Monday, May 9, 2016

God, our Defender

May 9, 2016

The message is littered so frequently throughout the Scriptures that it's a wonder we miss it so often. Today's readings in the Psalms reveal the pattern.

"God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish." Ps. 9:18. In the 69th Psalm, the writer admits his wrongdoing, yet clings to the God he believes will receive him anyway: "You, God, know my folly; my guilt is not hidden from you...Answer me, LORD, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me." (vv. 5 & 15). "LORD our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God though you punished their misdeeds." (99:8).   "The LORD is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked." (129:4).

Did you catch it? God is our defender against all enemies. Many Christians labor under the weight of guilt. I know; I've been there. It doesn't take a great deal of introspection to discover all the ways we fall short of our ideals, let alone the Biblical standards of holiness. The Enemy of our souls uses this reality to accuse us relentlessly, and we aren't discerning enough to realize that the condemnation is coming from him rather than God. The Bible tells us that Satan is the "accuser of the brethren" (Rev. 12:10), not God. Rather, Jesus is our Advocate, i.e. our Defense Lawyer who defends us before the Father (1 John 2:1) when Satan accuses us.

God convicts us of our sin, but doesn't condemn us; a big difference. Throughout the Scriptures, our God comes to our defense against the enemies around us and those enemies within us, which is why Isaiah 54:17 reminds us that "No weapon that is formed against [us] shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against [us] in judgment [he] shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, says the LORD." St. Paul said it well: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). God is not against us; God is for us! Whenever our hearts condemn us, whenever we fail to measure up, God is still for us. That is Good News, indeed, and something for which to be eternally thankful.

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