen Jesus spent forty days with His disciples talking to them the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. But after the Holy Spirit had come, Jesus left the scene.

The gospel can never be about law. Just because you tell someone not to do something does not give them the ability not to do the thing you told them not to. Just tell a man not to look at a woman lustfully and all you end up doing is to make him aware that there is a woman around. And once he becomes aware of the woman’s presence, his carnal nature kicks in. Without the revelation of the cross in our hearts, we can only fulfill the letter of the law. But the law is powerless to defeat sin.

On the contrary, the gospel of Jesus Christ is a revelation; the Holy Spirit revealing to our born-again spirits the incredible power in the cross of Jesus Christ – power over sin and death. That is the grace of God.

That is why, when we are people of law, we easily get angry at people who are not changing. We short-charge and quickly get impatient with them. Which, of course, is an indication that we ourselves have not changed one iota!

Grace, on the other hand, can wait it out. It can give all the rope to a man.

Jesus would not have expected the people in His time to change instantly because back then, grace was given only in a measure. In other words, during the era of law, grace was scarce! That is difficult to comprehend today with all that we know about the abundance of God’s grace. But before Jesus died on the cross, it was all law; but God, because He is merciful, still gave measures of grace to His people.

After Jesus had come, though, grace was given without measure. The Bible declares that even before Jesus was crucified, He Himself was given grace without measure (John 3:34)!

In our present time, therefore, we do not need law to teach us how to worship God in true holiness. In the first place, as we have said, law cannot perfect us. On the contrary, today, what we need is a revelation of the cross in our hearts. This was the revelation that was given to the Apostle Paul as an Apostle of Jesus Christ (1Cor. 2:2 and elsewhere).

This revelation makes available to us the abundance of God’s grace in our lives. We can therefore live a life that is pleasing to God, and to men because our spirits have grasped the power in living a crucified life. The Apostle Paul said,

“I am crucified with Christ…”

Let us also read about the life of Jesus who, during His life here on earth, had grace without measure:

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Lk. 2:52)

As a result of the grace of God upon His life, Jesus gained in wisdom and in favour with both God and man. That is our calling as children of God.

Two Lessons – Part 1

1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:

4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:

7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. Gal. 2:1-10

I have been away for a while but I thank the Lord that He has helped me through many difficult stutations; and I am glad to be back.

Today I would like to address two issues that are on my heart, both of which are to be found in the above portion of scripture.

The first issue I would like to address is found in verses 1 through 6. It is about the liberty that we have in Christ. It is clear here that, even if the gospel first sounded out from Jerusalem, yet there was a problem that simply had failed to go away in that church. That problem was legalism and its resultant bond-brother, hypocrisy. Hypocrisy always attends legalism (to those who accept to be bound by legalism).

The apostles in Jerusalem had failed to handle legalism, and it therefore had the upper hand within the church. But Paul had received a slightly different gospel: the gospel of the grace of Christ, in its fullness. He knew what true liberty was in the Spirit. Christ had revealed Himself to him in a way He had not done with the other apostles.

Paul’s words, therefore, in verse 6:

“But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me”

were a stinging rebuke of the hypocrisy that was going on in the church in Jerusalem. Titles were meaningless here. Apostle or no apostle, stand for the truth of the gospel!!

The problem in the church in Jerusalem was made clear when men from Jerusalem came and found Peter eating with the Gentile brethren. The account states that these men had come “from James” (v.12). Peter immediately withdrew from associating with the Gentiles, fearing a backlash from the Jerusalem party. The law was so powerful that every other Jew, including even Barnabas, a long-time associate of Paul’s, was taken up in the hypocrisy.

There are few men, even today, who can go against the formidable tide of the spirit of the world to defend the gospel of grace and freedom in Christ against law and hypocrisy. Pastors, apostles, prophets and leaders of every sort of the gospel will arrive at a place in their ministry where they will be tested in this regard – and, sadly, many will compromise. They will find it hard to defend the gospel against men.

Uncompromising men like Paul are rare. But the important fact to understand is that these can only be men and women who have died to self through a realization of the cross in their lives.

Notice what Paul says in verse 2:

“And I went up by revelation…”

What wonderful news! A man of God who can be led only by the revelation of God in his heart, and not by James or John or Peter!! Paul did not go to Jerusalem because any of the apostles had sent him summonses, no. Paul went by revelation, thank God – and that after a long time ministering under that same revelation.

The men and women who walk by revelation of Jesus Christ in their hearts are they who will bring the true gospel of the cross to triumph in a world that is clueless about the true meaning of the cross.

[Below: Paul went up to Jerusalem by revelation]

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A Message For Today’s Youth

One of the most revolting piece of news that of late has been making headlines in one Western country is the story of an off-duty policeman who was attacked by a group of teens, aged between 13 and 15, as he was arresting one of them for illegally crossing his lawn. The story is accompanied by a video, and in the video one of the teens can actually be seen attacking the policeman. The teen rushes the policeman WWE-style and when he falls down the group of teens surround him. This being the crime-riddled country it has become, it is anybody’s guess what could have followed with an incapacitated cop lying on the ground surrounded by devil-knows-who. But the cop was not willing to wait and find out; instead, he pulled out his gun and fired a warning shot.

When asked why he attacked the policeman, the 13-year boy said that the policeman had cursed his girlfriend!

Tell you what: I couldn’t care. I couldn’t care if the policeman had slapped both this spoiled brat and his so-called girlfriend. The policeman is an adult and he has a right to teach these damaged youths any lesson he deems fit to teach them. That’s what we were taught as children, and I wouldn’t exchange that lesson for any amount of dollars.

The second, even worse thing I read was that people – grown-up people – were protesting in the streets because the policeman fired his gun at those ‘children’. I think there are too many lazy bones in this country. Always on the streets, protesting.

This police officer is a very mature and intelligent man. He did not hurt any one of these youngsters, which he could if he had wanted to. But, talking of their age, I personally couldn’t care what age they were. Considering their lack of discipline and their lack of respect for an adult, I couldn’t care whether they were 10 year olds. In the Bible we read about the Prophet Elisha coming from escorting Elijah as Elijah was taken up into heaven. The Bible says that as Elisha was walking on his way, some rude kids accosted him and began taunting him on account of his baldness. The account reads:

23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. 24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.” (2 Ki. 2:23-24)

Yes, I know that that is the Old Testament, and I know also that we are living in the New. But this scripture clearly shows us the heart of God (and God never changes). There are some things that God simply does not put up with. We love children, especially little children, don’t we? Well, God killed 42 of them. Yes, 42 “little children”.

I think this country is killing itself. It is killing itself with stupid laws and ungodly attitudes. There are attitudes – and laws – in some countries that are as stupid as stupid can get.

Not too long ago I read also of a pastor in this same country who was arraigned in court for disciplining his own daughter. The charge read that he had choked her. After which she called 911 and the cops came to pick up her father. Her father!!

The judge released the pastor on bond and ordered him not to so much as argue with his daughter!

Seriously, I don’t know what moronic country can create and uphold such laws.

But with this particular case in this country, it is the fact that adults are protesting in favour of spoiled, indisciplined – and violent – teenage brats that is so absolutely stunning. It portrays a total breakdown of societal norms. But, even more dangerously, it goes against the Word of God.

No one loves liberty more than God Himself. And yet God wouldn’t have defended those kids. God would have sided with the police officer. God does not fear or hesitate to use the law when He deems fit. The Bible says that God used the law to curb lawlessness in His people for centuries. Galatians 3:23 says:

But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.”

And notice, in 1 Timothy 1:8-11:

8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”

In other words, according to the glorious gospel that was committed to Paul, the law is good; and we can see exactly the kind of people it has been set aside for. God recommends the law for people like these ruined teens.

It is therefore against God to support the kind of behaviour that these kids showed to that adult man. This incident will come to haunt these kids – and their parents – in the distant future, if they make it that far. Whatever you sow, you will reap. But remember, you sow the wind, but you will reap the whirlwind.

But God always has a way for His people for He loves them. There is a way out of this cursedness. The Bible says in Ephesians 6:1-3:

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

No Law!!

19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Gal. 2:19-21

If a thug attacks you and you act to defend yourself, the most sensible thing to do – at least in any country that follows the laws of civilization – is to hold the goon in a chokehold until the police arrive. Now, that chokehold is not exactly legal, but it is excusable under the rules of engagement. Once the police arrive, you hand over the sorry thug and the justice system takes over from there. Your chokehold is no longer needed. Given that there are sensible laws in that country, the thug will effectively be consigned to ‘Neverland’. In Africa, he will be dealt with in a manner that will make him either incapable of, unable to or unwilling to ever, ever attack anyone again.

But that was exactly what God brought the law to do – to hold sin in a chokehold till Christ would come to make the ultimate sacrifice for sin and deal with sin. But now Christ has come and He has accomplished that which was needed to defeat sin once and for all. Praise Jesus, we have the victory over sin! For we who have believed on Christ, sin will never show its ugly face in our neighborhood again because its Conquerer, our Lord Jesus Christ, lives there!

Grace was what was revealed at the cross. Mercy and peace upon all men. But, more importantly, the power to defeat sin. The victory over sin is therefore of grace, not law.

The Apostle Paul puts it the best way possible in Galatians 2:19-21:

“19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

The bottom line in what Paul is saying here is that at the cross, when Christ died in the flesh, grace was revealed. Grace, not law. And under that grace, Paul found the power to defeat sin in his life.

The law is of the flesh, and incapable. Even Moses, the man who served God perfectly under the law, was himself unable to enter the Promised Land. But the grace that is found in the cross is more than sufficient to deal with sin in our lives.

The flesh loves the law. Men of the flesh love law. They love putting law on people. But the flesh, sin and the law are all in cahoots. They are all in a conspiracy against the Spirit.

Law blocks spiritual growth. But grace gives men and women the opportunity to grow and mature in the Spirit.

We are therefore not to be men and women of law. We should not love law in our lives, nor should we love to put law on people. The reason we put law on people is because we have not crucified our lives with Christ. Paul said that he did not “frustrate” the grace of God. How could he possibly accomplish this? There could only be one way: it was by crucifying his life on the cross.

There is only one way to becoming a man or woman of grace: it is to crucify your life on the cross. If you do not crucify your life on the cross, you will forever remain a person of law. You will forever be putting law on yourself and on people.

Even more serious is the fact that law will never remove sin in your life. Law will simply cement sin in your life and in the lives of all who are unfortunate enough to come under your ministry.

Choose today: what would you love: to live as a man or woman of law, or to live under grace? The latter has a price tag to it; the former does not. Under law, you live for yourself, defending the flesh. But under grace, you live for Christ, daily giving your life as He did.

Notice what Paul says in verse 21: “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

If we choose to live by law, we “frustrate” or deny the grace of God! How can we then expect to face Jesus upon His return to earth?? We have no way out of this other than to face the death of the cross.

The million-dollar question we need to ask ourselves is: did Christ die in vain? Or did He not?

The answer, of course, is that Christ did not die in vain. But the only way we can prove that is by sharing in His sufferings and death.

Unfortunately, today, there is so much law in church. God’s people are suffocating under law. This is a clear sign that those in charge are not willing to lay down their lives. This is the case with many preachers of the gospel today. And the grace of God is being frustrated, and Christ’s death on the cross is being made of no effect.

But, be that as may be, still God’s standard for His church remains:

No law!

No law!

No law!!

[Below: A girl in rural Singida]

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Paul, A Bond Slave Of Christ

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. Gal. 5:24

A paraphrase of that scripture would be, “They that are true Christians have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts”.

Notice the Bible does not say that those that are Christ’s are those who have gone to the mountains to pray, or those who have fasted forty days. Nor does it say that it is they who have casted out devils. Nor does the Bible say that those who are Christ’s are they who have been “serving God” for 20 or 40 years. No. You could do all those things and still not have fulfilled the one condition that will make you Christ’s.

And probably most importantly for today’s charismatic church, being Christ’s is not about shouting “Power!” You could shout your way right into hell, because the devil is not bothered by such declarations. If you want to really engage the devil, you will need to become Christ’s. The Bible says clearly,

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”

And what, pray, does it mean to become “Christ’s”?

In the Old Testament, we read of God’s instructions to Moses about the man who would willingly wish to remain a bond slave of his master even after he had been set free, because he loved his master’s house “because he is well with thee” (Deut. 15:16-17). That man, the Bible says, would have his ear drilled with an awl at the door frame, and from that time onwards that person would be a bond slave to his master – forever (or, until death would do them part, of course).

Becoming “Christ’s” means becoming a bond slave of Christ, because you love Him. Paul was one man who managed to become a bond slave of Jesus Christ. Paul did not become a bond slave by following some rules or laws. He became a bond slave of Christ by willingly giving up the inner things of his nature, by crucifying his flesh. That is the equivalent of the man who had his ear togged at the doorpost.

Today, most born-again believers are Christ’s “bond slaves” by force of law. That is why there is so much law in church today because it is needed to keep God’s people there. Many believers have not reached the place where they are willing to die to the lusts and passions of their flesh, for Christ’s sake. Many would rather walk in law. Law is far much easier on the flesh.

But you cannot take supplementary things like prayer or quoting scripture or good works, or so-called spiritual warfare and try to substitute them for the work of the cross in your life. The Bible commands us to crucify the flesh and its lusts! (Remember, “command” here is all of grace, not law, because in the first place the one being commanded has willingly and lovingly become Christ’s – Christ’s slave!)

Let me tell you right here that realizing that you need to die to your flesh is a revelation from God. It cannot be otherwise. That is why there are millions of born-again believers today who have absolutely no idea that they need to crucify their flesh. They do not have that revelation. And so they cuddle that little jealousy, those flashes of anger, the hardheartedness – it becomes the norm in their lives, and they move along.

If there is one thing the church should be praying for today, it is for the revelation of the cross in the lives of God’s people.

Let us consider another scripture in this regard.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14)

What does the word “led” imply here? Just imagine a bullock whose owner has drilled a hole in its nose and passed a rope through and he uses this rope to lead the bullock. In such a case, the bullock is fully surrendered to its master. It is at the mercy and leadership and direction of its owner. That is what it means to be led by the Spirit of God: it means to become a bond servant of the Spirit.

If you ask most born-again believers who their number one enemy is, they will look at you as if you are trying to pull their leg, and they will answer you testily: “The devil, of course!”

But they are wrong. The devil cannot touch us if we have crucified the flesh. When the devil was preparing his epic “rush” at Jesus, our Lord declared to His disciples, “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” (Jn. 14:30)

Yes, Satan was coming to deliver his coup de grace on Jesus, but Jesus had the one weapon Satan’s arsenal could not penetrate: Jesus was dead to the flesh with its passions. People do strange and pointless things like dragging a corpse through town, but to what purpose? A dead man is simply that – dead.

Jesus was dead to the flesh and its passions. Jesus would be verbally insulted, but He would not reply. He would be tortured and crucified – but He did not threaten. Finally, He asked God the Father to forgive His tormentors.

The devil tried everything on Jesus, but each time he lost, for the singular reason that Jesus was dead to the flesh. In His spirit, Jesus carried about His cross.

No wonder the Apostle Paul rejoiced at the revelation of the cross in his life. He says:

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Gal. 6:14)

When Paul talks about the world he is not talking about New York City. He is talking about the carnal lusts of his flesh. It is these that he says he died to. The cross working in his life made sure of that.

Beloved, let us desire this revelation that the Apostle Paul had. This was the man who had the true revelation of Christ in his life, and who willingly became a bond slave of Christ. And that is why Jesus used Paul so well. When you carefully read the New Testament you begin to realize that were it not for Paul, the gospel of the revelation of the cross might never have reached us.

[Below: Paul became a bond slave of Jesus Christ by losing all]

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Grace For Compassion

30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. Lk. 10:30-37

Have you ever thought on forgiveness? Have you ever wondered why we need to forgive people, and especially those who have grievously hurt us?

There was a time when I thought that in the above story Jesus was referring to actual robbers. But one day the Lord opened my eyes to see that the story is beyond flesh and blood robbers. Instead, it is about people who have been robbed of something in the spirit realm.

In the spiritual world, the devil is the real robber and he robs men and women of the things of the heart. And when men have been robbed of the things of the heart, their hearts become empty and dark. They therefore become bitter, angry, hurting, and sinful.

But notice also that this scripture is talking about compassion, and mercy. When we are carrying selfish hearts we think about ourselves. As they say, we look out for No. 1 – our own interests, our own lives. When people therefore hurt us, we think of how much we have been hurt. But when we carry the heart of Christ, we think of the suffering and emptiness in those people’s souls. That is why we can forgive them. Compassion is the foundation upon which forgiveness rests.

God’s Kingdom is all about the heart. Therefore, in this parable, Jesus was talking about the heart, a compassionate heart.

Let us take the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. His was a very real and physical experience. After they had finished crucifying Jesus, His many tormentors did many other hurtful things to Him. But I believe it was the words that they spoke to Him that must have caused Him the greatest amount of pain. In the Gospel of Mark we read,

“29 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, 30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross. 31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.” Mk. 15:29-32

Now, remember that Jesus was as much flesh and blood as you and I. The words came at Him like barbed arrows, and they were intended to hurt Him. Do you know what it means for someone to wag their head at you? It means they utterly despise you. And – unless you are made of stone – it hurts. It hurts real bad.

But, y’know, the way we are, when we read these words, we think, “Oh, that’s easy. I could take that.”

But no; it is not easy, and no, you could not have taken it. The way we are today, few of us could have come to taking the hurt. Why? Because our lordship the flesh has not been crucified and therefore our personalities are bigger than the Lord Jesus Himself. The result? We trip at the tiniest slight upon our perceived rights and dignity!

But what did the Lord do? Did He get bitter? Did He feel degraded and vow  they would pay for it? No. On the contrary, he saw the misery in their hearts, and had compassion on them. And in His mercy He prayed for them:

“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” Lk. 23:34

Jesus did not pray for His tormentors because “it is written”. On the contrary, His prayer was born of compassion, and mercy. By doing this, He revealed true love.

I can vouch for the fact that were it not for the nails holding Him up there, Jesus would have come down and even in His pain He would have held them all in His arms and – if only they would open their hearts – fill them to the brim with His grace. Did He not say so Himself? (see Mat. 23:37; Lk. 13:34)

Let us consider briefly the Apostle Paul. Have you ever wondered why Paul would write:

“1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” Rom. 9:1-3?

Paul wrote this out of love. In his love for his fellow Jews, Paul would gladly have given up his place in Christ for them! Such a thought is unfathomable..

Lastly, let us take a look at Stephen. When the Jews stoned Stephen,

“… he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:60).

Did Stephen “copy” Jesus’s words at the cross? No. Stephen’s words came from the heart. Stephen had the heart of Jesus, a heart which had a limitless amount of love such that he could show mercy on his tormentors.

I once heard a preacher say, “Stephen asked God to forgive the Jews only this particular sin (of stoning him). They will answer for the rest!”

But those are vengeful words, and that is neither the heart of Christ, nor was it the heart that Stephen carried. Both Jesus and Stephen loved their persecutors, and they had mercy on them. If you love someone, you cannot ask God to forgive them only a specific sin and at the same time ask Him to make sure they pay for all their other sins!!

The story of the Good Samaritan is especially relevant in the case where a brother or sister has stumbled, or has wronged us. In both cases that we have reviewed above, God revealed His heart for the fallen Jews through the words that Jesus and Stephen spoke: “Forgive them”. His was a heart full of mercy.

In the same way, we ought to see deep into the heart of a brother who has stumbled and fallen. We ought to have a heart of mercy towards them. It is they who are actually suffering. They have been robbed of something; that is why they are doing what they are doing, even if they are doing it against us. We are called upon to lay down our lives for such brethren, if perchance they might arrive at a place of repentance.

It is in the same vein that we evangelize. We should not evangelize to fill up our churches. We should evangelize because we love people. The Apostle Paul says:

“For the love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Cor. 5:14).

Paul did not say, “The law constrains us”. Unfortunately, for many people it is all about the law. It is about fulfilling a certain program. But law and programs have no power to bring life. They have no heart. That is why the priest and the Levite – who were men of law – could not help the wounded man. They were more dead than he.

Love is sensitive in the Spirit and it keenly feels, not its own pain, but the pain of others. It knows, not what it has been robbed of, but what others have been robbed of. The heart of God is a heart of compassion, compassion beyond belief. He can see deep into the miseries that men suffer.

But the even better news is that God has the perfect remedy for our suffering souls. He has given His life for us. He has paid the sacrifice for our deliverance. If we will only humble ourselves and cry to Him, He will give us the grace we need to be rich again in our spirits.

[Below: “Go… go and do thou likewise”]