Examining the Heart 69

Self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, are the darlings of nature, which she preserves as her life. That makes Christ seem ugly to nature, to all nature’s glorious interests. Let nature but make a gospel, and it would make it quite contrary to Christ; it would be to the just, the innocent and the holy; Christ made the gospel for you; that is, for needy sinners, the ungodly, the unrighteous, the accursed. Nature cannot endure to think the gospel is only for sinners; it will rather choose to despair than to go to Christ upon such terrible terms. When nature is but put to it by guilt or wrath, it will go to its old haunts of self-righteousness and self-goodness. An infinite power must cast down those strongholds. None but the self-justified stands excluded from the gospel; Christ will look to the most abominable sinner before Him; because to such an one Christ cannot be made justification; he is no sinner. Thomas Willcox

It is quite plain that the natural man or the man of the flesh is quite opposite to the spiritual man or the man of the Spirit. The Lord Jesus was given the Spirit without measure and in doing all out of love for the Father He was hated by the very religious of His day on earth in human form, but that was because they were natural men and they had the religion of natural men. The Pharisees, who were the very religious in the days of Jesus on earth, had come up with their own gospel. It was a gospel quite contrary to Christ Himself and His work in saving sinners. The gospel of the Pharisees was indeed for those who worked hard to be just, innocent, and holy. But the Gospel of Christ was for needy sinners, the ungodly, the unrighteous, and the accursed.

While it may not be common or popular to put it that way, in reality those are the two positions (broadly speaking) that are set out across the world today. We have the teaching that if you will do certain things to become moral or become those like Christ will save, then you will be saved. This is also what many in the Reformed community have fallen into in our day as well. It is true that repentance is a neglected teaching in our day, but we don’t repent in order to be saved. We are saved by grace alone that we may repent. The biblical teaching on holiness has also been replaced with the seeking of holiness by the power of self. But Jesus Christ came to save sinners and only those. He came to save the ungodly and indeed only those who are ungodly in their own eyes and hearts will ever really look to Christ alone to be saved.

The proud heart of man longs and craves for some degree of self-righteousness and each proud heart refuses to be brought low and admit what a wicked heart that s/he has. The proud heart of man refuses to admit, really admit from the depths of the heart, that he is wicked and vile in the eyes of a thrice holy God and has no way to save himself. When the truth is preached or taught and these proud hearts read or hear it, they cannot bear it and will flee to the refuge that while they are sinners at least they are not that bad. It is easy enough to convince most people that they are sinners, but it takes an almighty power to overcome proud hearts and convince people that they are the vilest of sinners and have no hope in themselves.

How people need to examine their hearts to see what is the real hope in them. How people need to see the depths of their sin and the fact that they have no righteousness in them in fact and so they need to flee from any hope in themselves. How people need to cry out to God to expose any self-righteousness in them and to open the eyes of their hearts to the depths of their sin that they may look to Christ alone. The awful power of pride in the heart will always guide the heart away from seeing itself as ungodly, unrighteous, and accursed. Sinners flee from that with all of their strength. But while this is not something they enjoy, it is something that they must do if they are going to have Christ as a real Savior. He is for real sinners. We all need to look deep in our hearts to find out if we have a lurking self-righteousness.

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