by Brad Beals
I call on the Lord in my distress,
and he answers me.
Save me, Lord,
from lying lips
and from deceitful tongues.
What will he do to you,
and what more besides,
you deceitful tongue?
He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows,
with burning coals of the broom bush.
David’s words here refer to his enemies, but they can also be read as a prayer for deliverance from our sin-sick selves. David has no defense against this enemy. He is in distress. And like David, we have no defense against our chief enemy, our own sin, except that we turn to Christ and say with the psalmist, “Deliver me!”
That prayer and God’s answer to it—as very broad categories—comprise the gospel. The gospel saves us by delivering us from the curse of sin. It spares us God’s righteous judgment (no warriors’ arrows or burning coals for us; Christ took them instead). It secures for us an unblemished legal standing before God—justification—but it doesn’t stop there. The gospel also delivers us from our daily struggle with sin, lying lips and deceitful tongues included. That’s sanctification.
Yet this is no “let go and let God” proposition. God calls us to stand and fight, and even describes the armor and weapons we’re to use. But neither is it a matter of trying harder or of taking firmer grip of our bootstraps. We don’t have it in ourselves to obey God’s Word, no matter how hard we try. And yet God calls us also to obey his Word. So what is the Christian to do?
Our first experience of the gospel guides us: we cry out just as we did when we first realized we needed a savior. We say, “Deliver me, O LORD!” because the gospel that justified us then is the same gospel that sanctifies us now and tomorrow and every day until we see him face to face.
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”