Text: “Withhold not Thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me so that I am not able to look up: they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.”
Psalm 40: 11-12.
Good morning, totally self-honest Christian! Only the Christian who is as ‘totally self-honest’ as you, can completely comprehend our two verse Bible Text for this morning’s lesson.
Read our Bible text again, beloved Christian friend, and realize the depth of self-honesty that the Psalmist David is here openly revealing.
Hypocrites, time-servers, and self-gain professors of Christian faith know nothing of the depth of self-honesty we are examining this morning. Yet, this depth of self-honesty is the only depth of honesty about ourselves that the Holy Spirit of God will recognize and deal with in sincere Christian fellowship daily.
“…Man looketh on the outer appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b)
Can you and I openly and publicly declare that our iniquities have taken hold upon us so much so that we are not able to look up towards our Holy Lord God without experiencing utter shame? Can we not also say to the Lord God, ‘Lord, my sins and transgressions are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore (a conclusion) my heart faileth me.’?
If we can, then you and I are also recognized by God as totally self-honest Christians – and as a consequences can be more assured that our daily prayers are not only being heard by our Holy Lord God of wrath against all sin, but are being answered by Him!
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: but verily (truly) God hath heard me; He hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me.” (Psalm 66:18-20)
Biblical Progression: You and I can see the progression contained within the verses just quoted from Psalm 66:18-20. The believer first recognizes the fact that there is constant ‘…iniquity in his/her heart…’, and that if that believer continues to harbour/practice his/her heart’s iniquity, then the Lord God Almighty – because of His Holiness and abhorrence of sin – is under no Divine obligation to even hear what is being prayed!
However, due to the depth of self-honesty the petitioner is manifesting in first declaring all his/her transgressions to God in open confession to Him, the mercy of the Lord can be given, and the Lord God is then blessed for not turning away the honest sinner’s prayer, and for giving His mercy (i.e. forgiveness and sanctification) to him/her.
In this manner of self-honesty, in confessing our daily sins/transgressions of God’s Laws, we place ourselves as ‘self-honest Christians’ before God’s throne of grace, and receive His blessing of progressive sanctification whereby we can resume and continue on in close fellowship and service to Him, in Christ Jesus. Hallelujah! Praise God for such Bible truth!
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10)
“Sanctify them (the elect of God, self-honest Christians) through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth.” (John 17:17)
When genuine Christians begin to either feel, or actually experience, a situation where ‘innumerable evils have compassed us about’ – and the author has certainly been in this dark place – then there is only one thing we sincerely crave: the ‘tender mercies’ of the Lord.
Note also that it is not only the mercy of the Lord that is being deeply sought by the Psalmist – it is ‘the tender mercies of the Lord’; God’s love, His compassion, His grace upon grace; His forgiveness; His reconciling cleansing and renewal of profound hope.
Only these ‘tender mercies’ can resolve the universal paradox for genuine Christianity: how to live a truly Christian life (Christlike) while still trapped in a natural body of flesh and bone which just loves to continually engage in daily sin!
The apostle Paul, in total self-honesty, openly expressed his wrestling with this same issue: “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man (the new born again spirit): but I see another law in my members (his natural human flesh/deceitful heart), warring against the law of my mind (God’s Divine instruction and Spirit), and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” (Romans 7:22-23)
God the Spirit hereby teaches us how to reconcile the reality of trying to live a Holy life while still bound within a naturally sin-loving, sin-prone, body, and how we are ‘delivered’ from the ‘body of this death’. He thanks God, as all self-honest Christians should, for Salvation in ‘Jesus Christ our Lord’. (Romans 7:24-25)
Thought: God already KNOWS our failings, faults, sins and weaknesses – yet instructs us to be totally self-honest with ourselves about them, and to bring them to Him, progressively, for His sanctification and renewal in prayer. Praise His Name! There will ALWAYS be room at the Cross for honest sinners!