Roy Ingle, “Depravity and the Glory of God”

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I have been reading in my devotions in the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles. I was struck by how often both David and his son Solomon often referred to their being chosen by God to lead Israel and how humble they were by that choice. These were not prideful men but broken by God’s sovereign choice. Listen to both David and Solomon’s prayers:

“Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my house, that you have brought me this far? (1 Chronicles 17:16 ESV).

And hear David’s humility when he had sinned by numbering the people in 1 Chronicles 21:1,7:

“Please let your hand, O LORD my God, be against me and against my father’s house. But do not let the plague be on your people” (1 Chronicles 21:17 ESV).

Listen to David’s understanding of true leadership when he prayed before the people and praised God for His sovereignty:

“Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given to you” (1 Chronicles 29:10-14 ESV).

Solomon followed David’s example of humility and understanding that he was king by God’s sovereign choice and so he prayed likewise:

“The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him, except as a place to make offerings before him?” (2 Chronicles 2:5-6 ESV).

Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the temple of God in 2 Chronicles 6 is worth reading and praying through. Solomon’s humility and his praise for the greatness, power, and majesty of God is incredible to read.

Seeing Ourselves As David Saw Himself

We all know that David was no perfect man. His sin with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11 is what probably defines David’s kingship. It is not often the triumphs of men we remember but their failures. In David’s case his sin is well reported not only from Psalm 51 but from history as well up to our modern day. Yet in Acts 13:22 the Holy Spirit doesn’t even remember David’s sin but simply says that he was “a man after my heart, who will do my will” (ESV). Bathsheba is not mentioned but implied in Matthew 1:6, but still referred to as “the wife of Uriah” (ESV). Paul does not dwell on David’s sins when he mentions him in Romans 4.

What was it about David that made him a man after God’s own heart? What was it that kept him from being destroyed by God after his horrible sins? I believe it was his honesty before God. David understood too well his depravity. Not that he was out committing murder or sexual immorality all the time, but David knew that he was nothing apart from God’s grace and favor.

This is so clear in 1 and 2 Chronicles where I have been reading. David’s prayers are not prayers of a man who is full of pride like Saul (1 Samuel 28:6). David sinned, but he prayed out of his depravity and he knew that apart from the grace of God, he should be killed. “Who am I?” is a constant theme of David’s prayers as well as Solomon’s.

Depravity & Prayer

It’s our understanding of our depravity that should keep us coming before the Lord through His Son (Hebrews 4:14-16). What right do we have to come before the throne of the Holy One of Israel apart from His grace through His Son? What power do we possess apart from His Spirit dwelling within us? Who in their own strength can overcome sin apart from the Spirit of holiness dwelling within us (Romans 1:4)? Who am I apart from Christ?

Paul’s own understanding of his depravity kept him humble and broken before God. In 1 Timothy 1:15 Paul declares his view of himself and his Savior:

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (ESV).

And yet is Paul committing murder? Sexual immorality? Cursing God? Stealing? Yet he still sees himself in light of his depravity before a holy and righteous God.

Why don’t we pray more in the Church? I believe it’s because of laziness and also because we don’t see our depravity. Who are we? The most popular books in the Christian pop culture today are not about our sinfulness but our self-worth and finding purpose in our lives. Who am I that God would love me? Who am I that God would choose me? Who am I that Jesus would bear my sins on the cross in my place as my substitute? Who am I that I should be able to read and comprehend His Word? Who am I that I can worship before His throne? Who am I that I should be saved?

When we begin to see that the Christian life is not about us but about Christ, then we will be able to pray. Prayer is not about getting all your needs met or mine. It’s about conversing with the one true God of the universe who sent His Son to redeem us and call us out of darkness into His light (1 Peter 2:9-10). Prayer is not about positive confessions but about our understanding of our standing before God that apart from Jesus we are “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17 ESV). I am not saying that we should approach God with a false humility simply because we are sinful creatures, but with a deep sense of our own human weaknesses and that, if it were not for Jesus, who could come before God?

We don’t pray when we begin to think that we can overcome sin in our power, defeat our giants by our own strength, overcome obstacles through our ingenuity, and love our enemies with our own love. We don’t pray when we make tons of money and think that we can buy our way out of any problem we face. We don’t pray when we believe that our salvation was not through Christ but is dependent upon our good works, our church membership, our teaching Sunday School, our praying before we eat, etc.

We only pray when we see how deeply in trouble we are without Jesus. Who am I? That should be our cry! Lord, who am I that I deserve Your salvation? Who am I that I deserve Your love? Who am I that I deserve three meals a day? Who am I that I am able to work? Who am I that You have blessed me with my family? Who am I that I live in a free society that enables me to worship, pray, and read Your Word without fear?

Lord, Who am I?

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