2. Restorative Forgiveness

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
There is a difference between not being able to see, and what is called losing our eyesight. A person who is suffering from the presence of a few particles of dust in his eyes may have no more real enjoyment of eyesight than a man stone-blind. Yet no one would therefore conclude that he has lost his eyesight. Remove the disturbing particles, and he may see as well as ever.
In a similar way a Christian may, through the coming in of evil, be as practically destitute of the enjoyment of his relationship with the Father as one who was never in it. But it is of all importance to see that the relationship still remains undisturbed. The relationship does not depend upon his enjoyment of it; but his enjoyment does depend upon his walking in the communion of that relationship.
There is something deeply humiliating, and yet withal abundantly refreshing, in considering this part of our subject. Our shameful failures seem all the sadder in the light of the devoted love of Christ; yet instead of that love being diminished by these failures it only thereby finds a new way of displaying itself. So we read, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:11My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (1 John 2:1)). Not content with taking our place in judgment, He will plead our cause in glory also. He will never give His people up. Never. What grace!
The work of the cross can never be repeated. Never again, as Savior, will He take up the question of sin's judgment. That question was eternally settled for the believer when He cried, “It is finished.” On the other hand, His work as heavenly Advocate is not yet finished; nor will it be until every believer is forever beyond the reach of sin.
You will notice that it is when we sin, not when we are sorry for sinning, that He exercises His office of righteous Advocate. It cannot be too firmly grasped that our repentance and restoration as believers are the results of His advocacy, and not their procuring cause. Oh, what a blessed, perfect, all-the-way-home Savior He is!
This then, briefly, is His side of our restoration. Now come to ours.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:99If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)).
What could be more simple than this? How plainly it teaches that sins truly confessed are sins surely forgiven.
And then, how solidly assuring are those two words, “FAITHFUL and JUST.” How they remind us of the one righteous payment, of the never-to-be-repeated settlement of the cross. If Christ had not righteously settled the question of our sins on the tree, He could not righteously have pleaded our cause on the throne. To plead for pardon without suffering for the offense, would be to ask God to pass by sin without judging it—an everlasting impossibility! But He has “suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:1818For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1 Peter 3:18)); and therefore God is “faithful and just” to forgive us our sins the moment we confess them.
Alas! however, the point of restoration is sometimes but slowly reached. Unjudged and unconfessed sin has produced cold reserve in the heart of the failing one; and instead of open, frank confession, there is a guileful silence, although, perhaps, all the while God is manifestly dealing with him to bring about true restoration. It seems to have been so in the case of David. (See Psa. 32.) Listen to his own sad tale. “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.” He was like a fever-tossed patient, trying every possible posture, but finding rest in none.
This restlessness is one of the principal signs of a saint out of communion; like the “troubled sea,” he “cannot rest” (Isa. 57:2020But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. (Isaiah 57:20)).
Captain Hare, who went down with over 300 men in H.M.S. Eurydice, is said to be the writer of the following lines on Jeremiah 49:2323Concerning Damascus. Hamath is confounded, and Arpad: for they have heard evil tidings: they are fainthearted; there is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet. (Jeremiah 49:23), “There is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet.” We only quote them by way of illustration. The poet inquires of the sea the secret of her restlessness, and gives us her supposed answer:
“Then the ocean's voice I seemed to hear,
Mournfully, solemnly, sounding near,
Like a wail sent up from the caves below,
Fraught with dark memories of human woe,
Telling of loved ones buried there,
Of the dying shriek, of the dying prayer.
Telling of hearts still watching in vain
For those who shall never come home again;
Of the widow's groan, the orphan's cry,
And the mother's speechless agony.
Oh, no! the ocean can never rest
With such secrets hidden within her breast.”
That this is only a poetic idea we are free to confess; but change the last couplet a little, and it would be true of every soul away from God today.
“Never again will that Christian rest
Till those guilty secrets are all confessed.”
Was not David's restlessness, and is not the restlessness of many a saint since then, attributable to some unjudged, unconfessed, hidden secret? But when the heart and mouth are at last opened, how full and free the pardon! “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin” (Psa. 32:55I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. (Psalm 32:5)).
Should the reader happen to be one of the unhappy number above described, let us implore you, before going further, to get on your face before God; review the past under His holy, searching eye; confess your sins; judge yourself; hide nothing that is evil; spare nothing that is unworthy of Him whose holy name you bear. Oh, do it now, do it now! He will receive you freely. “He will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:77Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7)). Do not imagine because you are restless and miserable that He has changed: nor think that your failure has made Him less faithful. For if even “stripes” be needed to express His unchanging interest in you, and He be forced to inflict them, you will not receive one stroke too many; and all you do receive will be direct proofs of His perfect love (Psa. 89:30-3430If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; 31If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; 32Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. 33Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. 34My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. (Psalm 89:30‑34)). “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth” (Heb. 12:66For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Hebrews 12:6)).