Piety Quotations

The Self Opposing God

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.12.8

For many sinners, intoxicated with the pleasures of vice, think not of the judgment of God. Lying stupefied, as it were, by a kind of lethargy, they aspire not to the offered mercy. It is not less necessary to shake off torpor of this description than every kind of confidence in ourselves, in order that we may haste to Christ unencumbered, and while hungry and empty be filled with his blessings. Never shall we have sufficient confidence in him unless utterly distrustful of ourselves; never shall we take courage in him until we first despond of ourselves; never shall we have full consolation in him until we cease to have any in ourselves. When we have entirely discarded all self-confidence, and trust solely in the certainty of his goodness, we are fit to apprehend and obtain the grace of God. …let us lay down this short but sure and general rule, That he is prepared to reap the fruits of the divine mercy who has thoroughly emptied himself, I say not of righteousness, (he has none,) but of a vain and blustering show of righteousness; for to whatever extent any man rests in himself, to the same extent he impedes the beneficence of God.

3 replies on “The Self Opposing God”

How manifestly true, and how maddeningly difficult to believe with all one’s heart. Like Lloyd-Jones said more briefly (par.): “The secret of the Christian life is that I must have absolute, utter confidence in God, and absolutely no confidence in myself.” What proud unbelief keeps us from it!

I was just reading in Owen, “That the minds of men are prepossessed with opinions, dogmas, principles, and practices in religion…as suit their carnal reason and interest….The design of the Scripture is, to destroy that frame of mind in them which they would have established; and no man is to look for light in the Scripture to give countenance unto his own darkness.” If men would stop bending the Word, perhaps they would stop bending and reconfiguring God, or thinking they were. But alas, we are hobbled, as you say, by unbelief.

Well, perhaps we could collect a whole series of quotes putting this vital truth in a number of apt ways. We certainly need all kinds of help to see what should be perhaps the most evident thing of all: we do not suffice.

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