The Purging of Iniquity
By Mercy and Truth Iniquity is Purged
1. There seems to be a CONTEXT to this proverb…
a. Cf. vs.5c – sin shall NOT go unpunished. It SHALL be punished.
b. The Bible is clear on this subject. God takes sin and iniquity seriously.
c. The wages of sin is death. (Rom. 6:23)
d. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. (Ezek. 18:4)
e. But God found a way to PURGE all sin.
2. The PURGING of sin.
a. Purging defined: cover; purge; make atonement; make reconciliation; cover over with pitch.
b. Ex. 30:10 – Aaron shall make an atonement (same word) on the Day of Atonement for the purging of the sins of the people.
• Sins were purged ceremonially through blood sacrifices…
• The sacrifices pictured an innocent victim dying for the guilty to purge their sins.
• The animal sacrifice did nothing to actually accomplish that purging. (Heb.10:4 – it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin…)
• It was merely a PICTURE of what the Lamb of God would do one day on the cross of Calvary.
c. Ps. 78:38 – translated “forgave”
d. Ps. 79:9 – purge away our sins. Purging of sins is the work of GOD, not man.
e. In the New Testament, it is seen that CHRIST and He alone is able to purge sins… (Heb. 1:3)
• And that work is now finished.
• He HIMSELF purged our sins… once and for all.
• No human work or deed contributes one iota to God’s work of purging sin.
• What the Old Testament sacrifices foreshadowed, Christ fulfilled.
3. It is GOD’S mercy that provides for the purging of sin—not man’s!
a. Some read this proverb this way: as if a man, by showing mercy and acting according to truth, could atone for his own iniquity… (golden rule religion)
b. It is not MAN’S mercy that purges sin, but GOD’S mercy!
c. To think that we could atone for our sins by showing mercy and doing good to others. That is salvation by works… the liberal golden rule religion.
d. That is the damning error of Rome!
• They teach that there is a reservoir of “extra good deeds” (over and above what they needed to get into heaven) left behind by Mary and other of the saints…
• Those extra graces are mingled with the blood of Christ…
• Everyday Catholics are able to draw from that extra pool of grace and merit if they are a little short!
• Like the leave a penny take a penny cans in CVS.
e. No, Solomon is not speaking about MAN’S mercy that purges from iniquity… but the mercy of GOD who sent His Son to die for our sins. (Titus 3:4-5)
4. Mercy – kindness; lovingkindness; mercy; goodness; faithfulness; love; acts of kindness.
a. This word is used 26 times in Psalm 136! (His mercy endureth forever!)
b. Gen. 19:19 – God’s mercy was magnified in saving Lot from destruction in Sodom. It is because of God’s mercy that He provides deliverance from danger to His people.
c. Ex. 15:13 – It was God’s mercy that was behind Him leading the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt.
d. Jer. 31:3 – it was God’s mercy (translated lovingkindness) that draws His people to Himself.
e. Psalm 51:1 – it is God’s mercy that provides for forgiveness of sins too!
f. Psalm 86:13 – it is God’s mercy that rescues us from hell!
g. Psalm 103:8 – God is a MERCIFUL God. It is His nature to be so. It is what comes naturally to God. Judgment is His strange work.
h. God IS merciful, and from that aspect of His nature arises the purging of sins.
i. Num. 14:19 – it is according to His mercy that iniquity is purged and pardoned.
a. Defined: that which is firm; that which is reliable; that which is faithful; that which is true.
b. Ex. 34:6 – Like mercy above, it is God’s nature…
• He is truth.
• Jesus said, “I am the Truth.”
• Whatever God does, it is always in harmony with truth.
c. Psalm 86:11 – Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.
• Truth should be important to us too.
• We should WALK in the truth…
• Our lives should be characterized by truth… truthfulness… faithfulness to the truth… living the truth… speaking the truth… obeying the truth…
• Nothing pleases a parent—or a church leader—more, than to hear that their children or their flock is walking in the truth (III John 4).
• If we know God as a God of truth, then the truth should be important to us.
• That means we should be careful in the way we HANDLE the truth…
d. Truth is IMPORTANT to the God of Truth.
• It was because of God’s MERCY that sin can be purged.
• It is also because God is a God of truth… a God who is faithful to the truth… that our sins can be purged.
• Psalm 19:11 – God’s Word speaks of judgments and justice… and His word is TRUTH.
• Without truth—there is no purging of sins.
• The truth is:
» Men are sinners and are on their way to Hell.
» Men are unable to save themselves.
» God loved the world and is not willing that any should perish.
» God sent His Son to PURGE sins—and everyone who trusts in Christ receives that personally.
» The gospel is the word of Truth…
• Sins are purged because the God of truth sent His Son who is the Truth to die for the sins of the world and sends us into the world with a gospel message of truth.
And by the Fear of the Lord Men Depart from Evil
1. This thought is repeated often in Proverbs. It is by design! But each repetition has a special purpose… a slight difference in shade of meaning and/or application.
2. God is merciful and gracious. He is a pardoning God who purges iniquity.
3. However, that is not to say that He treats sin lightly.
a. Those whose sins are forgiven and purged are expected to DEPART from evil…
b. God is merciful and gracious to the repentant, but He is also a Judge who executes judgment against sin.
c. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God… to hold on to sin in our lives before an infinitely holy God and to experience His chastening in our lives.
d. Therefore, one whose sins have been purged is expected to FEAR God… and depart from evil.
e. Don’t assume that God’s mercy and grace mean that He doesn’t take sin seriously. He does.
f. After speaking of God’s mercy and truth which purge from sin, Solomon immediately reminds his readers of the exceeding sinfulness of sin!
g. This is exactly the approach Paul took in Romans 5-6. (Grace… then the natural question: Shall we continue in sin?)
4. The FEAR of the Lord is a perfect counterbalance to the mercy of God.
a. Mercy and grace tend to cause the immature and carnal believers to treat sin lightly.
b. Prov. 8:13 – But the FEAR of the Lord causes the believer to HATE sin and want to DEPART from it!
c. God is BOTH merciful… and fearful at the same time.
d. To the repentant sinner who is willing and ready to come to God humbly, God is merciful.
e. To the stubborn man who in rebellion clings to his sin, God is to be feared… God is a judge… and they will not experience His mercy but His justice.
f. God is merciful when we sin, but the fear of the Lord will KEEP us from further sin. WALKING in the truth means WALKING in the fear of God… it too should characterize our lives.
g. I Peter 1:15-17 – Because every one of our works shall be judged one day, we should spend the time of our sojourning here in the fear of God.
h. The one who has experienced forgiveness and the purging of his iniquity should seek to depart from further iniquity… fearing God is the way to walk.