Before I begin my comments on Piper’s blog, I begin with an excerpt from the OTC website:
== Hebrews 10: (19) Therefore, brothers, having confidence for the entering of the [Holy of] Holies by the blood of Jesus, (20) which He consecrated for us, a new and living way through the veil; that is, His flesh; (21) and [having] a Great Priest over the house of God, (22) let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts having been sprinkled from an evil conscience, and [our] body having been washed in pure water; (23) let us hold fast the confession of the hope unyielding, for He who has promised is faithful.
Upon what basis do we have confidence for entering the Holy of Holies? Through our own works and cleanness? No – it is through the blood of Jesus. Notice in verse 22 that we have full assurance of faith. Upon what basis do we have this? Through our own works and cleanness? No – it is because we have been sanctified by the blood of Christ. The false religionist sees a person who doubts his salvation and says, “humble.” God says, “proud.” The false religionist sees a person who is fully assured of his salvation and says, “proud.” God says, “humble.” A truly humble person acknowledges and repents of his sin, and says that he is not sufficient in and of himself to be accepted before God, and, at the same time, he is fully confident that he is accepted before God because of the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone. To close, let’s turn to a passage of Scripture that clearly shows the humility and confidence of believers: 2 Corinthians 3:4-5.
2 Corinthians 3: (4) And we have such confidence through Christ toward God; (5) not that we are sufficient of ourselves to reason out anything as [being] out of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.
Amen. http://www.outsidethecamp.org/truefalse10.htm ==
Chris: The above really hones in on the very essence of true humility. It focuses in with precision on how true humility relates to the work of Jesus Christ. Unlike the above paragraph, John Piper in his blog post (below) comments on the comments of Lewis and Edwards regarding humility.
[Piper] == Lewis and Edwards on the Layers of Self-Admiration
Posted: 18 Aug 2009 05:50 AM PDT
(Author: John Piper)
As a new Christian in 1930, C. S. Lewis was learning terrible things about his heart—the unfathomable layers of pride. It is astonishing how similar his description of his own heart was to the description Jonathan Edwards gave of our inscrutable strata of self-admiration. ==
Chris: Romans 2:15 speaks to the experience of Lewis’ thoughts accusing/excusing, etc. The two phrases, “unfathomable layers of pride” and “inscrutable strata of self-admiration” come from Jeremiah 17:9 I take it. Like many others have done, so do Piper, Edwards, and Lewis misapply this verse to a true Christian’s heart.
[Piper]==Here is Lewis writing to his friend Arthur, amazingly within a year after his conversion:
During my afternoon “meditations,”—which I at least attempt quite regularly now—I have found out ludicrous and terrible things about my own character. Sitting by, watching the rising thoughts to break their necks as they pop up, one learns to know the sort of thoughts that do come.
And, will you believe it, one out of every three is the thought of self-admiration: when everything else fails, having had its neck broken, up comes the thought “what an admirable fellow I am to have broken their necks!” I catch myself posturing before the mirror, so to speak, all day long. I pretend I am carefully thinking out what to say to the next pupil (for his good, of course) and then suddenly realize I am really thinking how frightfully clever I’m going to be and how he will admire me…
And then when you force yourself to stop it, you admire yourself for doing that. It is like fighting the hydra… There seems to be no end to it. Depth under depths of self-love and self-admiration. (quoted in The Narnian by Alan Jacobs, 133) ==
Chris: Well, obviously, one should not waste time with such a one as C.S. Lewis by simply trying to correct Lewis’ prideful “posturing before the mirror.” Someone like Lewis–who believed in salvation conditioned on the sinner–needs first to DESPAIR of his own self-righteous efforts as being the ultimate basis upon which he enters the Holy of Holies and to HOPE in the atoning blood-shedding and everlasting righteousness-establishing efforts of Jesus Christ. A contrast of true and false humility is most clearly and importantly seen in a balance between hope and despair. The following is a repetition of what I quoted, but it puts this aforementioned balance, quite succinctly:
== A truly humble person acknowledges and repents of his sin, and says that he is not sufficient in and of himself to be accepted before God, and, at the same time, he is fully confident that he is accepted before God because of the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone. To close, let’s turn to a passage of Scripture that clearly shows the humility and confidence of believers: 2 Corinthians 3:4-5.
2 Corinthians 3: (4) And we have such confidence through Christ toward God; (5) not that we are sufficient of ourselves to reason out anything as [being] out of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God. http://www.outsidethecamp.org/truefalse10.htm ==
Chris: Continuing with Piper’s comments:
[Piper]== Then we go back 200 years to the1740s when Jonathan Edwards was struggling to sort out what was wheat and what was chaff in the emotions of the Great Awakening in New England. In one of his greatest books, Religious Affections, he gives the most penetrating descriptions of Christian humility I have ever seen.==
Chris: I wonder though, how “penetrating” could Edwards be really, when he believed that the heart of true Christians had unfathomable layers of pride. Edwards accurately applied Jeremiah 17:9 to his own heart, which is quite ironic, since it was his own deceitful and desperately wicked heart that led him to misapply that verse to the heart of true Christians. And since he believed that his own heart was deceitful he could not know that he was not deceived by his own heart in his “penetrating” assessment of Christian humility. With a deceitful and desperately wicked heart, John Piper and Jonathan Edwards cannot know that they are not deceived about what true humility is.
[Piper] == The part that foreshadows Lewis goes like this:
If on the proposal of the question [Are you humble?], you answer, “No, it seems to me, none are so bad as I.” Don’t let the matter pass off so; but examine again, whether or no you don’t think yourself better than others on this very account, because you imagine you think so meanly of yourself. Haven’t you a high opinion of this humility? And if you answer again, “No; I have not a high opinion of my humility; it seems to me I am as proud as the devil”; yet examine again, whether self-conceit don’t rise up under this cover; whether on this very account, that you think yourself as proud as the devil, you don’t think yourself to be very humble. (quoted from the online works of Jonathan Edwards) ==
Chris: In Romans 3:9 Paul gave an unequivocal “no” to the proposed question: “Are we better than they?” Now despite what many supposed conditions for salvation that false Christians say they are enabled to meet by “the grace of God alone,” they, at the end of the day have a boast that they ARE BETTER than the presently unsaved. If Christ is not the sole condition meeter, then everywhere and always that person while refusing to admit it, believes he is better than others. If he believes that Christ met all the “meritorious conditions” for the elect only but also believes that he must meet additional “non-meritorious” conditions, THEN he is vainly and proudly attempting to “share the glory” with Christ by robbing Christ. God says that He will not give His glory to another. All the glory in salvation belongs to Christ alone. Now the glory which Christ obtained is FREELY BESTOWED upon all whom He represented at the cross. BUT to assert conditions for salvation that are “graciously met” not only contradicts Romans 11:6, it attempts to usurp Christ and rob the cross-work of its redemptive glory.
[Piper]== One of the reasons these two are such giants of influence is the depths of their own biblically informed self-knowledge. Layer after layer until they despaired of knowing themselves humble. Humility, it turns out isn’t the kind of thing that can be spotted in oneself and prized.
Humility senses that humility is a gift beyond our reach. If humility is the product of reaching, then we will instinctively feel proud about our successful reach. Humility is the gift that receives all things as gift. It is the fruit not of our achievement but of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). It is the fruit of the gospel—knowing and feeling that we are desperate sinners and that Christ is a great and undeserved Savior.
Humility is the one grace in all our graces that, if we gaze on it, becomes something else. It flourishes when the gaze is elsewhere—on the greatness of the grace of God in Christ.==
Chris: Well, if one desires to see a nauseating picture of false humility that oozes from every pore, they need go no further than John Piper and Jonathan Edwards. Behold the travesty:
“Many people have been saved without hearing the language of justification. The same is true with regard to the words and realities of “regeneration” and “propitiation” and “redemption” and “reconciliation” and “forgiveness.” A baby believer does not have to understand all of the glorious things that have happened to him in order to be saved. But these things do all have to happen to him. And if he comes to the settled conviction, when he hears about them, that he will not trust Christ for any one of them, there is a serious question mark over his salvation” (John Piper, The Future of Justification).
“How far a wonderful and mysterious agency of God’s Spirit may so influence some men’s hearts, that their practice in this regard may be contrary to their own principles, so that they shall not trust in their own righteousness, though they profess that men are justified by their own righteousness—or how far they may believe the doctrine of justification by men’s own righteousness in general, and yet not believe it in a particular application of it to themselves” (Jonathan Edwards, Justification by Faith Alone).
Chris: And all true believers will say: “Get that self-righteously grotesque monster out of here!” We can also think of the passage in John where Christ said that the Holy Spirit’s work in the heart of believers is to glorify Him:
“But when that One comes, the Spirit of Truth, He will guide you into all Truth, for He will not speak from Himself, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will announce the coming things to you. That One will glorify Me, for He will receive from Mine and will announce to you” (John 16:13-14).
Chris: That precious declaration that is announced and revealed to us by the Holy Spirit is that the work of Jesus Christ is the sole ground of our assurance of justification before God. Piper spoke of baby Christians as being ignorant of “the language of justification.” But passages such as Romans 10:1-4 and John 16:14 show that all Christians will know whose work makes the difference between justification and condemnation. Grievous wolves like Piper and Edwards try to separate the truth of justification before the holy eyes of God’s law and justice from justification before God in the believer’s conscience. Passages such as John 16:14 refute the monstrous lie that a Christian can be objectively justified by the righteousness of Christ and yet be unaware of it — or even deny it — for a time (contra Piper and Edwards).