Are we humble?
We are religious. We do certain things we are supposed to do. But are we humble? It is possible to say all the right things about God without ever truly being humbled before God.
John Owen gives several questions we can ask ourselves to help us evaluate:
- Is the bottom of our obedience a deep apprehension and a full conviction of our own vileness and nothingness-of our being the chief of sinners, lost and undone; so that we always lie at the foot of sovereign grace and mercy? Is it so? Then, when, how, by what means, was this apprehension brought upon us? I intend not a general notion that we are sinners, but a particular apprehension of our lost, undone condition, with suitable affections thereunto. Do we cry to the Lord out of the depths? Or is the end of our obedience to keep ourselves out of such a condition? I am afraid many amongst us, could we, or themselves, by any means dive into the depths of their hearts, would be found to yield obedience unto God merely on the account of keeping themselves out of the condition which they must be brought unto before they can yield any acceptable obedience to him. If we think at all to walk with God, let us be clear in this, that such a sense and apprehension of ourselves lies at the bottom of it – ‘Of sinners I am chief.’
- Doth this always abide in our thoughts, and upon our spirits, that by all we have done, do, or can do, we cannot obtain the righteousness to stand in the presence of God; so that in the secret reserves of our hearts we place none of our righteousness on that account? Can we be content to suffer loss in all our obedience, as to an end of righteousness? and do we appear before God simply on another head, as if there were no such thing as our own obedience in the world? Herein, indeed, lies the great mystery of gospel obedience,-that we pursue it with all our strength and might, with all our vigor of our souls, and labor to abound in it, like the angels in theirs-perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord, and yet, in point of the acceptation of our persons, to have no more regard unto it than if we had yielded no more obedience than the thief on the cross.
- Do we then humble ourselves to accept of the righteousness that God in Christ hath provided for us? It is a common working of the heart of them whom God is drawing to himself;-they dare not close with the promise, they dare not accept of Christ, and his righteousness,-it would indeed be presumption in them. And the answer is common,-that indeed this is not fear and humility, but pride. Men know not how to humble themselves to a righteousness purely without them, on the testimony of God: the heart is not willing to it; we would willingly establish our own righteousness and not submit to the righteousness of God. But how is it with your souls? Are we clear in this great point or no? If we are not, we are at best shuffling with God; we will not walk with him. He admits none into his company, but expressly on the terms of taking this righteousness that he has provided, and his soul loathes them that would tender him any thing in the room thereof, as men engaged to set up their wisdom and righteousness against his.