Passage of the Day: Psalm 51: 6 [see verse in bold/underlined] …
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Surely You desire truth in the inner parts; You teach me wisdom in the inmost place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
My Journal for Today: In the past two days of this study into the nature of sin, which is actually a study of the inner nature of mankind and my humanity, I’ve noted that true confession of sinfulness involves a right view … #1, of sin and … #2, of God. And to put a tag on this three-part mini-study, John MacArthur in his Strength for Today devotional on this date, helps me [us] see that this self-inventory also involves #3, … a right view of self.
I agree with MacArthur, who contends that a great many non-believers, and unfortunately far too many Christians, have fallen prey to the cultural trend toward boosting “self-esteem.” There are literally hundreds of self-help books on the market; and “self-esteem” gurus, like Oprah or Dr. Phil, who have become the leaders of our self-improvement market of pseudo-spiritual teachers. And many Christians get sucked into this vortex of belief which touts believing in self, following so-called “Christian” teachers like Joel Osteen. If you’re reading this, my friend, it’s all a lie from hell which causes us to take our eyes off of our Savior and onto self. Jesus clearly taught (see an old favorite in my devotionals – Luke 9: 23a) that any disciple of His must “deny self;” and so any worldly teaching that promotes or lifts up “selfism,” is an anti-Christ teaching.
Perhaps some of this, from a Christian standpoint, could come from a misshaped view of Jesus’ teaching from Matt. 19: 19 to “… love our neighbor as yourself,” which is not a mandate for self-love, but Christ’s command of what the Apostle Paul covered in Phil. 2: 3 – 4, … for Christians to “… consider others better than (i.e., before) ourselves.” To Jesus, the love of others came out of the recognition of the reality that God is in our hearts, and whenever we choose (and love is always a choice, not a feeling) to love others first, we are giving them [i.e., others] the same love that God gives to us through His Spirit, which is a sinless, selfless love, [i.e., “agape” love] … not a love of self extended to others to make us feel good. But our self-help gurus would have us believe that we must first love ourselves so that we can be able to reach out to others. Hopefully you can see the skin of this lie which is wrapped around a teaching of Christ. Oh, how clever the enemy can be!! Ironically we can love ourselves if and when we’re able to choose to love the God in us, who is Emmanuel … i.e., Christ. And when we love Him, receiving the grace of God through His Spirit, we’re able to extend our love of God in us to others and fulfill the Law of Christ (again Matt. 19: 19).
Actually, as we read in today’s verse of emphasis from Psalm 51: 6, David’s confessional hymn, we see that David recognized from whence the ability to love others came, … from God’s heart to ours … from God’s love of our very created being. He recognized that we would only be able to relate to God’s truth when we submitted to that truth. David saw that he (and, by extension, we) could only have true cleansing from sin and then witness to others when we could/would allow God to witness His holiness to the heart of mankind. In Ps. 51: 12 - 17 David writes of how joyfully he would witness God’s truth to others (i.e., to love others) or to praise God adequately, only when he could be rid of the sin that had plagued him. These latter verses are the outcries of a conquered, contrite, and openly-confessed sinner who had become surrendered to the love of God.
David had learned (of which you can read in 2nd Sam. 12: 10 – 19) that any sin has grave consequences. For David his sinfulness cost not only David, but his family and the nation of Israel; and Ps. 51 is David’s realization that he had to have a right view of himself, as well as a right view of his sin and his God, for him to be able to confess and get into a right relationship with God.
Therefore, when we seek cleansing from our sin, as did David, by our open and honest confession at God’s throne of grace, we must see our selves in the light of God’s holiness, seeking, with true humility, God’s cleansing from which we WILL find healing and restoration of our relationship with Christ (again, see and be uplifted by the powerful truths in Ps. 103: 8 – 13 and 1st John 1: 9).
My Prayer Today: Lord, You are God; and I am not! Heal me of my unholiness. Amen