Without divine revelation, we human beings would have not the slightest idea how to glorify God. Even given that revelation, we quickly and easily fall prey to many humanistic attempts at bringing glory to God. I remember a campus organization, begun several decades ago, whose avowed purpose was to reach lost college students for the Lord. You might imagine that the primary qualification for someone to become a member of their staff would be that he have a sterling Christian walk. And while that may have been a qualification for such a position, it was not sufficient alone. In order for an applicant to be accepted, he also had to be sufficiently “cool,” (for lack of a better term), as well. A certain external appearance and manner were required. Someone of ordinary appearance need not apply. Apparently only the so-called beautiful people could glorify the Lord. With such views, it is little wonder that we fall so far short in our privilege and duty of glorifying the Lord. And how many of us, then, might be surprised, if not shocked, to discover that it is not mere externalities that God wants, but contrite and humble hearts?
One of the most striking condemnations ever given of men is found in the book of The Revelation. When the fourth vial judgment is poured out, John prophecies that “men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory” (16:9). In other words, “they did not repent, so as to give Him glory” (NASB).
Genuine repentance glorifies God. It is our nature to think that we must look good, appear impressive, be strong and not show any weakness if we are going to glorify God. And certainly, it is true that courage in the midst of battles, resolve in the face of temptations, and steadfastness in times of trial are all commendable attributes of the believer. But few things so glorify the Lord as confession and repentance of sin. (Note: As Paul makes clear, we should not sin in order that grace might abound. But that having been acknowledged, even the best of saints sin repeatedly.) We should eschew sin, but when we inevitably fall, we should be on our knees before the Lord in brokenhearted acknowledgement of our sin. The individuals in our text were not believers. But one of the clearest evidences that a person is saved is that he becomes sensitive to sin and quickly and honestly repents of it.
Not only does the “perfect” person not exist, the one who thinks himself so or who pretends to be so is proud and/or hypocritical. Find a saint on his knees pouring out his confession of sin and repentance before the Lord, and there you will find the Lord being glorified. A repentant heart is an humble heart. A repentant heart is a heart that is pliable in the hands of the Lord—one that He can use. A repentant heart is one that understands the dreadful wickedness of sin, its offense before a holy God, its dishonor toward the One who died to redeem and deliver it from sin. The repentant heart is one that acknowledges that God alone deserves all the honor and glory. The repentant heart is one that prays, “May Jesus Christ be praised,” and rejoices when He alone is lifted up.
Certainly, sin dishonors the Lord. But just as certainly, the one who sins but repents of that sin declares, in effect, “Do not look at me. Look to my Savior, who “loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” and who alone is “worthy . . . to receive glory and honour and power” (Rev. 1:5; 4:11).
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