by Susan Sampson
It is an interesting thing to see our own sin. It can be so deeply painful, yet truly it is beautiful evidence of the grace of God in our lives. Without being given eyes to see our sin, we don’t see our Savior either. If we had no sin, we have no need for a Savior. The more we see our sin and the depth of the horror of it, the more we recognize the amazing grace of God, the incredible good news of the gospel and fall deeper in love with Jesus.
We can’t be more like Christ without being less like ourselves. We can’t walk in the Spirit when we walk in the flesh. Paul clearly instructs us that we are to be working by God’s grace in the power of the Spirit at putting our flesh to death (Colossians 3, Ephesians 4, Galatians 5, Romans 8).
If I had a potentially lethal bacteria in my body, I would want to know about it. I would go for treatment. I am reminded of my dad who had cancer and didn’t know it until it was too late and the diagnosis was Stage 4. I think of this study, In the Garden, as a diagnostic tool that the Great Physician used. Diagnosis — flesh alert!
Yes, it is awful to receive a terrible diagnosis. But in our case, there is a remedy. The Living Word. And we need a daily dose. We need our daily Bread. Really, some antibiotics you have to take four times a day. I need the Living Word way more than four times a day. I need it as frontlets between my eyes! We are sheep prone to wander and we can be thankful for our Shepherd’s staff that continually brings us back into the safety of the flock.
When I dislocated my shoulder I had to go to physical therapy. I went to the PT office three times a week, but my therapist also gave me exercises to do every day. Once a week was not going to heal my shoulder. The only way my shoulder would become strong was through repetition. I’m reminded of the Apostles’ Creed where it says “I believe” three different times. Our minds are so weak, we need to say it again and again and speak truth to our souls, “I believe…I believe…I believe.”
One of the suggestions of my therapist was to soak in a tub with Epsom salt. Paul says that Christ loved the church and gave himself for her “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:25-26). And Jesus Himself prayed for us saying, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:17-19). We were the ungodly, enemies of Christ, BUT we were washed, sanctified, and justified “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).
We were dead and broken branches and our Father graciously and lovingly grafted us into His garden. We didn’t plant ourselves:
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.” (Rom. 11:17-18)
May we continue in the garden of His Word that we would be as the tree described in Psalm 1:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does he prospers. (Psa. 1:1-3)
Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed and overflowing with gratitude. (Col. 2:6-7 NASB)