by Mike Ratliff
12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:12-13 NASB)
God is Holy. God is Righteous. God is Just. God is Sovereign. Yehōwāh (יהוה) our Adhōnāy (אדן אדון), God our sovereign one, our Lord, our Kurios (κύριος), is also Love, Mercy, and Grace. We must not have a view of God that emphasizes His love, mercy, or grace over His Holiness. We are commanded to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phlippians 2:12). We are commanded to delight in God and come boldly to His throne of Grace, yet we must never take His Holiness for granted. This is why we have so much exhortation in the Bible to put to death the deeds of the flesh and then become Spirit-filled thereby walking in repentance.
A huge part of our sanctification is putting to death the deeds of the flesh and, instead, live according to the Spirit. All who are in Christ are new creations because God regenerated them at their death and resurrection (their salvation). The act of putting to death the deeds of the flesh is called the mortification of sin. This is what we do when are exposed to the Holiness of God (Isaiah 6). His Holiness shines His light into the darkness of our hearts revealing to us the sins we are holding onto that is actually causing our relationship with Him to suffer. This also diminishes our obedience to Him. While we may have thought we were doing pretty well in this walk, when we draw near unto our κύριος, spend time with Him in prayer, our sins become apparent to us in a way that breaks our hearts for we have hurt our κύριος who went to the cross, bearing our sins upon Himself to incur the wrath of God so we will never have to. While this walk is powered by the Joy of the Lord (John 15), it is also one of constant self-examination.
31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:31-32 NASB)
The walk of the genuine Christian is one of being disciplined by our κύριος. If we examine ourselves in this walk, confess and repent of what God shows us through this, then He will not discipline us so severely. Sometimes we, like children, will run too far away and pursue things we should not and thereby find ourselves in a spiritually barren place that seems a million miles away from the perceived presence of our κύριος. It is then that the Good Shepherd will come to rescue us. I am sure many of you could share of our Lord doing this. He awakens our perception of what we have actually done. Then we will be like David when confronted by Nathan about his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband (Psalm 51). It as if we were blind to it then the Holy Spirit breaks through the fatness around our hearts (Psalm 119:70), cutting through that layer of self-desception that has deadened our ability to hear the voice of our κύριος. Then we see ourselves as an old wineskin that has become hardened and cracked by being left in the smoke too long (Psalm 119:83).
When our κύριος awakens us to our sin then we realize how we have offended the Holiness of God. This causes us to cry out to our Lord as Isaiah did, “Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then we pray, we confess, we pray for God to grant us repentance much like the unknown Puritan who wrote the follow prayer of confession.
“O Divine Lawgiver,
I take shame to myself
for open violations of they law,
for my secret faults,
my omissions of duty,
my unprofitable attendance upon means of grace,
my carnality in worshipping thee,
and all the sins of my holy things.
My iniquities are increased over my head:
My trespasses are know in the heavens,
and there Christ is gone also,
my advocate with the Father,
my propitiation for sins,
and I hear his word of peace.
At present it is a day of small things with me,
I have light enough to see my darkness,
sensibility enough to feel the hardness of my heart,
spirituality enough to mourn my want of a heavenly mind;
but I might have had more,
I have never been straitened in thee,
thou hast always placed before me an infinite fullness,
and I have not taken it.
I confess and bewail by deficiencies and backslidings:
I mourn my numberless failures,
my incorrigibility under rebukes,
my want of profiting under ordinances of mercy,
my neglect of opportunities for usefulness.
It is not with me as in months past;
O recall me to thyself, and enable me to feel my first love.
May my improvements correspond with my privileges,
may my will accept the decisions of my judgment,
my choice be that which conscience approves,
and may I never condemn myself in the things I allow!
From The Valley of Vision – a collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions edited by Arthur Bennett.
My brethren, let us examine ourselves in light of God’s Holiness to see where we have taken His grace for granted. Let us draw near unto Him by coming to the throne of grace, confess our sins and walk in repentance as we judge ourselves.
Soli Deo Gloria!