The Hidey Holes of Man’s Deceitful Heart Under a Conviction of Sin

I Corinthians 3:11
       For other foundation can no man lay than is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): When a man is at first alarmed about his soul, he will do any thing rather than come to Christ. Christ is a harbour that no ship ever enters except under stress of weather. Mariners on the sea of life steer for any port except the fair haven of free grace.

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): If awakened by the alarms of providence or conscience, they are disposed to fly to any refuge rather than Christ.

EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): The convinced sinner wishes to be saved; but then he would be his own saviour. He will not consent to be saved by Christ. He cannot bear to come as a poor, miserable, self-condemned sinner, and throw himself on the mere mercy of Christ; but he wants to purchase heaven.

ALEXANDER COMRIE (1706-1774): Each of them has a foundation, good or bad, upon which he is building his hope of salvation…It is impossible for any man to name all these foundations, since each has something peculiar to itself; yet they all coincide in this, that they build upon another foundation than Christ the Lord. We will name a few…Many place as their “foundation” that their convictions have been followed by some breaking off and changing of their deeds, so that they not only forsake former sins, but practise the contrary virtues; just as Herod did many things through the powerful ministry of John, Mark 6:20.

C. H. SPURGEON: When a man first finds comfort in his own good works, he thinks he has done well. “Why,” says he, “this must be the way of salvation; I am not a drunkard now, I have taken the pledge; I am not a Sabbath-breaker now, I have taken a seat at a place of worship. Go in, and look at my house, sir; you will see it as different as possible from what it was before; there is a moral change in me of a most wonderful kind, and surely this will suffice!”

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): Now, this is not conversion. A person may do all this, and yet be wholly unconverted.

C. H. SPURGEON: Now, if God be dealing with that man in a way of grace, he will soon be ashamed of his false confidence…He will discover that the past still lives; that his old sins are buried only in imagination—the ghosts of them will haunt him, they will alarm his conscience. He will be compelled to feel that sin is a scarlet stain, not to be so readily washed out as he fondly dreamed…He finds that all the outward religion he can muster will not suffice, that even the purest morality is not enough; for over and above the thunderings of conscience there comes clear and shrill as the voice of trumpet, “Ye must be born again;” “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;” “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye can in nowise enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
      Well, then, what does he do? He resolves to find another shelter, to exchange Assyria for Egypt. That is to say, as work will not do, he will try feeling; and the poor soul will labour to pump up repentance out of a rocky heart, and, failing to do so, will mistake despair for contrition. He conceives that if he can feel up to a certain point, he can be saved; if he can repent to a certain degree, if he can be alarmed with fears of hell up to fever heat, then he may be saved. But ere long, if God is dealing with him, he gets to be as much ashamed of his feelings as of his works.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Were you made to feel, that your very repentance needed to be repented of, and that every thing in yourselves is but dung and dross?

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Again, our natural pride is a great hindrance to believing…A secret dependence upon prayers, tears, resolutions, repentance, and endeavours, prevents us from looking solely and simply to the Saviour, so as to ground our whole hope for acceptance upon His obedience unto death and His whole mediation. A true believer will doubtless repent and pray and forsake his former evil ways, but he is not accepted upon the account of what he does or feels.

HORATIUS BONAR (1808-1889): Tell him to look outward not inward for his peace. Beat him off from his self-righteous efforts to get up a peculiar kind of faith or peculiar acts of faith in order to obtain something in himself—something short of Christ, to rest upon.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD: There are thousands who speak peace to themselves, when there is no peace.

ALEXANDER COMRIE: Others place as their “foundation” their peace of mind; heretofore they have indeed had troubles and have long mourned, but now they are quiet, which is a sign of peace with God, since the wicked are like the troubled sea.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Do you realize it is possible to have a false sense of forgiveness? Do you realize that it is possible to have a false peace within you?

EDWARD PAYSON: This class includes all who entertain a false and groundless persuasion that they have already become pious, obtain the pardon of their sins, and secured the favour of God. The reasons why persons feel such a persuasion are various. Some feel it because they are more sober, more moral, and more attentive to the externals of religion than they were; others, because they have made a public profession of religion, and united themselves to the visible church of Christ; a third class, because their religious sentiments are correct and orthodox; and a fourth, because they fancy that they have experienced that great moral change, which the inspired writers call regeneration. Their consciences have, perhaps, been awakened, their understandings enlightened, their fears alarmed, and their feelings strongly excited. They have been in some measure convinced of their sins, and fancy that they have truly repented, believed in the Saviour, and obtained pardon, when in fact, this is not the case.

MATTHEW MEAD (1629-1699): This is that wherein most men miscarry: they rest in their convictions, and take them for conversion, as if sin seen were therefore forgiven, as if a sight of the want of grace were the truth of a work of grace.

EDWARD PAYSON: But in whichever of these ways, or for which of those reasons soever, persons falsely persuade themselves that they are pious, the effects are the same; they immediately appropriate to themselves all the precious promises which are made to the pious; call God their Father, Christ their Saviour, and heaven their portion; and leave to others the warnings and threatenings. Of course they feel perfectly secure. They flatter themselves that their souls are safe, that their salvation is secured; and now they have little or nothing to do, but reap the reward of their labours, and pursue their secular concerns without interruption.

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): Therefore, if persons have been first awakened, and afterwards have had comfort and joy, it is no certain sign that their comforts are of the right kind.

EDWARD PAYSON: The sinner tries every place of refuge before he will enter the ark of safety. He is like a person exposed to the storm and tempest, for whom a place of safety is provided, which he is unwilling to enter. He flies from one place of fancied security to take refuge in another. The storm increases; one hiding-place after another is swept away, till, at length, exposed, without a shelter, to the raging storm, he is glad to flee to the refuge provided for him.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD: When therefore the Spirit has hunted the sinner out of all his false rests and hiding places, taken off the pitiful fig-leaves of his works, and driven him out of the trees of the garden―his outward reformations―and placed him naked before the bar of a sovereign, holy, just, and sin-avenging God; then, then it is, when the soul, having the sentence of death within itself because of unbelief, has a sweet display of Christ’s righteousness made to it by the Holy Spirit of God.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): Our hearts, like criminals, until they be beaten from all evasions, never cry for the mercy of the Judge.


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