Friday, February 09, 2007

Scratch It.

I am reading the Puritan Thomas Brooks' book, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices and discussing it regularly with a young friend. (Oh dear, I am at the age where I describe some people as young...this young lady happens to be about 15 years younger than me).

Brooks' book deals with sin, and in typical Puritan fashion dissects Satan's methods atom by atom so that one can see them in all their malignant horror. One "device" which particularly struck me was his description of how Satan hides sin inside a "golden bait"-- in other words, he can tempt you to sin by making you think that you're doing something good. I'll bet you know what I'm talking about. It's the old excuse to skate close to sin because "duty requires it" or "someone needs my help" or "I'm trying to be a good friend" or whatever.

I'm really accomplished at this. I can hunt around in my head for the most lofty sounding excuses to get near sin. I can cloak sin in the guise of "service", "kindness", "politeness", "good manners", "sociability", and inside every one of the fruits of the Spirit given in Galatians 5:22,23. Maybe you can do it too. You might call it "standing up for my rights" or "dignity" or "keeping my priorities straight". All of these are good things, but they can be the sugar-coating on poison. Brooks just wants us to pay attention to our ulterior motives, so that we can begin to see how selfish and self-willed our black hearts really are. He is hoping that when we see this, we will become discouraged at the constancy of this condition.

We can change our habits so we look good on the outside. But the honest person scrapes at the gold electroplating on his or her heart, and discovers worms inside, without fail. No one can look inside someone else's heart. But God wants us to look inside our own, and understand that there is only one thing to be done: to run to Him for forgiveness and hide inside Christ's righteousness. We haven't got righteousness of our own, so we must cower inside Him or be blown away. Only in doing so can we hope for a real cure, when God will blow all those tangled worms away and replace it with real gold, through and through. It won't happen on this earth, but He does promise that it will happen:

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 35:25-27

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