Examining the Heart 72

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 so vital to grasp the last sentence in this paragraph because in it the true nature of man and the true nature of Christ and the Gospel shine forth. There is no one but the self-justified sinner that is excluded from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Gospel of the glory of God and the Gospel of grace alone. The self-justified sinner is excluded from the Gospel because the Gospel is all about Jesus Christ and not about the sinner that has tried to justify self. The self-justified sinner is excluded because the Gospel is all about the glory of God and is not about the glory or righteousness (even though s/he has none in fact or reality) of the sinner. The self-justified sinner is excluded because the Gospel of grace alone is all about how God saves by grace alone rather than because of anything that the sinner has done. The self-justified sinner denies his nature of sin and the nature of grace as well.

How fresh is the teaching of grace as opposed to all the forms of legalism that abound in our day, some even in the name of freedom. What we must shout from whatever heights or depths we are in is that the self-justified are the only ones excluded from any hope in Christ. The vilest of sinners can have hope if they look to Christ and look to His grace alone to save them from themselves and their sin, but as long as the sinner has any hope in self to do anything to contribute to his salvation/justification that sinner is excluded from the Gospel. What a glorious message of grace that this is to sinners and the worst of sinners, but what a message of condemnation to all who want to justify themselves to any degree.

Rom 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.

What music this is to the ears of the one who has been freed from hoping in self. Righteousness is what is credited or reckoned to sinners and is not what the sinner can possible do for self. The one who works for righteousness (whether for enough or for even part of it) is trying to come up with a wage as what is due to him or her instead of looking for grace alone. The Scriptures are so clear that the Gospel of grace alone in giving sinners a free and alien (to them) righteousness teaches them not to work for any or all of their righteousness. It teaches them to believe (have faith in) God who justifies the ungodly. Christ came to save sinners and no one else. God justifies the ungodly and no one else. The Holy Spirit regenerates the helpless and those who are unable to save themselves and look to God for grace alone.

There can be no mixing of grace and works in theory or practice. The heart must be broken from all hope in itself and all hope of what it can do. The heart must be broken from trusting in itself for all righteousness, much righteousness at all, and any righteousness at all. The heart must simply lay down were it is with no hope and no ability and look to Christ alone for grace alone to save. The Lord Jesus does not need the smallest act of righteousness to save a sinner, He has provided a complete and perfect righteousness. The Lord Jesus does not look to the sinner for any ability, but instead He is all-sufficient to save sinners by Himself and grace alone. Sinners must not look to their sinful nature for one act or desire of anything good, but instead they are to look to Christ alone to give them a new heart. Oh how we must examine our hearts while looking to Christ to teach us about our hearts and to give us grace to change our heart and grace to give us a perfect righteousness of His making. He is all-sufficient, but we are no sufficiency or ability in ourselves. Grace alone.

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