The Ground of Pardon
James Smith, 1861
The Lord's people should be kind to each other, tender-hearted, and ever ready to forgive injuries and insults. They should put far away from them--all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, and all malice; taking the Lord Jesus for their example. In forgiving, their Heavenly Father has set them the pattern, and they are exhorted to forgive one another, "even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven them." Ephesians 4:32. Here is,
An INVALUABLE Blessing.God has forgiven his people's sins, all their sins. What were they? Sinners. Ephesian sinners! Idolaters, worshipers of the goddess Diana, profane, unclean, depraved, polluted, some of the vilest of the vile! There was nothing in them to induce him to show them mercy, or to pardon their aggravated transgressions. Yet he sent his gospel to them, publishing a free pardon to all who believed it, and received his Son to be their Savior. What did he do for them? He forgave all their sins, faults, follies, and crimes.
When God pardons, he does it freely, as he says, "I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more."
He pardons willingly, or from his heart, for he is a God ready to pardon. Therefore the Psalmist exclaimed, "You, Lord, are good, ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy to all them that call upon you."
He pardons freely, forgiving all trespasses, as it is written, "You have forgiven the iniquity of your people, you have covered all their sins." "All manner of sin and blasphemy is forgiven unto men." "Since they could not pay it back, he graciously forgave them," and forgave them all.
He pardons justly, because his law and justice have received satisfaction at the hands of his Son. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
He pardons irreversibly, so that he forgets when he forgives. "I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more." Forgiveness is a blessing that may be enjoyed by the youngest of the Lord's people, "I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake." It is a blessing often repeated, therefore our Lord taught us to pray to our Father, for a daily pardon: and David sung, "Who forgives all your iniquities," and "There is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared." Jesus is now "exalted a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance and remission of sins." How sweet are the Lord's words by Jeremiah, "I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me: and it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honor before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them."
The GROUND on Which this Blessing is Bestowed."For Christ's sake." Not on the ground of any merit or desert in us. Not on account of any duties performed, or anything experienced by us. Yes, though it comes to us through faith and repentance--yet it is not for faith and repentance--but for Christ's sake alone. It is for the sake of what Christ has done, in honor of his perfect and infinitely meritorious work. It is to do honor to his name, on account of his suffering for sin, and pleading for sinners with his Father. It comes to us by Christ, who is related to us as our brother, Savior, and friend--who stood for us in the everlasting covenant, engaging to do and suffer all the law required on our behalf--and by his rendering a perfect, an everlasting, an infinite atonement for us. Jesus procured our pardon. He commanded his apostles to proclaim a pardon. He promises to confer a pardon on all that believe.
Every believer therefore is pardoned--pardoned fully--pardoned freely--pardoned cheerfully--pardoned justly--pardoned frequently--and pardoned irreversibly--for such can never come into condemnation.
Reader, are you pardoned? Pardoned or condemned, you most be. Every sin of thought, word, or deed, that you have ever committed lies against you, and is placed to your account, to be answered for by you. To you may be applied the language of the Psalmist, "O the blessedness of the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! O the blessedness of the man, unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity." Or to you may be applied the language of our Lord to the Pharisees, "Therefore your sin remains." If you have not the sense of pardon, do you look for pardon through Christ, and through Christ alone? God for Christ's sake will forgive you, if you plead his name, rest upon his blood, and rely on his faithful word. There is no difficulty in your obtaining forgiveness, if you only apply for it in God's way, and are willing to accept it on God's terms. God for Christ's sake is willing to forgive you.
Can you live unpardoned? What, live under sentence of condemnation, when a pardon is offered you? What, live under condemnation, when God is prepared to justify you freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus? If you live so--you will die so; and dying so--you will rue your folly to all eternity.
Will you rest upon duties, or frames and feelings--instead of resting upon Christ? If you do, you are not safe--you cannot have peace. Christ is the Rock--on which we must rest. Christ is the Refuge--to which we must repair. Christ is the Stronghold--to which we must betake ourselves. In Christ--we are safe, we are pardoned, we have peace with God, we are entitled to everlasting life. Out of Christ--we are in danger, we are unpardoned, to us there is no peace, and we can have no title to eternal life. My dear friend, make sure of a pardon while you may, receive it from God's hand in Christ's name, and pray the Holy Spirit to bear his witness with your spirit, that you are God's child, one of Christ's disciples, an heir of glory, and that "God for Christ's sake has forgiven you."