Examining the Heart 76

I may be ashamed to think in the midst of so much profession, that I have known so little of the blood of Christ, which is the main thing of the gospel. A Christless, formal religion, will be the blackest sight next to hell, that can be. You may have many good things, and yet one thing may be wanting, that may make you go away sorrowful from Christ. You have never sold all; you have never parted with all your own righteousness, and so on. You may be high in duty, and yet a perfect enemy and adversary to Christ, in every prayer, in every ordinance. Labor after sanctification to your utmost; but make not a Christ of it to save yourself; if so, it must come down one way or another. Christ’s infinite satisfaction, not your sanctification, must be your justification before God. When the Lord shall appear terrible out of His holy place, fire shall consume that as hay and stubble. Thomas Willcox

There is so much in this paragraph that speaks to the modern day with a loud voice. It is chilling to read of how a Christless, formal religion is the blackest sight next to hell. It is chilling to read of how a person can have many things, but yet that person lacks that one thing and will be compelled to depart from Christ on that day. How sobering it is to realize that there may be multitudes that never sold all and never parted with all of their own righteousness. But fitting in with all of those statements, and perhaps as terrible as any of the rest, is that people can be carrying out many duties and yet “be a perfect enemy and adversary to Christ, in every prayer, in every ordinance.” This is a devastating comment that reflects the biblical picture of all those who are given to the practice of religion without Christ in reality though He may be in their creed.

While many would argue that this has nothing to do with the Gospel, that is simply incorrect. A person must be justified in the presence of God before anything that they do can be pleasing to God. A justified person is the one that God declares just based on what Christ has done on the cross and in earning a perfect righteousness for His people. A justified person is united to Jesus Christ and they are considered married or one person in some sense. A justified person has Christ as his or her life and Christ works Himself and His Spirit in and through that person. A justified person is one that God works in and His glory is truly manifested though that person. A justified person is one that God dwells in and the heart of that person is the kingdom of Christ. A justified person is one that when the person does a good work, it is based on the name of Christ and that work is Christ working Himself in that person and as such that good work is a true spiritual fruit that came from the Vine. The glory of the Gospel of grace alone drips all over the works of the people of God.

The unjustified person, however, is still a child of the devil and all the “good” works of that person is in the strength of self and is for the glory and honor of self. The prayers of that unjustified person are an effort to appear righteous or to obtain righteousness before God, but the effort of sinners to earn righteousness is an act of enmity toward God who saves sinners by grace alone. This is so contrary to modern thinking at so many points. Imagine the poor deluded sinner who gives him or herself to prayer without realizing that all of those prayers are nothing more than the words of an enemy and adversary of Christ. Imagine poor deluded sinners being so regular in taking the sacrament/ordinance and that is nothing but the action of an enemy and adversary of Christ. All of the outwardly righteous actions of deluded sinners are nothing but actions of enemies and adversaries of Christ. This is the great danger of religions and of outward Christianity in name without Christ in fact.

It appears that modern versions of Christianity (many, if not most) have yet to understand the profound words of Christ in John 15:5, for if they do they would not speak so easily of Christ and so easily of sanctification as if it were nothing but mere morality. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” We cannot truly pray apart from Christ. We cannot do any good work apart from Christ. We cannot take the sacraments/ordinances apart from Christ. We cannot preach apart from Christ. We cannot love apart from Christ. We are the branches and all true fruit that comes from the branch must come from the vine first. All fruit that does not come from the branch is not true spiritual fruit. Oh how we must examine our hearts and help others examine their hearts and not flee from this teaching. This is very humbling and quite apart from the ability of the natural man, but without this people will do nothing but be treasuring wrath for the day of wrath with all of their good works and religious activities.

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