Friday, September 18, 2009

"Front Row Seat"

I've met some stinkers in my day, people who possessed genuinely bad attitudes, and the corresponding fruits that confirmed my impressions. I've also read about and heard about Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and a host of other genuinely evil characters of history. And in the Bible, I've read about Cain, Pharaoh, Jezebel, Omri, and many others who disrespected and disregarded both God and man.

However, I have lived with myself. I am therefore far more acquainted with my own sins and failures than with those of any other person. I know the unworthy attitudes I have too often embraced. I know the self-serving, self-promoting, self-protecting, and self-affirming words I have spoken. I know the pains I have inflicted upon others. I know the things I have done that were unworthy of my confession of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I know the countless things I haven't done, the sins of omission that are just as egregious as the sins of commission. I have lived with me, and if I am thinking clearly, the sins of no one else can rightly begin to approach the fact and culpability of my own.

"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief" (I Timothy 1:15).

Our spiritual enemies will always tempt us to look outward and away from ourselves when the subject of sin is considered. The Holy Spirit, however, will always lead us to the same conclusion reached by the Apostle Paul. "I am chief" he wrote by the inspiration of the Spirit, and every believer who genuinely responds to his Lord's emphasis will echo the Apostle. If there is anyone else whom we consider to have sinned and failed more than we ourselves have, whether in history or in the arena of our own existence, we are ignoring a reality that should perhaps be more obvious than any other.

I have had a front row seat for the sins of Glen Davis. For all others, I have sat many rows back. Such truth makes me far more aware of my need for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and far more likely to avail myself to it. This is as it should be, and I can personally attest that if God could forgive and receive someone such as myself, then there must be hope for all. There is, from the guttermost to the uttermost, and I can therefore go forth with a message of the truest and most sublime hope. Yes, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I know this, because I am chiefest among them.

Sometimes believers discuss the possibility that we may be surprised by people we see in Heaven. Last moment conversions, or our imperfect knowledge of the hearts of others might delight us with the unexpected presence of many redeemed by the grace of the Lord Jesus. However, while I strongly believe in the clear Biblical teaching of a present assurance of salvation in Christ, I think the truth of the matter is that if there is any surprise in that coming day about who actually treads the streets of gold, it will be that we ourselves walk thereupon. "Oh wow! Amazing! Praise the Lord, He really did save a wretch like me!" I am chief. No one else can occupy that place in my heart and mind because, again, I have witnessed the sins of no one else from that front row seat.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
(Psalm 139:23-24)

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