MUST READING. Truly.
The thing we need to remember as we try to get at this problem of sin is that it is very hard to get at it at all. There is so much that protects it from our inner eyes. The axiom of the Reformers is apropos here: “What the heart desires, the will chooses, and the mind justifies.” When we try to get at the motives of the heart, the mind and will are forever getting in the way justifying ourselves. These are like layers of garments swirling around the heart of our sin. But in Christ we can pray that through the work of the Holy Spirit, who convicts our hearts of sin; the liturgy’s use of Psalm 51 and the Litany of Penitence’s brutal naming of sins; and with the Scripture’s constant entreating us to turn to God’s mercy and forgiveness; these will rend or tear through the layers and layers of these garments eventually leaving the sinful heart revealed that we might by grace turn and look to Jesus Christ—to his cross and death.
[…] Begin with the Lenten disciplines and we will go awry every time […] Begin and remain in a grace-filled repentance that yields a torn and contrite heart and God’s grace shall abound. Then we may seek God’s guidance about self-denials and devotionals and whatever else we find to mark our mortal nature in grace. Yet we dare not side step the word of apostolic proclamation—“We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)