God's Painful Light

by Shea Oakley

Any sincere Christian who has sought, over time, to draw closer to the Lord has experienced the truth of Ryle's observation. The closer we come to the light of God, the more that light penetrates into our hearts. What His light often then illuminates is a depth of sin that we did not think we could possibly contain. The holiness of God, apprehended by us, uncomfortably reveals our own lack of holiness. The rooting out of sin is a progressive process that continues throughout our lives. In His superintending of this process it appears that God knows just how much self-revelation we can take at one time without falling into complete despair. If we were suddenly forced to confront the entirety of our sin in a moment, it might induce such horror that we would be destroyed by it. So God, in His mercy, reveals what we need to be cleansed from only as we become ready to face it. This is part of the nature of sanctification. So what can believers do when they become aware of previously unsuspected strongholds of sin in their lives? In a sense the first thing we could do is thank God for that awareness. While this process is unpleasant it proves that we are still on the road to heaven. We would not experience this progressive unveiling of our personal sin if we were not truly seeking after God, and the Holy Spirit was not actively working in our lives to change our hearts into the likeness of Christ. We can also thank Him because now that we see within ourselves what needs to be repented of we are ready to cooperate with the Spirit to be cleansed from this particular unrighteousness. Newly-convicted Christians can also respond to such a revelation by humbling themselves and coming to understand yet one more reason why they are not in a position to judge others. Sometimes it seems that God reveals our hidden sin just in time, as we are preparing to harshly judge another human being. If we are willing to receive the truth He is communicating to us we can be saved from judging that person and thus opening ourselves up to being judged. Thus humility is also the potential fruit of being confronted by sin in our lives that we did not know we had. Finally, there is the realization of our dependence on God that this process makes possible. We are again reminded that we are truly lost without Him, because if He did not reveal the sin in our lives that we must turn from we would ultimately be ruined by that sin. For this reason we need not inordinately fear the unveiling of our sin by the penetrating light of our Lord. He shows us our remaining iniquity out of love for us. He is like a good surgeon who probes deeper than we might like to make sure he has gotten all of the cancer in our bodies. The surgeon has our best interests in mind and he knows that the pain that is associated with the discovery of more cancer is the necessary byproduct of his effort to rid us of it. How much more should we expect this from the Great Physician who is also our loving Father?
2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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