Oh wretched man that I am. That is what Isaiah felt when he looked into the Shekinah and saw his own reflection. “Woe is me,” is what he said. Samuel Rutherford, the ancient divine who was a holy man of God said of himself, “When I look upon my sinfulness, I am convinced that my Salvation was Christ’s greatest miracle.” “No work in all the universe, was more spectacular than my own salvation.” The problem with most of us is we don’t see our own sin, in its exceeding sinfulness. If we did, we would be more grateful, more careful, more humble. If we saw what great work Jesus had to do to save us (not collectively, but individually) we would indeed be changed and transformed by the renewing of our minds.
The problem with the Pharisees was that they thought they were much better than they actually were. They never saw their need for a physician. I was stung or bitten four days ago by only God knows what. I felt it, but did not see it. I think it was a flying thing, but it could have been a crawling one. I felt the fire go into the soft of my inner calf. I immediately put an ice pack on the awful red welt. It burned. I put some medicine on it and covered it with a band aid and went back to my business. It burned, it itched, it continued to hurt. What had originally been a small red welt turned into an atoll of crimson surrounding a spot of pale white. It looked nasty. It looks like everything I have read about brown recluse spiders. If I had seen a recluse spider, I would have already been to the physician. I am still watching this wound cautiously, hoping for better things.
The venom of a brown recluse spider destroys the flesh and kills the cells it invades. The bite of a brown recluse spider is actually a kiss of death. No, not all at once, like some King Cobra, or Rattle Snake. It is more like the kiss of death in the Garden of Eden. Its death starts from one small dead spot and spreads and grows as a gangrene. Gangrene must be cut out, death will not heal, death will not get better. Death will only spread.
If the center of my painful sting dies, then I am off to the doctor. If instead, I was stung by some wasp, hornet, or winged fury, perhaps this throbbing will stop one day. Whatever it was, I hope not to meet with such again. Once was enough. I hope you never bump into its nest or hive, or web either.
As bad as the venom of this thing is, it is nothing compared to the venom of sin. When a man or woman realizes what sin is and knows its destructive venomous potency and the awful pain it causes, they will flee to the Great Physician and ask for the balm of Gilead. Then when grace is applied and relief is known, that saint will avoid hives and havens of hell with meticulous attention. That saint will avoid reaching into dark corners where spiders are known to hide.
In the Seventh of Romans Paul did not cry out “Oh Righteous, man that I am” like the Pharisee in the Synagogue. Instead, his cry of “Oh Wretched man,” was an awareness of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and that his own and old sinful human nature was still spinning webs in the basement of his flesh and still had a venom, that was nasty if not fatal, and still a very hurtful thing. Paul knew that only the Spirit of God Himself can save us from the fangs of such a deadly thing. Only Christ can deliver us from the body of death and spider-filled dungeons of the soul. Christ alone is able to take out the sting of death.
What hell is, we hardly know. What we do know is that the pain and woe of a single spider bite, or the fiery spike of an angry wasp, is but a warning of what will be the fate of that man who chooses to live forever with his sin when those sins finally and forever come home to their hives in hell and find him there.