Be Overwhelmed

Published on January 17, 2011 by CT in Blog, Theology

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You remember the passage in Genesis 18 where Abraham petitions God over and over? God has come to “see whether [Sodom and Gomorrah] have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me,” and He hangs behind as the two angels go down towards Sodom.  This is where Abraham approaches Him to inquire:

“Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city.  Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?  Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked!  Far be that from you!  Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”

And God responded:

“If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

This goes on and on, with Abraham petitioning God five more times, until the point where God has promised that He will not destroy the city of Sodom if only ten righteous people are found within its walls.  Of course, you know the rest of the story, that not even ten are found, and in His mercy, God saves Lot and his wife (for a time) and his daughters, and that these two great cities are completely destroyed.

As I consider this passage, a few observations come to mind:

  1. God’s foreknowledge does not preclude His listening, and even responding to, His people whom He knows.  In fact, His foreknowledge enables it.  God knew that not even ten would be found in the city, yet He permitted Abraham to petition Him six times on the city’s behalf, in order to show Abraham, and us by observation, something about His nature, such that…
  2. …God’s love overcomes His wrath.  Our perfect God is just to show His wrath on sinful people like us who have not kept to His perfect standard.  Yet His mercy overcomes.  His mercy overcomes so much that God was willing to spare an entire city, full of people who were long in rebellion to Him, if only to be merciful to even ten of His people.  That’s because “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,” (2 Peter 2:9), because…
  3. …There is a kind of righteousness that comes in believing God.   “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3).”  And Lot believed God as well through Abraham, as he went with him to this distant, promised land.  Even though Lot was a man of mistakes, some quite grievous, he knew enough about God so that he was “greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard)” (2 Peter 2:8), which reminds us that…
  4. … “God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

So when you feel overwhelmed by your own sin, be more overwhelmed by God’s mercy and love, which we see most clearly at the cross.  He listens, and rescues, and gives us His righteousness, and loves us more deeply than we know.

Question:  Do you experience a lot of guilt about your own sins?

  • http://5minutesplease.wordpress.com/ Krista

    Just want to say that this post is excellent. You speak the truth, Chris. God's love is so beautiful.

  • http://cravesomethingmore.org Chris_Tomlinson

    Ditto, Laura. I've lived a "mostly normal Christian life," which is really just another way of saying that I don't understand the depths of my sin. I find my awareness of my own sin, and the subsequent confessions and growth in Christ, to be in concentric circles, beginning without more outward, surface-level sins, and then moving to sins that show up because of my personality or outlook on life, and then moving to my heart motivations. I know there are many more layers to go. But all the while, I have to preach to myself that there is no condemnation for those of us (and me!) who are in Christ Jesus!

  • http://lauradroege.wordpress.com lauradroege

    Your last few lines reminded me of what my pastor has been preaching recently. Until I know the depth of my sin, I won't realize the depth of my need for grace, and I won't realize how scandalous and amazing and outrageous grace is. Sometimes (okay, often), I don't want to know the depth of my sin; I want to look like I "deserve" grace. But I'm learning (okay, slowly!) to ask God to look at what's in my heart. Then I know how much I need grace & that knowledge is overwhelming.

    • http://cravesomethingmore.org Chris_Tomlinson

      Ditto, Laura. I've lived a "mostly normal Christian life," which is really just another way of saying that I don't understand the depths of my sin. I find my awareness of my own sin, and the subsequent confessions and growth in Christ, to be in concentric circles, beginning without more outward, surface-level sins, and then moving to sins that show up because of my personality or outlook on life, and then moving to my heart motivations. I know there are many more layers to go. But all the while, I have to preach to myself that there is no condemnation for those of us (and me!) who are in Christ Jesus!