Not as Our Sins Deserve

Psalm 103:10 says, “he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Praise God! Could there be better news? I don’t think so. The longer I walk with Christ, the more I see how gross and pervasive my sins actually are. Even my good intentions and desires are tainted with sins foul stench. Yet, this passage from David provides great comfort. The Lord does not deal with me as my sins deserve.

I wish I lived in light of this passage. Guilt and shame are some of my closest companions. I was talking yesterday with my wife and she reminded me of advice I’ve given her when she has felt the need of the gospel: “Preach the gospel to yourself.” Oh, how I need to do this daily. While I’m part of the reformed tradition, and generally we strongly emphasize the tenants of grace, I practically live a pharisaical life. I put far to much emphasis on my works. Yet, my works bring to a place of guilt for their utter lack of worthiness. Thus the need to preach the gospel to myself. And, what does this gospel say? The Lord does not treat us as our sins deserve (Ps. 103:10).

I am treated with grace and forgiveness. I’m embraced as a son (Rom 8). How is this so? My sins and iniquities are not just overlooked. Were the Lord to overlook sins would be unjust. The Lord does not change. His holiness does not tolerate sin. So, if I’m not treated as my sins and iniquities deserve, what happens?

Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). The Lord treated Jesus as my sins deserve. The cross was my destiny, and Jesus went to the cross for my sake. Jesus “became sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21). The reason David could say what he said is because David understood a reality not yet realized in his time. His sins would be atoned for outside himself. While he would have a lamb, we would have the Lamb. Praise God!

The Lord does not treat us as our sins deserve. Rather, for our good and for his glory, he laid the iniquity of his people upon Christ (Isa 53:6). This is the gospel. The gospel is Jesus. He is the good news that our sin and alienation from God, neither of which we can correct, has been corrected by God (2 Cor. 5:19).

Our guilt and shame sometimes remain because of our self-preoccupation. If our eyes are consistently looking at our own failures, we’re sunk. Lift your eyes look where you salvation rests. Our salvation is not in our own works (or lack thereof) but in the sovereign love and glory of our great God and King. David’s great statement in Psalm 103:10 follows verses 8 and 9. In these he writes, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever.” Let us not focus on our sins, but on his sinlessness. Let us look on him who is compassionate. He does not treat us as our sins deserve not because something in us, but simply, and gloriously, because of who he is.

The gospel is God himself.


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