Sunday, September 20, 2009

Evil Man and Gracious God

By Matt Tyler

"Matt is not righteous; Matt does not seek God. He has turned aside; he has become worthless; Matt Tyler does not do good. His throat is an open grave; He uses his tongue to deceive. The venom of asps is under his lips. Matt's mouth is full of curses and bitterness. His feet are swift to shed blood; in Matt's paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace He does not know. There is no fear of God before Matt's eyes." Romans 3:10-18

If I walked into a modern day physiologist's office and repeated this passage (with my name added of course) they would immediately prescribe that I come back every week until my self-esteem problem gets fixed. However, I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that this would not help me. If I said anything less than this passage of Romans about myself then I would be a liar. This passage, written about me, is completely and utterly true. I am not righteous. I do not seek God. I have turned away from God and do no good. I do not fear God. My ways are full of sin.

And this isn't even the half of it.

I have told so many lies. I have stolen so many things (and this includes more than just physical objects). I have blasphemed the name of the God who gave me life. I am an adulterer and a murderer at heart according to Jesus. I do not care about the things of God.

And this isn't even the half of it.

The point is: I am bad.

I don't know how to describe it any better than that.

Revelation 21:8 says this about me: "As for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, (in other words, as for Matt) their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."

Here's an understatement: I am in trouble. And just to be clear: The Lake that burns with fire and sulfur is eternal punishment in Hell. And to say it would be anything less, as so many so often do, would not be justice. In other words, because of my sin, if I do not get eternal punishment in the lake of fire then I would not be getting what I deserved.

This stops me in my tracks. I am in a heap of trouble.

But praise the Lord that this passage was written about me too:

"Since Matt has been justified by faith, he has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him he has obtained access by faith into this grace in which he stands, and Matt rejoices in hope of the glory of God. More than that, Matt rejoices in his sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put Matt to shame, because God's love has been poured into Matt's heart through the Holy Spirit who has been given to him. For while Matt was still weak, at the right time Christ died for him (the ungodly)… Since, therefore, Matt has been justified by His blood, much more shall he be saved by Him from the wrath of God. For while Matt was an enemy he has been reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that he is reconciled, shall Matt be saved by His life." Romans 5:1-11

My response to the first bit of news, as a Christian, is humility. I am humbled by the fact that I do not even seek God. I do not even fear God. I have rebelled and deserve Hell. And yet I know and trust that Jesus Christ has saved me. And this salvation gives me so much: peace, reconciliation, joy, eternal life, and so much more. So much can be written on this subject, but I would rather take the time to reflect for myself rather than write everything down.

What about you, though, fellow Christian? Does this humble you? Does this give you cause to rejoice?

And unbeliever who may be reading this: what is your response? There is only one appropriate response: Repent and trust the Savior and you will be saved from your sin and that lake that burns. You will be united with the Father. You will be free from sin. However, so many will continue in sin. I pray that you will be the former. And I pray that I will be humbled that I have received so much, so undeservingly.

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