When Satan Tempts You to Despair

Audio Transcript

I want to give you a text from Micah 7. I wish that you could all learn the secret of gutsy guilt. I am thinking especially of those of you who have fragile personalities, who are very sensitive to your own failures, who are always feeling defeated, who wonder if you are a Christian half the days of your life. I would just love to build into you some gutsy guilt. So let’s go to Micah — a little prophesy in the Old Testament. Listen and see if you could identify what I mean by gutsy guilt as I read this amazing New-Testament glimpse of justification by faith alone. Micah 7:7–9,

But as for me, I will look to the Lord;
   I will wait for the God of my salvation;
   my God will hear me.
Rejoice not over me, O my enemy;
    when I fall, I shall rise;
when I sit in darkness,
   the Lord will be a light to me.
I will bear the indignation of the Lord
   because I have sinned against him,
until he pleads my cause
   and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light;
   I shall look upon his vindication.

Let me just guide you through that in the order that makes the most sense to me.

Step one in verse 8: “When I fall, I shall rise.” So he has fallen.

Step two in verse 9: “Because I have sinned against him.” So that is the nature of the fall. He sinned. The prophet sinned. I don’t know what he did. I am glad I don’t know what he did, because I can fill in my own there.

Step three up in verse 8 again: “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy.” Do you see what the enemy is doing? “Ha ha, Christian, you sinned. Christian sinned. You are not what you say you are.” Oh, how often the Devil and others can come at us. “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy.”

Step four in verse 9: “I will bear the indignation of the Lord,” meaning, “Okay, I have sinned. I am sitting here in my dust and ashes. I feel terrible. I feel rotten. And I am going to bear it. God is mad at me.”

“We must get gutsy with the Devil and gutsy with our own condemning souls.”

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Fathers get mad at sons. Did you know that? This is not wrath. This is not punitive. This is not judgment of a final kind. This is a fatherly, “I am mad at you. You sinned against me. You made my name look stupid, and I don’t like it.”

Step five: Watch him now. He has got guilt, and it becomes really gutsy. He is clearly guilty. He doesn’t like the way he feels, and he is bearing indignation. It is dark. And now back up in verse 7, near the end. “My God will hear me.” And look at the phrase just before that: Therefore, “I will wait for the God of my salvation.”

See the gutsiness of this guilt is starting to show here. “Yes, he is mad at me. Yes, I am sitting in the dark. Yes, I am under his indignation. Yes, I feel guilty and rotten. And I am going to wait here as long as it takes for my God to become the God of my salvation, to show him to be the God of my salvation.”

Now at the end of verse 8: “When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.” Well, now are you in darkness or are you in light? “I am in darkness. I feel awful. It is late at night. I just did a terrible thing this afternoon at work. I said something I shouldn’t have said, or I did something, or I have been exposed for something that I have been doing for a long time on my taxes, or I would like to die.”

And in that guilt he says, “God will be a light to me.” That is gutsy. This is what a justified sinner must learn to do. We must get gutsy with the Devil and gutsy with our own condemning souls. And we must say, “There is enough of a ray of light. Just a little sliver of light shining in here to me.”

Now in the middle of verse 9: I am going to wait here “until he pleads my cause.” “I have got an advocate. Yes, he is frowning. Yes, he is indignant — and he is my advocate.” Can you do that? Have you got the theological, spiritual framework in your brain to be feeling guilty and get gutsy to say that God is both angry with me and interceding for me? It is easier for us to do it on this side of the cross, because we see who is the interceder, right?

And then that amazing statement right after that in verse 9: “until he pleads my cause and executes judgment.” And you think he might say, “Against me,” but he doesn’t say, “Against me.” He says, “For me.” Listen to this guy talking to the Devil or talking to his own soul, and saying, “Yes, I sinned. Yes, God is angry with me. Yes, I feel guilty. Yes, it is dark. There is a little sliver of light. God is going to become my salvation. God is going to intercede for me. God is going to exercise judgment on you, enemy. Do not rejoice over me.”

“Rejoice not over me, O my enemy. When I fall, I will rise.”

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If that isn’t gutsy guilt, I don’t know what is. I don’t know how people live who don’t learn the secret of gutsy guilt, because I sin every day. I sin every day.

I love the gospel. I love the grace of God. I love the cross of Jesus. And I love to fight for joy as a justified sinner, and I hope you get it. I hope the Holy Spirit would just come now and grant you illumination so that you sense the sweet sufficiency of the blood and righteousness of Christ, like granite under your feet as all the darkness beats against your life, so that you can say,

“Rejoice not over me, Devil. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy. When I fall, I will rise. Yes, I will sit here for a season. I don’t know how long it is going to take the Lord to break in on my heart and completely vindicate me and restore me. I hope it is sooner rather than later, but I am going to wait, because he is on my side and will execute justice for me.”


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Conference Message

When I Don’t Desire God (Part 4)

When I Don’t Desire God

Part 4

Aug 19, 2005

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Your Morning Will Come: Trusting God in the Darkest Nights

We took our 2-year-old daughter to the hospital for what we thought would be an ordinary visit. I threw in my bag the two books I had been reading that day. One was by a Christian leader diagnosed at age 39 with a rare form of incurable cancer. The other was a book on Romans 8 by Ray Ortlund, who writes, “A strong confidence in God’s loving intentions and enveloping care fortifies us to face whatever life throws at us.”

That same day, life threw something big at me. While we were at the hospital my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, which has been the deepest sorrow I have known and the greatest threat to my hope. Currently, our daughter continues her treatment. More than ever before, my soul needs to know how to face the future without fear. Where can we turn when the cares of our hearts are many, and fears threaten to overwhelm us?

Whispers in the Dark

No one is better equipped to speak to our fears than Jesus Christ. On the night before he was crucified, he helped his disciples as they considered their future and were fearful, distressed, and lonely. He said to them, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). And Jesus not only gives the command; he speaks truths designed to lead them from fear to faith. He gives them good news about their future.

The answer is not to stop thinking about the future. Rather, we overcome fear of the future by remembering our future in Christ. That night, when confidence was waning, and the disciples were troubled by the days to come, Jesus reminded them that he was going to prepare a place for them (John 14:3). He said that he will give them a Helper, the presence of the Spirit for power and comfort and instruction, to be with them forever (John 14:16). Jesus gives his disciples the promise of eternal life with God: “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).

I naturally spend more time dwelling on what I don’t know about my future than what I do. But the word of God reveals glorious truths about our future in Christ. What we know about the future needs to shape the way we view what we don’t know.

More Grace Will Come

One morning, when my daughter was so weak from battling cancer that she could not walk, and our family was more exhausted than we have ever been, my wife read a Charles Spurgeon quote to me from the book Beside Still Waters. She read it through tears. They were tears of sorrow, tears of comfort, tears of hope.

We have great demands, but Christ has great supplies. Between here and heaven, we may have greater wants than we have yet known. But all along the journey, every resting place is ready; provisions are laid up, good cheer is stored, and nothing has been overlooked. The commissary of the eternal is absolutely perfect.

Military posts usually include a commissary, which is a store of food and supplies. Our needs are many, but Christ knows all of our needs and has already prepared to meet them. Nothing has been overlooked. God promises to provide for our future needs by giving us future grace. We are poor in ourselves, but we will find riches of grace in Christ.

Godly Optimism

Those who belong to Christ have every reason to be optimistic about the future. Hope dominates our outlook. We look at everything that could possibly come our way in life and consider ourselves more than conquerors. Randy Alcorn says, “Because of the certainty of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and his promises, biblical realism is optimism.”

The Bible promotes optimism, but it is a certain kind of optimism. It is not the secular optimism of positive thinking, or the natural optimism of a laid-back personality, but the godly optimism of Christian hope. True hope endures in the darkness. It is through tears of faith-led lament that we see the beauty of our hope most clearly. Godly optimism is marked by realism and mixed with grief. We know that in this world we will have trouble, but we take heart trusting the one who has overcome the world (John 16:33). Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).

Why Your Future Is Bright

What do we know about the days to come? We know that for every changing circumstance, there is new mercy from our faithful God (Lamentations 3:22–23). We know that whatever trials we face, God will be with us to guide and preserve us (Isaiah 43:2). We know that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38–39).

You don’t know everything about your future, but you know the most important parts:

  • God will be with you.
  • Christ will intercede for you.
  • The Holy Spirit will empower you.
  • God will supply your needs.
  • The risen Lord will protect you.
  • The love of God will keep you.
  • All things will work for your good.
  • The defeat of sin and death is sure.
  • You will see Christ face to face.
  • You will worship the Lamb who was slain.
  • Your body will be resurrected.
  • Your sorrows will be no more.
  • You will be with loved ones in Christ.
  • You will be richly rewarded.
  • Christ will make all things new.

We often fall short of the hope and courage we ought to have as Christians. But day by day, Christ is changing us and empowering us to face the future with confidence in him. Therefore, be strong in the Lord Jesus. Let your heart take courage. Look to the days ahead with joy-filled hope.

By the grace of God, we are learning to expect a bright tomorrow. If you trust him, your morning will come.

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