Examining the Heart 70

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

The heart has been said to be a factory of idols, but it is also a very deceitful factory of idols. It is a fight for the whole life of true believers to be free from false gospels that arise and from the heart that wanders after forms of being nice and self-righteousness. It is hard to escape the polluted air of “churchiness” and “niceness” and “good people” and simply admit from the depths of the soul that I am a needy sinner. It is so hard for the soul to arrive at the point of believing these things as true about self in ways that are far deeper than a creed or confession can put them. Only the Holy Spirit can convict the soul and show it the depths of its own sin that it understands that the Gospel of grace alone is for the ungodly rather than the godly. The Gospel of grace alone is for needy sinners and not for those who are competent in themselves. The Gospel of grace alone is for the unrighteous in and of themselves as opposed to those who think they are righteous. The Gospel of grace alone comes to those who have nothing in and of themselves but an accused nature and accursed actions and saves them based on Christ alone.

The Gospel of grace alone is not just for those who were sinners, but for those who are sinners. Oh how the proud heart rebels against this. Oh how the proud heart thinks that it is saved by believing the Gospel but after that it (the proud heart) lives a moral and good life. But Scripture teaches us that the Gospel is for sinners and no one else. The most advanced believer can never advance beyond the Gospel of grace alone at any point. The most advanced believer is a sinner and will grow in the knowledge of his or her sin and that is one method God uses to show saved sinners their utter need of Christ and His grace each moment of each day.

This is so vital for people who are concerned about their hearts and how their hearts are in reality. It is far easier to develop a pseudo-righteousness or standard than it is to bow to God as a wretched and vile sinner who will never be anything more than that in and of self. The only righteousness that a sinner can have is the perfect righteousness of Christ given by imputation. The only righteous act that a sinner can do must come from Christ or it would not be righteous in any way. But the Gospel of grace alone is what the sinner must have each moment. We never grow beyond out need for the work of Christ as a wrath-bearing substitute for His people. We never grow beyond our need of Christ as our perfect righteousness and as our perfect Mediator and High Priest. But for those who grasp at straws and fig-leaves to cover themselves, they are choosing themselves as their own saviors and they are choosing themselves as their own righteousness and as their own mediators and high-priests.

It is not just necessary to examine our hearts to see if we are saved, but also for these vile things that come up in our heart to challenge Christ and His offices. Sinners who are truly born of God and justified by God will fight these things as well. It is so hard to continually see self as worse and worse and as more reliant upon Christ each day, but that is reality. Christ will strip His people of their pride and self-righteousness so that they may be reliant upon Him alone and that His glory may be manifested in and through them. The more people are stripped utterly and totally naked of all hope in self and of all righteousness of self, the more they will rely on Christ alone and His grace alone. While the natural man fights to prevent his heart and the sins of his heart exposed to him, the true believer learns to love to be in the dust and to be low that all would be Christ and Him alone. The believer does not love the sin, but loves to see the glory of Christ shine.

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