The subject of the forgiveness of sins is dealt with in The Holy Scriptures in a threefold way: eternal, experimental, and governmental. Before writing about the first two, it might be added that the third is referred to in Gal. 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” A fourth aspect which we shall entitle, “sovereign,” may be hinted in Joel 2:25, “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.” Neither of these later two are before us in our present meditation, so let us compare only two of the Scriptures that deal clearly with the eternal and experimental aspects of this important subject.
In Hebrews 10:17 we read, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more,” while in 1 John 1:9, we read, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Let us make an interesting contrast between these two passages. In the passage from Hebrews we have: (1) sin and the sinner, (2) relationship with God, (3) Eternity in view, (4) the guilt of sin, (5) the salvation of the sinner, (6) the standing of the believer, (7) the sacrifice of Christ. In the passage from 1 John we have: (1) sin and the saint, (2) relationship with the Father, (3) Time is in view, (4) the defilement of sin, (5) the believer’s communion, (6) the believer’s state, (7) the advocacy of Christ.
If the context of our text in Hebrews be carefully considered, and a study made of the passage in Jeremiah 31:34 from which the quotation is made (Vv. 16-17), the far-reaching effects of the truth of the atonement ritual (Lev. 16) will be evident. Israel “humbled” (afflicted) finds “rest” at last in the atonement of the cross (Vv. 28-32). The words “In those days” (Heb. 10:16) cannot be overlooked.
Herein is a precious truth for the people of God today. The earthly people must engage with Jehovah in His controversy with them, but they find “a fountain opened… for sin and uncleanness” (Zech. 13:1). At the same time the Heavenly people shall then know the full blessedness of God’s “no remembrance” in all its ramifications. No longer shall painful memory disturb eternal rest with Christ.
Forgiven! Of all sweet words for tongue or pen this one is only surpassed by the Name of Him through Whom forgiveness comes.
One day a visitor to a cemetery found this single word on a tombstone. In vain did he seek for further information concerning the deceased buried there. It was futile to enquire whose ashes lay there whether wealthy, famous, coloured, or white. The answers, right or wrong, were inconsequential; they mattered nothing. Five minutes after the death of anyone, we need only ask, “Was the deceased forgiven?” Forgiven and forgotten, what blessed words! Beside these we may learn other five pictorial words which convey to us something of the sweetness of being forgiven: (1) “covered” —Rom. 4:7; (2) “remitted” —Acts 10:43; (3) “blotted out” —Isa. 44:22; (4) “removed” —Psa. 103:12 tells man that his — Micah 7:19.
Some one has suggested that Psa. 103:12, tells man that his sins are out of sight; Micah 7:19 tells him that they are out of reach; and, that Heb. 10:17 tells him that they are out of mind.
“Happy day! Happy day!
When Jesus washed my sins away.”
Turning now to the passage from 1 John, we see ourselves no longer as sinners before God, but as children in the Divine family. It is no longer a question of our standing before Him, but of our state. Our salvation is inviolable; not so our communion. The guilt of our sins is gone, but defilement remains. If a sacrifice availed to purge our sin; our Advocate lives to keep us clean.
Communion! What a fragile thing it is, as fragile as a silken strand in a spider’s web. On the other hand our union is as secure as the very throne of God itself. This communion is with God, in Whom there “is no darkness at all” (V.5). Only as the believer dwells in the light can he have fellowship with the Lord, and to maintain this our Advocate lives.
John writes, “My little children these things write I unto you, that ye sin not” (1 John 2:10). Note his term of endearment, “My little children.” Altogether in this chapter he uses the term three times (Vv. 1, 12, 28). When he distinguished among the three groups in the family of God, and writes to the “little children” (Vv. 13 and 18), he uses a different word; it is “paidion.” As he contemplates sin in the believer’s life he sees “fathers,” “young men,” and “little children” (teknion). This is the language of a saint who knows the bosom of Christ. If saint is to help saint in sweet fellowship with the Father he himself must know this precious dwelling place.
Now note; John does not assume saints will sin; his language is, “If any man sin.” It is an occasion that may arise, an exigency that must be faced. It is true that sin dwells in a believer’s heart, but this must not be confused with its having dominion over the believer’s heart, however, since sin is there, we need not be surprised that saints sin. When they do, what then? “We have an Advocate with the Father.” What a beautiful word advocate is! Let us remember its Scriptural usage. It is used to describe the Holy Spirit promised to the Church by the Saviour; He calls Him the “Comforter” (John 16:7). It suggests the thought of one called along side to help; so then, we have a Divine Paraclete on earth, and we have One in Heaven. What a comfort!
This advocacy is not stated to be with God, but “with the Father.” Let us make it clear once again; the question is not now one of sin between a sinner and a holy God, but between a child and his righteous Father. The advocacy results, not in securing for us deliverance from the penal consequences of sin, but in restoring to us the fellowship lost through the defilement of sin.
The words that follow, “Jesus Christ the Righteous,” are worthy of attention. Here we have the name, the title, and the attributes of our Advocate. He is Jesus, and that name dispels my fear, and bids me to draw near. As Jesus He puts His hand in mine. He is Christ; therefore He is the Messiah, the Anointed One, sent by the Father to be the Saviour of the world (1 John 4:14). As Christ He puts my hand into His. Both the Father and the erring child find their satisfaction in Him. Righteousness is His attribute, and in perfect consonance with a righteous throne is His righteous adcocacy. There is no evasion, no bribery, and no chicanery employed. In perfect righteousness my Father smiles upon me, and without a qualm or tremor of fear I lift my eyes to Him.
When does the advocacy take place? It is not something waiting for any action on my part. No, not when I confess does it begin, but when I sin. It is true that the blessed results of the advocacy cannot be mine until confession is made, but it was effected on my behalf the moment I lost contact with the Father.
Beloved child of God, do you feel this strangely warm tug Godward, or have you lost it? Waste not one precious moment, but seek your Father’s face in true confession of sin, and know the renewed sweetness of the blessing of sins forgiven.
A word as to confession is in order here. Perhaps this is best explained as a taking sides with God against oneself. Where this is, true repentance will be genuinely evident, and cloudless peace will fill the soul.
In closing, let us all take heed to an old-time word of advice, “Keep short accounts with God.”