Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I have been reminded recently of the awful extent of pride in my heart; how easily I gravitate towards thinking of myself more highly than I ought (Rom 12.3). And in this regard, I was deeply struck by the following thoughts:

When Solomon utters his prayer of dedication of the temple (2 Chronicles 6.12-42), there is a notable absence of pride. How easy it might have been to take pride in the construction of such a magnificent building; how easy to glory in what he and the people had done for their God, what a wonderful example of devotion to the Lord! But Solomon’s prayer does not glory in their work, but recognises their utter sinfulness before the God of heaven and their need for His forgiveness.

Carson writes:
The principal burden of what Solomon asks may be summarized quite simply. In the future, when either individual Israelites sin or the entire nation sinks into one sin or another, if they then turn away from their sin and pray toward the temple, Solomon asks that God himself will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin (6:21-39). There are [several] remarkable elements to these petitions.

First, there is an astonishingly realistic assessment of the propensity of the people to sin…

Second, however central the temple is to be as a focus for the prayers of the people (not least when they sin), God will hear their prayers not from the temple but from heaven, his dwelling-place…

Third, insofar as the temple is critical, it is seen as the center of religion and worship that deals with the forgiveness of sin and thus restores sinners to God. The heart of the temple is not the choirs and the ceremonies, but the forgiveness of sin. In this day of ill-defined spirituality, it is vital that we remember this point.

How easy it is to take pride in one’s abilities, one’s achievements, one’s knowledge. Yet at the heart of true religion – of Christianity – is the stark reality of our shameful naked sinfulness before a holy God, and our sheer need of his pardon. That third point made by Carson above is thus translated into the centrality of the cross of Jesus Christ in our Christian lives. All my human pride, my pretensions, my thinking highly of myself, is stripped bare and shown to be utter filth by the cross.

[1] Carson, D.A. (1998) For the Love of God (Volume One) (Leicester: IVP), meditation for December 6th

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