“If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared” (Psalm 130:3-4).
It’s been said that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. And that is certainly true, which is why it’s important to have purpose and passion in life. However, it’s also true that in order to truly stand for faith, we must first fall for forgiveness.
Missing the Mark
Think of all the sins that you’ve ever committed. Now, write them down. Not only would I not be able to do this because I hardly handwrite anymore (thanks to technology), but because it’s impossible to recount all of my sins—they are innumerable. I’ve missed the mark of God’s commandments for life. I’m a sinner who can barely even grasp the extent of my own sinfulness.
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The psalmist knew this well. He knew that if the Lord was to mark, or count, our iniquity, we’d get owned. The evidence is in and there’s no argument. He asks the rhetorical question, “Who could stand?” As sinners, who could stand in God’s presence? Who could approach a holy God? Answer: no one. No one could stand in His presence, stand through judgment, or stand to worship. But, there’s good news.
One of my favorite phrases in the Bible is “But, God.” Don’t laugh. It’s not butt God. It’s “But, God…, “ a conjunction that provides the solution for our sin: “But with you there is forgiveness.” The buts of the Bible have a ton of meaning:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
In order to stand before God without our sin being marked and counted against us, we must trust in the only One who can stand in our place before God—the Lord Jesus Christ, the mediator who bridges the gap between sinful humanity and a holy God. This is because all of our iniquities were marked as Christ’s as He paid for them on the cross. And not only does He take our sin, but He gives us His righteousness, which enables us to stand before God without having our iniquities marked against us.
Bow Down to Rise Up
These truths should cause an uprising, a passionate pursuit of godliness. But, in order to rise for Christ and His kingdom, we must bow down and see ourselves as sinners and see what our Savior has done.
To rise up, we must first bow down.
The only people who can stand are those who bow down for forgiveness. Motivation, determination, and passion are good, but only if they flow from humility as we bow down before be stand up. As we do this, we experience God’s forgiveness ourselves, and we’re then able to express it to others as we live in such a way that we “fear God.” Such forgiveness prompts fear—a type of reverential awe towards God as judge and a fear of grieving God in light of His gracious acts of forgiveness and love. As we rise in the forgiveness of God, we will reach people with the forgiveness of God.
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This is good news. We can stand before God because of the forgiveness found in Jesus. And we can stand before others as we proclaim this gospel message of forgiveness.
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Stand with Jesus and make a stand for Jesus!