Real Repentance 31

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.

God never makes any man what he should be, without first making him know what he is. O God, take the veil from my heart; take the world, take pride, take self out of my heart, and write there all they laws, I beseech thee. (Thomas Adam, Private Thoughts on Religion)

Do we really want to know our hearts? Do we really want God to strip us of all self-righteousness and all pride? While we will make the excuse that God will not take away all self-righteousness and pride in this life, that is not the point. Do we really want God to strip us of more self-righteousness and pride to the point where it is far beyond our comfort level? Do we want Him to strip us of self-righteousness and pride in theory or do we want Him to do this in fact? Do we really want God to take the love of and esteem of the world out of my heart? We must remember that repentance is turning from sin to God. When we see remaining sin in our hearts, can we say that we are true lovers of God if we don’t desire to turn from sin to Him? It is far easier to speak of religious things and spiritual things than it is to be stripped of them. One reason for this is that our hearts are wedded to our idols and it is painful to have them taken away. A second reason is that when God takes things away He uses fiery trials to do so. We flee from those things.

Jesus told us to deny self, take up our cross and follow Him. We cannot follow Christ any further than the degree we deny self. Notice, however, that the text and the question in this BLOG is not do I wish for God to take things from self, but do I want Him to work grace in my soul so that the very self is denied. It is one thing to want a veil to remain over our hearts so that we cannot see our sin and hand on tightly to our self-righteousness (at least in our own eyes), but it is perhaps just as dangerous if not more dangerous to deny self in a religious way and to deceive ourselves into thinking we have denied self. Do I truly want God to go after my self-love, self-sufficiency, and trust in self or am I content to remain in a state where those things keep me from seeking Christ? Do we really want God to take self out of our hearts or simply be satisfied with the appearance of it? We must want God to work in us so that we see our utter helplessness and inability before Him so that we know that it is only by His grace that self can be denied and only by grace that we can follow Christ. The true desire for these things can only come by grace and strength though the necessary trials is only by grace as well.

If the Lord is teaching us these things we will begin to notice that we may want to do these things out of pride, because this would really distinguish us from others. This just teaches us that self and pride have a very deep root in us and will always keep coming back in some way. It has been noted that pride seems particularly virulent in spiritual things and perhaps has greater strength there than any other place. Whether that is true or not it may be hard to know, but if we can listen to a word from the experience of others and that is that pride is at the heart of sin and the closer one gets to it the harder it will fight. As long as we stay comfortable and away from the very depths of pride and self pride they can hide themselves in religious activities, but when the Lord begins to strike at pride and self to the very quick, they fight with a greater ferocity. The Lord must expose these horrid sins to us in order to reveal our hearts to us and as such our utter need for grace at all points and all ways. It is here we see the great need of the believer to live by free-grace and not just think of it as a past event.

As we being to examine our hearts with the light of Scripture and praying for His illumination of ourselves, we will being to ask about our motives for doing these things. We will ask ourselves if we want these things out of pride or out of love for Him? This is a trick of our own hearts or perhaps the devil, though the question is needful. The part that is a trick or a deception is to give up when we discover self and pride in our own hearts. It is true that in this life we will never be rid of all pride and self, so this should teach us to look for small desires to be rid of pride and pride and self rage in our hearts with a great deception. The Lord Jesus leaves His people with small desires for Himself to teach them to live by free grace and not by anything in themselves. Faith as a mustard seed is true faith, even though it is surrounded by great pride and self. Learn to look for real grace in the midst of a great trial and of great amounts of pride. Leave the pride to Christ to overcome as only He can do so. Our pride will never defeat our pride and our self will never cast out self. Only Christ can do so and He will bring His people to nothing or near nothing in order to teach them to live by free grace and nothing of themselves.

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