Sermon 2988. Great Pardon for Great Sin

(No. 2988)




"For Your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great." Psalm 25:11.

THIS striking prayer is hemmed in, as it were, between two promises. It looks like a fossil embedded in a mass of stone! Whatis the meaning of it being here? Why is it put in such a peculiar position? The Psalmist is both praising and preaching-howis it that he turns to praying? Beloved, I think it was to teach us that prayer is never out of place. When the Apostle Paulwas writing the most doctrinal of his Epistles, he sometimes paused in the midst of them to offer a supplication, as whenhe said, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." When engaged in any holy duties, you mayeven refrain from praise for a moment in order to present a prayer to God. Nor would it be amiss for us, sometimes, to breakthe thread of a sermon, that the people might pause and join with the preacher in asking God's blessing upon the message ofmercy and upon all who hear it. Certainly, my dear Friends, you will never find any time inopportune for prayer if your heartis true and your faith in full force.

The Mohammedans have their fixed hours for prayer and when they hear the signal from the minaret of the mosque, wherever theymay be-in the street or in the market place-they bow their heads to Allah and repeat their form of prayer. Without their boastfulshowiness, you may "pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." We need not be confined to specialseasons when a summons is given, but, at all times and in every place, we may "continue in prayer, and watch in the same withthanksgiving." When your hands are measuring out your goods, when they are pushing the plane, or driving the nail-when youare driving the plow, or threshing the corn-if you are speeding along the iron way, or walking among the cornfields, yourheart may have fellowship with Him-

"Who is within no walls confined, But habits the humble mind"- who counts all places holy where men are holy, and all spotssuitable places for prayer when the heart is in a prayerful frame! My Soul, wait upon God in your daily calling and thinknot that you can ever approach Him at an unseasonable hour, or lift up your cry to Him when He is otherwise engaged, so thatHe cannot attend to your petition!

Were it necessary to my present purpose to explain the connection of this prayer with the scope of the Psalm, it would notbe difficult. The promise that the Psalmist had just recited is, "unto such as keep His Covenant." It was the besetting sinof Israel to break the Covenant. Do you not see that the condition here mentioned would shut the door of hope to many? Thegreatness of the promise often stirs up our deepest anxieties, lest any of us should seem to come short of it. Depend uponit, Brothers and Sisters, that the prayer for pardon which is never unfitting at any time, can never be more fitting thanwhen our hearts are lifted up with the loftiest apprehension of God's Covenant!

My principal aim tonight, however, is to bring my Hearers and myself, all of us, to feel with David that our iniquity is great.When I have done this, I shall very briefly try to show how the very greatness of our iniquity may become a plea with God-"Pardonmy iniquity, for it is great." And I shall close with some earnest entreaties to those who have never sought pardon for sin,to seek it now.


The word used in the original conveys the idea of quantity as well as of quality. Not simply was his sin great in its atrocity,but there was very much of it! Any one sin was great, but it was not merely one, but ten thousand times ten thousand in multitude!His sin was as great in its bulk as it was black in its heinousness. Now, I do not know, although

David had one very terrible fall, that any humble-minded person here would consider himself to be superior to David. He wasa man after God's own heart and, notwithstanding the great blot upon this sun, we would not hesitate to say he is a sun forall that. For David presents a character so admirable, so all but matchless in the harmony of the different Graces that wethink he certainly approaches very near to his great Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Certainly, if David felt his iniquity tobe great, it would be very foul presumption in any of us to think ours to be little! At any rate, we must come out, one byone, and say, "I reckon myself to be a better man than David was," or else we ought to subscribe heartily with our hand tothe Truth of God that if David's was great, our iniquity must be great, too!

But leaving David out of the question-not comparing ourselves with others-we will draw some few pictures by which the greatnessof our iniquity may be seen. Our sin is great when we consider against Whom it is committed. In an army, if a soldier strikeshis comrade, it is, of course, a misdemeanor. But if he should strike some petty officer, it is considered to be a more grievousoffense. And if he should strike the commander-in-chief, it would become so great a crime that I know not what penalty shortof death might be awarded to it! Now, in the world of morals, as God sees it, there is much difference in sin when we considerthe difference in the person against whom it is committed. You and I think the worst sin is the one that hurts usthe most!

We have heard, I daresay, the story of the lawyer who was waited upon by a farmer, who asked him what would be the penaltyfor a man whose horse was always going into his neighbor's field and eating his corn. He had warned him several times andtold him it was the result of his broken fence which he ought to have mended. The lawyer said, "Of course, there would bea considerable fine, no doubt." "Well, Sir," the farmer said, "it is yourhorse that has done this." "Oh," said our friendthe solicitor, "that is quite a different question. I did not know it was myhorse before I gave my opinion." So it is, generally,with regard to anything that is done amiss-if it hurts you, or if it hurts me-we feel very indignant about it. But if it onlyoffends the Majesty of Heaven, we make light of it! What fools we are! If it shall offend such puny, insignificant creaturesas we are, there is something seriously wrong in it-but if the Divine Majesty is insulted, we pass it by as though it werea mere trifle!

There really is a difference in the sin according to the person against whom it is committed. I will put it thus. A man hasjust now been striking another-striking him with an intent to do him harm. "That is bad," you say. "Yes, but it was his ownfather that he struck." "Yes," now you say, "that is far worse for him to have injured the man whom he ought to have lovedand honored."

So, since God is our Creator, any attack that is made upon His government, any willful violation of His Law is aggravatedby the fact that we owe Him such unfounded allegiance! "It is He that has made us, and not we ourselves! We are His peopleand the sheep of His pasture." Sinners, did you ever think of this? You have offended Him who made you, in whose hands yourbreath is and under whose control are all your ways. When you have used profane words, it has been against the High and LoftyOne, against Jehovah, who rides upon the sky and launches abroad His thunderbolts and shakes Heaven and earth with His terriblevoice! Against Him, before whom the holy angels veil their faces, and humbly bow themselves, unworthy to lick the dust ofHis feet-it is against God that you have offended! Sinner, you think this is a little matter, but I tell you that it is thefact that makes your iniquity great!

Yet further, sin derives some degree of its sinfulness from the fact that it is at once against a most just and equitableLaw.We sometimes read in the newspapers that persons are severely punished for offenses against the game laws of our country.Well, I suppose it is a very wicked thing to shoot another person's hares and pheasants and partridges. Were I a preserverof game, I daresay I would consider the offense of the tenant farmer who shot a bird that was feeding on his corn, to be veryaggravated. As I am not, I do not particularly see its flagrant character. No doubt it is wrong, though it looks to me morelike a misdemeanor than a felony. When a law is proved to be harsh and severe, there will always be some mitigation in ourjudgment of the culpability of breaking it. If we consider such-and-such a law hard and tyrannical, not suited to the timesand out of keeping with the age, then we say, when a person breaks it, "Well, he had better not have done it-it is an offenseagainst statute law and he ought not to have committed it." Still, we do not think it to be so black as when the offense isagainst a just, equitable, proper and righteous law which harmonizes with strict, unvarying equity. Now, such is the Law ofGod.

What can be more fitting than the law of the Ten Commandments? Infidelity itself has burned pale before those Ten Commandments.We have heard of men who have attempted to improve the Law of God by a new commandment and

have found themselves unable to do it, for they perceived it to be so complete that it embraced all forms of criminality.Those who have abhorred other parts of Scripture have said, as they read the ten precepts, "These are just and righteous."They are, indeed, the fundamental stones of natural morality! They are such as even Nature, itself, would approve to be rightand proper for the government of the world. Well then, Sirs, if you have broken these good commandments. If you have run yourhead against these holy, just, and righteous precepts, your iniquity is great! If you could turn to any Law of God, and say,"This is harsh, this is tyrannical," there might be some excuse for you-but those commandments were made for your good! Ifyou keep them, they will bring you their own reward. If you break them, they will bring their own penalty into your body,mind and heart. Why, then, have you been so foolish as to violate them? Assuredly, in so doing, your iniquity has become heavyas a millstone and if it is about your neck when you come to die, it will sink you in the floods forever!

But, dear Friends, we ought, each of us, to remember that our sin is all the greater because it has been committed by us,forsometimes an offense is all the worse because of the person who has committed it. When the noble Caesar saw Brutus stab him,he said, "And you, Brutus!" There was force in his dying words, for Brutus had been his dear friend, one who owed no littleto him and, surely, the Lord might say to us, when we sin, "And you, too. And you! You whom I have fed day by day. You whoare clothed by My charity and nourished by My bounty! You, living in this fair province of the universe which is called theworld, this beautiful fair round green earth! You-partakers of such innumerable favors-you sin against Me?" Ah, Christians,you who are Heaven's favorites, you who are allowed to enter into the Lord's cabinet councils and to understand the secretsof His Covenant, you who are Christ's own spouse, the bride of the Prince of Heaven-your sin is all the blacker because ofthat light of His Countenance in which it has been your privilege to walk!

But to hurry on, as I throw off these hints to be worked out in your own minds rather than to be dwelt upon in my discourse,let me remind you again that our sin is certainly very great because of the amount of it. Innumerable times have we transgressed.It is not as though we had done wrong onceand then washed our hands of it. Who can count his errors? What man can tell thenumber of the small dust of his transgressions? As for the drops of dew twinkling in the morning light, as for the drops ofthe ocean making that vast flood, as for the stars of Heaven and the sand of the seashore-the incalculable number of all thesesinks into insignificance when compared with the infinite host of our transgressions against You, O God of Heaven and earth!This very day, have there not been more sins than moments, more transgressions than heartbeats, more offenses than pulses?God only knows the total of the sins of man! Only His Infinite mind can reckon the iniquity that crops forth from the pollutedsoil and wells up from the deep spring of depravity that is hidden in the very core of our corrupt nature! Count your sinsif you can, O you children of God, and then fall on your knees, bow your heads, cover your faces and say, "Our iniquity isindeed great."

Nor is this all. We ought also to remember that we have sinned and offended without any provocation. When a poor wretch, pinchedwith hunger, snatches a loaf from a bake shop and eats it ravenously in the street, what magistrate could forbear to treathim leniently? But when a rascal does a wanton mischief without cause, or commits a willful robbery without conscience, whatdefense can he set up? With such utter defiance of law and order, we have patience and we say, "Let the full punishment fallupon his guilty head." And that is what you and I have done-we have sinned for sinning's sake. When we spent our money insin, it was for that which is not bread, and our labor of iniquity was for that which did not profit us. You and I have notbeen gainers by all that we have done amiss. There may have been times when you had the excuse of getting something by sin,but not always. For instance, what excuse is there for swearing? Lust may plead a pleasure, wine may ease a pain, avaricehas an eye to gain, but the cheap swearer, from his open sluice, lets his soul run out in sorry curses, losing all the patiencehe possesses for the mere sake of venting forth black and ugly words that have no meaning. This is infamous! What if I sayit is infernal to sin for the mere sake of sinning? We heard of one, the other day, who said, when reproved for cursing, thathe would continue to swear-yes, if he had an angel on each shoulder, he would still go on cursing! There seem to be some ofthis sort who, for the mere sake of dabbling in the mire, will do it and, in truth, we have all, in our time, sinned in opendefiance of the Almighty and, therefore, our iniquity is heavy.

Sons of men, I put it to you, as one of yourselves and, therefore, willing to be your advocate-but I must rather take up thecause of Him against whom we have offended-what has He ever done to us that we should hate Him? He has

made us, fed us, clothed us-for which of these good works do we forget Him? He has sent His Son to redeem His people-is thisa cause why we should despise Him? He follows us day after day with invitations of mercy, stirs up our consciences, hedgesup the road to Hell as though He would not let us perish-for which of these things do we requite Him with evil? What has theMost High done to provoke you? Has He ever done you a displeasure? In what respect has He thwarted you except for your good?What pleasure that is a real pleasure has He denied you? Is His yoke heavy? Is His burden intolerable? Are His Commandmentslike the whips of Solomon, or His Laws like the scorpion of Rehoboam? Has He made His little finger thicker than the wiresof human law? Do you not know that men, in superstition, will make laws ten times harder than God's Laws ever were-and willkeep them? It cannot, therefore, be that God has thus offended you. O why then, sons of men, do we despise our God? What canthere be so good in sin that we will have it and God's anger with it? What can there be so sweet in Hell that we choose itand despise the glories of Heaven? Verily, in this arrant folly, this flagrant malice, this frantic madness, our iniquityis indeed great!

Yet further, what if I should say that we have gone on in sin after we have, some of us, known and felt the evil of it? Ispeak advisedly when I appeal to almost all of you now present and ask-must not your iniquity be great because it was notdone in ignorance? Many here were nursed in the lap of godliness. Your sins, therefore, are 10 times heavier than other men's!The lamp of the sanctuary lit some of us to our cradles. The hush of lullaby had the name of Jesus mingled with it. Perhapsthe first song we learned to sing was concerning the children's best Friend. The first book that we began to read containedHis sweet name and many were the times when we were pressed by godly ones to think of Jesus and to give our young hearts toHim. But we put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter, darkness for light and light for darkness-and knowing the good fromthe evil, we did willfully choose to do that which is wrong. Ah, for this thing, when we have sinned against light and knowledge,does not our transgression become greater than that of the people of Tyre and Sidon who perished in their sin?

And then, when we had learned by experience, as well as by education, that sin was bitter, we still went on in it. There isa young man yonder who went astray once and smarted for it-and he thought he would never be such a fool again. But it hashappened to him according to the true proverb, "The dog is turned to his own vomit again and the sow that was washed to herwallowing in the mire." Some men seem only to get out of one ditch to roll into another! There are plenty of persons who,when they put their fingers in the fire and burn them, run and get them bound up and healed, only to go to the next fire andthrust in, not their finger, this time, but their arms up to their elbows! Take care that one of these days, Man, you do nothave your body and soul consumed in that fire which can never be quenched! How foolish some are who have been in the spendthriftline! After they have emptied their pockets and found themselves beggars, they have gone to their friends who used to takea glass with them-such jolly companions, such dear friends as they used to be-but they do not know them now. "Oh, no!" theysay, and give them the cold shoulder, now that their clothes begin to look a little out at elbows. I have seen these peopleget employment again and throw themselves out of it by their ill character. I have seen them get a respectable situation perhapstwo or three times and then go and ruin themselves all over again-and still expect their friends to set them up once more-setthem up on purpose that they may have the pleasure of tumbling down! When men do this so many times, certainly their iniquitybecomes heavy.

I have put the case strongly concerning one or two delinquents. They are, however, only representatives of us all, for whenwe have smarted for an offense, we have committed it again. Burnt children are afraid of the fire, but burnt sinners are not-theywill go to the fire again, like the moth which gets to the candle, singes her wings and flies off a little-but she must goagain and if you lift her out of the melted grease around the light, she will fly back again the first opportunity she gets,as if she thought it her ambition and her life's best glory to be consumed in the fire! Iniquity is indeed great when it iscommitted against experience! Men deliberately run upon the pikes of damnation-they destroy their own souls by a sort of spiritualsuicide!

At times, men's offenses to their fellow men lose some of their guiltiness by an apology. Why, sometimes, when we have beenaggrieved by some little offense and a proper apology has been promptly made, we could have wished we had never taken noticeof it, for we did not like to see the good man so sorry about it. We freely forgave him, and felt as if we did not need himeven to feel that he had done wrong because he took it too much to heart, so we passed over the offense because of the repentance.But how great is the guilt of that man who, having sinned, refuses to repent? And is not this exactly the case of many herepresent-sinning from your cradles, but never repenting? Repentance is hidden from your

eyes-you go on from bad to worse, from dark to deeper stains. The Ethiopian has not changed his skin, nor the leopard hisspots. You have sought no physician for your healing. You have let the deadly gangrene grow yet more putrid, until the wholehead is sick and the whole heart faint. Careless Sinner, I would that I could play the part of Mr. John Bunyan's Captain Boanergesand his ensign, Mr. Thunder, and run up the black colors before your eyes, bearing as the escutcheon the flaming thunderboltsof God's Justice! You who will not repent must incur the fierce wrath of God. Lo, He has bent His bow and made it ready! Hehas fitted His arrow to the string-He takes aim at you tonight! The arrow shall soon fly and reach your heart! Oh, that youhad Grace given you to repent! O Spirit of God, break the man's heart! Take hold of Your great hammer with which You do cleavemountains and dash that heart in pieces, that the sinner may cry out, "Pardon my iniquity, for it is great."

With some men, their iniquity becomes all the greater because they have sinned against promises which they have made, vowswhich have been registeredin Heaven and covenants which they have signed with the Most High. You know who I mean. You wereill with the fever some few years ago-you were given up! You turned your face to the wall and you remember how, in the bitternessof your soul, you cried, "O God, if you will but spare me, mine shall be another and a better life for the future!" You werespared, but your life has been worse, rather than better. You remember, too, when the cholera was abroad and there were manyfalling on the right hand and on the left-you were terrified and alarmed- and you sought God after a sort and told Him thatif He would but spare your life, that life would be spent in His service. What have you been doing since then? It is truethat you sometimes go to the House of God, but it is only in the evening when you have made your money in the morning! Youdo not mind giving God the tail end of Sunday! The first two or three weeks after you got better, the shutters were up, therewas no rioting, no swearing, no loose conversation. Your neighbors said, "What has come over the fellow? He is quite a differentman." Yes, you had another heart for the time, but not a newheart-and now you are as reckless as ever. Do you think God hasforgotten your promises? Do you think that registered covenant of yours has been blotted out? No, Sinner, no! It stands fastagainst you to make your guilt more infamous and your transgressions more heavy. Take heed! Take heed! Take heed! When Godshall hold it up against you, at the last tremendous day, you will read your doom in that broken promise-in that lie whichhas been uttered against the God of Grace and goodness!

Most of us, at some time or other, have sinned thus against resolutions and promises and, consequently, our iniquities areheavy. O dear Friends, I have a task too hard for me in such a subject as this! When I talk of the glories of the love ofChrist, I feel at home. When I speak of the matchless Grace of the Everlasting Covenant, my heart is well at ease. But toprove man's sin heavy is a task too hard for me! Not that it is hard in itself. The evidence is clear, but to procure a convictionis the difficulty. The jury is not impartial. Your conscience is like an unjust judge. Oh, how hard it is to make any manbelieve himself to be so bad as the Word of God says he is! None but the Spirit of God can make a man call himself a sinnerand mean it. Nothing but the Irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit can ever bring a man as low as the Word of God wouldhave him lie. If you can feel, in your soul, tonight, that your iniquity is great, that it deserves God's wrath, displeasureand punishment-if you can pray from your very heart, "O Lord, pardon You my iniquity, for it is great"-I shall have hope ofyou that the first sparks of the Divine Light have fallen into your soul, never to be quenched, but to blaze out in the brightnessof salvation forever!

II. I shall now turn, very briefly, to the second part of my subject-to show how THERE IS A PLEA IN THE VERY GREATNESS OFOUR SIN.

Is not this a very strange text? Look at it again. One needs to read it over 20 times. Is it really so written, "Pardon myiniquity, for it is great!" Can you believe your own eyes? Imagine a prisoner at the Old Bailey pleading with the judge thathe would kindly let him off because he was such a great offender! We would think that it would be a very legitimate reasonwhy he should not be pardoned. The pith, however, of the whole text lies in those words which we sometimes forget to quote,"For Your name's sake." That alters it. It is now an argument-it was not before. "For Your name's sake, O Lord, pardon myiniquity, for it is great."

Let me show you that there is a plea here. If salvation were by merit, then, supposing all men to have fallen and none ofthem to have any merit, yet it would be a rule that the man who was the least offender should have the first turn at beingsaved. If the choice of God depended in any way upon man's condition, we would naturally expect that the man who had the leastsin would be forgiven first, for, putting all on an equal basis in all other respects, the choice, if made at all, with referenceto the man, would naturally be the choice of the man who had committed the least iniquity. But, dear Friends, please rememberthat in the Covenant of Christ and the way of salvation, the choice is made upon reverse principles-not according to man'smerit, but according to God's Glory. The aim, end, and objective of God in salvation is to glorify His own Character! Therefore,if His choice may be said to be guided by any principles which we can at all understand, that choice would be guided to selectthose who would the most magnify His Grace and glorify His own name. Well now, if God would do that great work of pardoningsin in such a way as to glorify His own name, the most fitting persons to be saved are the biggest sinners!

Let me put it thus. Here is a number of persons and they are all sick. And here is a physician who intends to get a name forhimself. He is full of benevolence and kindness, but, at the same time, one part of his objective is to get a name. Now, youwill perceive that in the selection of his patients, he will not pick out a man who has a sore finger, for it will never tellvery much to his credit that he healed a man who had a sore finger. But there will be, perhaps, a few cases among the sickof a very extraordinary sort. Some of them will have an affliction, a disease quite unknown to the faculty. Medicines havebeen tried, but their cases have been so stubborn that the best doctors have given them up as hopeless. Now, the physiciansays, "These are the cases that I will select." Granting that he is able to cure whomever he wills, you can see that if theobjective is his own glory, he would rather take those in which there is the most room for the display of the healing artthan those who have the least sickness and might be the most readily cured.

Yet again. Suppose a man means to have a character for generosity. There are a number of debtors assembled and he is determinedto discharge their liabilities. There is a man who owes sixpence and another who owes a pound. Well now, if he pays theirdebts, he will never have much credit for liberality there! But another man comes in who is head over heels in debt. Whatis the sum he owes? Fifty thousand pounds? Let us say a hundred thousand pounds! Let us say half a million! Well, now, hereis the opportunity for the liberal man to display his liberality because here there is room for it! So is it in Divine Grace.You, proud Pharisee, come to God and say, "Lord, I thank You that I am not as other men." And He replies, "Then there is noroom in you for My Grace to work." But yonder poor publican dares not lift so much as his eyes towards Heaven, but smitesupon his breast and cries, "God be merciful to me, a sinner!" "There is a case for Me," says Sovereign Mercy-and the pardoncomes to the poor sinful publican!

Mark, when I speak of sinners, I do not mean merely those who have been great sinners, or those who have been, in comparisonwith others, little sinners, but I mean those who feel themselvesto be great sinners. I say the more we feel our guilt, themore fit we are for mercy. The more broken down we are with hopelessness on account of our own lost estate, the more roomthere is for the triumphs of Christ's Grace. Now, there is many a moral man here tonight who never offended against the lawsof his land, or the laws of outward propriety, yet he feels himself to be as black as Hell. Well then, there is room in himfor Grace to glorify itself! We have noticed that men of the worst character are often the most self-righteous. There is manya Pharisee whose morals would not pass muster though he vaunts his piety as a harlot flaunts her broidery and many a scampwho would be a disgrace to the meanest society if his character were known, brazens it out as though he never had offendedagainst a single Law of God. Again, I say you who feel that you are the very chief of sinners! You who groan and mourn onaccount of sin, be not silenced at the Mercy Seat because of the greatness of your guilt! But rather, with the inimitableskill of the Syrophenician woman, turn the very desperateness of your case into a reason why the Lord should save you!

Now tonight, upon your knees, wrestle with the God of Mercy, and say, "Pardon me, for my transgression is great. And my Hellwill be great. But if You will save me, Your honor will be great! If You will redeem me, the power of Your blood will be great!If You will give me a new heart, the transforming power of Your Spirit will be great! O God, save me! God be merciful to me,a sinner!" This is, as Luther says, to cut off the devil's head with his own sword. When the devil says to you, "You are asinner," say to him, "I am, and Christ died to save sinners." And when he says, "But you are a big sinner, you are a Jerusalemsinner, a bigger sinner than any other," say to him, "Yes, that is true, but Jesus said 'that repentance and remission ofsins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.'"

I have tried, and I am trying, to preach a wide Gospel. I do not like to have a net with such big meshes that the fish getthrough. I think I may catch you all if the Lord wills. If the vilest are not shut out, then you are not shut out, Friends.And if you believe in Christ with all your heart, you shall be saved! But oh, what if you should say, "I care not for forgiveness.I do not want pardon, I will not seek it! I will not have it-I love my sins-I love myself"? O Sinner,

then, by that deathbed of yours where you shall see your dreadful sins in another light. By that resurrection of yours whereyou shall see eternity to be no trifle. By that doom of yours. By the last dread thunders. By the awful sentence, "Depart,you cursed," of the Judge, I beseech you, do me but this one favor! Acknowledge that you had an invitation tonight and thatit was affectionately pressed upon you. I have told you, in God's name, that your sin is not a trifle with God-that it isnot a matter to be laughed at or to be whistled over. I have told you that the greatness of your sin need not shut you out.What is needed is that the Spirit of God should teach you these things in your heart. But do remember, if your ears refusethese Truths of God, and if you reject them, we are a sweet savor unto Christ as well in them that perish as in them thatare saved! But woe unto you-woe unto you, who, with the Gospel ringing in your ears, go down to Hell!" Verily, verily, I sayunto you, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment, than for you! May God save you, for Jesus'sake! Amen!


Verse 1. Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israelis that they might be saved. Let this be our "heart's desireand prayer to God for Israel." Sorrows upon sorrows have come to the Lord's ancient people even down to this day-and theyhave been scattered and peeled, and rent and torn in almost every land. Who does not pity their griefs and woes? Let it beour heart's desire and daily prayer for Israel that they may be saved through faith in the Messiah whom they have so longrejected.

2. For I bear them record that they have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge. In Paul's day, they were most diligentin the observance of every form of outward devotion-and many of them sincerely desired to be right with God. But they didnot know how to attain the desired end.

3. For they, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submittedthemselves unto the righteousness of God. Perhaps I am addressing some who are very anxious to be right with God. They areby no means hypocrites, but are really awakened to a sense of their danger, yet they cannot get peace of mind. And the reasonis that, like the Israelites, they are "going about to establish their own righteousness." "Going about"-that is to say, struggling,striving, searching, worrying themselves to get a righteousness of their own which they will never obtain-and being ignorantof "the righteousness of God" which is completed in Christ and which is freely bestowed upon all who believe in Him. Alas,they "have not submitted themselves unto this righteousness of God" and there is a kind of hidden meaning in the Apostle'sexpression. They are so proud that they will not submit to be saved by the righteousness of another, even though that otheris the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. Yet this is the main point-the submission of our proud will to the righteousness of God.

4. For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone that believes. Christ is the ultimatum of the Law of Godand when we go to the Law, accepted and protected by Him, we present to the Law all that it can possibly demand of us. Christhas fulfilled the Law on behalf of all who believe in Him, so that its curse is abolished for all of us who approach it throughChrist.

5-9. For Moses describes the righteousness which is of the Law, that the man which does those things shall live by them. Butthe righteousness which is of faith speaks on this wise, Say not in your heart, Who shall ascendinto Heaven; (that is, tobring Christ down from above) or, Who shall descend into the deep (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead). But whatdoes it say? The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; thatif you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead,you shall be saved. "The righteousness which is of faith" is quite another thing from the righteousness which is of the Lawof God. It is not a thing of doing, and living by doing, but of trusting, and living forever by trusting. What are you doing-youwho would gladly clamber up to the stars, or you who would plunge into the abyss? There is nothing for you to do! There isnothing for you to feel! There is nothing for you to be in order that God may accept you! But, just as you are, if you willreceive Christ into your heart and confess Him with your mouth, you shall be saved! Oh, this glorious way of the salvationof sinners-so simple, yet so safe-so plain, yet so sublime-

for me to lay aside my own righteousness and just take the righteousness of Christ and be covered with it from head to foot!I may well be willing to lay aside myown righteousness, for it is a mass of filthy rags, fit only to be burned!

10-14. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripturesays, whoever believes on Him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek for the sameLord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How, then,shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?How can there be true prayer where there is no faith? How shall I trulypray to God if I do not really believe in Him? "For he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarderof them that diligently seek Him."

14. And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? We must know what it is that we are to believe-and knowingit we shall be helped by the Holy Spirit to believe it.

14. And how shall they hear without a preacher? If the Word of the Lord does not get to a man either by the living voice,or by the printing press, which often takes the preacher's place, how is he to believe it? You see here what I have oftencalled "the whole machinery of salvation." First comes the preacher proclaiming the Gospel. Then comes the sinner listeningto it. Then comes the hearer believingit and, in consequence, calling upon the name of the Lord as one who is saved with Hiseverlasting salvation!

15. And how shall they preach, except they are sent Here is the great engine at the back of all the machinery-God sendingthe preacher-God blessing the Word-God working faith in the heart of them that hear it!

15. As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!