Friday, July 12, 2019

Gospel Gold from John Newton on "The Advantages of Indwelling Sin"

Why does God allow such deep and prolonged struggle with sin throughout our lives? What are the advantages to allowing so much sin to remain in his children?

John Newton, the former slave trader, who was converted and became a pastor (and author of the famous hymn, "Amazing Grace"), thought long and hard on these questions. He penned a letter on the advantages (!) of indwelling sin. It's full of the savor of God's wisdom and the sweetness of his grace. Here's an extended excerpt (emphasis mine). This is gold, brothers and sisters. Gospel gold.
If the evils we feel were not capable of being over-ruled for good, he would not permit them to remain in us. ...
The gracious purposes to which the Lord makes the sense and feeling of our depravity subservient, are manifold. Hereby his own power, wisdom, faithfulness, and love, are more signally displayed: his power, in maintaining his own work in the midst of so much opposition, like a spark burning in the water...; his wisdom, in defeating and controlling all the devices which Satan...
... The unchangeableness of the Lord's love, and the riches of his mercy, are likewise more illustrated by the multiplied pardons he bestows upon his people, than if they needed no forgiveness at all.
Hereby the Lord Jesus is more endeared to the soul; all boasting is effectually excluded, and the glory of a full free salvation is ascribed to him alone. If a mariner is surprised by a storm, and after one night spent in jeopardy, is presently brought safe into port; though he may rejoice in his deliverance, it will not affect him so sensibly, as if, after being tempest-tossed for a long season, and experiencing a great number and variety of hair-breadth escapes, he at last gains the desired haven. ...
But when, after a long experience of their own deceitful hearts, after repeated proofs of their weakness, wilfulness, ingratitude, and insensibility, they find that none of these things can separate them from the love of God in Christ, Jesus becomes more and more precious to their souls. They love much, because much has been forgiven them. They dare not, they will not ascribe anything to themselves, but are glad to acknowledge, that they must have perished (if possible) a thousand times over, if Jesus had not been their Saviour, their shepherd, and their shield.
... In a word, some of the clearest proofs they have had of his excellence, have been occasioned by the mortifying proofs they have had of their own vileness. They would not have known so much of [Him], if they had not known so much of themselves.
Further, a spirit of humiliation, which is both…the strength and beauty of our profession, is greatly promoted by our feeling, as well as reading, that when we would do good, evil is present with us. A broken and contrite spirit is pleasing to the Lord who has promised to dwell with those who have it; and experience shows, that the exercise of all our graces is in proportion to the humbling sense we have of the depravity of our nature.
But that we are so totally depraved, is a truth which no one ever truly learned by being only told it. ...experience is the Lord's school, and they who are taught by him usually learn, that they have no wisdom by the mistakes they make, and that they have no strength by the slips and falls they meet with.
... Thus by degrees they are weaned from leaning to any supposed wisdom, power, or goodness in themselves; they feel the truth of our Lord's words, "Without me [you] can do nothing;"...
Whoever is truly humbled will not be easily angry, ...will be compassionate and tender to the infirmities of his fellow-sinners, knowing, that if there be a difference, it is grace that has made it, and that he has the seeds of every evil in his own heart; and, under all trials and afflictions, he will look to the hand of the Lord, and lay his mouth in the dust, acknowledging that he suffers much less than his iniquities have deserved. 
These are some of the advantages and good fruits which the Lord enables us to obtain from that bitter root, indwelling sin.

You can go and read the full letter HERE.

No comments:

Post a Comment