Friday, July 11, 2008

Sin and Grace

I've been pondering, recently: how readily the dark places of our heart slowly swell up to consume us if we do not constantly check them, if we do not constantly seek the conviction of the Holy Spirit and His sanctifying work in our lives. It's so easy: a little slip here, a little giving in there, and we find old sins beginning to flourish again. Or we discover for the first time things we didn't know we had in us.

For me, frustration, anger, bitterness... they've cropped up (or perhaps have simply become visible) in the past few weeks. I despise them. They're ugly. Like the most vile weed in the world, only worse: because a weed was not originally ugly, is only ugly because of the fall and the way it destroys the good things we plant. Sin is worse than that. Uglier. It's like a stain of blackest ink seeping across a perfect white page, marring it. It's as though some hideous thing were eating at sun and sky, somehow making them not. Not simply dark, but not. Sin is disgusting, sickening, revolting.

When we begin to see sin as it is - when we begin to see God as He is and then finally begin to glimpse how awful sin really is - then we begin to know just how great this salvation we have been given is. We also begin to understand the wrath of God, His fierce justice, in a richer way. Bitterness, anger, frustration: these inner rots are a defilement on the image of Himself that He placed in us. His wrath is righteous, His judgment good. These ones, in me, are all rooted in pride. Hardly a surprise. And it is an uglier sin, yet, if it is possible: it raises itself and says, "I am god."

Terror should grip us when we realize just how vile our hearts are: a holy fear of the wrath of God. Not a terror in which we should remain, paralyzed, but a terror which compels us to worship God all the more for His incredible, inconceivable, sovereign grace. That we who have destroyed His image in us by choosing sin, who have embraced the sickening rot, who have become the curse even as we are cursed - that we should be paid for with His blood? The thought is a terrible one indeed. You and I were bought with the life of God Himself: infinite worth, suffering under the infinite wrath of God, that infinite justice might be done for an inconceivably great sin.

And in this we have hope and respite from that horror that would otherwise bind us so. We are free to step from that terror: but not into pride, or self-adulation, for it is not we who have saved ourselves, but our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And if He is not Lord we are not saved, for He has bought us with His own blood. No, we step instead into reverence and awe, a kind of great and terrible delight.

The apostle John told us that while we do not know what we shall be like when Christ is revealed at last, we know this: we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. That is a great promise indeed. To see God with redeemed eyes is to be like Him: for we must be, will be, conformed to His image. That is a comfort, a great comfort, when we are confronted (as daily we are) but the sinfulness of our sin, and the depravity of our hearts.

We are to be holy, as He is holy. And He in His great compassion has given us the power and the grace to become so.

- Chris

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