The Guilty by no Means Cleared
This is the assertion of Jehovah in Ex. xxxiv 7, in proclaiming His
name and His attributes.
Moses had asked in Ex. xxxiii. 18 “Show me thy glory.” Jehovah
had replied in the next verse, “I will make all my goodness pass
before thee.” And the promise is fulfilled in xxxiv 5-7, when He
descended in the cloud…and proclaimed the name of Jehovah.
So that in these words, “and will by no means clear the guilty,”
we have part of a very glory and goodness of God.
It is as much God’s goodness as it is His glory to “not clear the
Jehovah tells us not only what He will not do, but why He will
not do it.
This does not mean that there is any unwillingness on His part
to show mercy. On the contrary, it is declared (Ps. lxxxvi. 5) “Thou
Lord, art good and ready to forgive. “Nothing that we can do can
make Him more ready than He is to do all His will.
It is, however, here, not a mere question of forgiveness, but of
atonement. The word is ‘nakee’, and its meaning may be traced
from Gen. xxiv. 8: “Then their name shall be clear from this mine
oath”: xliv 10 “Ye shall be blameless”: Ex. xx. 7: “guiltless“; Ex.
xxi. 28: “The owner of the ox shall be quit“; xxiii 7; “innocent.”
It means, therefore, that God will not forgive without satisfaction made
to justice. He will be “faithful and just” in the forgiveness of sons (1
John i. 9).
There can be no display of mercy at the expense of justice.
A penalty has been fixed upon sin, and Jehovah will never pronounce
the sentence of acquittal except in full accordance with justice in the
payment of that penalty.
And yet, the world’s religion is based on the very opposite of this
fundamental truth of the Gospel.
The world believes that God will clear the guilty! that God is love
and God is merciful. This is the source of the delusion that the sinner
can, by his own meritorious conduct and repentence and “works,”
obtain this mercy. This is the cause of all the deception resting in
ordinances that we see around us.
It is only a half-gospel, leading to a false peace, to declare to sinners
and the world at large that “God is love.” To begin God’s gospel here
is to begin by building from the top. It is not so begun in Romans i
when God lays the true foundation. He does not separate the two
great truths. He does not reveal His “righteousness” apart from His
“wrath.” See Rom. i. 17, 17.
It is our place, therefore, to proclaim that God is just, “and that He will
by no means clear the guilty”; because on this foundation we can pro-
ceed to build. It is the very foundation of the truth that “God is love.”
For if there were the clearing of the guilty, if there were acquittal,
apart from law, if there were any such conniving sin, it would be
treating it as a light thing and putting a premium on sin, and we should
lose the very ground of the manifestation of God’s holy love, which is
not manifested to us apart from Christ.
Apart from Christ, “the Lord is a man of war,” revealing His wrath
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. But it is in Christ that
He is seen as the God of peace, revealing His love, by imputing the
sins of His people to Christ.
What a wondrous truth! Sin imputed to Him who “knew no sin,” who
“did no sin,” who was “holy, harmless, and undefiled.”
Yes, the sins of His people were indeed laid to His charge, and He
was dealt with as guilty.
And when even He was dealt with as guilty. He was by no means
cleared! He drank the bitter cup to the dregs! He paid the uttermost
farthing! He endured the penalty for all the guilt of all His people.
Not some of the penalty for all men, but all the penalty for some,
yea many, even all His people.
That holy and blessed One was not cleared! And if any now are
determined to bear their own guilt, it is perfectly certain they will
never be cleared.
What blessedness, then, there is in these words in Ex. xxxiv. 7,
when we read them in connection with the revelation of God’s
gospel as declared in the Epistle to the Romans.
How full of encouragement for us. Do we sometimes say- when we
see ourselves in the light which He shines upon us and in us- ‘How
can He clear me? I am all guilt. When I think of all His goodness,
which has been leading me and following me, how can He clear
Ah! The answer of God’s gospel comes to us and answers all our
questions, removes all our doubts, calms all our fears. Jehovah
transferred all my sins to Christ! and when they were laid upon
Him He was not cleared! Therefore the penalty has been borne,
the heavy debt has been paid. He bore the wrath, He endured the
curse, and the blessed consequence is that I (and all such) stand
before God without a spot, righteous in Christ’s righteousness;
accepted in all His acceptableness; perfect in Christ Jesus, complete
in Him; yea, holy in His holiness, and only waiting to be glorified
with His glory.
It is almost beyond belief. when we realise it only in part it seems
to good to be true.
What! will He never condemn me? “No condemnation”? Not, though
I see that in myself every day and every hour I am deserving all
condemnation? What! Does He stoop to my infirmities, and bear with
me my frailties? Yes! It is true! He will by no means break His Word.
He laid all my sins upon my Substitute, and when He bore them, He
was not cleared.
Oh, what a blessed truth. Every sin, every iniquity, every transgression,
every, backsliding, every thought, word and deed, all foreknown and
laid on Him, who, though He knew the awful burden He had to bear,
did not withdraw His neck from the yoke, but drank of the cup of wrath
to the dregs that He might give now to His church and people the cup
of blessing for all eternity.
In Him we were not cleared; for in Him we died, and in Him we are
risen again. Neither the Law nor death has any further claim upon
us or power over us.
How blessed the thought, yea, the fact, that we are not merely pardoned
for having got into debt, but that the debt has been paid, and our liability
cleared, and that a Risen Christ is our receipt for payment in full! Not
merely pardoned, but justified; not merely justified, but accepted; and
accepted too in Christ, as He is accepted of the Father, and have Him not
merely substituted for us, but ourselves identified with Him.
What a precious truth for us to dwell upon in the trials of life, in our
seasons of depression, in a sick room or a dying bed. To know that I am
cleared because the Lord Jesus was not; that I am acquitted because He
was dealt with as guilty. May the Lord carry home His own word and truth
with power to our hearts and He shall have all the praise.