Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hope for the Sinner

"If You, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
     O Lord, who could stand?
But with You there is forgiveness,
     that You may be feared.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
     For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with Him is plentiful redemption.
     And He will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities."
- Psalm 130:3-4, 7-8 

While it is rare in American evangelicalism to hear any mention of sin, among those who will utter the word, there is till a humanistic concept of righteousness. "Yes, I am a sinner, but I will try harder, and God will accept me on the basis of my sincerity." I will do my part, we say, and God will fill in the rest. Yet, that so far underestimates the sinfulness of sin that it eviscerates the word of any meaning. 

Observe, instead, what the Psalmist here says about sin. "If You, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?" He starts with the consequences of sin. It isn't a mistake, or something we can overcome by trying harder. Rather, sin brings us into the judgment of God. He hates sin! "You [God] are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong" (Habakkuk 1:13). 

What answer can there be to a righteous God? Are we without hope? no, as the Psalmist also tells us: "with You there is forgiveness" (verse 4). How so? On what basis does He forgive? "With Him is plentiful redemption.  And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities" (verses7-8). He has provided for the redemption of sinners. Every sinner? No, but the sinners of Israel, His people, called the church in the New Testament (Galatians 3:7, 6:16).

What is the method of redemption? "God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). The Psalmist had a proper concern: What can I do about my sin? And the answer is nothing. However, what can God do? Everything. And He did!

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