8. A GRACIOUS PARDON
"How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God!"
"I—yes, I alone—am the one who blots out your sins for My own sake and will never think of them again." Isaiah 43:25
"I—yes, I alone"—the Great, the Pure, the Holy, the Righteous God! Surely if there be one way more than another, in which God's thoughts are not as man's thoughts, it is this—pardoning the rebel, welcoming the undeserving, forgiving and forgetting. How we remember the sins and the failings of others. How we harbor the recollection of ingratitude or unkindness. We say, "I forgive, but I cannot forget." God does both. Forgiveness is with Him no effort; it is a delight—"The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness' sake."
"I—yes, I alone"—the God who for weeks and months, and, it may be, for years, we have been wearying with our iniquities, whose Book of Remembrance is crowded with the record of our guilt—"I—yes, I alone"—the very Being who has registered that guilt, is ready to take the recording pen and erase the pages thus blotted with transgression!
How can He thus forgive? How can the God who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, cancel the handwriting that is against us in these volumes of transgression, so that they are remembered no more? It is through the atoning work of Jesus. "The Son of man has power to forgive sins." He shed His precious blood that He might have a right to say, "Your sins, which are many, are all forgiven you." What a complete erasure! Crimson sins, scarlet sins; sins against grace, and love, and warning, and privilege—see them all cast into the depths of the sea, never again to be washed on shore!
"Whatever our guiltiness is," says Rutherford, "yet when it falls into the sea of God's mercy, it is but like a drop of blood fallen into the great ocean." "The ancients said there was nothing so pure as snow. But we know of something purer, a human soul washed in the blood of Christ."
What is the impelling MOTIVE with God in so wondrous a forgiveness as this? It is, it can be, nothing He sees in us. No repentance, however sincere; no good works, however imposing or splendid. It is His own free sovereign grace! "For My own sake!" "Thus says the Lord God, I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel; but for My holy Name's sake." If He had meted out retribution in proportion to our deserts, His thoughts towards us must have been of evil, not of peace—our blood would, long before now, have been mingled with our sacrifices. But He is God, and not man. "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed." "O Israel you have destroyed yourself, but in Me is your help found."
Most wondrous chapter in the volume of God's thoughts!—His full, free, unconditional, everlasting forgiveness of the guilty and undeserving. All the most gigantic thoughts of man look poor and shabby after this. God, the just God, yet the Savior—just, in justifying the ungodly.
Lord! I accept the gracious overture of pardon. I joyfully repose on this thought of Your forgiving mercy. "My debt is very great, neither can I pay anything thereof myself. But I trust in the riches and benignity of my Surety. Let Him free me, who became surety for me; who has taken my debt upon Himself."—(John Gerhard). Yes, He has taken my debt! Think of God, not only willing to blot out and bury in oblivion a guilty past—but hear Him giving the assurance that the legion-sins are already cancelled. The debt has been discharged—the wages paid. He makes it an argument for immediate return and acceptance, "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, as a cloud, your sins; return unto Me; for I have redeemed you."
What can we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Romans 8:31