Psalm 66:18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
It’s interesting that the Japanese puts this verse in the present tense rather than in the past like the English, but both are conditional: “if.” Thus the lesson is the same. Human beings are complex creatures, to the point that we sometimes can’t even trust our own motives, but God, as our Creator, sees through everything and knows our hearts in intimate detail. We sometimes don’t want to admit that we are cherishing sin, but it certainly happens, and God will make it clear, either to our heart or to the whole world. To our heart is far preferable! The point is to be sensitive and submitted, quick to obey both in positive action and in rejecting things contrary to God. It’s always a matter of choosing God over everything else. Jesus put it in what, for the day, were very graphic terms: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24) We associate crosses with jewelry, but in the 1st Century they were an instrument of cruel execution. Even choosing physical life over Christ excludes us from the eternal life that is found only in Him. The most difficult part of this is that, as Jesus said, it needs to be daily. We slip and fall in countless ways, but forgiveness is always available IF we acknowledge our sins and turn to God in repentance. (1 John 1:9) It is when we think, that wasn’t so bad, that we are starting to cherish our sin, and a barrier comes up between us and the fellowship with our Creator for which we were created.
I’m certainly speaking from experience here! I often think that, of the sons of Zebedee, James had the far easier course in being beheaded for Christ, in contrast to John who lived to past 90. I can think of far too many examples of times I chose other-than-God ahead of God, which makes me deeply grateful for His mercy and grace. I know that I am holy only in Christ, but I also know that in Christ, I am genuinely holy. That makes it imperative that abiding in Him be my highest priority. I do not want to cherish anything, whether it looks like sin or not, ahead of Christ Jesus my Lord.
Father, thank You for this strong Word. Thank You for reminding me last night that I’m to speak on Prayer of Commitment this Sunday, and for how that has been falling into place and building even as I have been writing these notes. I pray that I would speak Your truth in love, saying everything You want me to and nothing You don’t want said. Keep me from aiming at anyone, or from holding back from a fear of offending anyone. May I myself be fully committed to You so that I will be useful to You in drawing others into full commitment as well, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!