By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil. – Proverbs 16:6
What a refreshing reminder of the gospel and the beautiful doctrines of justification and sanctification! When I am tempted into (or drift back into) thinking that may standing before God is dependent upon my will and ability to clean myself up, this verse proves me dead wrong. I cannot atone for my own iniquity (sin), that comes through the steadfast love (Hebrew: chesed), the unconditional lovingkindess of God and his faithfulness, through Jesus Christ. In the midst of the mire and corruption of all my lust and pride and self-dependence and self-love, he reaches in, despite those things, and atones for my sin by dying on the cross in my place, perfect and undeserving of it though he was. And even now, his steadfast love makes him stand at the right hand of the Father as my great Advocate (1 John 2:1).
Yet that is not all, but there is more truth here.
“By the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.”
Once I have experienced such beautiful, atoning love and mercy, I become free to see God and fear Him rightly. His perfections make me pure, and therefore I ought to fear Him, to be in awe of His majesty and perfections and beauty, and by comparison to him love no vile, low, sinful thing, or even myself, more than Him. Therefore, by fear of God, I should “turn” from evil, despise it as a low and mean thing, unworthy of the joy and pleasure to be had in abiding in God. No other thing in the whole Universe can have this effect — to truly cause someone to turn from evil. Nor can one rightly fear the LORD and so turn without the preceding truth, without knowing through experience the steadfast, faithful, atoning love of God.
“Oh Jesus! Please let me see and hear and feel your atoning, steadfast love today and every day! And let that joyful experience lead me to a good and proper fear of You that I might turn daily from evil and never again prefer its empty promises of pleasure and self-glorification to your Love.”