Read Psalm 36:1-4. 1Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. 2For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. 3The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. 4He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.
Is David painting a portrait of the rare psychopath who is unable to ever discern right from wrong, the sociopath who is so caught up in evil that it has eventually taken over his heart? Or is he simply describing every man? Every woman? Every person apart from the grace of God?
In Romans 3, Paul quotes Psalm 36 in describing the natural state of man.
10as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one…18“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Psalm 36:1-4 is the Christian’s BEFORE picture. We are each one of us born with wickedness deep in our heart, without the fear of God, self-flattering, ignorant of our iniquity, dominated by trouble in word and deed, and accepting rather than rejecting evil. The transgression that is in our hearts soon becomes the plotting of our mind and the way of our life. There is no chance of self-salvation here. Why? Because we are all self-deceived and unable to hate our own iniquity.
If this is the diagnosis of all humanity (and it is), then is there any hope for us? Paul continues:
23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
To live is Christ is to always remember the hopelessness of our natural state before God’s grace came rushing in by faith. Faith in the propitiating satisfaction of Christ’s shed blood for us.
Prayer. Jesus, you are the only one that Psalm 36:1-4 doesn’t describe. You alone are my salvation and my righteousness. Keep me from the self-deception of my sin all the days of my life. Amen.
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