Matthew 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.

Humility is a true sense of our state, and must necessarily go before a cure; but then, where is the virtue or merit of it? A man full of noisome, stinking sores, would be a madman, if he did not look out for a remedy, whenever he came to be sensible of his condition, but more so if he took any merit to himself for knowing that he was thus diseased. (Thomas Adam, Private Thoughts on Religion)

In the modern professing Church men are urged to flee to Christ. They are told that they must say a prayer or walk an aisle or something is given to them that they can do. But the biblical method, if I am seeing things correctly, is to show people just how sinful they are and if God opens their eyes to see just how wicked they are they will flee to God asking for mercy. As Adam notes about, a man who was full of terrible sores would be a madman not to seek a remedy once he became aware of his condition. What we must learn in our day (and in any other day as well) is that men who do not understand their sinful condition will not go to the real Christ for real grace and so they don’t have a real repentance. It is necessary for men to know that they are sinners, of course, but they need to know the depths of their sin if they are going to have a real repentance. They are going to have to understand just how helpless they are if they are going to see their utter need of Christ to save them completely without any help from them. After all, if they did help then salvation would not be by Christ alone or grace alone.

At this point Adam points us to see how wicked and deceptive the human heart really is. If a person has never really had his or her eyes opened to pride, self-love, and self-reliance, then this should be one place to see it. We understand that sinners can become proud of their sin and religious sinners can become proud of their religion. But can it truly be the case that some will see something of the evil nature of their hearts and this will move them to be proud? Here is a terribly deceptive method of the devil in working with our pride and hiding it under the guise of false humility. We know that Scripture teaches us that knowledge puffs up, but do we see that even when we obtain knowledge of our own sin even that can move us to pride? When we sin can we mutter in our own hearts that at least we know we have sinned and others simply don’t see it? Do we see how wicked our pride is in that case when we take a greater knowledge of our own sin as a way to boost our own pride?

The knowledge of our own sin can become a way of our trusting in ourselves and our knowledge of our sin as merit before God. We may think that in some way our greater knowledge of our sin makes it more likely that God will save us because we see more sin than our neighbor. At any point and at any time in our life when we think we have done something and we feel good about ourselves or we think we have a little more merit because of it, that little warning bell (or very large and loud one) should go off. But even more, if we begin to have our pride boosted or think we have a little merit BECAUSE of knowing more about our sin than others, we should be surprised if we don’t drop straight into the pit of hell.

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Gen 6:5)

The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

Behold the wickedness of man and the deception of his heart when he will take pride in a greater knowledge of his own sin or think that in some way he is more likely to be saved because he knows his own sin. But how many people do this (perhaps all are tempted to it or actually do it to some degree) and have this rising in their hearts without noticing it? The depths of the sin in the heart should be obvious to those who have seen this in their own hearts or come to see it. How vile and wicked it is for a man to be proud of his sinful behavior, and indeed so many are. They write books and do television shows about their wickedness. Yet are we any better if we think we can merit something before God because we recognize our sin? Surely it is obvious that we need a real repentance from our pride at all times, even in the knowledge of our sin. Real repentance is from the depths of the heart. Real repentance is not being turned from all our pride, but real repentance will be accompanied with a desire to be free from such a hateful thing as pride. Real repentance will be accompanied by a loathing of self when it sees the head of the viper of pride rising in its own heart.

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