The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification – Direction 7: Just As I Am

[This is the 7th of a 14 part highlight of Walter Marshall’s book, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification.]

“Direction 7: We are not to imagine that our hearts and lives must be changed from sin to holiness in any measure, before we may safely venture to trust on Christ for the sure enjoyment of himself, and his salvation.”

Direction 7 brings to mind the words Charlotte Elliott penned for a well-known hymn:

“Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that Thou bidd’st me come to thee O Lamb of God I come, I come.”

This is exactly how everyone must come to Christ for salvation: warts and all. But due to a fervent love for self-righteousness, fallen man prefers to make himself presentable first, which is impossible since nothing clean can come from that this is unclean. What’s more, as Marshall noted:

“Christ would have the vilest sinners come to him for salvation immediately, without delaying the time to prepare themselves for him. When the wicked jailer enquired, ‘What he must do to be saved?’ Paul directed him forthwith to believe on Christ, with a promise, that in so doing he should be saved; and straightway, he and all his were baptized (Acts 16:30, 33).”

Marshall listed several things some expect to find within themselves before coming to faith in Christ (putting the cart before the horse):

  1. “They think it necessary to repent before they believe on Christ for their salvation, because repentance is absolutely necessary to salvation.”
  2. “Regeneration also is necessary to salvation (John 3:3); and therefore, many would find it wrought in themselves, before they trust on Christ for salvation.”
  3. “They account it necessary to receive Christ as their Lord and Lawgiver, by a sincere resignation of themselves to his government and a resolution to obey his law, before they receive him as their Saviour.”
  4. “It seems to them evident, that some good works are necessary, before we can trust on Christ safely for the forgiveness of sins.”

Ironically, all such attempts at self-improvement before coming to Christ are an affront to Him, whereas coming as we are is not so, because it involves a correct assessment of our helpless condition:

 “He loved us in our most loathsome sinful pollution, so as to die for us; and much more will he love us in it, so as to receive us when we come to him for the purchased salvation. He hath given full satisfaction to the justice of God for sinners, that they might have all righteousness and holiness, and all salvation only by fellowship with him through faith. Therefore, it is no affront to Christ, or slighting and condemning the justice and holiness of God, to come to Christ, while we are polluted sinners; but rather it is an affronting and contemning the saving-grace, merit, and fullness of Christ, if we endeavor to make ourselves righteous and holy before we receive Christ himself, and all righteousness and holiness in him by faith.”

Believers do well to remember the need to come to Christ perpetually “just as we are” as well, for we will always need forgiveness of sins as long as we are in these unglorified bodies. The Lord’s Supper serves as a vivid reminder from our Lord about our ongoing need of an alien righteousness, that is, a righteousness outside of ourselves.  To Him be the glory!




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