The Forgiveness of Sins

C. H. Darch, Taunton, England

IF a human father finds so much pleasure in forgiving his wayward son who returns, that he not only gives him a kiss, but also the best robe, the ring on his hand, and the shoes on his feet, and provides the fatted calf and music and dancing (Luke 15. 11-24), how much more delight must it give to the God of all grace and the Father of mercies to forgive the returning sinner, for He is the great fountain of grace. He freely forgives the penitent his iniquity, transgression and sins, and His pardon is without limit and is an

Eternal Forgiveness.

The unbeliever never knows the forgiveness of Ins sins as long as he remains in unbelief. He might justly read the twenty-third Psalm as saying, The Lord is not my shep­herd, I shall want ; He does not make me to lie down in green pastures; He does not lead me beside the still waters. But the believer has redemption through Christ's blood, even the forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1. 7). We are sometimes questioned why we do not ask that our sins may be forgiven. The answer is, that we do not ask for the things that we already possess.

In addition to forgiveness, we have as gifts, which are quite unmerited, eternal life (Rom, 6. 23), the gift of righteousness (Rom. 5. 17), the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 4. 8 ; 1 John 3. 24), the kingdom (Luke 12. 32), God's only be­gotten Son (John 3. 16), and in Him all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1.3). These are our present possessions.

In Col. 1. 9-11, we see some of the things that we might well pray for, and in verses 12-14 things that we have and give thanks for. The words " have" and " hath " are used four times in these three verses. We were once in the power of darkness, and Satan was our God (2 Cor. 4. 4) ; we walked according to the course of this world, and were helpless to get out of that position ; but God in His mercy took us out ; in fact He not only transferred, but translated us into a higher kingdom, even into the kingdom of His dear Son.

If an animal were to be translated into the human kingdom, it would need a completely new nature to live its new life. Thus it is with us, and God has made pro­vision for this as the following passages show : " If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature " (2 Cor. 5. 17). " That which is born of the Spirit is spirit " (John 3. 6). " That ye may become partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet. 1. 4).    " He has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light " [Col. 1. 12).   We see here that whatsoever God does, He does perfectly.

As God sees it, our history as sinners ended at the cross of Christ, when He died for us and we died with Him (Rom. 6. 1-11 ; Gal. 2. 19, 20). This took effect when we came to Christ, at which time we became children of God (1 John 3. 2).    As children we sometimes need

Paternal Forgiveness.

We do not now need the whole lifetime of our sins to be forgiven as before ; but just as, when we were children, we were taught to say, " I beg your pardon " when we had done anything that was wrong, so now, being in the family of God, if we confess our sins, that is each sin separately, there is forgiveness for us (1 John 1. 9). By nature we like to take the easy way and ask for merely general forgiveness, but it costs far more to be honest with God and give the sin its true name ; yet this is God's way. Let us ever remember that short reckonings make long friends. We should be most careful about this, lest we go on in sin which hardens (Heb. 3. 12, 13) and so backslide from God.

Furthermore, as an earthly father must of necessity chastise his son at times, so " whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth," and the exhortation is not to despise the chastening ; that is to say, we should not take up the attitude that we do not care, and will not reform, or be as some who are discouraged at a word of rebuke. Both extremes should be avoided ; but let us lift up the hands which hang down, that is, continue to pray (Heb. 12. 5-12). There is also:

Governmental Forgiveness.

We. can expect that Cod will forgive us if we from our heart forgive men their trespasses (Matt. 6. 12) ; also " Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap " (Gal. 6. 7). God's laws are unchangeable. The judgment-seat of Christ should be continually before us, when " each one will receive the things done through the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad " (Col. 3. 24, 25 ; 2 Cor, 5. 10 ; Rom. 14. 10), " so then each one of us shall give an account of himself to God " (Rom. 14. 12). If in all our actions we would consider how this or that will look in that day, it would transform all our thoughts, words and deeds, making our lives to be to the Glory of God, being more and more conformed to the image of His Son.