Faults and Forgiveness

Faults and Forgiveness, cover

GOD CASTS THE SINS OF HIS ELECT INTO THE DEPTHS OF THE SEA

Augustus Toplady

“Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” -Micah 7:19

      When God takes all our iniquities with His own hand, and casts them with His own arm into the depths of the sea, they will never come out of those depths to witness against the family of God in the great and terrible day.

      Your sins now may seem to be all alive in your breast, and every one of them to bring accusation upon accusation against you. This sin is crying out for vengeance, and that for punishment. This slip, this fall, this backsliding, this foolish word, this wrong action, are all testifying against you in the court of conscience.

      Do what you may, be where you may, live how you may, watch and pray how you may, keep silent and separate from the world or even from your own family how you may, sin still moves, lives, acts, works, and often brings you into guilt and bondage.

      But if God has had mercy upon us He has cast all our sins with His own hands into the depths of the sea, and those sins have no more eyes to look at us with angry indignation, have no more tongues to speak against us in voices of accusation, have no more life in them to rise up and testify that they have been committed by us, that God’s law has been broken by them, and that therefore we are under its condemnation and curse.

And there is no truth in God’s word more certain than the complete forgiveness of sins, and the presentation of the Church of Christ at the great day faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.

thouwilt

 

Faults and Forgiveness

C.H. Spurgeon

He who boasts of being perfect is perfect in folly. I have been a good deal up and down the world, and I never did see either a perfect horse or a perfect man, and I never shall till two Sundays come together.

You cannot get white flour out of a coal sack nor perfection out of human nature; he who looks for it had better look for sugar in the sea. The old saying is, “Lifeless, faultless. About dead men we should say nothing but good; but as for the living, they are all tarred more or less with the black brush, and half an eye can see it. Every head has a soft place in it, and every heart has its black drop. Every rose has its prickles, and every day its night. Even the sun shows spots, and the skies are darkened with clouds.

The best wine has its dregs. All men’s faults are not written on their foreheads, and it’s quite as well they are not, or hats would need very wide brims. Yet, as sure as eggs are eggs, faults of some sort nestle in every bosom. There’s no telling when a man’s sins may show themselves, for hares pop out of the ditch just when you are not looking for them.

A horse that is weak in the legs may not stumble for a mile or two, but it is in him, and the rider had better hold him up well.

If we would always recollect that we live among men who are imperfect, we should not be in such a fever when we find out our friends’ failings. What’s rotten will rend, and cracked pots will leak. Blessed is he who expects nothing of poor flesh and blood, for he shall never be disappointed. The best of men are men at best, and the best wax will melt.

It is a good horse that never stumbles,
And a good wife that never grumbles.

But surely such horses and wives are only found in the fool’s paradise, where dumplings grow on trees. In this wicked world the straightest timber has knots in it, and the cleanest field of wheat has its share of weeds. The most careful driver one day upsets the cart; the cleverest cook spills a little broth; and as I know to my sorrow a very decent plowman will now and then break the plow and often make a crooked furrow.

[Quoted from C.H. Spurgeon’s ‘John Ploughman’s Talks’]

Sorrow Over Reigning Sin

“That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:21      

This is the mercy for mourning saints who are sighing and groaning under a body of sin and death, that God has decreed that grace not only may reign, but that it must reign. Were it left to us, we could no more rescue ourselves from the dominion of sin than the children of Israel could deliver themselves from the house of Egyptian bondage. But they sighed and groaned by reason of the bondage, and their cry came up unto God. He had respect unto his covenant, and looked upon them and delivered them (Exodus 2:23-25). So God has determined on behalf of his people that sin shall not be their eternal ruin; that it shall not plunge them into crime after crime, until it casts them at last into the gulf of endless woe, but that grace “shall reign through righteousness unto eternal life.” But it must reign here as well as hereafter, for by its reign here its eternal triumph is secured. It must then subdue our proud hearts, and never cease to sway its peaceful sceptre over them until it has secured in them absolute and unconditional victory. Now this is what every sincere child of God most earnestly longs to feel and realise. He longs to embrace Jesus and be embraced by him in the arms of love and affection. As the hymn says,

“But now subdued by sovereign grace,
My spirit longs for thy embrace.”

He hates sin, though it daily, hourly, momently works in him, and is ever seeking to regain its former mastery; he abhors that cruel tyrant who set him to do his vilest drudgery, deceived and deluded him by a thousand lying promises, dragged him again and again into captivity, and but for sovereign grace would have sealed his eternal destruction. Subdued by the sceptre of mercy, he longs for the dominion of grace over every faculty of his soul and every member of his body. “O,” he says, “let grace reign and rule in my breast; let it not suffer any sin to have dominion over me; let it tame every unruly desire, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ!” Thus, he who truly fears God looks to grace, and to grace only, not merely to save, but to sanctify; not only to pardon sin, but to subdue it; not only to secure him an inheritance among the saints in light, but to make him meet for it.—J.C. Philpot

Sin is never at a stay; if we do not retreat from it, we shall advance in it; and the further on we go, the more we have to come back.

—Barrow

Have You Sins to Confess and Have They Been Confessed?

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9       

Has the Lord made sin your burden? Has he ever made you feel guilty before him? Has he ever pressed down your conscience with a sight and sense of your iniquities, your sins, your backslidings? And does the Lord draw, from time to time, honest, sincere, unreserved confession of those sins out of your lips? What does the Holy Ghost say to you? What has the blessed Spirit recorded for your instruction, and for your consolation? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” Not merely on a footing of mercy; still less because you confess them. It is not your confessing them, but it is thus–your confessing them is a mark of divine light; your confessing them springs from the work of grace upon your heart. If, then, you possess divine life, if you have grace in your soul, you are a child of God, Jesus obeyed for you–Jesus suffered for you–Jesus died for you–Jesus has put away your sin. And, therefore, you being a child of God, and Jesus having done all these things for you, God is now “faithful” to his promise that He will receive a confessing sinner; and “just” to His own immutable and veracious character. And thus, from justice as well as mercy, from faithfulness as well as compassion, He can, He will, and He does pardon, forgive, and sweetly blot out every iniquity and every transgression of a confessing penitent.—J.C. Philpot

The recognition of sin is the beginning of salvation.—Luther

 

THE DISEASE OF SIN AND THE GREAT PHYSICIAN

C.H. Spurgeon

“Who healeth all thy diseases”! [Psalm 103:3]

Humbling as is the statement, yet the fact is certain, that we are all more or less suffering under the disease of sin. What a comfort to know that we have a great Physician who is both able and willing to heal us! Let us think of Him awhile to-night.

His cures are very SPEEDY—there is life in a look at Him; His cures are RADICAL—He strikes at the centre of the disease; and hence, His cures are sure and certain. He never fails, and THE DISEASE NEVER RETURNS. There is no relapse where Christ heals; no fear that His patients should be merely patched up for a season, He makes new men of them: a new heart also does He give them, and a right spirit does He put with them. He is well skilled in ALL diseases.

Physicians generally have some SPECIALITE. Although they may know a little about almost all our pains and ills, there is usually one disease which they have studied above all others; but Jesus Christ is THOROUGHLY ACQUAINTED WITH THE WHOLE  OF HUMAN NATURE (see John 2:25) He is as much at home with one sinner as with another, and never yet did He meet with an out-of-the-way case that was difficult to Him. He has had extraordinary complications of strange diseases to deal with, but He has known exactly with one glance of His eye how to treat the patient. He is the only universal doctor; and the medicine He gives is the only true catholicon, healing in every instance.

WHATEVER our spiritual malady may be, we should apply at once to this Divine Physician. There is no brokenness of heart which Jesus cannot bind up. “His blood cleanseth from ALL sin.” We have but to think of the myriads who have been delivered from all sorts of diseases through the power and virtue of His touch, and we shall joyfully put ourselves in His hands. We trust Him, and sin dies; we love Him, and grace lives; we wait for Him and grace is strengthened; we see Him as he is, and grace is perfected forever. (Hallelujah!)

Without Holiness

“Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”

(Hebrews 12:14)       

To possess this holiness is a necessary and indispensable meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light; but this meetness must be wrought in us by the power of God’s grace, for I am sure that in ourselves of it we have none. But see its necessity. What happiness could there be in the courts of bliss unless we had a nature to enjoy it? Unless we were made capable of seeing Christ as he is, and enjoying his presence for evermore, heaven would be no heaven to us. Nothing unclean or unholy can enter there. Sanctification therefore must be wrought in us by the power of God, to make us meet for the heavenly inheritance, and he therefore communicates of his Spirit and grace to give us heavenly affections, holy desires, gracious thoughts, tender feelings; and above all that love whereby he is loved as the altogether lovely. By the sanctifying operations of his Spirit, he separates us from everything evil, plants his fear deep in the heart, that it may be a fountain of life to depart from the snares of death; and works in us a conformity to his suffering image here that we may be conformed to his glorified image hereafter. Thus there is a perfect and an imperfect sanctification–perfect by imputation, imperfect in its present operations. But the one is the pledge of the other; so that as surely as Christ now represents his people in heaven as their holy Head, so will he eventually bring them to be for ever with him in those abodes of perfect holiness and perfect happiness which are prepared for them as mansions of eternal light and love.

—J.C. Philpot

We are saved from nothing if we are not saved from sin.—Howell

 

comparison

A CONTEMPLATION AND COMPARISON BETWEEN

Divine and Human Forgiveness

Gleaned from the writings of Octavius Winslow.

“But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared.” Psalm 130:4.

The exercise of pardon (forgiveness) is the exclusive and the highest prerogative of the crown, the richest and most brilliant gem in the diadem of an earthly Sovereign. This applies to God. It is no marvel, then, that He-the sin-pardoning God, should have guarded this, His divine right and most gracious act, with a jealousy so great, and have linked it with conditions so solemn. “Who is a God like unto Thee that pardons iniquity?” “There is forgiveness with Thee.”

Aided by the power of contrast, we purpose, in the unfolding of this subject, to place side by side man’s forgiveness and God’s; in other words, forgiveness as exercised by a human government, and forgiveness as exercised by a Divine government.

 

 

THE BROKEN LAW HONOURED

Take the first point of contrast which forgiveness involves- honor to the law broken, and security to the government offended. The considerations which induce a human executive to pardon are totally different from those which move the Divine-and here God and man stand in marked and diametrical opposition one to the other. How great the contrast!

There is nothing in the pardon of a human government to sustain the majesty of law, and to meet the claims of equity. No attempt is made to harmonize the claims of righteousness with the pleadings of mercy; to reconcile the act of pardon with the demands of holiness. No atonement is made, no satisfaction is offered, no penalty is executed; the law is dishonored, justice is outraged, and the government from where the act emanates is weakened, and its authority lowered in the eyes of the nation; in a word, the criminal is pardoned, and the crime is condoned!

Contrast this with the Divine pardon of sin. God rests His plan of forgiveness upon a basis which magnifies the law, whose violation He pardons; which executes the sentence, while He remits the penalty; which strengthens the government and lends luster to its administration, while He spares the sinner who has ignored its authority and rebelled against its commands.

God thus takes the matter of ‘satisfaction of justice’ in His own hands, assumes the responsibility, arranges the preliminaries, and bears the entire cost of the plan- a cost which the infinite resources of Deity alone could meet. It will at once be seen that the great problem of His moral government which He engaged to solve–and He solved it—was the harmony of the respective claims of justice and mercy, of pardon and holiness, the dignity of the offended government with the forgiveness of the offender. To adjust these conflicting interests, and to harmonize their jarring attributes, was the great work in which Deity embarked- a work in all respects worthy of God.

Through the Incarnation of the Son of God, by the preceptive obedience of His life, and by the atoning sufferings of His death, He so completely magnified the Divine Law, and so fully satisfied Divine justice, as rendered it righteous and honorable on the part of God to pardon, justify, and save the vilest sinners. Thus clearly the Apostle puts this great truth: “In whom [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the FORGIVENESS of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the OBEDIENCE of one shall many be made righteous.”

And now, the chief of sinners may approach boldly the throne of grace and obtain mercy, since he has not only mercy to appeal to, but the merits of Christ to plead. Justice is satisfied, while pardon is extended, and God’s character suffers no dishonor; and His government no injury in forgiving and justifying the most unworthy. We plead a sacrifice all the more acceptable because it is another’s; we bring a righteousness all the more worthy because not our own. If God should fail to accept us- and most justly might He refuse- yet He will not fail to accept Christ, who obeyed and suffered, died and rose again, in our stead; and all the more because it is His own plan and provision for pardoning and saving the very chief of sinners.

And what human government pardons the criminal at so vast a cost and so great a sacrifice to Himself as God does? The process is facile and quick. It is but a word, a signature, and the criminal is pardoned, and his life is spared. But, at what a cost and by what a sacrifice does God pardon the guilt of sin and justify the person of the sinner! He “spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all.” “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” How vast the cost! How immeasurable the sacrifice! “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” It cost God the surrender of His own dear Son, sent into the world poor, despised, and insulted, and at last to endure on the cross the indescribable tortures of a condemned malefactor, the ignominious death of a Roman slave. “Who is a God like unto Thee?”

THE MORAL EFFECT OF FORGIVENESS

Take another point of contrast- the moral effect of a human and Divine forgiveness. In nothing is the weakness of a human pardon more conspicuous than in this. The moral reformation of our criminals has long been a problem baffling the most astute philosopher and the most benevolent philanthropist. It is true that the modern ‘Reformatory’ is an institution resulting from an attempt to supply a solution of the perplexing problem; but the plan, which as yet contemplates but the juvenile portion of our criminal population, is still an experiment: the great mass of our released criminals remain unreached. In most cases the guilt-steeped and hardened criminal is pardoned, only to relapse more deeply into crime; is released, but to go forth with one hand bearing aloft the certificate of his pardon, and with the other repeating, under more aggravated circumstances, and in a form more appalling, the identical crime which the Sovereign had but just graciously remitted.

Pardon has, in most cases, not only failed to weaken the force of his depravity, to reform his vicious life, and secure his loyal obedience, but has proved a stimulus to a bolder conception and a more awful commission of crime. We now turn to the Divine forgiveness of the sinner. In no case has God ever been disappointed in the moral effects of pardon in the sinners pardoned. To extend the full and free remission of sin to the soul is at once certainly and forever to receive that soul’s willing and loving obedience to His law. The slave of sin has become His loving servant, and the rebel against His authority His obedient child. Never has God regretted the extension of His forgiveness to the vilest sinner. Not only has the grace of pardon conquered him, but the sweet, holy source of pardon has supplied him with motives to believe the most touching and irresistible. The softening, melting, sanctifying influence of the cross has dissolved the corrosive power of sin-so to speak-in the heart, which now beats more freely and throbs more intensely with life and love to God, to Christ and holiness.

The grace of pardon by God has been attended not only with an emancipating, but also with subduing effect; it not only has cancelled the guilt, but it has conquered the power of sin; it has not only deposed, but it has slain the tyrant. With an eye moist with tears and beaming with love, the pardoned soul gazes upon the cross of Jesus, and exclaims, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against such suffering, such forgiveness, such love?” “He will subdue our iniquities.” “Who is a God like unto Thee?”

THE CHARACTER AND THE NUMBER

 OF THE SINS FORGIVEN

Another and most important point of contrast, refers the character of the sins and the number of sinners to whom the forgiveness of God extends. There is, and necessarily must be, a limit to the extension of pardon by the human sovereign, both as to the nature of the crime and the number of the criminals. The prerogative of mercy among men is extended with fear. There are some violations of the law so aggravated and enormous, some criminals of so desperate and incorrigible a character, that not only would justice be palpably outraged, but a serious injury would be inflicted upon the community, by the extension of mercy to such. A selection from a number of criminals is made, and the degree of mercy is graduated to the nature and guilt of the crime. Not so is it with the Divine government.

God promises pardon to every sinner, and for every sin, but this only on condition of sincere repentance, humble acknowledgment, and true faith in Christ Jesus. ‘All manner of sin shall be forgiven unto men.” For this marvelous, boundless display of His forgiving mercy He has made ample provision in the Person and work of His only and beloved Son. The Atonement of the Incarnate God, the righteous obedience of His life, and the sacrificial nature of His death, have not only made a way for the outflow of His mercy to the chief of sinners, but have rendered it infinitely just and holy on the part of God to pardon iniquity, transgression, and sin of the deepest hue of guilt, and more countless in number than the stars. “Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” [Isa 1:18]

Again, what earthly sovereign ever pardoned the criminal at such an expense to himself as God does? What would be thought of a proposal issuing from the Government that the Queen of the realm, in order to extend her royal clemency to the greatest felon that ever stood at the bar, should take one of her offspring-perhaps her only son whom she loved- and sacrifice him as a substitute to the majesty of the law, and as a satisfaction to the requirements of justice? Would not a proposal so unparalleled, so unheard of and astounding, awake throughout the nation the deepest and loudest echoes of execration and dismay? Would not the nation a thousand times prefer that the criminal should go free, and that law and justice be trodden in the dust, rather than that the royal mercy should be extended on such terms, and be bought at such a price? And yet God- the sin-pardoning, sinner-saving God, has done all this!

The language of inspiration can alone justify this stupendous truth. Listen to the astounding declaration! “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” “Christ died for the ungodly.” “He spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all.” What more can we add? Is not this enough to vindicate the character of God, to set forth His great love, and to assure the vilest sinner that “there is forgiveness with God” for every degree of sin and for every contrite sinner- for every species of crime and for every penitent criminal?

RICHES OF GRACE

Yet another point of contrast. What would be the nation’s thought of the goodness and grace of the sovereign who, to the royal act of pardon, should bestow upon the criminal the noblest relation and the richest estate? And yet the sin-forgiving God does all this to the sinner whom He fully and freely pardons. He not only pardons, but justifies; not only justifies, but adopts, and with adoption confers upon His child “an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fades not away.” “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”

Such is the divine relation, and such the heaven of glory, to which the forgiveness of God raises. If sin is pardoned, if the soul is justified, we stand in a relation to God nearer than angels, and shall occupy a mansion and a throne in heaven to which Gabriel himself might in vain aspire. “Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardons?”

But there remains a clause in this verse of the Psalm pregnant with the deepest and holiest instruction: “There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be FEARED.” How can this be? exclaims the unreflecting mind. Fear, the fruit and effect of pardon! It is an incongruity- a paradox! And yet such is the word of God, and as such we believe and accept it. How, then, are we to interpret the clause? A holy, filial, loving fear of God is ever the effect of His full and free forgiveness of sin; it is the natural, spontaneous and blessed result. All fear, if apart from a sense of pardoned sin, is legal, servile, and slavish; it is not the fear of a forgiven sinner, of a pardoned child. The pardoned soul sees in the grace of the act, such a display of God’s holiness and hatred of sin, such an unfolding of His grace and love, as at once inspires a holy, reverential, and child-like fear of offending Him.

Never did the believing soul see sin’s exceeding sinfulness, love’s amazing greatness, and grace’s fullness and freeness, as when first it saw and felt it in a sense of God’s pardon. Oh, there is no human act which has such a tendency to melt, subdue, and win the whole being as that of forgiveness, be it judicial or parental, human or Divine. A heart that has become hardened in crime and steeped in sin, whom no reasoning could convince and no discipline could subdue, has at length been melted by mercy, conquered by forgiveness, and enchained by love.

That which gives us the clearest, deepest, and most solemn view and conviction of God’s holiness and love, inspires the most effectually a holy, filial, loving fear to offend Him. And where shall we find such an awful display of His holiness, and such overpowering demonstration of His love, as in the cross of Christ? Men do not fear God because they have no view of His holiness, no sense of His mercy, and no experience of His love. But God’s forgiveness of sin furnishes the believer with the most convincing argument and with the most persuasive motive to live a pure, a holy, and a godly life. “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”

shall not be their eternal ruin; that it shall not plunge them into crime after crime, until it casts them at last into the gulf of endless woe, but that grace “shall reign through righteousness unto eternal life.” But it must reign here as well as hereafter, for by its reign here its eternal triumph is secured. It must then subdue our proud hearts, and never cease to sway its peaceful sceptre over them until it has secured in them absolute and unconditional victory. Now this is what every sincere child of God most earnestly longs to feel and realise. He longs to embrace Jesus and be embraced by him in the arms of love and affection. As the hymn says,
“But now subdued by sovereign grace,
My spirit longs for thy embrace.”

He hates sin, though it daily, hourly, momently works in him, and is ever seeking to regain its former mastery; he abhors that cruel tyrant who set him to do his vilest drudgery, deceived and deluded him by a thousand lying promises, dragged him again and again into captivity, and but for sovereign grace would have sealed his eternal destruction. Subdued by the sceptre of mercy, he longs for the dominion of grace over every faculty of his soul and every member of his body. “O,” he says, “let grace reign and rule in my breast; let it not suffer any sin to have dominion over me; let it tame every unruly desire, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ!” Thus, he who truly fears God looks to grace, and to grace only, not merely to save, but to sanctify; not only to pardon sin, but to subdue it; not only to secure him an inheritance among the saints in light, but to make him meet for it.—J.C. Philpot

Sin is never at a stay; if we do not retreat from it, we shall advance in it; and the further on we go, the more we have to come back.

—Barrow

 

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