Journal Acts 3 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “God, having raised up his servant (Jesus), sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” Acts 3:26
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you—Jesus—whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” Acts 3:19-21
Observation: Peter doesn’t pull his punches. And this eloquence from a commercial fisherman, not long from the docks, peddling fish.
When I “witness”, why don’t I talk like this? Because I don’t talk to myself like this.
Analysis: Wickedness. Such a word, so out of favor by Christians. Shucks, I can barely use the word “sin”, much less wickedness.
And this is the sort of bluntness that Christians are supposed to use in evangelism? “Repent and turn from your wicked ways.” Doesn’t have that warm and welcoming tone, I think.
But coming to Jesus, believing in the Atonement for my Sin, my Wickedness, is exactly the tone of the Gospel.
Sounds radical, way over the top. After all, Jesus is Love. And yet, just sticking to those three words, does something, alters the Gospel message into something short sighted, not a comprehensive Biblical presentation of the Gospel.
I know why I don’t lead conversations with, “Are you aware that Jesus came to save the wicked?” It is because I have a hard time (even today) saying to the face in the mirror, “Hello, wicked guy that I am. Aren’t you glad Jesus died for you, to redeem you from your wicked ways?”
The subject of self-esteem is prevalent today, I guess. Why should I remind myself of “why in the world did Jesus die for my sin?”
By avoiding that question, it preserves the illusion that somehow, I am lovable, I have some value personally that Jesus wanted, and that idea diminishes the Gospel in my mind.
Left by myself, my natural reflex is practicing wickedness. Can’t help it, it is woven in my DNA from Adam.
But I have been set free, right? “But now that you have been set free from sin…” (Ro 6:22a) “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Ro 8:2)
Perhaps this is objectively true, but is that what I experience? No, being honest and transparent, I must resist Sin every day: “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Heb 12:4) Yeah, that does not describe me—probably not many people.
So, if I eventually want to get where the Scriptures recommend (Repent from wickedness), then I first have to be fairly fierce with myself, right? I don’t see an alternative…
Do I need to get all “condemning” with people? Not at all, for that isn’t my prerogative, but is the province of God’s Judgment alone. But, as colors are a particular hue (Yellow, Blue, Red, etc.), Man is wicked compared to God’s Holiness—the only measurement that counts—and I need to embrace that sober distinction.
That is what makes Grace so astounding, so amazing, so wonderful!! When I consider what God did for my Sin, my Wickedness, I can only cry my praise in gratefulness.
Prayer: My wickedness, my sinfulness, compared to your Holiness. No argument, I deserve all Your Holy Wrath.
If it wasn’t for your stupendous Grace, a Grace I will never, never, never, be able to fathom, I would not be in your loving Arms.
I am blessed only by Your Mercy and Grace. May my praise be your crown,
Bring revival, heal my land,