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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Embracing Our Depravity

An addendum to the posts concerning grace . . . Over the past couple of days, I have written about reasons why grace is no longer amazing. Today, I want to submit how I believe we can once again relish the sovereign grace of God. If not, I fear that we will find ourselves like the Pharisee banking on superior performances, praying, "God, I thank you that I am not like those adulterers, extortioners, and like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I have . . .". I think this prayer modernized is rampant in religious circles today and causes us to nibble on crumbs when God has provided a banqueting table at his throne of grace. There was something that the tax collector stood, yea experienced within himself that caused him to beat his breast continually and cry out, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" What was it? What hit him with such force that drove him to look nowhere but within himself, not even able to lift his head to heaven? I tell you it was the reality of his depravity and utter helplessness that brought him to the place where his only hope was the mercy and grace of God. He had no performances to speak of, to brag about in his prayers (which we often do). He did not have the spiritual lingo down pat so as to cover up his nakedness in finely woven fig leaves and form without substance. He knew that the guilt lied squarely on him. The weight of condemnation and judgment pending was too great to bear. He had come to the point where he finally embraced his depravity. And this is what I believe needs to happen today, not just for sinners tasting grace for the first time, but for the saints who have the tendency to forget that we are still sinners. Unfortunately, there are those who have concocted this idea that the Christian can reach a point of "sinless perfection" or "entire holiness" where grace is no longer necessary and sin is not a reality. If that be the case, then I would like to meet that person and hand him the diploma for being the first to graduate from Christianity. Yet, I will be the first to say that I am NOT that person. Like Paul, "I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh." You see, we will never be staggered by grace until we have been confronted with the heinousness of sin. For some reason, we don't think sin is that sinful anymore. Hell is not real, but only a metaphorical statement. Sinners are not in rebellion against God; they just have "imperfections" and "bad judgments" and therefore are victims. We feel sorry for ourselves and expect others to have pity on us. Many religious circles are nothing but group therapy to appease the reality of sin rather than confronting it. We cannot drink of the cup of grace deeply until we have tasted the seriousness of our sin fully. Period. Embracing our depravity does not leave us hopeless, for Christ came into the world to save sinners. You know, the only category of people Christ Jesus came for is sinners. "This is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world for sinners, of whom I am the foremost" (1 Timothy 1:15). You would think that some serial killer said this. Well, you are right. The Osama Bin Laden of 1st Century penned those words, and his former name was Saul. He knew something of this reality, even at the end of his life. Jesus did call those who think they were fine. He came for sick people. He cares not for your spiritual resume or personal sacrifices. He desires mercy. He longs to lavish grace upon grace on wretched, poor, and blind sinners. It is time that we take ownership for our sin. We must come clean before the Lord. We must allow our secrets to be headlined on the 5:00 news and our darkness illuminated by the spotlight. It is time that we expose our nakedness before God and shed those masks which only add to our condemnation. What are we afraid of? What others will think about us? Who are we foolin'? Don't let your presentation be fabricated. What we need today are transparent, authentic Christians, those who have been before the throne of grace. You see, the Scripture says, "Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy" (Proverbs 28:13). We are already naked before the Lord (Hebrews 4:13), but we just don't want to come to terms with it, and many will go their grave with lifelong attempts to rub out the ruins of sin. If only someone would tell them of the blood of Christ. Yes, there is a fountain fill with blood, drawn from Immanuel's veins. And sinners plunged within the flood, lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains. Yes, I sing again . . . Amazing Grace How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me I once was lost But now I am found Was blind But now I see. Seeing my sin. Savoring God's grace. This, I believe, is what makes salvation so sweet.

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