“God, be merciful to me.” And that “a” there is “the.” It’s a definite article. It’s “God, be merciful to me the sinner.”
I don’t care if you are here this morning for the first time or if you’ve been here for 25
years. You are only a sinner. It doesn’t matter if you have been a believer for five minutes
of you have been a believer for five years. You are still just a sinner saved by grace.
You never graduate beyond God’s grace. You never cease to be a sinner.
He didn’t say, “I’m a reformed sinner. I’m a former sinner. I’m a penitent sinner. I’m a
praying sinner. I’m an awakened sinner.”
I’m tired of people putting those justifying names ahead of the word. You’re just and I’m
just the sinner. That’s all.
Men see sin in proportion as they see God’s holiness. Did you know that? That’s the
reason most people have a sorry conception of sin. It is because they have a sorry conception
of God. Now you read the Bible and you’ll find that out.
When Isaiah saw the Lord how did he see him? He saw him, he said in Isaiah six, “High
and lifted up. His train filled the temple and the cherubims and seraphims cried, ‘Holy,
And then Isaiah cried, “Woe is me. I’m a man of unclean lips. I dwell in the midst of a
people of unclean lips.”
You are pretty good because you are comparing yourself with the pretty bad. You will
find out when you compare yourself with the perfect, immaculate, pure, holy God almighty
in whose presence the heavens are not even clean and the stars are not pure, much
less man that drinketh iniquity like the water, you’ll find out how unholy you are. And
the reason you have such a sorry conception of sin, the reason you have got sins catalogued
so that you don’t do this and you don’t do that and you don’t the other and you are
a pretty good fellow is because you’ve got a pretty little god, a peanut god, mind you, an
unholy god, a god like unto yourself who can only do what you will let him do, who can
only be what you will let him be, who can only accomplish what you will let him accomplish.
“God, be merciful to me, the sinner.”
Job thought he was a pretty good fellow. Job defended his righteousness, defended his
morality, bragged about his accomplishments. He said, “I’ll never let go of my righteousness.”
Well, you know what happened in chapters 37, 38, 39 and 40, don’t you? God revealed
himself to Job in his holiness and Job said, “Lord, I’ve heard of you by the ear. But now
mine eye seeth thee.” And what was the result? “Wherefore I hate myself. I repent in
sackcloth and ashes.”
The missing note in present day preaching, the God of the Bible has not been preached;
God in his holiness, God in his sovereignty, God in his immaculate justice, God in his
righteousness, God in his love, holy love, pure love, immaculate love, sinless love. “In
him is no darkness.” And men in their sins. And until men see God in his holiness they
will never be convicted of their guilt and of their sins.
They will still come with their idol, evil familiarity right into the presence of a holy God
and begin to talk about who they are and what they have done. But somewhere, somehow
the Holy Spirit is going to convince some people of sin when he has come. The
preacher can’t do it and your friends can’t do it, but the Holy Ghost can. And he is going
to come and he is going to whittle down some old sinner. Oh, and when he does it, it’s
tough. But thank God for Holy Spirit conviction.
He is going to come and he is going to lay bare your heart and how painful it will be. He
will show you what you are. He will show you who you are. He will show you your hatred
and your lust and your malice and your envy and your jealousy and your selfishness
and your pride. He will strip you. He will knock all your foundations of religious flesh
out from under you, all your ceremonialism and custom and tradition and heritage and
background. And he will leave you empty, dangling over the gaping jaws of a burning
condemning hell. The only thing between you and perishing is God’s mercy. Guilty.
You want to know what’s wrong? I know what’s wrong. These preachers, I don’t know
whether they know it or not, but the missing note in present day preaching is the conviction
of sin. Men have never been lost. We’ve got them to make decisions when they are
juniors or sophomores or something else or primaries and we have run them through the
baptismal waters and put their names on the roll. We’ll call in a hot shot singer and our
hot shot preacher and he’ll tell his little jokes and preach his little sermons that he has
preached all over the country and give his invitation and down the aisle they run, shake
the preacher’s hand, run them through the pool, put their name on the roll, kiss them good
bye. They are already to die. They have been dead and they are still dead and they have
never received life. They have never been lost, never been convicted.
Our Father in heaven, oh God, be merciful to me. Let thy blood be propitiation for me.
Forgive my sins through the blood of thy sin. Be merciful to me, the sinner. Reveal unto
us the true condition of our fallen hearts. Reveal unto us the true condition of our minds
and our wills. Shut us up to mercy until we call on the living God, until he speaks to us in
pardon and peace.
Lord, move in our midst. Leave us not to ourselves. Help us that we might be saved from
this perverse religious generation for we pray it in Christ’s name. Amen.
"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan