from WL Worcester (H Blackmer, ed.), 
The Sower.  Helps to the Study of the Bible in Home and Sunday School
(Boston: Massachusetts New-Church Union, n.d.)

Table of Contents


Lesson 10

Topical and Doctrinal Notes

Leading Thought: Forgiving Sins

In the lesson before the last, we learned that health of body comes from the Lord through heaven, and that disease comes from hell. Sometimes disease comes from the hell in the person who is diseased, that is to say it comes from evil in the person's own heart. We learned a little of that when we talked about intemperance in eating and drinking, in playing, and even in working. Intemperance comes from an evil love. Passionate temper also is an evil which will cause trouble in the body. Idleness is another.

Sometimes when a person's own evil heart has brought on a disease in his body, then, when he shuns the evil as sin against the Lord, and no longer indulges in it, the disease of the body will also go away.

Sometimes the Lord permits the evils of the heart or of the soul to produce sickness in the body, so that we may have our attention directed to the fact that we have this evil, and that we must overcome it. Perhaps that was the case with the man that was paralyzed, and perhaps he felt strongly that the evil in his soul was much worse than the disease of his body and that it was much more important that he should get rid of the evil of his soul than the sickness of his body.

We are led to think that this was so because the Lord did not heal him at once, as He seems to have done with the people of whom we read two lessons ago, but He said, " Thy sins are forgiven thee." Indeed, He seemed to love him, for He comforted him by first saying, " Be of good cheer," and affectionately called him " Son," or more correctly translated, " Child."

The Lord looks upon all as His children who look to Him as their Father from whom they receive every good and perfect thing. And we cannot but think that because the paralytic was overcome with the conviction of his sin, and was filled with the hope that the Lord would pity him, and confident that the Lord had power to help him get rid of his sin. and so save him, that the Lord said, " Be of good cheer, Child, thy sins are forgiven thee," for in the other Gospels where this beautiful story is told (Mark 2:1-12; Luke 8:26-39) we learn that He said this " when He saw their faith.

The Lord forgives everyone his sins when He sees that the man has confidence or faith that He can and will save him. This is what " faith " means.

We are always doing things because we have faith or confidence. When we stop having faith we stop doing things. For instance: If we have no faith in the strength of a bridge, we do not cross it. If we have no faith in a person who directs us how to go to a place, we do not follow his advice. If we have no faith in bread that it will nourish us, we do not eat it. If we have not faith in a savings bank, we do not place our money in it. If we have no faith that a person can teach us the truth, we do not go to him as a teacher. If we have no faith that the Lord can save us from sin, we do not go to him in prayer, and in His holy Word. But when we have faith we go to Him, and He surely will save us. Otherwise He does not save us, because He cannot.

A bridge may be ever so strong, but if we do not go on it, it cannot bear us up. If we do not go to an honest, well-informed person, he cannot tell us how to reach our destination. If we do not eat good, wholesome bread, it cannot nourish us. If we do not patronize a sound savings bank, it cannot take care of our, money. If we do not go to a wise teacher, he cannot teach us the truth. If we do not go to the Lord's Word and pray to Him, and thus open our heart and mind to Him, He cannot save us.

The essential thing with the paralytic was that he should have his sins forgiven. Health of the body mattered little compared with the health of his soul. But when the scribes who sat there reasoned in their hearts, " Why doth this man speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only? " then the Lord, who of course could tell what was going on in the minds of people, even though they did not speak about it, showed them that He had this power, that He was God incarnate, by healing the paralytic as to his body also. People could not see the soul of the paralytic: , they could not see that the Lord had healed him of his sins, but they could see the body healed, and that was a proof to them that the Lord Jesus Christ had power on earth to forgive sins and that the paralytic had had his sins forgiven.

Indeed this was the important work He came on earth to do: to forgive sins; and therefore He associated with sinners (verse 16). The scribes and Pharisees did not understand how He could do so, because they were not merciful as the Lord was. They did not think of leading people away from their sins and doing good to them. They thought it would hurt themselves in some way if they had anything else to do with sinners but to condemn them. But just as the Lord came and touched the leper and made him clean, so the Lord ate and drank with " publicans and sinners " in order that He might gain their confidence, their faith, and be able to lead them away from their sins. He would show them what was wrong, lead them to repent and sin no more, and forgive them, and thus save them.

Is He not a kind, merciful and wise Lord?

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