One day Prudence was discussing spiritual matters with her dear friend Christian. She asked him whether he had fully gotten rid of those carnal inward affections that were characteristic of him when he lived at his old house. He replied that he would, but they remain still. He does what he hates and refuses what he loves. Prudence then asked him if he ever vanquished those things that are a spot on his soul. He replied:
Chr. Yes, but that is but seldom; but they are to me Golden Hours, in which such things happen to me.
Prud. Can you remember by what Means you find your annoyances at times, as if they were vanquished?
Chr. Yes, when I think what I saw at the Cross, that will do it; and when I look upon my ‘broidered Coat, that will do it; also when I look into the Roll that I carry in my bosom, that will do it; and when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it.
These four things Christian found to be encouraging and helpful in his battle toward sanctification.
The life and atoning death of Christ. To think about what a great sacrifice He made to cure my disease of sin is helpful in at least two ways. One, it shows his great love to me, which causes me to love Him more. And two, it shows me how bad sin is and the destruction it causes, making my heart hate it all the more.
My ‘broidered Coat
Represents the righteousness that has been given to me through Christ. This mainly refers to the positional righteousness I have, but I think it may partially refer to the work of the Spirit in sanctification as well. This sight helps me to vanquish sin because I see Christ’s holiness that has been freely given to me, and I want to emulate that holiness in my life. Also, I see the work of the Holy Spirit in my life and I fear quenching His work, so I strive to be holier still.
The roll represents the assurance of salvation that Christian received when his burden fell at the cross. He lost this assurance when he slept at the arbour and had to retrace his path in sorrow because his assurance was gone, and without that assurance he had no hope in him for heaven. When a Christian has full assurance that He who began a good work in him will complete it, he is less likely to become discouraged and is pushed to run hard after the One who has sealed him so. When the unregenerate believes he has an assurance of salvation, it often paralyzes his good works and causes him to stagnate. In a true believer, however, the Holy Spirit causes this blessed assurance to vivify the affections. The Christian’s assurance motivates him, it never cripples him.
Whither I am Going
It would do well for Christians to think about their final state. Whatever trials I am going through on earth cannot compare to the eternal weight of glory to be revealed at the end. Much less can the fleeting pleasures of sin hope to compete with the soul-ravishing joy of knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. These lovely thoughts cause the Christian to desire a taste of heaven on earth, and sin is a bitter obstacle to the sweet taste of God. The Christian who has his eyes set on his prize will avoid this harsh food at all costs. So much should the Christian desire the taste of God that Jesus says he should be willing to part with his right eye or left hand for it.