The law of first mention is a simple name for the moment when God introduces a promise (or act) that will continue throughout time. That first mention sets an order that will be continually repeated both in pattern and in multiplication. In Genesis, we see creation being brought forth all the way through to Adam and Eve, with the Lord blessing and saying to them “‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’”­ (Genesis 1:28, NKJV). What had come first, now could come second, and third, and so forth. Jesus in His resurrection is called “The firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29, NKJV). This means that, in His resurrection, we are now being conformed into His image.

In the New Covenant, Jesus sent His disciples forth (after His resurrection) by breathing the Holy Spirit on them and giving them authority both to remit and to retain sins. “He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:22-23, NKJV). On the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaimed Jesus and directed all to repent, be baptized for the remission of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call’” (Acts 2:38-39, NKJV).

The Holy Spirit is the gift of forgiveness. He comes because of Jesus’ resurrection pouring out love into our hearts through forgiveness. He does not empower us to live in the law, but rather in Christ’s forgiveness. Our sins are forgiven, and we can forgive sins too. The free gift is forgiveness, because Jesus is empowered by the Holy Spirit. But what happens if we separate forgiveness and the Holy Spirit? Then the law returns with works, debts and its curse. No longer forgiven, we seek to live right and demand that others do the same. Holy Spirit cannot be bought or sold. He is the free gift of Jesus, promised by the Father, and sent because we are forgiven. When we forgive sins, we empower Holy Spirit to unlock hearts and save souls. The first heart He unlocks is always mine.

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