Blind to Our Blindness
by Paul Tripp
Do you really know yourself as well as you think you do? I ended my last article asking you to consider the critical, progressive warning of Hebrews 3:12-13, paraphrased as, “See to it that none of you has a evil—unbelieving—falling away—hardened heart.” It is a picture of what sin does if undetected, unexposed, and unforsaken. The process of heart hardening begins long before that hardness becomes obvious.
It all begins with giving way to sin. Because I am a believer, and the heart of stone has been taken out of me and replaced with a heart of flesh, my conscience bothers me when I sin. This is the beautiful, convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. When my conscience is activated and bothered, I must make one of two choices. The first and best choice is to admit that what I have done is wrong and place myself once again under the justifying mercies of Christ, receiving his forgiveness. Or I can erect some system of self-atonement that essentially argues for the rightness of what I’ve done. I am making myself feel good about what God says is not good. I am participating in my own spiritual blindness. Everyone still living with sin is a skilled self-swindler.
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So the pastor who has just gotten angry during an elder’s meeting will tell himself he was just speaking like one of God’s prophets, “Thus says the Lord!” The husband and wife gossiping about someone in their small group tell themselves it was just a detailed prayer request. The tight-fisted businessman who struggles with giving will tell himself that he is just being a good steward of the resources God has entrusted to him. We all have perverse ability to make ourselves feel good about what is no good.
Next Steps of Hardening
This is exactly what the next step in the hardening process is about. Unbelieving captures what we do to cover our sin and defend our righteousness. Rather than simple faith and rest in the Word of God and the sufficient grace of Christ, we tell ourselves that we are not really in this particular instance sinners in need of forgiving mercy. Our self-atoning arguments are acts of pride, rebellion, and unbelief…
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