The Two Greatest Encouragements You Need

The Two Greatest Encouragements You Need

The Two Greatest Encouragements You Need
Hugh Binning (1627–1653) was a young minister who also taught philosophy at the University of Glasgow. He was a prolific author and popular preacher with a gift for clear teaching.
2 Jul, 2020

If we are discouraged with ourselves it is often because of sin. Here are the great encouragements you need if you are inwardly burdened with the weight of your own guiltiness. They are found in Christ and the promises that are secure in Him for those that lay hold of them in faith, humbly confessing their sin. Hugh Binning explains.

You have two desires for Christ—(1) that your sins may be forgiven and (2) that they may be subdued. He has two solemn obligations to satisfy you—(1) to forgive your sins, and (2) to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

The soul that is truly penitent does not desire pardon of sin alone. That is not the chief or only aim of such a soul in going to Christ. It also seeks to be purified from sin and all unrighteousness; to have ungodly lusts cleansed away. They do not only want to be assured of being delivered from wrath and condemnation. They want also to be redeemed from sin, so that it has no dominion over them. They desire to be freed from death and have the conscience purged “from dead works to serve the living God,” (Hebrews 9:14). They want to have sin blotted out of an accusing conscience and purged out of the affections of the heart.  They want their sins washed away so that they may be washed from their sins (Revelations 1:5).

Now, as the great desire and aim of such a sincere heart is to have sin purified and purged out of us as well as pardoned, so there is a special obligation on God our Father. He promises, not only to pardon sin, but to purge from sin; not only to cover it with the garment of Christ’s righteousness, and the breadth of His infinite love but also to cleanse it by His Spirit effectually applying that blood to purify the heart.

Now, where God has voluntarily bound Himself voluntarily out of love, do not loose Him by unbelief. Strive to receive those gracious promises, and to take Him as He has bound Himself and as He offers. Believe, I say that He will both forgive you, and in due time will cleanse your heart from the love and delight of sin. Believe His promise and this will set a seal to his truth and faithfulness. There is nothing in God to frighten a sinner except His justice, holiness, and righteousness. But if you in humbly confessing your sins flee to Jesus Christ, the very thing which discouraged you, may now encourage and embolden you to come. Because “he is just and faithful to forgive sins.” His justice being now satisfied, is engaged to forgive, not to punish.

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How Do I Know My Sins Have Been Forgiven?

How Do I Know My Sins Have Been Forgiven?

How Do I Know My Sins Have Been Forgiven?
Andrew Gray (1633-1653) was a gifted young preacher who died after a ministry of only 27 months in Glasgow. His sermons were marked by deep spiritual experience. It was said of him, "...never in the history of our country did a man of his years make so deep a mark."
17 Jan, 2020

Guilt is deeply uncomfortable. That’s why most people want to get away from it. It’s the pain that inhibits their pursuit of pleasure. Guilt exists because sin exists. Forgiveness for sin is freely offered in the gospel of Christ (Hebrews 8:12; 1 John 1:9). Some people know this, believe it and have sought the mercy of forgiveness but from time to time they may wonder: do I feel forgiven? Guilt for sin is something that is objective before God’s law. We often think of guilt feelings and the sense of whether or not we are forgiven. It can be a real issue. How do I know I am forgiven? We have to take God at His promise (1 John 1:9) but there is more to it than that. There are also evidences of forgiveness that we can discover.

Andrew Gray gives us 8 helpful evidences of having been forgiven to help us. First, he makes some helpful core principles in relation to forgiveness.

  • There is a difference between granting forgiveness and communicating this to the person forgiven. Christ forgives the man’s sin before he announces it to him (Matthew 9:2).
  • There is also a difference between communicating forgiveness and applying it. David was told that his sins were forgiven by Nathan (2 Samuel 12:13) but in Psalm 51 he prays for it to be applied to him.
  • Many take forgiveness to themselves before God gives it to them. They get this decree from the court of self-love. Many forget their sins before God forgets them. All the ministers and believers in the world may forgive you but what will you do when you get to the judgement? God will ask you “where is my Son’s name on your pardon?” All forgiveness comes from Christ’s goodwill and purchase (Psalm 68:18). We ought to praise Him for pardoning grace but also for restraining grace.
  • Once a sin is truly forgiven it can never be unforgiven (Romans 11:29). But you can lose your sense of forgiveness because of pride which brings us low. If we commit gross sins it will open up the guilt of other buried sins. Forgiveness is a tender plant which we must take great care of. We need to maintain a fresh sense of forgiveness. Otherwise it will become like a document that is old and grimy and cannot be read. Otherwise unbelief and discouragement will make us think that forgiveness has been withdrawn.
  • The best proof of being forgiven is a close, humble walk with God. Pride and slothfulness are the two greatest enemies of a Christian’s growth. They spoil our resolutions and our duties. Nothing hinders our growth more than pride, self-conceit and laziness.

1. If You Have Been Forgiven You Will Highly Esteem the Forgiver

A forgiven sinner has a high estimation of Jesus Christ, the Forgiver. Any who hate the Son of God in their heart do not know what forgiveness is. Why does Micah cry out in wonder at God (Micah 7:18)? It is because He forgives iniquity, transgression and sin. Do you love the creature more than Christ? You have never been forgiven and are not able to commend Christ. Even Christians are forced to swallow up their commendations in silence, wondering in awe at Him for His pardoning mercy.

2. If You Have Been Forgiven You Will Love the Forgiver

Those who have been forgiven love the Forgiver much. We read of Mary, “her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much” (Luke 7:47).

3. If You Have Been Forgiven You Will Praise the Forgiver

Have you experienced such conversion that you dare not praise Him for it by yourself alone but call on others to help you praise Him? This is the experience of Psalm 103:1-3. Blessed is the Christian who can sing this song morning and evening because all his sins are forgiven.

4. If You Have Been Forgiven You Will Hate the Sin

If you can view your sin with delight you do not know the pardon of Christ. Some find their hearts flutter when they see their sin or even an image of it (Ezekiel 8:10-11). When they see their idols portrayed their hearts fall in love with them. A pardoned sinner will look on their sin with hatred and disdain.

5. If You Have Been Forgiven You Will Weep

A forgiven sinner will weep as much (if not more) for the sin afterwards as they did before they received a declaration of being forgiven. There may be mourning without hope when pardon is not yet received but there is mourning with hope after it is received. The pardoned sinner may mourn just as much after their sin is forgiven as before (Luke 7:38 and 47).

6. If You Have Been Forgiven You Will Highly Esteem Forgiveness

A pardoned sinner has a high account of the forgiveness received. No matter what their outward condition may be in this world, all their doubts and fears are answered with the fact of having been forgiven (Psalm 32:1). Who is most blessed? The pardoned man. Forgiveness is one of the sweetest clusters that grow on the tree of life. Have you never esteemed forgiveness of sin?

7. If You Have Been Forgiven You Will Be Sincere

Those who have been forgiven are real and have an honest and sincere spirit. They are without guile (Psalm 32:2). I fear there is a great deal of pretend love, reverence, hope, assurance, faith and forgiveness among us.

8. If You Have Been Forgiven You Will Experience Enlargement

What was your spirit like when you received your pardon? The Christian usually experiences three things after receiving forgiveness. The first is liberty of spirit and an enlarged heart, so that they are constrained to sing for joy. The second is great delight in duty and obedience. The third is great hatred and abhorrence for sin. Have you experienced these?

Encouragements

Here are some encouragements to stir you up to seek forgiveness of sin from Jesus Christ. This is a great matter indeed for some will never get their sins purged from them till they die (Isaiah 22:14).

  • Christ is very ready to forgive (Nehemiah 9:17)
  • God declares forgiveness as part of His very name (Exodus 34:6)
  • There is a promise of abundant forgiveness (Isaiah 55:7). 

Is it not unspeakable folly to lie in prison while the Son of God is saying: “Here is your pardon”? You may use the strongest pleas with God to forgive you “Pardon mine iniquity for it is great” (Psalm 25:11 see also Psalm 40:11-12 and Psalm 41:4).

Further Reading

Other articles that may be helpful include: Forgiveness Does Not Trivialise Sin, Denying Any Wrongdoing?,  How Do I Know if My Repentance is Genuine? and 5 Comforts in Trials for Those Who Have Been Forgiven.

 

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Forgiveness Does Not Trivialise Sin

Forgiveness Does Not Trivialise Sin

Forgiveness Does Not Trivialise Sin
David Dickson (c.1583–1662) was a Professor of Theology at the University of Glasgow and Edinburgh who wrote commentaries on many different books of Scripture. He opposed the unbiblical worship and church government foisted on the Church in Scotland by Charles II and this cost him his position.
9 Feb, 2018

Rachael Denhollander’s courageous courtroom statement needs to go on reverberating. It was heart-wrenching and harrowing yet God-glorifying. It was a testimony to God’s justice and grace in the face of horrifying evil. A paedophile and predator was forced to hear something of the destruction wreaked by his actions. This young woman went further and spoke of the eternal realities that lay behind all that was brought out in that Michigan courtroom. Her trust in God meant that she could speak of justice and absolute distinctions of good and evil. She could also speak of grace and forgiveness without in any way trivialising what sin is and what it deserves.

She spoke to the judge of the need for the courtroom to hear a sentence that would “the greatest measure of justice available.” Yet she also spoke of “final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you…Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.”

“I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me…though I extend that to you as well.”

 

Justice and Forgiveness

Rachael’s subsequent interview with Christianity Today also needs to reverberate. She makes it clear that justice must never be minimised in emphasising forgiveness. “I have found it very interesting, to be honest, that every single Christian publication or speaker that has mentioned my statement has only ever focused on the aspect of forgiveness. Very few, if any of them, have recognized what else came with that statement, which was a swift and intentional pursuit of God’s justice. Both of those are biblical concepts. Both of those represent Christ. We do not do well when we focus on only one of them.” She points out disturbingly that the Church in her experience does not handle cases of abuse at all well.

 

Repentance and Forgiveness

Rachael makes it clear that repentance is not a mere sorry but “a full and complete acknowledgment of the depravity of what someone has done in comparison with God’s holy standard. And I do believe that entails an acknowledgment of that, and a going in the opposite direction. It means you have repented to those you have harmed and seek to restore those you have hurt”. She explains what she meant by the call to repentance in her courtroom statement:

It means that I trust in God’s justice and I release bitterness and anger and a desire for personal vengeance. It does not mean that I minimize or mitigate or excuse what he has done. It does not mean that I pursue justice on earth any less zealously. It simply means that I release personal vengeance against him, and I trust God’s justice, whether he chooses to mete that out purely, eternally, or both in heaven and on earth.

What does it mean to forgive others? When Christ teaches us to pray “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12) it includes these elements of repentance and forgiveness. As we have a proper sense of what it means to be forgiven we will be those who are ready to forgive. David Dickson briefly but helpfully draws out some of these points.

 

1. Christians Need Repentance

None of Christ’s disciples are so fully sanctified in this life that sin will not be found in them. We are under a necessity to acknowledge our sins.

 

2. Christians Need Daily Repentance

That every day in many things we all offend and must confess not only sin but sins.

 

3. Christians Need Daily Forgiveness Even Though They are Forgiven

Although we may have a right to forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus, yet we must seek to apply this right to our daily faults. We must beg the use of this right in seeking forgiveness.

 

4. Christians Know that Sin Deserves to be Punished

Our sins deserve due punishment (indeed death is what sin naturally deserves) and this makes us liable us to the penalty. This is why sins are called debts here.

 

5. Christians Know that Forgiveness Removes Punishment

When sin is forgiven, the avenging punishment is also forgiven. This is part of the meaning of what we are directed to say “forgive us our debts and forgive us our sins”. Sin cannot be forgiven and avenging punishment retained at the same time. Both the guilt and this sort of punishment are forgiven and taken away together.

 

6. Christians Must Not Trivialise Wrongs Done by Others

Wrongs done to us by others oblige those who have injured us to repair the wrong. Such wrongs make them not only debtors to God but also to us. Therefore our Lord calls such as have done wrong to us “our debtors”.

 

7. Christians are Not Wrong to Seek Justice in the Right Way

Public considerations may move us to seek redress wrongs by means of justice. We must not only, however, renounce private revenge for wrongs done to us but also forgive them, especially when the offender calls for it from us. Christ presupposes that those who seek forgiveness from God also themselves give forgiveness to others.

 

8. Christians Forgive as Well as Being Forgiven

When we forgive men their wrongs done against us it is an argument to persuade us of forgiveness from God for our own wrongs. Christ wills those who say “forgive us our trespasses” to say also “as we forgive those that trespass against us”.

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5 Comforts in Trials for those that are Forgiven

5 Comforts in Trials for those that are Forgiven

5 Comforts in Trials for those that are Forgiven
Andrew Gray (1633-1653) was a gifted young preacher who died after a ministry of only 27 months in Glasgow. His sermons were marked by deep spiritual experience. It was said of him, "...never in the history of our country did a man of his years make so deep a mark."
9 Oct, 2015

​Worldly wisdom and self-help philosophy tell us that the way to deal with difficulties is to get a different perspective on them. The trouble is that they cannot offer anything but a worldly perspective on them. Yet from this perspective earthly loss and trouble will always still matter greatly. If we consider such things in the light of eternal and spiritual realities we have true and sure comfort within the eye of the storm.

​There is a greater burden than our troubles. Andrew Gray expressed astonishment at the unspeakable folly and madness among many. They are content under the unbearable burden of their sins which before long will sink them into the lowest hell. True happiness must be in having these sins forgiven. Why do people not pursue this as the most important matter? Gray gives some reasons why this is the case.

  1. They do not feel the burden of their sin.
  2. They do not consider deeply how shameful and abominable sin is.
  3. They do not consider deeply the infinite justice of God.
  4. They have not spent time considering deeply from God’s law how exceedingly sinful sin is.
  5. They do not consider deeply the blessings that come from the forgiveness of sins.

We need to experience the blessings of this pardon and the assurance that we have been forgiven. Andrew Gray shows how assurance of the forgiveness of sins supports us through our trials.

 

1. Divine Comfort in Trials

Those who have their sins forgiven can comfort themselves with this. No matter how distressing and their lot may be in this world it is a comfort to them. “Son, be of good cheer” the Saviour said, because his sins were forgiven (Matthew 9:2). O what divine comfort the soul of a Christian can reap by reflecting on the fact that his sins are pardoned? “The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall say no more that they are sick”. This is because “their iniquities are forgiven them” (Isaiah 32:20).

 

2. Understanding in Trials

The Christian who has been forgiven understands why they experience affliction. The same affliction is a mystery for one that lacks forgiveness. Samson’s riddle is no mystery to a Christian. Food comes “out of the eater” and sweetness “out of the strong”. [see Judges 14:5-9 and 14, Gray is comparing afflictions to a lion. The believer overcomes them and receives sweetness out of them]. God makes up for their afflictions with the fact that He knows their soul in adversity (see Psalm 31:7).

 

3. Hope in Trials

Those who have their sins forgiven have the hope of glory despite their anxious thoughts within. They can drown all these in hope of the endless depths of enjoying God throughout all eternity. “Being justified by faith…we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2). All your rivers of sorrows will sweetly dissolve in that endless ocean of unspeakable joy. It is not long until you will have entire and everlasting release from all these things that so greatly overwhelm you now. Sorrow and sighing will then flee away, being afraid to seize hold on you.

 

4. Peace with God in Trials

Undoubtedly, it requires the tongue of an angel to commend the precious benefit of peace with God. This flows to a pardoned Christian. What could be more desirable than to have the peace that passes all understanding? If we believed how great God is, it would be our greatest ambition and most earnest request to have peace with Him. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1-2).

 

5. Patience in Trials

Submission to God and patience are possible even under the saddest and most bitter providences. It is impossible for those who are uncertain about their condition to be patient under the rod. Neither can those who have been ordained to condemnation of old (Jude 4). Yet one who has forgiveness made sure can endure the saddest and most bitter things with great patience. Is he afflicted by reproach from others? He will make it up with this: “I am pardoned”. His losses may multiply. Nothing else makes up for it all except this (and it is certainly enough). “I have obtained mercy and pardon from God through Jesus Christ”.

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