"Oh to Grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be.
Let thy goodness, like a fetter
bind my wandering heart to Thee!"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I'm Totally Depraved (GASP!)

“Repentance is to leave the sins we loved before
and show that we in earnest grieve by doing so no more.”

I am overwhelmed today with the faithfulness of the Lord. Words are really incapable of describing this, but I guess I will try nonetheless. These past two weeks of my life have been characterized with a dwindling passion for the things of the Lord, and as awful as it sounds, I see now the Providence of the Lord shining bright as ever through it all. Let me explain: about a year ago the Lord awoke my heart to righteousness and began to convict me greatly about the way I was living. Suddenly my nights and bedside prayers were turned into great wailings to the Lord begging for forgiveness and crying out for Him to save me from my iniquities. All the pride, all the selfishness, all the unbelief was being exposed for what it really was, and it was one of the hardest times, but more than that, it was one of the greatest. The godly sorrow was leading me into repentance, and repentance led me to salvation, and the Lord revealed to me what it really means to repent and believe the gospel (something that I had heard all my life, but obviously never truly understood.) This time of my life was marked by the bitter sweet taste of repentance and the indescribable faith that follows. The Lord opened my eyes to things that can only be seen by the grace of God, and I learned that my faith and repentance truly were dependable on the GIFT of the Lord. He showed me that in my own strength and power I am 100% incapable of seeking Him.

(side note: This is why I hate the self-esteem gospel! Had I continued to listen to everyone out there that says that it is wrong to walk around thinking negative thoughts about yourself, then I would have NEVER EVER in a million years come to the conclusion of the magnitude of the fact that I am a GREAT sinner who has sinned against a Holy and righteous and PERFECT God and that I am incapable of doing a thing on my own to take care of that. I would have never come to the realization that what I was professing and what I was doing did not match up. The seeker-sensitive movement would have never led me into repentance because it would have been considered too harsh to tell a person who looked like a great Christian on the outside that they needed to examine themselves. Look folks, I‘ve been there…I‘ve done that, and if it wasn‘t for hard-Biblical truth being preached who knows what I would be writing about today. Probably about basketball practice and what I was going to eat for dinner. Repentance leads to salvation….and it needs to be preached that way. The Lord is so good to have opened my eyes. So when I think about what some people out there are being taught, I get so sad. Yes, I am reminded that I was there once too, and I need to remember the grace that the Lord showed me during that time, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t expose it. Had it not been exposed to me then I would still be in that state, you see?)

Ok back to this. About two weeks or so ago I began to get comfortable and complacent in my walk. I’m not saying that I am not capable of falling into complacency in my faith at any point during the course of a day, because I am, it’s just that this particular time started a couple weeks ago. Suddenly my passion wasn’t single anymore and I was letting the things of everyday life distract me from my duties to Christ like I had done pretty much the first 20 years of my life. It was like I could feel my mind becoming more and more worldly in thought by the minute. You would think red flags would have gone up and I would have crushed these thoughts of unbelief immediately, but that didn’t happen. Yes the red flags went up, and yes I was aware of what was happening, but it was like I was completely helpless of doing anything about it. Things that I used to savor such as reading the Word or spending time in prayer were all of a sudden things that were overlooked with ease. The difference this time around though: I HATED THIS. For some reason the Lord was making me perfectly aware of what was happening instead of it just blinding me and taking over. No, I knew what was happening, and it was tearing me up. The main thing that I could pinpoint was I had lost my fear of the Lord. And with that, I realized the truth in Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Because without the fear of the Lord I was left with nothing. My thoughts and my actions are left to the consumption of my own lusts if I don’t have the fear of the Lord. I wasn’t ignorant to Satan’s device, so it made me even more frustrated that I was not overcoming this. So I was left with no other option but to cry out to the Lord to deliver me from this. I did it earnestly and in pain because I wanted so badly to return to how it was before. Get this: I was begging for the reigns of the Lord to be put back on me. I was CRAVING his discipline because I had tasted it for the past year and I realized how GREAT it was. Fun at the time? No. But glorious afterwards? YES.

Job 36:10 He opens also their ear to discipline, and commands that they return from iniquity.
Job 5:17 "Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.
Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. (ESV)

This reminds me of something that Paul Washer said in a sermon. He said that becoming a Christian does not mean that you start to do the righteous things that you hate and stop doing the unrighteous things that you love. No way, your desires are changed and you no longer WANT to do the unrighteous things and you CRAVE the holy righteous things of the Lord.
So as I cried out the Lord to deliver me from the darkness, the Lord seemed to do anything BUT that. Day after day it was the same thing. I kept reading in Lamentations 3:26 “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” But it didn’t seem to be doing me any good!

Oh me of little faith.

I’m sure that you all have heard something about how unconfessed sin can cause a barrier between you and the Lord. I have heard it plenty of times. Well, now I know that it is true. This past week was a big week for me. Some sins that were in my life were brought to the light and the result was repenting from the horrible act of disobeying God’s law. Some sins I had realized before but crept back into, and some of them that I was completely blind to altogether. At least, blind enough to not deal with them. And while I find myself asking, “Why would I do that?!” I don’t have to look very far for the answer because it’s right there in the Bible screaming at me. Men love darkness. It’s true. And even though I have been born again and become a new creation in Christ, dieing to my flesh and putting on the righteousness of Christ with the Spirit living within me….my flesh still loves darkness. And I will struggle with my flesh from now until the last day when I meet my Almighty Creator. I am no longer a slave to it, however, because Jesus Christ is risen and is alive today in Heaven sitting at the right hand of God. Because that is true, the power of Jesus’ blood has set me free from the bondage of that darkness.

So, the Lord brought these sins to the light and I was able to repent and it was like the walls were torn down. Seemed so simple, but I learned a very very important lesson. I am not the author of my own salvation. I know we all would say, of course you aren’t Susan, but do you realize that we live like we think that we are? In this Semi-Palagian-infested mainstream “Christianity culture” we live like we are the ones that control our destiny. Ask anyone who does not believe in the predestination of the saints before the foundation of the world. Who do they put in charge? Man. They put themselves in charge. They become the ones responsible for their salvation, even though the Bible teaches the opposite. So do you realize that with that kind of mindset I am subject to staying in the state of darkness while I run around frantically trying to “do something” to get out of it. Because if I am the author of my own salvation, then I must be doing something wrong and I need to fix it. Well the truth is, yes, I have done something wrong. I am a totally depraved sinner who is incapable of doing anything right without the grace of God, so I then must put all my dependence on the Lord to deliver me from this pitiful state.

Lesson learned. These past two weeks I was under the chastisement of the Lord. He was getting my attention and teaching me to wait on Him. And then He was faithful in bringing my sins to the light so that they can be dealt with and forgiven by the blood of Christ. If these sins were left in the dark then I would have been miserable. But as Romans 8:30 says, “ Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” God has promised to keep those whom he has called and it is on that promise that I lean on. This is a pretty difficult concept to a society who preaches self-reliance as the saving grace of living an unsuccessful life.

Luke 7:47
Therefore I say unto you, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.

This verse is incredible, and it is the very thing that the Lord is teaching me. This doesn’t mean that you go around sinning as much as you can so that you can be forgiven a lot. The reality is that we have so much sin in our lives that if we saw it all at once we wouldn’t be able to handle it. But the Lord is loving enough to reveal it to you so that you can confess it and be forgiven and experience His grace. This repentance is a gift from Him, and it should be cherished. Faith and repentance go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.

So basically here is what I have learned from all of this: Men love their darkness…clearly this is true, it is in the Bible (John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.) and it is obvious, all you have to do is look into your own heart to see this. So this is in direct, full-on collision and battle with your love for the Lord and His righteousness that is given to you by Him. The problem: You are completely incapable of doing anything about this because of your depraved state. Result: waiting upon the Lord for His grace and gift of deliverance from this spiritual battle. Another Result: patience. Great dependence on the Lord and only Him because you acknowledge that your ability to believe on Him is completely dependent on Him.

There are three things that a believer will continue to do while here on this earth: Sin, Repent, and Believe. Without repentance you can't have faith, they go hand in hand.

Here is a great sermon by Charles Spurgeon that the Lord used to wake me up to these truths:

1 comment:

Jonathan Connolly said...

This is so great what God has done in your life! I find myself in the same position sometimes. Recently I too have heard Paul Washer preach at a local church. I have never heard the gospel put in such a way. I love that man. I firmly believe in not watering down the gospel and placing the emphasis where it should be placed. I like this blog you created it has a lot of really cool stuff on it. Check out my blog I am just starting to make. http://www.jonathanconnolly.wordpress.com

God bless