Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Plagued hearts

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Kings 8:22-45

TO CHEW ON: "...when each one knows the plague of his own heart, and spreads out his hands toward this temple, then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men)." 1 Kings 8:38,39

In his prayer at the dedication of the temple, Solomon covered a myriad of scenarios for when the Israelites would need God's answered prayers from that building. He prayed that:
  • when someone was forced to take an oath before the altar because of an accusation, God would hear and judge rightly.
  • when Israel was defeated because of backsliding, God would hear, forgive and bring her back.
  • when the consequences of their sin led to drought, God would forgive sin and send rain.
  • when there was famine, blight, mildew, locusts, grasshoppers, enemy oppression ...

It's as if Solomon was trying to think of every instance and reason they could need God, and he lands finally on the picturesque: "when each one knows the plague of his own heart..."

That is still the heart of the matter for us. The plague of our hearts is the sinful condition into which we're born. It evidences itself in rebellion against God and friction between us and others as we give in to our self-centered bent. Want to diagnose it in yourself? Just compare your life to the ideal in Matthew 5, 6 & 7, or 1 Corinthians 13.

There is only one cure for our chronic, terminal heart condition. It's Jesus:

Isaiah: "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed" - Isaiah 53:5.

Peter: "Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed" - 1 Peter 2:24.

Jesus: "'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind. to set at liberty those who are oppressed'" - Luke 4:18.

PRAYER: Dear God, with Solomon I bring to You the plague of my heart. Thank You for making me healed and clean in Your sight because of Jesus, who paid  my sins' penalty. Help me to deal with my sin-sick heart practically every day, as I bend my will and actions to Your Spirit. Amen.

MORE: Original pollution

Wayne Grudem talks about the plague of our hearts in the Sin chapter of his Systematic Theology.

He defines sin: "Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude or nature" - p. 490.

He makes two points in the section called "The Doctrine of Inherited Sin," stating and discussing in detail how we are born with:
"1. Inherited Guilt: we are counted guilty because of Adam's sin - Romans 5:12-21... 
2. Inherited corruption: we have a sinful nature because of Adam's sin. ...This inherited sinful nature is sometimes simply called 'original sin,' and sometimes more precisely called 'original pollution (Psalm 51:5)'" which Grudem  calls "inherited corruption."

Mr. Grudem comes to this sobering conclusion:

"But if we have a total inability to do any spiritual good in God's sight, then do we still have any freedom of choice? Certainly, those who are outside of Christ do still make voluntary choices—that is, they decide what they want to do, then they do it. ... Yet because of their inability to do good and to escape from their fundamental rebellion against God and their fundamental preference for sin, unbelievers do not have freedom in the most important sense of freedom—that is freedom to do right, and to do what is pleasing to God.

The application to our lives is quite evident: if God gives anyone a desire to repent and trust in Christ, he or she should not delay and should not harden his or heart heart (cf. Hebrews 3:7-8; 12:17). This ability to repent and desire to trust in God is not naturally ours but is given by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and it will not last forever. 'Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts' - Hebrews 3:15"
  - Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pp. 494, 496, 498 (emphasis added).  
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