The following is an excerpt of a short conversation that ensued as a result of this Lloyd-Jones quote:
Visitor: Actually Man was made in the image of God and God said that His creation was very good!! I do not see myself as a wretch but as a child of God, who God thought was worth the blood of Jesus. He must have seen incredible worth in us to send His Son to die for us!! I have become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. By His sacrifice we can once again be conformed into His image and bring glory to His name. I wouldn't call my God given image a 'vile wretch'. I think that is just false humility born out of religion and spoken by someone who does not understand their true identity in Christ!
Response: Actually it not false humility. It's simply an acknowledgement of the truth. Apart from Christ we all justly deserve the wrath of God. If there is anything good in us, good inclinations, works pleasing to God etc, it is from Christ. The rest is our fault. If we don't understand that then we do not even understand the most basic reason for the gospel. Jesus came to rescue us, to free the captives from their bondage to sin. He did not come to give us advice about how to save ourselves.
We all agree we were created in the image of God. Praise the Lord. But we have made a shipwreck of God's gifts and have distorted that image with our sin. But in Christ as we behold the glory of God he transforms us into his likeness, but now all of us are woefully far from loving God with all our hearts and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
So this truth has profoundly practical value. It enables us to approach our neighbor and remember that we are no better. That God did not save us because we were better, but because of his love for us, and saved us by his sheer mercy. If he can save someone as wretched as me then he can save anyone. Only understanding ourselves as sinners, gives us the humility to see another person who has sinned against us and remember how much God has done for us.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20!!
Response: yes in Christ you are holy before God. Your righteousness is found in Him, not yourself. He saved you by his mercy and he keeps you by his mercy. That remains the truth both at the time of salvation and through your whole life in him. That brings glory to God because in it we remember that what we have is all of grace.
"Who makes you to differ? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?" (1 Cor 4:7)
Visitor: Everything I have is from Christ - I am not righteous by myself - I totally agree with that. I have no righteousness of my own - but NOW I identify with who I am in Christ, not who I was before I was saved! I have been crucified with Christ and who I used to be doesn't exist any more- I walk bt faith in who Jesus says I am - not by sight (or who I am in the flesh)!! I never said that any of this right standing was from myself! Its all by grace through Christ!!
Response: Thank the Lord. It's good you identify yourself with who you are in Christ. But it is only a partial truth which does not take in the entirety of what the bible says about us. Remember the parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35) The forgiven servant had his debts cancelled but then went out and strangled his fellow servant because he had forgotten who he was... to apply this to the Christian life, his new identity should inform him that he not just a saint but a forgiven sinner. So, so important. Otherwise humans has the natural tendency to become pharisaical ... and it's why Paul warned against boasting.
"Because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor 1:30-31
A Christian is one who is saved and rescued but one who reminds himself daily of who he is apart from Christ, since what he has he has by grace.
Why did God repeat three times to the Israelites that he did not save them because they were more righteous than the people he would destroy, the canaanites. But they they were stubborn and he saved them ONLY because of the promise he gave to Abraham, whom he preached the gospel to beforehand.
I would encourage you to read Deut 9:4-6:
Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you. 5 Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.6 “Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people.
Christians are children of God in Christ. That is our primary identity but we ought not to forget what that entails because as redeemed sinners, it reminds us to be reliant on the gospel every day.
To quote J. C. Ryle:
Would we know the root and spring of humility? One word describes it. The root of humility is right knowledge. The man who really knows . . .
himself—and his own heart;
God—and His infinite majesty and holiness;
Christ—and the price at which he was redeemed;
that man will never be a proud man!
He will count himself, like Jacob, "unworthy of the least of all God's mercies!"
He will say of himself, like Job, "I am vile!"
He will cry, like Paul, "I am chief of sinners!"
Ignorance! nothing but sheer ignorance! ignorance . . .
is the real secret of pride! From that miserable self-ignorance may we daily pray to be delivered!
He is the wise man who knows himself! And he who knows himself, will find nothing within to make him proud.