by Dane Massey
(Dane Massey is the former Pastor of Mulvane Christian Church. He is now in ministry in Houston, Texas.)
I have spent this week mining treasure in the wilderness. I’m defining the wilderness as those seasons when we find ourselves agreeing with the Psalmist in Psalms 10:1:
“Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?” Those times that Job, and all those who walk this journey of faith, seem to experience.
Where is God?
We know He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5) yet we can’t seem to find Him. The Word seems a closed book, prayer an act of self-help for the words seem to stop at the ceiling, and worship is a Herculean struggle.
Yet these times are obviously God-ordained and have great benefit if one is willing to dig deep and mine the treasures hidden here.
These seasons are not necessarily the result of personal sin or circumstances. Many times we never are able to discern the why and can become bogged down in this wilderness as we try to find the answer to the question, why.
We can however, experience great benefits from these times. One great treasure to be mined in the wilderness, is learning to hate sin.
Spurgeon was right when he said, “Every sinner desires a salvation from hell but only the truly converted seek a salvation from sin.”
We may hate the consequences of sin but we would still agree that there is pleasure in sin for a season (Heb. 11:25). I need to be taught to hate not only the consequences of sin but sin itself!
I need to see it in all of its hideous forms as it parades itself in self-righteousness, as it breaks out as a cancer that destroys, as it wreaks havoc on relationships, but especially as it hides itself in the heart in bitterness, lust, anger, wrath, malice, envy, jealousy and discontent until it bursts forth in forms of vile behavior.
This wilderness can reveal my heart. At the same time it can lay bare my apathy and genuine lack of zeal and hunger for the Lord. I can give lip service to why do you stand afar off Lord but I am quickly digging empty and dry cisterns in this wilderness. Looking for my own water source instead of waiting on Him.
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
I must learn to not only hate the act of sin, the consequences of sin, and the outward forms of sin, but the very source of sin. “…. hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh” (Jude 1:23).
This journey is very difficult for sin is a slippery serpent able to beguile and disguise itself any many forms. Even as I grow to hate sin I become even more aware that I shall never be free from its presence in this life. This journey will bring me to Paul’s agonizing cry:
“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).
Spurgeon speaks of an emperor of old, who would punish the murderer by strapping the dead corpse of the victim to the murderer. They would carry this corruption, this stench, this diseased and decaying mass wherever they went. This is the burden and heart cry of, “Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?”
I have heard people for years give a romantic or nostalgic answer to the question: “What do you look forward to the most about heaven?” They will speak about who they will see, or what they will see. The longer I live with me and this world the more I look forward to being delivered from the power and presence of sin!
“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).
This wilderness will create a deep hatred for sin or cause us to flee to its momentary relief and deadening of the very pain that it created.
This wilderness, if I cultivate a true hatred for sin, will create a deeper appreciation for the deliverance found in Christ alone!