"The woman who was a sinner."

Christian Friend vol. 19, 1892, p. 190.

To explain the expression, "Her sins are forgiven, for she loved much," we must distinguish between grace revealed in the person of Jesus and the pardon He announced to those whom the grace had reached. The Lord is able to make this pardon known. He reveals it to the poor woman. But it was that which she had seen in Jesus Himself which, by grace, melted her heart, and produced the love she had to Him - the seeing what He was for sinners like herself. She thinks only of Him; He has taken possession of her heart, so as to shut out other influences. Hearing that He is there, she goes into the house of this proud man, without thinking of anything but the fact that Jesus is there. His presence answered or prevented every question. She saw what He was for a sinner, and that the most wretched and disgraced found a resource in Him. She felt her sins in the way that this perfect grace, which opens the heart and wins confidence, causes them to be felt; and she loved much. Grace in Christ had produced its effect. She loved because of His love. This is the reason that the Lord says, "Her sins are forgiven, because she loved much." It was not that her love was meritorious for this, but that God revealed the glorious fact that the sins - be they ever so numerous and abominable - of one whose heart was turned to God were fully pardoned. There are many whose hearts are turned to God, and who love Jesus, that do not know this. Jesus pronounces on their case with authority, sends them away in peace. It is a revelation, an answer, to the wants and affections produced in the heart made penitent by grace revealed in the person of Christ.

If God manifests Himself in this world, and with such love, He must needs set aside in the heart every other consideration. And thus,. without being aware of it, this poor woman was the only one who acted suitably in those circumstances; for she appreciated the all-importance of the One who was there. A Saviour-God being present, of what importance was Simon and his house? Jesus caused all else to be forgotten. Let us remember this.

The beginning of man's fall was loss of confidence in God, by the seducing suggestion of Satan that God had kept back what would make man like God. Confidence in God lost, man seeks, in the exercise of his own will, to make himself happy; lusts, sin, transgression follow. Christ is God in infinite love, winning back the confidence of man's heart to God. Removal of guilt, and power to live to God, are another thing, and found in their own place through Christ, as pardon comes in its place here. But the poor woman, through grace, had felt that there was one heart that she could trust if none else, but that was God's.

God is light, and God is love. These are the two essential names of God, and in every true case of conversion both are found. In the cross they meet. Sin is brought fully into the light, but in that by which love is fully known. So in the heart light reveals sin; that is, God as light does, but the light is there by perfect love. The God who shows the sins is there in perfect love to do it. Christ was this in this world. Revealing Himself, He must be both; so Christ was love in the world, but the light of it. So in the heart. The love through grace gives confidence, and thus the light is gladly let in; and in the confidence in the love, and seeing self in the light, the heart has wholly met God's heart. So with this poor woman. This is where the heart of man and God always and alone meet. The Pharisee had neither. Pitch dark, neither love nor light was there. He had God manifest in the flesh in his house, and saw nothing, only settled that He was not a prophet. It is a wondrous scene to see these three hearts - man's, as such, resting on false human righteousness, God's, and the poor sinner's, fully meeting it as God did hers. Who was the child of wisdom? for it is a commentary on that expression.

And note, though Christ had said nothing of it, but bowed to the slight, yet He was not insensible to the neglect, which had not met Him with the common courtesies of life. To Simon He was a poor preacher, whose pretensions he could judge, certainly not a prophet; for the poor woman, God in love, and bringing her heart into unison with His as to her sins and as to herself, for love was trusted in. Note, too, this clinging to Jesus is where true light is found; as it was also here that the fruitful revelation of the gospel was made to Mary Magdalene as to the highest privilege of saints. (John 20.)

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Two effects follow upon the apprehension of grace as revealed in Christ. First, it gives liberty in coming into the presence of God; and, secondly, it produces energy in self-judgment. A sign of being in the sense of grace is when, on every occasion of failure, God is justified and self is condemned.