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Look to Christ!

December 16, 2009

Here then is the hallmark of personal appropriation in the Reformed sense. We are personally involved! But the direction or focus is always on Christ, and not ourselves. To be sure, as Calvin says, to know God we must turn into ourselves.[3] But one can never turn into oneself without first looking at the cross. On the cross redemption is accomplished for us. From the cross we turn to ourselves. Then we are accused of sin! But in the act of the appropriation of Christ’s righteousness we are also acquitted of guilt!
If in the consideration of the personal aspect we begin to focus on ourselves we will end up in dangerous waters. In the history of Reformed Protestantism one meets with the danger of perfectionism on the one hand and defeatism on the other.[4] Perfectionism sets in when we focus inordinately on ourselves and tend to be positive with what we see. Perfectionism does not build on the promises of God or the merits of Christ, but builds on certain experiences through which we have gone, whether it be a second blessing, a special experience of God’s presence, the sense of new life, and so on. The danger here is that we believe we can come to some form of freedom from sin above and beyond what God has promised, and over and beyond what He gives in Jesus Christ. [5]
The other danger is defeatism. We look to ourselves and see how weak we are, and how small our faith is, and end up disqualifying ourselves, becoming totally discouraged, and laying down our armour. Carelessness with the things of God and an easy attitude are also the hallmarks of defeatism. For people who say to themselves “what is the sense of trying?” end up showing that they are giving up the struggle. The elements of precision and urgency are cast aside and we take the real situation for granted. We all too easily feel that we are not good enough, we stand under the judgment of God, and we are in danger of eternal condemnation. We are then looking to ourselves, not to the cross!

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