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Forgiveness Made Easy

Written by: Spurgeon, C.H.    Posted on: 04/02/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN


                                          Forgiveness Made Easy

                                                        A Sermon                                                       (No. 1448)                                                       Delivered by                                                   C. H. SPURGEON,                                     At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

              "Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."Ephesians 4:82.

                  THE HEATHEN moralists, when they wished to teach virtue, could not point to the example of their gods,                   for, according to their mythologists, the gods were a compound of every imaginable, and, I had almost                   said, unimaginable vice. Many of the classic deities surpassed the worst of men in their crimes: they were                   as much greater in iniquity as they were supposed to be superior in power. It is an ill day for a people           when their gods are worse than themselves. The blessed purity of our holy faith is conspicuous, not only in its           precepts, but in the character of the God whom it reveals. There is no excellency which we can propose but we           can see it brightly shining in the Lord our God: there is no line of conduct in which a believer should excel but we           can point to Christ Jesus our Lord and Master as the pattern of it. In the highest places of the Christian faith you           have the highest virtue, and unto God our Father and the Lord Jesus be the highest praise. We can urge you to the           tenderest spirit of forgiveness by pointing to God who for Christ's sake has forgiven you. What nobler motive can           you require for forgiving one another? With such high examples, brethren, what manner of people ought we to he?           We have sometimes heard of men who were better than their religion, but that is quite impossible with us: we can           never, in spirit or in act, rise to the sublime elevation of our divine religion. We should constantly be rising above           ourselves, and above the most gracious of our fellow Christians, and yet above us we shall still behold our God           and Saviour. We may go from strength to strength in thoughts of goodness and duties of piety, but Jesus is higher           still, and evermore we must be looking up to him as we climb the sacred hill of grace.               At this time we wish to speak a little concerning the duties of love and forgiveness; and here we note, at once,           that the apostle sets before us the example of God himself. Upon that bright example we shall spend most of our           time, but I hope not quite so much as to forget the practical part, which is so much needed in these days by certain           Unforgiving spirits who nevertheless assume the Christian name. The theme of God's forgiving love is so           fascinating that we may linger awhile, and a long while too, upon that bright example of forgiveness which God           has set before us, but from it all I hope we shall be gathering grace by which to forgive others even to seventy           times seven.               We shall take the text word by word, and so we shall obtain the clearest divisions.               I. The first word to think about is "FOR CHRIST'S SAKE." We use these words very often; but probably we           have never thought of their Three, and even at this time we cannot bring forth the whole of their meaning. Let us           touch thereon with thoughtfulness, praying the good Spirit to instruct us. "For Christ's sake;" all the good things           which God has bestowed upon us have come to us "for Christ's sake," but especially the forgiveness of our sins           has come "for Christ's sake." This is the plain assertion of the text. What does it mean? It means. surely, first, for           the sake of the great atonement which Christ has offered. The great God can, as a just Lawgiver and King,           readily pass by out' offences because of the expiation for sin which Christ has offered. If sin were merely a           personal affront toward God, we have abundant evidence that he would be ready enough to pass it by without           exacting vengeance; but it is a great deal more than that. Those who view it as a mere personal affront against God           are but very shallow thinkers. Sin is an attack upon the moral government of God; it undermines the foundations           of society, and were it permitted to have its way it would reduce everything to anarchy, and even destroy the           governing power and the Ruler himself. God hath a great realm to govern, not merely of men that dwell on the           face of the earth, but beneath his sway there are angels, and principalities, and powers, and we do not know how           many worlds of intelligent beings. It would certainly be a monstrous thing to suppose that God has made yonder           myriads of worlds that we see sparkling in the sky at night without having placed some living creatures in them; it           is far more reasonable to suppose that this earth is an altogether insignificant speck in the divine dominion, a mere           province in the boundless empire of the King of kings. Now, this world having rebelled against God high-handedly,           as it has done, unless there were a satisfaction demanded for its rebellion it would be a tolerated assault upon the           dominion of the great Judge of all, and a lowering of his royal influence over all his domain. If sin in man's case           were left unpunished it would soon be known through myriads of worlds, and in fact by ten thousand times ten           thousand races of creatures, that they might sin with impunity; if one race had done so, why not all the rest? This           would be a proclamation of universal license to rebel. It would probably be the worst calamity that could           happenthat any sin should go unpunished by the supreme Judge. Sometimes in a state, unless the lawgiver           executes the law against the murderer, life will be in peril, and everything will become insecure, and therefore it           becomes mercy to write the death-warrant: so is it with God in reference to this world of sinners. It is his very love           as well as his holiness and his justice which, if I may use such a term, compels him to severity of judgment, so           that sin cannot and must not be blotted out till atonement has been presented. There must first of all be a sacrifice           for sin, which, mark you, the great Father, to show his love, himself supplies, for it is his own Son who is given to           die, and so the Father himself supplies the ransom through his Son, that Son being also one with himself by bonds           of essential unity, mysterious but most intense. If God demands the penalty in justice, he himself supplies it in           love. "Tis a wondrous mystery, this mystery of the way of salvation by an atoning sacrifice; but this much is clear,           that now God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us, because satisfaction has been made to the injured honour of the           divine government, and justice is satisfied. I want you to consider for a moment how readily God may now blot           out sin since Christ hath died. The blotting out of sin seems hard till we see the cross, and then it appears easy           enough. I have looked at sin till it seemed to blind me with its horror, and I said in myself, "This damned spot can           never be washed out; no fuller's soap can change its hue; sooner might the Ethiopian change his skin or the           leopard his spots. 0 sin, thou deep, eternal evil, what can remove thee?" And then I have seen the Son of God           dying on the cross, and read the anguish of his soul, and heard the cries which showed the torment of his spirit           when God his Father had forsaken him, and it has seemed to me as if the blotting out of sin were the easiest thing           under heaven. When I have seen Jesus die I have not been able to understand how any sin could be difficult to           remove. Let a man stand on Calvary and look on him whom he hath pierced, and believe and accept the           atonement made, and it becomes the simplest thing possible that his debt should be discharged now that it is paid,           that his freedom should be given now that the ransom is found, and that he should be no longer under           condemnation, since the guilt that condemned him has been carried away by his great Substitute and Lord. It is           then because of what Jesus Christ has suffered in our stead that God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us,               The second rendering of the text would be this, that God has forgiven us because of the representative           character of Christ. It should never be forgotten that we originally fell by a representative. Adam stood for us, and           he was our federal head. We did not fall personally at the first, but in our representative. Had he kept the           conditions of the covenant we had stood through him, but, inasmuch as he fell, we fell in him. I pray you cavil not           at the arrangement, because there lay the hope of our lace. The angels probably fell individually, one by one, and           hence they fell irretrievably,there was no restoring them: but as we fell in one Adam, there remained the           possibility of our rising in another Adam; and therefore in the fulness of time God sent forth his Son Jesus Christ,           born of a woman, made under the law to become the second Adam. He undertook to remove our burdens and to           fulfil the conditions of our restoration. According to covenant he must appear in our nature, and that nature in the           fulness of time he assumed. He must bear the penalty: that he hath done in his personal suffering and death. He           must obey the law: that he has done to the utmost. And now Christ Jesus, having borne penalty and fulfilled law,           is himself justified before God, and stands forth before God as the representative of all that are in him. God for           Christ's sake has accepted us in him, has forgiven us in him, and looks upon us with love infinite and changeless in           him. This is how all our blessings come to usin and through Christ Jesus; and if we are indeed in him, the Lord           doth not only forgive us our sin, but he bestows upon us the boundless riches of his grace in him: in fact, he treats           us as he would treat his Son, he deals with us as he would deal with Jesus. Oh, how pleasant to think that when           the just God looks upon us it is through the reconciling medium, he views us through the Mediator. We sometimes           sing a hymn which says

                                                "Him and then the sinner see,                                             Look through Jesus' wounds on me,"

          and this is just what the Lord doth. He counts us just for the sake of our Saviour's atonement, and because of his           representative character.               Now go a little further. When we read "for Christ's sake" it surely means for the deep love which the Father           bears him. My brethren, can you guess a little of the love which the Father hath toward the Only-begotten? We           cannot pry into the wondrous mystery of the eternal filiation of the Son of God lest we be blinded by excess of           tight; but this we know, that they are one God,Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and the union which exists between           them is intense beyond conception. "The Father loveth the Son," was always true, and is true now; but how           deeply, how intensely he loves the Son no mind can conceive. Now, brethren, the Lord will do great things for the           sake of a Son whom he loves as he loveth Jesus, for in addition to the fact of his eternally loving him, as being one           with him by nature and essence, there is now the superadded cause of love arising out of what the Lord Jesus hath           done as the servant of the Father. Remember that our Lord Jesus has been obedient to his Father's willobedient           to death, even to the death of the cross, wherefore God hath highly exalted hi in and given him a name that is           above every name. One of the sweetest thoughts, to my mind, which I sometimes suck at when I am alone, is           thisthat God the Father will do anything for Christ. Here is also another piece of a honeycombwhen I can           plead Christ's name I am sure to win my suit of him. "For Christ's sake" is a plea that always touches the heart of           the great God. Show that for you to receive such and such a blessing will glorify Christ, and the Father cannot           withhold it, for it is his delight to honour Jesus. We speak after the manner of men, of course, and on such a           theme as this we must be careful, but still we can only speak as men, being only men. It is the joy of the Father to           express his love to his Son. Throughout all ages they have had fellowship one with another: they have always been           one in all their designs, they have never differed upon any points and cannot differ; and you notice when our Lord           says, "Father, glorify thy Son," he is so knit with the Father that he adds, "that thy Son also may glorify thee."           Their mutual love is inconceivably great, and, therefore, brethren, God will do anything for Jesus. God will forgive           us for Christ's sake; yea, he has done so in the case of thousands around me. And thou, big black sinner, if thou           wilt go to God at this moment and say, "Lord, I cannot ask thee to forgive me for my own sake, but do it out of           love for thy dear Son," he will do it, for he will do anything for the sake of Jesus. If thou art at this time conscious           of sin so as to despair of thyself, it is well that thou shouldest be so, for self-despair is only common-sense, since           there is nothing in thyself upon which thou canst rely. But do catch at this hopeit is not a straw, it is a good           substantial life-buoyif thou canst ask forgiveness for the sake of Jesus, God will do anything for Jesus, and he           will do anything for thee for his dear sake.               So we read our text once more in the light of a truth which grows out of the love of God; namely, that God           does forgive sin for the sake of glorifying Christ. Christ took the shame that he might magnify his Father, and           now his Father delights to magnify him by blotting out the sin. If von can prove that any gift to you would reflect           glory upon Christ, you may depend upon it you will have it. If there is anything under heaven. that would make           Christ more illustrious the Father would not spare it for a moment. If thou seest that for thee to have thy sin           forgiven would raise the fame of the Saviour, go and plead that argument with God, and thou shalt surely prevail.           Will it not make Christ glad if he saves such a sinner as thou art? Then go with this argument in thy mouth,           "Father, glorify thy Son by exalting him as a glorious Saviour in saving me." I find this often a great lever at a dead           lift,to say unto the Lord, "Lord, thou knowest the straits I am in; thou knowest how undeserving I am; thou           knowest what a poor, undone creature I am before thee; but if thy dear Son shall help and save me the very angels           will stand and wonder at his mighty grace, and so it will bring glory to him, therefore I entreat thee be gracious           unto me." Be sure thou art certain to prevail if thou canst plead that it will glorify Christ, and surely thou wouldest           not wish to have a thing that would not glorify him. Thy prayer shall always be prevalent, if thy heart be in such a           state that thou art willing to have or not to have, according as it will honour thy Lord: if it will not glorify Christ, be           thou more than content to do without the choicest earthly good; but be thou doubly grateful when the boon that is           granted tends to bring honour to the ever dear and worshipful name of Jesus. "For Christ's sake." It is a precious           word; dwell upon it, and lay up this sentence in the archives of thy memorythe Father will do anything for the           sake of Jesus Christ his Son.               II. Now, secondly, we pass on to observe what it is which we are told in the text has been done for us, and to           us, for Christ's sake. "God for Christ's sake HATH FORGIVEN YOU."               First notice, that he has done this certainly. The apostle does not say he hopes so, but he says, "God for           Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Are you in the number of the forgiven, my dear hearer? Hast thou believed in the           Lord Jesus Christ? Then, as sure as you have believed, God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Have you put           your trust in the atoning sacrifice? Then God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. You have not begun to be a           Christian, I hope, with the idea that one day, at some future period, you may obtain forgiveness. No. "God for           Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Pardon is not a prize to be run for, but a blessing received at the first step of the           race. If you have believed in Jesus your sin has all goneall gone; all your sin has been erased from the records of           the past, never to be mentioned against you for ever. The moment a sinner looks to Christ, the burden of his sin           rolls from off his shoulders never to return. If Christ hath washed thee, (and be has if thou hast believed in him,)           then thou art clean every whit, and before the Lord thou standest delivered from every trace of guilt. Pardon is not           a matter of hope, but a matter of fact. Expectation looks for many a blessing, but pardon is a realized favour           which faith holds in her hand even now. If Christ took thy load, thy load cannot remain on thine own back: if           Christ paid thy debts, then they do not stand in God's books against thee. How can they? It stands to reason that if           thy Substitute has taken thy sin and put it away, thy sin lies no more on thee. God for Christ's sake hath forgiven           thee. Get hold of that grand truth, and hold it, though all the devils in hell roar at thee. Grasp it as with a hand of           steel; grip it as for life: "God for Christ's sake hath forgiven me,"may each one of us be able to say that. We           shall not feel the divine sweetness and force of the text unless we can make a personal matter of it by the Holy           Ghost.               Then notice that God has forgiven us continuously. He not only forgave us at the first all our sins, but he           continues daily to forgive, for the act of forgiveness is a continuous one. I have sometimes heard it said that we           were so forgiven when we first believed that there is no need to ask for further forgiveness; to which I replyWe           were so completely forgiven when we first believed that we ought continually to ask for the perpetuity of that one           far-reaching act, that the Lord may continue to exert towards us that fulness of forgiving grace which absolved us           perfectly at the first, that we may continue to walk before him with a sense of that complete forgiveness, clear and           unquestioned. I know I was forgiven when first I believed in Christ; and I am equally sure of it now: the one           absolution continues to ring in my ears like joy-bells which never cease. Pardon once given continues to be given.           When through doubt and anxiety I was not sure of my pardon, yet it was still true; for he that believeth on him is           not condemned, even though he may write bitter things against himself. Beloved friend, catch hold of that, and do           not let it go. Divine pardon is a continuous act.               And this forgiveness on God's part was most free. We did nothing to obtain it by merit, and we brought           nothing wherewith to purchase it. He forgave us for Christ's sake, not for aught that we had done. True, we did           repent, and did believe, but repentance and faith he gave us, so that he did not forgive us for the sake of them, but           purely of his own dear love, because he delighteth in mercy, and is never more like himself than when he passeth           by transgression, iniquity, and sin.               Remember, also, that he forgave us fully. It was not here and there a sin that he blotted out, but the whole           horrible list and catalogue of our offences he destroyed at once. The substitution of our Lord has finished that           matter even to perfection:

                                              "Because the sinless Saviour died,                                                 My sinful soul is counted free;                                                 For God, the Just, is satisfied                                               To look on him and pardon me."

          All our transgressions are swept away at once, carried off as by a flood, and so completely removed from us that           no guilty trace of them remains They are all gone! O ye believers, think of this, for the all is no little thing: sins           against a holy God, sins against his loving Son, sins against gospel as well as against law, sins against man as well           as against God, sins of the body as well as sins of the mind, sins as numerous as the sands on the sea shore, and           as great as the sea itself: all, all are removed from us as far as the east is from the west. All this evil was rolled into           one great mass, and laid upon Jesus, and having borne it all he has made an end of it for ever. When the Lord           forgave us he forgave us the whole debt. He did not take the bill and say, "I strike out this item and that," but the           pen went through it all;PAID. It was a receipt in full of all demands, Jesus took the handwriting which was           against us and nailed it to his cross, to show before the entire universe that its power to condemn us had ceased           for ever. We have in him a full forgiveness.               And let it be remembered that this forgiveness which God has given us for Christ's sake is an eternal           forgiveness. He will never rake up our past offences and a second time impute them, lie will not find us on an evil           day, and say, "I have had great patience with you, but now will I deal with you after your sins." Far otherwise; he           that believeth in Jesus hath everlasting life, and shall never come into condemnation. Irreversible is the pardon of           heaven. "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." He never repents what he has given, or forgiven.           "Tis done, "tis done for ever: Jehovah absolves and the sentence stands fast for ever. "There is therefore now no           condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God           that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?" Blessed be God for eternal pardon!               And since I could not find a word to finish with but this one, I will use it: he hath divinely pardoned us. There           is such a truth, reality, and emphasis in the pardon of God as you can never find in the pardon of man; for though           a man should forgive all you have done against him, if you have treated him very badly, yet it is more than you           could expect that he should quite forget it, but the Lord says, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more           for ever." If a man has played you false, although you have forgiven him, you are not likely to trust him again. It is           an old proverb, "Never ride a broken-knee'd horse," and it is not a bad proverb either. But see how the Lord deals           with his people. When Peter was set on his legs again he was a broken-knee'd horse enough, and yet see how           gloriously the Lord rode that charger on the day of Pentecost. Did he not go forth conquering and to conquer? The           Lord lets bygones be bygones so completely that he trusts pardoned souls with his secrets, for "the secret of the          

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