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Forgiveness

Forgiveness

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Published by glennpease

By Marcus Dods 1909
" In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the for- giveness of sins." — Coloss. i. 14.

By Marcus Dods 1909
" In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the for- giveness of sins." — Coloss. i. 14.

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Published by: glennpease on Sep 10, 2011
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FORGIVEESSBy Marcus Dods 1909" In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the for-giveness of sins." — Coloss. i. 14."God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, notimputing their trespasses unto them." — 2 Cor. v. 19.In the parable of the Prodigal Son, which our Lordintended to illustrate the return of man to God, andwhich, by its pathetic truth to nature, has found itsway to many a heart, there is no allusion to any thirdparty whose work and intercession were needed toeffect the reconciliation of father and son. The sonwas brought to repentance by his circumstances andhis remembrance of former happiness, and the fathermet the penitent with full forgiveness. The question,therefore, naturally arises, Why should any work of athird party be in our case necessary? Why might wenot have found our way back to God without the inter-vention of Christ, and why might not God forgive uswithout any sacrifice or propitiation on Christ's part?We know that God is absolute love, and that whateverChrist has done is the expression of that love. Theorigin of Christ's interposition is to be traced to thelonging of the Father for us His strayed children." God so loved the world that He gave His only begottenSon, that whosoever believeth in Him should notperish, but have everlasting life." Any representationwhich sets God before the mind as implacable, andrequiring to be appeased by Christ is manifestly and of course false. The enduring, persistent love of God isthe grand foundation on which we can always build.Why, then, was the appearance and sacrifice of Christ140FORGIVEESS 141
 
needful? Why should we lay such stress on Christ'swork? Why may we not deal with God irrespectiveof Christ?To understand the necessity of Christ's appearing inthe world and intervening between God and us, wemust understand what is necessary before we can beforgiven. Forgiveness of a very defective kind is socommon among men that it is apt to obscure our viewof Divine forgiveness. A man thinks he forgivesanother when he says to the wrong-doer, "Well, Iforgive you, but never let me see your face again." Aman tells you he has forgiven one who has done hima permanent injury, but that he can never forget it — which means that he can never be the man's friend,though he condescends to inhabit the same planet withhim. Or you forgive a poor wretch who has stolenyour coat, because he is beneath your notice. But, of course, it is no such forgiveness that will serve ourturn when we awake to the perception that we havesinned against God. When we see the horror of beingalienated from God, and understand that in God isthe spring of all good, we crave a forgiveness thatmeans perfect reconcilement and abiding acceptanceinto peace and harmony with God.Plainly enough, then, there can be no forgivenesswhere there is not genuine repentance. A man whodoes not repent cannot even wish to be forgiven; athoughtless man may say he wishes to be forgiven,although he still loves his sin; but the man who recog-nizes the meaning of the words he uses, and under-stands that forgiveness means reconcilement to theHoly God, also and necessarily understands that alonging for forgiveness is merely one aspect of a truerepentance. He turns from sin precisely in proportionas he turns to God. A drunken lad may in a maudlinmood beg his mother's forgiveness, and may get it,though the very next night he goes back to his vice;but such forgiveness is futile, meaningless, ineffectiveand rather hurtful than helpful to the sinner. It offers
 
142 CHRIST AD MAno sufficient analogy to the forgiveness of God. If aman has cheated you, you may forgive him if he showsgenuine contrition, seeks to repair the loss he has occa-sioned, and plainly shows that he is inwardly resolvednever again to sink so low; but you do not, or at leastyou ought not to, forgive him if he asks your pardonwith a grin on his face, unhumbled and unabashed,and if you have every reason to believe he will serveyou the same turn again as soon as he convenientlycan. Much more so is this true of our sins againstGod. To beg forgiveness while we are not truly re-pentant is to use words without meaning; and it isimpossible to conceive that God should forgive theimpenitent. His holiness, His justice, His mercy, Hiswisdom, all equally forbid such forgiveness.But if the forgiveness of the impenitent is incon-ceivable, it is equally inconceivable that God shouldnot forgive the penitent. "The Lord is nigh unto themthat are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of acontrite spirit." It cannot be otherwise. The greatobject of all God's government of us and dealings withus is to bring us to a perfect moral condition, in per-fect sympathy with Him and perfect hatred of sin.And when the sinner actually repents, when the lightof God's holiness is shed on sin, and he sees it as it is,when above all other desires there grows up in hisheart the desire to be entirely reconciled to God, andwhen he bewails sin as that which has blinded himand spoiled his life and separated him from God, Godhails his return as eagerly as the father hailed theprodigal's. However seriously a person has injured you,and however clearly you see the reckless selfishness orthe malignant forethought he has used to injure you,and however keen your displeasure and resentmentare, you cannot cherish these when you clearly seethat he thoroughly repents of what he has done, that

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