The human side of the gospel

God has a role for you to play in illustrating the atoning power of the gospel. No, you have nothing do to with the sacrifice that Christ made for your sin. But, yes, you have an important part to play in defeating the impact of sin here on earth.  Proverbs 16:6 demonstrates how you can show the beauty of the atonement:

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.

With these words Solomon reminds us of how important it is to live our lives in light of Christ’s sacrifice. By showing God’s special loving-kindness you participate in the application of atonement.  You have the privilege of showing what God’s atoning sacrifice means to you as you love and forgive those around you. 

A broken, repentant heart is a powerful statement about the beauty of the gospel.  Like his father, David, he knew that sacrifices without a repentant heart were meaningless. This proverb shows our human response to God’s forgiving grace. Solomon is not teaching that our loving kindness actually produces atonement, but rather that it shows the blessings of the atonement. The second line of the verse teaches that because of the awe of having our sins forgiven we are driven to avoid evil.  This connects to Joseph’s words when he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife:

How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?

Now we have perspective to grasp the impact of the Holy Spirit’s intent. Because of God’s atoning work you and I are able to show love and grace to others.  Because we are so in awe of God’s gracious forgiveness, this produces a holy fear and awe which protects us from evil. 

For example, your middle school child “forgets” once again to do his chores. You are tempted to repeat a familiar, somewhat aggravated  “go-to” response, like:

How many time have I told you, chores first!  Please don’t make me have to tell you again.

You could respond this way. But before you do, ask yourself how successful has this response been in getting him to change?

Here is one way you can take Solomon’s encouragement to heart:

Hey, I see you are a little slow in getting your chores done, today. I know you want to help, is there anything that is bothering you, is there a problem you would like to talk about? I know you are kind of down today.

This shows your child that his life is not all about how he performs and obeys.  It is huge for your child to know that his worth is not connected to what he does but to who he is. He is your child, that makes him special. The gospel means that coming to Christ is not based on how well he obeys. 

Thus, taking the time to ask how he is doing is a way to let him know that you care for him and that God cares for him. Yes, of course, he still needs to do his chores. But asking just these few questions lets him know what love and faithfulness looks like.

That is the beauty of the atoning love of Christ.

The Gospel for Moving Targets

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.