Self-importance or self-loathing?

(excerpts from The Shadow of the Cross, Walter J. Chantry, p8,9)

“True Calvinism always leads to the appreciation of self-denial.  When the doctrines of grace are warmly and experimentally preached, denial of self is necessarily one of the chief experiences of the soul.  Each one of the doctrines infinitely exalts the most high God and humbles the sinful and human self as a mere worm.  What is it that you love about the doctrines of God’s sovereignty and of human depravity?  Is it not the wonder and realization of it all flooding your soul?  Is it not the blessed slaying of self-admiration, self-indulgence, self-gratification, self-determination …all of self?” 

“One great benefit of the biblical truths called Calvinism is that they humble men in the dust.” 

“Calvnism that does not humble has missed its mark.”

(Parenthetically and peaceably, I might change or remove the term Calvinism here, as it seems to be a stumbling block for some; but these are not my words and the intent in sharing here is not to engage in theological battle.  So, rather than hearing “Calvinism”, hear ‘the teaching of God’s word regarding Grace’.)

It does not take long to feel the check in my heart as I read Ezekiel 36:22-32, verse 31 reads “Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations.”  All too often (which can be a moment or a daily lifestyle) I am surrounding myself with self-indulging, self-important thoughts, desires, and pursuits.  And when I am doing this, how can I possibly be thinking along with David in Psalm 27 who says,

One thing have I asked of the LORD,
  that will I seek after:
 that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
  all the days of my life,
 to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
  and to inquire in his temple.
(Psalm 27:4 ESV)

In eternity, in the Kingdom, self-importance is a thing to be put to death; but not in this world, not in America, not in my culture.

In this world, self-loathing is a thing to be set aside and divorced from, unless it gives you the (warped) pleasure that you seek.  Self-repudiation is to be condemned and mocked and shunned in my culture.

We call evil good, and good evil.  And God, through the prophet Isaiah says, “Woe to those…”

  Woe to those who call evil good
  and good evil,
 who put darkness for light
  and light for darkness,
 who put bitter for sweet
  and sweet for bitter!
(Isaiah 5:20 ESV)

I wonder if we perceive our wandering in the desert (away from the Spring of living water) and our rebellious heart (pushing away from God) and sinful entanglements (pursuits of this world) as a woeful consequence to disregarding what God calls evil — the profaning of His holy name.  Do we foolishly believe that we can turn away from God without consequence or cost?

[I Will Put My Spirit Within You]
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.  (Ezekiel 36:22-32 ESV)

Will we find ourselves “unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.  For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.”  (Hebrews 12:16,17 ESV)  Will we find ourselves with no chance to repent?

Back to Chantry…

“But there is a positive side as well.  While man’s self-esteem is crushed, his esteem for the Lord God of hosts is established.  God’s glory and grace strike and captivate the heart.”

“Thus says the Lord GOD: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the LORD; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it.
“Thus says the Lord GOD: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock. Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”  (Ezekiel 36:33-38 ESV)

May we remember God’s glory and grace as we live today, that it is not for our sake that He acts, rather it is for the sake of His holy name…God’s glory.  And, that in His all-sufficient grace He saves us and cleanses us from all our sin so that the world will know that He is the LORD.  Glory, glory, glory.

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