Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Looking to Christ + Loving Sin = Futility

We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone. The recovery of the doctrine of justification was the crowning achievement of the Reformation, and the Gospel is the good news not only for the unbelieving sinner but for the believing one as well.

But in our daily looking to Christ for the assurance of our salvation—which, the Reformers taught, is of the essence of faith—are we perhaps missing a key ingredient? Do we look to Christ in the manner with which the Apostle Paul did in his description of the normal Christian life in Romans 7, i.e., in utter abhorrence of the sin that still clings to him like a strapped-on carcass, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Rom. 7:24-25)?

John Owen strips off our cloaks of deceitful comfort in the ff. statements:

"When men are wounded by sin, disquieted and perplexed, and knowing that there is no remedy for them but only in the mercies of God, through the blood of Christ, do therefore look to him, and to the promises of the covenant in him, and thereupon quiet their hearts that it shall be well with them, and that God will be exalted, that he may be gracious to them, and yet their souls are not wrought to the greatest detestation of the sin or sins upon the account whereof they are disquieted—this is to heal themselves, and not to be healed of God...When men do truly 'look upon Christ whom they have pierced,' without which there is no healing or peace, they will 'mourn' (Zech. 12:10); they will mourn for him, even upon this account, and detest the sin that pierced him.....Now this, I say, if it be done according to the mind of God, and in the strength of that Spirit which is poured out on believers, it will beget a detestation of that sin or sins for which healing and peace is sought.....When God comes home to speak peace in a sure covenant of it, it fills the soul with shame for all the ways whereby it has been alienated from him. And one of the things that the apostle mentions as attending that godly sorrow which is accompanied with repentance unto salvation, never to be repented of, is revenge: 'Yea, what revenge!' (2 Cor. 7:11).....he must come to self-abhorrency if he come to healing.....Let a man make what application he will for healing and peace, let him do it to the true Physician, let him do it the right way, let him quiet his heart in the promises of the covenant; yet, when peace is spoken, if it not be attended with the detestation and abhorrency of that sin which was the wound and caused the disquietment, this is no peace of God's creating, but of our own purchasing.....For instance, you find your heart running out after the world, and it disturbs you in your communion with God; the Spirit speaks expressly to you—'He that loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him' [1 John 2:15]. This puts you on dealing with God in Christ for the healing of your soul, the quieting of your conscience; but yet, withal, a thorough detestation of the evil itself abides not upon you; yea, perhaps that is liked well enough, but only in respect of the consequences of it. Perhaps you may be saved, yet as through fire, and God will have some work with you before he has done; but you will have little peace in this life—you will be sick and fainting all your days (Isa. 57:17). This is a deceit that lies at the root of the peace of many professors and wastes it. They deal with all their strength about mercy and pardon, and seem to have great communion with God in their so doing; they lie before him, bewail their sins and follies, that anyone would think, yea, they think themselves, that surely they and their sins are now parted; and so receive in mercy that satisfies their hearts for a little season. But when a thorough search comes to be made, there has been some secret reserve for the folly or follies treated about—at least, there has not been that thorough abhorrency of it which is necessary; and their whole peace is quickly discovered to be weak and rotten, scarce abiding any longer than the words of begging it are in their mouths." (Overcoming Sin and Temptation, eds. Kelly M. Kapic & Justin Taylor [Illinois: Crossway, 2006], 119-121).

Sobering words for the sin-parched pilgrim.

1 comment:

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    God Bless You :-)



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