1st Mark: Forgiven Souls Hate Sin
Forgiven souls HATE SIN. They can enter most fully into the words of our Communion Service, “The remembrance of sin is grievous unto them, and the burden of it is intolerable.” It is the serpent which bit them—how should they not shrink from it with horror? It is the poison which brought them to the brink of eternal death—how should they not loathe it with a godly disgust? It is the Egyptian enemy which kept them in hard bondage—how should not the very memory of it be bitter to their hearts? It is the disease of which they carry the marks and scars about them, and from which they have scarcely recovered—well may they dread it, flee from it, and long to be delivered altogether from its power! If you and sin are friends, you and God are not yet reconciled. You are not fit for heaven; for one main part of heaven’s excellence is the absence of all sin.
2nd Mark: Forgiven Souls Love Christ
Forgiven souls LOVE CHRIST. This is that one thing they can say, if they dare say nothing else—they do love Christ. His person, His offices, His work, His name, His cross, His blood, His words, His example, His ordinances—all, all are precious to forgiven souls. The ministry which exalts Him most, is that which they enjoy most. The books which are most full of Him, are most pleasant to their minds. The people on earth they feel most drawn to, are those in whom they see something of Christ. He is their Redeemer, their Shepherd, their Physician, their King, their strong Deliverer, their gracious Guide, their hope, their joy, their All. Were it not for Him they would be of all people most miserable.
3rd Mark: Forgiven Souls Are Humble
Forgiven souls are HUMBLE. They cannot forget that they owe all they have and hope for to free grace, and this keeps them lowly. They are brands plucked from the fire—debtors who could not pay for themselves—captives who must have remained in prison forever—but for undeserved mercy—wandering sheep who were ready to perish when the Shepherd found them! What right then have they to be proud? I do not deny that there are proud saints. But this I do say—they are of all God’s creatures the most inconsistent, and of all God’s children the most likely to stumble and pierce themselves with many sorrows. We have nothing we can call our own–but sin and weakness. Surely there is no garment that befits us so well, as humility.
4th Mark: Forgiven Souls Are Holy
Forgiven souls are HOLY. Their chief desire is to please Him who has saved them, to do His will, to glorify Him in body and in Spirit, which are His. “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits?” (Ps. 116:12), is a leading principle in a pardoned heart. It was the remembrance of Jesus showing mercy that made Paul in labors so abundant, and in doing good so unwearied. If anyone points out to me believers who are in a carnal, slothful state of soul, I reply in the words of Peter, “They have forgotten they were purged from their old sins.” (2 Pet. 1:9.)
But if you show me a man deliberately living an unholy and licentious life, and yet boasting that his sins are forgiven, I answer, “He is under a ruinous delusion, and is not forgiven at all.” I would not believe he is forgiven if an angel from heaven affirmed it, and I charge you not to believe it too. Pardon of sin and love of sin are like oil and water—they will never go together. All who are washed in the blood of Christ, are also sanctified by the Spirit of Christ.
5th Mark: Forgiven Souls Are Forgiving
Forgiven souls are FORGIVING. They do as they have been done by. They look over the offenses of their brethren. They endeavor to “walk in love, as Christ loved them, and gave Himself for them.” (Eph. 5:2.) They remember how God for Christ’s sake forgave them, and endeavor to do the same towards their fellow-creatures. Has He forgiven them pounds, and shall they not forgive a few pence? Doubtless in this, as in everything else, they come short—but this is their desire and their aim. A spiteful, quarrelsome Christian is a scandal to his profession. Forgiveness is the way by which every saved soul enters heaven. Forgiveness is the eternal subject of song with all the redeemed who inhabit heaven. Surely an unforgiving soul in heaven would find his heart completely out of tune. Surely we know nothing of Christ’s love to us but the name of it, if we do not love our brethren.
Old Paths, “Forgiveness”, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1999], 202, 203.