Christ Centeredness 3

The first foundation of the delight a true saint has in God, is His own perfection; and the first foundation of the delight he has in Christ, is His own beauty; He appears in Himself the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely; the way of salvation by Christ is a delightful way to him, for the sweet and admirable manifestations of the divine perfections in it; the holy doctrines of the gospel, by which god is exalted and man abased, holiness honored and promoted, and sin greatly disgraced and discouraged, and free and sovereign love manifested; are glorious doctrines in his eyes, and sweet to his taste, prior to any conception of his interest in these things. Indeed the saints rejoice in their interest in God, and that Christ is theirs; and so they have great reason; but this is not the first spring of their joy; they first rejoice in God as glorious and excellent in Himself, and then secondarily rejoice in it, that so glorious a God is theirs; they first have their hearts filled with sweetness, from the view of Christ’s excellence, and the excellency of His grace, and the beauty of the way of salvation by Him; and then they have a secondary joy, in that so excellent a Savior, and such excellent grace is theirs.

But that which is the true saint’s superstructure, is the hypocrite’s foundation. When they hear of the wonderful things of the gospel, of God’s great love in sending His Son, of Christ’s dying love to sinners, and the great things Christ has purchased, and promised to the saints, and hear these things livelily and eloquently set forth; they may hear with a great deal of pleasure, and be lifted up with what they hear; but if their joy be examined, it will be found to have no other foundation than this, that they look upon these things as theirs, all this exalts them, they love to hear of the great love of Christ so vastly distinguishing some from others; for self-love, and even pride itself, makes ‘em affect great distinction from others; no wonder, in this confident opinion of their own good estate, that they feel well under such doctrine, and are pleased in the highest degree, in hearing how much God and Christ makes of them. So that their joy is really a joy in themselves, and not in God.

And because the joy of hypocrites is in themselves, hence it comes to pass, that in their rejoicings and elevations, they are wont to keep their eye upon themselves; having received what they call spiritual discoveries or experiences, their minds are taken up about them, admiring their own experiences; and what they are principally taken and elevated with, is not the glory of God, or the beauty of Christ, but the beauty of their experiences. They keep thinking with themselves, what a good experience is this! What a great discovery is this! What wonderful things have I met with! And so they put their experiences in the place of Christ, and His beauty and fullness; and instead of rejoicing in Christ Jesus, they rejoice in their admirable experiences. (Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, pp. 250-251).

If Jonathan Edwards was right when he wrote those words, he is still right. But if he was and is right about the joy of true believers and then of hypocrites, the modern version of Christianity has been devastated with hypocrisy and as such a deceptive view of Christ. Modern “religion” has a focus upon the sinner as if God was focused on the sinner and made much of the sinner. Oh how it pleases the hypocrite to think upon how much God makes of him, but this is nothing more than sinners loving those who love them. Indeed, as Edwards points out, their joy is nothing more than a joy in themselves and they are delighted to hear how God loves them and makes much of them. Again, if the analysis of Edwards is correct, then the vast majority of preaching in America is doing nothing toward teaching men of true repentance toward God, but instead it deceives them about God and true conversion.

In the true Gospel and in true Christianity men are changed from the love of themselves to a love for God. In fact, men must be granted repentance of their love for self and their pride for there to be a true conversion. Until God has worked a true repentance in the hearts of men from their pride and self-love, they will never hear the true Gospel and they will never be turned from loving themselves to where they will love the true God in Christ. The true Gospel takes sinners and turns them from being slaves of pride and self-love to where they now love God as the core and center of their whole beings and lives. The hypocrite thinks of God and the Lord Jesus being all about himself, but the true Gospel and the true God is that God is all about Himself and sinners must be turned to love Him with all of their being for who He is and not just for what He has done. The hypocrite has nothing but delight in what he thinks has been done for him out of love for self, but the believer delights in the beauty and glory of God before he thinks of himself. The hypocrite may love to think upon Christ as long as self is the center, but the true believer is centered upon Christ first.

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