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Plead Christ, not your own merits

Let us remember this [the righteousness apart from works] well in our personal trials, when the devil accuses and terrifies our conscience to bring it to the point of despair. He is the father of lies (Jn 8:44) and the enemy of Christian freedom. At every single moment, therefore, he torments us with false terrors, so that when this freedom has been lost, the conscience is in continual fear and feels guilt and terrors.

I say, when that great dragon, the ancient serpent, the devil, the deceiver of the whole world, who accuses our brethren day and night before God (Rev 12:9-10) comes to you and accuses you not only of failing to do anything good but of transgressing against the law of God, say: 'You are troubling me with the memory of past sins; in addition, you are telling me that I have not done anything good. This means nothing to me. For if I either trusted in my performance of good works or despaired because I failed to perform them, in either case Christ would be of no avail to…

Freedom in Christ

Reason does not see how great a matter this [Christian freedom] is (Gal 5:1); but when it is spiritually considered, it is enormous and infinite. No one can grasp with any thought what a great gift it is to have, in place of the Law, sin, death, and a wrathful God, the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, eternal life, and a God who is perpetually propitious and full of favor toward us. The papists and all hypocrites boast that they also have the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, a propitious God, etc.; and they also lay claim to freedom. They also promise this to others, but all these things are empty and uncertain. Truly these things are a service of corruption. In temptation they vanish in a moment, because they depend on human works and satisfactions, not on the Word of God, nor on Christ. Therefore it is impossible for them to know what freedom from sin, etc., really is.

By contrast, our freedom has Christ as its foundation, who is the eternal High Priest, who is at the right ha…

Thoughts on the Unpardonable Sin

Since people in the Group found this helpful in dealing with the Unforgivable Sin, I thought I'd post it here.

1. Blasphemy, by its very definition, must be spoken out
loud. "Blasphemous thoughts" are thoughts that would be blasphemy if uttered. No matter how nasty a thought may be, thoughts cannot be blasphemy unless they are uttered. Even if the thoughts somehow could be blasphemy,...

2..... Jesus says in the very statement in which He speaks of the Unpardonable Sin that ALL blasphemies will be forgiven, whatever their content- but that THE blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be. It is obvious from this that since THE blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not included in "ALL blasphemies," it must be something very different from merely saying something nasty about God (again, thinking something nasty about God, if it is not uttered out loud, cannot be blasphemy in the first place). It is unique.

3. Since Jesus says categorically that He will never, under a…

The Christian and the Law

Just as the wrath of God cannot terrify us since Christ has set us free from it (Gal 5:1), so the law, sin, etc., cannot accuse and condemn us. Even though the law accuses us and sin terrifies us, they still cannot plunge us into despair, because faith, the victor over the world (1Jn 5:4), quickly declares: 'Those things have nothing to do with me, for Christ has set me free from them.' So also death, which is the most powerful and horrible thing in the world, lies conquered in our conscience through this freedom of the Spirit. Therefore the greatness of Christian freedom should be carefully measured and pondered. These words 'freedom from the wrath of God, from the law, sin, death, etc.,' are easy to say. But to feel the greatness of this freedom and to apply its results to oneself in a struggle, in the agony of conscience, and in practice, is more difficult than anyone can say. "Therefore one's spirit must be trained as a remedy against spiritual depression,…

St. John Climacus on scrupulosity

Concerning unspeakably blasphemous thoughts...

... This atrocious foe has the habit of appearing during the holy services and even at the awesome hour of the Mysteries, and blaspheming the Lord and the consecrated elements, thereby showing that these unspeakable, unacceptable, and unthinkable words are not ours but rather those of the God-hating demon who fled from heaven because, it seems, of the blasphemies he uttered there too against the Lord. It must be so, for if these dreadful and unholy words are my own, how could I offer humble worship after having partaken of the sacred gift? How could I revile and praise at the same time?

This deceiver, this destroyer of souls, has often caused men to go mad. And no other thought is as difficult to admit in confession.... In fact nothing gives demons and evil thoughts such power over us as to nourish them and hide them in our hearts unconfessed....

If you have blasphemous thoughts, do not think that you are to blame. God knows what is in our h…

St. Ignatiius Loyola on his compulsive confessing

[Ignatius] began to have much trouble from scruples, for even though the general confessions he had made at Montserrat had been quite carefully done and all in writing, as has been said, still at times it seemed to him that he had not confessed certain things. This caused him much distress, because although he had confessed them all, he was not satisfied. Thus he began to look for some spiritual men who could cure him of these scruples, but nothing helped him....

Although he was practically convinced that those scruples did him much harm and that it would be good to be rid of them, he could not break himself off. Sometimes he thought it would cure him if his confessor ordered him in the name of Jesus Christ not to confess anything of the past; he wanted his confessor to order him thus, but he did not dare say this to his confessor.

But without his saying so his confessor ordered him not to confess anything of the past, unless it was something quite clear. But since he found all those th…

John Newton on obsessive thoughts

'.... I greatly rejoice in the Lord's goodness to your dying parent. How wisely timed, and how exactly suited, was that affecting dispensation to break the force of those suggestions with which the enemy was aiming to overwhelm your spirit! He could not stand against such an illustrious demonstrative attestation that the doctrines you had embraced were not cunningly devised fables. He could process no further in that way; but he is fruitful in resources. ***His next attempt, of course, was to fix guilt upon your conscience, as if you yourself had formed, and willingly entertained, those thoughts which indeed you suffered with extreme reluctance and pain.*** Here, likewise, I find he succeeded for a time; but He Who broke the former snare will deliver you from this likewise.

The dark and dishonourable thoughts of God, which I hinted at as belonging to a natural state, are very different from the thoughts of your heart concerning Him. You do not conceive of Him as a hard Master, …

Spurgeon on his own blasphemous thoughts

I have heard someone say, “I am tormented with horrible thoughts. Wherever I go, blasphemies steal in upon me. Frequently at my work a dreadful suggestion forces itself upon me, and even on my bed I am startled from my sleep by whispers of the evil one. I cannot get away from this horrible temptation.”

Friend, I know what you mean, for I have myself been hunted by this wolf. A man might as well hope to fight a swarm of flies with a sword as to master his own thoughts when they are set on by the devil.

I do not wonder you feel that you are without strength to stop these hideous and abominable thoughts which Satan pours into your soul; but yet I would remind you of the Scripture, “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” [Romans 5:6]

Jesus saw that we could not overcome the prince of the power of the air; He knew that we should be greatly worried by him; but even then, when He saw us in that condition, Christ died for the ungodly. Cast the anchor of your…

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan

GRACE ABOUNDING TO THE CHIEF OF SINNERS
In a faithful account of the life and death of John Bunyan
Or
A brief relation of the exceeding mercy of God in Christ to him
Namely
In His taking him out of the dunghill, and converting him to the faith of His blessed son Jesus Christ. Here is also particularly shewed, what sight of, and what troubles he had for sin; and also, what various temptations he hath met with, and how God hath carried him through them.
A PREFACE

OR, BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE PUBLISHING THIS WORK. WRITTEN BY THE AUTHOR THEREOF, AND DEDICATED TO THOSE WHOM GOD HATH COUNTED HIM WORTHY TO BEGET TO FAITH, BY HIS MINISTRY IN THE WORD

Children, Grace be with you. Amen. I being taken from you in presence, and so tied up that I cannot perform that duty, that from God doth lie upon me to you-ward, for your farther edifying and building up in faith and holiness, etc., yet that you may see my soul hath fatherly care and desire after your spiritual and everlasting welfare, I now once again,…