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Seven Abominations in My Heart

John Bunyan, years after his conversion, wrote these words in the conclusion to Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners:

I find to this day seven abominations in my heart: 1. Inclining to unbelief; 2. Suddenly to forget the love and mercy that Christ manifesteth; 3. A leaning to the works of the law; 4. Wanderings and coldness in prayer; 5. To forget to watch for that I pray for; 6. Apt to murmur because I have no more, and yet ready to abuse what I have; 7. I can do none of those things which God commands me, but my corruptions will thrust in themselves. When I would do good, evil is present with me.

These things I continually see and feel, and am afflicted and oppressed with, yet the wisdom of God doth order them for my good; 1. They make me abhor myself; 2. They keep me from trusting my heart; 3. They convince me of the insufficiency of all inherent righteousness; 4. They show me the necessity of flying to Jesus; 5. They press me to pray unto God; 6. They show me the need I have to watch and be sober; 7. And provoke me to pray unto God, through Christ, to help me, and carry me through this world.

There is a wealth of wisdom in Bunyan's self-reflection and confession - wisdom that most of us as Christians (myself included) all too often lack.

Before you write Bunyan off as overly introspective or as someone with overly low self-esteem, consider this: isn't it the case, that more often than not, you tend to be either (1) more or less blind to your own sins and apathetic in your love for Jesus; or (less often) (2) so devastated with your faults, sins, and inadequacies that you feel depressed, maybe even debilitated?

Bunyan provides a different model. He was relentlessly honest with himself about his sinful inclinations. He didn't trust his own heart. But at the same time, he let this honest self-assessment drive him to Christ, to greater vigilance, to prayer. Whatever you might think when you read words like "they make me abhor myself," Bunyan didn't wallow in despondent guilt. He rather let the sight of his sin drive him to the Savior. You and I should do the same.

3 comments:

mwh said...

Simply excellent.

Brian G. Hedges said...

BTW, are you blogging anywhere now? I've missed the interaction.

mwh said...

I'm not blogging. I miss it: I liked the format (for probably narcissistic reasons). But (1) honestly, I probably don't have the time to commit to it. And (2), the academy hasn't reached a professional consensus on its appropriateness. I'd probably get myself in trouble by unthinkingly opening my mouth. For me, "sin is not ended by multiplying words" (Prov. 10:19).

But I do read and reflect on your blog more than the frequency of my commenting reflects.