And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
As I was reading through Scripture and Matthew Henry’s Commentary this morning, I was struck by the callousness and coldness of my heart in the area of sanctification. Henry had this to say (emboldened text my emphasis):
Note, 1. It is the corrupt nature, and the inclination of the soul towards the flesh, that oppose the Spirit’s strivings and render them ineffectual. 2. When a sinner has long adhered to that interest, and sided with the flesh against the Spirit, the Spirit justly withdraws his agency, and strives no more. None lose the Spirit’s strivings but those that have first forfeited them.
III. A reprieve granted, notwithstanding: Yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years; so long I will defer the judgment they deserve, and give them space to prevent it by their repentance and reformation. Justice said, Cut them down; but mercy interceded, Lord, let them alone this year also; and so far mercy prevailed, that a reprieve was obtained for six-score years. Note, The time of God’s patience and forbearance towards provoking sinners is sometimes long, but always limited: reprieves are not pardons; though God bear a great while, he will not bear always.
This, of course, is not meant to make downcast the believer, who might be tempted to despair due to the medieval whip; rather, it is but a reminder of God’s work toward sinners. Thankfully, we are not bastards, but sons, and the Lord does not leave us to our own destruction. He has means by which He does this, of course, one of those being Scriptural precepts and examples from which we may draw application to our own lives.
Let such passages be a fearful and reverent reminder of God’s Holiness, but also His patience; His wrath and hatred of sin, but His mercies toward repentant sinners; His justice toward the impenitent men, but his longsuffering and loving discipline toward His children. Blessed be the Lord God Who will save us from our sins and conform us to the likeness of His Son. May we be reminded of such wonderful yet terrible truths when our judgments are clouded by sin and our practice muddied with iniquities. Then let us cling to that mercy that is found only in Christ, trusting not in our merit, but His. Upon considering such, may we be all the more driven to holy and biblical piety, casting off the sin which so easily entangles.
The Lord is good to His children.