Stop me if you've heard this or something like it before (or said it yourself). From a person raised in the church: "I wish I had a more radical testimony like so-and-so. I think that if I came from a more outwardly sinful background I would have a greater appreciation for the blessings we enjoy here." There is something inherently wrong about such a sentiment. Were Jesus strongest words of warning reserved for really outwardly wicked sinners like murderers or adulterers or for religiously raised, self-righteous folks? The latter! D. Martin Lloyd Jones (who got me thinking about this) says, "You can be innocent of all gross sins and yet be guilty of this terrible thing, of being satisfied with your life, of having pride in your achievements and of looking down on others and feeling that you are better than others. There is nothing worse than that because you are saying to yourself that you are somehow nearer to God than they are, and yet the whole time you are not." (from Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure - a great resource whether you suffer from spiritual depression or not!). Is that you or me?
Lloyd-Jones' point and the one I am trying to make here is that if we don't comprehend the depth of our sin and are always comparing ourselves with others who are 'worse sinners,' we won't see the glory of Christ's sacrifice for sin. Compare yourself with God's standard. You must love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself. Have you? Sure, I've never murdered someone, but I have been full of self-righteous pride. My sin is ugly. It's only when we truly feel this that we will experience the joy that comes from resting in Christ. Lloyd-Jones says, "If you have never realized your guilt or guiltiness before God you will never have joy in Christ. It is impossible. 'Not the righteous, sinners Jesus came to save.' 'They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick.'"
It may be counter-intuitive to think that contemplating our sin will lead to greater joy, but if we skip this part, we'll miss the true joy Christ affords all who find refuge in him. Only then we will see the greatness of the Savior who died to forgive all of those sins. If you are in Christ, you are forgiven and free and therein is true joy. So make sure you see the depth of you sin, but don't stay there. Move quickly to the cross and find the joy that comes from deliverance through Christ our Savior!
When I quote Scripture In this blog, unless otherwise indicated, the quotations are usually from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission.
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