The Guilt And The Cleansing
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
You know how David had sinned. To the sin of adultery he had added that of murder. David felt like one who was shut out from God and was unworthy to approach Him. He could not be content to remain in such a condition. He longed to be reconciled to God and he remembered that he had sometimes seen a man who had the leprosy put out of the city as an unclean person, or he had seen one who had defiled himself by touching a corpse shut out for a time from all communion with those who drew near to worship God. “Ah,” he thought, “that is just as I am–I am unworthy to appear before God, for I am spiritually unclean.”
But David had also seen the priest take a basin full of blood and dip hyssop in it–and when the bunch of hyssop had soaked up the blood, he had seen the priest sprinkle the unclean person therewith and then say to him, “You are clean. You have admittance now to the worship of God. You can mingle with the great congregation–I pronounce you clean through the sprinkled blood.” And David’s faith, acting upon the telescopic principle, looked far down the ages and he saw the great atoning Sacrifice offered upon Calvary. And as he saw the Son of God bleeding for sins which were not His own, he desired that the blood of Christ might be applied to his conscience, feeling that it would take away his defilement and admit him into the courts of God’s House and into the love of God’s heart. And so he prayed this prayer, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean.”
He felt, too, that sin was a very great defilement–that he was black and filthy–but he knew how he had often, when hunted like a wild goat among the mountains, stooped down to a cooling brook and washed away the dust and stain of travel in the running water and his face and hands had been clean again. And so, bowing down before God he sees, in the Sacrifice of Christ, a cleansing flood and his desire is expressed in these words, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” The words do not require any exposition–they require application. They do not need to beexplained–they need to be offered up to God in prayer by broken-hearted suppliants!
There are two things I shall try to talk about, as God shall help me. The one is that sin is a very foul thing–Davidsays, “Purge me.” “Wash me.” The other is that the cleansing must be very great–this process of sprinkling hyssop andof washing must be very potent, for he says, “I shall be clean.” “I shall be whiter than snow.”
- First, then, a little about THE DEFILEMENT.
Sometimes it has been asked by unconverted men, “Why do you talk so much about Atonement? Why could not God be generous and forgive sin outright? Why should He require the shedding of blood and the endurance of great suffering?” Sinner, if you had a right sense of sin you would never ask such a question! In asking that question you speak upon the supposition that God is such an One as yourself. But He hates sin. He sees in sin such loathsomeness as you have never dreamed of! There is, to Him, such horrible abomination, such a heinousness, such a detestableness and uncleanness about sin that He could not pass it by. If He did, He would bring upon His own Character the suspicion that He was not holy. Had God passed by human sin without a substitutionary Sacrifice, the seraphim would have Suspended their song, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts.” The judge who winks at sin is the abettor of sin. If the supreme Ruler does not punish sin, He becomes Himself the patron of all guilt and sin may take its rest beneath the shadow of His wings! But it is not so and, Sinner, God would have you know, and have angels know–and have devils know that however lightly any of His creatures may think of sin–and however foolishly simple man may toy with it–He knows what a vile thing it is and He will have no patience with it! “He will by no means spare the guilty.”
I have heard it said by persons looking at the subject from another point of view, that the preaching of full forgiveness through the Savior’s blood, to the very chief of sinners, is apt to make men think lightly of sin–that, when we tell them–
“There is life for a look at the Crucified One,
There is life at this moment”–
for every soul that looks at Christ, we do, in effect, find a plaster for men’s wounded consciences which, when thus healed, will only aid and abet them in going to sin again. How untrue this is! A moment’s reflection will show you. We tell the sinner that God never does gratuitously pass by a single sin and that pardon never could have come to one man of Adam’s race had it not been procured by the tremendous griefs of the Savior who stood in men’s place. Our own belief is that all the proclamations of the Law of God and all the threats of judgment that were ever thundered forth by the most Boanerges-like of ministers, never did show man so much the vileness of sin as the preaching of this one great Truth of God–“The Lord has caused to meet on Him the iniquity of us all. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” That is the great condemnation of sin–the Savior’s death! Never is God dressed in such resplendent robes of glorious holiness as when He is smiting sin as it is laid upon His only-begotten Son! Having lifted it from sinners and laid it upon Christ, He does not spare it because of the worthiness of the Person to whom it is imputed. He smites and crushes it with His full force and fury till the oppressed Victim cries out, “Behold, and see if there is any sorrow like unto My sorrow which is done unto Me when Jehovah has afflicted Me in the day of His fierce anger.”
Let us now turn this subject over a little–the guilt of sin. We think that the Atonement sets forth that guilt mostthoroughly–let this Truth of God reach the ears of every unpardoned man and woman here. It appears that there is nothing but blood that will ever wash your sin away–the blood of Christ, the blood of God’s dear Son–this cleanses us from all sin, but nothing ease can. The blackness of your sin will appear, then, if you recollect that all the creatures in theuniverse could not have taken one of your sins away. If all the holy angels in Heaven had performed the best service that they could render, they could not have taken away even one of your sins! If the great archangel had left his station near the Throne of God’s Glory and had been led into a deep abyss of suffering, all that he could have done would not have been a drop in the bucket compared with what would be required to take away one single sin, for sin is such an enormous evil that no created being could remove it! And even if all the saints on earth could have ceased to sin and could unceasingly have praised God day and night, yet there is not merit enough in all their songs to blot out one single offense of one single sinner! No, let me go further. Could your tears and the tears of all created intelligences, “no respite know.” Could the briny drops–
All for sin could not atone.”
No, I will go a step lower. The pains of the damned in Hell are no atonement for sin! They suffer in consequence of sin,but no atonement has been made by them, for all they have suffered has not lessened what they have to suffer. And when ten thousand times ten thousand years shall have rolled over their poor accursed heads, they will be just as far off having satisfied Divine Justice as they are now, for sin is such a dreadful thing that even Tophet cannot burn it up, though “the pile thereof is fire and much wood,” and though “the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, does kindle it.” Sin is cast into its flames and men suffer there–but all the burnings of Gehenna never did consume a single sin–and never could! Think of that! Earth, Heaven and Hell could never take away a single sin from a single soul!
None but Christ could do it and even Christ Himself could not do it unless He became a Man. It was absolutely necessary that the Substitute for human sin should be of the same nature as the offender. Christ must therefore be born of Mary that He might become Man. Man must suffer, for man had sinned. As in Adam all died, so in another Adam must all be made alive if they were ever to be made alive at all. They fell by one man, so they must rise by another Man, or else never rise. But even the Man Christ Jesus, in association with the Godhead, could not have taken away your sins unlessrighteousness with which His people are covered, but that is not the bath in which they are washed. The whole life of Christ–all His preaching upon the mountains, all His fasting in the wilderness, all His travail in birth for souls, yes, all His bloody sweat, all His scourging, all the shame and the spitting that He endured could not have saved your soul, or take away one sin, for it is written, “Without shedding of blood is no remission” of sin. Think of this, Sinner! To take out that one sin of yours, if you had only one sin, the Infinite must become an Infant and the Immortal must yoke Himself with mortality! And then, in that position, and in that condition, He must become “obedient unto death,” or else not one sin on your part could ever be removed from your soul!
But I want you to go with me further than this. Christ Himself, in His death, could not have taken away one sin if it had not been for the peculiar form of death which He endured. He had to be crucified and then Paul could write, “Christhas redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us, for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree. Christ must, therefore, hang upon a tree that He might be cursed–and there is no man who ever lived who can tell what is meant by that expression–that Christ was cursed. If all the mighty orators who have moved the Christian Church at once to tears and to joy, could stand here, I would defy them to weigh this burden of the Lord, or estimate its tremendous meaning, "Christ was made a curse for us.” Christ a curse! Jehovah-Tsidkenu a curse! Jesus, the darling of the Father, made a curse! He, who “counted it not robbery to be equal with God,” a curse! O angels, you may well marvel at this mystery, for its astounding depths you cannot fathom! Yet so it is. “He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
And this leads me to mention what I think is surely the climax here, that although Christ died the death of the Cross, even then He could not have taken any sin away unless it had been expressly ordained and settled that He therein didHimself take our sin as well as our curse–and did therein stand before God, though in Himself personally innocent–as if He had been a sinner and there suffer, “the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.” There is that black, that hideous, that damning, that everlasting soul-destroying thing called sin! Jehovah-Jesus sees it on His people. He knows that they can never be with Him where He is while that sin rests on them and He also knows that there is no way by which they can be freed from it except by His taking it. Can you picture the scene? He takes that terrible, that cursed, that Hell-kindling, that Hell-feeding thing–that fuel of the eternal Pit, that object of eternal Wrath–He takes that sin upon Himself and now what does sin seem to say? It is imputed to Christ and it seems to hide itself behind Christ–and it says to God, “O God, You hate me, but You cannot reach me here. Here I am! I am Your enemy, but there is between us an impassable barrier.” Now, what will become of sin? Hear this, you sinners who still have your sins resting upon you! What will become of sin? God says, “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the Man that is My Fellow, says the Lord of Hosts: smite the Shepherd.” And the sword did smite Him, so that Christ cried out, “All Your waves and Your billows are gone over Me.” And He uttered that dreadful shriek, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” in unutterable depths of anguish because God had turned away His face and smitten Him in His fierce anger, pounded Him as in a mortar, trampled on Him as in the wine-press, crushed Him as in the olive-press, broke Him between the upper and the nether millstones of His awful wrath made Him to drink the whole cup dry and caused Him to suffer–
“All that Incarnate God could bear,
With strength enough, but none to spare.”
So you see that before even one sin can be pardoned, Christ must suffer what that sin deserves, or something tantamount thereunto by which Divine Holiness shall be cleared of all stain. Then what an awfully evil thing sin must be! Yet you will see her standing at the corner of the street, with a smiling face, trying to allure you. But shake your head at her and say, “No, no! The Savior bled because of you!” And you will see sin sparkling in the wine-cup, but look not on it when it is red, and moves itself aright, but say unto it, “O Sin, I loathe you, for you did open my Savior’s veins and cause His precious blood to flow!” It is easy to get black by sin, but remember that it is so hard to get clean that only God’s Omnipotence, in the Person of Christ, could provide a Cleanser for your sins!
And now, Sinner, I say this word to you, yet some will go and mock it. I cannot make you see the filthiness of sin. You think it a mere trifling thing. God Almighty, you say, is very merciful, forgetting how tremendously just He is. But though I cannot make you see sin, yet I can leave this Truth with you–you will one day feel what sin means unless you repent of it, for He that spared not His own Son will not spare you! If the Judge upon the Throne of God smote Christ, who had no sin of His own–smote Him so sternly for other men’s sins–what will He do with you? If He spared not His Beloved Son, what will He do with His enemies? If the fire burned up Christ, how will it burn up you? O you who are out of Christ–without God and without hope–what will you do? What will you do when God shall put on His robe of thunder and come forth to deal with you in His wrath? Beware, beware, you that forget God, lest He tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you! “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.”
I want you to take this prayer now. I have tried to bring out the meaning of it. You are thus black, so pray to God, “Purge me with blood: apply it by Your Holy Spirit, as the priest applied to the leper the blood upon the bunch of hyssop. ‘Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.’”
II. And now we shall have a few words upon THE POWER OF THE CLEANSING.
Whom can it cleanse? “ He meant himself. I would not exaggerate David’s sin, but it was a very frightful one. What could be more dreadful than for a man so highly-favored, who had so much of the Light of God, so much communion with God and who stood so high as a light in the midst of the nation to commit two crimes so accursed as those which we must lay at his door–adultery and murder? While my blood runs chill at the very thought of his having committed them, yet in my soul I am glad that the Holy Spirit ever permitted such a black case to stand on record! What an encouragement to seek pardon it has been to many who have sinned as foully as David did! If you can bend your knees and pray David’s prayer, you shall get David’s answer! "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean.” What if you have even defiled your neighbor’s wife? What if you have even struck your neighbor to his heart and left him dead upon the earth? These two crimes will damn you to all eternity unless you shall find pardon for them through the blood of Jesus–and there is pardon for them there! If you look up to where that blood is streaming from the hands and feet and side of Jesus. If you trust your broken spirit in His hands, there is pardon for your crimson sins to be had right now! Is there a harlot here? O poor fallen woman, I pray that Christ may so forgive you that you will wash His feet with your tears and wipe them with the hairs of your head! Is there a thief here? Men say that you will never be reclaimed, but I pray the same Eternal Mercy which saved the dying thief to save the living thief! Have I any here who have cursed God to His face a thousand times? Return unto your God, for He comes to meet you! Say to Him, “Father, I have sinned.” Bury your head in His bosom! Receive His kiss of forgiveness, for God delights to pardon and to blot out transgression. Now that He has smitten Christ, He will not smite any sinner who comes to Him through Christ. His wrath is gone and He can now say, “Fury is not in Me.” Here, then, is a great wonder–that Christ’s precious blood can cleanse the vilest of the vile and you may now pray the prayer of the text, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean.”
From what can it cleanse? I dare not mention every kind of sin, but there is no sin from which it cannot cleanse. What a precious Truth of God that is, “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” During this last week I have been with Brother Offord conducting Prayer Meetings. And he told, one evening, a tale which I made him tell every evening afterwards, for I thought it so good. He said there was a poor man living in Dartmoor who had been employed during the summer in looking after horses, cows and so on, that were turned out on the moor. He was a perfect heathen and never went to a place of worship, perhaps, since he was a child. For him there was no Sabbath. After a time, he grew very ill. He was over 60 years of age and, having nothing to live upon, he went into the workhouse. While he was there, it pleased the mysterious Spirit to make him uneasy as to his soul. He felt that he must die and the old man had just enough Light of God to let him see that if he did die, all was wrong with regard to a future state. He had a littlegrandchild who lived in a neighboring town–Plymouth, I think it was–and he asked leave for his grandchild to come in to see him every day. As he was very ill and near death, that was allowed. She came in and he said to her, “Read the Bible to me, Dear.” She complied and the more she read, the more wretched the old man grew. “Read again,” he said. The more she read, the more dark his mind seemed to be with a sense of guilt.
At last, one day, she came to that passage in the first Epistle of John–you know it–“The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” “Is that there?” he asked. “Yes, Grandfather,” replied the little girl, “that is there.” “ Isthat there?” “Oh, yes, Grandfather, it is there.” “Then read it again! Read it again!” She again read, “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” “My Dear, are you sure it is just like that?” “Yes, Grandfather.” “Then read it again, Dear.” “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” “Then,” he said, “take my finger and put it on that verse. Is it on that text, Child?–is my finger on that blessed text?” “Yes, Grandfather.” “Then,” he said, “tell them,” (alluding to his friends) “that I die in the faith of that!”–and he closed his eyes and doubtless entered into eternal rest. And I will die in the faith of that Truth of God, by the Grace of God–and so will you, I trust, Brothers andSisters, die with your finger on that text, “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us sin.” Oh, it is sweetliving and it is sweet dying if you can rest there! Now we see, then, that whatever your sins may have been, they are all included in those little words, “ all sin”–therefore be of good comfort, poor Sinner–if you believe in Jesus Christ, youare born of God and His blood cleanses you from all sin!
Another question is, When will it cleanse? It will cleanse at this moment! You remember that it isin the present tense, “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses”–that is to say, just at this particular moment, somethree or four minutes to eight o'clock–there is efficacy in the precious blood of Jesus to cleanse now. You need not stoptill you get home to pray. He who trusts Christ is saved the moment that he trusts! His sin is blotted out the instant that he accepts Christ as his Substitute and justifies God in smiting sin in the Person of the Savior. There is efficacy in the blood now! Perhaps there has strayed in here one who says, “It is too late.” Who told you that? Sir, it was the devil–and he was a liar from the beginning! “Ah,” says another, “but you do not know that I have sinned against the Light of God and knowledge.” My dear Friend, I do not know how much you have sinned, but I do know that it is written, “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him.” And I know that you have not gone beyond the uttermost, so I conclude that He is able to save you–right now, just as you are, standing in yonder crowd, or sittinghere in these pews!
Once more–In what way is Christ able thus to cleanse? I answer–In a perfect and complete way! David says,“Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” We do not see snow very often, now, but when we did see it last time, what a dazzling whiteness there was upon it! You took a sheet of paper and laid it upon the snow and you were perfectly surprised to see the clean, white paper turned yellow or brown in comparison with the snow’s dazzling whiteness! But David says, “I shall be whiter than snow.” You see, snow is only earthly whiteness, only created whiteness, but thewhiteness which Christ gives us when He washes us in His blood, is Divine whiteness! The whiteness is the righteousness of God Himself! Besides, snow soon melts and then where is the whiteness? The snow and the whiteness run away together, but there is no power in temptation, no power in sin which is able to stain the whiteness which God gives to a pardoned sinner! And then snow, especially here in this, our smoky city, soon gets brown or black–but this righteousness never will–
“No age can change its glorious hue–
The robe of Christ is always new!”
“And is this perfect whiteness for me?” asks one. Yes, for you, if you believe in Jesus! If you were as black as the devilhimself, if you did but believe in Jesus, you should be as white as an angel in a moment because, by believing, you accept God’s way of saving souls–and to do this is the greatest thing that can be done! The Pharisees came to Christ and they said, making a great fuss about their zeal, “Here is our money. Here is our talent. Here is our time–‘what shall we do, that we might work the works of God?’” They opened their ears for His answer and they thought He would say, “Give tithing of mint, anise and cummin. Be careful to wash your hands every time you eat. Give your money to the poor. Endow a row of almshouses. Become monks. Lacerate your backs. Tear your flesh,” and so on. But Jesus said nothing of the kind! They wondered, I have no doubt, what He was going to say and they seemed to be all on tiptoes. “Now He is going to tell us the greatest work that a creature can do.” “What shall we do that we might work the works of God.” He answers them thus–“This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.” Ah, then they went away, directly, for no such simple thing, no such humbling thing as this would they do! Perhaps there are some of you who say, “Why don’t you preach morality?” “Talk of morality!” Says Cowper–
“O You bleeding Lamb,
The best morality is love of You”–
and so, indeed, it is! If I were to tell you that I was commissioned by God to say that if you walked from here to John o'Groat’s House in the cold and wet, bare-footed and ate nothing on the way but dry bread and drank nothing but water, you would inherit eternal life, you would all be on the road tomorrow morning, if not tonight! But when I say just this, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved,” what do you do, then? Are you such a fool as to be damned because the way to be saved is too simple? My anger waxes hot against you, that you should play the fool with your own soul and be damned because it is too easy! Think of a man who has a disease that is killing him and he will not take the medicine because it is too simple. He will not apply to the physician because his terms are too cheap. He will not apply such-and-such a remedy because it is too simple! Then when that man dies, who can pity him? Did he not reject the remedy from the worst and emptiest of all motives?
“Oh!” says one, “but, simple as it is, it seems too hard for me–I cannot believe!” Sinner, what can you not believe? Can you not believe that if Jesus Christ took human sin and was punished for it, God can be just in forgiving it? Why, you
can Christ! Why, poor Soul, I should find it the hardest work in the world if I were to try not to trust Him, for He is such a precious Savior, such a mightySavior that I can say with John Hyatt that I would not only trust Him with my one soul, but with a million souls if I had them! Yet it may be that you do not understand what believing is. It is not doing anything! It is leaving off doing. It isjust believing that Christ did it all–
“Nothing, either great or small,
Nothing, Sinner, no–
Jesus did it, did it all
Long, long ago!”
Christ is worthy of being trusted. Rely upon Him! God give you the Grace to do so and you are saved! Remember what we said the other night–there is all the difference in the world between the religion that is made up of, “Do, do,” and that other religion that is spelt “D-o-n-e, done.” He who has the religion of, “It is all done,” loves God out of gratitudeand serves Him because he is saved. But he who has the religion of “Do” is always a slave, never gets salvation, but perishes in his doings–as they deserve to do who will look to themselves instead of looking to Christ! May the Lord now command His own blessing for Jesus' sake! Amen.