Responding to a Holy God
by J.C. Poole
One of the things that I’ve noticed over time is that our worship has changed. Change can be good or bad. It seems that our worship has turned into more of a spectacle or entertainment production. I enjoy entertainment, but I think that if it is replacing worship, then it is self-serving and ungodly. The reason more entertainment exists lies in our lack of repentance. We know that apart from Christ we can’t relate to God. But does this mean we no longer need to repent? In 2 Chronicles 7:14 we read, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Since Adam, our response to God usually isn’t to humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways. We are responding to a holy, seeking, caring God in pretty much the same way Adam did — running, hiding, and blaming others for our sins. Martin Luther notes two elements of true repentance. The first element is the recognition of sin or the fear of God. The second element is the recognition of grace. King David is a good example of both a great man of God and a sinful man. He was painfully aware of his own sin. He was conceived in sin as we all are since the first Adam. He knew that he needed a “washing” (Ps. 51:2) and a “purging” (v. 7) in order to be forgiven before a holy God: “Have mercy on me.” He asked God to create in him a clean heart (v. 10). He knew that he had sinned against God in a grevious way.
In today’s world, it’s all about “me.” We have lost the focus that we are God’s creation — created in His image to bring glory to Him. We need to refocus our thinking that we, like David, have been conceived in sin and regularly sin against God. We need the brokenness before God that David poured out in Psalm 51. Our worship can be energized through our repentance as David proclaims in Psalm 51:15: “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” We sin easily and naturally, but repenting in a God-centered manner is foreign to us. May we be ever-mindful, as David was, of our sin nature and our propensity to sin before a holy God. May we also be truly penitent and broken when we do sin, and may we pray as David prayed in Psalm 86:5: “For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.”
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