Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Portal To His Grace

Why can't we ignore the doctrine of human depravity? Surely, pointing it out doesn't help people feel good about themselves, so therefore it mustn't really glorify the Lord. Let's focus our conversations on His love for us and His grace in our lives instead of talking about our wretchedness. Christianity might appeal to a whole lot more people if we play down the negative Bible verses and promote the positive aspects.

Yeah...except Jesus called us to make disciples that observe His commandments (Matthew 28:18-20), not market Him as a product. And Scripture, when we read it in context, does next to nothing to boost human self-esteem. For instance, consider His very unflattering description of the human heart:
18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. ~~Matthew 15:18-19 (ESV)
This morning, I read a testimony by a new member of the Naomi's Table Google+ group, in which the dear lady shared how the Lord exposed a sin in her life (and no, I won't repeat what her sin entailed). As she realized the severity of what she'd done, the Holy Spirit convinced her of her absolute wretchedness before Him. Interestingly, however, her experience of humility and repentance enabled her to truly appreciate the grace, mercy and love of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I've had multiple episodes (beginning two weeks before Jesus saved me) when the Lord caused me to face the terrible corruption that permeates my heart. To call those times of conviction (for indeed, God judges me guilty and convicts me of breaking His righteous Law) unpleasant would be a gross understatement. No one enjoys such discipline!

Yet in those awful times of coming to terms with the vileness of my heart, I best see the extravagance and marvel of the Lord's grace toward me. The gravity of my sin serves as a backdrop to display His beauty in calling me to Himself. How glorious of Him to forgive me, and then to purify my heart and adopt me as His daughter!

The Lord's love is so marvelous precisely because we can  never deserve it!
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ~~Ephesians 2:1-7 (ESV)
Christ shows His love, mercy and grace most powerfully to those who acknowledge their inability to deserve His love, mercy and grace. As we acknowledge and accept the gruesome truth that we "were by nature children of wrath," we can't help but exalt Christ for shedding His innocent blood to pay for our sin. Looking at our depravity crushes our egos, certainly. But recognizing the ugly truth about ourselves opens our eyes to behold His wonderful grace, causing us to praise and glorify Him.

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