Wednesday, April 04, 2007

An early Good Friday lesson

I had some unexpected and urgent bank stuff to do today, and it is still not fully resolved. However, it’s out of my hands for now, and all I can do is wait.

What got me thinking was my reaction. No, I didn’t outwardly get angry or anything like that, but I thought and did some things that ultimately, I think, revealed the state of my heart, and my idols. I initially justified my thoughts and actions, thinking that I was entitled to it (and even now I still want to justify myself!) “It’s ok, you’re not really that bad. It's just a little problem.” “People generally think well of me. Remember that compliment you got last night?”

But then I read 1 John 1:8 – "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." I always thought this to mean a verbal claim to be perfect, and therefore it didn’t really apply to me – after all, I do acknowledge that I am imperfect, a sinner, right? But today I realised I have, in my sinfulness, actually misconstrued those words. While it does cover what I’ve just written, it is a more radical, all-encompassing statement than I’ve allowed. It is actually a strike against hypocrisy, what we say and what we do. If I blame someone else, if I try to downplay my sin or conceal it (after all, no one could see what was going on in my mind), I am actually sending a message, a claim, that I have no sin. Sure, I won’t actually say "I'm sinless!", but it is implicit. (See also v.10)

When I recognise this (and it’s really, really tough!), what I am actually doing is admitting my heart issues, that my god isn’t God, that my sin hurts God. To use the language of 1 John 1:8, the truth is not in me. I am worse off that I want to admit. And that I need help. Only God can change me from the inside-out.

This isn’t meant to be a self-bashing session, and I have no intent or interest in guilt-tripping anyone here. It just seemed to me that the act of repentance is even more radical than I thought or want it to be, and that’s worth sharing. And pondering. And writing this forces me to do the latter.

Leaving verse 9 out would be a distortion of the gospel, however. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Again, this is harder for me to believe than I admit. Really? Will he?

Then the cross comes into view – this is how God demonstrated his love for us. For me. And because of this I died and am united with Christ Jesus, if I just trust him. "My every road leads to the cross", Matt Redman sings. He’s right. It's the only road we can take.

Helping me think this through:
My earlier poetry post on Psalm 51
David Powlison on the heart
Indicatives, imperatives, and grace
Thinking through Tim’s post


Post a Comment

<< Home

Links to this post:

Create a Link