By Femi Aribisala
You want to see a man that is blessed, don’t ask what kind of job he has. Don’t ask how much he has in the bank.
Christians insist we are children of Abraham, even without doing the works of Abraham. We sing repeatedly: “Abraham’s blessings are mine. I am blessed in the morning, I am blessed in the evening; Abraham’s blessings are mine.” But since we have been appropriating Abraham’s blessings, we have not become rich. Something must be wrong somewhere otherwise Christians should be the richest people on earth today.
God said to Abraham: “I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2). Thereafter, we learn that “Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.” (Genesis 13:2). Was that the fulfilment of the promise made to him?
Blessing of sinlessness
No! The blessing that the Lord had in mind for Abraham was to make him sinless by forgiving him his sins. Peter revealed this to the Jews after the Pentecost: “You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” (Acts 3:25-26).
Note that Peter did not say Jesus took away their sins. He said Jesus turned them away from their sins.
God said to Abraham, in effect, the greatest way I can bless you is by delivering you from your sins. The best way I can bless you is by breaking the power of sin over your life. The best way I can bless you is by making you sinless. “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God; walk before me and be blameless.’” (Genesis 17:1).
Not salvation from poverty
Many of the Old Testament Jews had their own idea of blessings. They were convinced the Messiah would come to establish an opulent society on earth. They believed that when the Messiah comes, he would shower them with wealth, prosperity and unending happiness. They thought he would give them all the world’s resources and positions of power. They were convinced that once he came, they would not have to labour or strive any more. Many Christians are also schooled in these misconceptions.
But Jesus confounded all expectations. As far as God was concerned, the greatest blessing he could give man was deliverance from the grip of sin through the ministry of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the angel said to Joseph concerning Mary’s unborn child: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21).
The greatest thing God has ever done, and will ever do, for man is to forgive us our sins.
God spoke creation into existence. Within seven days, he created the heavens, the earth and all living things. But salvation was entirely different. Salvation could not be established by merely saying: “Let there be salvation.” God had to come down to earth personally in human form through the womb of a woman. He then demonstrated forgiveness by forgiving us even when we responded to his love by crucifying him.
Key to blessing
Without a doubt, salvation is the greatest and most complex work of God known to man. Therefore, David does not say “blessed is the man who is made the king of Israel.” He says: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven.” (Psalm 32:1).
There is only one way by which God truly blesses a man: by forgiving him his sins. Without the forgiveness of sins, all other so-called blessings are useless. You want to see a man that is blessed, don’t ask what kind of house he has. Don’t ask for his wife and children. Don’t ask what kind of job he has. Don’t ask how much he has in the bank. Don’t even ask about his health. Ask him if his sins are forgiven. If they are not, every other thing is a waste of time.
It is the forgiveness of sins that ushers a man into the things of God. It is the forgiveness of sins that brings the precious Holy Spirit. It is the forgiveness of sins that reconciles man back to God. It is the forgiveness of sins that enables the inheritance of eternal life.
If a man has all the wealth in the world but his sins are not forgiven, he is a poor man indeed. Every blessing has its foundation in the forgiveness of sins. Therefore, everything we do as believers should have its mainspring in the fact that our sins are forgiven. It must be the mainspring of all our actions in the life.
God is love. He so loved that he gave. The first thing he gave was Jesus. The second thing he gave was forgiveness. The third thing he gave was eternal life.
Need to forgive
If the greatest thing God did for us was to forgive us our sins, then the greatest thing we can do for others is to forgive them their sins. It is more difficult to forgive than to give. It is so much easier to give money than to forgive others. We can give under duress. We can give even though we don’t want to. But we cannot forgive by force. We can only forgive from the heart. And we cannot truly give unless we forgive.
Jesus says the extent of our love of God is a function of our appreciation of the forgiveness of our sins. Indeed, the extent of our understanding of the Christian faith is determined by our understanding of the centrality of the forgiveness of sins.
Simon, the Pharisee, did not understand this, therefore he despised the woman who anointed Jesus feet with precious ointment and washed his feet with her hair. Jesus said to him: “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” (Luke 7:47-48).
He that is forgiven must forgive. When Christians bear malice; when we divorce our spouses instead of being reconciled with them; when we are bitter against our neighbours for perceived wrongs done to us; we show that we don’t have eternal life operating in us.
Joseph was quick to forgive his brothers. God required Job to forgive his vicious friends. When he did, the Lord redeemed all his losses: “The LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10). Even so will the Lord redeem all the losses of those believers who forgive from the heart any and every wrong done to us.
When we receive the forgiveness of sins through Christ Jesus’ atonement, the Holy Spirit starts to rewrite the Ten Commandments that were written on tablets of stone on the fleshly tablets of our hearts. Thus, in the volume of the book it is written of us, we now delight to do the will of God. (Psalm 40:7). The fire-baptism of the Holy Spirit purifies our heart: it purges the dross within and enables us to come out as gold.