Monday, September 7, 2009

"Search Me"

From Adam and Eve onward, focusing our attention on our own need, and accepting personal responsibility for our own failures, are two of the great challenges in our lives.

"And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat... The woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat" (Genesis 3:12-13).

Endemic in all of Adam and Eve's offspring is the notion that our own sins are not as great or consequential as those of others. We may know in principle that this is not true, but in practice the temptation is great to live with a critical eye toward others that we do not direct toward ourselves. Flesh protects itself always, and we must put to death its deadly propensity to focus on the wrongs of others that so hinders our own need for God's searching, reproof, and correction.

Our flesh is also prone to blame our own sins and failures on others, especially in a generation that has redefined sin in terms that have little or nothing to do with Biblical revelation. Certainly other people do have influence on us, and can be a factor in the temptations we face. At the end of the day, however, our failures are our failures. For born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, God and His grace are always available to us for the overcoming of sin, and the greatest influence in our lives from conception has been the fact of His presence and dynamic working to reveal His glory in us. Therefore, if the failings of others have been more of an influence than His working to redeem us, the fault is with us and not with them.

I will be a witness to the sins of others as I live my earthly lifetime, and some of those sins will be consequential in my experience. I may even be called at times to humbly and forthrightly confront those who commit them (Galatians 6:1). I will not, however, be allowed by God to change the focus from my own need for change to the needs of others. "Search me and know my heart" must always be my primary prayer (Psalm 139:23). I will also be called by our Lord to take full responsibility for my sins regardless of whether others have been a source of temptation. God will deal with them as He sees fit (Matthew 18:7). I must be sure to deal with me. The blood of the Lord Jesus provides forgiveness and cleansing for confessed sin, not excuses, regardless of our wayward generation's deceptive philosophy (I John 1:9). Great peace awaits us as we walk in the light of the Bible's teaching of personal responsibility, and may we respond to the Holy Spirit's continual moving within us to focus on our own need for grace and mercy, and our own culpability if we sin.

"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions:
and my sin is ever before me."
(Psalm 51:1-3)

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