Psalm 99:8, “LORD our God, you answered them. You were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their sinful actions.”
We serve an amazing God. It is hard to comprehend what it means to be truly holy. As a result, it is easy, sometimes too easy, to think that because God loves us, he is okay with our sin. After all, we are covered by grace. Such a view, unfortunately, is a perversion of grace. Grace is not given so sinners can continue in sin. Grace is given so sinners can overcome sin.
Grace is a force. It’s not simply a standing one finds themselves in. Grace enables holiness and obedience. We are saved by grace, and in grace we find we have the power to overcome sin. Psalm 99 speaks to the holiness of God. He is great king (v. 1). He loves justice (v. 4). He listens and even answers the prayers of his people (v. 6). But he will respond also to the sin of His people (v 8). When they pervert grace and take His holiness for granted, He will require an account from them. Forgiveness is always available, but we must not give in to the distorted thinking that grace allows us to continue in sin.
One of the greatest gifts God has given us is to share in his holiness. No one this side of heaven will ever achieve perfect holiness. But we can be moving, every day, in that direction. And the more we do, the more we discover that real joy accompanies a holy life. How can it not? Holiness is foundational to God’s character – and God is never want for joy! We must never forget the invitation Jesus gives to His servants after faithfully doing his will, “Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:21). When that day comes, we will learn and experience the full glory of God’s undiminished joy. Until then, lets strive to enter His joy everyday by choosing to forsake all sin.
And if the promise of His joy is not enough encouragement, then let the Fear of the Lord inform our heart. The above verse is a promise given by way of warning. The Bible teaches that the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10). Through it we begin to understand the intent of the promise given in our text. God will exact perfect justice and he will judge all sin – and the worst sin is that which is hid under the cloak of his mercy and grace. He will discover it; and when the cloak of deception is removed, the terror of the Lord will take its place. The Bible says, “For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:30-31).
Thankfully, we can claim mercy, and above all, we can claim the blood of Christ (1 John 1:9). But when we do, lets embrace repentance and seek true freedom from the pestilence of sin.