When Can A Sinner Expect Forgiveness?     

Isaiah 33:24


     There are certain things that always accompany God's work of grace in a man's heart. I do not say, there are certain things a person must know, feel, or experience before he can trust Christ. The command of the gospel is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). But wherever there is a work of grace in a sinner's heart some things will be known, felt, and experienced. Read Isaiah 33 carefully, and you will see that pardon was promised (v. 24) to people who had experienced certain things.

     Pardon is granted when prayer is found in the heart. When the inhabitants of Jerusalem cried, "O LORD, be gracious unto us" (v. 2), the Lord God said, "The people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity." When the prodigal came to his father and said, "I have sinned," the father gave him the kisses of forgiveness, the robe of righteousness, the ring of love, and the shoes of protection (Lk. 15:18-24).

     Forgiveness is granted when God is exalted in the sinner's heart. God will never grant forgiveness until the sinner is made to recognize and acknowledge his greatness. He promised to forgive as soon as the people confessed, "The LORD is exalted, for he dwelleth on high" (v. 5) and declared him to be "the glorious LORD" (v. 21). Until grace was found in his heart, Nebuchadnezzar thought he was great. But when God gave him grace, he said, "I praise, and extol and honor the King of heaven...I bless the most High" (Dan. 4:37,34).

     God grants forgiveness to men and women who are humbled before him. It was not until the valiant ones of Judah cried and wept in helpless despair (v. 7) that God promised to forgive their sin. The proud, self-righteous Pharisee will never obtain forgiveness. But every broken publican who cries, "God, be merciful to me a sinner," shall be justified (Lk. 18:13-14).

     God grants pardon to sinners who are terrified by their sins in the light of his holiness and justice, knowing they cannot stand in his presence (v. 14). Fear will not bring repentance. But wherever true repentance is found in the heart, there is fear (Psa. 51:3-4).

     God forgives sin as soon as he is acknowledged as King and trusted as Savior. As soon as sinners cry, "The LORD is our King," faith rightfully concludes, "He will save us" (v. 22).



Don Fortner