Saturday, September 19, 2009

September 18 NT reading (a day late)

Chief of sinners though I be,
You are truly worse than me.

The reading from Nehemiah 1 was tremendous (reminded me of Isaiah 6, with a prayer that takes ownership of the corporate sins of Israel. Plus there's that quick little prayer right before he speaks to the King.) And LOTS of goodies in Paul's first chapter to Timothy, more than I used to realize (and then if you open it up to the real hymn referenced above, even more goodies). But having just gone through Doxology, Dr. Kleinig's talk about a "good conscience" made that phrase stand out. Sometimes we try and create a good conscience by justifying ourselves. For instance, the mangled lyrics above demonstrate one of our approaches to life (but end up walking the path to death) - "I ain't perfect, but at least I'm not guilty of the sin that guy does."
God uses His Law to awaken our conscience (which may have been so darkened by sin that we actually feel pretty good about ourselves) to its badness, then uses His ministry of Word and Sacrament to deliver to us faith and a good conscience. Apparently Hymenaeus and Alexander were delivering a falsely "good" conscience, and thus were handed over to Satan. But only for a time, so that they would again rejoice in the truly good conscience that comes in the name they blasphemed at the time of the writing.

Lord, lead us always to turn away from those ways we try to justify ourselves. Make us instead to rejoice in Your justification of us. Bring to repentance those who blaspheme Your name.

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