“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” —Proverbs 19:11
To hide one’s own sin from God is his shame. It’s useless, debilitating, hurtful, destructive. To confess and forsake one’s sin is the guaranteed pathway to mercy (28:13). And once you know His mercy—once you have received the abundance of grace, the eternal redemption, the complete forgiveness of Christ—you are all the more equipped, and all the more obligated, to be merciful to others. How can we justify harboring anger for others, continually recounting their sin, when God so brutally appeased His own holy wrath in order to forget ours?
“I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.”
I will recount
In our society, it’s become trite to say it, but that doesn’t make it less true—God loves you.
Stop to think about it: the God of Heaven and Earth—the Holy One, the Majestic One, the King of Glory—He loves you.
Recount it often. Recall it to mind. Remember it. Think upon His love. Dwell in it.
- “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23).
- “For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness” (Psalms 26:3).
The abundance of His steadfast love
God has more than enough love for you. It won’t run out.It’s in never-ending supply. It’s always there, it’s always fresh, it’s alwaysavailable.
So in the most positive way, take advantage of it. Don’t take it forgranted, don’t abuse it; enjoy it.
- “I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, willenter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear ofyou” (Psalms 5:7).
- “As for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At anacceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me inyour saving faithfulness” (Psalms 69:13).
- “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for hissteadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for hissteadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for hissteadfast love endures forever; to him who alone does great wonders, for hissteadfast love endures forever” (Psalms 136:1-4).
Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.
Do not put yourself forward
It is better to be given the righteousness of Christ than to try to earn your own. It is better to approach the Father on the basis of the work of his Son than on the basis of the works of your flesh. It is better to humble yourself to receive His forgiveness than to exalt yourself before Him as if you don’t need it.
- Luke 18:10-14; “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The Pharisee put himself forward in the presence of the King. The tax collector humbled himself instead. The latter was justified, the first condemned.
Or stand in the place of the great
When we humble ourselves before God, He lifts us up.
- 1 Peter 5:6-7; Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
It is better to be told, “Come up here”
When we recognize that we are not fit for heaven, He qualifies us.
- Colossians 1:11-12; May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
It is when we acknowledge our complete dependence on Him and our own inability to attain to His righteous standards that He says, “Come up here”.
- Philippians 3:4-9; Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
The news of Jesus’ birth came with the simplest of explanations of his mission: He will save his people from their sins.
He has. As we celebrate Christ’s birth we look back in faith to a work that is complete.
- Hebrews 10:10-14; By [God’s will] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
To save: to preserve from destruction, rescue from danger, deliver from calamity. He didn’t came to exalt Himself or condemn us to hell but to save.
- John 3:16-18; For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Not only Israel but all who share the faith of Abraham. Anyone who calls out to the Lord for mercy qualifies.
- Romans 10:9-13; If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
From their sins
Just as the law of gravity says “what goes up must come down,” so the law of sin says “the soul that sins shall surely die.” But by becoming the sacrifice that appeased God’s wrath, Christ has rescued us from sin’s penalty.
- 1 John 4:10; In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
This Christmas let’s celebrate Jesus’ birth, life, and death—the single demonstration of His great love for all time.
2 Samuel 22:21-25
“The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the LORD and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his rules were before me, and from his statutes I did not turn aside. I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from guilt. And the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in his sight.”
According to my righteousness
I am struck by David’s boldness. How could a man, especially this man, stand before a nation, much less God, and claim he has perfectly kept God’s law? David the adulterer? David the murderer? How could he say his way was blameless? How could he claim that he was guiltless, innocent, or clean? As is says in the Proverbs, “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin’?”
“The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness,” he says in this Psalm, and I am tempted to laugh. I would consider him to be delusional at best, or heretical at worst if I didn’t look at the rest of the bible.
In the Psalms David reveals the reasoning behind his boldness. He says here in this text that God deals with him according to his righteousness, but in other Psalms he takes it a step further.
- Psalm 103:10-12; “[God] does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us;” Psalms 103:10-12.
- Psalm 32:1-2; “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
Blameless before him
David understood that his righteousness was not a result of his ability to maintain his own perfection. David trusted in God who justifies the ungodly.
- Romans 4:4-8; “To the one who does not work [toil and strive to make himself right before God] but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.'”
These words were not written for David’s sake alone, “but for ours also,” Paul continues in verse 24 of the same chapter. “[Righteousness] will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”
We, like David, can confidently believe and confidently say that we are blameless. Not because we have kept the law or because we have abstained from immorality, but because Jesus Christ was killed for our trespasses and then raised from the dead for our justification: to declare us innocent.
- Colossians 1:20-22; “[Through Christ God reconciled] to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.”
- Ephesians 1:4-7; “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”
Like David, we can say with confidence that we’re blameless, and we can say with confidence we are guiltless.
- 1 Corinthians 1:8-9; “[God] will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
We are blameless, we are guiltless, we are righteous.
- Romans 3:21-25; “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, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:21; “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
- Philippians 3:8-9; “Indeed, I count everything [all my self attained righteousness] as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
Righteousness before God is not something that is earned, it is something that is given. It is not something that fluctuates, it is something that is sure and stable. It is not something that can be lost but something that is kept by God in Christ. We stand before Him, if we have faith in Jesus Christ, 100% pure, 100% clean, 100% righteous, 100% perfect. We can share in David’s boldness because we are persuaged that we share in David’s blessing.
“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life;” Titus 3:3-7
“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.”
If you are willing
We can look back at this moment of Christ’s anguish and rejoice, not in the physical pain of His suffering, but in that God was not willing for His work to go unfinished. If there could have been any other way to forgive our sin, perhaps God would have spared His Son. If there had been any other way to make us righteous, Jesus would not have had to die. But there was not.
God was willing, in this hour, to crush His Son so that He might secure for us an eternal redemption.
God’s desire, since time began, has been to bring man to Himself. He accomplished this through Jesus Christ. So when all the purpose of God for all eternity was focused on Christ on that night in the garden, God’s answer to Jesus’ prayer was already known.
- Isaiah 53:10; “It was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”
- Hebrews 10:5-10; “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.”‘ When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And by that will [the will of God] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
God’s will has always been to sanctify us through the offering of Christ’s body. Jesus came to complete that will–to crushed for our iniquities and raised for our justification.
Not my will, but yours, be done
We might, at first glance, think that Jesus didn’t want what God wanted. Detach yourself from human logic for a minute to remember that Jesus was both fully God and fully human. It was the physical pain, the separation from the Father, the tormenting act of bearing an entire world’s sin that brought Jesus into agony that night. He did not resent the result–it was His will, just as it was God’s, to bring all men to Himself even if by means of His death. He knew what He had to go through to make us His, so He endured the cross, despising the shame in light of the joy that was set before Him.
- Luke 13:34; “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”
- John 17:24; “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
- John 12:32-33; “‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.”
- John 3:14-18; And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
“A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)”
Jews have no dealings with Samaritans
In his commentary of the Bible, Adam Clarke said of the Jews’ disdain for the Samaritans that they “will not drink out of the same cup or well with them; will not sit down to meals with them, nor eat out of the same vessel; will have no religious connection, no commercial dealings with them.” Though the cultural norm in Jesus’ day was to look down upon women and distance one’s self from Samaritans, Jesus took it upon Himself to approach them and preach the gospel.
He came and preached peace
Every one of us can put ourselves in this woman’s shoes. All of us at one time (if not still today) were separate from Christ, alienated from Israel–without hope, without God in the world. But just as Jesus broke through cultural boundaries in His day to approach this one woman, so too He has come to preach peace to us who were far away from God. His message is simple: through faith in Him–Jesus Christ–we all may approach God being fully at peace with Him through forgiveness by His blood.
- Titus 3:3-7 “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
- Ephesians 2:11-18 “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands–remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
More emphatic than the enmity that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans is the enmity between us and God. We, the willfully disobedient creature, have put ourselves at opposition with the one perfect, holy God. He sought to bring peace between us. This He did by breaking down the dividing wall of hostility, abolishing the law of commandments that stood between us, and shedding His blood to provide forgiveness for all sin. He has come to preach peace both to us who are far off and to the Jew who is near showing us the singular way to access the Father: through faith in Jesus Christ.