An Antidote For Sin.
“Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin. By fearing the Lord, people avoid evil.” – Proverbs 16:6 NLT
The book of Proverbs is like a compendium of sins, providing a running list of character traits and actions that flow from a life lived apart from God. If we’re not careful, we could read the book and simply walk away thinking that we have to choose a life of sin or a life of righteousness. It’s up to us to make the right choices and not the wrong ones. But NOT sinning will NOT make us righteous any more than doing good things will make us righteous. We can try and live a life marked by righteous deeds. We can attempt to say no to sin. But if we leave God out of the equation, we will inevitably fail. Man is incapable of living a righteous life on his own, and any attempts he makes to sin less will produce less-than-positive results. As is the case throughout the book of Proverbs, the fear of the Lord is the key to avoiding sin and pleasing God. It all begins with our relationship with Him. In verse 6 above, we are told that if we want to avoid sin, we have to fear God. It is not about keeping a list of dos and don’ts. More good behavior and less bad behavior does not equal righteousness. That is the formula for living a truly righteous, God-honoring life. But in this verse we do get the answer or key to living a life that pleases God and allows us to avoid sin. “Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin. By fearing the Lord, people avoid sin.”
But what does that mean? The NET Bible translates the first part of this verse, “Through loyal love and truth iniquity is appeased.” The word translated “appeased or atoned for” in this verse means that God’s anger against sin is turned away and man’s relation to God is as though he had not sinned. Our sin requires a righteous, holy God to punish it. He is required by law to deal justly with sin, and the penalty for sin is death. But this verse tells us that if we come to God, expressing unfailing love and faithfulness to Him, which is another way of saying that we are repentant of our sin, the anger of God is appeased. Genuine repentance, demonstrated by loyalty and truthfulness, appeases the anger of God against one’s sin. But there is not a person alive who can truly atone for their own sin. Without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, any attempt to atone for our own sins would be incomplete and insufficient to satisfy the just demands of God. But because Jesus died in our place and took all our sins upon Himself, He was able to satisfy or appease God’s righteous wrath, so that God is now able to see us as righteous and sinless. Our sins were credited to Christ’s account and His righteousness was credited to ours.
Now, when we sin, we can repent by turning back to God in love and faithfulness, knowing that He will forgive any sin we commit because the debt has been paid in full by His Son on the cross. We can enjoy unbroken fellowship with God the Father simply by repenting of our sin and returning to Him. This attitude of humility and willing submission to Him is the fear of the Lord lived out in daily life, and it helps us avoid additional sin. Staying close to Him keeps us far from sin. It is when we stray from His presence that we get off the path and into the high weeds of sin. The Proverbs is not a list of righteous requirements we must keep to stay on good terms with God. It is a reminder that a life of holiness begins and ends with God. It begins and ends with a relationship with Him. He alone can make us holy. Recognizing our sins and repenting of them is how we show God we fear Him and acknowledge how much we need His help for staying on course. By fearing the Lord, people avoid sin. It all begins with God.
Father, keep me on course by helping me stay repentant and dependent on You. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men