“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.” Hosea 13:9
“O Ephraim, you have destroyed yourself!“ not “Ephraim, if you do not take very great care, you will by and by destroy yourself.” But, “O Ephraim, you have destroyed yourself” already! And so have we destroyed our souls over and over again. Here is this temptation, this snare, this besetting sin, this trap of the devil — all ready to entangle our feet — and would prove again, and again, and again our destruction. It would ruin both body and soul, and sweep us into hell without remedy — if the Lord did not intervene and interpose. Here, then, is the “fool” — having destroyed his soul.
All WE can do (it seems a dreadful thing to say — but I believe it is true) is to damn our own souls — that is all we can do, by nature. And what GOD has to do, is to keep us from damning ourselves! For our heart is so vile, our nature so corrupt — we are so bent upon backsliding, so deadly intent upon our idols, that God has to hold us back from hurling our own souls to the bottomless pit!
How many are our “DESTRUCTIONS.” And these “destructions” are like poison. We sip, and sip, and sip, not knowing there is poison in the cup. Its sweetness hides its venom. Arsenic is in every glass — the table is spread with wine — and to drink is to die! See how “the wine is the poison of dragons and the cruel venom of asps!” Look at our self-righteousness and pharisaic pride — is not that sufficient to destroy? Look at our carnality and worldly-mindedness, with all our reckless and vain thoughts — are not these sufficient to destroy? Look at our unbelief and infidelity — is not that sufficient to destroy? Look at the base lusts and sensual appetites — is there not enough of this poison in our heart to send a world to perdition? Look at the workings of despondency and despair — are not these sufficient to destroy?
Watch the movements of our heart in the various circumstances of life. Is not there a snare in everything? In business, in our occupation, at home, abroad, wherever we go, in whatever company we go — is not some secret snare hidden? And would not that snare entangle and destroy our souls — but for the sovereign grace and mercy of God?
For sure I am, if anyone is acquainted with the depth of the fall, the wickedness, and weakness of our Adam nature, and what a man can think, say, and do, when not upheld by the grace of God — he will say, “but for the grace of God I would, again and again, have rushed upon my own destruction!”