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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 77 - 1 John 3:5 - The Taker Away of Sin Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




The Taker Away Of Sin.


"And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins, mid in Him is no sin."-1 John 3:5.



     This is one of the apostle's many arguments in this epistle against sin, and in favor of holiness,-the great reason by which we are urged to purify ourselves, to be holy and without blame. 'Be holy, for Christ came to take away sin; be holy, for Christ was holy.'-This is the meaning of the passage.

     How different this from the use which many have made of Christ's work, and of the grace of God! They have said (some in practice, some even in words), Christ has come, we need not be so careful about shunning sin. Let us continue in sin, seeing grace is so abundant. The apostle presents to us Christ's coming and work as the death-stroke to sin; as the consummating reason for hating it and longing to be holy.

     Consider, then, the following points here: (1) The manifested One; (2) the manifestation; (3) the purpose of the manifestation; (4) the knowledge of it by us.

     I.  The manifested One.-His name is 'the Word,' the Son of God, the Only-begotten of the Father, the Wisdom of God, the Life, the Light, the Truth. But the special character in which He is here presented to us is that of sinlessness. He is the Holy One,-'in Him sin is not;' He is the Holy One,-'that holy thing;' holy, harmless, undefiled. It is specially as the Holy One that He has been manifested. Nothing of sin was found in Him. He was the Righteous One; He who was made sin was He who knew no sin.

     II. The manifestation.-He who was invisible became visible; the far-off became nigh; the divine became human; the Word was made flesh; the Life was manifested; He who was rich, for our sakes became poor. It was a manifestation of God: 'No man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.' When it was said to Him, 'Show us the Father,' the answer was, 'He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.' His person was a manifestation of God; His life, His words, His doings, His death, were all manifestations of God. This manifestation was something very palpable: there was something to be seen, touched, heard, and handled. It was no phantom nor idea,-all was real and true. In it there was no mistake; it was a plain revelation, such as men could at once apprehend as well as see,-'God manifest in flesh.'

     III. The purpose of the manifestation.-'To take away our sins.' It was a manifestation connected with the evil, the sin of our world, springing out of the introduction of evil and the fall of the race. It was not the like drawing to the like, but the like and the unlike coming together. It was not God coming down to our world (as shall yet be) because it is so good; it is God coming down to it because it is so evil.

     The expression, 'to take away our sins,' has a twofold meaning; as the word means either to bear sin or to take it away, though more generally the latter. In the present case both senses are included.

     (1.) He was manifested to bear sin.-He came as the sin-bearer, the sacrifice, the substitute; He was made sin for us; the Lord laid our iniquities upon Him. For this the Father sent Him into the world; for this He lived, died, rose again. It was as the sin-bearer that He was seen on earth. He did not come merely to display the wisdom, or power, or love of Godhead,-to be the model of a noble and self-sacrificing life. He came to bear sin; and now the sin-bearing work is done.

     (2.) He was manifested to take away sin.-This is the complete sense of the word. Only in this does the sin bearing find its consummation; without this it is of no avail,-it has failed in its design. He bore sin that He might bear it away from us; and this in two ways or senses First, He takes away its guilt; secondly, He takes away its defilement and power. In both of these senses He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. He takes it away from each one who believes on Him, pardoning and purifying.

     He takes it away from the Church; delivering, and purifying, and perfecting it, making it without spot. He will yet take it away from our earth, making all things new.

     He offers to take it away this hour from each one of you. Through this man is preached the forgiveness of sins; through Him also is preached deliverance from sin, and restoration to the image as well as the favor of God.

     IV. The knowledge of this manifestation by us.-We know that He was manifested; and in knowing this, we have life and holiness; in knowing this, we know that which cleanses from all sin. 'By His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many.' The object of the manifestation is a great and blessed one; the means of effecting it in us personally is very simple,-the knowledge of what He has done. This knowledge is life, light, pardon, holiness; this knowledge lets in peace and joy, nay, all heaven; 'for this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God.' The truths and facts that go to make up this knowledge are so gladdening, that in knowing them we rejoice; and our joy comes not from the excellency of our act of knowing, but from the preciousness of the things known. Know the Lord, and all is well; know His Christ, and all His fullness is poured into you.