Today I received a text message from an ordained PCA officer (a deacon to be specific). Though we have certainly had our differences, I must say that I found his message edifying. Here’s the message:
“I want to hate my sins more than I hate the sins of others who sin differently than I do.” – Burk Parsons
According to our ultimate authority this is the essence of trustworthiness and what is deserving of full acceptance.
Yesterday I was on a conference call with a PCA teaching elder and 3 other people who infinitely outrank all of us, and the TE made it a point to confess the hidden evils of his own self-righteousness during the course of our conversation.
Combine both of these recent reminders regarding the dangers of legalism with the incessant warnings of our LORD against self-righteousness and you have yourself a 2018 epistle (via blogpost) to the flock of ECPC, graciously aiming to guard all of us against the threat of priggery.
Our LORD is unremitting in His warnings:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
“Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces.”
In addition to primarily rooting your imagination in the realities revealed in Scripture, I would also adamantly admonish you to read Flannery ‘O Connor’s compilation of short stories “Everything That Rises Must Converge” (free on Hoopla!) …These short stories will help you come to grips with the hidden evils of your own heart, and grapple with the fact that you are truly capable of any/all immoralities – which we so superficially believe ourselves to be incapable of.
Also, I would like to insist that you identify (and yoke yourself to) at least two people who have earned the right to hear your story (i.e. attend to the tales of the real you), and enter into a regular rhythm (i.e. at least once-a-month) of gathering to confess the hidden evils of your heart, talk candidly about the real you, and pray with and for one another (i.e. a prayer triad).
As you ponder the most primary, and pressing, prayers necessary for all the saints (including yourself), consider the prayer of Jesus for the leader/spokesman of the apostles:
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again (i.e. ‘after you’ve failed!), strengthen your brothers.”
We know – from The Maker’s inerrant, infallible, and absolutely inspirited revelation to us – that church leaders are VERY SUSCEPTIBLE to the dangers of self-righteousness and legalism (for Peter not only fell into the pit of priggery during the days of Jesus’ first coming, but also later at Antioch – when he had to be humiliatingly rebuked because he unwittingly stood condemned).
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death!? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!