15 Pentecost, Sept. 2
Evils hiding in the human heart are what defile and degrade our lives. “For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23). Indeed, “The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). For this reason, we confess our sins and seek forgiveness, and in so doing, we find something much more than mere acquittal.
The invasion of God’s grace is a burning and cleansing fire that refines and makes new. The presence of God comes as an “implanted word that has the power to save your souls” (James 1:21). The Word of God inscribes upon the heart a “perfect law” that is “perfect liberty.” For what God commands as law is perfectly attuned to personal freedom. To obey is to move in the smooth grace that unites providence to created being.
Nonetheless, an internal struggle remains; the secret evils hiding in the heart are at war with the implanted Word. At times, it seems, the battle is even, the grace of victory gives way to the allure of deviance. At other times, wickedness seems to reign. Still, at other times, which faith knows to be the real time and the right time and the promise of everlasting life, a glimpse of what will be, grace seems to run over, the flow of God becomes the pulse and beat of being. This beautiful moment, when grace perfects nature, is more common than we often think. Evil is loud, but losing; the devil is near, but dying.
The moment of purging and cleansing and being free in the obedience of faith is a moment, if only we allow it, of remarkable joy. Heaven rejoices at the repentance of one sinner. So let every repentant sinner rejoice in the gift of forgiveness and the implanted word that saves. This is a moment ever new. This is the day that the Lord has made and we should rejoice in it. We are the sons and daughters of God, united by adoption and grace to the Son of Almighty God. In Christ, we are robed in beauty, we are fragrant with good, we are eloquent and edifying in speech and suffused with inner joy. We are, in a sense, kings and queens, the most handsome of men, the most beautiful of women, a scepter in hand for our dignity in Christ and our dignity as persons. Standing so in Christ, we may stand in the quiet of royal confidence. We may simply be (Ps. 45).
There is a time for the stillness of Christ, a time to be treasured and cultivated. This quiet joy is rich and deep and inexhaustible. There is, however, another way no less to be treasured, the way of Jesus who was said to move often and “immediately” (Mark). His Spirit wells up within us as a fountain of eternal life. An ancient song, in describing young lovers, describes as well those who are filled with the Spirit. They are “leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills” (Song of Solomon 2:8). They are young lovers looking for love: “he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the window, looking through the lattice” (Song 2:10). The Spirit-filled life says to life itself, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away” (Song 2:10). This love is all the good work that God has prepared for us to walk in.
Look It Up
Read Psalm 45 and Song 2:11-13.
Think About It
Stand in beauty. Go in the good.