Apart from the grace of God, other factors would have overtaken my behavior as well as my thinking. While I still make mistakes and am appalled at the power of that old sin nature, I shudder thinking how I would be living apart from the leading and the restraint of the Holy Spirit.
The people of God in the Old Testament knew this restraint. Otherwise, they too would live like the pagans around them.
When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this. (Deuteronomy 18:9–14)
God gave His people the land of promise, but their task was to drive out of that land all the people who were anti-God and following evil. This passage tells of some of their practices and how God hates what they were doing. The last line shows His great and protective power. He kept His own from behaving as their contemporaries.
The devotional writer for today says what I feel as I read this passage: “We give thanks, often with a tearful, doubtful voice, for our spiritual mercies positive; but what an almost infinite field there is for mercies negative! We cannot even imagine all that God has suffered us not to do, not to be.”
Isaiah 1:9 predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah.” Romans 9:29 cites those words, reminding the people of God that apart from the mercy of God, we would never survive. Our sin would carry us into the wrath of God and destruction.
I find it easy to climb on my high horse and look down my nose at others. God forbid. I’m supposed to hate such self-righteousness and remember what I would be like apart from the grace of God.
Besides the high horse, I so easily forget what it is like not knowing this gracious God who keeps me. I look at others who do not know Him and wonder at their blindness and that they seem oblivious to spiritual realities. How arrogant of me to think that I was any better, or even better now. Apart from His grace, I would surely be in a darker and deeper pit.
Oh Jesus, I thank You for dying for me and living for me, and for keeping me from far worse than what I have already done. Without You putting a hedge around me, I shudder imagining what and where I would be. Your grace is my hope; Your mercy is my anchor.