In our last column, we discussed the grace of God, which is His "unmerited favor" whereby He gives us what we do not deserve. A companion to His grace is His mercy. For the sake of our discussion let us begin with this definition of mercy: The act of God by which He withholds what we do deserve. We have sinned against God. We have flagrantly violated His laws. We have earned the "wages of sin" which is death (Romans 6:23), and we are condemned already if we have not believed in the name of Jesus Christ as our Savior. We have spurned God's love and we have rejected His Son, Who died for our sins. God has every right to judge us, find us guilty, sentence us to a lake of fire, and see to it that we suffer torment day and night forever.
Enter the mercy of God. Daniel, the prophet, declares, "To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him" (Daniel 9:9). The evidence is against us; we have rebelled. We deserve judgment. But, mercy prevails and God withholds the punishment called for by our sin. Jeremiah expresses the same idea by saying, "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not" (Lamentations 3:22). By God's mercy He withholds His judgment upon our sin.
From whom does He withhold the judgment? You say, "From us." And that is correct. But does judgment go unsatisfied? Does nobody pay for the sin and rebellion of mankind? Does God get no satisfaction for the wrongs done to Him? Can He not exact the wages of sin? Ah, yes. He gets full satisfaction, but upon a Substitute. He meted out His judgment of our sin upon the Lord Jesus Christ Who "was made sin for us" and Who "bore out sins in His own body on the tree." Sin has indeed brought forth death. Christ has died for us, in our place, paying our penalty, so that God can withhold from us our deserved judgment. Mercy avails for us and we go free the very moment we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.
You see, then,
mercy delivers you only if you receive Christ as your Redeemer.
You must reckon that He died for your sins, that He died in your
place, to pay your penalty. Trusting nothing of your own position
or effort, you must receive Jesus Christ, by faith, as your own
personal Savior. Rejecting God's mercy allows sin, when it is
finished, to bring forth death and God will not temper His