"Forgiveness and Fear"
"But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared" (Psalm 130:4).
I've always found this statement of the Psalmist intriguing. Certainly, we might expect other responses to the consideration of God's forgiveness than fear. Perhaps, "That Thou mayest be thanked... praised... loved... glorified." Feared? ("yare" in the original Hebrew, meaning fright, dread, to make afraid). How does our Lord's inclination to mercy lead to such a sensibility in our hearts?
At least part of the answer lies in source of God's moral justification for granting pardon to sinners.
"Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:24-26).
God creates through fiat. He speaks, and a universe of unimaginable proportion, complexity, and wonder springs forth. To forgive, however, He sends His Son to a cross of shame, torture, sorrow, agony, and rejection by humanity and by Himself. Thereby, He reveals both His righteousness and His forbearance. Moreover, He remains true to Himself as He judges sin and justifies sinners. Yes, to create, God spoke. To redeem, He bled.
While such consideration fills our hearts with thanksgiving, praise, love, and the desire to honor our Lord, we must also recognize that the cross of Calvary reveals another Divine quality that leads to the proper response of fear. Namely, the cross tells us how serious God is about His eternal purpose in Christ, as well as how serious He is about you and me. None of us who have children can fail to recognize the unimaginably solemn nature of giving a beloved son to untold misery for the benefit of enemies. Nobody other than the God and Father of the Lord Jesus would do such a thing because no one else takes His character, nature, and way with such terrible seriousness.
Herein lies the reason for our fear. The most godly among fail to fully recognize the holy gravity of Divine involvement in our life and being. Perhaps we cannot recognize the truth to the degree it merits, but whatever the case, forgiveness proclaims to us both the sublime love of God, and the solemn determination of His heart to always act in our best interest, even it means the sacrifice of His Son. By implication, this means that He will also work in our lives with the seriousness that applies both blessedness and buffeting, as required. We thus fear God because He loves us to enough to do that which we need Him to do, including gracing us with forgiveness, or with the furnace. Both realities speak of the same loving devotion that exists in our Lord's heart for us, leading to both proper joy and proper fear. They also speak of how much more serious we all need to be regarding the presence and working of God in our hearts and lives. Yes, the forgiveness that so rightly blesses us must also serve as the forgiveness that forms and informs our hearts with solemn resolve...
"In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and His children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death."