Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Is This For My Good?

How may a Christian discern when a providence is sanctified and comes fromt he love of God to him?

How do we know whether our situation is from the hand of God and meant for our sanctification or if something is from the hand of Satan and is meant for our destruction? That is the essential question that Flavel is addressing. To our spoiled American minds we probably think that if it benefits us then it must be from God. How could a new house NOT be from God? Of course its a blessing. Of course my refund check is a blessing. Of course my new increase in salary is a blessing. Are you sure? That is what Flavel is asking. How do we know if difficult things are means for our good or if they are meant to harm us? How do we know if good circumstances are blessings or curses?

Flavel begins by marking a difference between the believer and the unbeliever. The unbeliever even though he may enjoy things it really does him no good. "So the best things wicked men enjoy do them no good". Yet for the believer all things work together for their good. Our author humbly admits that from the nature of things we cannot discern whether it is good or bad. But we can discern if something is good or bad for us based upon its fruits. And it is these that we consider.

The difficulty is probably being used for our sanctification (good) if:
  • It comes in a proper season
  • It is used to purge sin
  • It turns our hearts against sin, and not against God
  • It causes us to draw near to God
  • Rather than alienating our heart from God it inflames our love to Him
  • When it is accompanied by divine teachings

The comfort is probably NOT being used for our sanctification (good) if:

  • It does not lead us to prayer and thanksgiving
  • We acquired the comfort by sinful means
  • It makes us forget God and cast off our care of duty
  • It is used to serve our fleshly lusts
  • It swells the heart with pride and self-conceitedness
  • It takes us off our duty and makes us negligent
  • It distracts us and makes us focus on enjoyments and unaware of sins

The comfort is probably being used for our sanctification (good) if:

  • It humbles our souls kindly before God
  • We become cautious of sin
  • It engages our heart in love to God
  • It is not seen as our portion, but God alone is still our portion
  • Our souls are more ready and enlarged for duty to God
  • It causes us to break forth in prayer and thanksgiving to God

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