Loathing Self, Looking to Jesus, Laughing at the Devil
by Joseph Franks
In 1739, Charles Wesley penned the lyrics to “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” The fourth verse is especially encouraging. Let’s spend a few minutes reminding ourselves of the Gospel as presented by one of our church fathers.
His blood can make the foulest clean; his blood availed for me.
What do we learn in the Bible? Are not men and women foul? Are we not repulsive to God? When describing the natural man in his Luciferian and lost condition, does not Scripture refer to us as filthy rags, mangy dogs, despised worms, used-up whores, white-washed tombs, and spiritual lepers? According to God’s revelation, all of us are guilty of following Satan’s lead; all of us are profuse. Odious is an appropriate term to describe any child of Adam, regardless of how well we dress up, look respectable, act religious, or keep white-washed the outside of our cup. Children of darkness, we are not precious in the eyes of the holy God; this is despite what we are taught by popular ministers. God’s Word says he cannot stomach us in our natural condition; we are abhorred. As a skunk is foul to the nose, spoiled milk and meat is foul to the stomach, or a rotting maggot-filled corpse is foul to the eyes, so are we before the Holy, Holy, Holy God.
However, foul individuals are those who mercifully and graciously enjoy the benefits of Christ. Once again, let us look at the scriptures. Do we not see, over and over again, how God declares and makes clean those who are foul? Are not Adam and Eve, Satan’s first disciples, graciously saved, clothed, and eternally beloved by their Heavenly Father? Are not the patriarchs — who are with rare exception guilty of vile, public scandal — those who are forgiven and forever blessed? Is not the genealogy of Jesus filled with prostitutes and adulterers? Can’t we see that his house is one of ill-repute? His family history is scandalous; it is a sordid affair; and yet these are the saints singing in heaven in John’s revelation. Then, look at his disciples, are they any different? No, these fellows are as foul as their forefathers; they are often materialistic, power-hungry, dull, and faithless. And yet these are the foundation stones of Christ’s kingdom; they are his Apostles; they are his saints; he calls these foul men his friends.
Readers of this blog, can’t we see our foul condition? Can’t we see ourselves in the story of the demon possessed man or the leprous individual? Spiritually, we are like the woman with the bleeding issue or the other woman caught in the very act of adultery?
Friends, shy not away from this horrible truth, for it is vital for our salvation. Get this truth, Jesus cleanses no one who considers themselves fair and beautiful. He has nothing for men and women who consider themselves righteous. However, he makes fair and beautiful all those who count themselves foul and odious and run to him for spiritual washing.
And do we see how very near he is? Jesus has come to our planet. He has come to our nation. He is in our very city. Jesus is right before us. He is omnipresent and he is in our room. He has approached us in our need, and he would be addressed by us. Jesus would even allow us to reach out and touch him with our filthy hands. More than that, he is the one who reaches out and touches us even though it makes him spiritually unclean. He became sin for us that we might become righteous like him.
Do not think we are too foul, for he makes the foulest clean. Troubled sinner, foul as we can possibly be, Jesus’ grace is greater than all our sins. His white-washing ability is greater than any launderer we have ever met. He removes all our stains — past, present, and future. He removes all our odor — whether public or private. He washes both the inside and the outside and gives us new clothes which guarantee us entrance into his house of myrrh. He saves us at the end of our days; just look at the thief on the cross. Decades of depravity are bleached in a moment. How foul are we? Would we say we are the chiefest of sinners? Do not worry; come to him; he makes the foulest clean.
Then, let us go and sin no more ….
He breaks the power of cancelled sin; he sets the prisoner free.
God not only delivers us from the penalty of our sin; he also delivers us from the power of sin. According to the Gospel, we have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. We no longer have to obey our former master. We are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us. There is no temptation from which we cannot escape. We have what the Westminster Divines called “Christian Liberty:”
The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law; and in their being delivered from thos present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin, from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation; as also in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto him, not out of slavish fear, but a childlike love, and a willing mind …. (WCF 20.1)
Recipients of the Gospel, believers in Jesus Christ, we who are filled with the Holy Spirit, believe not the lie of the Evil One. He would like us to think we are addicts. He would like us to think he is still our master who can summon us to fulfill his desires at any time. Like Pavlov’s dog, he imagines he can ring his bell and we are permanently determined to start salivating. Christian, answer his call with the Word of God. Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world. We have been bought with a price. We are free to live, to laugh, to prosper, and to obey. We are the bride of the King of kings. We are free to engage in marital acts of worship. And yes, we are free to mock Satan.