Sunday, February 7, 2010

Accurate Self-assessment

Thoughts from my reading in Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul David Tripp.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Psalm 51:3

Sin lives in a costume; that's why it's so hard to recognize. The fact that sin looks so good is one of the things that make it so bad. In order for it to do its evil work, it must present itself as something that is anything but evil. Life in a fallen world is like attending the ultimate masquerade party. Impatient yelling wears the costume of a zeal for truth. Lust can masquerade as a love for beauty. Gossip does its evil work by living in the costume of concern and prayer. Craving for power and control wears the mask of biblical leadership. Fear of man gets dressed up as a servant heart. The pride of always being right masquerades as a love for biblical wisdom. Evil simply doesn't present itself as evil, which is part of its draw.
As I read and thought about these words all this week, they spoke louder and louder. It's easy to see these things in other people; it's something completely different to start to see them in me.

The meditation goes on to talk about the deceptiveness of sin and how we become self-swindlers. We can sure see sin in others but are blind to the very same thing in ourselves. We are even blind to our blindness.

What does all of this mean? It means that accurate self-assessment is the product of grace. It is only in the mirror of God's Word and with the sight-giving help of the Holy Spirit that we are able to see ourselves as we actually are. In those painful moments of accurate self-sight, we may not feel as if we are being loved, but that is exactly what is happening.
Have you tasted this freedom? Doesn't it feel good to see sin in your life, to be able to admit it and to see it's power broken as you speak the words of confession? Then comes power and cleansing, the sweetness of amazing grace!

In this way, Psalm 51 is both the saddest and most joyous of all the psalms. It is sad that David has to confess what he must confess, but at the same time the fact that he is accurately seeing, and fully acknowledging his sin is a cause for celebration.
Here is a question from the devotion that spoke to me:

Do you pray for open eyes to see yourself more clearly? Is your confidence in Christ so firm that you are unafraid to pray that God would free you from your own patterns of self-swindling that keep you blind and inhibit your growth?
I want to be able to say yes always. Why is it so hard? Why is our first thought to hide, to lie and to make excuses? Oh yes, the deceptiveness of sin.

Thank you Lord Jesus for making grace possible. Help me to grow into the freedom of admitting what I am so you can make me into what you want me to be.

Philip
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