The Great Obstruction That Hinders Believers

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James Durham:

“The great obstruction that hinders believers in the following of Christ, … is (as we said) a man’s self, or selfishness. ….
And that you may stand in awe and be humbled when you think on this corruption, consider what things it has in it; as:

{1} An horrible guiltiness, which might fill us with fear and terror, and put us to tremble. There is no guilt like it in other corruptions; this is the very height of guiltiness, being idolatry, a man’s putting himself where God should be; and accordingly, all the heavy threatenings and plagues of God because of idolatries belong to it.

{2} That this is not a simple act of idolatry, as the making and the worshipping of the calf in the wilderness was, but it is an habitual continued tract of idolatries. It is our very nature to be idolatrous this way; and we are as much and as often idolatrous as we are only or mainly for ourselves, and swayed by self; yea, it goes along the whole course of our life, and if one idolatrous act should humble us, much more should a tract of idolatry and an idolatrous way humble us.

{3} That this is not only a sin and a great sin in itself, but {also} the seed and root of other sins; for in as far as our actions are sinful, they spring from the flesh, and particularly from this root of selfiness, as the apostle shows in 2 Timothy 3:2, when once men become lovers of themselves, they are ready to become covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemous, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of these that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. All the legions and armies of sins follow this sin.

{4} It is the sin that most of all blasts our duties and provokes God to wrath and jealousy. Whatever Ephraim did was blasted by it (Hos. 10:1). He was but an empty vine, bringing forth fruit to himself. And James says (James 4:3), Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, to consume it upon your lusts; you would have some parts or gifts, that you may be esteemed; or would be born through in such and such a trial, that you may not be ashamed before men; but such selfish ends blast all and keep us from receiving when we ask; and besides (I say) [t]his sin provokes God to wrath and jealousy above any sin, as that which eminently robs Him of His glory more than any other sin does. This provokes Him to blast, break in pieces and to pour out His fury like fire on people.”

~James Durham Sermon three, The Great Corruption of Subtle Self (1686; NP 2016?).

Source:, Comment #1

Image: Gürkan Sengün


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