Do we get it? (Ch 2, “Real Christianity”)

Christians don’t get it.

William Wilberforce in Real Christianity says we don’t understand how wretched humanity really is. We think we’re basically pure, and only occasionally, and perhaps involuntarily, overpowered by temptation.

We “either overlook or deny the corruption and weakness of human nature.”

Instead, we talk of “frailty and infirmity, of petty transgressions, of occasional failing, and of accidental incidents.” But where is talk of sin? Rarely is it so named.

Reality proves that we are fallen, disposed toward evil, and prone to vice. “Not slightly and superficially, but radically, and to the very core of his being.”

Mr. Wilberforce, you sound so harsh!

Okay, so perhaps our reason is often clouded, our affections perverted. Anger, envy, hatred, and revenge often spring up in our wretched bosoms. We can indeed be a slave to the meanest of our appetites. But to call us depraved?

Yes. He calls us depraved. Even amongst Christians who have higher morals, prosperity hardens our hearts; unlimited power is ever abused; habits of vice grow up by themselves.

Scripture also calls our bluff, if we think we’re anything other than fallen creatures. See Job 15:14; Psalm 51:5; Psalm 53:2-3; Proverbs 20:9; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 7:24; Ephesians 2:3.

To make matters even worse, not only do we have to contend “with our own natural depravity, but also with the power of darkness, the Evil Spirit.” Yet even in Wilberforce’s day (much less ours!) we “have universally abandoned the Devil as a reality....Like ghosts and witches and other phantoms that haunted the night of superstition, it cannot in these enlightened times stand the test of our more critical scrutiny.”

Wilberforce calls us, instead, to wake up to the realness of our enemy, not as a “metaphysical speculation, but a practical matter. For having no sense of the malignity of our disease and of its dreadful issue, we do not work earnestly to obtain the remedy.”

God stands ready with help, if we'll admit that we're sick and we desperately need his healing.
“What better can we do, than prostrate fall
Before Him reverence; and there confess
Humbly our faults, and pardon beg; with tears
Watering the ground, and with our sighs the air
Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign
Of sorrow unfeigned, and humiliation meek?”
~ Milton, Paradise Lost, Book X

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