"Having come to the light of the knowledge of the glory of Christ from Scripture or by the preaching of the gospel, let us regard it as our duty to meditate frequently on his glory. It is the neglect of meditation that keeps so many Christians in a feeble state, regardless of their privileges. They hear of these things and assent to the truth of them or at least they do not question them. But they never solemnly meditate on them. They think that meditation is above their capabilities, or they are totally ignorant of how to go about it, or they are not too concerned about it, or they treat it as fanaticism. Many cannot meditate because their minds are so cluttered up with earthly things. The mind must be spiritual and holy, freed from all earthly clutter. It must be raised above things here below if we wish to meditate on the glory of Christ. So many are strangers to this duty because they do not mortify their earthly desires and concerns."
-John Owen from his book "The Glory of Christ"
So what is it in this life that actually matters and why do I find it so hard to stay focused on it? Well, the answer to the first question is glorifying Jesus Christ and His work on the glorious cross for my once wicked soul. And I'm still trying to figure out how to pinpoint the answer to the second one. All I can say is, what in the world? How is it that two years ago the Lord could completely come in and intervene in my life, draw me unto Himself, convict me of my sin, grant me repentance, and completely captivate my life as a whole....and yet, now, I'm left just wondering where it all went. Don't get me wrong, this is not a post about me questioning my salvation. It's nothing of the sort. The writing of this post, as crazy as it seems, is evidence in itself that I am saved, because the Lord is bringing to light many things that need to change in my life. Chastisement- a very good sign that you are a child of God.
So the quote that I put up at the top of this post really woke me up yesterday when I read it on the plane. John Owen did a really good job of awakening me with his descriptions of the glory of Christ...and then followed it up with a slap in the face with his calling out of the lazy people who are finding it hard to stay focused on it. I'm not being too hard on myself either (even though a lot of Christians would identify with the same convictions of not being focused enough on it either) but I'm seriously tired of letting myself off the hook. This is getting ridiculous. How does Christianity become so 'cultural' and 'watered down' anyways? Because people compare themselves to people who profess Christ, who then compare themselves to other people who profess Christ (instead of comparing themselves to the Bible), and the cycle gets more and more vicious until everyone just walks around thinking they are off the hook because they don't look any different from Johnny down the street who grew up in church and has a WWJD bumper sticker on his car. Excuse my tangent, but I mean isn't it true? And isn't that the very thing I am guilty of right now as I watch my walk with the Lord go down the tube on account of MY laziness and unwillingness to remove unnecessary worldly clutter from my life? Well, since most of you don't know me or my life...the answer to that question is YES. YES that is exactly what is happening to me right now, and I am confessing it.
What amazes me is how I could have let it get so out of control. I mean I got so lazy. It started out with the small things a few months back and just kind of built itself up, until a huge wall formed and I found myself surrounded, once again, by my selfishness and worldliness. I HATE worldliness, and yet I'm afraid right now that if you took a snapshot of my life you would see a whole lot of it. Whatever happened to the gospel being on my lips continuously? Why am I not taking advantage of witnessing opportunities like I used to? Where has the reign on my tongue gone? Where is my boldness that I used to have? Why am I finding myself enslaved to so much sin? These questions are driving me nuts because I'm finding myself completely helpless in changing a thing about the situation. I'm finding myself completely without the strength to simply 'pull myself up by the bootstraps' and start performing better. So this isn't the point in the post where I guilt trip myself into doing a better job and start turning inward to make myself change this. No way, my theology teaches me better than that- and so does the word of God.
I am seriously not resting in Christ. I am not denying myself. I am not mortifying my flesh. I'm not setting my mind on the things above. And it is all because I am being seriously lazy and not spending enough time TRULY taking in His word. I am making no true effort to mortify sin or remove worldly clutter. It is not my job to change myself. But it is my job to meditate on Christ and His glory! It is my job fight like crazy against the powers and principalities of this world, and most of all, my own sinful nature. I have corruption in my heart- I SERIOUSLY cannot fall asleep on this fact. And if I do, the result is a life that starts spinning out of control, even for a believer. The fact of inevitable indwelling sin does not mean I excuse it; no, in fact as a child of God, I hate it. And I must not fall asleep on it or it will take over and surely enslave me. I'm afraid that is exactly what I have let happen and I am now reaping the consequences.
One night getting ready for bed, just last week, this feeling was so strong and I felt so dirty that I was trying so hard to externally remove it. This is so sad, but it's true. I took a shower, I washed my face and hands, I scrubbed my teeth with extra toothpaste, I tried to get all my ducks in a line so that MAYBE I would find peace and comfort for a moment. Just maybe I wouldn't feel so dirty. WOW. How incredibly sad to even recall that about myself. I wasn't aware that was the reason why I was doing it at the time...but shortly after it dawned on me. You see, for a short time I lost sight of the glory of Christ. I wasn't making a serious effort to keep thoughts about the Lord and His glory in the forefront of my mind and look what came about. My life started to slowly spin out of control. To think that you can struggle with this and it not affect everything is completely absurd. To think that you can 'compartamentalize' in your life the gospel of Jesus Christ, which alone brings life, is completely absurd. My relationships were getting sloppy; I started to get lazy even with the people I love the most- namely my long distance relationship with my boyfriend out in California. A godly relationship with him even started to lose its fervor all because I was too busy being cluttered with the world. What a shame. But as shameful as that sounds, how much more shameful is it to lose fervor for your Lord, the one who reached down and saved you from the muck and mire of your sins? Only the blood of Christ can wash me clean of my iniquities, but not taking the time to retreat to the foot of the cross in humility is just pathetic. I am so thankful that the Lord brings these things to our attention so that we may awake out of this deranged state. I am so grateful for repentance and the healing that it brings.
All of this can be described as deception at its finest. And mix deception in with distraction and you have a deadly combination. Please listen to me...you cannot fight deception OR distraction on your own. Are you kidding me? You will just continue to fall in deeper and you will wonder why you can't seem to turn things around. You can't turn things around because you CAN'T turn things around. God is the one who TURNED things around for you in the first place when He saved you from your walk down an extremely wide path to Hell and placed you on the straight and narrow. And if He is the one who was in charge of doing that from the beginning, then why would it be any different now? Don't chase worldly things when they are the root of the problem. AND DO NOT put your affection on worldly things either because it will just leave you deceived and distracted. You will be left wondering how you got so off track in such a short period of time. Please do not keep turning to yourself; I promise you, you are mostly the problem. So what should we do then? We should turn to Christ. Quit putting it off. I don't care if you just sinned and you are ashamed. RUN to Christ. He is always always way more willing to forgive us than we are capable of sinning. Run to Christ, even when your deceived heart is not inclined to do so. If you are not spending time in prayer and in the word then you cannot expect to be able to fight temptation when it presents itself. The Bible says that the Lord never leaves you to a temptation without providing a way to escape it. Don't be too lazy to find the escape.
It seriously is a vicious cycle, my friends. If you are not making the effort to meditate on the glories of Christ and His word, then you are bound to lose your passion and zeal and desire for the things of God. And if you lose your desire, you will stop spending time in prayer and in the word. And if you stop that, it just leads to more worldly clutter and less thoughts of Christ...thus starting the cycle over again. Do you see now how even the strongest of believers can find themselves on the slippery slope? Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Do not take your sin lightly even for the slightest moment or you will learn the hard way. I am so grateful that the Lord has revealed this to me and even provided the desire to put in out in writing. I know I needed to hear it.
"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith."
Enjoy this wonderful sermon by Charles Spurgeon on Indwelling sin: