Friday, October 15, 2010

How utterly hopeless...

I've been working through Romans 3v9-20, in preparation for a Bible study that I will be leading at church next week. It has served as an incredible reminder of how utterly sinful I am. Thinking on it each evening has thoroughly condemned me, as each evening I realise how I have failed to glorify God's name. Each day I have dragged Christ's beautiful name through the mud. I have willfully and deliberately shown unkindness, malice, envy, lack of love, unadvised speech, hasty temper and a great multitude of more sins which mean that His name is not honoured in my life as it should be. And each night I must whisper my confession and contrition, before the God who holds me accountable.

This I believe is Paul's purpose in writing this part of the passage. Each word another blow that drives right to the heart of my cockiness, my self-surety, my sinful belief that I may be justified in God's sight because of my works. For, none is righteous, no, not one, not even you Beckie, however much you may think you are.

How my heart aches, and I think this is what Paul wants us to be, before he reminds us, with that glorious "But" in verse 21. For if we do not recognise our utter hopelessness to be right with God, then the gospel loses its power. If we can be saved another way, if we can be right with God on our own, then the death of Christ means nothing, it really was, just a carpenter dying for annoying the religious authorities of the day. But knowing that there is no way that mankind can be saved, that there is no way that I can be right with God, then I am desperate, I am alone, I am dependent. 

Thank God for that "but" - that I can be right with God, apart from my works. My works that should condemn me are cast aside, and the pure, spotless, glorious perfection of Christ is seen in all its power. But that's another week, and another study. For now I remember my sinfullness, and look forward to my salvation.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Evening Renewal"

My Father,
If Thy mercy had bounds, where would be my refuge from just wrath?
But Thy love in Christ is without measure.
Thus, I present myself to thee
      with sins of commission and omission,
              against Thee, my Father,
              against Thee, adorable redeemer,
              against Thee and Thy strivings, O Holy Spirit,
              against the dictates of my conscience,
              against the precepts of Thy Word,
              against my neighbours and myself.
Enter not into judgement with me,
For I plead no righteousness of my own,
    and have no cloak for iniquity.
Pardon my day dark with evil.
This night I renew my penitence.
Every morning I vow to love Thee more fervently,
                       to serve Thee more sincerely,
                       to be more devoted in my life,
                       to be wholly Thine;
Yet I soon stumble, backslide,
      and have to confess my weakness, misery and sin.
But I bless Thee that the finished work of Jesus needs no addition
                                                  from my doings,
                              that His oblation is sufficient satisfaction
                                                  for my sins.
If future days be mine, help me to amend my life,
                                                   to hate and abhor evil,
                                                   to flee the sins I confess.
Make me more resolute, more watchful, more prayerful.
Let no evil fruit spring from evil seeds my hands have sown;
Let no neighbour be hardened in vanity and folly
                  by my want of circumspecion.
If this day I have been ashamed of Christ and His Word,
                   or have shown unkindness, malice, envy, lack of love,
                   unadvised speech, hasty temper,
                   let it be no stumbling block to others,
                   or dishonour to Thy name.
O help me to set an upright example that will ever rebuke vice,
                   allure to goodness,
                    and evidence that lovely are the ways of Christ.

--From "The Valley of Vision -- a collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions -- by Arthur Bennett"

--- I would replace "If this day" with "Since this day"