Thursday, March 12, 2009

Better than Hell-deserving sinners

(Arthur Pink, "A Legal Spirit" 1942)

Though the Gospel is exactly suited to the dire need of fallen man--yet it is far from being suited to his proud heart! It calls upon him to "Behold the Lamb of God"--but in order to do so--he must look away from Himself. That is, he must renounce himself, deny himself, repudiate all "imagined goodness" in himself--and this is something which he is very far from being willing to comply with. The Gospel is a revelation of pure grace, of sovereign mercy, unmerited favor--offering to enrich spiritual paupers, to clothe the spiritually naked, to save Hell-deserving sinners--but that is something the self-righteous and independent heart of fallen man cannot tolerate!

Being completely under the dominion of the Devil--fallen man is puffed up with pride. Instead of humbling himself beneath the mighty hand of God, and confessing his ruined condition--he foolishly imagines that he cannot only do that which will meet with God's approval--but actually make God his Debtor, so that justice requires God to reward him for his excellent performances. He refuses to acknowledge that he is a fallen, depraved, lost sinner, "without strength," and without a spark of spiritual life. He refuses to acknowledge that he is utterly incapable of recovering himself, of bettering himself, of doing anything which can meet with the approval of a holy and sin-hating God.

Thus, the unsaved are so deceived by their own hearts and so deluded by Satan--that it is impossible to disillusion them--until a miracle of grace is wrought within them!

But even Christians themselves, have the 'root of legality' still left within them, and are to a greater or less degree, infected with a self-righteous spirit to the end of their days! Though a Divine work of grace has been wrought in them, enabling them to see, feel and know they are depraved, polluted and vile creatures--causing them to close with Christ as He is presented to them in the Gospel, and cast themselves upon Him as their only Hope, their Deliverer, their all-sufficient Savior--pride still works within them, and as it does, they are ready to give heed to some of Satan's lies--and imagine that they are now in themselves something more, something better than Hell-deserving sinners!

This 'root of legality' is constantly bringing forth its foul and poisonous fruit, though for the most part--we are quite unaware of its so subtle and secret activities. Whenever we are pleased with ourselves and our religious performances --a legal spirit is at work within us. Whenever we are less conscious of our deep need of Christ--pride is to that extent, possessing our hearts. Whenever we feel that God, in His providences, is dealing severely with us--a self-righteous spirit possesses us, and we are guilty of this sin. This is sure proof that we think more highly of ourselves, than we ought to think.

1 comment:

Ike said...

A true Calvinist is one who has been born again by the Spirit of God, who has seen his personal filth and corruption, who has fled to Christ, and knows better than anyone that it is only by the grace of God that he is saved. He has nothing to boast in. He has nothing to be proud about.

When one comes to understand the doctrines of the total depravity of man and the total sovereignty of God, it can be (as it was for me) like a second conversion. One's new understanding changes one's life. These doctrines become very dear to one, and one becomes very zealous to promote their dissemination. Converts to Calvinism will often look back with disdain on their former views, and when they hear others continuing to express them, they look with disdain upon them, and are quick to refute their every word. In their zeal, they quickly forget how recent their own 'conversion' has been, and how long they continued in error. They can appear to be arrogant and insensitive. They strike others as "know-it-alls", and are unpleasant to be around. Understand this problem though we may, we still must say that this arrogance can only be a temporary aberration brought on by a 'convert's zeal'. Quickly he should return to the normal state of mind, which is profound humility