•  13 min. read  •  grade level: 7
To know and enjoy the forgiveness of our sins, is the portion of every child of God. An unforgiven child of God is unknown in Scripture. False theology may and has darkened the souls of His people; or they may never have known the light. Still, forgiveness is their portion, they are forgiven, whether they know it or not; but God would have them know it as well, and when they receive forgiveness, He gives them the Holy Ghost. It is no matter of attainment, but of simple faith, taking God's thoughts and giving up our own. " Abraham believed God;" that was faith. Experience will often contradict what God says, but faith is not experience, and we are saved by faith, and not by experience. " The full assurance of faith ' is the only normal Christian state. It rests upon what Christ has accomplished; what the Holy Ghost declares in the word of God. Unbelief may reject it and be lost; but faith-childlike, Christian faith-believes God; it " sets to its seal that God is true," and God, too, sets His seal (the Holy Ghost) on him who believes.
But to know forgiveness is not to know redemption. A man may know his sins are forgiven for which he would have been judged, and in conscience still be in Egypt. He may think himself merely " a sinner" still. He may suppose he is still a child of fallen Adam, and, therefore, he may have no sense of deliverance from that state at all. Now it is one thing to know that I had sins, and that I had earned judgment for those sins, and that grace stepped in and sheltered me by the blood of Christ, both blotting out the sins for over, and delivering me from a judgment to come; but it is quite another thing to know that I have been wholly delivered from a present state before God-that of a responsible and sinful child of Adam, and that I am now a forgiven child of God, and never can be a child' of Adam any more.
Here the truth of redemption comes in, and we have both.
We have redemption through his blood, (and) the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Eph. 1:77In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (Ephesians 1:7)).
It was one thing for Israel to know that they had been safe from judgment on the night of the Passover, and quite another to have been saved out of Egypt.. They had been slaves there, making bricks without straw. They are God's freed-men, as they sing the song of Moses on the wilderness side of the Red Sea! Here is where so many err. They are trusting in Christ, as their only hope; they may know too, that their sins are pardoned, but they go on all their lives through, perhaps, crying out "miserable sinners," or " sinners." Plainly they do not know where redemption has set them, or they could not do this.
Suppose that an Israelite, instead of singing Moses' song of redemption, was crying out (because he found himself the same person still when he looked at himself), "a poor slave in Egypt;" what would you have thought of his folly? Yet there are plenty of the people of God in no better a state. How thoroughly dishonoring to the work of Christ! But it satisfies systematic religion, and ministers to it. Redemption is ignored in its true force; I do not say in words, for alas, that is one of the most successful plans of the enemy, to use orthodox words without their true import, and thus blind the souls of the people of God as to their real meaning, keeping them in darkness and uncertainty all their lives.
An Israelite who was redeemed was dealt with from that moment on an entirely new footing. Never as a slave in Egypt again, but according to the new place and relationship in which he now stood with God, and so it is with the Christian.
And now comes another thing altogether: not merely have we to learn what we have done, and the forgiveness we need for this, but we have to learn a far more trying lesson -what we cure, and the deliverance we have in Christ. We never get thorough deliverance from what we are until we are forced to cry out, " O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me." Forgiveness may be known at the same time, as we have seen.
On the night of the Passover it was a question between God and Israel: on the day of the Red Sea, between God and the enemy. Was God or the enemy to have those whom blood had purchased? In the salvation of the Red Sea we learn in type the efficacy of Christ's death and resurrection in delivering from the world, and Satan's power who had formed it as a sphere in which to please the flesh in man. The blood of Jesus answered for our sins before God as a Judge. His death and resurrection takes us clean out by redemption into a new place, delivering us forever from the attacks and accusations of the enemy. God counts to us in grace, and we possess by faith the efficacy of what Christ has passed through for us.
The children of Israel had encamped at Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. Pi-hahiroth bears the significant meaning of The opening of liberty. Here Satan's power is put forth in a final effort to frustrate "The salvation of the Lord." All his hosts are marshalled against the people, who are " sore afraid." But the Lord permits this pressure which eventuates in their learning Him in a far more blessed way than as a Judge. They experience what souls do who find that a day of quiet slavery to Satan was more easy to be endured than the pressure of his power against them in their first efforts to escape. They may have dreamed of escape in days gone by; but now the trial comes, Will Satan permit it? The bondage of the Egyptians was preferable to this trying moment: " For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness " (v. 12). Death was before them, and up to death Satan wields his power. Once that death is past, Satan's power is over.
Now God's resources are seen; the blood which had answered for our sins has come from the side of a dead Christ, but He has risen, and left the whole domain of Satan's power-nullifying death for him who believes. " Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord... The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace" (vv. 13, 14). And Moses lifted up the rod of judgment, and divided the waters of death; and the people passed over to the other side through death, which stood before them a moment before. The Lord has gone into the last stronghold of Satan's power, and wrought complete salvation for His people. A very real work may have to be clone in them, that they may know themselves, and that when put into the pressure of such a moment they may be forced to find that all must be of God. But the Lord has wrought the work of salvation for us, and what He has passed through is counted to us in grace. It is not merely that His blood has cleansed us from every sin and saved us from judgment to come, but He has died and risen, and left the whole sphere into which He entered; we have died also to the sin and sinful state for which He died in putting it away before God, and now He liveth unto God. "Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also (i.e., count it true in faith, what. God has counted to you in grace) yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive. unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord " (Rom. 6:9-119Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:9‑11)).
How then can Satan touch or accuse? If we have died with Christ, out of the scene into which He entered in divine love, we have died to it forever. Satan may try to follow (as Pharaoh and his hosts), and find that there is his ruin. He put forth his worst, in leading on the whole world against Christ to drive Him out of it; hut therein Christ destroyed his power. His accusations are over; his attacks. frustrated. He might accuse and attack one who is alive; but we have died with Christ, and this he can do no more.
If we were simple, this truth of deliverance would be simple too. But alas we are not simple, and hence the bitter experiences we have to pass through, till we cry out, " Who shall deliver I" Then all is clear. We have been translated completely out of the place and condition in which we committed the sins, and as cleansed from them, put into a new place " in Christ " risen from the dead. By no efforts of our own could we ever reach this place. It is by complete surrender, and by giving up every effort, that we get this deliverance in Christ, who has accomplished it all, and who now stands in this new place Himself.
You see a remarkable illustration of this in Jonah (c. 2).
He is put into the place where none could avail to deliver him but God alone. In the " belly of hell"-as he describes it. Three times over he promised what he would do if he only could get out; " I will look again toward thy holy temple." No; vows and resolutions will not do. "But,' he cries, " I will sacrifice to thee with the voice of thanksgiving." Will this set him free? No. Again he cries "I will pay that I have vowed." All in vain! Promises, and vows, efforts and resolves which are made in such a state will not do; they all come from "I," and as long as "I" is recognized you have not given up "I " as one in whose flesh " dwelleth no good thing," and turned the eye upon Christ.
Well, said Jonah, " Salvation is of tile Lord"! Ah, Jonah, you have found out the secret; you have touched the spring of the lock, and you are standing on dry ground the next moment! How simple, and yet how blessed to find the eye removed from self-hopeless self-and turned in the sense of utter, helpless weakness upon God. Then all is done, and we are free!
There are three steps in learning the bitter experience of Rom. 7:14-2414For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:14‑24). First, the hopeless evil of the nature of the flesh, in which is no good: not merely that the tree has produced evil fruit, but that the tree itself is corrupt. Then, secondly, it begins to dawn upon the soul that, after all, there are good desires, and earnest longings to do the right thing for God. The very aspirations of a new nature, which is sanctified. to the obedience of Jesus Christ, are there. The first cry of the quickened soul is " Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" But O, what distress of soul, to find that even with good desires and earnest aspirations after God the evil nature is stronger than the good, and leads me captive, so that I do the thing I hate, and I detest and abhor the thing I do. Bitter lesson, but useful to learn. Lastly, then, I learn that I have no power over it, and some one else must come and set me free. Sad enough to find its total evil; sadder still to find that it is not myself, and yet I am captive to its desires. But the moment I give up " I," and cry, " Who shall deliver?" my eye has turned away from all the efforts of " I," and I am free. The Lord has been there in the depths, and the evil nature has been completely condemned in Him, so that I can reckon myself dead by faith and for deliverance; though in fact and experience I find the nature alive, and its tendencies unchanged, still am entitled to treat it as " not but as an enemy to overcome and subdue.
Thus we are " in Christ "-not " in Adam " at all, and now, for the first time, God will have fruit from us. All this work of redemption (Ex. 12-14) is what God has done for us. The experience we pass through is a work in us, that we may enter upon what He has accomplished. Now, for the first time, the mouths of those who in solemn silence ate the paschal lamb on the night of judgment, whose cries of fear had been silenced at the Red Sea by a God of salvation, are opened in a rich song of praise for what the Lord has accomplished in His delivering grace.
Sins, and death, and judgment, are all behind the delivered soul. The sins are gone-for Christ has borne them. Death is past for us in Him. Through it we pass (if we have to die physically) into the presence of the Lord, and " death is ours:" not now the wages of sin-but Christ having taken its wages we are free, and instead of sinful man's portion, "after this (death) the judgment" (Heb. 9:2727And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27)), it leads us to the glory where Jesus is. Judgment is past, for He has borne it, and he that believeth "bath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment; but is passed from death unto life " (John 5:2424Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)).
And " The waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. There remained not so much as one of them." " Thus the Lord saved Israel "! (vv. 28-30). The same waters that silenced the foe, flowed back into their mighty channel; there was no retrogression-no return. Redemption once accomplished is accomplished forever! The waters, flowing back in the channel, precluded the possibility of returning by that pathway into the land of slavery and sin 1