How the Apostle Paul said it,
“The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness. (The Message, Php 3:7–9)
How John Newton reflected on it:
“Was it as easy to do as to say, I should be happy, for the Master has shown me how true peace is to be possessed, even by a simple reliance on his all-sufficiency and love, living upon his free grace, and sure mediation, and receiving strength continually from him suited to the occasions of every hour. O the happiness to eat his flesh, to drink his blood, to contemplate his glory, his faithfulness, his power, and the near relation he stands in to his poor children! Here is a fund of consolation suited to every case.
“The man who drinks deep at these streams will not thirst after other waters. When we behold Jesus and his love by the eye of faith, we may, with the Prophet of old, sit down by a barren fig tree and a failing crop, and still rejoice in the God of our salvation. I say, to talk of this is easy, but I find the experience of it not so easily maintained. With respect to this life of faith, I may say as Paul in another place, I delight in it after the inner man; but when I would enjoy this good, evil is often present with me — I have not yet attained; but blessed be God I am pressing after it, and I hope, through grace, he is, according to his promise, drawing me nearer to himself.
“I hope I do gain a more abiding sense of my own utter vileness, depravity, and helplessness; and that in consequence of this, the name of Jesus is sweeter to my soul, as I find I cannot without him take a single step, nor enjoy one glimpse of comfort. My heart’s desire is to love him more and more; to live still more entirely upon him, and to him, that he may be, as he well deserves, MY ALL IN ALL.”
(Newton on the Christian Life, Reinke, p. 260)
It is not often that I think that an increased sense of my “utter vileness, depravity, and helplessness” would be a good thing. But Newton prods my mind here. He shows me something, makes an important connection. Namely, it is as I see those truths about me in increasing measure the older I get, the hoped for consequence is that Jesus will be sweeter to my soul. Thus, fear not the increased knowledge of self’s darkness. For it causes you to love and long for the light more. And I do, O how I do! My heart aches to more sufficiently love my Savior, to be enraptured by my King. To see the unseeable, and grasp the inscrutable.
I don’t want religion, spirituality, or even goodness. O how I want Jesus, to “find him, and with him, everything else thrown in” (C.S. Lewis).