The Nature of the Change Effected by Grace

Psalm 32:1‑2  •  17 min. read  •  grade level: 5
UK 10: 29-35{WE could hardly get a simpler Scripture to set forth what God has done for every believer on this earth. It is not that every believer enjoys it, but that God has done it. " Himself hath done it," and it is very important to us what God has done. He asked man to do something for Him before He did anything for man; and man having utterly failed in doing it, God has now done everything for man.
I take up, then, the simplest passage I can find, in order to bring out what the grace of God makes of a man on earth, not in heaven, what the grace of God makes of a poor sinner who believes in Christ on earth. What has He done for such a man? This is what I would simply bring before you.
The first statement you get in this Psalm is quoted by the apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Romans: " Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." This declares to us what God is: it is God coming out. It is God's glory and happiness to say, Poor, wretched sinner, I can clear you entirely. It is a great matter to get this simple thing impressed on the soul-the delight that God has in clearing us. See how the Lord speaks to His disciples about the woman of Samaria. No, He says, I cannot eat. They wonder and are surprised that He should do such an uncourteous thing as to refuse the meat that they had brought Him. But He had come " to finish His work," and that was His meat. Many a time I thought it was her work.
Has it ever entered into your heart the delight that it is to God to clear you? The thing that has come out, which is so insisted on in Hebrews, and which God announced in the flood, is, " The end of all flesh is come before me." For one moment it was so: all was either covered or drowned; a figure of what grace is. All is now gone judicially in the cross; and " He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified; " He does not impute sin to them. " The worshippers once purged have no more conscience of sins. This is a very important verse to get correctly in the soul. God has no claim for sin; sin once gone in the cross of Christ, God never imputes it again. Do you mean I never do it? No; nor does God say the end of all flesh is come before you If I say it is come before my own eye, I know it is not; but, if God is the one I have offended, am I solicitous that the one I have offended should be satisfied as to my offense? If.I have offended an affectionate father, I want to know how he feels about my conduct; if he says, I have removed it all myself, I am at perfect ease in his presence.
I put it to every soul here, Are you really re sting in heart on this, that God can never impute a sin to you again? And a much greater thing than that too, He has liberated His own heart. Do not talk about committing sin, but get the sense that you have a purged conscience. A purged conscience is that God does not impute sin to me.
But I often find people saying, I feel that I am not as I used to be; I feel that there is something wrong. Well, what have you been doing? Oh, I have been drawn away by polities, by painting, or the like. But, have you stopped it? No. Then you are still entertaining the thing that revived the flesh.
What I insist upon is, that you must get hold of what God has said; "To whom the Lord doth not impute sin." It is the main point of everything. “He died for our sins." What for? to satisfy my conscience? Not merely; but to satisfy God. Nothing can be simpler! " Our old man has been crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed." The moment you get the cross it is judicial; He has fulfilled in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ that which was foreshadowed in the deluge; the end of all flesh has come before Him. It is a wonderful moment: I have got into the holiest of all; the clothes of the old country are gone; the prodigal is in the Father's house.
But is not the great thing the gospel of the glory I answer, everything comes from the glory, and from nowhere else. But what do you get in Saul of Tarsus? That the cross is what brings in the glory. Everyone that is saved has the light of the glory, but it is not everyone who sees it. It took Saul three days to learn the effect of the cross, before he could rest in the glory.
What I want to leave distinctly on every heart is, the relief that there is to the heart of God when He can say, I do not see a spot on you. But how can I get on such ground as that? I come in "by a new and living way," not merely by the blood; it is "through the veil, that is to say his flesh," and having done that, I have got rid of Adam. What will heaven be? Why, not a bit of flesh left! and that is what heaven is now; that is the residence for a soul now. What puts me into the bliss of heaven is Gilgal—cutting off the flesh. I have got in and I reside there. What is the character of the place? No admittance to the flesh. You have not to combat the flesh here, but to speak of what God is.
God has brought in the perfect liberation of His own heart. Ibis Son said, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am straitened till it be accomplished." But now God has liberated Himself, He is free to go out to poor sinners. I am perfectly at a loss for words to convey the magnificence of the love of God, that could come down to such a world as this, to rid me of all that stood between me and Him. And how did He do it? by a stroke of His hand? That would have been like a king, to pass by a transgression; but He did it in righteousness. He brought in the end of flesh by the cross of His own Son. Do you think God will ever let flesh go? No, never! He will even "deliver to Satan for the destruction of the flesh." A child of God may be in a house where wickedness is going on, and, if that house fall, the first one to be stricken down in it will most likely be His own child.
God, then, has seated me at His own board, at the King's table: " While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof;" I am in the enjoyment of the wonderful position He has set me in. This is the first point, and it is a great thing to get hold of it, because it is grace.
God forgives, and never imputes. He forgives what you have done, and He does not impute what you are. Real repentance is, that I put my flesh as far from the eye of God as He has put it from Himself. I do not really sorrow unto repentance if I do not.
In the New Testament we see this figuratively brought out in the parable of the man who fell among the thieves. Here we find the state of the soul of a wretched sinner. What is a state for grace? A state of grace, we often hear of. Now, there are two things that form a state for grace: one is, that you do not resist the grace; and the other is, that you do not conceal your need of it. The man who had fallen among the thieves was in this wretched condition, and he did not resist any offer of kindness, neither did he conceal his need of it. Many a man who does not resist God's offers of forgiveness, yet conceals the extent of his need. This is the third verse of our Psalm: " When I kept silence, my bones waxed old, through my roaring all the day long; " but then he comes to saying, " I 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." This is the great evidence of having no concealment. If everything be cleared away there is nothing to cover. You may say what you like to me, I have settled it all with God. That is the proof of a man really forgiven; but what brings about this state of no guile is, that there is full confession; if you have the title to forgiveness and you are not quite happy, it is that you have not throughly confessed all. The man in Luke does not say, I had six wounds, and I covered up three, and let the other three be healed, and I am well of those but not of the others, for I can see them still. What is the use of grace if you do not want it? Suppose I were to say to a man deeply in debt, that I would pay all that he owed; and he were to bring his account books to go through with me, and set to work turning over three or four pages at a time so that I might not see the contents, and, upon my remonstrating with him, I received for answer that, They are gambling debts and the like, and I do not want you to see them. This is just what many do as to their sins. Says the psalmist, " When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring." " If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Many a one goes wrong in this way; many a one has never made a clean breast with God, and so is walking with an appearance of ease that he does not possess in His presence. Just as a bird will go hovering about over any part of the field but where its nest is, to draw away the dogs from it, so many a soul tries to conceal one thing or another from God's eye.
Now God has not a claim on me for sin, but He has a claim on me for holiness; He will have holiness and truth in His people. " For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him." That is, he shall be preserved in the midst of all that is contrary to him here. It is the actual state of a person placed in this world; as we get it in our parable, " He set him on his own beast." This opens up a wonderful field as to where the forgiven soul is set upon the earth. But, I add, if there be partial ignorance as to the first point, there is also ignorance as to the second-the position in which the forgiven soul is placed.
God's Son not only came down by Himself to clear away everything from me that could offend the eye of a holy God; but, when He was exalted to God's right hand, as Peter says, " He shed forth this which ye now see and hear: " He has sent the Holy Ghost to be the power in His saints. It is given in striking figure in Luke: "He set him on his own beast."
Without a spot upon me, liberated in my conscience, but in the very scene of my suffering, in the very place that tells of my shame and my degradation, I am in divine power. It was not that he walked a few steps, and then went a few steps on the horse. No, " We are more than conquerors." And I believe that it is not a question whether we arc up to it, but whether we know it. I like a child who gets on the table and says, " I am as high as my father." He, anyhow, knows the height he is aiming at.
A man who is walking in divine order in daily life, is a man of power. Many do the right thing in the wrong way; that is not being a man of power. Doing everything in the right way at the right time, that is power. It is not simply doing a good thing that is necessarily power. The old prophet brought back the young one very kindly, but there was no power on either side. Paul says, " I can do all things through him who strengtheneth me; " that is power.
We have wonderfully lost hold of the fact that the Holy Ghost has come down to be power in the believer-power for action. "All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." " Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts
and minds through Christ Jesus." Do you believe you are in favor when you are praying?
If I may make the distinction, there are two ways in which I get to God in prayer; one is, that I tell Him my need; the other, that He hears me. It says, " Let your moderation be known unto all men." The word " known " there, means that I do not publish it, neither do I keep it secret. But in the next verse, " Let your requests be made known," means that I do declare it; that I go to God several times about it, until I can say, I know that I have made it known. I may not know what I am to do about it, but this I do know, that I have got His ear, and I come back into the midst of all my troubles, at perfect peace. Is it that there is any change in them? None at all; but I have made them known to Him, and I have got His peace about them. I am like a mountain, the sun gone, and the winds and storms around me, but I am looking up to God through all, and I have got power.
But do you never have temptations? If I do, I have that which is a well of water springing up into eternal life, and which causes that I shall never thirst. I pass by a shop window, and I see a book that I would like, but do I go down the street disconsolate because I have not got it? Not a bit! I have the Spirit of God; I have inexhaustible resources; the temptation has only this effect on me, that I say to myself, The Spirit of God does not want that, and I am just as happy without it. When Abraham returned from the battle, having refused the goods of the king of Sodom, Melchisedec met him and blessed him; and I believe there is no man who suffers ever so little for Christ, but a special messenger is sent to him to minister blessing to him. " Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies." Do you think the Lord had not a halo round Him wherever He was on this earth? Then outwardly? " He anointeth my head with oil; " in a scene of sadness I have the oil of gladness. And inside? " My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
In saying this I am not talking of serving at all No one can serve until he enjoys. When a man can tell me what a passage has done for him-when he can say, This is what this passage can do; then, I say, he can help me with it. I can only take you as far as I have gone myself.
Thus, in the very place in which I am forgiven, God has sent clown to me the new wine, and set me up in power; I often ask myself, " Is the Holy Ghost dwelling in you?" I look up to God, and thank Him with my whole heart for setting me on the earth in this most wonderful position. The great work in the present day is not to be refuting infidelity, but to be taking up your bed and walking-showing power in the place where you had none. The man who was healed carried his bed, not to prove that he was forgiven to himself, but to the bystanders, Let me see in any place one faithful man walking with divine power, and I know there will be a wonderful effect from it in that place.
Now I turn to the third and last point: " He brought him to an inn." " Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance." I will say here, what may surprise you a good deal, namely, that no one has the third, who has not the second; very few people know that the Lord cares for them; they have not got to the inn yet. And it will not do to go there on foot. Paul says, "Everywhere, and in all things I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry; " I am perfectly happy in the care of the Lord. " He brought him to an inn!" That is a place for travelers, it is not heaven. What can be more interesting than the knowledge that I am altogether in the care of the Lord here on earth? So many saints are disturbed, so many are restless, because they are not living in the knowledge that they are under the care of the Lord; and then there is no power to walk. Why have you no power in walk or in service? It is because you are not clear that the Lord is caring for you, that He is in all watchfulness over you, that He has let down the strong quills of His protecting care till they sweep the ground around you, and, if you are wise, you will creep up close under His wing, into the very down.
There is a reality in these things. My heart delights in the extent of what God has done for a poor soul when he puts one in power on the earth. I have not said a word about heaven; I am simply dwelling upon that which I want very distinctly to bring out, what God's grace has done for a believer on the earth. I say, he is cured, he is carried, and he is cared for.
The Lord grant that this little word may not be without its value to our souls. He says, the cross of my Son has cleared away everything from my eye that was against you, and now down here I leave you to walk through this scene in the power of Him who died for you. Thus I walk through an unreconciled scene, a reconciled person. May each of us have a more correct sense of the magnificence of the state in which God sets us on this earth for His name's sake. Amen.
(J. B. S.)