Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Scots Confession, Chapter XIII

The Cause of Good Works

The cause of good works, we confess, is not our free will, but the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, who dwells in our hearts by true faith, brings forth such works as God has prepared for us to walk in. For we most boldly affirm that it is blasphemy to say that Christ abides in the hearts of those in
whom is no spirit of sanctification. Therefore we do not hesitate to affirm that murderers, oppressors, cruel persecuters, adulterers, filthy persons, idolaters, drunkards, thieves, and all workers of iniquity, have neither true faith nor anything of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, so long as they obstinately continue in wickedness.

For as soon as the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, whom God’s chosen children receive by true faith, takes possession of the heart of any man, so soon does he regenerate and renew him, so that he begins to hate what before he loved, and to love what he hated before. Thence comes that continual battle which is between the flesh and the Spirit in God’s children, while the flesh and the natural man, being corrupt, lust for things pleasant and delightful to themselves, are envious in adversity and proud in prosperity, and every moment prone and ready to offend the majesty of God.

But the Spirit of God, who bears witness to our spirit that we are the sons of God, makes us resist filthy pleasures and groan in God’s presence for deliverance from this bondage of corruption, and finally to triumph over sin so that it does not reign in our mortal bodies. Other men do not share this conflict since they do not have God’s Spirit, but they readily follow and obey sin and feel no regrets, since they act as the devil and their corrupt nature urge.

But the sons of God fight against sin; sob and mourn when they find themselves tempted to do evil; and, if they fall, rise again with earnest and unfeigned repentance. They do these things, not by their own power, but by the power of the Lord Jesus, apart from whom they can do nothing.


My initial reaction is disdain for this selection. Surely I can choose to do good, right? Surely there is some part of my will that is not so stained with sin that I am constantly falling, constantly failing to do what the Lord wills. Right?

Then I come to the realization that I simply cannot choose what is right on my own. I look back on the history of wrecks caused by my poor decisions and recognize that sin, be it pride, greed or some other failing, indeed stains my decisions. I am not proud of it, but it is part of who I am.

I believe it is important to recognize this reality. Without the realization that sin is a part of everything, there isn't an accompanying need for grace. If we can choose to live correctly, what need is there for a Savior?

But we are stained by sin, and thus in desperate need of a Savior, Jesus Christ. Christ comes to save, to liberate, to illuminate. Christ sends his Spirit to strengthen us, to encourage us to fight the fight, to struggle onward, to choose the Spirit over the flesh. Christ does not remove temptation or sin from our lives, but rather promises a better way, a higher way, an eternal way. Christ promises true life, and the Spirit moves within us, imploring us to fight on.

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