The cunning self will deceive us if it can

„We must be jealous for God against ourselves and look keenly to the cunning and deceitful self – ever cunning and deceitful until it is informed of God – until it is thouroughly and utterly denied. The self will attempt to have its way with us until God is to it also All-in-all – until we have left it quite empty of our will and our regard, and God has come into it, and made it – not a shrine, but a gateway for himself.“

That last part of the sentence just strikes me. Because the temple under the Old Covenant was not a shrine, but the means to fulfill God’s desire „to live among his people“. So we as Holy Spirit temples are not shrines, but gateways through which God can live and move among the people around us. But here comes the part that really reveals the depth of human depravity and selfishness. The roots go deep:

„Until then, the self’s very denials, its very turnings from things dear to it for the sake of Christ, will tend to foster self-regard, and generate in it a yet deeper self-worship. While self is not denied, only thwarted, we may, through satisfaction with conquered difficulty and supposed victory, minister yet more to its self-gratulation.

The self, when it finds it cannot have honor because of its gifts, because of the love lavished upon it, because of its conquests, and the „golden opinions bought from all sorts of people,“ will please itself with the thoughts of its abnegations, of its unselfishness, of its devotion to God, of its forsakings for his sake.

It may not call itself a saint, but it will soon feel itself one, a superior Christian, looking down upon the foolish world and its ways, walking on „high above“ the crowded byways of „average“ Christians – all the time dreaming of utter folly, worshiping itself with all the more concentration that it thinks it has yielded the praises of the world and dismissed the regard of others; even they are no longer necessary to its assurance of its own worth and merits!

In a thousand ways self will delude itself, in a thousand ways befool its own slavish being. Christ sought not his own, sought not anything but the will of his Father. We have to grow diamond-clear, true as the white light of the morning.

Hopeless task! – were it not that he offers to come himself and dwell in us.“ (George Macdonald)

When we see how deep into our souls, our hearts, our beings, this selfishness goes, we realize how desperate our lost and wicked condition is, and how we really need a savior, not just a teacher.

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