Proverbs 16:6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.
This fallen world is certainly steeped in sin of all sorts. However, God has an answer for that. Of course the ultimate answer is that He sent His Son to deal with it all, but that often seems like a rather theoretical thing to us. This verse perhaps brings it a little closer to home. We all sin, and of course repentance is necessary, but often some form of restitution is called for. We need to be loving and faithful (the Japanese says gracious and true) but there are limits to our love and faithfulness, or our grace and fidelity. However, there are no limits to God’s good qualities, and when we are abiding in Christ, those operate in and through us. That said, it’s better not to sin in the first place, and that’s what the second half of the verse deals with. If we are aware of God in all His holiness and power, we aren’t going to sin in the first place. The NIV says we avoid evil, but the Japanese says we come away from it. In the world as it is, it’s essentially impossible not to contact evil on a fairly frequent basis. When we fear God, that evil won’t have attraction for us, and we’ll be able to walk away. Anyone who uses the Internet has encountered ads that manifestly link to evil of all sorts. If we take our eyes off of God’s holiness and power, those words and images are going to titillate and draw us, whether or not we succumb. The devil tries to make us think that “the fear of the Lord” means cowering in terror. We don’t want that, and it’s not Biblical. However, just as children who don’t fear their parents’ displeasure quickly become unmanageable, anyone who doesn’t fear God, Christian or not, is wide open to whatever the devil wants to do to or with them. That is a recipe for disaster.
This of course applies to me. I have seen people who advanced in ministry but then seemed to think that exempted them from the rules, and they crashed and burned. I certainly want to avoid that! I need to stay aware of God’s purity and power, along with my own fallibility, to protect me just as this verse says. I see so many people who claim to love God, but then live in violation of His rules that are clearly set forth in the Bible. They don’t really fear Him, and they forget that Jesus said clearly that love for Him includes obedience. (John 14:15) I need to keep watch over my own obedience, not run around pointing fingers at others. I am to speak the truth in love, not excusing sin in myself or others, but always holding up God’s mercy, grace, and love. I can see how others have been deceived, so I need to be fully in line with God’s Word and His Spirit to avoid such deception myself.
Father, You know the appointments You have set up for me. May I deal with each person You bring my way with love and grace, drawing them to Christ so that the works of the devil may be destroyed in their hearts and lives, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!