GraphiCom #15


The very first verse of the Psalms, immediately tells us that there is such a thing as “wicked.” They are those who in the things they think, say and do, follow a course of disdain of, and opposition to, God. They much prefer the counsel (wisdom), that is, the worldview and pursuits of a life without submission to God. Among all mankind there are two polar opposite heart states; enmity toward God, and love for God. The first is the natural default; the second is a supernatural creation. As if from a fountain, the way of life in the lives of every human being springs up from the heart condition and consequent counsel-of-life. The life guiding counsels sought and valued by the wicked are the antithesis of “delight in the law of the LORD,” stated in verse two. Love of the law of the LORD engenders love for the LORD Himself. Blessed, happy the Psalmist says, is the one who desires and follows the correct counsel.

In following the incorrect counsel one “stands in the way of sinners.” “Stand in the way” is a description of position, the place where life is lived. To place oneself among other sinners is the natural and comfortable desire of the sinful for community with those who are like-minded and approve of a similar lifestyle. To be in the place and company of sinners is insulation from the reproach of conscience and the convicting presence of the godly.1

To “sit in the seat of scoffers” is to sit in knee jerk reviling judgment on those who delight in the LORD, and in the LORD Himself. The natural propensity of the ungodly is to prefer spiritual darkness, to be repelled by the light.2 That is not to say that fellow God scorners are spared vilifying judgment; sin flies under many conflicting self-serving colors.

In contradistinction to the wicked is the one who takes his delight in the law of the LORD. Though he was born of the same sinful stock as the wicked, his family ties have been changed, as though he has been adopted into a new clan, and his heart has been altered along with a new identity. He is blessed (verse 1) because something has been done to him, and for him. He has been replanted (verse 3). This is a happy grace of God, the LORD Himself.

To be happy in the LORD and His law is really an effect faith, because all God-fearing people experience adverse circumstances in life. Faith is a form of seeing.3 To perceive the light of the grace, wisdom and love of God even in places of darkness and conflict, is the grace of the Holy Spirit.

And because the heart is oriented to the love of God, and communion with Him is prized, the heart muses day and night, sunshine and gloom, on God and His words. He is, after all, sovereign over all, and He is good.

  1. Conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit. “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;” … John 16:7-9 []
  2. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” John 3:18-21 []
  3. A phrase remembered from a John Piper sermon []

We Need An Intercessor

Moire_orng“Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” (Romans 8:33,34).

It is the great hope of the believer in Christ that he will one day arrive in heaven, at last safe from this world, which is fading away, and facing the sure judgment of God. God has provided for him an inheritance, which is indestructible and unspoiled, which will never fade away. But in the mean time, life must be lived here, and the believer with any self-awareness knows that he is weak and easily distracted and worn down. There are times when the pleasures of sin that are within reach seem to eclipse the pleasures of God and heaven which feel intangible and distant.

But, God has not left us alone, He has never left us to our own devices. The fact is that scripture tells us that God planned for us before we even existed by “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world“ (Revelation 13:8). It was not for those who are strong or who love God that He acted; “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son . . .” (Romans 5:6, 8, 10). And further, if we are in Jesus Christ it is God Himself who put us there. “. . . by His doing you are in Christ Jesus. . .” (1 Corinthians 1:30), and again “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again . . . ” 1 Peter 1:31.

But there is more. God has not left us to ourselves in this world. Our passage in Romans 8 tells us that Jesus intercedes for us. By His very presence at the right hand of God He presents an unassailable defense. Jesus died. The spotlessly pure Son Who is of infinite worth to the Father, has borne our sin to death and hell. He was raised from the dead because He had no sin of His own, and in discharging the curse for our sin, God is forever satisfied! At the right hand of the Father Jesus reigns (Matthew 28:18). So who can successfully accuse you who are found to be “in Christ?” As Isaiah 50:9 says “It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?” There is no higher appeal than God! If He says of you “not guilty,” though angels or principalities or Satan or your neighbor next door should accuse you, you are free before God. Period. God averted His own wrath through the death of His Son. You are immensely blessed in what you have received, and God is greatly glorified in what He has done.

Does having Christ as our intercessor mean that we can expect no hardships, or sickness, or sin, or pressures, or persecution, or that we need not face death? No, God has His purposes in all the trials of this life. But we have this confidence: because of the finished work of Jesus Christ all things in life will have a blessed and priceless result. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the (the preeminent2 ) among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30). We are works of grace in progress. Like an acorn that is planted to bring about in time the full, mature, majestic oak, we will finally be glorified. And what will that glory be? To be conformed to the image of Jesus. And in so being we will eternally glorify the Son Who eternally glorifies the Father, Who unceasingly loves the Son, and unceasingly loves His redeemed brethren.

For God’s purposes trials will come. But God is almighty. Jesus’ cross, death, resurrection, and exaltation guarantee without fail that nothing will separate us from the love of Christ. Not “. . .tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword.” (Romans 8:35). We may die to the glory of God (v. 36), but “. . . in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I (Paul) am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39). This is our confidence and firm hope. We shall see Jesus, and our glory will be our likeness to Him.

In the mean time, we live, we serve and obey, and we pray. In all these we receive help from God because we are but dust. After all, if God “. . . did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32). We “. . . ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:23). And “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26,27). We hope for what we presently do not see, but with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. For we can say with the apostle Paul that “(We) consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18).


  1. See also Colossians 1:12,13; John 1:13; James 1:18. []
  2. Greek prototokos (pro-tot-ok’-os), preeminence as the divine Son over all creation (Colossians 1:15, 18; Hebrews 1:6; Rev 1:5), including those finite sons conformed to His image. []

Lamplighters #2

You light a lamp_3_flatFrom time to time I will post excerpts or thoughts that have been a source of illumination to me. Below is an excerpt from Robert Farrar Capon on our struggles with Romans.

“The Epistle to the Romans has sat around in the church since the first century like a bomb ticking away the death of religion; and every time it’s been picked up, the ear-splitting freedom in it has gone off with a roar.

The only sad thing is that the church as an institution has spent most of its time playing bomb squad and trying to defuse it. For your comfort, though, it can’t be done. Your freedom remains as close to your life as Jesus and as available to your understanding as the nearest copy. Like Augustine, therefore, tolle lege, take and read: tolle the one, lege the other-and then hold onto your hat. Compared to that explosion, the clap of doom sounds like a cap pistol.”

— Robert Farrar Capon, From The Romance of the Word