Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Who … What … Where is Babylon?

Commentary On Sabbath School Lesson

The first time we read of Babylon in the Bible, is in Genesis 11:9. The
inhabitants of the world thought they could build a tower to overtake God’s throne and make a name for themselves right after the flood. In thus doing they rebelled against God’s will. God had instructed them to spread themselves and their families over the earth, but they decided to stay put and build this tower. The name of this place was Bab-ilu, which means “gate of God.” By confounding the builder's ability to communicate their plans to one another, God frustrated their objective. Incommunicado, the builders became angry, and were forced to separate and go their own way. Needless to say, individuals assembled themselves together in groups according to their common language. Ever since that fateful day, Babylon has symbolized humanity’s folly. Now, the term Babylon represents at its most elemental level, confusion.

Used in prophecy, the term Babylon refers to a rival city who through its earthly customs, traditions and expectations, binds its inhabitants to itself. Symbolically, it rivals the New Jerusalem ( Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21). Both cities are diametrically opposed to one another in principles. Babylon's citizens are selfish and self centered. Their entire civilization is built on the foundation of sand -- false doctrines, false ideas or concepts and
false systems of belief. In contrast, New Jerusalem's citizens love others as their redeemer has loved them. His indwelling presence with its inherent power enables these citizens to build their homes on the Rock of Ages, where the Chief Corner Stone stands. In the time of trouble, those who have their hearts and minds secured through faith on the foundation of the Word -- God's
doctrines, His ideas, and His principles of government -- will stand.

In the past, we have typically identified Babylon as Papal Rome, the Papacy, or the institution of Catholicism. Because the Roman Catholic Church considers all protestant churches as her errant off-spring, we have also considered all Christian Sunday keeping churches as daughters of Babylon. For although, these churches call themselves Protestants, we say they are confused for they follow the traditional day of worship established by Papal Rome. We thus believe that if we are Seventh-Day Adventists we are not Babylon. But, what if we start believing, thinking, speaking, and behaving as Babylon, while remaining Sabbath Keepers in the Seventh Day Adventist Church? Would we not become Babylonish? Would we not be citizens of Babylon living abroad? To be in
Babylon means to adhere to and engage in false doctrines, false ideas and false systems of belief. Oh what a shame to be found living abroad with the Saints, while we're really more at home in Babylon. God gave His children His angel to guide them in the desert where they wandered so long, He has given us Christ, His Holy Spirit and His Word to keep us from evil. Shall we not avail ourselves of them? Were not the children of Israel and Judah punished by God for adopting idolatry and paganism while living in the very land He promised and gave them? While the Seventh Day Adventist Church is not Babylon,
sometimes its citizens refuse to live as free citizens of the new kingdom.

After years of warnings to the people of Judah, God finally allowed “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and (he) besieged it” (Daniel 1:1). The Lord used the Babylonians to correct Judah, because the inhabitants had transgressed and sinned, 'till as a nation, their iniquity was worse than that of the pagan nations which surrounded them. Some individuals in Judah were taken captive to Babylon, and out of these came a remnant, who were to turn back to Judah after so many years. Not all in Judah were part of this group.
But spiritually, they could have been, had they chosen to be. Daniel and his three friends, by their fidelity to God, were a part of this group. God intended that although youthful captives, they would be witnesses to the
leaders of His character, in Babylon. No sooner had these captives arrived in the palace, they started stirring things up by refusing to eat the King’s food (Daniel 1:8). According to Sister White, the parents of these four young men taught them that strict adherence to the principles of temperance is a part of true religion. So although they were held captive in a powerful nation which was seemingly hostile to God, they were by faith, able to resist the
temptation to succumb to the pressure of conformity. They asked instead for healthy and wholesome foods. In answer to their request of faith, and their adherence to His principles concerning appetite, God blessed the four youth with physical, intellectual, and spiritual gifts.

You know, when foods are bad for our health and we don't like them, its easy to resist them. After all we don't like them. Where is the temptation in that? Its probable that Babylon’s menu was full of unclean meats, and clean meats prepared improperly. Its also likely that all of the food was offered to idols as well. Yet, to someone taught from childhood that such fare is bad for you, resisting is not difficult. The greater difficulty would be resisting the pressure to conform to the customs, traditions and expectations of Babylon under the threat of death. How many of us are threatened to eat the way we do? More often than not, if we were taught better, our poor eating habits were formed through some sort of pressure. Either we experienced that pressure through curiosity fueled by the desire to conform, directly from peer pressure or from anxiety regarding some deadline we have to meet. The bottom line is we usually eat the way we were taught to, in some cases, its what we've conscientiously chosen to do, and typically it meets some felt and unfelt needs.

As Seventh-Day Adventists, we understand that our denomination represents the remnant church, and the remnant people. We have been taught that God gave us a message about health, and that it is tied to the Three Angel's Message. We understand that we are God's conduit to take this message to the world. And yet what do we as individuals, part of the remnant, eat? We often go against prophetic counsel which reminds us that we are to eat and drink in a wholesome and healthy way. We even go against scripture, because "I can't see the harm in it, and besides, studies say... ." We choose to partake of and even enjoy Babylon’s menu--and the results speak for themselves.

The Loma Linda Health Study, recently conducted, reveals that "two-thirds of Seventh Day Adventists are overweight." Wow, isn't that astonishing? We have been given a message to promote health, and prevent just such physical, emotional, financial and spiritual trap. Christ even fasted 40 days and nights to overcome in this area on our behalf, so it wouldn't be a trap. But, just visit the various churches and look at those luscious and lavish meals prepared for potlucks. Its so tempting to eat everything, which of course means our stomachs will be over working. "And look, did you see the meat dishes, and the table laden with deserts???" The sad part is that we take pride in this. We feel that there's nothing like a good program, and a good fellowship meal to bond
together. Yet, we're ignoring the fact that the foods we eat, and the poor habits we establish, negatively affect our relationship with God. It becomes almost impossible to hear Him -- He speaks so softly. How it must disappoint
Him to see us burdened down with sinful habits and diseases that could have been prevented, had we listened to Him. Unfortunately, these habits, customs traditions and beliefs, unless left on the burning altar of sacrifice, will keep us
from entering our beautiful city to be with our king.

So, how do we leave Babylon? the first thing to do is to admit that we have been Babylonians. God will forgive us. 1 John 1:8 – 9 says,

1 John 1: 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Let us believe and accept His forgiveness. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all
should come to repentance.” These are gifts from God. If we accept them and invite the Comforter to help us, He will. As the song says, "It is not in trying, but in trusting, its not in running, but in resting, its not in wondering but in praying, that we find the strength of the Lord." God will give you the strength -- the power--to overcome if you but ask. "Ask and receive, that your joy may be full."

Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes

The Special Insights web page resides at:

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The world: Hate it or love it?

Commentary on the Sabbath School Lesson

Words and their various meanings are very interesting to me. I have always been intrigued by them and take pleasure in tracing their usage in diverse languages. Its amazing how words mean something to one group of people and something else entirely to other group. We receive a very different perspective on a word when we discover its original meaning, as well as the ways in which that meaning has changed. The same goes for translating words or phrases from one language to another. Mono-linguistic persons often express surprise when a word in English sounds like a foreign word, but has a completely different meaning. Words and phrases in one language may not translate into another language readily, so a new word must be coined. Its so easy to think we understand a word in our own language, after all, we use it frequently. And yet, if we become just a little curious, work backward, and trace the word to its original language, we may discover a deeper meaning which heretofore eluded us. That’s why I am so thankful for dictionaries, and am particularly thankful to God for the Hebrew and Greek dictionaries. Without them, I would be lost. These dictionaries shed light on a totally different picture of God's requirements for us. Take the word obedience, for example. In the English language we translate it, “do as you are told.” In the Hebrew the word we translated to obedience means, “Listening closely and attentively-- to hear, with a willingness to do.” In other words, God does not just want us to take action, He wants us to know Him, know His voice, and in the process, understand what He wants us to accomplish in His power.

This week’s lesson presents a similar situation with the word: World. At first glance, it seems that the Bible contradicts itself. In 1 John and in Romans, it seems that we are being told to hate the world (1 John 2:15; Rom.12:2). Yet later on we're told that God loved the world (John 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:18,19) and that's why He sent His son . What an apparent contradiction! In Matthew 28, we are told that God even commissions us to go out to the world. What are we to believe? Some say that John 17:14 - 18 explains the paradox, but to someone not versed in scripture, this text just seems to provide more confusion. Let's take a look at John 17:14-18:

John 17:14 I have given them Thy Word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
John 17:15 I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that
Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
John 17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth.
John 17:18 As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them
into the world.

This scripture gives the impression that we are to be in the World but not of the World. To someone new to the Christian life, comes the question, "how can I be in something, but not be part of it? "After all, if you're in something, doesn't it stick on you? So, how could I be in-- it but not?" "I'm either in something, or I'm not -- right?" The New Testament was written in Greek, so let's look up the word -- "world," in a concordance. Upon examination, the word -- "Kosmos," from which we get the word "cosmos," has several meanings, and is revealed as the word we're looking for. To determine which meaning is correct for the passage in question, we must 1st determine the context of that passage.

To the Hebrew mind, the word Kosmos can mean several things, a few of which are: the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family; the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ. It could also mean: worldly affairs, the aggregate of things earthly; the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments, riches, advantages, pleasures, and the like, which although hollow, frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ; any aggregate or general collection
of particulars of any sort. In summary, the word-- "world," can refer to Sin or the Sinner. Perhaps Sister White sheds a little more light:

The Followers of Christ are to be separate form the world in principles and interests, but they are not to isolate themselves from the World (E. G. White Notes, page 92).

Wow, at least for those who've been baffled, we got that cleared up. The "world," used in this context of scripture is referring to the customs, traditions and expectations of sinful humanity. The apostles, through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, are telling us that we are not to be like the sinful inhabitants of the world, worrying, fretting, and concerned with the cares of this life, for they root out the Word (Matt. 6:25-33; Matt. 13:3, 22, 23). If these counsels seem an impossible feat, remember that Christ only asked us to listen closely, with a willingness to hear, and a willingness to do. When we are in Christ, nothing shall be impossible, for all things are possible to him who believes, and abides (Mark 10:27; John 1:3-5; Phil. 4:13).

It is said that God hates the Sin, but loves the Sinner. When we are in Christ we too will bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and will- agape - love the Sinner unconditionally and hate the Sin. You cannot admire both, the Sinner and the Sin, and possess the love of God. When there is no love or burden for the sinner's ultimate eternal destination, there is unquestionably, love for Sin. But,
when God places in our hearts, His love, and passionate burden for the salvation of the Sinner --- we will hate Sin; and -- we will love our brother unto the death. For Christ's sake, let's be willing to allow God to do this work in us.

Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes

The Special Insights web page resides at:

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Treating the Leaders

Ever since I joined the church 24 years ago I have heard of people dissatisfied with the leadership of the Church. You can imagine that during these years, I have also heard my share of scandals. The examples are many: adultery, homosexuality, fornication, embezzlement, and apostasy. All this combined with poor decisions on the part of leadership, can make anyone distrustful, angry and cynical . The fact that church leadership experiences collective negative thinking like this is sad, unfortunate, and disturbing. Doesn't God say that He appoints the leaders? Has He made poor choices throughout history? One thing is for certain, the church’s leaders are not perfect. They often fail. This shines the light on what the Bible says about our human nature, which is, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” Rom 3:10.

Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that in my 24 years in the church,
the times when someone suggested praying for our leadership as we “discuss” their problems has been far and in between. (I have to confess it was not I making the suggestion.) When the suggestion came, we sheepishly agreed that it would be the right thing to do. However, not one of us offered to do it right then. We shamefully enjoyed gossiping about the various leaders throughout the world-wide church. We did it in anger and contempt. In fact, we bore false witness of our brethren. In letting our anger loose through gossip, in slandering others, we murder them in our hearts. Often, gossiping is a form of revenge. So of course it means we are being unforgiving of our "neighbor's" failings. By gossiping we smear others' characters, destroy their reputations, and generally, behave as if ours was above reproach. Forgetting that, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” Matthew 7:2.

The Bible is clear that we are to trust the leaders, submit to them, as well as support and encourage them -- so far as they follow God’s will. If they sin, we are to prayerfully bring the issue to their attention. If that fails, we are to go with 2 or more witnesses to engage in resolving the conflict as described in Matthew 18. If all else fails, we are reminded to keep the leader in prayer. Paul makes this request in 2 Thessalonians 3:1, “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you.” His request reminds us that praying for them, is something we should have been doing all along. Had we been interceding on their behalf, perhaps they would not have failed in serving. Sister White has this to say about praying for others: those whom we pray for can reject our counsel, and our actions of love may fail to reach them, but not so our prayers. Our prayers can reach their heart even if they do not know we are praying for them.

In human terms David had reasons to kill King Saul. After all, Saul attempted to take his life. Thus David could have retaliated, and It would have been considered self-defense. Yet, David never raised his hand to kill Saul. During one opportunity when the King slept in a cave in the wilderness of Engedi, David actually spared his life. At sunrise David yelled to him from a distance,

1 Sam. 24:10 Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORD's anointed.
1 Sam. 24:11 Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not,know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it.
1 Sam. 24:12 The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.

David was aware of Saul’s flaws. David felt sorrowful regarding Saul's decisions,
knowing that it would lead him to eternal condemnation. We too can be sorrowful for the course the church’s leadership is taking, the decisions that are made, as well as for the leadership itself. Yes, they are faulty. But, they are God’s appointed leaders, whether we like it or not. God has a purpose and a plan for these brothers and sisters in the positions they hold, and it is not likely we know what that is. What we can do for them is to pray. Intercessory prayer will change our attitudes, and perhaps even their actions.

Sure, this goes against our sinful nature. Sure we'd still like to gossip about them, but let's let the love of God constrain us; for in God, all things are possible. Through His indwelling Holy Spirit, God has convicted us of our sin of murmuring against His leaders. He will enable us to confess, and will give
us the gift of repentance for our sinful attitudes and behavior. God will forgive us if we but ask. Then He will empower us, to forgive the Church’s leadership and to pray for them. Will you accept God’s invitation?

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Friday, September 10, 2004

Spiritual Siblings

This week's lesson starts out with the statement, "as Seventh-day Adventists, we often refer to one another as 'brother and sister.' " How true, how true. Unfortunately, it seems that the phrase has been so overused, that it holds little meaning. After all, how many persons who address you as brother or sister do you consider related to you? When those surrounding Christ made the comment that his mother and brethren were outside waiting to speak with Him, Christ responded, "who is My mother, or My brethren? ...Whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and My mother." Mark 3:33. I wonder if as Seventh-day Adventist Christians, we actually see others as our spiritual siblings?

Yes it’s true, siblings quarrel, they fight, and sometimes they even kill one another. Just look at the example of Cain and Able. Their sibling rivalry led to the death of one of the brothers, and yet they remained siblings. It’s as if not even negative feelings or harmful actions to each other, can change the familial relationship. Oh sure, the nature of relating may change, but the relationship itself remains, whether we like it or not. Sad to say, many of us like it not. It seems to be our human nature to want to have control over who'll be in our lives, and how emotionally close they'll get to us. We like having (and exercising) the power of choice. Since we can't exercise it over who we are biologically related to, we exercise it over our spiritual siblings.

Truthfully, our biological family members are all diverse from one another. We have differing physical traits, likes and dislikes. We have different home training, and so evidence characteristics from being well read, to poorly read, from being well mannered to, well let's just say, lacking in manners. Yet, we all remain family. Why do we see our spiritual family any differently? We tolerate, or if we have matured spiritually in the fruit of the Spirit, we are patient with our family members, why do we not extend the same grace to our spiritual brothers and sisters? Do they deserve any less?

Does not the scripture say by their fruit you'll know them? Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't Christ say in John 15:36, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another?" Just what kind of love is He talking about here? Is it familial love, erotic love, love between friends, or the love of parents for their children? Is He saying that if we have these types of love, others will know we belong to Him? Don't people who are not Christians possess these types of love? So what do we more than they? In John 15: 35, Jesus describes the type of love He refers to. He requests us in the loving tones of One who will die in our place, suffering our ignominious death, "That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." Tall order? Not with the Spirit's help. In John chapter 14, Jesus says that He'll pray to the Father for another Comforter for us, "that He may abide with you, as the Spirit of Truth," and "dwell with and in you." "He is the Holy Spirit, sent in My name, He'll teach you all things, and bring all things to your memory." John 14:16, 17, 26.

Nowhere in the scripture does it say that by our unity (whether uniformity or true unity) others will know us as His true disciples. So where did we get this idea? It is, according to John 17, by One-ness "in Christ," and through Christ, that we though diverse in background, experiences, and the like, have unity. The scripture says that Christ died to break down the middle wall that separated us from God, and from one another through our customs, politics, traditions, and yes, even prejudices. He actually succeeded don't you think? So then why do we behave as if He hadn't? Why do we go on with our petty squabbles, and attitudes and feel justified with them?
Christ has said that it is He who justifies, and "the just shall live by faith ... the faith of Jesus, and by faith ye stand, and whatever is not of faith is sin, and faith comes by the hearing of the Word of God.” If we say, "I cannot treat my spiritual siblings in the loving and close way I treat my biological family.” If I say, “there is, after all, the distinction of blood you know,” then I make Christ and His Words a lie-- for He says just the opposite.

Besides living unconditional, undeserved, self-sacrificing love, we the members of a unified church will, both collectively and individually, hear His voice, search for and find other sheep, be sanctified through the Word which is true, and the Holy Spirit will dwell in and guide us. Furthermore, we will treasure the Holy Spirit and the Prince of peace, and with lowliness of mind, be joyful, grow up to maturity in Christ, be always in prayer, and thus will be in one accord. Sounds like a lot? It is, but in Christ-- "...all things are possible to him who believes." Will you choose to believe? Let's not be like the 80% of the church who are indifferent or cause trouble. Instead, by His power, let's choose to see others as our spiritual siblings.

Maria Greaves-Barnes

The Special Insights web page resides at:

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Who Me?... Forgive Him--Her---Them?

Who Me?... Forgive Him--Her---Them?

Of the many stories told of Abraham Lincoln, there is one that I've never
forgotten. Just as President Lincoln finished meeting with a particular gentleman,
his assistant approached and questioned him, saying, “You were talking with ... him??"
"I thought he was your enemy?” President Lincoln replied, “Yes, he was my enemy,
but now he is my friend.” “Mr. President,” replied the puzzled assistant, “if you don’t mind me commenting, you once told me you get rid of all your enemies--well, what happened?” Amused, the president responded, chuckling, “I did say that, and I've stayed true to what I said." " Since he is my friend, I no longer have him as an enemy.”

We all have been hurt by someone, some of us more than others. The real question is,
how do we deal with these persons? Do we make them our enemies, avoiding them
at every turn? Or are we like many, who brag about being Old Testament types:
“an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth?” Do we think that its our right to get revenge? Do we plot and plan for the perfect time, and then...? Indeed, when wronged, our first human reaction is to get even. Allowing our angry or hurt feelings to take over, we do foolish things we later regret. Some of us hold life long grudges, saying, "I remember...can you believe...I'm never going to forget--." These grudges become our identity and fueling our purpose for living. And before we know it we've become enemy centered people. Some of us wait for years before we're able to take revenge, and how we gloat in the fact! Maybe secretly, but we honestly
believe they had it coming, and we feel justified treating the person badly. We think its only fair to hurt them before they hurt us--- again. Our motto is “I forgive, but don’t forget.” Unfortunately, by holding on to our anger and sin we become like those people we've refused to forgive.
Let's take a look at 2 Timothy 3--

2 Tim. 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters,
proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
2 Tim. 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers,
incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
2 Tim. 3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers
of God;
2 Tim. 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from
such turn away.

Forgiveness has many definitions. Someone has defined it as throwing away a stone.
When you throw it in the water or in a field, you never find it again. So perhaps we
should throw away the issue, never to find it again. C. S. Lewis has tied forgiveness to “loving others as yourself.” Apparently, he believed this meant wishing for the offender, the good you wish for yourself. Still another definition of forgiveness is, to give away my right for justice and instead offer mercy. Although these individual definitions are good, I believe the concept of forgiveness encompasses all of the above and includes this, it is a principle. Like love, joy, patience, and the like, a principle is something which we choose to do (in Christ), and the feelings come after the decision is made.

In their desire to set parameters around forgiveness, many find it easier to look at
the behavior a Christian should evidence. Wanting to get it just right, they quote the Sermon on the Mount. And indeed Christ does give behavioral instructions in Matthew 5. However, before we look at the scripture, I'd like to say that as Christians, we've likely read this passage numerous times. We know what it says, its just difficult to do. In fact, many of us if we were honest, would admit, we just don't want to be forgiving. We want pity, we want revenge! Someone must pay (for our pain). Yet contrary to our natural inclinations, the scripture says:

Matt. 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy
neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
Matt. 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you,
do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully
use you, and persecute you;
Matt. 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven:
for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Matt. 5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not
even the publicans the same?
Matt. 5:47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others?
do not even the publicans so?
Matt. 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven
is perfect.

Wow, this is a lot. In this passage, Christ not only contrasts Christian behavior with Non-Christian behavior, He expresses His desire for us to be loving and forgiving as He is. In the life and death of Christ, God Himself embodied these characteristics. In Romans 5:10, it says that even when we were enemies of God “… we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” After all the suffering Christ endured at the hands of those He came to save, He pronounced, “…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Jesus could have said, “who Me, forgive them,” just as we do. Instead, He chose to forgive us.

Like everything else God desires from us, it is humanly impossible for us
to forgive others on our own. But, we like the disciples can say, “…Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). When we accept God’s forgiveness by faith, we are also given the power to forgive others. His indwelling Holy Spirit gives this gift of forgiveness to us, enabling us to throw away the harm others did to us. He fills us with Himself, so that the good given us, we pass along to them. Then, we treat the offender with mercy, as well as respect, and give away our right to get even. It is through the Holy Spirit's power that we choose to forgive even before we are asked. Will you, like the disciples, ask God to increase your faith?

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