Undiscerned Spiritual Pride

Jonathan EdwardsThis is an edited version of Jonathan Edwards’ Part IV, section 1 of “Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival of Religion in New England” (from The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Banner of Truth Trust, volume one, pp. 398-403). In this case, an edited version cannot do true justice to the whole essay, so it is highly recommended that you acquire this treatise and read the complete version yourself.

  The first and worst cause of errors that prevail in our day and age is spiritual pride. This is the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of Christ. It is the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit to darken the mind and mislead the judgement. Pride is the main handle by which he has hold of Christian persons and the chief source of all the mischief that he introduces to clog and hinder a work of God. Spiritual pride is the main spring or at least the main support of all other errors. Until this disease is cured, medicines are applied in vain to heal all other diseases.
  It is by spiritual pride that the mind defends and justifies itself in other errors and guards itself against light by which it might be corrected and reclaimed. The spiritually proud man is full of light already and feels that he does not need instruction, so he is ready to despise the offer of it. On the other hand, the humble person is like a little child who easily receives instruction. He is cautious in his estimate of himself, sensitive as to how liable he is to go astray. If it is suggested to him that he does go astray, he is most ready to inquire into the matter. Nothing sets a Christian so much out of the devil’s reach than humility and so prepares the mind for divine light without darkness and so clears the eye to look at things as they truly are Psalm 25:9—He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way. If spiritual pride is healed, other things are easily rectified. Our first care should be to rectify the heart and pull the beam of pride out of our eye and then we shall see clearly.
  Those who are most zeal ous in the cause of God are the most likely to be targeted as being filled with pride. When any person appears, in any respect, to be remarkably distinguished from others in his Christian walk, odds are ten to one that it will immediately awaken the jealousy of those about him. They will suspect (whether they have good reason or not) that he is very proud of his goodness and that he probably thinks no one as good as he, so that everything he says and does is observed with this Continue reading

Thoughts on 1 John 1:9

From the book Faith and Life: readings compiled from ancient writers is this selection from St. Augustine:

I. LIGHT IN THE LORD.

IF “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all,” and if we ought to have fellowship with Him, the darkness must be expelled from us, that light may be kindled in us; for darkness can have no fellowship with light; therefore see what follows, “But if we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie;” and you have the Apostle Paul saying, “What communion hath light with darkness?” Therefore let a man now say to himself, “What shall I do? how shall I become light? I live in sins and iniquities. A feeling of despair and gloom steals over me. There is no salvation except in fellowship with God. God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. But sins are darkness; iniquities are darkness. We are pressed down by iniquities, so that we cannot have fellowship with God; what hope then have we? what will become of us?” Let us listen, if haply He will comfort and uplift us, and give us hope, lest we faint by the way. For we are hastening to our Country; and if we despair of reaching it, we faint from our very despair. But He who wishes us to reach it, feeds us by the way, that He may preserve us in the Country. “But if we walk in the light, as He also is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.” Let us walk in the light, as He is in the light, that we may be able to have fellowship with Him. And what shall we do about our sins? Hear what follows; “And the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” It is great ease of mind that God has given us. The devil once held a bond of slavery against us, but it was obliterated by the Blood of Christ. If you have confessed your sins, truth is in you; for truth itself is light. Your life is not yet perfectly lustrous, for sins are there; but yet you now begin to be illuminated, for confession of sins is there.

–St. Augustine on First Epistle of St. John, Tr. i.