Man's Preparations for Receiving God's Pardon
Isaiah 55:7
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him…

Two things have to be clearly recognized, and harmoniously set together.

1. God's pardon and favour are absolutely free and priceless; they are sovereign gifts, based on no condition, won by no payment, responsive to no merit in us. He saves us purely for his "own Name's sake."

2. And yet there are conditions which those who receive the grace are reasonably required to be in, if they are to be recipients, and make right use of the grace received. These conditions are absolutely necessary, and yet there are in no sense at all any merit, or price, on which the grace is obtained. The harmonizing of the two things is not difficult. When we bestow a gift we look for a proper recipiency in those who receive. It would be to waste our gifts to bestow them where there was no preparedness to use them rightly. In this verse the preparation takes a threefold form.

I. THERE MUST BE THE PUTTING AWAY OF ALL WRONG-DOING. It would be insult for a child to ask pardon of a father while he kept on doing the disobedient thing that grieved his father. Sincerity of desire for pardon is shown in separating ourselves from the sin. Sense of the evil of the act is indicated in resolutely putting it away. This is the first thing God looks for in all who seek him. Kept sin, always and everywhere, keeps off the "grace."

II. THERE MUST BE A CLEANSING OF THOUGHT AND HEART. The love of sinning must go, and the act of sinning must cease. In the view of God, sin is not merely some positive act done. The Heart-searcher knows that the act was but the expression of evil thought, biassed will, selfish purpose. And so a man is not ready for forgiveness until his thought is changed, and exactly that changed thought is what we put into the word "repentance." Reformation of life and repentance of heart must go together to make the proper recipient attitude.

III. THERE MUST BE A POSITIVE TURNING TOWARDS GOD. The difference between evangelical repentance and worldly remorse is that repentance draws us toward God in hope, and remorse drives us from God in despair. It is distinctly expected that man will make positive efforts; and therefore we find the plea, "Come, and let us return unto the Lord." Bishop Wordsworth says, "In proclaiming God's loving promises, and the free offers of Divine grace, the prophet does not forget man's duties both in will and work." H. Ward Beecher gives the following illustration: "Every day, from my window, I see the gulls making circuits and beating against the north wind. Now they mount high above the masts of the vessels in the stream, and then suddenly drop to the water's edge, seeking to find some eddy unobstructed by the steady-blowing blast; till at length, abandoning their efforts, they turn and fly with the wind; and then how like a gleam of light do their white wings flash down the bay, faster than the eye can follow! So, when we cease to resist God's influences, and, turning towards him, our thought and feelings are upborne by the breath of the Spirit, how do they make such swift heavenward flight as no words can overtake!" When these three preparations indicate to God a readiness to receive his grace, then will that grace overflow, and he will "abundantly pardon." - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

WEB: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to Yahweh, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

God's Ways and Man's Ways
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