Meaning of the chapter title:
Jesus Christ is the universal being—the being who is present in all times and all places. “Through him all things were made,” as the creed states. We encounter him everywhere and at every moment. He is both in time and out of time. He is both incarnate and not bound by spatial limitation. He is the God-Man, the Son of God and Son of Man. His presence in this fallen world always presents a call to repent, and even for the already-repentant, an even greater level of repentance.
When one grasps the kernel of the gospel for the first time, it impresses the mind in a way consistent with its literal translation: it is uniquely new—and it is so very uncommonly good. This is truly Good News!
Yet the goodness of this news so sharply contrasts with our view of ourselves that it leaves us with a new form of knowledge which causes us to mourn at how far we seem to be from the gospel ideals. But this is a good mourning because it brings with it the most essential virtue, humility, to combat the greatest sin, pride. Your deliverance from evil has begun!
Indeed: happy are those who mourn. This is a cleansing and, hence, liberating mourning. You used to feel good about yourself, but now you see you had little reason to do so. Since those good feelings were based in falsehood, you are now released from a lie that was holding you down. There is some pain at arriving at this realization, but it pales in comparison to the comfort of being released from this false view of yourself. Once again: happy are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. It is as if you have been cured of blindness. So now you are on your way to overcoming what has classically been called vanity. But do not be too comforted just yet, because this is merely a start. But do give yourself permission to hope.
As you travel in this new awareness, you begin to grapple with your stubborn sinful tendencies. At times you are shocked and dismayed at how you fall short—at the very times when you seemingly felt so stable and steady.
You begin to realize that being attracted to the gospel is not going to be enough. You will have to go deeper into humility to admit that you by yourself lack the resources to live this new life that so attracts you. You now are getting a sense of how, when everything seems to be supporting you, you continue to stumble and fall on this new path. This is where you begin to realize that you are letting elements of your past life be impediments in your new life. You will need to work on developing a growing dislike of sin and all that leads you to sin. And you also are beginning to realize that you will not be able to do this without help from God himself.
And this is a further opportunity to grow in humility. Indeed, it is difficult, as you are attempting to please God, to actually have to turn to him for the assistance to do it. When we want to please another, we loathe having to ask for their help in doing it. Who would feel nothing but humiliation if, when trying to throw a birthday party for someone, you had to borrow funds from that same person in order to make it happen? It would seem pointless and demoralizing to have to come to grips with this reality.
How much more we have this situation with God! This is what is meant by “fear of the Lord”. It is to understand our utter dependence upon him—realizing that we cannot even begin to please him without his helping us through grace. We are beginning to see that he, and not us, is the Lord. The kingdom of heaven is at hand, and it is not something we can fashion to our liking, thankfully, as it turns out.