Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Psalms 119:129 – 136 Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands. Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Redeem me from the oppression of men, that I may obey your precepts. Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees. Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.
When I read the last line of this section of Psalm 119 I immediately started thinking of all the ways that God’s laws are not being obeyed in the world today. I have cried many tears over the spiritual depravity of people in our society. But as I thought about that, I was suddenly struck with the realization that I have cried far fewer tears over my own disobedience. Why is it that we can cry over the “big” sins like murdering of unborn babies, rape, incest, adultery, pornography, etc., but we have a hard time feeling any sense of guilt over our own “little” sins like lying, cheating, gossip or selfishness?
It is our natural tendency to apply truth to others before we apply it to ourselves. Somehow it makes our flesh feel better to make sure we find fault with others before we look at our own condition. Sure, there’s a lot wrong with our culture; but it’s not God’s plan to change our culture. His plan is clearly stated in Scripture – He will draw us to His heart and show us His love, so that we can then draw others to God by showing them His love.
Twice in this passage of Scripture the author, probably Ezra, refers to sin. Once in a clearly personal way – let no sin rule over me – and once in a seemingly generic way – your law is not obeyed. But I think it benefits us immensely to think of the second reference to sin in just as personal a way as the first. It is only when we begin to allow streams of tears to flow from our own eyes because of our own sin that we will begin to experience true revival in the church today. The healing of our culture can only be accomplished through the repentance of God’s people. You may be familiar with this verse in 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” This is God’s pattern for each of our lives.
I want you to notice one important principle found in this verse. Nowhere does it tell us to ask for forgiveness. Our forgiveness was accomplished once and for all on the cross of Jesus Christ. What it does tell us to do is to turn from our wicked ways. We have seriously corrupted God’s pattern of forgiveness and it has resulted in the corruption of our hearts. We have been taught since our childhood to say that we are sorry and then ask for forgiveness, with very little teaching on repentance. While there has been an increasing emphasis on confession there has been a diminishing emphasis on change. But true confession requires change.
Confession is the act of coming into agreement with the person wronged about what was done. Confession is to see the action from the eyes of the victim and agree with them that it is wrong. When that agreement happens, then change results.
Pride keeps us from true confession of sin. That’s why God says in Second Chronicles that we must humble ourselves before Him. We cannot agree with God about our sin unless we are willing to deflate our pride that would seek to protect our image by defending our actions. Then, when we have come to the point of agreement with God about what we have done, and we see it through His eyes as an offense against His holy character, the tears will stream down our faces. We will open our mouths and pant with sincere longing to know His commands. We will be seeking His face. That, in turn, will result in a change of heart and a change of action in our lives. We will turn from our wicked ways. At that very instant of repentance, God forgives us and restores us to perfect fellowship with Himself.
When we practice this process at every occurrence of sin in our lives we will be able to say with the Psalmist that no sin will rule over us. Do you struggle over and over with the same sin? There is a single reason why you do – you do not yet see it through God’s eyes as an offense against His holy character. Somewhere within the context of that sin pride is still protecting your position.
It is time to seek the face of God. In your own strength you cannot conquer it, but God can. Humble yourself before Him. Let the streams of tears flow down your face as you see your actions as an offense against your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who suffered on the cross for your sin. Then turn from it. Repent. God will forgive you and heal your heart. And when God’s people begin to do this collectively in the church, we will have revival, and our culture will be healed.