Examining the Heart 71

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 natural man or even a true believer in a moment of weakness will resort to the natural way at times and return to the old ways of self-righteousness and self-goodness. The religious but natural man can be very religious and never really turn from the ways of self-righteousness and self-goodness, but will be deceived into thinking that s/he believes in a good creed while in fact that the heart leans on and trusts in self-righteousness. It is true that faith will result in good works, but just because a person does good works does not mean that person has true faith. It is also true that a person can have a intellectual belief in justification by grace alone and still trust in self to believe in that, but also think of the religious works of self as evidence of that faith. Oh how deceptive the natural heart is and even the true believer to self-righteousness.

What this should teach us, as Willocox points out, is that the natural man cannot overcome his love of self-righteousness and self-goodness. The natural man has no greater power in himself to overcome the natural man as he will always act according to that natural nature. The soul must be born from above and by the Spirit (same thing) in order to be a spiritual man, but even then the soul can be dragged down into a form of self-righteousness. The natural man can put on a veneer of religiosity by joining a church and adopting a creed, but that can be nothing but a way to hide his own heart from him. Nothing but an infinite power can overcome the nature of the natural man and deliver him from self-righteousness and self-goodness. The natural man loves his self-righteousness and self-sufficiency far too much to willingly leave them but then again as long as self rules that man has nothing else he can or will turn to. Christ Himself must come and dwell in that heart and reign in that heart in order that self with be overthrown. It takes the power of the cross of Christ and the application of His blood to a soul for the natural man to be overcome.

This is part of the pride and religiosity of man that hides the true Gospel of grace alone from man and puts up a form of religion that the self and the pride of man can live with. There is “none but the self-justified” who stand “excluded from the gospel.” The self-justified are all those who look to self and depend on self to trust in Christ and to live in the sufficiency of self and self-righteousness even though they have a good creed to hide their wicked hearts from. The glorious doctrine of justification by grace alone rests upon a very fine edge and people fall off in many directions. It does not take but a little watering down for the Gospel of grace alone to be something different than grace alone. It does not take but a drop of self-righteousness to make the Gospel of grace alone as something less pure than grace alone.

“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.” This is a very important sentence in terms of the light it brings to the Gospel of grace alone. Those who are self-justified, whether by all of self or a little of self, are excluded from the Gospel. This is why it is so important for us to come to God and seek Him to pour light into the soul that we may see ourselves for who we really are. The person who is self-justified does not need Christ alone to be justified, because that person justifies self to some degree and will not have Christ alone for justification. The Lord Jesus will look to the most abominable sinners instead of the self-righteous because those who are abominable sinners in their own eyes have no hope in self or in the sufficiency of self. They are content to give up the illusion of self-righteousness and simply ask Christ to save them from beginning to end. Oh how we must beware of the least hint of self-righteousness and self-sufficiency.

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