08 December 2006

Quote Time

From The Holiness of God, by R.C. Sproul, Chapter 2, pp. 28-30:

If ever there was a man of integrity, it was Isaiah be Amoz. He was a whole man, a together type of fellow. He was considered by his contemporaries as the most righteous man in the nation. He was respected as a paragon of virtue. Then he caught one sudden glimpse of a holy God. In that single moment, all of his self-esteem was shattered. In a brief second he was exposed, made naked beneath the gaze of the absolute standard of holiness. As long as Isaiah could compare himself to other mortals, he was able to sustain a lofty opinion of his own character. The instant he measured himself by the ultimate standard, he was destroyed--morally and spiritually annihilated. He was undone. He came apart. ...

...He saw the holiness of God. For the first time in his life Isaiah really understood who God was. At the same instant, for the first time Isaiah really understood who Isaiah was. ...

...His was pure moral anguish, the kind that rips out the heart of a man and tears his soul to pieces. Guilt, guilt, guilt. Relentless guilt screamed from his every pore.

The holy God is also a God of grace. He refused to allow His servant to continue on his belly without comfort. He took immediate steps to cleanse the man and restore his soul.
(pp. 32-33):
Two important things must be noted in Isaiah’s reply [‘Here am I. Send me.’]. The first is that he was not Humpty-Dumpty. In the nursery rhyme, the fall of Mr. Dumpty is tragic because no one in the entire kingdom had the power to put him together again. Yet he was no more fragile than Isaiah. Isaiah was shattered into as many pieces as any fallen egg. But God put him together again. ...

The second important thing we learn from this event is that God’s work of grace on Isaiah’s soul did not annihilate his personal identity. ... Isaiah could still speak in terms of ‘I’. He still had an identity. He still had a personality. Far from God seeking to destroy the ‘self,’ as many distortions of Christianity would claim, God redeems the self. ... Isaiah’s personality was overhauled but not annihilated. He was still Isaiah ben Amoz when he left the temple. He was the same person, but his mouth was clean.

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