Flower

Call to Worship September 16 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 18:9-17

“Let us notice, firstly — the sin against which our Lord Jesus Christ warns us in these verses. There is no difficulty in finding this out. Luke tells us expressly, that ‘He spoke this parable to some who were confident of their own righteousness, and looked down on everybody else.’ The sin which our Lord denounces, is ‘self-righteousness.’

We are all naturally self-righteous. It is the family-disease of all the children of Adam. From the highest to the lowest — we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. We secretly flatter ourselves, that we are not as bad as some, and that we have something to merit the favor of God.

We forget the plain testimony of Scripture, ‘We all stumble in many ways.’ ‘Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.’ ‘What is man — that he could be pure; or one born of woman — that he could be righteous?’ ‘There is no one righteous — not even one!’ (James 3:2, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Job 15:14, Romans 3:10)

The true cure for self-righteousness, is self-knowledge. Once let the eyes of our understanding be opened by the Spirit, and we will no longer talk of our own goodness. Once let us see what there is in our own hearts, and what the holy law of God requires — and self-conceit will die. We shall lay our hand on our mouths, and cry with the leper, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ (Leviticus 13:45.)

Let us notice, secondly, in these verses — the prayer of the Pharisee, which our Lord condemns. We read that he said, ‘God, I thank you that I am not as other men are — extortioners, unjust, adulterers — or even as this tax-collector. I fast twice in the week. I give tithes of all I possess.’

One great defect stands out on the face of this prayer — a defect so glaring that even a child might mark it. It exhibits no sense of sin and need. It contains no confession and no petition — no acknowledgment of guilt and emptiness — no supplication for mercy and grace. It is a mere boasting recital of imagined merits, accompanied by an uncharitable reflection on a brother sinner. It is a proud, high-minded profession — destitute alike of penitence, humility, and love. In short, it hardly deserves to be called a prayer at all.

No state of soul can be conceived so dangerous as that of the Pharisee. Never are men’s bodies in such desperate plight — as when disease and insensibility set in. In the same way, never are men’s hearts in such a hopeless condition — as when they are not sensible of their own sins.

He who would not make shipwreck on this rock, must beware of measuring himself by his neighbors. What does it signify that we are more moral than ‘other men?’ We are all vile and imperfect in the sight of God. ‘If we contend with Him — we cannot answer him one in a thousand.’ (Job 9:3.) Let us remember this.

In all our self-examination, let us not test ourselves by comparisons with other men. Let us look at nothing but the requirements of God. He who acts on this principle, will never be a Pharisee.

Let us notice, thirdly, in these verses — the prayer of the tax-collector, which our Lord commends. His prayer was in every respect, the very opposite of that of the Pharisee. We read that he ‘stood afar off, and smote upon his bosom, and said: God be merciful to me, a sinner!’ Our Lord Himself stamps this short prayer with the seal of His approbation. He says, ‘I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other.’

The excellence of the Tax-collector’s prayer consists in five points, each of which deserves attention.

1. For one thing, it was a real petition. A prayer which only contains thanksgiving and profession, and asks nothing — is essentially defective. It may be suitable for an angel — but it is not suitable for a sinner.

2. For another thing, it was a personal prayer. The tax-collector did not speak of his neighbors — but himself. Vagueness and generality are the great defects of most men’s religion. To get out of ‘we,’ and ‘our,’ and ‘us’ — into ‘I,’ and ‘my,’ and ‘me’ — is a great step toward Heaven.

3. For another thing, it was a humble prayer — a prayer which put self in the right place. The tax-collector confessed plainly that he was a sinner. This is the very starting point of saving Christianity. We never begin to be good — until we can feel and confess that we are bad.

4. For another thing, it was a prayer in which mercy was the chief thing desired — and faith in God’s covenant mercy, however weak, was displayed. Mercy is the first thing we must ask for, in the day we begin to pray. Mercy and grace must be the subject of our daily petitions at the throne of grace, until the day we die.

5. Finally, the Tax-collector’s prayer was one which came from his heart. He was deeply moved in uttering it. He smote upon his bosom, like one who felt more than he could express. Such prayers are the prayers which are God’s delight. A broken and a contrite heart, He will not despise. (Psalm 51:17.)

Let these things sink down into our hearts. He who has learned to feel his sins — has great reason to be thankful. We are never in the way of salvation — until we know that we are lost, ruined, guilty, and helpless sinners. Happy indeed is he who is not ashamed to sit by the side of the tax-collector! When our experience tallies with his — we may hope that we have found a place in the family of God.

Let us notice, lastly, in these verses — the high praise which our Lord bestows on humility. He says, ‘Everyone who exalts himself — shall be abased; and he who humbles himself — shall be exalted.’

The principle here laid down is so frequently found in the Bible, that it ought to be deeply engraved in our memories. Three times we find our Lord using the words before us in the Gospels — and on three distinct occasions.

Humility, He would evidently impress upon us — is among the first and foremost graces of the Christian character. It was a leading grace in Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Job, Isaiah, and Daniel. It ought to be a leading grace in all who profess to serve Christ. Not all the Lord’s people have money to give. Not all are called to preach, or write, or fill a prominent place in the church. But all are called to be humble. One grace at least, should adorn the poorest and most unlearned believer. That grace is humility.

Let us leave the whole passage with a deep sense of the great encouragement it affords to all who feel their sins, and cry to God for mercy in Christ’s name. Their sins may have been many and great. Their prayers may seem weak, faltering, unconnected, and poor. But let them remember the tax-collector — and take courage. That same Jesus who commended his prayer — is now sitting at the right hand of God to receive sinners. Then let them hope and pray on.”

Small Town Religion

Call To Worship September 9 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 18:1-8

“The object of the parable before us, is explained by Christ Himself. To use the words of an old divine, ‘The key hangs at the door.’ ‘Jesus told His disciples a parable, to show them that they should always pray and not give up.’ These words, be it remembered, are closely connected with the solemn doctrine of the second coming, with which the preceding chapter concludes. It is perseverance in prayer, during the long weary intervals between the first and second comings, which Jesus is urging His disciples to keep up. In that interval, we ourselves are standing. The subject therefore is one which ought to possess a special interest in our eyes.

These verses teach us firstly — the great importance of perseverance in prayer. Our Lord conveys this lesson by telling the story of a friendless widow, who obtained justice from a wicked magistrate — by force of sheer importunity. ‘Though I do not fear God, nor regard man,’ said the unjust judge, ‘yet because this widow troubles me, I will see that she gets justice, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’

Our Lord Himself supplies the application of the parable, ‘And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He delay in helping them?’ If importunity obtains so much from a wicked man — then how much more will it obtain for the children of God — from the Righteous Judge, their Father in Heaven!

The subject of PRAYER ought always to be interesting to Christians. Prayer is the very life-breath of true Christianity. It is in prayer, that true religion begins. It is in prayer, that true religion flourishes. It is in prayer, that it decays. Prayer is one of the first evidences of conversion. (Acts 9:11.) Neglect of prayer, is the sure road to a fall. (Matthew 26:40, 41.) Whatever throws light on the subject of prayer, is for our soul’s health.

Let it then be engraved deeply in our minds, that it is far more easy to begin a habit of prayer, than it is to keep it up. The fear of death, or some temporary piercings of conscience, or some excited feelings — may make a man begin praying, after a fashion. But to go on praying, requires saving faith. We are apt to become weary, and to give way to the suggestion of Satan, that ‘it is of no use.’ And then comes the time when the parable before us ought to be carefully remembered. We must recollect that our Lord expressly told us ‘always to pray — and never give up.’

Do we ever feel a secret inclination to hurry our prayers, or shorten our prayers, or become careless about our prayers, or omit our prayers altogether? Let us be sure, when we do — that it is a direct temptation from the devil. He is trying to sap and undermine the very citadel of our souls, and to cast us down to Hell.

Let us resist the temptation, and cast it behind our backs. Let us resolve to pray on steadily, patiently, perseveringly — and let us never doubt that it does us good. However long the answer may be in coming — still let us pray on. Whatever sacrifice and self-denial it may cost us — still let us pray on. ‘Pray always.’ ‘Pray without ceasing.’ ‘Continue in prayer.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17, Colossians 4:2.) Let us arm our minds with this parable, and while we live, whatever else we make time for — let us make time for prayer.

These verses teach us, secondly — that God has an elect people upon earth, who are under His special care. The Lord Jesus declares that God will ‘avenge His own elect, who cry day and night unto Him.’ ‘I tell you,’ He says, ‘that He will avenge them speedily.’

Election is one of the deepest truths of Scripture. It is clearly and beautifully stated in the seventeenth Article of the Church of England. Election is ‘the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid — He has decreed by His counsel, secret to us — to deliver from curse and damnation, those whom He has chosen in Christ out of mankind — and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation.’ This testimony is true. This is ‘sound speech which cannot be condemned.’ (Titus 2:8.)

Election is a truth which should call forth praise and thanksgiving from all true Christians. Unless God had chosen and called them — they would never have chosen and called on Him. Except He had chosen them of His own good pleasure, without respect to any goodness of theirs — there would never have been anything in them to make them worthy of His choice. The worldly and the carnal-minded may rail at the doctrine of election. The false professor may abuse it, and turn the ‘grace of God into a license for sin.’ (Jude 4.) But the believer who knows his own heart, will ever bless God for election. He will confess that without election — there would be no salvation.

But what are the marks of election? By what tokens shall a man know whether he is one of God’s elect? These marks are clearly laid down in Scripture.

Election is inseparably connected with faith in Christ, and conformity to His image. (Romans 8:29, 30.) It was when Paul saw the working ‘faith,’ and patient ‘hope,’ and laboring ‘love’ of the Thessalonians — that he knew their ‘election of God.’ (1 Thessalonians 1:3, 4.)

Above all, we have a plain mark described by our Lord, in the passage before us. God’s elect are a people who ‘cry unto Him night and day.’ They are essentially a praying people.

No doubt there are many people whose prayers are formal and hypocritical. But one thing is very clear — a prayerless man must never be called one of God’s elect. Let that never be forgotten!

These verses teach us, lastly — that true faith will be found very scarce at the end of the world. The Lord Jesus shows this, by asking a very solemn question, ‘When the Son of Man comes — shall He find faith on the earth?’

The question before us is a very humbling one. It shows the uselessness of expecting that all the world will be converted before Christ comes again. It shows the foolishness of supposing that all people are ‘good,’ and that though differing in outward matters — they are all right at heart, and all going to Heaven. Such notions find no approval in the text before us.

Where is the use, after all, of ignoring facts under our own eyes; facts in the world — facts in the churches — facts in the congregations we belong to — facts by our own doors and firesides?

Where is faith to be seen? How many around us really believe what the Bible contains? How many live as if they believed that Christ died for them — and that there is a coming judgment, a Heaven, and a Hell? These are most painful and serious inquiries. But they demand and deserve an answer.

Have we faith ourselves? If we have — then let us bless God for it. It is a great thing to believe all the Bible. It is matter for daily thankfulness — if we feel our sins, and really trust in Jesus. We may be weak, frail, erring, short-coming sinners — but do we believe? That is the grand question. If we believe — then we shall be saved. But he who does not believe — shall not see life, and shall die in his sins, under God’s wrath. (John 3:36; 8:24.)”

The Works of God Psalm 111

Call To Worship September 2 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 17:22-37

“The subject of these verses is one of particular solemnity. It is the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. That great event, and the things immediately connected with it — are here described by our Lord’s own lips.

We should observe, for one thing, in these verses — what a fearful picture our Lord gives of the state of the professing Church at His second coming. We are told that as it was in the days of Noah, and in the days of Lot — so shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

We are not left to conjecture the character of those days. We are told distinctly, that men were entirely taken up with eating, drinking, marrying, buying, selling, planting, building — and would attend to nothing else.

The flood came at last in Noah’s day, and drowned all except those who were in the ark! The fire fell from Heaven at last in Lot’s day — and destroyed all except Lot, his wife, and his daughters. And our Lord declares most plainly, that similar things will happen when He comes again at the end of the world. ‘When they shall say, Peace and safety — then sudden destruction comes upon them!’ (1 Thessalonians 5:3.)

It is hard to imagine a passage of Scripture which more completely overthrows the common notions that prevail among men about Christ’s return. The world will not be converted when Jesus comes again. The earth will not be full of the knowledge of the Lord. The reign of peace will not have been established. The millennium will not have begun. These glorious things will come to pass after the second coming, but not before.

If words have any meaning, the verses before us show that the earth will be full of wickedness and worldliness in the day of Christ’s appearing. The unbelievers and the unconverted will be found to be very many. The believers and the godly, as in the days of Noah and Lot, will be found to be very few.

Let us take heed to ourselves, and beware of the spirit of the world. It is not enough to do as others — and buy, and sell, and plant, and build, and eat, and drink, and marry — as if we were born for nothing else. Exclusive attention to these things may ruin us — as thoroughly as open sin does! We must come out from the world, and be separate. We must dare to be singular. We must escape for our lives, like Lot. We must flee to the ark, like Noah. This alone is safety. Then, and then only — we shall be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger, and avoid destruction when the Son of man is revealed. (Zephaniah 2:3.)

We should observe, for another thing, in these verses — what a solemn warning our Lord gives us against unsound profession. He says to us, in immediate connection with the description of His second coming, ’Remember Lot’s wife!’

Lot’s wife went far in religious profession. She was the wife of a ‘righteous man.’ She was connected through him with Abraham, the father of the faithful. She fled with her husband from Sodom, in the day when he escaped for his life by God’s command. But Lot’s wife was not really like her husband. Though she fled with him — she had left her heart behind her. She willfully disobeyed the strict injunction which the angel had laid upon her. She looked back towards Sodom — and was at once struck dead. She was turned into a pillar of salt, and perished in her sins! Remember her — says our Lord, ‘Remember Lot’s wife!’

Lot’s wife is meant to be a beacon and a warning to all professing Christians. It may be feared that many will be found like her, in the day of Christ’s second coming. There are many in the present day, who go a certain length in religion. They conform to the outward ways of Christian relatives and friends. They speak the ‘language of Canaan.’ They use all the outward ordinances of religion. But all this time, their souls are not right in the sight of God. The world is in their hearts — and their hearts are in the world. And by and bye, in the day of sifting — their unsoundness will be exposed to all the world. Their Christianity will prove rotten at the core. The case of Lot’s wife will not stand alone.

Let us remember Lot’s wife, and resolve to be real in our religion. Let us not profess to serve Christ — for no higher motive than to please husbands, or wives, or masters, or ministers. A mere formal religion like this — will never save our souls. Let us serve Christ for His own sake. Let us never rest until we have the true grace of God in our hearts — and have no desire to look back to the world.

We should observe, lastly, in these verses — what a dreadful separation there will be in the professing Church when Christ comes again. Our Lord describes this separation by a very striking picture. He says, ‘I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken — and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken — and the other left.’

The meaning of these expressions is clear and plain. The day of Christ’s second coming, shall be the day when good and evil, converted and unconverted — shall at length be divided into two distinct bodies. The visible Church shall no longer be a mixed body. The wheat and the tares, shall no longer grow side by side. The good fish and the bad fish, shall at length be sorted into two bodies. The angels shall come forth, and gather together the godly, that they may be rewarded; and leave the wicked behind to be punished!

‘Converted — or unconverted?’ — will then be the only subject of inquiry. It will matter nothing that people have worked together, and slept together, and lived together for many years. They will be dealt with at last, according to the reality of their religion. Those members of the family who have loved Christ, will be taken up to Heaven — and those who have loved the world, will be cast down to Hell. Converted and unconverted shall be separated forevermore, when Jesus comes again.

Let us lay to heart these things. He who loves his relatives and friends, is especially bound to consider them. If those whom he loves are true servants of Christ — then let him know that he must cast in his lot with them, if he would not one day be parted from them forever.

If those whom he loves are yet dead in trespasses and sins — then let him know that he must work and pray for their conversion — lest he should be separated from them for all eternity.

This present life is the only time for such work. Life is fast ebbing away from us all. Partings, and separations, and the breaking up of families — are at all times painful things. But all the separations that we see now — are nothing compared to those eternal separations which will be seen when Christ comes again!”

Grace to the Mariners

The Weary Dove

Does the gospel-word proclaim
Rest for those who weary be?
Then, my soul, put in thy claim;
Sure that promise speaks to thee.
Marks of grace I cannot show;
All polluted is my breast;
Yet I weary am, I know,
And the weary long for rest.

Burdened with a load of sin;
Harassed with tormenting doubt;
Hourly conflicts from within;
Hourly crosses from without;
All my little strength is gone;
Sink I must without supply;
Sure upon the earth there’s none
Can more weary be than I.

In the ark the weary dove
Found a welcome resting-place;
Thus my spirit longs to prove
Rest in Christ, the Ark of grace.
Tempest-tossed I long have been,
And the flood increases fast;
Open, Lord, and take me in,
Till the storm be overpast.

Gadsby’s Hymns #356
Newton 7s

Call to Worship August 26 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 17:11-21

“Let us mark, firstly, in this passage — how earnestly men can cry for help, when they feel their need of it. We read that as our Lord entered into a certain village — ten men who were lepers met Him. It is difficult to conceive any condition more thoroughly miserable, than that of men afflicted with leprosy. They were cast out from society. They were cut off from all society with their fellows. The men described in the passage before us appear to have been truly sensible of their wretchedness. They ‘stood afar off’ — but they did not stand idly doing nothing. They called out in a loud voice: ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’

They acutely felt the deplorable state of their bodies. They found words to express their feelings. They cried earnestly for relief, when a chance for relief appeared in sight.

The conduct of the ten lepers is very instructive. It throws light on a most important subject in practical Christianity, which we can never understand too well. That subject is PRAYER.

How is it that many never pray at all? How is it that many others are content to repeat a form of words — but never pray with their hearts? How is it that dying men and women, with souls to be lost or saved — can know so little of real, hearty, sincere prayer?

The answer to these questions is short and simple. The bulk of mankind have no sense of sin. They do not feel their spiritual disease. They are not conscious that they are lost, and guilty, and hanging over the brink of Hell! When a man finds out his soul’s ailment — then he soon learns to pray. Like the leper, he finds words to express his need. He cries for help.

How is it, again, that many true believers often pray so coldly? What is the reason that their prayers are so feeble, and wandering, and lukewarm — as they frequently are?

The answer once more, is very plain. Their sense of need is not as deep as it ought to be. They are not truly alive to their own weakness and helplessness — and so they do not cry fervently for mercy and grace. Let us remember these things. Let us seek to have a constant and abiding sense of our real necessities. If saints could only see their souls, as the ten afflicted lepers saw their bodies — then they would pray far better than they do.

Let us mark, secondly, in these verses — how help meets men in the path of obedience. We are told that when the lepers cried to our Lord — He only replied, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’ He did not touch them and command their disease to depart. He prescribed no medicine, no washing, no use of outward material means. Yet healing power accompanied the words which He spoke. Relief met the afflicted company as soon as they obeyed His command. ‘As they went — they were cleansed of their leprosy.’

A fact like this is doubtlessly intended to teach us knowledge. It shows us the wisdom of simple, childlike obedience to every word which comes from the mouth of Christ.

It does not befit us to stand still, and reason, and doubt — when our Master’s commands are plain and unmistakable. If the lepers had acted in this way — then they would never have been healed.

We must read the Scriptures diligently. We must try to pray. We must attend on the public means of grace. All these are duties which Christ requires at our hands, and to which, if we love life — we must attend, without asking vain and critical questions. It is just in the path of unhesitating obedience — that Christ will meet and bless us. ‘Whoever has My commands and obeys them — he is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by My Father — and I too will love him and show Myself to him.’ (John 14:21.)

Let us mark, lastly, in these verses — what a rare thing is thankfulness. We are told that of all the ten lepers whom Christ healed, there was only one who turned back and gave Him thanks. The words that fell from our Lord’s lips upon this occasion are very solemn, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?’

The lesson before us is humbling, heart-searching, and deeply instructive. The best of us are far too like the nine lepers. We are more ready to pray — than to praise; and more disposed to ask God for what we have not — than to thank Him for what we have.

Murmurings, and complainings, and discontent abound on every side of us. Few indeed are to be found who are not continually hiding their mercies under a bushel — and setting their needs and trials on a hill. These things ought not so to be — but all who know the ways of mankind, must confess that they are true. The wide-spread thanklessness of Christians is the disgrace of our day. It is a plain proof of our little humility.

Let us pray for a daily thankful spirit. It is the spirit which God loves and delights to honor. David and Paul were eminently thankful men. It is the spirit which has marked all the brightest saints in every age of the church. It is the spirit which is the very atmosphere of Heaven. Angels and ‘just men made perfect’ are always praising God. It is the spirit which is the source of happiness on earth. If we would not be anxious — then we must make our requests known to God — not only with prayer and supplication, but with thanksgiving. (Philippians 4:6.)

Above all, let us pray for a deeper sense of our own sinfulness, guilt, and undeserving. This, after all, is the true secret of a thankful spirit. It is the man who daily feels his debt to grace, and daily remembers that in reality, he deserves nothing but Hell — this is the man who will be daily thanking and praising God. Thankfulness is a flower which will never bloom well — except upon a root of deep humility!”

Herod’s Sinful Promise

Call to Worship August 19 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke, J.C. Ryle – Luke 17:5-10

“Let us notice, in these verses — the important request which the apostles made. They said unto the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’

We do not know the secret feelings from which this request sprang. Perhaps the hearts of the apostles failed within them, as they heard one weighty lesson after another fall from our Lord’s lips. Perhaps the thought rose up in their minds, ‘Who is sufficient for these things? Who can receive such exalted doctrines? Who can follow such a lofty standard of practice?’ These, however, are only conjectures. One thing, at any rate, is clear and plain. The request which they made was most deeply important, ’Increase our faith!’

Faith is the root of all saving religion. ‘He who comes unto God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.’ (Hebrews 11:6.) Faith is the hand by which the soul lays hold on Jesus Christ, and is united to Him, and saved. Faith is the secret of all Christian comfort, and spiritual prosperity. According to a man’s faith — will be his peace, his hope, his strength, his courage, his decision, and his victory over the world. When the apostles made request about faith, they did wisely and well.

Faith is a grace which admits of degrees. It does not come to full strength and perfection as soon as it is planted in the heart by the Holy Spirit. There is ‘little’ faith — and ‘great’ faith. There is ‘weak’ faith — and ‘strong’ faith. Both are spoken of in the Scriptures. Both are to be seen in the experience of God’s people. The more faith a Christian has — the more happy, holy, and useful will he be. To promote the growth and progress of faith — should be the daily prayer and endeavor of all who love the Savior. When the apostles said, ‘increase our faith’ — they did well.

Have we any faith at all? This, after all, is the first question which the subject should raise in our hearts. Saving faith is not mere repetition of the creed, and saying, ‘I believe in God the Father, and in God the Son, and in God the Holy Spirit.’ Thousands are weekly using these words — who know nothing of saving faith. The words of Paul are very solemn, ‘Not everyone has faith.’ (2 Thessalonians 3:2.) True faith is not natural to man. It comes down from Heaven — it is the gift of God.

If we have any faith, then let us pray for more of it. It is a bad sign of a man’s spiritual state when he is satisfied to live on old stock, and does not hunger and thirst after growth in grace. Let a prayer for more faith form part of our daily devotions. Let us covet earnestly the best gifts. We are not to despise ‘the day of small things’ in a brother’s soul — but we are not to be content with it in our own soul.

Let us notice, for another thing, in these verses — what a heavy blow our Lord gives to self-righteousness. He says to His apostles, ‘So when you have done everything you were told to do — you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’‘

We are all naturally proud and self-righteous. We think far more highly of ourselves, our deserts, and our character — than we have any right to do. Self-righteousness is a subtle disease, which manifests itself in a hundred different ways. Most men can see it in other people — but few see it in themselves. Seldom will a man be found, however wicked — who does not secretly flatter himself that there is somebody else worse than he is. Seldom will a Christian be found, who is not at seasons tempted to be satisfied and pleased with himself. There is such a thing as a pride — which wears the cloak of humility. There is not a heart upon earth which does not contain a piece of the Pharisee’s character!

To give up self-righteousness, is absolutely needful to salvation. He who desires to be saved, must confess that there is no good thing in him — and that he has no merit, no goodness, no worthiness of his own. He must be willing to renounce his own righteousness, and to trust in the righteousness of another — even Christ the Lord.

Once pardoned and forgiven, we must travel the daily journey of life under a deep conviction that we are ‘unprofitable servants.’ At our best — we are only doing our duty, and have nothing to boast of. And even when we do our duty, it is not by our own power and might that we do it — but by the strength which is given to us from God. We have no claim upon God — we have no right to expect anything good from God. We have no worthiness to deserve anything from God. All the good that we have — we have first received. Anything good that we are — we owe to God’s sovereign, distinguishing grace!

What is the true cause of self-righteousness? How is it that such a poor, weak, erring creature as man — can ever dream of deserving anything at God’s hands? It all arises from ignorance. The eyes of our understandings are naturally blinded. We see neither ourselves, nor our lives, nor God, nor the law of God — as we ought. Once let the light of grace shine into a man’s heart — and the reign of self-righteousness is over! The roots of pride may remain, and often put forth bitter shoots. But the reign of pride is broken when the Spirit comes into the heart — and shows the man himself and God.

The true Christian will never trust in his own goodness. He will say with Paul, ‘I am the chief of sinners!’ ‘God forbid that I should glory — except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!’ (1 Timothy 1:15; Galatians 6:14.)”