There is still another kind of forgiveness which we call governmental forgiveness. This kind of forgiveness is seen in the following Bible passages: Matt. 9:2, 5-6; James 5:15 and Matt. 6:14-15, 18, 21-35.
What is God’s governmental forgiveness? I am convinced that if I had known the government of God immediately following my salvation, I would have been spared many troubles and problems.The parable of the girl may be continued here: formerly the mother always left the doors in the house open, including the cupboard door and the kitchen door. She never locked the cupboard in which she put food. But this time, when she came home, she discovered that some of the food in the cupboard had been eaten. Now that the mother knows what has happened, the girl is forced to confess her sin and ask for forgiveness. The mother forgives her and even kisses her. The incident is considered past and the fellowship is restored. However, next time the mother leaves the house, she locks all the doors. Her way of doing things has changed. Fellowship is one thing, but government is quite another.
What is government? Government is a way. God’s government is God’s way, God’s administration.

The mother may forgive the girl’s sin and restore their fellowship, but next time she will lock both the cupboard and the kitchen doors when she goes out. In other words, she has changed her way. To restore fellowship is easy, but to restore the way is not so easy. The mother is afraid that her daughter may do it again. She cannot give the daughter full liberty but has to put on some restraints. Her way has changed. Remember, God treats us in a similar manner. Communional forgiveness is relatively easy to get. He who sincerely confesses his sin will have his fellowship restored. At the moment he confesses his sin, God restores fellowship with him. Nevertheless, God may change His way toward him. It may be that God’s discipline will immediately come upon him; God may not give him as much liberty as he enjoyed before.

Again, another day may come when God removes His disciplinary hand—and this we call governmental forgiveness. In the case of the mother, this would mean that the day comes when she feels her daughter is now dependable, so she leaves the doors unlocked. This is governmental forgiveness.

Communional forgiveness is one thing, governmental forgiveness is quite another. Another example of this would be a father who has several sons. He lets his sons go out to play in the afternoons from four o’clock till six o’clock, the time for supper. One day they go out and fight with other children. The father forgives them and still allows them to go out. But what would happen if these children fight every day when they go out? What would the father do then? Though the children might confess their sin daily and daily get forgiveness, yet the father would feel that his way must be wrong, that his government of his children must not be right. So he tells his sons, “Because you fight every day you go out, starting tomorrow, you will be shut in the house.” This is the father’s hand.

You, too, may sin against God, and at each confession of your sin God forgives you. This does not, however, hinder God from giving you new chastening. Since God has forgiven you, your fellowship with God may be restored. But God will change His way with you. It is important for us to know that God’s disciplinary hand upon us is not easily moved, nor, once extended, is it easily removed. Unless God has full assurance that His children are all right, His governmental hand will not be removed. To go back to our second parable: Seeing his sons getting into fights every day, the father shuts them inside for a week, two weeks, a month, or even two months until he is satisfied that his sons will not be mischievous and fight with others.

Then perhaps he will tell his sons that since they have been fairly good during these two months, they will be allowed to go out the next day for ten minutes. The father begins to remove his governmental hand. Those ten minutes outside we may call governmental forgiveness. The government starts to change, though the father still watches how his sons conduct themselves with other children. If they do not fight during those ten minutes, he may give them half an hour outside the second day. Later on, he may allow them to play for an hour.

After one or two months, he may permit them to play outside from four o’clock to six o’clock as they used to do. When that day arrives, his governmental forgiveness is fully granted his sons.Therefore, brethren, what is governmental forgiveness? It is something quite different from eternal forgiveness, borrowed forgiveness, or communional forgiveness. It is something which speaks of God’s taking care of us, dealing with us, and disciplining us.

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