Thou Forgavest the Iniquity

Feb 6th, 2010 | By | Category: The Basics (click on Article name)

Thou Forgavest the Iniquity

Various erroneous views are entertained respecting the forgiveness of sins and the stripes which sometimes follow after the sins have been forgiven. King David’s experiences demonstrate the truth on this subject. After he sinned there was a period in which he seemed to appreciate the facts—their enormity. Then came all the force of awakening and self-abasement and contrition of heart and humbling before the Lord in acknowledging the sin, in confessing the transgression before the Lord. Then came in due course the Lord’s forgiveness and by and by the King’s appreciation of the fact that he had been forgiven, and, as a result, the restoration of the joys in life’s experiences. Nevertheless we find that the end was not yet; that years afterwards the Lord allowed a very severe, heavy discipline to come upon the King and his family, apparently as a retribution. Absalom’s rebellion against his father, King David, and all the train of evil experiences which followed as a part of the same, were recognized by David himself as permitted of the Lord as a chastisement on account of his transgression which had been forgiven.

How can this be understood? How can a sin be forgiven and yet punishment be inflicted on its account? The right thought on this question is that divine forgiveness signifies that God gives over or relinquishes his indignation against the sin and the sinner and deals with the sinner henceforth from the standpoint of favor. Justice, however, still maintains a hold and must be satisfied. Justice knows no forgiveness. It requires a full payment, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

Applying the matter to ourselves, to Christians of this Gospel Age, we remark that Justice has been satisfied so far as “believers” are concerned by the death of our Lord Jesus. His merit has been appropriated to us. Is this only a part of the demands of justice? We reply that it was for all of our wrong-doing or short-coming or such proportion of it as was unwilful. In a word, God’s provision in Christ for our forgiveness does not cover a willful sin, of which the Apostle says, “He that sinneth wilfully is of the devil.” It merely covers the unwilful sins, or in the case of sins that are partly of weakness, partly a temptation and partly of willfulness’, it covers all the unwilful features, but leaves us responsible for whatever portion of wrong-doing on our part was wilful; hence the Apostle said to the Church, “If we sin willfully after we have received a knowledge of the Truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries.”—Heb. 10:26,27.

As a matter of fact, it is safe to presume that, surrounded by the weaknesses of others and beset by the weaknesses of our own flesh, very few of the Lord’s people reach this point of full, complete, deliberate, intentional sin, the penalty of which is the Second Death. In nearly all sin, therefore, there is room for a measure of divine forgiveness, proportionate to the willingness or weakness. The sins of the Lord’s people repented of are graciously forgiven in the sense that divine disfavor and withholding of the Lord’s countenance are no more in evidence and the individual is restored. Still there hangs over him a responsibility for whatever measure of willfulness is connected with the misdeed. And the Lord will see to it that he receives the necessary stripes. We are not to think of this as vindictive, but rather as a measure of justice, that thus is learned something of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, its undesirability, and that good always brings its reward.

In harmony with this thought there are numerous Christians today who have come into full harmony with the Lord Jesus and every blessing of fellowship with God’s children, who are, nevertheless, suffering physically the penalty for indiscretion, sins of their earlier life. The sin has been forgiven in the sense that it is not held against them so as to bar their fellowship with the Lord. It is covered, but it has left its mark upon their flesh and causes them distress in various ways. Indeed, a general blight is upon the whole human family, which is covered in some respect to those who have accepted Christ. The scars and weaknesses of the present persist in our mortal flesh, and we have no hope even to get rid of these. They belong, however, to the mortal, which having been reckonedly justified through faith in Christ and consecration to God’s service, will not be gotten rid of until the “change” in the First Resurrection, when we shall be granted new bodies. Then the sins which are now covered or hidden in the Lord’s sight will be absolutely effaced, and we shall know them no more. This seems to be the Apostle Peter’s thought when he says, “Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19.) In a word, our sins may be covered, but, at the second coming of our Lord, they will be blotted out completely and forever.

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