“God would be unjust to revoke my forgiveness”: meditation on Psalm 94:1-2

August 19, 2019

Psalm 94:1-2: “O Lord, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth! Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve!”

When I read this stern appeal to God’s justice I’m tempted to feel one of two things: fear or doubt. First, I’m tempted to feel afraid: O Lord, if you’re avenging, judging, and “repaying the proud,” who am I that you would make an exception in my case? After all, is anyone as proud as I am? But if I’m not afraid, should I then doubt God’s Word? After all, the Bible seems to teach that God’s commitment to justice is absolute—that it’s part of his nature, that for God to deny justice is to deny himself.

So… can the Bible be trusted?

But here’s where the cross of Christ comes in: It reveals both God’s perfect love (Romans 5:8) and his perfect justice (Romans 3:26). In other words, on the cross, God did not choose love over justice; rather, the cross vindicates justice. The penalty for all my sins—past, present, and future—was paid (Colossians 2:13-14). My sins are “forgiven and forgotten” (Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 43:25; Hebrews 8:12).

So this startling good news follows: God is just when he forgives me! Indeed, it would now be unjust for God to revoke his forgiveness and find me guilty—or else he would punish my sins twice.

Why have I never considered this before? Am I only just now understanding the objective substitutionary atonement that I’ve professed to believe for years? 🤷‍♂️

Better late than never! #ESVJournalingBible #BibleJournaling

9 Responses to ““God would be unjust to revoke my forgiveness”: meditation on Psalm 94:1-2”

  1. Tom Harkins Says:

    Thus, the net effect is that the “proud” as to whom the Psalmist is directing his plea for vengeance are those not “covered by the blood,” correct? However, I think it is also true (a) that in the “rewards and punishments” aspect of the Final Judgment, pride will be one thing taken into account, regardless on “which side of the cross” we stand on, and (b) I do believe in the “relative” nature of sin–that is, that some sins are, in fact, more “egregious” than others. An obvious example to me is being angry with someone and murdering him. Both are “condemned” by Jesus, but at least the “inward emotion” does not end somebody else’s life. I don’t think Jesus was trying to “equate” the two–just saying BOTH are wrong; we don’t get a free pass for an angry state of mind just because it does not result in a “physical act.” So, there are certainly differing degrees of pride, and God’s judgment (again, for at least the “rewards and punishments” part) may vary accordingly. Anyway, that is how I see the matter.

    • brentwhite Says:

      Many theologians say that in Final Judgment, punishment (for believers) is the withholding of a potential reward—since the net effect of atonement is that sin, once confessed, won’t be counted against us. (Confession of unrepented sin would therefore be a part of Final Judgment for believers.) We can only be rewarded, although we will be less rewarded depending on sin. I’m not saying I buy that completely… but I see the appeal. Thoughts?

  2. Tom Harkins Says:

    I think ultimately there might be little difference–getting “less rewards than you otherwise would have” seems to me a type of “punishment.” Thus, had you been well-behaved in class, you could have enjoyed the whole recess period, but because you weren’t, you have to stay seated for part of it.. Not the best example, of course, but the point is “getting less” is a type of “punishment.” Also, consider Paul’s example in 1 Corinthians 3–“He himself will be saved, yet though as one escaping through the flames,” if all his works are burned up. Clearly talking about a Christian there.

  3. gilian Says:

    Thank God we are forgiven. Because we have been forgiven, we do good to others so that they too may experience the same.

  4. bobbob Says:

    A little late to the party. I disagree that some sins are more egregious than others, in God’s eyes. All sins, every sin, is our thumbing our individual nose (and collective ones, too) at God to say that what He’s given us is not good enough. I want a better kitchen, a better wife, a better gov’t, a better car, I want that candy bar, that bicycle, etc. Sexual sins, as bad as they are, are not worse in God’s eyes, though it would make sense to us that they should be. Murder, too, is not worse, because even though we “committed murder in our hearts” when we thought evil thoughts, did we then confess that sin immediately and offer to make it right? Not me, anyway, in every case.

    As to your premise of “why you have not considered this before” here’s my thought:
    Jesus is the king of everything. The office of King is as close of an analogy as we can make. A king held absolute authority over all his subjects’ lives and livelihoods. His word was final. The Bible tells us the wages of sin, thumbing one’s nose at God, are death. The King said so, thus it is so. Could He then just revoke this rule, this decree, this law and still be just, with an “I was just kidding”? Ummmm, No!! But, to keep His justice, because many had died in sin, He then had to die in our place, publicly so that all would know that He did in fact die, stay dead for three days, then because He is the Author of Life, He rose! Justice fulfilled.
    (sarc on)
    Now all we have to do is amass a lot of stuff to show that He loves us. (sarc off) NOT!!

    And abortion is one of the most terrible things going on just now in our history. Some women, Abby Johnson for one, having had two herself, and as director of a PP clinic culpable in thousands more, has more reason than most of us to be worried. But yet she’s forgiven!! And she lives victoriously in that forgiven-ness. That we all should live as victoriously because our King has fulfilled His justice!

  5. Tom Harkins Says:

    bobbob, I recognize that a great number of preachers today say all sins are the same, and I don’t suggest there is no biblical basis at all to come to that conclusion. However, consider that in the Old Testament the punishments for the various types of sin were substantially different from each other. I suggest that makes little sense if God viewed all sins as equally egregious. Also, consider numerosity. Why not sin 100 times as opposed to one, if it is all the same in God’s eyes? Paul suggests that the work for the kingdom by various Christians will be viewed differently from each other (god, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble). This suggests some type of “hierarchy” to me. Since we all sin, as John says, why would there be any difference? I don’t think Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount was suggesting that all sins are the same–just that “mental” or “spiritual” frames of mind are sins too, not just “overt actions.” In fact, with the “anger” sins, it appears that Jesus gives “escalating punishments,” which again suggests that some sins are “worse” than others.

    You mention abortion. Do you not consider that a “worse sin” than having a lustful thought? I don’t seen how they can be the same, and in fact I don’t think that people see them as being the same–that effort comes about because of the “all sins are the same” preaching. I do agree that all sins are a type of “thumbing the nose,” as you indicate, but I doubt an earthly king, to use your example, would feel equally towards his subjects who might make an occasional joke at his expense, versus plotting to kill him. So, I maintain my position that all sins are not the same as each other.

    • brentwhite Says:

      While all sins have the equal power to separate us from God, like Tom, I don’t think they are therefore equal in God’s eyes. The Old Testament penalties for sins imply this. But also: what about the parable of the two debtors in Luke 7? One debtor owed 50, the other 500. One point, I think, is that both owed more than they could pay. So Simon the Pharisee was not “as big a sinner” as the prostitute, yet he was separated from God apart from faith in Christ.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s