September 17

When I think of perfect combinations, I think about a Reese Peanut Butter Cup (I know … that’s a strange one).  I think about the changing colors and smell of the leaves in fall.  I think about a good workout followed by a cold glass of water.  I think about great music followed by a heart-stirring message.  I think about baked chicken and fresh sweet corn.  Okay … your perfect combinations might be different than mine, but we all have some that we love.

I came across what I think is a perfect combination in my Bible reading today.  “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil” (Proverbs 16:8).  Have you ever thought about what was required in order for our sins to be forgiven?  To begin with it is important to understand that it does not matter what we think it takes to forgive sins … it matters what God thinks it takes to forgive sins.  He is perfect, pure, holy and righteous.  We are imperfect, impure, unholy and unrighteous.  We tend to make excuses and rationalize our sin, but His perfection will not allow Him to do that without ceasing to become God.

In order for this perfect God to be able to forgive our iniquities, He had to combine absolute mercy with absolute truth!  The truth is that we are separated from Him because of our sin.  The truth is that if He did not step in and make a move to offer forgiveness of sin that would satisfy His righteous standard that we would never have a way opened to Heaven.  The truth is that His love for us demanded the death of His only begotten Son.  There was and is no other way possible for our sin debt to be forgiven!

That truth met with the mercy of God when Jesus stepped out of the comfort and beauty of Heaven into that stable in Bethlehem.  Jesus lived in our sin-cursed world without sin blemishing Him or His character.  That is amazing, but it is a demonstration of the mercy of God.  Mercy was on full display when Barabbas was released and Jesus was crucified.  Barabbas was the picture of you and me.  Jesus was God in flesh taking our place.  God’s truth was satisfied on that cross … and His mercy was seen in a vivid display that we should never forget!  A perfect combination!

The last part of the verse says, “… by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.”  Jesus offered us the perfect combination.  It is now our turn to do our part.  We ought to depart from evil; not because our Pastor tells us to, but because God deserves all our respect and admiration!  We ought to fear the Lord because our world is in desperate need of seeing Him in our actions!

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