We have all become like one who is unclean.
The believer is a new creature; he belongs to a holy generation and a peculiar people. The Spirit of God is in him, and in every respect he is far removed from the natural man. But for all that the Christian is still a sinner. He is so because of the imperfection of his nature, and he will continue as such to the end of his earthly life. The dirty fingers of sin leave marks on our cleanest clothes. Sin spoils our repentance, before the great Potter has finished it upon the wheel. Selfishness defiles our tears, and unbelief tampers with our faith.
The best thing we ever did apart from the merit of Jesus only added to the number of our sins; for when we have been most pure in our own sight, still, like the heavens, we were not pure in God's sight; and as He charged His angels with folly, so He must charge us with it, even in our most angelic frames of mind. The song that seeks to emulate the angels' melodies has human discords in it. The prayer that moves the arm of God is still a bruised and battered prayer, and only moves that arm because the sinless One, the great Mediator, Jesus, has stepped in to take away the sin of our supplication. The most golden faith or the purest degree of sanctification to which a Christian ever attained on earth has still so much dross in it as to be only worthy of the flames.
Every night we look in the mirror we see a sinner and need to confess, "We have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment." How precious then is the blood of Christ to hearts like ours! How priceless a gift is His perfect righteousness! And how bright is the hope of perfect holiness in heaven! Even now, though sin dwells in us, its power is broken. It remains, but it no longer reigns; we are in bitter conflict with it, but we are dealing with a vanquished foe. In a little while we will enter victoriously into the city where nothing defiles.
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From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.