Several weeks ago, we conducted and I attended a special service to give three of our young interns the opportunity to preach. This was to fulfill a seminary class assignment [also taught by our faithful pastor, Hershael W. York], but it was also an inspiring and encouraging worship service. I remember and was personally impressed by them all, but one in particular was especially poignant for me.
He delivered his message from Jonah 2, and the theme of his message was how Jonah cried out to the LORD in his distress, and the LORD heard him and delivered him. He challenged us all to do the same.
Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying,“I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and He answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice.
He began his message by reminding us of the various ‘distress signals’ that are employed and we use when we are in various dangerous situations and need to be rescued. Being a self-professed Florida ‘beach boy’ himself, he related how that he himself had been caught in the undertow on a Florida beach and was being pulled away and into danger. He called out to the other companions who were on the beach, and they came to his rescue and saved him.
I have my own SOS distress signals that I am more personally and intentionally focusing on right now – for quite some time – in my own walk with Christ. We are always warring against our indwelling sin, sometimes more fiercely and intently than at other times, but it is always there, and we must be warring back against it. See especially Romans 7.7-25 and 1 Peter 2.11-12 and others. I am calling my focused distress signals by the most prominent, well-known, and most often used distress signal “SOS” – and, in my case, I am meaning Sins Of Self.
I so battle against my Sins Of Self. Often, we are blinded to our own Sins Of Self – and our inattention and neglect of dealing with them become in themselves more compounded Sins Of Self. In a section of Paul’s own personal testimony concerning his own Sins Of Self, he confesses how that he often did previously [and continued to do at the time of his writing] commit Sins Of Self, either unknowingly [without recognizing and identifying them as such], or knowingly [because of the strength and relentless tenacity of his residual indwelling sin nature]. Our own Sins Of Self are so self-deceptive. We either promote them or at least allow them just because of our love of ourselves.
So, let me just note a few of the Sins Of Self that the LORD, in His love for me, is reviving in my consciousness and conscience:
- self-etc., etc., etc.
I realize that some of these are only nuances of others, but my Sins Of Self become very nuanced, entangled, and they continue to feed and multiply off of themselves.
Sometimes I wonder…“What will I ever do about my Sins Of Self?
- Will I ever gain mastery over them [1 Corinthians 9.24-27]?
- Will they, after all, consume me? [I don’t want to become digestive material in the belly of my Sins Of Self!]
- I am already ‘beaten black and blue’ by the internal conflicts and struggles?
- Where is my rescue, deliverance, salvation?”
Sometimes I wish I could vomit them out like the fish vomited out Jonah onto dry land, and be done with them, and go on my way un-harassed by them!
So, I do what Jonah did, and what Paul did – I call on the LORD in my distress. I send my SOS distress signal to Him, and I discover, again like Jonah and Paul, that “Salvation belongs to the LORD!” [Jonah 2.9].
Paul cries out in his desperate distress – listen to his SOS distress signal – “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” [Romans 7.24]
The answer is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. [Romans 7.25 and following…]
Jesus Christ has not only rescued and delivered me from the condemnation of my Sins Of Self, but He has given me His indwelling Holy Spirit who lives in me. He enables and strengthens me by the very resurrection life of Christ Himself.
I am singing again!
“But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to You; what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the LORD!” [Jonah 2.9]