“If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” (Psalm 130:3-4)

In the verses from which we will take our thoughts for today, I find a biblical truth that is largely ignored in the day and age in which we live. According to the psalmist, the forgiveness of God should cause us to fear Him. What exactly does the psalmist mean? How can such a thought be true? Let’s consider these verses and see what we can glean from them.

First, I see An Unthinkable Possibility in verse three – “If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord who shall stand?” Who of us could possibly stand before the throne of the Almighty Judge if He were to mark (or list) iniquities? As Solomon described it, “There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). We all stand condemned before the omniscient eye of God.

But thankfully, the psalmist reminds us of An Undeniable Reality in verse four: “But there is forgiveness with thee.” God stands ready to forgive (Psalm 86:5; Nehemiah 9:17). Because of the substitutionary work of Christ at Calvary every sinner can be forgiven. When we are forgiven, God casts our sins behind His back and blots them out of His book (Isaiah 38:17; 43:25; 44:22). He removes them as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:11-12), casts them into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19), and remembers them no more (Jeremiah 31:34). I’m thankful that we have a forgiving God!

But now, the psalmist speaks of An Unescapable Accountability“That thou mayest be feared.” The amazing forgiveness of our God should cause us to stand in awe of Him. We know how difficult it can be to forgive someone who has wronged us. Think how much greater our wrong against God has been, yet He stands ready to forgive, and to think that God Himself paid the price for our forgiveness with the blood of His own Son! But there is a danger here. We must beware lest this gracious forgiveness of God causes us to think lightly of our sin. The Apostle Paul spoke of this danger when he wrote, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid (Romans 6:1-2). May this amazing forgiveness cause us to fear lest we presume upon it. If we take seriously the guilt of sin, it will cause us to walk circumspectly, fearing lest we take advantage of the gracious forgiveness of our God. “Stand in awe, and sin not” (Psalm 4:4).

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Craig Burcham, GSBC Faculty

Bro. Burcham served as the Chairman of the Bible Department at Golden State Baptist College before answering the call to pastor the Mountain Vista Baptist Church in Sierra Vista, AZ. Pastor Burcham travels each week to teach the next generation at GSBC. Before coming to GSBC, he served as a missionary with his family in Japan for several years and then pastored in Missouri.