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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FORGIVE SEVENTY TIMES SEVENTY?
As we have seen, not every offense can be defined as abuse. When Jesus commanded us simply to forgive, (interpreted in the full context of Mt. 18 and relating Scriptures,) He was not referring to unrepentant, soul and life threatening abuse. In the case of overlooking offenses, Jesus was implying unplanned, ‘minor’ faults and mistakes, or a mere insult — in which case, we are supposed to “turn the other cheek.” Jesus was speaking metaphorically, of course. We are not supposed to legalistically count how many times we have to forgive, just as we would not like God to keep score of all our confessed sins, which He forgives on a continual basis as we seek His face and obey His Moral Law of Love, (Agape.)
Paul too, referred to unintentional offenses when he wrote in 1 Cor. 13:4-7, “Love (agape) is patient and kind.” This means, Godly agape does not jealously oppress and compete with the sinful ‘self,’ (philautia,) flying off the handle over every little thing. God’s agape does not act arrogantly and moody; behave unmannered, selfish, ill tempered and over-sensitive. Godly ‘love’ (storge) never “rejoices” in the failures of others, but seeks the righteousness and will of God in every situation, (pragma.) God’s ‘love’ (agape) will be prepared to suffer for the Kingdom and glory of God, (not for the gratification of controlling, torturous abusers,) and trusts in the promises of God concerning all people.
Although all wrongdoing is sin and needs forgiveness, (and the offender’s repentance and restitution, as defined by Scripture and not according to our own ideas,) most offenses we commit against one another are not worth a second thought and simply need to be overlooked. After all, none of us are perfect. We will minister effectively to most of our offenders (and ourselves,) if we simply overlook small offenses, which are not likely to continually reoccur and wreak havoc on our lives, or do great damage to us personally, and/or the innocent involved. In the case of minor and unintentional offenses, we should simply obey Jesus’ instructions to forgive and pray for our offenders.
SPIRITUAL ABUSE IN CHURCH AND AT HOME
Woe to those by whom such terrible grief comes!
In 1 Sam. 15:1-23, that narcissistic King Saul tried to manipulate the commandments of the Lord. To justify his disobedience, he first claimed that he did obey; then he blamed the people for his insolence, and finally, he tried to pacify God by bringing Him a religious, ritual sacrifice, which was the duty of the Old Covenant priests. But Samuel said, “Has God… delight in sacrifice as in obedience… For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry…”
The first commandment, which binds together all the precepts of the Moral Law, is ‘to love (agape) the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.’ We can learn from King Saul that we commit idolatry by following our own sinful ways or the sinful ways of others, instead of obeying the truth of God’s Word. Also, we commit the sin of witchcraft when we rebel against the Word of God and turn truth into lies. When we conjure up deception and seductive charm, or when we lead, or force others to honor and follow people instead of God! Thus, we become male and female witches when we “provoke our children [and others] to wrath” by our manipulation, oppression, domination, and control; forcing them do our sinful bidding, instead of teaching them to do the will of God above all else! – (Eph. 6:4.)
Our own sin, left unconfessed and unrepented, brings us under God’s judgment. However, when we do not only sin ourselves, but also commit witchcraft by provoking, grieving, influencing, deceiving, and pressing others to sin, God will judge us much more severely! For this purpose, Jesus warned in Mt. 18:6, “Better that [such abusing pastors, elders, spouses, parents, children, friends, and family,] who cause [those who believe in Me to sin,] were to hang millstones around their necks, and were drowned in the depth of the sea… Woe to that person by whom the offense comes!”
“Woe!” invokes the Devine judgment of God
The announcement of Jesus, “Woe to that person by whom the offense comes,” should make our bodies shiver and our knees bow in reverent fear and worship. “Righteousness is the scepter, [the authority,] of His Kingdom,” and ‘woe’ is a word used through Scripture to invoke the inescapable judgment of God, as also in the judgments pronounced in the Book of Revelation! Jesus commanded us to “pluck them out and cut them off!” - (Mt. 18:6-9; Heb. 1:8.)
Jesus judged male and female ‘witches’ who make others sin, so harshly because such abuses lead and push people away from Him through disobedience to the truth of His Word. Paul explained in 1 Cor. 8:12, “When you sin against [your spouse, parents, children, friends…] you sin against Christ.”
The M.H. Commentary explained, “If someone sins against you by grieving your soul, [by humiliating and rejecting you through unfaithfulness, false accusation, and unnecessary trouble;] by affronting you continually, or putting contempt or abuse on you; if he blemishes your good name by false reports or hurtful tale-bearing; if he encroaches on your rights or be in any way injurious to you in your estate; if he is guilty of any of the trespasses that are specified in Lev. 6:2-3; if he transgresses the laws of justice, charity, or relative duties… Such deeds are of very mischievous consequence.”
God did not give us parents, spouses, children, and other ‘neighbors’ to sinfully abuse as if they were our personal property; He blessed us by entrusting them to us during specific times in our lives. May God give every ‘bewitching’ parent, spouse, teenage and adult child, family member and friend – and especially the members of the body of Christ, the grace to realize that we are indeed ‘one another’s keepers’ while we are living together here on earth!
Defining abuse as abusing God first
Abuse is the most severe form of sin, as abusers go beyond physical and emotional mistreatment by abusing the Word of God and thus by abusing God Himself, to satisfy their selfish greed, lust for control, and desire for human adoration. Because they disrespect and invalidate God, they treat people and the rest of His creation the same way. ‘Witches committing witchcraft’ best describes these ‘stumbling-block’ abusers and their never-ending crimes. Jesus viewed abuse as most serious because it goes beyond the physical realm. In Mark 8:15, He warned His disciples not to partake of “the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod.” Paraphrased, this means, ‘Take heed, or watch out for yourselves not to embrace the twisted Scriptures, demonic doctrines, religious traditions, and double lifestyles of spiritually blind leaders, lest you become deceived, proud, sanctimonious, and hypocritical like they are, and sin unrepentantly!’
Just as physical abusers manipulate the truth by twisting the contextual meaning of words and conversations, abusers of Scripture effectively turn verses and chapters from the Bible into dangerous doctrines for the purpose of enslaving their followers to their merciless rule, (Mark 7:13.)
Satan is perfectly capable of telling the truth – and sometimes he does, but always with the intention of turning a little piece of truth into a big lie, (Jn. 8:44.) In this way, spiritual abusers also use the Word of God completely out of context to make ‘utensils’ or merchandise of their gullible victims. Peter warned in 2 Pt. 2:3, “There were also false prophets among the [Old Testament] people, just as there will be false teachers among you, [the born again believers of Jesus,] who will secretly, [just as modern covert narcissists,] bring in destructive heresies [or false teachings…] And many will follow their ways… By covetousness, [by preaching a gospel of greed,] they will exploit you with deceptive words…”
Paul also explained in Col. 2:20-21, that the commandments of men only indulge people in the sin of spiritually dead religion, which is without of a relationship with Christ.
Spiritual abuse in the church
Despite the many Scriptural warnings, spiritual abuse, or the sin of Christian witchcraft remains one of the most common forms of maltreatment in the church. Emotional and physical abuse are frequently exposed and discussed, but spiritual abuse is hardly ever mentioned. Most people fail to realize the cause, severity, and extent of spiritual abuse, simply because the Bible does not use the word ‘abuse.’ Still, the ‘offenses’ Jesus so severely condemned in Mt. 18:6-9, can be described as all forms of abusive sin that enslave, rob, humiliate, demean, misuse, and harm our neighbors – especially sin which hinders our neighbors’ relationship with God!
Subtly, spiritual abusers always teach their followers to submit unquestioningly and unconditionally to the teaching, leadership, false ‘anointing,’ and ‘authority’ of their so-called ‘pastors,’ ‘elders,’ and ‘prophets.’ In contrast, 1 Pt. 3:15 commands, everyone must always be ready to give and account of what they believe and do, and why they believe and do it. Yet, such false ‘leaders’ actually place themselves above reproach in a ‘mediating’ and self-enriching position between the congregation and God. (According to Heb. 1:1-2 this is pure idolatry!) These unbiblical ‘chiefs’ and ‘high priests’ are mostly unscrupulous misogynists. Hence, women are especially vulnerable to their abuse, as they frequently misquote and misuse Scripture to force all women to submit to their abusive control, just because they are female.
Concerning this false hierarchical priesthood - Jesus Himself is the Only New Testament High Priest. Every sincerely born again child of God is therefore a spiritual priest. Although New Testament priests, or the body of Christ, received different gifts from the Holy Spirit to minister to one another, they are all on the same level under the Headship of Jesus Christ Himself! Leaders or so-called ‘elders’ are not to rule and lord over others as unbelievers without Christ do. They are all humble servants of all the individual members of the body of Christ, (1 Pet. 2:9-10; 1 Pt. 5:1-4.)
Spiritual abuse in the marriage relationship
In the beginning, God made one man and one woman, and fused them together through the marriage covenant, (Mt. 19:4-10.) God did not, however, command the man to ‘rule’ or ‘lord’ over the woman, or vise versa. Neither did God command women to submit to the misogamist abuse of all men – or the abuse of their own husbands. In fact, God commanded husbands to “honor (or respect) their OWN wives because their own [sincerely believing] wives [in Christ] are heirs together with them of the grace of life, that their prayers may not be hindered,” (1 Pet. 3:7.) Scripture also commanded in Eph. 5:25-33, “Husband, love your wife as Christ loved [His believing body...] so a husband ought to love his own wife as his own body; he who loves his wife loves himself…”
Respect must be earned; respect can never be forced or demanded. No one in their right mind must respect sin.
Sadly, many women also sinfully control and abuse their husbands, yet expect their husbands to respect them. It is in this light that Scripture commands the wife to “submit to her own husband, (and not to men in general,) as to the Lord, [in everything good and Godly.]”
As God is holy and all-good, He will never expect anyone, wives included, to submit to abuse, idolatry, and witchcraft. Therefore, this commandment does not mean that a wife should ‘revere’ her husband by submitting to his sinful control and demands – just as a husband cannot idolize his wife by allowing her to humiliate and oppress him, and lead him away from the Lord. Therefore, the phrase recited at the church altar, “With my body I thee worship…” is completely against Scripture! God and His contextual commandments must be first in every life, otherwise it is idolatry.
The abovementioned verses mean that a wife must respect and follow the Godly leadership, protection, and provision of her own husband, while a husband must respect, and allow the Godly advice and help of his own wife. Many believing men and women have been brought down to emotional, physical, and even eternal hell because of their misplaced ‘love’ for, and submission to their ungodly spouses!
Parents abuse children spiritually as well
It is clear from the contextual truth of Scripture that parents, too, cannot expect their children to respect their parental guidance if they are not willing to earn respect their by behaving morally and above all, Godly. Parents also commit idolatry and witchcraft when they expect their children to submit unquestioningly to their sinful dictates, “Because God said you must honor your parents!” May God have mercy on such parents, as they do not know that, in Biblical terms, the word ‘honor’ simply means ‘respect.’ I know of parents who even send their children into the dangers of the night to buy them liquor, expecting the children to obey them mindlessly!
God does not command children to ‘obey’ their parents in their sinful whims. God commanded children to “obey their parents in the Lord.” This means, obey God first, and of course, everything your parents, (spouses, children, and other ‘neighbors’) expect of you, which will not violate your obedience to God.
For example, I know of ‘good’ parents, who even expect a son to divorce his god-fearing wife for no reason other than to please them, telling the whole world that he ‘sins against God’ because the refuses to do ‘God’s will’ to ‘honor’ his parents. However, Jesus commanded, “For this reason a man [and woman] shall leave [their parents,] and be joined to each other; and the two shall become one flesh… Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate.” They do not realize they forfeit their children’s respect – (and even their spiritual place as God’s protective custodians and parental guides,) when they unashamedly commit – (or allow others to commit) every vile sin from hell against their own flesh and blood. When parents control and manipulate their children by misquoting Scriptures, they are also abusing God and His Word first.
God commanded parents “not to provoke your children to wrath,” lest they become angry and discouraged - but to “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord, – [not in the training of their own sinful ways!” - (Eph. 6:4!)
The New Testament commandments concerning parents and children were based on the Moral Law of Deut. 6:5-7, “You shall love the Lord your God [not your ‘elders,’ parents, spouses, or children] with all your heart, soul, and strength... And these words… [to put God first in all your relationships] shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
Adult children, parents, and friends
What an awesome responsibility to continually teach our children – and, as far as possible, tell our spouses, parents, family, and friends to ‘love’ (agape) God and obey His contextual commandments above all else! (Deut. 6:5-7.)
Jesus said the priorities of a married couple must move from their parents to their own home, where only Jesus Christ is the Head of their household. However, children should never reject the good and Godly input of their parents. Even adult children must ‘honor’ and obey their parents in the truth and way of the Lord! (Eph. 6:4!)
On the other hand, adult children should never submit to the idolatrous witchcraft of controlling and destructive parents. Let not parents separate their married children from each other by committing witchcraft. Let not husbands and wives divorce their spouses by committing adultery. Let not friends separate husbands and wives by tempting them with the pleasures of the world. And above all, let not religious male and female witches separate people from their family and community by persecuting them for selfish reasons, or their faith in, and obedience to Christ, (Mt. 19:5-6.)
Abusive children, siblings, and maltreated parents
When speaking of abuse, one cannot exclude the inconceivable sins, which some children commit against their parents, (Eph. 6:1,) and which siblings commit against one another. Many teenage and adult children are actually in revolt against God and His eternal Word. Thus, they are also rebelling against the Godly lifestyle, ways, and teaching of their ‘good’ parents, (Mark 10:18,) and allowing jealousy to destroy family relationships. As a result, many innocent people are misunderstood, manipulated, rejected, mistreated, ignored, humiliated, robbed, exploited, and slandered by those who were supposed to love them. Those demonically controlled family members might not know it, (and they certainly do not care as they suffer from a huge lack of conscience,) but they have become stumbling blocks in the lives of their families.
They are the sorrows of their victims’ hearts, and the shame of their good lives. More importantly, they are provoking the Lord to anger and tempting the judgment of the Sovereign God, as they neither honor nor respect God, or His commandment to “obey their parents in the Lord, and to “love” [their next of kin] as themselves.” Neither do they regard the blessed gift of ‘good’ and God-fearing family members, which God had entrusted to them, (Eph. 6:1.)
Ungodly family members and friends push one another into the danger zone of ‘passivity’
Suffering family members and friends should realize that prayer is a powerful weapon against abuse, but on a physical level, they too, have only the general options of other victims: fight, flight, avoidance; or submission and ‘passivity.’
For instance, for fear of conflict and rejection, many believing parents avoid dealing with the sin of their children, other family members, and friends. They compromise God’s Word even when their “loved ones” unashamedly ‘move in’ with their “lovers;” disregarding and rejecting God’s holy marriage covenant. The Dutch Reformed and other churches, which followed suit, openly declare that ‘marriage is just a man-made institution;’ there is ‘nothing wrong’ with either homosexuality or living together!’ However, such ‘passivity’ and twisting of God’s truth is hatred for people. Manmade ideas can never help anyone or glorify God, (Ezk. 18:4-9.) God Himself instituted the marriage covenant, (Mt. 19:3-9.) God also honors the legality of marriage as executed by a human court of law, which protects the rights of spouses and children. Thus, He commanded, “Obey [the moral laws] of the government. He does not bear the sword in vain…”
Furthermore, many married couples live secret lifestyles of adultery, (euphonized as ‘having affairs,’) ‘swinging’ or wife swapping, etcetera; committing unspeakable sexual immorality while hypocritically raising a family! Yet, most parents also ignore these incredible sins, (sinful interference excluded!) because they know their adult (and teenage) children will not ‘tolerate’ Godly instruction, and they do not want to “offend” them.
But God judges such fear of man and passivity against sin most severely! Old Testament Eli knew that his adult sons lay with temple prostitutes and he did rebuke them, but not sternly enough. For his weak rebuke, God judged Eli as follows, “Why do you honor your sons more than Me… Your sons made themselves vile, and you did not restrain them…” Soon afterwards, Eli’s sons died on the battlefield and Eli fell down, breaking his neck, (1 Sam. 2-4.)
For the sake of preserving souls, Jesus commanded in Mt. 5:13, “You are the (purifying, preserving) salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor… it is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot…”