There’s nothing like some trial and tribulation to expose the impurities in one’s life. When the silver is put to the fire the dross rises to the surface. When the sand is sifted the debris becomes evident. When the going gets tough it can bring to the surface stuff you never knew was there, or stuff that you thought you had dealt with and been “delivered” of. Needless to say, on top of the trial itself, what the trial exposes can be its own disheartening experience.
But it seems to me that something I read in Psalm Four this morning provides some perspective, comfort, and encouragement in dealing with the impurities.
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
(Psalm 4:1 ESV)
It’s not just that David prayed to the LORD in his time of testing which caught my attention, but it’s how he addresses the Father. That the salve for the sting of impure stuff revealed in an already hard situation is found in the reminder of who God is. He is the God of my righteousness.
This is the only time God is referred to this way in the Scriptures. And it’s a reminder that God is the Author and the Perfecter of my righteousness.
I have no righteousness, nor have I ever been righteous, apart from the imputed righteousness of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. A righteousness credited to my account when I was incapable of making any deposits myself. A righteousness in standing, because of Another. A positional righteousness granted by grace through faith in the finished work of the cross.
And while in God’s wondrous design of salvation this positional righteousness, through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, is intended to become increasingly a practical righteousness evidenced by an increasing holiness, the work will not be complete until we are fully delivered from the weakness of the flesh–whether through death or the return of Christ.
In the meantime, the Author of my righteousness also acts as the Perfecter of my righteousness, and that often through the fiery heat of testing and trials.
But not only is He the Author and Perfecter, He is also the Maintainer of my righteousness . . . and of all those who God has rescued from the bondage of sin.
David, a man after God’s own heart, transgressed against the LORD he loved and cried out, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” (Ps. 51:2). And through the prophet Jeremiah God promised He would do just that, “I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against Me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against Me” (Jer. 33:8). John identified the Source of this cleansing, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1Jn 1:7), and then explained how to access such cleansing, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9 ESV).
No one likes finding the impurities. But isn’t it part of the process? It’s what prevents us from living in some make-believe world of self-righteousness. It’s what keeps us from the temptation to think we can live independent of abiding in Christ. It is our continual reminder that our righteousness is only found in the Son and only becomes a practical reality through the Spirit. The ever surfacing dross reminds us afresh that it is God’s grace that has brought us safe thus far and only grace that will lead us home.
And thus, we can be encouraged as we remember that it is the God of my righteousness who began a good work in me and the God of my righteousness who has promised to complete that work at the day of Jesus Christ (Php. 1:6).
Don’t like discovering, and all to often rediscovering, the junk that’s still in me. But praise be to God for His provision in dealing with the impurities.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
(Psalm 4:8 ESV)
By His grace. For His glory.