The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:5-7)
Sometimes, it seems, many get the idea God has, in the New Testament, just decided to "love us as we are" and accept us sin and all as though He's changed His mind about sin and is not so strict as He was in the Old Testament. He loves us while we are yet sinners, it is true (Rom. 5:6-8), but He has made provision for that sin, not to keep us in it but to completely justify us from it and destroy its power in us. When we read in the Old Testament about God, we fear a God of strictness, a God that has no mercy on sin but punishes it immediately, and in our own corrupt minds, it seems way out of proportion to the sin. This is because we do not truly see the holiness of God, nor do we see the truth about sin and the utter depravity and destruction of it. If we saw sin as it really is, God as He really is, and understood justice we would hate sin with all our being, and we would be overwhelmed with the love and mercy of God and His plan to utterly destroy it. We would see ourselves for what we are. We would have a trembling fear of God knowing that there can be no sin in His presence. I recently heard the definitions of grace and mercy put this way...Grace is getting from God what we don't deserve. Mercy is not getting from God what we do deserve. Look at the comments below on the verses I just shared. Sin always has a penalty and can never be overlooked. It has to be dealt with, and that, God's way. God's love and His justice both, together had to be satisfied.
But whereas on that occasion the burning zeal of Jehovah which visits sin stood in the foreground, and mercy only followed afterwards, here grace, mercy, and goodness are placed in the front. And accordingly all the words which the language contained to express the idea of grace in its varied manifestations to the sinner, are crowded together here, to reveal the fact that in His inmost being God is love. But in order that grace may not be perverted by sinners into a ground of wantonness, justice is not wanting even here with its solemn threatenings, although it only follows mercy, to show that mercy is mightier than wrath, and that holy love does not punish til sinners despise the riches of the goodness, patience, and long-suffering of God.
Reader! amidst all those precious declarations, that is not the smallest of them, that the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. For when, in the covenant of redemption, by the blood and righteousness of Christ, the Lord Jesus appeared and suffered, as a surety, and sponsor, for his people; the utmost exaction was made and paid to the righteousness of God’s law. So that to every true believer in Jesus, who seeks justification before God, in the finished salvation of the Lord Jesus, this perfection of God’s righteousness, which will by no means clear the guilty without a satisfaction, is as dear to the heart as his mercy. Here that scripture was fulfilled, Psa_85:10.
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. (Psalms 85:10)
"Righteousness admits of no abatement: Peace by the cross satisfies every demand. " ~Hawker on Ps. 85:10
Jesus Himself Who knew no sin, does not clear sin or excuse sin, but became sin for us and took the penalty (2 Cor. 5:21). The curse is broken by He Himself becoming a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). No greater love is there than this!! God never changes His mind toward sin. He cannot. He is holy - perfectly pure with no sign of corruption anywhere in Him. If He would accept even the smallest sin, it would corrupt His holiness and He would not be Who He is. No, He never ever accepts our sin. In order to satisfy love (God IS love), He had to bring justice. True justice demanded a penalty. Sin brought a curse. He could by "no means clear the guilty." There was no other way other than God coming down to earth in the form of man, satisfying fully the demands of the law by living it out perfectly in righteousness, then as sinless man, taking on Himself the penalty of the law which had to be satisfied for true justice to be done. Your guilt is only taken away as by faith in the blood of Christ, you come to Him and trust in His finished work. To reject that perfect demonstration of love to the fullest, is the utmost sin. There is no substitute, and there is no clearing of those guilty of such, other than that they turn in repentance to Him and receive His righteousness for them.
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, (Romans 3:19-24)
It is a gift. What love!! This is why it is so futile and actually degrading to the law of God, when men think they can find any righteousness by trying to keep the law themselves, or that there is still justification somehow for them by good works. They settle for their own level of achievement in thinking they are good enough, thereby lowering God's standard, which is not comparing themselves with other men, but with the perfect law of God. If one part of it is broken the whole of it is broken and God cannot allow us in His presence by our standard of goodness. He had to perfect us by His own righteousness, not our own, in order for us to have fellowship with Him and live with Him sharing His glory forever. It is only through the blood of Christ. It is God Who we will stand before, and be judged by His perfect law, not our fellow men. Not according to the world's standards of right and wrong. If we stand in our own "goodness" then we'll find it won't hold up against His standard. If we stand by faith in the work of Jesus Christ, we will have His righteousness to defend us in the court of God.
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:32-34)
Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:31)
Then the law is upheld...God's perfect standard is kept through Christ alone. He alone fulfilled the law's righteousness, and also its demand for justice. Now there is one way to be made right before Him, and that is faith in His finished work....He finished the work that the law demanded and all righteousness is through Him alone, God's perfect standard. To believe anything other than that is to cheapen His law and His grace both. But in Christ we see perfect love and mercy and justice fulfilled. Praise His name! His Spirit now can dwell in our hearts and make us a new creation that lives to know Him and please Him. We have a hope in full redemption and glorification to come.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)
There is no justice in a world where God's law is disregarded and men impose their own power and laws on others for the purpose of controlling them. We see injustice all around us as evil reigns and gains power in the earth more and more. Good (according to God's standards), is called evil, and evil (living according to Man's standards) is called good. Leaders become dictators and more and more corrupt and full of lies for the purpose of their own greed and control. There is a great sense in our hearts of bitterness at the injustice we see as the righteous are imprisoned, persecuted, and slaughtered, and evil prevails. We watch in helplessness as our brothers and sisters are being killed and the world stands by and does nothing to help them. Those who have the power to do something, to take a stand, and to stop them do nothing. We can grow disheartened. We can grow faint. But as our hearts begin to understand our God of justice, we see that no matter what we suffer in this world as true justice and good are stomped on and the name of God blasphemed, that they have not won. They will not reign. The Lord is in control, and He reigns forever. Justice will come. Now is the time of grace and mercy. He waits. His longsuffering patience waits, but His children are not forgotten. We are more than conquerors through Christ Who loved us. No matter if they kill the body, they cannot take our soul. It belongs to Him and no one can snatch us out of His hands. Justice will reign (2 Peter 3:7-13, Psalm 37).
This age of grace is almost at its end. The time is short for those who persist in joining with the antichrist spirit. God is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance. We need as never before to pray that all who are willing would have their eyes open to come now, while there is time, because soon God's judgment will come to this world in a time of terrible tribulation for the entire world. The book of Revelation speaks of it. So many signs tell us the stage is being set even now for that time to come. All is in place and happening just as the Lord told us it would. His Word is coming to pass before our eyes, if we care to understand and study it. God is just, and holds out His justifying grace to whosoever will, yet those who will finally reject it and choose rebellion against Him, He will bring justice against and end all evil finally and completely. Heaven will be a place where evil will never enter, nor will it ever bring anymore sorrow, or pain, or sighing anymore. People say, "If there is a God why does He not end all evil?" He will. completely. Forever. Will you join Him by freely accepting the grace you do not deserve from Him? Or will you be part of the evil that will be judged rightly and destroyed finally? What they don't know is that evil by definition, is all rebellion against God. That is the source of it and the cause of it. The only reason we have a sense of justice is because of the God of justice who put it in us.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:1-8)
True justice reigns, and no power on earth can thwart His plans for such and His plans for those He loves, who have believed in Him. Amen, Come Lord Jesus! May all those who have "ears to hear" receive His grace held out to them freely today and come and drink and eat and find life.
The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (Revelation 22:17)
If you are not sure you have eternal life, if you want to know more about salvation through Jesus Christ, and how you can be sure, you can read more about it here.