Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God . To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.(Romans 3:24-26)
God is Holy. That means that He has an infinite aversion to sin, evil, sinners, and all that is false. He utterly hates rebellion, unbelief, immorality, in short, all forms of sin. He will and must destroy all forms of iniquity forever. His very nature demands it.
Yet, God is love. He abounds with compassion, and mercy for sinners. The nature of God is to be gracious, forgiving, forbearing. As a Father pities his children so the Lord pities those who fear Him, says Psalm 103. He is “slow to anger, and abounding with tender mercies…” According to Exodus 34:4-8.
And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.(Exodus 34:4-6)
Do you see the problem here in this perhaps the pinnacle of God’s self revelation to Moses? He abounds with mercy for thousands, forgiving sin, transgression and iniquity, yet By No means will He clear the guilty! How can God be both simultaneously? How can He at the same time Forgive sins, and yet By no means clear the guilty?
Does He choose Love to ‘win out’ over his Holiness? Or does He jettison his Love to satisfy his holiness? God is not like man, who has contradictions and inconsistencies within him self. God cannot deny His own nature. He is One, God doesn’t just have integrity, He is integrity! He will always be Holy and Love forever.
If man is to receive mercy from God, it has to be a mercy that satisfies the demands of Holiness. God can “by no means clear the guilty”. God’s love is Holy Love, His Holiness is Love itself! The cross of Jesus is God’s answer to the dilemma. How can a Holy God save unholy sinners? How can God hate sin and yet save sinners? Or, how can God receive sinful rebels into His Holy heaven? How can the Holy One, be both” Just and the Justifier”of sinful man?
In the cross these questions are answered. God has not by any means cleared the guilty, he has in fact exercised his full wrath against all sin and iniquity. The meaning of the man hanging between heaven and earth, derelicted of God and man, wearing the crown of the curse in the garden, alone, helpless and humiliated, is that God is Holy and utterly hates sin.
The crucified Jesus quoted Psalm 22 as he hung there,”My God My God, why have you forsaken me…” , yet the answer is in the next verse of the Psalm.It is because God is Holy that Jesus, our substitute was forsaken.
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:1-3
The cross demonstrates the Righteousness of God, who had been forgiving sin from the beginning. From Adam and Eve on up, God ‘s remission of sins was on credit. The price had to be paid, “The soul that sins, he shall die!”.
Jesus knew no sin, yet became sin for us, declares the gospel, and in doing so, he satisfied the the Righteous requirements, and offended Holiness of the Holy God against us. God has by ne means cleared the guilty, he has judged them, but in the person of their substitute,Jesus.
The Cross reveals the Love of God towards us also, love which is unfathomable! How God loves us! While we were His enemies , sinners, rebels and treasonous, The Father sent the Son to be the saviour of the world!
This is not mere humanistic,”unconditional” love. This is a terrible, profound, Holy Love , a love that upholds all that is good and true, a love that costs all, giving and dying Love.This is the Sacred, awful, Holy Love of God which answered all of the claims against us.Jesus is the offering God made to Himself.
In the cross as the Psalmist predicted, God’s mercy and truth have met together;
Lord, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.
2 Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.
3 Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger.
4 Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.
5 Wilt thou be angry with us for ever? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations?
6 Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?
7 Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation.
8 I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.
10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11 Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12 Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.
13 Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.