Mercy: Conclusion

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.[Matthew 5:7 ESV]

Jesus speaks deliberately about the characteristics of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven. In this statement He gives both the evidence of a faithful life committed to God in every way and a warning to those who would try to manipulate God. Those who are merciful are those who are changed by God because they have received mercy after fully recognizing their sinful position before God. Those who selectively show mercy are in danger of having God’s mercy withheld and His justice unleashed because of their dubious position before Him

God is under no compulsion to offer mercy to anyone who has rebelled against Him. There is, however, the necessary action of justly sentencing those who rebel to death. Those who violate His law, the law inherent in their being, integral to the image of God in which He made them, will face judgment. When He shows mercy it is for His reasons and is freely given. His mercy never conflicts with His justice nor violates His law.

We need His mercy. We are under His judgment. Everything done by anyone, with the exception of Jesus Christ, comes from the motivation of complete selfishness and self-absorption. We are bent and twisted by sin from birth, in a state of complete rebellion against our Creator. We have been in this state since Adam ate the only food forbidden him. From him, the head of mankind, we all get our willful desire to rebel against God, though we were created for relationship. From Adam we inherited our self-focus and self-serving attitudes and actions. “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” [Genesis 6:5 ESV].

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. [Psalm 14:1-3; cf. Psalm 53:1-3 ESV]

I have met men who called themselves Christians who claimed they had not sinned for a long while. One, a Chaplain, claimed he had not sinned for years. Because of them I thought it possible to live without sinning, to live such a self-controlled life sin’s grip would loosen and soon fall away, to no longer have its hold. This caused immeasurable grief and despair for I soon saw through Scripture that sin did not simply hold me but inhabited me and bent me out of shape. My self was the natural home of sin. I saw sin had a personality and that personality was my own. The more I read Scripture looking for the magic pill the clearer it became there was no magic pill. I was bent and twisted and simply banging out the bends and twists did not leave something straight only something less bent and twisted. Still bent and twisted.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. [1 John 1:8-10 ESV]

I was under God’s justified wrath. I could never pay for my sins, let alone escape them. God forced me to acknowledge my complete slavery to sin and complete rebellion against Him. He demanded I recognize my poverty of spirit and realize the consequences of my sin, separation from Him. Jesus is intentional in His statements. Once I saw my position I was forced to a decision.  Either I continue trying to control my sin, ultimately allowing it to control me, or I relinquish control of myself to God. This is a lifetime struggle of obedience to Him. Yet, the evidence of this struggle is a hunger and thirst for His righteousness.

He offers a way out, but only one way. He is completely just and requires punishment for any and all rebellion against Him, against His moral law. From the first sin He has promised a way. In His justice He took upon Himself, in His Son, the full penalty for sin. This fulfilled His requirement for justice. In His mercy He offered complete restoration to His presence. This is grace. But, He will not simply straighten us who are bent, He recreate us. He changes us. Though we continue to fight and rebel and war against sin that change is complete and accomplished. That which He has started in us He will finish.

We do not deserve His mercy, nor His grace. He does not look at our worthiness, for He has already called us worthless. But we are still created in His image and the object of His love. If He has given anything it is through grace. We earn nothing.

There is an expectation He has. We freely receive His mercy, being released from the sentence of death and eternal separation from Him, the source of life. The evidence of receiving His mercy is our showing mercy to others. Mercy is God’s active love for and toward us who do not deserve His love. Mercy is also our active love toward those who do not deserve His love because He first loved us. It is not about us.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.[Matthew 5:7 ESV]

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