Thursday, November 03, 2011
Today’s Topic: The Exceeding Sinfulness of Sin
Today’s Text: Isaiah 53:5 But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.
This is really hard. I’ve been away from this routine for so long that it is hard to get started again. Now don’t get me wrong, I have not stopped spending personal time with my wonderful Lord, but I have been away from the routine of sitting down every morning and writing a devotional thought on what I am learning from God. It’s hard to get started again.
The whole time I was on my trip to the Philippines I had a routine. I would arise at 5 to 5:30 AM as usual, and would turn on my laptop. I would first check to see if the second greatest gift God ever gave me was available on Skype, and if so we would chat for a while. How I praise God for that technology that allows our love to grow even when we are apart! Then I would open my Bible and spend time with the One who delivered to me the greatest gift I have ever received. How I praise God for that old fashioned but never obsolete technology of the Holy Spirit inspired Word of God. It allows our love to grow even though we are not physically face to face.
Typically I spent time in devotions preparing for the sermon(s) that I would be delivering that day. There were very few days when I was not preaching. But behind it all was a constant meditation on the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. Even now as I think about it and try to write about it I am so overwhelmed with emotion that I have tears forming in my eyes. I will never grow tired of diving into the depths of God’s grace.
But there can be no true understanding of God’s grace without a deep and heart-breaking recognition of our sin. I am currently reading a book written by an acquaintance from my distant past. His name is John Ensor, and he and I went to the same college together. He is the Executive Director of Global Initiatives for Heartbeat International – introducing and fostering pregnancy help ministries in countries with extremely high abortion rates. You can find out about his ministry at http://johnensor.org/.
The book is entitled The Great Work of the Gospel: How We Experience God’s Grace. In the introduction, as John reviews the story of King David’s sin, he takes us through David’s confession in Psalm 51.
1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. 2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. 3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. 4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. 5 For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. (New Living Translation)
Then he says this on pages 17-18:
Nathan’s probing…forced David to consider his life before God. This is the prerequisite work of grace. We must own up to our real guilt. David wept and fasted before the Lord. David discovered what the old preachers called “the exceeding sinfulness of sin” and acknowledged the justice of God’s judgment.
We would do well to change our attitude towards sin. We will never understand the depths of grace, which in turn will keep us from knowing the depths of God’s love, if we continue to love ourselves so much that we deny the horror of our sin before a holy God. We have adapted to a culture of cover-ups. We hide our sin. We underestimate its repulsiveness to God. We justify its presence in our lives because we think we need the immediate rewards. We choose to ignore the consequences, which far outweigh any of the perceived benefits.
With that in mind, go back and read today’s Scripture verse in Isaiah 53:5. Consider the cost of God’s judgment against sin. Consider the unworthiness of the Savior to be judged, but His willingness to suffer the wrath of God on our behalf. Consider carefully the consequences of sin, and the amazing grace that God showed to us because of His love for us. Nothing in us was worthy of that love, and until we come face to face with the desperateness of our condition, we will never truly know the grace of God nor will we be able live in the love of Jesus Christ.