Thursday, May 5, 2016

WITHOUT REGRET

Funny how things overlap...

A couple of week's ago during our Wednesday night study at Grace, we read this:

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. And he said "...do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved." - Nehemiah 8:9, 10b, 11

In the verses just before this passage, the people of Israel had listened as the Law was read and explained. When they understood the Law - and understood their guilt before a holy God - they were grieved and began to weep. And they kept on weeping.

But Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites rebuked the people, explaining that if they had truly repented of their sins, it was no longer time to mourn but to rejoice. To insist on remaining downcast and to refuse to celebrate the forgiveness extended to them by a merciful God would be sin. They had repented:  now it was time to celebrate!

Our sin should grieve us. But to continue mourning after we encounter the gospel demonstrates a cold-heartedness toward the very gospel we profess. It is sin on top of sin if we park our heinies in the shadows when we have been commanded to walk in the light.

This past Sunday in our discussion of C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, we talked about spiritual pride. Two particular manifestations of spiritual pride include:

1. Thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought:  I'm a pretty good guy; God's holiness is not really so very far above me.

- and -

2. Thinking more lowly of ourselves than we ought:  I am such a horrible person that God could never forgive me; God's grace cannot cover a sinner such as I.

In both cases, our eyes are focused on ourselves - our righteousness, or our sinfulness - instead of on God. And both haughty self-exaltation and wallowing in our baseness are sin. Both deny the truths of Scripture, insisting that our thoughts or emotions trump God's Word.

Then this morning, I read:  "...I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting...For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death." - 2 Corinthians 7:9a, 10

Camille's takeaway from all of this:  It is entirely possible for me to be brokenhearted over my sin, and yet remain unrepentant.

A friend once said to me:  "Joy is the litmus of the gospel." If I have no joy, then I have forgotten the gospel. I am stepping back into the yoke of a works-based righteousness instead of walking in grace.

Yes, I should weep over my sin. But then, I should repent and rejoice in the goodness of the gospel and the sufficiency of Christ. The gospel moves me past grief, into joy. into a salvation "without regret."

2 comments:

Libby Inglett said...

Thank you for boldly proclaiming the truth. I have been so guilty of this, especially focusing on my past or present sin instead of on Jesus. I have also been guilty of being truly broken-hearted over my sin but not repenting of it. Thanks for the reminder. :)

Libby Inglett said...

Thank you for boldly proclaiming the truth. I have been so guilty of this, especially focusing on my past or present sin instead of on Jesus. I have also been guilty of being truly broken-hearted over my sin but not repenting of it. Thanks for the reminder. :)