“My Own Vineyard I Have Not Kept” (Song 1:5-6)

Christmas Trees in Rockefeller Center“I am black, but comely, O you daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. 1:6 Look not upon me, because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. My mother’s sons were incensed against me. They made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept.” vs5-6

I’m an irresponsible, ungrateful, and wretched sinner, but I believe on the Lord Jesus, so I’m righteous and holy, also. I’m not just one, but I am both: All of my goodness is because of Christ, all of my evil because of me, and one does not diminish the other. I’m simultaneously as wretched as possible AND as clean as I can be in Jesus Christ.

Do not think yourself just a sinner, Oh saint, or you will fall, denying God’s word. Do not get lifted up and forget your wretchedness, Oh child of God, if you’re enjoying favor. We are absolutely nothing, and we can do all things through Christ. We’re as evil as people in hell, and as holy as those in heaven. We are fully accepted, though we are sinners, and we use the one – what we have in Christ – to combat the other.

1     Do not deny the gospel: You are a sinner still (1 John 1:8). Have you enjoyed fellowship with God? Wonderful, praise Him for it! You’ll be down in the dumps tomorrow, overburdened with sin, if not for grace. Have you endured temptation and come out shining? Don’t boast. You’ll wish yourself dead before the rooster crows, unless God keeps you going (1 Kings 19:4). Have you fallen horribly, dear believer? Do not despair: You are still holy and have all of the privileges. What’s yours in Christ can never be taken away, because it is secure in the heavens, and Christ will never leave nor forsake you. Have you found yourself to be a sinner, after all of these years, going back to battles you thought you’d won? Take heart. He says, “For the LORD your God is the One who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory (Deut 20:3-4).”

The good God’s done in you is real, and He’s ready to help His servant. Paul said, “So I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me” (Rom 7:21). There is no banishing it and no living above it! We are sinners DEPENDING on the Savior; we are saints giving all glory to Him.

2     Get out of Romans 7 into Romans 8. Do not meditate on, “O wretched man I am”, without going to the Son for deliverance. Don’t use sin to deny the Savior, as many do, saying what He can’t do and diminishing the holy word because of our error. Yes, you’re totally depraved, totally righteous, and it is by faith that you overcome. The Spirit is given NOT because you’re sinful but to make you overcome because you are righteous. “Because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death (Rom 8:2).” You are blessed, not in yourself and because of you, but because Jesus Christ was crucified.

Look to Him, therefore, and do not stop receiving because of your vileness, but know His promise to be faithful. Take Him at His word, boldly, and enter the throne room. Do not let Him go until He blesses you, and do not take “No” for an answer! This is Satan’s lie that you can’t have the promise, but the gospel says that Christ is the reason that you can. You cannot live far off from God, walking in guilt and condemnation – not if you want to be prosperous! You must draw nigh with the boldness that says, “Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin (Heb 10:18).”

Take the water of life freely, which means without any cause in you, other than thirst and desperate need. Do not refuse one blessing because of your sin.

3     Brethren, we’re always sinning, so glorify Christ. Do not think, “I’m somebody now, and I’ve got it under control.” James 4:15, “Instead, you should say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” Do not think that you’ve arrived, or you will stumble. Do not be puffed up, as if now YOU’VE got it, but glorify Christ continually. Seeing everything in Him and nothing in self, which is having a right judgment of self after success and after failure, keeps us praising Jesus sincerely from the heart: We know that it’s Him and His doing. The doctrine of, “Look at me”, is tempered by, “But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. Rather, I toiled more abundantly than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me (1 Cor 15:10).”

Do not disregard Him, as if you have anything but the faith God gives you. These confessions that come from failure, temptation, and being spiritually conscience keep us humble, govern our leaning on Christ, and make us proclaim Him from the heart – not for show in word only, but in deep experience of faith (1 Cor 4:20). Look up to the Lamb, behold Him, and preach Him, pointing all men to Him, being satisfied that they see Christ and not yourself.

Brothers, we’re sinful saints!

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