“Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end; take away her battlements; for they are not the Lord’s.” Jeremiah 5:10
Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 5:25-6: 5
We sometimes trust too much in evidences and good works. Ralph Erskine did not say amiss when he remarked, “I have got more hurt by my good works than my bad ones.” That seems something like Antinomianism, but it is true; we find it so by experience. “My bad works,” said Erskine, “Always drove me to the Saviour for mercy; my good works often kept me from him, and I began to trust in myself.” Is it not so with us? We often get a pleasing opinion of ourselves; we are preaching so many times a week; we attend so many prayer meetings; we are doing good in the Sabbath-school; we are valuable deacons; important members of the church; we are giving away so much in charity; and we say, “Surely I am a child of God—I must be. I am an heir of heaven. Look at me! See what robes I wear. Have I not indeed a righteousness about me that proves me to be a child of God?” Then we begin to trust in ourselves, and say, “Surely I cannot be moved; my mountain stands firm and fast.” Do you know what is the usual rule of heaven when we boast? Why the command is given to the foe—“Go up against him; take away his battlements; for they are not the Lord’s.” And what is the consequence? Why, perhaps God suffers us to fall into sin, and down goes self-sufficiency. Many a Christian owes his falls to a presumptuous confidence in his graces. I conceive that outward sin is not more abhorred by our God than this most wicked sin of reliance on ourselves. May none of you ever learn your own weakness by reading a black book of your own backslidings.
For meditation: If pride and boasting are listed as sins of the unbeliever (Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2), they are just as much sins when the believer falls into them. Our good works should lead others to glorify God (Matthew 5:16) and should surely have the same effect upon us.
Sermon no. 38
16 September (1855)