How can we discover our own sins and failures and not be discouraged?
Especially when we realize that no matter how much we actually see, there’s far more than we’re aware of. John Newton has good advice for us:
“You have one hard lesson to learn, that is, the evil of your own heart: you know something of it, but it is needful that you should know more; for the more we know of ourselves, the more we shall prize and love Jesus and His salvation. I hope what you find in yourself by daily experience will humble you, but not discourage you…”
It is important that we know ourselves. By examining our hearts with the Holy Spirit’s help we can discover sinful cravings and expectations that trip us up and lead us into temptation and sin. But God doesn’t intend that our self-discoveries dishearten us. Instead, as John Newton says, they should lead us to “prize and love Jesus and His salvation.” The worse our sin appears, the greater our Savior is seen to be.
Newton says that we find the evil of our own hearts “by daily experience.” It is when God brings the “heat” of trials, small and large, that the grumbling, discontentment, lust, anger and other sins of our hearts rise to the surface. Newton says these daily discoveries of sin should make us humble. Humble to know what we’re capable of. Humble to realize how much we need God’s help. Humble to make us gentle and patient with others.
Why should we not be discouraged? Newton elaborates:
“But let not all you feel discourage you; for if our Physician is almighty, our disease cannot be desperate; and if He casts none out that come to Him, why should you fear? Our sins are many, but His mercies are more: our sins are great, but His righteousness is greater: we are weak, but He is power.”
Our sins are many, but they are finite. Jesus Christ is infinite. Infinitely merciful, infinitely powerful to change us. Completely faithful. His infinitely powerful blood paid for every last sin and purchased our entire sanctification. Yes, we are weak and feeble, but Jesus is supremely powerful. And he is able to finish what he began in us.
So, be humbled by your sins but not discouraged. And look to your infinitely powerful Savior to forgive you, cleanse you, and empower you to overcome.