When the man says, “I did wrong; I hate myself and my deed; I cannot endure to think that I did it!” then is atonement begun. Without that, all that the Lord did would be lost. He would have made no atonement. Repentance, restitution, confession, prayer, forgiveness, righteous dealing thereafter, is the sole possible, the only true make-up for sin. For nothing less than this did Christ die. When a man acknowledges the right he denied before; when he says to the wrong, “I abjure, I loathe you; I see now what you are; I could not see it before because I would not; God forgive me; make me clean, or let me die!” then justice, that is God, has conquered—and not till then. The work of Jesus Christ on earth was the creative atonement, because it works atonement in every heart. He brings and is bringing God and man, and man and man, into perfect unity: “I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.”
Some may think this a dangerous doctrine—and indeed, it is more dangerous than they think to many things—to every evil, to every lie, to every false trust in what Christ did, instead of in Christ himself. Paul glories in the cross of Christ, but he does not trust in the cross; he trusts in the living Christ and his living father.