"Just and the Justifier"
"But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared" (Psalm 130:4).
The Psalmist provides what seems to be a strange correlation in his declaration that God's forgiveness should elicit fear. We might rather think - rightly - that the contemplation of Divine mercy should lead to thoughts of praise, thanksgiving, wonder, and a sense of adoring appreciation that our Lord is "ready to forgive and of plenteous mercy unto all them that call upon Thee" (Psalm 86:5). However, the Hebrew word for fear in this passage, yare, means what it says, that is, to be afraid. Thus, the proper consideration of Divine forgiveness must be accompanied by a solemn sensibility of the utmost seriousness regarding God's willingness to forgive and pardon sinners.
Such seriousness, or fear, results from our awareness of the means of mercy that makes possible the Lord's bestowal of forgiveness. "Without shedding of blood is no remission (forgiveness)" - Hebrews 9:22. God's character, nature, and way are of such moral purity that He cannot forgive by fiat, as it were. Sin must be judged. It's consequences must be remitted. Somebody has to die. "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). A lesser God might look the other way when unrighteousness occurs in His universe, but not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. His delight in mercy cannot compromise His holy disposition. He must retain His integrity as He bestows His grace. For us, this constitutes forgiveness in terms not only of joyous affirmation, but of genuine fear.
"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).
The Apostle Paul's revelation that through Christ, God can at once be both "just and the Justifier" provides one of the most important truths in Scripture. We must view our Lord in terms of both fearful justice and marvelous mercy. The Father smote His Son with wrath and forsakenness on the cross of Calvary. Thereby - and only thereby - He graces trusting hearts with forgiveness and salvation. Moral purity united with merciful propensity in Christ. In Him, "mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Psalm 85:10). This should drive us to our faces in awe - "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" - and raise us up in gladness - "He delighteth in mercy" (Proverbs 9:10; Micah 7:18). "Just and the Justifier" - we rightly cannot know and relate to God apart from the recognition that He loves to forgive, but that such disposition also speaks to us of One whose moral purity must also elicit in us a proper fear based on the price of our pardon…
"We did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
Weekly Memory Verse
Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
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