Christ Preparing our Hearts 37

Come to Christ, a poor lost and undone wretch, hopeless and helpless; as to an only, able and merciful Savior. Cry out as one sinking under the waves and boisterous tempests of sin. Master save or else I perish. If Thou wilt, thou can. Say with Thomas, My Lord and my God! My Christ and my Savior! (Unknown)

Away with unprofitable controversies: spend your thoughts rather upon this momentous question, “Am I sound, or am I rotten at heart?” “Am I a new creature, or the old disguised in borrowed clothing?” Let it be your prayer that you may not be given up to a heedless and vain spirit, and then have religious duties for a show to beguile and hush your conscience…Deceive not yourself with names and notions; they cannot change your heart. If you are still impenitent, if you have not been renewed and sanctified by the Spirit of God, it matters little by what name you are called, or how warmly you advocate the distinguishing doctrines of the Gospel; you are in the sight of God a guilty, perishing sinner. (John Flavel)

Most people think about the things that their hearts love most. Regardless of what they say or try to convince themselves that they love the most, the desires of the heart will be reflected on what we think about and what we desire. People will assume a form of religion and yet their hearts will not truly be taken with Christ. It is possible to have a strict form of religion and an orthodox creed and the heart remain unchanged. It is also possible to be much in thought about doctrine and about things one can dispute with others about and not be taken with the Christ of the doctrine. It is only Christ who can fill our hearts with Himself and make Himself our true and chief love.

How easy it is for people to either not know or ignore the fact that their hearts must be changed by Christ Himself or they will perish. How easy it is for people to turn from outward sin and take up a form of religion and as such deceive themselves. It is not the religion that teaches of Christ and morality that saves, it is Christ Himself who saves. As the first quote above says, we must come to Christ “a poor lost and undone wretch, hopeless and helpless.” We must come to Christ “as to an only, able and merciful Savior.” Regardless of how much we know about Christ, that is not the same as knowing Christ. Regardless of how much religion we have, that religion will not save us. Regardless of how much morality we have obtained, that morality will not save us.

The old creature (as opposed to being a new creature in Christ) or old man is a terribly deceptive being and as such we deceive ourselves. That old creature loves to take up the covering of religion, of knowledge of the things of religion, of doctrines, of creeds, of things of church and rest in those things. The old creature loves to take things that have the appearance of truth or of things that truth can be seen in and admire itself in the mirror of self. The old creature is easily deceived because it does not want to be exposed to eternal wrath. The old creature is easily deceived because it does not want to feel the weight of the conviction and burden of its own sin and utter helplessness before God.

Oh how the old creature or old man will find comfort in religion and even conservative religion. It almost seems as if religion is perhaps one of the strongest ways that men are deceived. It is so easy for men to hear the history of religion and then make the jump to thinking that they are now part of that true religion. It is so easy for men to just assume that they have Christ because they are part of a local church. In other words, the old creature loves itself and is full of pride and self. It does not want true religion in truth but since it does not want to go to hell it will happily take up the outward appearance of those things and deceive itself.

It is not the name of something that makes it what the name would imply, but it is the reality of something that shows what it truly is. There are many people in the world today that make shoes, clothes, and purses with the brand of a famous maker on it. That name does not reflect the quality or value of the item, but instead it hides the true quality and true value of the item. It might take a practiced eye, but once it is seen that the name on the item is a fraud, the item is then seen as a fraud and the quality of it is then seen for what it is. These fake items are then taken out and destroyed. Thus is the creature that has taken a garment of religion and does not truly have Christ. The name does not hide the cheap workmanship that the fact that it was not made by the real maker when it is examined by one with knowledge. The soul has no place to hide when the all-seeing eye of God sees it. He is not fooled with names; He sees the real nature of the heart. He will cast those who are clothed with fake garments into the fire, and that regardless of the name it has taken by the act of self.

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