Is God Just or Merciful? Why are The Wages of Sin Death? #267

Hello friends and happy Saturday to you! In honor of my wife’s birthday, which is today, we are going to dive into things today with no introduction – just the facts, ma’am! Today’s Bible readings include 2nd Samuel 15 which makes up for its lack of violence with the presence of intrigue, conspiracy, revolt and rebellion, as well as Psalms 69, Ezekiel 21 and 2nd Corinthians 8. Our focus passage is all 3 of our Old Testament passages put together, but primarily 2nd Samuel 15. As you remember, David has sinned terribly against the Lord. God has forgiven him, but justice demands that reparations be paid for sin. Since King David’s wicked sin, he has suffered much: the death of one of his children, the rape of one of his daughters

by one of his sons, the murder of that wicked son by another brother and son of David, years of estrangement between the vengeful son and David, and finally, today – the rebellion of that same son, Absalom, and his attempt to take the Kingdom of Israel from his father by force. Lest we have too much mercy on David, let us remember that what he did was so utterly inexcusable and wrong, that he most certainly deserves what is coming to him.

If you have been raised in the church, that last sentence may have been like fingernails on chalkboard….thinking about somebody deserving their punishment. Because we have been raised in a ‘saved by grace’ atmosphere, and rightly so, some Christians tend to undervalue justice. I’ll never forget about 15-20 years ago, I misquoted a Bible passage while teaching. “Mercy triumphs over justice.” is what I said, but a dear friend reminded me that the passage actually says, “Mercy triumphs over judgment,” (James 2:13) There is a MAJOR difference between those two statements and my misquote was a dangerously bad one, theologically speaking. Most people, even most non-Christians, are quite well aware that the Bible says that God is love, which is absolutely true. the Bible also says, “God is just.” (2nd Thessalonians 1:6) He is not sometimes merciful and loving and other times just…He is ALWAYS just, loving and merciful, and the thing about justice is that it demands payment. The ultimate statement of justice is: “But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. “(Exodus 21:23-25) This is the law of God and it is good. If Bill steals $100 from Bob, then Bill must pay that $100 back to Bob, otherwise, a wrong can’t be righted. David has taken a life, stolen a wife, and put his own personal needs ahead of his country in a most devious and selfish way, and there must be a price paid. God can’t just look the other way and wave His hand and say, “all is forgiven,” because justice is good and right and righteous. Thus, David has to pay a terrible price for his terrible sin…and that is fair – 100% fair. It is also hard. Let’s read the passage and consider how the wages of sin – the payment of sin – is death! 

So, more trouble for David, and spoiler alert: yet more trouble is coming. Trouble and heartache has arrived and is on its way. Why? Because sin is serious. We must understand this looking back at the cross. David’s sin. My sin. Your sin. Our sin – that put Jesus on the cross…our sin is no small thing. Even though God is a God of love and mercy, God is also fully Holy (He cannot be around sin at all) and He is fully JUST – a price must be paid for wrongdoing. In John 19:30, Jesus is hanging on the cross, dying a horrible death – dying the death that I deserve. His last word, I’ll never forget: “Tetelestai…” The Greek word that means, “debt paid,” “It is finished,” or “paid in full.” In other Words, the price for sin has been paid by the perfect lamb of God.

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;
he was despised, and we didn’t value him. Yet he himself bore our sicknesses,and he carried our pains; but we in turn regarded him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him,  and we are healed by his wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished him  for the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:3-6

Ultimately, because of what Jesus did on the cross, we don’t have to face what David faced. This doesn’t give us a license to sin, as Paul warns, but it is yet good news. Great news – Tetelestai – the price has been paid. This good news is the fullness of the meaning of Romans 6:23, “23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thank you Lord for purchasing that ‘free’ gift with your blood and your suffering!


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