How do you keep from turning self-examination....

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J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
..into works-righteousness?

Sometimes I wonder whether or not the evangelical church makes too much of self-examination. Certainly there are times for it. But it seems as if an over-focus on our fruits can turn into a works-oriented pursuit.

For example, I examine myself and find that I'm not always guarding my mind as well as I should. So I make a conscious effort to be more guarded about my thoughts. But in the process, I sin again through failing to guard my thoughts. I then start basing my standing before God based on whether or not I'm guarding my thoughts, and because of this-and not Christ's work on the cross-I'm therefore a good Christian. And if I don't successfully guard my thoughts, then I have to start questioning my salvation. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ, yet we turn around and seem to undermine that by an overzealous pursuit of the law.

Do you see the problem?

We rebuke (rightly) the Arminians for doing the evangelical "bait and switch," but how do we keep from doing this ourselves in our self-examination? How do we keep from simply paying lip-service to sola gratia, sola scriptura, sola fide, and solo christus when we start looking at our lives for examinations? How do we keep from talking out of both sides of our mouths by holding to preservation of the saints while at the same time saying "Hey, if your works aren't measuring up, you might not have faith"?

Because the Word is quite clear on this: if it's at all of works, then grace is no longer grace.

How do you guys deal with this tension between legalism and Antinomianism? Because maintaining the balance isn't as easy as I had supposed earlier on in my Christian walk.

Thank you.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Always remember that the doctrines of Justification and Sanctification are distinct. They are two separate parts of redemption with two separate grounds and purposes. The church has often struggled with this distinction because the theological language of both are similar. But, if they are allowed to blend together you end up with a real mess.
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
Always remember that the doctrines of Justification and Sanctification are distinct. They are two separate parts of redemption with two separate grounds and purposes. The church has often struggled with this distinction because the theological language of both are similar. But, if they are allowed to blend together you end up with a real mess.

You're absolutely right. But how do we avoid doing this when we examine ourselves?
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
My pastor always says that we are to examine ourselves like you said and then confess we cannot live according to the standards of law. We then give him praise for who he is and our constant need for him and the secure salvation he bought us on the cross. He says this much better than I just said of course. But we are to work out our salvation through fear trembling which of course is talking about sanctification....something that Christ also does for us through us. We understand that nothing about our salvation (justification and sanctification) is done by our own hand, but we love his law and want to obey bc he has given us that desire and he works through us. We cannot boast about any of this process but understand our boast is in Christ.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
" I then start basing my standing before God based on whether or not I'm guarding my thoughts, and because of this-and not Christ's work on the cross-I'm therefore a good Christian."

It seems to me this is where you err. We must endeavor, like your example given, to guard our thoughts. But why? Because it pleases God, and also frankly it should make us happy, too. It helps and benefits all for us to guard our thoughts, and endeavoring to guard our thoughts should be, usually, a pleasure.

If we turn this effort, somehow, into a basis for our salvation, then effort becomes rather a curse than a blessing.

So I hope I don't sound too simplistic if I say, guard your thoughts or mortify whatever other sins you are convicted of, for the right reason.
 

NB3K

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have given up on doing what you are speaking about J.Dean. It would drive me crazy. I simply rely on Christ being the master crafter that He is. Look what Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.



Never ever put any convidence in the flesh!
 
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py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I present some quotes on the subject from classical Reformed theology. There is more that could be said, but hopefully for now this will serve as a preliminary answer to the OP, and also put self-examination in a somewhat more positive light than it has yet been considered in on this thread.

WLC 80
Q. Can true believers be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and that they shall persevere therein unto salvation?
A. Such as truly believe in Christ, and endeavor to walk in all good conscience before him, may, without extraordinary revelation, by faith grounded upon the truth of God's promises, and by the Spirit enabling them to discern in themselves those grace to which the promises of life are made, and bearing witness with their spirits that they are the children of God, be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace and shall persevere therein unto salvation.

Thomas Goodwin:
And yet the minds of many are so wholly taken up with their own hearts, that (as the Psalmist says of God) Christ 'is scarce in all their thoughts.' But let these consider what a dishonour this must needs be unto Christ, that his train and favourites (our graces) should have a fuller court and more frequent attendance from our hearts than himself, who is the 'King of Glory.' And likewise what a shame also it is for believers themselves, who are his spouse, to look upon their husband no otherwise but by reflection and at second hand, through the intervention and assistance of their own graces, as mediators between him and them.
Now to rectify this error, the way is not wholly to reject all use of such evidences, but to order them, both for the season, as also the issue of them. For the season, so as that the use of them go not before, but still should follow after an address of faith first renewed, and acts thereof put forth upon Christ himself. Thus whensoever we would go down into our own hearts, and take a view of our graces, let us be sure first to look wholly out of ourselves unto Christ, as our justification and to close with him immediately; and this as if we had no present or by-past grace to evidence our being in him. And if then, whilst faith is thus immediately clasping about Christ, as sitting upon his throne of grace, we find either present or fore-past graces coming in as handmaids, to attend and witness to the truth of this adherence unto Christ (as after such single and absolute acts of faith it oftentimes falls out);—the Holy Ghost (without whose light they shine not) 'bearing witness with our spirits,' that is, our graces, as well as to our spirits;—and then again, for the issue of them, if in the closure of all, we again let fall our viewing and comforting ourselves in them, or this their testimony, and begin afresh (upon his encouragement) to act faith upon Christ immediately with redoubled strength; if thus (I say) we make such evidences to be subservient only unto faith (whilst it makes Christ its Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of all), this will be no prejudice at all to Christ's glory or the workings of faith itself; for by this course the life of faith still actually maintained and kept upon wing in its full use and exercise towards Christ alone for justification.

Edward Fisher:
Neophytus: But, sir, I pray you, let me ask you one question more touching this point; and that is, suppose that hereafter I should see no outward evidences, and question whether I had ever any true inward evidences, and so whether ever I did truly believe or no, what must I do then?
Evangelista: Indeed it is possible you may come to such a condition; and therefore you do well to provide beforehand for it. Now then, if ever it shall please the Lord to give you over to such a condition, first, let me warn you to take heed of forcing and constraining yourself to yield obedience to God's commandments, to the end you may so get an evidence of faith again, or a ground to lay your believing, that you have believed, upon; and so forcibly to hasten your assurance before the time: for although this be not to turn quite back to the covenant of works (for that you shall never do) yet it is to turn aside towards that covenant as Abraham did, who, after that he had long waited for the promised seed, though he was before justified by believing the free promise, yet, for the more speedy satisfying of his faith, he turned aside to go in to Hagar, who was, as you have heard, a type of the covenant of works. So that you see, this is not the right way; but the right way for you, in this case, to get your assurance again, is, when all other things fail, to look to Christ; that is, go to the word and promise, and leave off and cease awhile to reason about the truth of your faith; and set your heart on work to believe, as if you had never yet done it; saying in your heart, Well, Satan, suppose my faith has not been true hitherto, yet now will I begin to endeavour after a true faith; and therefore, O Lord, here I cast myself upon thy mercy afresh, for in thee the fatherless find mercy (Hosea 14:3). Thus, I say, hold to the word; go not away, but keep you here, and you shall bring forth fruit with patience (Luke 8:15).

Walter Marshall:
If a cloud be cast over all your qualifications, so that you can see no grace at all in yourselves, yet still trust on Him that justifies the ungodly, and came to seek and to save them that are lost. If God seems to deal with you as an enemy, bringing on you some horrible affliction, as He did upon Job, beware of condemning your faith and its fruits, as if they were not acceptable to God, but rather say, 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him; but I will maintain mine own ways before Him' (Job 13:15). Strive to keep and to increase faith by faith, that is, by acting faith frequently, by trusting on God to keep and to increase it, 'being confident, that He which has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ' (Phil. 1:6).

Richard Sibbes:
Therefore, if we would praise God as we should, let us work our hearts to labour after assurance of God's favour; let us redeem our precious time, and every day set some time apart to strengthen our evidences for heaven, which will set us in a continual frame to every good work.

William Spurstowe:
But I fear that while I propound the difficulties, which are great as well as many, intending thereby to shake only the pillars of those men’s confidence who consider neither the length of the way nor the hardness of the task by which salvation is attained, that I may dishearted others, who after all their travel and labor complain that they have striven much and gained little, and that their hopes of laying hold on eternal life do rather languish than increase—doubting that the journey is much too long for their short life to finish. Gladly therefore I would lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees, that they might be animated in the way, and not despair of the end. Now how can this be better done than by giving such signs and evidences that will best serve to manifest their motion and proficiency? The not discerning of which is the ground of those fears of their spending their strength in vain, and their laboring for nought. And is not this more readily perceived by looking downwards to those objects which are below, than by looking upwards to the heavens, which will after all climbing to them seem to be still at the like distance as they were at first.
Suppose that a man after hard labor and toil in reaching the top of some high and steep cliff should conclude that he had wearied himself to no purpose, in the gaining of a delightful prospect, because the sun appears to be at the same distance and also of equal bigness, as when he was at the bottom of it; or that the stars seem still to be but as so many twinkling watch lights, without the least increase of their dimensions or variation of their figure. Might he not be easily refuted by bidding him to look down to those plains from whence he had ascended, and behold into what narrow scantlings and proportions those stately buildings and towers were shrunk and contracted, whose greatness as well as beauty he erewhile so much admired? And may I not with the like facility answer and resolve the discouraged Christian, who calls in question the truth of his heavenly progress, because all those glorious objects, which his faith eyes and his soul desires to draw nigh unto, seem still to be as remote from him as at his first setting out, by wishing him to consider whether he cannot say, that though heavenly objects do not increases in their magnitude or luster by the approach that he makes to them, that yet all earthly objects do sensibly lose theirs by the distance that he is gone from them? And if he can but so do, surely he hath no cause of despairing to obtain Heaven, who hath travelled so far on the way as to lose well near the sight of earth. If once his faith hath raised him to that height, as to make the glory of the world to disappear, and to be as a thing of nought, it will quickly land him in Heaven, where his fears of miscarrying, as well as his lassitude in working, will be swallowed up in an everlasting rest. And he that did once believe more than he saw, shall for ever see more than ever he could have believed. Lord, therefore do thou, who givest power to the faint and to them that have no strength, increase strength to me, who wait upon thee; renew my strength that I may mount up with wings as an eagle, and may run and not be weary, and walk and not faint, until I come to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills and behold thy face in glory.

If this were Slate someone would post an article: "Self-Examination: You're Doing It Wrong." Classical reformed theology takes it that self-examination ministers to assurance, not through self-righteousness, but because God's grace is discernible in its acting. Obviously it has a way of addressing those who, through weakness or even mental illness, are unable to approach self-examination in that way. But in a healthy Christian, while self-examination always finds matter for sorrow in the sin that is still prevalent, the upshot is an increase of assurance as we betake ourselves again to the promises of God, make use of Christ set forth for our benefit in the plenitude of his person and multiplicity of offices and relations, and rejoice that the Holy Spirit is at work. I believe it's Horatius Bonar who teaches that by acknowledging in every point of our confession that Christ was obedient where we were disobedient even confession serves to strengthen faith: for instance, seeing that I have been disobedient to my parents, I can confess that sin in the confidence that Christ was obedient to his parents for me; seeing that I am weak in prayer, I can confess that sin in the confidence that Christ continued all night in prayer in my place. For now I'll end with some more words from William Spurstowe, on the necessity for a continual exercise of faith and repentance together.

Some out of weakness cannot apprehend what consistency there can be between faith and repentance, whose effects seem to be contrary: the one working peace and joy, the other trouble and sorrow; the one confidence, the other fear; the one shame, the other boldness. Now such as these, when touched with the sense of their sin, judge it their duty rather to mourn than to believe, and to feel the bitterness of sin than to taste the sweetness of a promise, and put away comfort from them lest it should check and abate the overflowing of their sorrow. Others again, whether out of heedlessness or willfulness I will not determine, when they behold the fullness of grace in the blotting out of sin, the freeness of grace in the healing of backslidings, they see so little necessity of repentance as they think it below (as they so speak) a gospel spirit to be troubled for that which Christ hath satisfied for. It is not repentance that they should now exercise, but faith; sorrow seems interpretatively to be a jealousy of the truth of God’s promise in forgiving, and of the sufficiency of Christ’s discharge, who was the surety, who hath not let one single mite of the debt for believers to pay. Sorrow therefore seems to them as unseasonable as it would be for a prisoner to mourn when the prison door is opened, and himself set free from debt and bondage.
Thus this pair of graces and duties, concerning which I may say as God did of Adam, it is not good that either of them should be alone, are yet divided often times in the practice, though indissolubly linked together in the precept. Fain would I therefore evidence to the weak the concord of these two graces, in respect of comfort; and to the willful, the necessity of them both in order unto pardon.
Unto the weak therefore I say, that the agreement between faith and repentance doth not lie in the immediate impressions which they make upon the soul, which are in some respects opposite to each other; but in the principle from which they arise, which is the same: the grace of Christ; and in the end, which is the same: th salvation of man; and in habitude and subordination that they have one to another. For repentance is never more kindly than when it disposeth us to the exercise and actings of faith, whose comforts of joy, peace, and serenity of heart are as gold, which is best laid upon sad and dark colors; or as the polished diamond, that receives an addition of luster from the watering of it. God’s promise is that the believing Jews who look upon Christ by an eye of faith, shall be also great mourners: “They shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”
Unto the careless or willful I also say, that God never forgiveth sin, but where also he giveth a penitent and relenting heart. So that though faith hath a peculiar nature in the receiving of pardon, applying it by way of instrument, which no other grace doth: yet repentance is the express formal qualification that fits for pardon, not by way of causality or merit, but by way of means, as well as of command; which ariseth from a condecency, both to God himself, who is an holy God, and to the nature of the mercy, which is the taking and removing of sin away. Never dream, then, of such free grace or gospel mercy, as doth supercede a broken and a contrite heart, or take off the necessity of sorrowing for sin. For Christ did never undertake to satisfy God’s wrath in an absolute and illimited manner, but in a well-ordered and meet way, viz., the way of faith and repentance. How else should we ever come to taste the bitterness of sin, or the sweetness of grace? How to prize and esteem the physician, if not sensible of our disease? How to adore the love of Christ, who redeemed us from the curse of the law, by being made a curse for us, if not burdened with the weight of our iniquities? Yea, how should we ever give God the glory of his justice, in acknowledging ourselves worthy of death, if we do not in a way of repentance judge ourselves, as the apostle bids us? Was not this that David did in that solemn confession of his? In which he cries out, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight; that though mightiest be justified when thou speakest, and clear when thou judgest.” Can I therefore wish a better wish to such who are insensible of their sins, than Bernard did to him whom he thought not heedful enough about the judgments of God? Who writing to him, instead of the common salutation, wishing to him Salutem plurimum (much health), said Timorem plurimum (much fear)—that so their confidence may have an allay of trembling. Sure I am that it is a mercy that I had need to pray for on my own behalf. And I do, Lord, make it my request that my faith for the pardon of sin may be accompanied with my sorrow for sin, and that I may have a weeping eye, as well as a believing heart, that I may mourn for the evils I have done against my Savior, as well as rejoice in the fullness of mercy that he hath showed to me in a glorious salvation.
 
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moral necessity

Puritan Board Junior
..How do you guys deal with this tension between legalism and Antinomianism? Because maintaining the balance isn't as easy as I had supposed earlier on in my Christian walk.

I remind myself of the proper order of "guilt, grace, gratitude"...and tell myself, "you are in Christ by grace, now go and do this."

I agree - introspection is a dangerous undertaking for most men, for we tend to take our eyes off of Christ when we look inward at ourselves. Calvin mentions this as the way to despondency, in his works on the Council of Trent. We become an evaluator of the presence of the Spirit's work in us, but we often forget that our judgment is still clouded and impaired by sin...so, how could we ever trust our judgment entirely as to the conclusion it will make, whether it is good or bad?

When it comes to the matter of justification, I look to sheer mercy alone for comfort.
When it comes to sanctification, my conclusions only comment on the degree I am being sanctified, whether much or little. And if little or no sanctification is observed, I conclude either my judgment to be cloudy, or his work to be greatly indiscernable to my feeble mind.

However, as others have said, most, if not all, of my energy is spent dwelling on the glories of the gospel, and once a year or a few times a decade might I look back to evaluate changes to my heart.

I find that the gospel propels me away from antinomianism, as I appreciate his mercy more and more.

Blessings!
 
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py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
The WLC envisions self-examination taking place in preparation for and in following up of the Lord's Supper. That would place the frequency of self-examination at a minimum of once a year. By that I do not mean to assert that this is the only time for self-examination, or to imply that the Assembly would have held that: merely that the phrasing of the questions and what we know of historical Presbyterian practice fixes a probable bare minimum. The questions and answers also provide a useful range of areas in which to conduct the self-examination.

Question 171: How are they that receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper to prepare themselves before they come unto it?
Answer: They that receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper are, before they come, to prepare themselves thereunto, by examining themselves of their being in Christ, of their sins and wants; of the truth and measure of their knowledge, faith, repentance; love to God and the brethren, charity to all men, forgiving those that have done them wrong; of their desires after Christ, and of their new obedience; and by renewing the exercise of these graces, by serious meditation, and fervent prayer.

Question 175: What is the duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper?
Answer: The duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, is seriously to consider how they have behaved themselves therein, and with what success; if they find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it, beg the continuance of it, watch against relapses, fulfil their vows, and encourage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance: but if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their preparation to, and carriage at, the sacrament; in both which, if they can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to wait for the fruit of it in due time: but, if they see they have failed in either, they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence.

(Emphasis added)
 

Jackie Kaulitz

Puritan Board Freshman
..into works-righteousness?

Sometimes I wonder whether or not the evangelical church makes too much of self-examination. Certainly there are times for it. But it seems as if an over-focus on our fruits can turn into a works-oriented pursuit.

For example, I examine myself and find that I'm not always guarding my mind as well as I should. So I make a conscious effort to be more guarded about my thoughts. But in the process, I sin again through failing to guard my thoughts. I then start basing my standing before God based on whether or not I'm guarding my thoughts, and because of this-and not Christ's work on the cross-I'm therefore a good Christian. And if I don't successfully guard my thoughts, then I have to start questioning my salvation. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ, yet we turn around and seem to undermine that by an overzealous pursuit of the law.

Do you see the problem?

How do you guys deal with this tension between legalism and Antinomianism? Because maintaining the balance isn't as easy as I had supposed earlier on in my Christian walk.

Thank you.

I used to have this exact same problem! But as I listened to more John Piper and Michael Horton (for sure check out White Horse Inn radio podcasts), I learned that I was mixing justification with sanctification. As Ken said, they are distinct. Reading Michael Horton's Christ Is Lord (about Lordship Salvation) book completely seperated Justification from Sanctification for me and set me straight (I think :p).

So I trust Christ for my perseverance and assurance just like I do for my salvation. Now since God took the sinner me with allegiance to Satan and freely justified me apart from anything in me, I am saved and free. THEN, because the Holy Spirit came to live in me, He produces good fruit in me and I work to live my life with the main purpose of bringing glory to God. John Piper speaks in great detail about living our entire lives to bring glory to God. Because of my gratitude for what Christ has freely given me and because of my love and admiration for Christ, I seek to be like the one I love. I seek to do His will and do good works. So I see the reason for doing good works as not trying to attain salvation (which would be works-righteousness of Arminianism) but instead my motivation has changed to doing good works for love of good, love of God, love of what is right. We do not steal not because we will get caught and go to jail, and not because we will lose our salvation/or never get it, but because stealing is wrong and we appreciate that Jesus Christ died to pay for these very sins which we commit! So how can we knowing that even this one sin would cause Christ to die, take sin lightly? We do, but this is my reasoning on why we should not. :p So my reason for doing good becomes a positive reason (because of my Reformed/Calvinist beliefs) instead of a fear-driven, works-righteousness (if I held Arminian beliefs).

So now that I have already been freely justified, I understand this will never change. So, when I fail and I DO sin, I confess and thank Christ that even when I do still sin, that He is so wonderful and gracious that He does NOT throw me out and take away the Holy Spirit from me but that even when I sin, He still is faithful and still carries me. So instead of being fear-driven, I'm love-driven. I see one the motivation for living in the Calvinist life to be one of the biggest differences between Calvinism and Arminianism.

For more:
Read "Christ Is Lord" from Michael Horton so that you will get a very clear view of Justification apart from Sanctification
Listen to White Horse Inn's radio broadcast called "Give Them Grace" with Michael Horton interviewing Elyse Fitzpatrick. It took me like 10 times of listening to this to finally get what they were saying because it was so profound and deep and opposite from what I had been believing. They talk about how to live for glorifying God EVEN when we fail. This is so deep.
Also listen to/read these sermons from John Piper:
Eternal Life Has Appeared in Christ - Desiring God
Let Us Walk in the Light of God - Desiring God
Jesus Christ Is an Advocate for Sinners - Desiring God (This one is SOOO convicting. It talks about Jesus dying for our sins and how we should not take sin lightly)
Also, listen to White Horse Inn radio broadcast's "Antinomianism part 1" and "Antinomianism part 2"

I was also so confused about legalism and Antinomianism, Sanctification and Justification. I read/listened to these and this helped me sort out these confusing thoughts tremendously.

I think this will give you a good start. :)
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I believe it was JC Ryle's book on assurance that urges the believer to look at his justification objectively -- it is a fact based on the completed work of Christ in accordance with the Scriptures. How we are doing, what we are doing, how we feel about it are all subjective. They may be useful questions in working out our salvation in fear and trembling (sanctification) but are not helpful when considering our just standing before God.

My concern rests in the possibility of self-centeredness in self-examination, even to the point of violating the first commandment. We are to confess our sins before God, yet we are taught to praise His name first. It is a difficult balance in my mind.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Jean, the quote from Thomas Goodwin and the second quote from William Spurstowe in my post above both touch on the issue you raise: read in that light, they may prove somewhat helpful.

It occurs to me that there is a tendency,whenever we hear "self-examination" to understand "scrutiny and condemnation of conduct". I'm sure Jonathan Edwards' resolutions relative to self-examination have something to do with that. And of course there is a certain utility in looking things over to see what was done wrong, as a way of doing better; if an attempt to have an edifying conversation became a shouting match, it seems only natural to try to figure out what went wrong, after all. But if you look at the Larger Catechism, that is not where the emphasis falls.

Self-examination is building assurance (not of the worth or value of the work of Christ, but) of our interest in Christ, as we find that we do sorrow for sin, hunger and thirst after righteousness, consider Christ precious, and so forth. That is one aspect, and I believe the primary aspect. One reason why we struggle with this aspect, is because we are not very active in exercising faith in Christ. Because if our faith were vigorously in exercise, it would be hard to doubt of its existence and activity -- just as it would be hard to doubt the existence of our arms while playing catch. It was to help with this weakness that Thomas Goodwin wrote his beautiful and pastorally helpful works of practical Christology: Christ Set Forth and The Heart of Christ in Heaven towards Sinners on Earth. These works show in how many ways Christ is held out to us, to give our faith matter to work upon and grow strong in.

There is another aspect, which is a question of where we are now. What progress have we made? What slipping back have we undergone? This again is not, or should not be, an exercise in depressing ourselves, or engaging in Satan's work by taking up the mantle of the accuser of the brethren. Rather it is a way to be mindful of where we are. You could summarize it as paying attention so that we know how to pray for ourselves intelligently. If someone asks how they can pray for you, is it an exercise in self-obsession or a matter of depression to say, "I need God's grace to be calm at work in the face of a daunting workload and a difficult manager"? Knowing your "sins and wants" should not be a way to hinder you from coming to your intercessor; it is a "shopping list" so you know what you need to ask for, it is an accurate understanding of your case so you can lay it before your advocate and trust the management of it to him.

If we have truly grasped that we are justified by the righteousness of Christ, that it is in him that all the seed of Israel will be justified and shall glory, then finding again that we are weak and imperfect, while it should provoke repentance, should not provoke despair. It can be quite hard to hang on to that truth: that is why Goodwin's advice is so practical, to exercise faith in Christ actively and consciously, to remember his person and character and offices and how they are engaged for our salvation: then to take stock, as it were, and return to him in prayer for what we have need of, and in thanksgiving and praise that he is our sufficiency. That is the message of the gospel: that God justified the ungodly. Genuinely evangelical self-examination keeps that gospel message continually recurring to our hearts and minds.
 
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jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
A truly justified saint can be really messed up and screw up in ways that even the worst pagan wouldn't even dream.
 
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