God, Have Mercy On Me!

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’” (Luke 18:13)

Standing at a distance, refusing to life his eyes and striking his breast as he pleads for mercy, the tax collector presents a picture of acceptable behavior before our God.

I love what Matthew Henry has to say about this verse:

“Here is the tax collector’s address to God, which was the opposite of the Pharisee’s, as full of humility and humiliation as his was of pride and ostentation; as full of repentance for sin, and desire towards God, as his was of confidence in himself.”

I am reminded of King David and his plea for repentance found in Psalm 51:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. (Psalm 51:1-4)

“In the gospel we discover that we are far more wicked than we ever dared believe, yet more loved than we ever dared hope.”
-Tim Keller

“The message of this psalm is that the vilest offender among God’s people can appeal to God for forgiveness, for moral restoration, and for the resumption of a joyful life of fellowship and service, if he comes with a broken spirit and bases his appeal on God’s compassion and grace.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

We are never to approach the throne of grace filled with personal confidence and boasting of our own merits, but as broken sinners, appealing to the mercy, graciousness, and compassion of our loving heavenly Father. Remember God desires a humble:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)

As believers we are to be repentant, plain and simply. As the Holy Spirit sheds light on our behavior and convicts us of sin, we are to be ready at all times to acknowledge our failure and confess our sin to God, asking for His mercy and forgiveness:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

God hates sin. It cost Him the life of His Son. Furthermore, He knows that if we delve in it, it will greatly cost us too.

“Sin is the dare of God’s justice, the rape of His mercy, the jeer of His patience, the slight of His power, and the contempt of His love.” (John Bunyan)

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 1:18-20)

Take It to Heart

“The only ground on which God can forgive our sin and reinstate us to His favor is through the Cross of Christ. There is no other way! Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept, cost the agony at Calvary. We should never take the forgiveness of sin, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and our sanctification in simple faith, and then forget the enormous cost to God that made all of this ours. Forgiveness is the divine miracle of grace. The cost to God was the Cross of Christ. To forgive sin, while remaining a holy God, this price had to be paid. Never accept a view of the fatherhood of God if it blots out the atonement. The revealed truth of God is that without the atonement He cannot forgive–He would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God through the atonement of the Cross. God’s forgiveness is possible only in the supernatural realm … Once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vise, constrained by the love of God.” (Oswald Chambers)

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