Monday, October 25, 2010

The Truth of Grace

"You answered them, O Lord our God; You were to them God-Who-Forgives, though You took vengeance on their deeds." Psalm 99:8

Moses, Aaron, and Samuel interacted with God on behalf of the people of Israel and, in effect, represent them in this instance. Like the whole of the people, they led very imperfect lives (Moses was a murderer and Aaron built the golden calf in the desert). Yet they also represent the magnificent forgiveness and grace of God for, imperfect though they were, they called upon the Lord and He answered them. This is not a testimony of their holiness but of God's grace and forgiveness.

It is significant here that the psalm mentions the vengeance of the Lord. God was not blind to the sin is the people He was both very aware of their sin and absolutely intolerant of it. It is not in the nature of God to overlook sin, He always sees it , His holiness demands unyielding and honest judgement.

God's holiness is emphasized throughout this psalm (v 3, 5, 9) He is praiseworthy because He is absolutely holy. If God did not, by His very nature, draw a clear distinction between good and evil, He would not be worthy of praise. Holiness is distinction.

We err when we believe forgiveness to be overlooking or downplaying sin. How many times I respond to an apology by saying, "Oh, it's no problem. It wasn't that big of a deal," when, truly, it was! My false evaluation and guilt-soothing lies are not forgiveness, they are a manifestation of a social politeness that is uncomfortable with honesty, guilt, and conflict. This does not exemplify God's forgiveness or grace; God does not play this game.

Rather, He sees the full extent of our sin, more clearly, even, than we can, and chooses, even as He exacts vengeance on our sin, to answer us when we call to Him. You cannot see the pure devastating truth of God's grace us you don't also see His unyielding holiness and the gravity of our sin. Only then can you understand what it means to forgive and appreciate the pure truth of His grace.

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