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Finding Grace in the Sinner's Place

by Stanley Voke
Personal Revival - Chapter 6

“Plenteous grace with Thee is found - grace to cover all my sin.”

I remember standing once on the sea-shore


looking at a desolate scene. The tide was
out and as far as one could see there was
nothing but ugly black rock and sea-weed.
A few hours later everything was changed.
sun arouses a dormant snake. That is why the
law can never save, for it can only make sin
apparent while it does nothing to help the
sinner. A policeman, however kind, cannot
help you if you commit an offense. He can
Glistening blue and white stretched as far as only charge or arrest you as the case may be.
the eye could see. The rocks and weeds were The law exists to bring sin to light and the more
gone. The tide had come in and covered them we know of God the more we will be made
from view. aware of sin.

It may be that we have seen something of A young convert once came to me very
the ugliness of our sin as we have been brought puzzled because before his conversion he had
to the sinner's place. It's like that black thought himself very good, but since his
seaweed in contrast with the beauty of the conversion, he felt himself to be very bad. He
ocean. We feel so condemned and unfit for God, thought he should have felt better not worse.
yet try as we may, we do not seem able to alter The fact was the light of God was shining in his
ourselves any more than we could move those soul, showing him what he was really like. It is
massive rocks. Thank God, we don't have to. perfectly true that . . .
He is able to cover our sins by His grace as the
They who fain would serve Thee best
waters cover the sea.
Are conscious most of wrong within.
Grace is God's attitude to sinners by which God know all about this and since we can
He does for them what they do not deserve and only be doomed by His law He deals with us on a
in them what they cannot achieve. It is God different basis altogether by meeting us with His
Himself working in love and power both for us, grace, for that is our only hope. This is where
in us and through us. It is God, planning, provid- the Lord Jesus comes in.
ing, revealing. It is God, active in history and
experience on behalf of needy people. Grace Jesus was grace incarnate! Think how He
was seen in Jesus Christ as He came into the received and forgave a poor defiled Magdalene,
world humbling Himself to the manger and the or set free a demon-possessed man with whom
Cross. It is seen in the Holy Spirit as He comes no one could live. Look how He called to the
to sinful people to cleanse and change them. hated little tax-gatherer up in his tree to come
Grace is God doing for us what we cannot do for down so that he might find salvation in his own
ourselves and charging us nothing for it. It is house. All the dealings of Jesus with sinners
God taking sides with us when He ought to be were in grace. It streamed through His words,
against us: God paying our debts and making shone in His actions, even streamed through
us rich beyond compare; God making us what His clothes.
we could never be of our own accord. Grace is
the most wonderful thing there is about God. Remember with what grace He bore with the
disciples, forgave Peter in the very moment of
GOD MEETS OUR SIN WITH HIS GRACE his denial, prayed forgiveness on His murderers,
called Judas His friend and promised Paradise to
We do not know how great evil is, until we
a dying thief. Yet this was only the beginning,
see it in the light of God's holy law, for the law,
for when the Holy Spirit came that same grace
we are told, came into the world that "the
touched thousands in the very city where Jesus
offense might abound."1 This does not mean
had died. It met Saul with mercy on his furious
that the Ten Commandments were given to
road, and has visited this race in ever-widening
make people sin, but that when the law of God
waves of love. Our God is a God of grace who
is applied to us its effect is to show up sin. It
has mercy for all who will come to Him. In
stirs our conscience. It may even bring to
Jesus there is hope for every situation and
activity the evil within us as the warmth of the
cleansing for every sin. We may be like Lazarus not do it by half measures.
-- dead, buried and beyond hope, yet even then I once went for a school holiday on a South
grace can reach us if we cast at Jesus a look of African farm where the farmer's wife was noted
need. for spotless linen. My mother solemnly warned
me against spilling anything on the table-cloth,
GOD CONQUERS OUR SIN WITH HIS GRACE but alas it was not long before the inevitable
happened! Although no one noticed the ugly
Not only is sin great but it is strong, for it is
brown tea-stain I was frightened and quickly
the Devil's bridle on men's wills and the ground
moved a saucer to cover the horrid thing from
of his authority in their lives. Outside God, it is
sight. The rest of the meal was endured in an
the greatest power in the world today.
agony of nervous tension. Presently the table
was cleared and I had to confess what had
The basic power of sin is its power to blind
happened. I remember Mrs. Uys was very kind
us. The ancients had a cruel yet effective way
and said, "that's quite all right; I'll soon deal
of dealing with prisoners who were strong or
with it." When the next meal came there was
dangerous, like Samson or King Zedekiah. They
no trace of that stain to be found. How she had
put their eyes out so as to make them helpless.
done it I cannot tell to this day, but i only know
This is what the Devil does - as Paul tells us,
the cloth was as clean as ever and I was happy
"The god of this world has blinded the minds of
and free. That which had mastered me with
them which believe not." 2 Part of this blindness
guilty fear had been put away by a cleansing
means we cannot see our own sin, so we remain
power. This is what God has done in the Cross.
slaves, for what a man cannot see he cannot
He has met sin by the power of grace, in the
deal with. The power of sin is its power to blind
cleansing power of the blood of His son. So
us in the power of guilt or condem- nation. A
clean can that blood make us that God sees us
man may commit a sin only once yet live ever
as though we had never sinned at all.
afterwards under its power because of the
shadow of guilt that may darken him to the end
Dark is the stain we cannot hide;
of his days. The power of sin is not always the
What can avail to wash it away?
sin itself but what the devil builds upon it.
Look, there is flowing a crimson tide
It is not the foundation so much as the super-
Whiter than snow you may be today.
structure of guilt with its fear of disclosure. How
many a man is weighed down by this? Once we
GOD DISPLACES OUR SIN WITH HIS GRACE
are held by the power of guilt we are truly under
sin's power. We may then resort to deceit and
Sin is not only continually cleansed but it is
unreality or become hard and even self-aban-
progressively displaced within the life of the
doned. We may go from bad to worse until we
Christian. Where sin abounded grace did much
come to love our sins and become wedded to
more abound, says Paul. This does not mean
them beyond hope of release.
that God eradicates our sinful nature as a man
would uproot one tree and plant another. What
The answer to all this is the grace of God.
He does do, however, is to show us sin more
First He touches our eyes so that we see our
and more clearly and help us to repent on
sins as they really are. Conviction comes and
deeper levels so that the hold of sin is loosened
with it the desire to repent. Then like the blind
and its reign broken within us. God dethrones
man whose eyes were anointed to heal his
evil in us and progressively establishes Christ
blindness and uncleanness, we are told to go
as Lord in its place. Of sin in the Christian,
and wash. 3 God shows us Calvary in such a way
Wesley says, "It remains, though it does not
that we see our guilt taken there and every sin
reign." 4 It remains, however, like King Saul -
anticipated long ago by One who died to take
a rejected monarch whose Kingdom must give
the sin of the world. We see again the precious
way more and more before the One whose right
blood flowing for our sins, even ours, and
it is to reign.
availing to take them away. We come in
repentance to be cleansed, the bonds of fear and
When God meets us with His grace, He
guilt are broken and we are gloriously free. We
makes our hearts broken and contrite. he
need net stay in prison one moment longer than
comes to dwell with us, and in son doing sheds
it takes us to repent. The door of liberty is open
His love abroad in our hearts. As He deals with
at the Cross. Indeed, once we repent of any sin
us lovingly about this and that, we find we must
we may even rest about the compli- cations of
turn to Him continually in repentance. We
that sin, for when grace meets us on the central
cannot keep away from Him. Like flowers that
issue it can deal also with the side-effects for
turn towards the sun because they cannot live
our ultimate good, even though the process may
unless they receive its light, so we turn lovingly
be painful. When God works in grace He does
and trustingly to him, and as we do this His
grace goes on working in us to pervade and Marvelous grace of our loving Lord;
transform us. We are changed from glory to Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt
glory. It is a lifelong process, for we are hard to Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured;
deal with and often run away. Yet God goes on There where the blood of the Lamb was
patiently, working in grace and making us spilt.
people of grace.
Grace, grace, God's grace,
I saw it once in this way. When we are first Grace that will pardoned cleanse within.
converted, Christ in us is like a tiny white spot in Grace, grace, God's grace,
a large circle of crimson. 5 Where His pure Grace that is greater than all our sin.
white touches our crimson, there is contrast,
there is conviction of sin, followed by repen- It is never God's will to leave us mourning
tance and readjustment to Him as He deals with over our sins or our sinfulness but ever to lead
us about many things. But the white spot grows us to rejoice in the wonder and power of His
as God gains more place in our lives. So does grace, freely given to us in the sinner's ;place,
the line of contact. More issues are dealt with through the blood of Christ.
and the conflict of grace with sin moves to new
areas. We have to repent more, be broken on
more matters, and indeed some- times we may
seen to be in a bad way. But all the while, REFERENCES
unknown to us, the white circle is growing and
the scarlet is shrinking. It is always there and 1. Romans 5:20
we may be deeply aware of it, but it is on the 2. 2 Corinthians 4:4
retreat. Conscious repentance leads us to 3. John 9:7
unconscious holiness as the mighty grace of 4. Fifty-Three Sermons - No. 13
God meets us, masters us, while Christ who is 5. Isaiah 1:18ff
the grace and power of God within , displaces
sin by progressively bringing in the victory of
His Cross and setting up His throne in our
hearts. Then it is we can sing: