I was struck recently by this line from the Puritan Simon Ford in Joel Beeke’s excellent little book Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption, Reformation Heritage Books, 2008 (available here from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.)
Ford identified several hindrances that keep us from relishing our Father’s adopting grace. Among them is this: “A kind of delight in complaining against thy self, and taking Satan’s part many time in bearing false witness against thy own soul.” (cited on page 99) It was the phrase “taking Satan’s part” that got me thinking.
It is common to find people who often bemoan their sin or feel unworthy as Christians. ‘I’m not as good a Christian as the rest of you,’ they say.
It is, of course, right that we confess our sin and grieve over it. But such confession and grief are always to be set in the context of grace so that they amplify our delight in grace. If they ever diminish our delight in grace then something has gone wrong.
So how about this as a pastoral response to such people – including of course, ourselves when we think this way.
The answers may require some prompting. (As Apple say in their adverts for the iPhone and iPad, “Some sequences have been shortened”!)
Question: “What does Satan think his job is?”
Answer: “He is the accuser. His ‘job’ is to accuse God’s people and take away their joy.”
Question: “What are you doing when you complain that you’re not a good Christian?”
Answer: “I’m doing Satan’s job for him. Or with him.”
Question: “What should your job be in these situations?”
Answer: “To highlight the merits of Christ that are mine through faith and delight in God’s gracious love to me.”
Question: “Shall we do that together now?”