Picture a simple light socket and bulb with 2 wires protruding from the base. Without a power supply attached to each wire, the light will not illuminate. If I were to pop out a couple batteries from my watch and attach one to each wire, the light bulb would produce light but ever so dimly. If I were to switch out those watch batteries for AAA’s, then D’s, then car batteries, and finally an electrical outlet in my home, the bulb would glow brighter and brighter.
The light bulb, here, is the gospel. Specifically, how much you value the gospel. One battery is a high view of God and the other is a high view of your sin. Each feeds the other, and the greater you understand who God is and the greater you understand how wicked you are, the more you will appreciate what He has done for you. This is the gospel.
If you have a low view of God and a low view of your sin, you will appreciate the gospel, but ever so dimly. The goal for the believer is to develop a high view of God and, subsequently, a high view of the wickedness of his sin, which will, in turn, help him appreciate the gospel that much more.
Christianity is not about a religion but a relationship. Like a child who grows to adulthood, the more he matures intellectually and emotionally, the more he appreciates the sacrifices his parents have made and, thus, obey more fully. As toddlers, we obey simply because that’s the way it is. Mommy says jump, I jump. There is a basic understanding of authority, and obedience is simply the only option. As we grow into teenagers, we know that disobedience has consequences. We know the rules and will get by with the minimum often obeying externally while our hearts are not into it. If given the chance to spend time with our parents or our friends, we will choose our friends every time. In the end, we obey to avoid punishment and to appease our parents if even at a bare minimum. When we are adults, we grow to appreciate all that our parents have done. We obey them not because we feel we have to, but because we absolutely adore them and want to do what pleases them. For example, when I visit my mom, and she whips up my favorite meal then asks me to do the dishes, I don’t do them expecting my $1 reward for chores nor do I fear being grounded for disobedience. No. I wash those dishes because I love my mom. I want to please her as I finally understand how much she has sacrificed for me over the years.
Nothing has changed with what my parents sacrificed for me. The only thing that has changed is my understanding of those sacrifices. The same idea comes with our relationship with God. However, one big difference between natural human growth and spiritual growth is that spiritual growth is not automatic. We must “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” and that begins with a high view of God and a high view of our sin.
So how do we cultivate such views? Isaiah’s vision in Isaiah 6 is a good starting point. Here’s a man who was already called by God to be a prophet. He had the right perspective, but this vision instantly blows up his view of God and himself. Let’s take a look.
1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
The train of God’s robe represents His power and majesty. So great is God, that the train of His robe did not only cover His throne, but completely filled the temple. Were this vision to appear before me where I type, His train would smash through the door of my office filling my entire home, breaking through the threshold of my house then filling my street, blocking traffic and canvasing my neighbors windows casting a shadow over my entire neighborhood. That is how great God is.
Then Isaiah sees the majestic seraphim, a type of angel. With their wings showing their reverence by covering their eyes, their humility by covering their feet, and their constant worship and praise in uninterrupted flight and calling out “Holy, holy, holy.”
Here, we see 2 ways that Isaiah instantly grew in his high view of God: he saw God for who He is and he saw others see God for who He is. In other words, Isaiah didn’t just see a vision from God, he saw a vision of God. For us today, we are to read and meditate on the Word (see God for who He is) and spend time in true fellowship with God’s people (see others see God for who He is).
Now look at Isaiah’s response to this vision: his instant high view of God led to an instant high view of his sin. So much so that he not only was afraid for his own life but also for that of the nation of Israel. The reason he had this reaction is because in that moment, he had a full realization that God’s holiness and man’s sin are totally incompatible. So how is it that we can worship God without fear of decimation? The gospel.
The higher view you have of God and the higher view you have of your sin, the greater appreciation you have for the gospel.
The beauty of all of this is as you grow in these areas, you can unscrew the light bulb of the gospel and screw in the light bulb of prayer, a godly marriage, overcoming pornography, anxiety, and any other spiritual endeavor with which you struggle.
It all begins with a high view of God and a high view of sin.