THE TIME OF REPAYING
Verse 5 says, "He shall make restitution for it in full...on the day he is found guilty." This tells us that we should give back on the same day as our trespass offering and not wait any longer. Once we are clear about something, there is no need to wait for the Holy Spirit to move us anymore; the Holy Spirit has already moved us and made known to us our trespass. We need not wait; we should make restitution immediately. If we delay in our restitution, there may be two undesirable consequences. First, our conscience may become more and more quiet. It is precious to have the conscience speak again and again; it is terrible to be without its speaking. Second, the condemnation of our conscience may become more and more acute, so that we become unable to open our mouth before others. Then we cannot preach and have no peace at all. If we know about our trespasses and delay and wait, there surely will be these two consequences.
Therefore, if we have offended someone, we have to deal with the matter clearly. If we have shortchanged someone or gained things by unrighteous means, we have to give them back and settle the matters properly. We should never be deceived to think that we only need to confess to God when we offend others, and that there is no need to confess to men. This is absolutely wrong. God can forgive us because of the Lord’s blood, but God cannot forgive us on behalf of others. We have to repay the same day. Whenever it becomes known to us, that is the time to take care of it. If we wait one or two days, we will find that we have less power to do it. Doing this requires strength, and today is when the strength is most available.
OF THE TRESPASS OFFERING
Verse 6 says, "Then he shall bring to the priest his trespass offering to Jehovah, a ram without blemish from the flock, according to the valuation, for a trespass offering." This is the second thing that needs to be done. Even though we have paid others back, there is still one more thing we need to do. Even if we have paid others back, it will not bring us forgiveness before God. We still have to offer up the trespass offering. No one in the world can be forgiven just by confessing. If we have offended God, we can only receive forgiveness by the Lord’s blood. If we have offended man, we have to clear the offense with man, and this needs to be done first. At the same time, we have to say, "O God, I know that I have offended someone in a certain matter, and I have already cleared it up with him. Now, please forgive my trespass by the blood of the Lord Jesus." If we clear it up with others and confess to God today, He will surely forgive our trespasses according to the blood of the Lord Jesus.
Verse 7 says, "And the priest shall make propitiation for him before Jehovah, and he shall be forgiven for whatever he may have done by which he has become guilty." There is no trespass in the world that is too great for God to forgive. The question is whether or not we will confess. But we cannot lay aside the blood of the Lord Jesus. It is through the Lord’s blood that we can have fellowship with God.
Today I would like all of us to see the place of confession in the Bible. Some may say we can be forgiven without confession; this is not enough. Others may say that through confession we are forgiven; this is too much. The Bible says that once we have offended someone, on the one hand, we need to deal clearly with man, and on the other hand, we need to confess clearly to God. God will forgive us by the blood of the Lord Jesus. If we do not clearly settle with man and only confess to God, our conscience will not be at peace, and we will not have the strength to believe that the Lord’s blood can bring us forgiveness. Without the Lord’s blood, our trespasses cannot be forgiven; however, if we do not confess to man, our trespasses will still not be forgiven just by trusting in the Lord’s blood.
Today my only hope is that we would clearly settle before God all of our offenses against others. Otherwise we will lose our fellowship with God.
NOTES ON SCRIPTURAL MESSAGES
(1) This magazine was started in April of 1930. Through the end of 1933, forty-four issues have been published. We hope to publish one issue every month (the Lord willing).
(2) This magazine is relatively simple. Sometimes it speaks a little about the gospel; sometimes it speaks a little about the work of the Lord and the person of the Lord; sometimes it speaks a little about doctrines which edify the young believers, etc.
(3) This magazine is given away free of charge. Those who want it will be sent one when they write and ask. (To ask, write directly to Shanghai, P.O. Box 323, The Gospel Book Room.) If some desire to give something for the cost of printing, as the Lord grants the ability, it will also be acceptable.
(4) Starting from Issue No. 40, we are printing seven thousand five hundred copies for every issue of this magazine. All issues prior to No. 40 have been completely distributed. There are no more of those issues to give to those who want them. Please excuse us!
December 1933, Shanghai
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 18: Notes on Scriptural Messages (2), Chapter 18, by Watchman Nee)