by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? —Job 31:1
When Saint James speaks of sin, he uses the figure of childbearing. For he says that lust conceives and afterward brings forth sin, and that sin is accomplished when it comes to the actual execution of a deed. But I say there are three degrees of fault in a sin although it does not come to an outward deed.
The first is a fleeting imagination or thought which a man conceives by beholding anything; it will come to him in a fantasy here or there; or else, though he sees nothing, his mind is so inclined to evil that it runs here and there and causes many fantasies to come into his head. And without doubt, this is a fault, and yet it is not imputed to us as sin.
The second degree is, that upon conceiving such a fantasy, we be somewhat interested, and feel that our will bends in that direction; and though there may be no consent or agreement to it, yet there is some inward pricking to provoke us unto it. Now that is a serious sin, and as it were, already conceived.
Afterward follows consent, when we settle our wills upon it, so that there is no hindrance in us for the performance of evil but the lack of occasion and opportunity. There you see the third degree, and then the sin is finally formed in us, although there be no outward deed at all.
And this is well worthy to be noted; for although it may seem a hard matter, yet notwithstanding there is no man or woman who does not have some experience from day to day with that of which I speak. —Sermons
John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.
Dr. Joel Beeke, who is editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, has this to say:
"Calvin shows us the piety of a Reformed theologian who speaks from the heart. Having tasted the goodness and grace of God in Jesus Christ, he pursued piety by seeking to know and do God’s will every day. He communed with Christ, practicing repentance, self-denial, and cross-bearing. Moreover, his theology worked itself out in heart-felt, Christ-honoring piety. The selections of this devotional bear this out, and hopefully will be used by God to direct pious hearts in our own day."
These devotional readings from John Calvin were compiled by John H. Kromminga. Be sure to read his "Introduction" to John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart.