Who can stand?

Recently Psalm 130 was read out at one of our Wednesday evening gatherings, with the emphasis on verses 3 & 4.

“If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.”
(Psa 130:3-4)

It contrasts our sinfulness, God’s holiness and compassion and our response in just 23 words. Theology in poetry or song is a beautiful thing.

But it’s easy to mis-read it. The initial question is framed in such a way that the answer seems obvious. Who can stand? No-one. After all no-one is righteous, not even one (Rom 3:10). I am sinful, God is holy. I could not stand. All of which, of course, is true.

But there is one who can stand in the presence of God, because He had no iniquities of his own (2 Cor 5:21). As a man he can represent us fully and on our behalf (Heb 9:24). If, by faith, we are in Him, then we too can stand. In fact we are invited to approach the throne of grace with confidence (Heb 4:16).

This is, after all, what it means to be justified by faith.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
(Rom 5:1-2)

Standing before God counting on our own righteousness is impossible. But the Christian doesn’t have his or her own righteousness but instead the righteousness of Christ.

It will require faith but not in myself but in God’s grace through Christ.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
(Eph 2:8-9)

One day God will ‘mark iniquities’, there will be a day of reckoning and of judgement. Accounts will be settled. So who will stand? Christ will and I will stand with him.


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