That was the title of our pastor’s sermon tonight in church. He is beginning a new series on the 7 deadly sins. Tonight’s sermon was simply a foundational message for the next 7 weeks during which he’ll go into more detail about each sin. But one of his points struck me tonight.
His main point was “where do we learn about sin?” and one of the ways was by experiencing God. He used Isaiah 6:5 to prove his idea, but I am including verses 1-8 of that chapter to give you an idea of the context. Isaiah, one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament, was standing in the very presence of God. As my pastor pointed out tonight, one would think if you are standing in God’s presence, you’d raise your hands and praise God’s name and shout for joy. But in reality, it will/would probably be a bit more like Isaiah’s experiencing God:
Holy, Holy, Holy! (The Message Bible)
1-8 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Master sitting on a throneâ€”high, exalted!â€”and the train of his robes filled the Temple. Angel-seraphs hovered above him, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two their feet, and with two they flew. And they called back and forth one to the other,
Holy, Holy, Holy is God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
His bright glory fills the whole earth.
The foundations trembled at the sound of the angel voices, and then the whole house filled with smoke. I said,
“Doom! It’s Doomsday!
I’m as good as dead!
Every word I’ve ever spoken is taintedâ€”
And the people I live with talk the same way,
using words that corrupt and desecrate.
And here I’ve looked God in the face!
The King! God-of-the-Angel-Armies!”
Then one of the angel-seraphs flew to me. He held a live coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with the coal and said,
“Look. This coal has touched your lips.
Gone your guilt,
your sins wiped out.”
And then I heard the voice of the Master:
“Whom shall I send?
Who will go for us?”
I spoke up,
The very purity, the very holiness of God himself only made more evident the ugliness of Isaiah’s sinfulness. And his reaction, really, the only reaction, was to fall to his face in shame and beg for forgiveness. And he got it! That’s the best, most beautiful part of the passage. “Gone is your guilt, your sins wiped out!” How precious are those words?
Every night before bed, I read a story to my kids. We have been reading the Chronicles of Narnia for quite sometime. We just finished “The Silver Chair” and will begin the last book tomorrow night. In each book, it never fails…I am stunned by the imagery and the correlation between the characters’ interaction with Aslan and my own interaction with Christ. I was not disappointed in “The Silver Chair.”
As I read the last chapter, I came across this passage, and tears filled my eyes. Tell me if you can see why:
“I wish I was at home,” said Jill.
Eustace nodded, saying nothing, and bit his lip.
“I have come,” said a deep voice behind them. They turned and saw the Lion himself, so bright and real and strong, that everything else began at once to look pale and shadowy compared with him. And in less time than it takes to breathe, Jill…remembered only how she had made Eustace fall over the cliff, and how she had helped to muff nearly all the signs, and about all the snappings and quarrellings. And she wanted to say, “I’m sorry” but she could not speak. Then the Lion drew them towards him with his eyes, and bent down, and touched their pale faces with his tongue, and said:
“Think of that no more. I will not always be scolding. You have done the work for which I sent you into Narnia.”
Do you see it? I was overcome. Instead of reveling in the glory of Aslan’s presence, the very one thing which should have comforted her, Jill was instantly reminded of her horrible behavior, her disobedience, and, in short, her sinfulness.
God is amazing. He took this one passage, which I have read and taken for granted (Isaiah) and brought it home to a very real place in my heart, by the same sort of experience in reading the Chronicles of Narnia.
And there is Hope Beyond the Darkness…that Hope rose from the dead, leaving an empty tomb on the third day after he was crucified. And we can stand in his presence, while he touches coal to our lips, or touches us with his gentle tongue, and wipes away our guilt and sin.
And then, only then, can we move into the Light.