“The Biblical gospel asserts…that the self is twisted, that it is maladjusted in its relationship to God and others, that it is full of deceit and rationalizations, that it is lawless, that it is in rebellion, and indeed one must die to self in order to live.” —David F. Wells
“For the Christian the self is the problem…Understanding the problem involves an awareness of sin, specially the sin of pride; Correcting this condition involves such unactualized states as contrition and repentance, humility, obedience, and trust in God.”—Paul Vitz
No one can have a humbling ministry until they come to grips with the biblical doctrine of sin. I recently overheard a Christian say, “No matter how badly you think of yourself, no matter how guilty you feel, no matter how deep your sense of moral bankruptcy and failure, you have never seen the depth of your sin sufficiently. It is always worse than you think.” My friend must have read Dr. Plumer. One hundred and fifty years ago he wrote; “The truth is, no man ever thought himself a greater sinner before God than he really was. Nor was any man ever more distressed at his sins than he had just cause to be.”
After all is said and done, all defective views of sin can be traced to unbelief or ignorance. We just don’t believe the Bible, or we don’t know what it says. “In all unbelief there are these two things,” noted Horatius Bonar (1808-89), “a good opinion of one’s self, and a bad opinion of God…It takes a great deal to destroy a man’s good opinion of himself; and even after he has lost his good opinion of his works, he retains his good opinion of his heart; and even after he has lost that, he holds fast his good opinion of his religious duties, by means of which he hopes to make up for evil works and a bad heart.”
Thanks be to God. The cross of Christ is the remedy manward. It destroys our good opinion of ourself. It is also the remedy Godward. Despite our sin and fallness, it provides peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We love God to the degree that we see our sinfulness as he sees it.