I emailed my mentor recently about my lack of fear of God and respect for His Word, as well as not having a strong hatred of sin. He recommended a book called The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin (ebook here), and I began reading it as I waited at the dentist’s. Because the wait was so long, and also because it took a while for them to work on my teeth, I had the opportunity to mull over the book’s content, the discussion questions, and a number of other thoughts related to it. What struck me the most was the book’s emphasis on our inherent sinfulness, and the magnitude of its power and the extent to which it influences the things we think, do, and say.
Thinking about it, I was given the image of us completely blackened with sin. Inside out, completely marred and covered in it. It’s ingrained in our hearts and minds, permeates the air around us. We cannot escape its clutches, except by the grace of God and the sanctification that comes only through Jesus’ blood.
Then I took that thought of every person and everything being contaminated by sin, and multiplied it by the number of people that ever existed. All the sin they carried and did. All the sin that ever existed in the world since time began and will exist until the world ends. Then I thought of Jesus taking all of it, the seemingly limitless amount of sin, upon His shoulders on the cross. I considered everything Jesus went through before and during the crucifixion. How the physical pain was most likely infinitely close to being unbearable. I then considered the spiritual pain.
I have difficulty imagining whether it would be more painful for me to experience physical torture or separation from God. To be honest, I believe that for me physical pain may be the greater. But for Jesus, who had never ever been separated from God the Father for even the smallest fraction of a second, the thought of all this sin barring the relationship between them must have been, well, hell. The one thing that Jesus held most dear, His close relationship with the Father, was basically severed as He took our sin and paid the price for every one of them, even if the separation was only for a limited amount of time. If one sin is enough to sentence a person to eternal Hell, imaging how much the spiritual pain must have been when inflicted on Jesus. And all this spiritual pain atop His physical and emotional inflictions.
I don’t think many Christian rehearse the gospel often. They don’t take it and ponder it in every facet, what it truly means that we are sinners saved from eternal hell by grace through Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. I myself am guilty of this. If we only truly understood what wretched sinners we are, and the price it took to redeem the entire world and sanctify it, we would be so much more humble. We would feel so much more indebted to God and thankful for His love and grace, and Jesus’ painful, torturous sacrifice. We would be more conscious about sinning, and be more intentional to ask God for grace to withstand temptation and fight the spiritual battle that rages around us.
The gospel is so scandalous, but such an important part of the believer’s life. I encourage you, and myself, to rehearse it as often as possible, in humility before the loving and gracious God that created, redeemed, and adopted us.