Psalm 42:5-6a (ESV)
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you…
Each day we’re faced with two choices… We can either listen to ourselves and our ever-changing feelings about our circumstances, or we can listen to God’s Word—we can preach the unchanging truth of who God is and what He’s accomplished through His Son Jesus to ourselves. That’s essentially what the Psalmist is doing in Psalm 42.
Often the thing that typically leads us to sin is our circumstance (though our responses to our circumstances reveal the sin in our heart). Because of stress, anger, fear, hurt, or the like we often do something that we know is wrong but in the moment seems as though it will somehow help us in that circumstance we find our self in. When we give into this temptation we are listening to ourselves… Likewise, after we have given in to the temptation to sin, be it because of our circumstance or whatever we again start listening to ourselves, thinking that God can’t love us because of our imperfections; or that in some way we have to be a better version of ourselves in order to earn His love. It is in these two moments that we must preach to ourselves rather than listen to ourselves. If we preach the gospel to ourselves when the temptation to sin arises, reminding ourselves that Jesus is better than our sin we can avoid the second situation altogether. But if we fail to rightly believe the gospel and resist temptation in the first situation we must preach the gospel to ourselves in the second situation reminding ourselves that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1).
The great reformer, Martin Luther once said, “The gospel cannot be preached and heard enough, for it cannot be grasped well enough.” And the more we grasp the gospel, or the more profound our understanding of the cross is the better we will be at preaching this glorious gospel to ourselves. And as we preach to ourselves instead of listening to ourselves we will find that we are better equipped to battle sin, pursue holiness, and live for the glory of God… And that’s where true joy is found…
I am nothing; Christ is all!