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Sin, Neglected, Kills Assurance

In the previous post, Richard Sibbes listed seeking too much comfort from our sanctification as a cause of spiritual unease. Next, he presents a neglect of growth in holiness. While apparent spiritual fruit is no ground of assurance, a lack thereof is surely a warning sign. Where there is no fruit, the life must be doubted.


We must remember, though the main pillar of our comfort be in the free forgiveness of our sins, yet if there be a neglect in growing in holiness, the soul will never be soundly quiet, because it will be prone to question the truth of justification, and it is as proper for sin to raise doubts and fears in the conscience, as for rotten flesh and wood to breed worms.

And therefore we may well join this as a cause of disquietness, the neglect of keeping a clear conscience. Sin, like Achan, or Jonah in the ship, is that which causeth storms within and without. Where there is not a pure conscience, there is not a pacified conscience; and therefore though some, thinking to save themselves whole in justification, neglect the cleansing of their natures and ordering of their lives, yet in time of temptation they will find it more troublesome than they think. For a conscience guilty of many neglects, of allowing itself in any sin, to lay claim to God’s mercy . . . God will let us see what it is to make wounds to try the preciousness of his balm; such may go mourning to their graves. And though, perhaps, with much wrestling with God they may get assurance of the pardon of their sins, yet their conscience will be still trembling, like-as David’s, though Nathan had pronounced unto him the forgiveness of his sin, Ps. li., till God at length speaks further peace, even as the water of the sea after a storm is not presently still, but moves and trembles a good while after the storm is over. A Christian is a new creature and walketh by rule, and so far as he walketh according to his rule, peace is upon him, Gal. vi. 16. Loose walkers that regard not their way, must think to meet with sorrows instead of peace. Watchfulness is the preserver of peace.

—Richard Sibbes, The Soul’s Conflict with Itself, Works (Banner of Truth, 2001), 1:139

Posted 2017·07·27 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Assurance · Richard Sibbes · Saving Faith · Works of Richard Sibbes

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