“Until you know the plague of your own heart, there is no hope for your recovery” (Thomas Boston).
The Bible tells you that you are miserable, poor, and blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17). That is why I pray that before you die you will see how wretched you are.
You may answer:
“Why would believing in Jesus make one a good person? Why would not believing in Jesus make one a bad person? Why should I believe the Bible, why should I believe Jesus? Does the Bible come from God? No, from men. I try, in my own very faulty way, to be a good person. I do have at least an inkling of my own weaknesses, selfishness and callousness. My life is exhausting, but, believe me, I try to be kind. I know the Bible (rather your interpretation of it) claims that good works without faith are useless. Maybe so–useless as far as being ‘saved’ is concerned. But not useless as far as helping other people is concerned. People, animals, birds, insects, fish, plants, the earth, the sky, the sun, the other worlds, the universe . . . I believe in the divinity behind and in all of that. (I believe, but I don’t claim to KNOW.) But I do not believe in the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Muslim or other societies’ both contemporary and ancient–conceptions of God or Gods. I lead a secular life. If your Bible says I am to be damned for that, then that just convinces me that I can have no faith in it!”
Would I be beating a dead horse by quoting from the Bible? Yes, in more ways than one, because we are by nature sinful, and so spiritually dead to the things of God; the God of the Bible. “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins” (Colossians 2:13). We can only be made alive by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, who died that we may live. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10). What God says of Israel applies to all believers in all times: “… at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:5-6). “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God ;” (John 1:8).
You can’t work your way, earn your way into God’s grace(s). If you have a sensitive conscience, when you fail, you try again, and again and again. You want to make things right. You suffer when you can’t alleviate the suffering of those you cause to suffer – indeed also the suffering that others cause. Here’s a sanguine remedy; sanguinary too – the Blood of Christ.
Those who humble themselves before God, who regard themselves unworthy of Christ, how did they arrive at such a blessed state? How did they come to reflect the beatitudes?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:3-12).
They are blessed in these virtues because they are gifts, like faith, from God.
“The Spirit of God, writes Thomas Boston, convincingly discovers to the sinner his utter inability to do any thing that is good ; and so he dies. That voice powerfully strikes through his soul, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44). You can no more believe, than you can reach up your hand to heaven, and bring Christ down from thence. And thus, at length, he sees he can neither help himself, by working nor believing ; and having no more to hang by, on the old stock, he therefore falls off. And while he is thus distressed, seeing himself like to be swept away with the flood of God’s wrath ; and yet unable so much as to stretch forth a hand to lay hold of a twig of the tree of life, growing on the banks of the river, he is taken up and ingrafted into the true Vine, the Lord Jesus Christ giving him the Spirit of faith. (Thomas Boston: “Human nature in its four-fold state of primitive integrity, subsisting in the parents of mankind in paradise; entire deprivation in the unregenerate; and consummate happiness or misery in all mankind in the future state”).
I pray that the Father will draw you to Christ. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:44).