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indeed the fulfilling of all righteousness. “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the Author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him." We see, then, that both sides of God's righteousness have full justice rendered to them by the death of Christ."
(c.) But, again, both aspects of righteousness are conserved by the way in which we become partakers of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. It is, as we have seen, by confession of our sins, that we attain this. Now, when we confess our sins, we do two things; we condemn our sins, and we renounce them. We acknowledge ourselves to be worthy of death; we justify the sentence which God has pronounced against us; and we accept the death of Christ as the punishment of our iniquity. We humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, we judge ourselves and our sins with His judgment, and we thankfully lay our sins where He has already laid them. We, in fact, endorse the deed of God in delivering up His Son to death, as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. For it is in virtue of our sins having been borne by Christ, in virtue of our having been at once condemned and justified through His death, that we are emboldened to confess our sins without reserve and without excuse.
When we apprehend the merit of Christ's sacrifice, we are freed from all temptation to hide or palliate any of our sins. We know that they have been atoned for, and that, through our frank and full confession of them, we are made partakers of that atonement. We therefore, without hesitation, accuse and condemn ourselves in the presence of God. This is one aspect. The other is, that we renounce our sins when we confess them. We cease to yield our members as weapons of unrighteousness unto sin; we henceforth yield our members as weapons of righteousness unto God. We put off the old man with his deeds; we put on the new man, which is created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. We cast off the works of darkness; we put on the armour of light. We crucify the flesh with its passions and desires. We no longer live after the flesh, or mind the things of the flesh, or do the works of the flesh; we mortify the deeds of the body, we mortify our members which are on the earth. Being made free from sin, we become the servants of righteous
All this is brought about through our being made partakers of Christ's death. Our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin may be destroyed, that we may no more serve
sin. We become dead to sin, and alive to God in Christ Jesus. The righteousness first realised in Christ, is, through our fellowship with Him, reproduced in us. Our bodies become the members of Christ and the temple of the Holy Ghost, and are forthwith yielded to God as a sacrifice, living, holy, well-pleasing to Him. We are transformed by the renewing of our mind. trained, by the grace of God in Christ, to deny impiety and worldly desires, and to live soberly, righteously, and piously in the age
that now is. To all this we bind and consecrate ourselves in the confession of our sins.
It is thus easy to understand how God is righteous in cleansing us from all unrighteousness. It is the highest triumph of His righteousness. All its claims are met, all its demands are satisfied, all its yearnings are fulfilled. Our unrighteousness is condemned and punished, is forgiven and cleansed away. Nay, more, it is forgiven and cleansed away, just through its punishment and condemnation. In no other way could it have been righteously forgiven and destroyed. But now, it is not only a righteous thing for God to forgive and cleanse us when we confess our sins; it is not only in perfect consistency with His righteousness so to do; it would be inconsistent with His righteousness, it would be altogether unrighteous, were He not to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. For in that case He would be subverting the righteous order of things established by Himself; He would be violating the very law of His being; He would be destroying the work of His own hands. He has established a certain order of things through the death of Christ, which, being righteous, He must uphold,—in accordance with which He must act. When we confess our sins, we are accepting this righteous order, we are submitting ourselves to the righteousness of God, we are obeying the ordinance appointed and established by Himself. And therefore He must forgive and cleanse us. It is impossible for Him to act in any other way, for there is no unrighteousness in Him. « Good and righteous is the Lord; therefore will he teach sinners in the way.” “There is no God else beside Me; a righteous God and a Saviour; there is none beside Me. Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." “ Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiatory sacrifice, by means of faith, in virtue of His blood, for the demonstration of His righteousness, because of the passing by of sins that were previously committed, in the forbearance of God, with a view to the demonstration of His righteousness in the pre
sent time, to the end that He might be Himself righteous and might make righteous him who is of faith.” “God is not unrighteous to forget your work, and the love which ye have showep unto His name. It is therefore clear that God would be acting not only unfaithfully, but likewise unrighteously, did He not save those who confess their sins. But since He is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all, He must acknowledge everything that is light; He must save everyone who, by confessing his sins, is walking in Light.
There is still a point in our text which demands our notice. It will be seen when we rightly translate the words :-"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous in order that He may forgive us the sins and cleanse us from every unrighteousness.” He forgives us the sins which we confess, and cleanses us from every unrighteousness which cleaves to us on account of these sins. And now, observe, that He is not only faithful and righteous in doing this, but faithful and righteous in order that He may do this. A great thought is presented to us by the words, “in order that.” They teach us that the faithfulness and righteousness of God are placed at our service—that they are means to our salvation—that they exist for our good. No doubt, like all the perfections of God, they exist absolutely in Him, apart from all outward manifestations; but nevertheless they exist for
God has given Himself to us in His Son. All that He is, and all that He has, He hath made ours. The whole fulness of the Godhead dwelleth in Christ bodily, and we are filled full in Him. God, in fact, makes Himself a means to an end, and that end is the blessedness of His creatures. It is, indeed, the very essence of God to communicate Himself to others,--for this reason, it is more blessed to give than to receive. It is more blessed, because it is more Godlike. God is love, and is therefore always giving. He always refers the fulness of His being to others. He has as He gives. He possesses His riches in bestowing them. Did God, then, refuse to forgive and cleanse us when we confess our sins, His faithfulness and righteousness would be not only inoperative, but even non-existent. They exist only as they are exercised towards us. God is faithful and righteous, in order that He may forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Such is the sure ground we have for believing that, when sins are confessed, they will be forgiven and cleansed away.
And now, in conclusion, let me make some application of the
text. It may be fitly applied to believers and unbelievers, to saints and sinners, to the righteous and the unrighteous. To those who have not yet tasted that the Lord is gracious, who have not yet repented and turned to God, I would say :-Behold the way, the one way, in which you can receive the forgiveness and cleansing which you need! There is set before you the means whereby you may enter into fellowship with God, may cease to walk in the darkness, may begin to walk in the Light. O, do not despise the means; do not refuse to walk in the way! Come and confess your sins. Keep no longer silent. Pour out your heart before God.
Tell Him everything. Hide nothing from Him. Make no excuses for yourselves. Let Him know the very worst. Be open with Him. Make Him
Make Him your confidant. Cast away from you all hypocrisy, and deceit, and guile. Be frank, and straighforward, and true. Make full acknowledgment of all your transgressions. What else does He require from you? Listen to His own words which He speaks to each of you “Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast trangressed against the Lord thy God, and hast not obeyed my voice.” He is waiting, that He may be gracious unto you. He is ready to multiply forgivenesses towards you. He is longing to make you clean, and pure, and well-pleasing in His sight. 0, will you not let Him have His way with you? Why will you any longer thwart and hinder His gracious work in your souls? Turn ye, turn ye; why will
ye die ? Cease to strive against Him. Cease to resist His Spirit. Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God. Submit yourselves to His righteousness. Yield to His ordinance. Obey. His voice. Only thus can you be truly blessed. If you refuse, you forsake your own mercy; you hate your own souls ; you are in love with death. God hath granted you forgiveness of sins and cleansing from all unrighteousness in Christ Jesus; and He causes proclamation of this gift to be made to you in the Gospel of His grace. But it is necessary that you should accept the gift in the divinely prescribed and appointed way, that, namely, of repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. It is morally impossible for you to appropriate the gift by any other means. It is no arbitrary appointment of God, by which He requires from you repentance and faith in order to the acquisition of His gift. It is morally fit and necessary that it should so be. And "the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance. The goodness of God is urging, and impelling, and exciting thee to forsake thine evil thoughts and thine unrighteous ways, to confess all thy sins, and to become a servant of righteousness. O, man! do not withstand His goodness, but rather let it have its perfect work in thee.
To those who know the Lord, who are in walking in the Light, and who have fellowship with God, I would say —Behold, my brethren, the means whereby you may abide in unbroken fellowship with the Father and the Son. You are called to aim at nothing short of absolute sinlessness. This is your destiny, the goal of all your desires, the end of all your endeavours. You must never cease to strive till yon are for ever freed from sin, till you have become incapable of sinning. But so long as you are in the flesh, compassed about with infirmity and temptation, you will never be able to
“ We have no sin.” You will have sin to confess that it may be forgiven and cleansed away. Nevertheless, you may continue to maintain, without interruption, your fellowship with God. How, you may ask, can we do this? Is not sin unrighteousness? and what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness ? Must not every sin of ours separate between us and God, causing Him to hide His face from us, and obstructing our communion with Him ? Yes, verily, so long as it remains unforgiven and not cleansed away. But when it is forgiven and cleansed, it no longer comes between you and God; it no longer interrupts your communion with Him. You should seek, then, my brethren, whenever you commit an act of sin, to have it at once taken away. Suffer it not to defile your mind and conscience, permit it not to stain your soul. Confess it at once to God, that the blood of Jesus, His Son, may cleanse you from it. “My little children, these things I write
that ye commit no act of sin. And if any one commit an act of sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and Himself is the propitiation for our sins, but, not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” Truly brethren, Jesus Christ abides in the presence of God as our Advocate, our Propitiation. Come then, to God, through Him, that every act of sin, whenever committed by you, may be removed without a moment's delay. And thus you will always walk in the Light, thus you will abide in unbroken fellowship with God. You should never allow a single act of sin to remain unconfessed. O, how watchful this will make you! How very jealous over yourselves! How circumspect in your walk and conversation! You will watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. You will keep your hearts above all keeping.