When God convicts us of our sin, he ordinarily only shows us the tip of the iceberg (so to speak). This is an act of mercy, for if he showed us the exact depth and extent of our depravity, we would not be able to live with ourselves. Thankfully, genuine conviction and repentance can take place even though we don’t know the full depth and extent of our depravity. I appreciate how Robert Murray M’Cheyne explains the depths of the sinful heart in a sermon he preached on Jeremiah 17.9-10 (The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?).
“…The most awakened sinner does not see the ten thousandth part of the wickedness of his own heart. You are like a person looking down into a dark pit – you can only see a few yards down the sides of the pit; so you can only see a little way into your heart. It is a pit of corruption which is bottomless: Who can know it?“
“…You are like a traveler looking down into the crater of a volcano; but the smoke will not suffer (allow) you to look far. You see only a few yards into the smoking volcano of your heart…. There are chambers in your heart that you have never yet seen into – there are caves in that ocean you have never fathomed – there are fountains of bitterness you have never tasted. When you have felt the wickedness of your heart to the uttermost, then lie down under this awful truth, that you have only seen a few yards into a pit that is bottomless – that you carry about with you a slumbering volcano – a heart whose wickedness you do not and cannot know.”
Thankfully M’Cheyne ended the sermon on the heights of grace.
“[Christ] was the only one that knew the wickedness of the beings for whom he died. He that searches the hearts of sinners died for them. He knew what was in men; yet he did not abhor (hate) them on that account – he died for them. It was not for any goodness in man that he died for man. He saw none. It was not that he saw little sin in the heart of man. He is the only being in the universe that saw all the sin that is in the unfathomable heart of man. He saw to the bottom of the volcano – and yet he came and died for man. Herein is love!”
“When publicans and sinners came to him on earth, he knew what was in their hearts. His eye had rested on their bosoms all their life – he had seen all the lusts and poisons that ever rankled there; yet in no wise did he cast them out. So with you. His eye hath seen all your sins – the vilest, darkest, blackest hours you have lived, his pure eye was resting upon you; yet he died for such, and invites you to come to him; and will in no wise cast you out.”
Jesus knows exactly how sinful you are, but he loves you and went to the cross for you. You only know the tip of the iceberg when it comes to your sin, but Jesus has seen it all in full. And he didn’t run away from you. Instead, he took your sin and its curse upon himself, removed it from you, and gave you his righteousness in exchange. It is frightening to realize that we don’t know how sinful we actually are; but Jesus does know, he loved us, died for us while we were still sinners, and literally took our sin upon himself to deliver us from it. You are forgiven!
rev shane lems