Friday, May 22, 2009

Joy Comes in the Mourning!

It seems that there are at least four (4) reasons why a weak view of sin develops both in our personal lives and within the body as a whole. The first reason seems to be an improper conclusion that grace nullifies the significance of sin in our lives. A second reason that leads to a weak view of sin is that we fail to grasp that sin is the issue rather than sins. There is a third reason that can lead to a very weak view of sin, … …we fail to be grieved over the principle of sin still embedded within us I read this illustration and I want to share it with you; a pastor invited the men in his church to join him in a prayer meeting. Rather than praying about the spiritual needs of the church as he expected, all of the men without exception prayed about the sins of the culture, primarily abortion and homosexuality. Finally, the pastor, dismayed over the apparent self-righteousness of the men, closed the prayer meeting with the well-known prayer of the tax collector, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:13) It should be not unusual for Christians to feel guilty because of sin in their lives. It is a fact that Christians have problems dealing with that guilt and sin. We think that once we have become Christians, we will no longer have a struggle with sin, and that through Christ we will have power to overcome it. And that is true, Christ does overcome sin. Actually, Paul talks about his struggle with sin and the grief that it produced within him in Romans 7:14-25. What did Jesus say in Matt 5:4? Blessed are those who (what?) mourn - it means to wail or to lament. So, happy are they that grieve? What a striking paradox. It is the strongest word in the Greek language for mourning. It is the word that is used for the mourning of the dead, it is a passionate lamenting for the loss of one who was deeply loved. In the LXX (Greek translation of the Old Testament) is the word that was used of Jacob’s grief when he believed that Joseph, his son was dead. (Gen 37:34) This is the word that is defined as the kind of sorrow or grief that takes such a hold on a man that it cannot be hid. It is not only the sorrow that brings an ache to the heart, but it is the also the sorrow that brings and unrestrainable tear to your eye. So, how does Matt 5:4 really read? Blessed is the man who mourns like one mourning for the loss of someone loved very deeply to death.
John MacArthur writes – "There is a great need in the church today to cry instead of laugh. The frivolity, silliness, and foolishness that go on in the name of Christianity should themselves make us mourn." [1] The Arabs have a proverb: All sunshine makes a desert. The land on which the sun always shines will soon become an arid place in which no fruit will grow. There are certain things which only the rains will produce; and certain experiences which only sorrow can produce. I walked a mile with Pleasure, She chatted all the way, But left me none the wiser For all she had to say I walked a mile with Sorrow, And ne’er a word said she But, oh the things I learned from her When Sorrow walked with me! Why is this so crucial in this portion of the beatitude? What was Jesus first words of His message? Repent! No man can repent unless he is sorrowful, grieved by, and mourns for his sin. I know that this refers to initial grief, repentance, and comfort in forgiveness and salvation, but sin because of what it is should continue to grieve us as we trust in Christ and submit to the Holy Spirit to enable us to resist sin. MacArthur writes again – "The faithful child of God is constantly broken over his sinfulness, and the longer he lives and the more mature he becomes in the Lord, the harder it is for him to be frivolous. He sees more of God’s love and mercy, but he also sees more of his own and the world’s sinfulness. To grow in grace is also to grow in awareness of sin." [2] So I submit to you, that the mark of a mature Christian is not sinlessness, but a growing awareness of our sinfulness. Paul is a great example of this as he neared the end of his life and after a long fruitful ministry. Listen to what he told Timothy: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” Or in the KJV it says of whom I am chief.
John Newton the slave trading, drunkard, and immoral ship captain who was gloriously saved and became a preacher who wrote Amazing Grace, repeated a tremendous truth even at the end of his life: "My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.”
[1] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Matthew, John MacArthur, Chicago: Moody Press, 1985, p. 158
[2] ibid, p. 159

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