Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

March 1, 2007

Ash Wednesday + 7

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 9:55 pm

Although the works of man always seem attractive and good they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins. Although the works of God are always unattractive and appear evil, they are nevertheless eternal merits.

Matthew 23:27-28 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them."

What else could be the point of Isaiah 53:2? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

Also consider 1 Samuel 2:6-7 The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. The LORD makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts.

The Lord humbles us and frightens us by means of the law and the sight of our sins so that we seem in the eyes of men as in our own as nothing, foolish and wicked, for we are that.

So, how do we see things around us? Do we see ourselves accurately or are we blinded by our own sin and as a result "esteem ourselves more highly than we ought". Do we look at our own good works for too long, too lovingly?

How do we see the cross? Can we see what happened there for what it was? There God himself commited the crime of the ages in putting to death his own son in the most horrific and disgusting way conceiveable.

Here is the troubling tension. We look at our niceness and fail to see the despicable sin at work underneath. We look at God’s heinous act (diarrhea running down the legs of a nude man, blood everywhere, horse flies, gawkers, taunts) and fail to see it for what it was.

When I was about 10 years old, at summer camp, the bigger kids (probably 13-14 years old) caught this big old catfish at the lake. They took it alive and nailed it to a picnic table. That is what God did to his own Son. Although these boys did not  run off and hide. They stood and watched the fish writhing. Yet God forsook his Son, leaving him all alone.

And now we look away from the cross because it is simply too ghastly to see. Instead we see our goodness; our churches are now entertainment centers where our comfy "relationship with Jesus" is celebrated. We are more than happy to look at ourselves and fail to see what really lies there under the surface. We are more than ready to grade our sanctification by reciting to ourselves all those good things we do, and thus our assurance of salvation is strengthened.

So we never really see what is hanging there dying on that cross. We look through it, past it, straight to God’s essence thinking that this buddy of ours is something completely within our grasp, something we can master, when all we really can do his hear of  His mighty works and speech accomplished directly in history on this earth. The result of this blindness is very nearly idolatry, the idol in this case is the God we are creating in our own rational yet fallen sinful minds.

Sound too negative for you? Think of your hope then. Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.

This glory that makes us feel so good now, is really just that we feel so comfortable with our sin, for our glorification is not something to be experienced in this life. So, don’t look up, look ahead, to the age to come.

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  1. Although the works of God are always unattractive and appear evil

    Always? What about creation? I think this is an unbalanced view. Common grace says that there is an intersection between the deeds of God and man that all recognize to have goodness in them. But there are definitely things that God does that seem reprehensible to man, and definitely even good things that man does are tainted with sin.

    Comment by RubeRad — March 2, 2007 @ 7:52 am

  2. I think maybe you can lose the diarrhea…

    Comment by RubeRad — March 2, 2007 @ 7:52 am

  3. Why?

    Comment by Bruce S. — March 2, 2007 @ 9:13 am

  4. “Although the works of man always seem attractive and good they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins.”

    This is a true statement of fallen man. Men by nature are children of wrath. But Paul makes this statement to the Ephesian church in the past tense “You were by nature children of wrath.” So, we who are in Christ are no longer natural men. We are spiritual men. We have been resurrected with Christ and are seated with Him in the heavenly places. So now, in this gracious state, the offering up of our earthly bodies as living sacrifices is holy and pleasing to our heavenly Father.

    Comment by Ron — March 2, 2007 @ 9:34 am

  5. Ron,

    What you said can be interpreted a number of ways. Perhaps a bit more elucidation.


    Comment by Echo_ohcE — March 3, 2007 @ 9:34 pm

  6. Perhaps you could list the “number of ways” what I said could be interpreted, and I’ll tell you which one I meant. =)

    Comment by Ron — March 5, 2007 @ 3:18 pm

  7. I decline.

    Comment by Echo_ohcE — March 5, 2007 @ 9:27 pm

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