And You Thought You Were Feeling Bad About Yourself Today...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

There are moments in the Christian life when we are acutely aware of the depth of our sinfulness. Perhaps you are at a place in your walk with God where you can relate to this man's feelings:

Often...I have had very affecting views of my own sinfulness and vileness; very frequently to such a degree as to hold me in a kind of loud weeping, sometimes for a considerable time together; so that I have often been forced to shut myself up. I have had a vastly greater sense of my own wickedness, and the badness of my heart, than ever I had before my conversion. It has often appeared to me, that if God should mark iniquity against me, I should appear the very worst of all mankind; of all that have been, since the beginning of the world to this time; and that I should have by far the lowest place in hell. When others [have said] that they were as bad as the devil himself, I thought their expressions seemed exceeding faint and feeble, to represent my wickedness. My wickedness, as I am in myself, has long appeared to me perfectly ineffable, and swallowing up all thought and imagination; like an infinite deluge, or mountain over my head. I know not how to express better what my sins appear to me to be, than by heaping infinite upon infinite, and multiplying infinite by infinite. Very often, for these many years, these expressions are in my mind, and in my mouth, "Infinite upon infinite...infinite upon infinite!" When I look into my heart, and take a view of my wickedness, it looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell....
Who was it that could have such a horribly negative view of himself? A murderer? An adulterer? A believer who did not understand the nature of justification and union with Christ? In fact, the author of these words was one of the greatest pastors and theologians in American church history: Jonathan Edwards.

Thankfully, his musings continued:
...And it appears to me, that were it not for free grace, exalted and raised up to the infinite height of all the fulness and glory of the great Jehovah, and the arm of his power and grace stretched forth in all the majesty of his power, and in all the glory of his sovereignty, I should appear sunk down in my sins below hell itself; far beyond the sight of every thing, but the eye of sovereign grace, that can pierce even down to such a depth.
Here's the reality: the closer a believer grows in his relationship with God, the more his own failings are exposed by the light of God's perfections. This keeps us humble and dependent on grace until the end of our lives, regardless of how much we grow in holiness. Reminds me of the words of another great pastor and theologian, the apostle Paul:
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! ... There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 7:24-8:1)

3 comments:

Crossdweller September 28, 2010 at 8:58 PM  

Thanks so much...this was a great encouragement

Obie Holmen September 29, 2010 at 8:54 AM  

My own "wonderings" about Paul resulted in the publication of a novel entitled "A Wretched Man, a novel of Paul the apostle". Obviously, the title derives from Paul's anguished lament in Romans, but the novel also "wonders" about his Damascus theophany and his experience of a gracious God. The novel has received critical acclaim and reader affirmation. It is a bit edgy and will provoke serious questions. Sorry for the blatant self-promotion, but more info is available by clicking on my name.

Mike Moses September 30, 2010 at 5:28 PM  

Obie, it seems that our views on the nature of Scripture are at odds. As one who understands the entire Bible to be the inerrant word of God, I don't "wonder" at all about the historical veracity of Paul's Damascus road experience - or anything else about Paul's story that the Bible records for us. We are not allowed to re-write history as we see fit. I wasn't alive at that time and neither were you - it really comes down to whose testimony we believe. Many factors lead me to believe Scripture rather than skeptics.

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