Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Astonishment of Angels

Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; be very desolate," says the LORD. "For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jer 2:11-13

How seriously does Heaven take our sin?

There is an awesome solemnity in these verses. Can you not hear the collective gasp of the angels, who day and night cover their faces and worship before the throne? They who bow in adoration for untold ages without ever exhausting their impulse to praise Him...how could they not be astonished when we cast aside our Glory in favor of what does not profit?

How seriously do we take our sin?

Do we truly hear the words of our Lord through the apostle John when he said, "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him" (1John 3:15)? Do we hear the thunder of Heaven in Paul's assertion that coveting is idolatry (Col. 3:5), or in Samuel's declaration that "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry (1Sam. 15:23)?

How seriously do we take our sin?

Do we, like Ezra, grieve to the depths of our soul over sin, and "sit down astonished" (Ezra 9:3)? Does the sight of our sin make us cry out with Paul, "O wretched man that I am" (Rom. 7:24)? Do we, like Paul, truly hate the sins that we commit (Rom. 7:15)?

Do you protest, "But we're under grace! It's all forgiven, all under the blood, so don't talk to me about it"? No one knew grace better than Paul, but he called himself a wretch in Romans 7, right before writing one of the most beautiful treatises on grace ever written (Romans 8). If Paul didn't wink at sin, how dare we?

What if Paul was only capable of writing Chapter 8 because of what he wrote in Chapter 7? What if we have to see our own wretchedness and despise it before we can appreciate grace?

Do you wish you could find a magic formula to create more fervor in your worship? Do you wish there was some newer bit of music, some more intoxicating rhythm that you could sway to in church to help create a mood, to work up something that will pass for zeal on a Sunday morning?

God forgive us!

May we be on our knees pleading with God to give us a holy hatred for sin! May we seek true repentance, even though we have to get there by way of godly sorrow (2Co. 7:10)! May we pray for a fresh vision of Calvary, because it is there that we see most clearly how seriously Heaven takes our sin. Let me say it again. If at Calvary we see only the grace of God, we have not seen Calvary at all. The grace poured out there is precious beyond words, never to be belittled or overlooked in any way. But who is it who belittles grace, if not the very one who refuses to acknowledge the awfulness of the sin from which grace saves us?

Never forget that God the Son wasn't the only person of the Trinity at Golgotha that day. God the Father was there, too, and He was not passive. "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him, He has put Him to grief (Isa. 53:10). Nor was Jesus a helpless victim of a vindictive deity, for He agreed with the Father in everything, even on the Cross. "Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit," he said, and those are not the words of defeat. They are the ringing cry of victory, just as powerful as "It is finished!" For the Son hates sin just like the Father does, and took it so seriously that he willingly agreed with the sentence of wrath handed down upon it.

And He absorbed that wrath in our place.

Oh, precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow!

No other fount I know

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh, may we take our sin seriously, not so that we can become beaten-down and miserable, but so that we can love and delight in our Savior more passionately, so we can rejoice in grace wholeheartedly, and so that we can keep from throwing away our Glory and making Heaven gasp in astonishment and horror.

(Photo from Stock.xchng by tomdef)

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