Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin
by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. —I Timothy 6:12
We say that faith is never without fighting. And why so? For if a man dispose himself to do well, and to submit himself to God, the devil will cast many blocks in his way to turn him aside; the world is full of deceits, we are not able to set one foot forwards, but we shall meet with a shrew; we walk here among thorns, they that should help us forward draw us back; for the devil uses their malice that live with us, to fight against us.
And when any man does us harm, he gives us occasion to answer him in kind; or else we become disheartened, we are angry, we are so spoiled that the wool is eaten from our backs, when we walk simply and seek nothing but to do our duty.
And again, though a Christian do not go out of himself, he must fight to stand steadfast in the faith. That is so, there is nothing more contrary to our nature than to forego these earthly things and not to be given to them, and to seek that with all our heart and with all our soul which we do not see, and which is completely hidden from our eyes, and such as our senses can in no way attain unto.
A Christian and faithful man must look higher than himself, when there is any question of thinking upon the kingdom of God and everlasting life. And yet we know how our minds are bent to the things we have in our hands. How then is it possible for us to stand fast in the faith, unless we mightily resist and strive stoutly against all our nature?
And therefore, when we meet with these temptations and are stirred up to fight, let us make this doctrine of Saint Paul our buckler, namely that faith is never without struggle, that we can never serve God, but we must be soldiers. And why so? Because we have enemies before us, we are compassed about on every side. And therefore it is requisite for us to be used to fighting, or else we must be fain to yield.
Seeing it is so that no man can serve God, but he must exercise himself in patience, and that in the midst of afflictions wherewith the children of God are tormented, let us beware that we do not renounce our faith, but march on still. I would to God I could employ myself wholly to praise God joyfully, and to be at rest and contentment, that I were not troubled by men, but all my senses were given to do well; this were to be wished, but yet God will try me and my chiefest battle must be against my own affections; and then when the devil moves many combats against me, I must beware that I be not overcome, when temptations come on all sides; I must stand fast, I must be strong and constant. —Commentaries
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.