“One should suppose that proper instruction in the doctrines of man’s depravity and the necessity for justification through the righteousness of Christ alone would deliver us from the power of the self-sins; but, it does not work out that way. Self can lie unrebuked at the very altar. It can watch the bleeding Victim die and not be in the least affected by what it sees. It can fight for the faith of the Reformers and preach eloquently the creed of salvation by grace, and gain strength by its efforts. To tell all the truth, it seems actually to feed upon orthodoxy and is more at home in a Bible Conference than in a tavern . . .” (AW Tozer’s Pursuit of God)
I have not read this book, but today Keisha quoted an entire chapter on her blog. It is long, but it is worth the read.
I mentioned in a previous post that a friend recently pointed out to me that I am self-righteous and proud. I also mentioned in the last part of my testimony, speaking specifically of my courtship with Jason, that despite having a more thorough Bible knowledge, I was seeing myself behave in some very sinful ways. Marriage has not proven to resolve this; instead it has been like a huge mag light shining into a deep, dark place. I oftentimes deny that this place is my heart.
Tozer talks about self-sins as being the most deadly of all. These are self-righteousness, self-pity, self-love, self-preservation, etc. When I have struggled with outward addictions, I never could quite hide the proverbial eyes of my heart from them. They involved the worship of external things–food, my body, money, material stuff. Those things stared back at me from the table, the mirror, the pay stub, or the shopping mall window. They served to remind me (though often I didn’t listen) what was going on in my heart.
These self-sins are something else entirely. They really do lie in deep, dark places. They are at the root of those external idols. They come in everyday thoughts, ones that pass so quickly in and out of my mind that I barely know they are there. They come out in a tone of voice or some wholesome-looking behavior with a cruel motivation. They come in promises to pray or care that never come to fruition in my heart. They are judgments passed in less than half a second on the people I say I love.
For me, self-sins are slight and often impossible to pinpoint. When God is gracious enough to reveal them, it is a mere shrug of acknowledgment on my part. But to God, these self-sins must be like an awful scream to His sensitive ears. I only need read a good part of the Old Testament to know the kind of reaction it evokes in Him. I don’t like reading those parts of the Bible very much.
I do not want to be a woman who can clearly explain her doctrine but who struggles to have a spiritual or experiential knowledge of God. That is only a white-washed tomb. I am frustrated because there are many times when I see myself as that woman.
Tozer is right; it is the veil of self-sins that keeps spiritual distance between the heart of man and the heart of God. And it is God’s love that reveals and removes that veil. I am encouraged because God is at work in my life in the revealing. I can only assume that He will remove what He has revealed. I hope it’s not too painful, though I fear it may be.
So what do I do? My Bible knowledge tells me I pray for repentance and faith . . .