A Profitable Reflection
"Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices." Ezekiel 36:31
When the Lord's people are . . .
called out from among the ungodly,
cleansed from their sins,
sanctified in their natures,
saved from their foes,
restored from their backslidings, and
enjoy the privileges of the new covenant
— they are led to reflect upon the past. They review the days of their unregeneracy with sorrow, and with gratitude to God for His grace. They also reflect on their own evil ways since united to Jesus, with shame and self-abhorrence. This promise is fulfilled in every restored backslider.
"Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds." They were opposed to God's ways, to our own profession, and to what may have been justly expected from us. They were from an evil principle — unbelief; they were to an evil end — the gratification of the flesh; they were of an evil character, and the effect of listening to an evil monitor, even Satan. Our doings were evil — and equally opposed to God's holy law, and the Savior's glorious gospel. They were unholy, unrighteous, and injurious to both God and man.
You shall remember, reflect seriously, as the Church did, when she said, "Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord." Let us examine our ways thoroughly, and bring them to the touch-stone of the Lord's word for trial.
You shall reflect painfully, as Peter did, "And Peter remembered the word of Jesus — and he went out and wept bitterly."
You shall reflect frequently, as David did, who said, "My sin is ever before me."
"You will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices." No man loathes himself by nature; but when a believer reflects upon his backslidings from his God, when he sees his sins in the light of God's holiness, when he beholds mercy rejoicing against judgment in his own case, like Job he exclaims, "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes!" He feels deeply displeased with his folly — he judges himself totally unworthy the notice of his God — he groans in his spirit under the pressure he feels — he is wounded in his heart by the review of his folly — he is disgusted with himself for his inexcusable conduct; and exclaims, "Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man!" Thus . . .
pride is destroyed,
humility is drawn forth,
penitence is produced,
self is condemned, and
God is justified in using the severest means.
"You shall loathe yourselves," for the past shall be made distinctly to pass in review before you; you shall clearly discover the nature and character of your transgression; you shall turn with sorrow and disgust from yourselves — to your injured and insulted Lord; you shall feel as though you could never forgive yourselves for the wicked course you have pursued; you shall pass sentence on yourselves, and frankly confess your sins are abominable.
Such is the effect of divine mercy on the pardoned sinner, and restored backslider.
Reader, has divine mercy had this effect on you? Or, are you pleased with yourself, thinking lightly of your sin? Retire to Calvary, sit down before the cross of Jesus; and in the light of redeeming mercy — review and reflect upon your past course and conduct. Look back, look within, and then look up!
See what your life has been — a course of sin;
see what sin is — an evil and bitter thing;
see what your sins have done — even crucified the Lord of glory;
and can you do otherwise than loathe yourself, for all your iniquities and for all your abominations?