2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 John 4:10, Isaiah 35:6
God is merciful and gracious but also just. Exodus 34:6-7 describes Him as, “‘A God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty’” (ESV). This means God has a righteous requirement that He will hold us accountable to. The requirement is to have the same holiness of God: absolute sinless perfection. But there is a problem. Everyone falls short of this perfection because we are guilty sinners (Romans 3:23). What is even worse is that the wages of our sin is eternal suffering and separation from God in hell (Romans 6:23). If God does not hold us accountable but lets everyone into heaven, He would not be faithful, loving, or just. He would be like a wicked judge who refuses to punish criminals who are guilty according to the law.
Sinners have no hope unless the righteousness of someone who meets the requirement is credited to their account. When someone recognizes their guilty status by asking for forgiveness, repenting (turning from their sin), and placing their faith in Christ, they are born again. They are saved from God’s wrath because the perfect righteousness of Christ is imputed to them. This is only possible because every last ounce of the Father’s wrath, which all sinners rightfully deserve, was absorbed by His Son, Jesus Christ, when He was crucified. For the born-again believer, this means the Father no longer views us as an enemy (Romans 5:8-11) because Christ’s robe of righteousness has covered our sinfulness.
Believers should be constantly awe-struck that Jesus willingly went to the cross and bore the Father’s wrath so that we could be forgiven of our guilty status. It is pure mercy and grace that a holy God, who needed absolutely nothing, sent His only Son to the cross so that guilty sinners can be forgiven. We deserved hell, but God gave mercy. We could not earn it, but God showered His grace upon our unworthy lives. Our minds cannot fully comprehend the reality of it. We should constantly ponder words like these, “And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood.”
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