Sunday, April 28, 2013

How Can the Snake Preach?

“The wicked are estranged from the womb; these who speak lies go astray from birth. They have venom like the venom of a serpent...and men will say, ‘...surely there is a God Who judges on earth!’” (Psalm 58:3,4,11). I can read this Psalm and never hear it as part of the soundtrack of my life.

Then I hear Paul preaching: “...we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is none even one. Their throat is an open grace, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.’ Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:9-20).

And in the song (Psalm 58) and sermon (Romans 3) this desert rat of a preacher is reminded once again of the miracle that is going to occur this Lord’s Day: this sinner (and many, many others), whose mouth is full of snake venom, will preach and teach the holy Word of God this day in worship with the Church in the presence of the King (2 Corinthians 2:17; ).

How does this miracle happen? Oh, that’s the rest of Paul’s sermon: “But [sometimes this little conjunction is one of the most joyful words in Scripture!] now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (3:21-26).

Great God, today display Your perfect righteousness in condemning Christ on my behalf and forgiving me on Christ’s behalf through the proclamation of Your perfect Word to Your redeemed people through this justified earthen vessel (2 Corinthians 4:7), all for Your infinite glory!

No comments: