by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. —Psalm 143:2
To this point our eyes ought to have been raised, that we might learn rather to tremble through fear than to indulge in vain exultation. It is easy indeed, while the comparison is made only between men, for every man to imagine himself to be possessed of something which others ought not to despise; but when we ascend to the contemplation of God, that confidence is immediately lost.
And the case of our soul with respect to God is similar to that of our body with respect to the visible heavens; for the eye, as long as it is employed in beholding adjacent objects, receives proofs of its own perspicacity; but if it be directed towards the sun, dazzled and confounded with his overpowering brightness, it feels no less debility in beholding him, than strength in the view of inferior objects.
Let us not, then, deceive ourselves with a vain confidence, although we consider ourselves equal or superior to other men. That is nothing to God, to whose decision this cause must be submitted. But if our insolence cannot be restrained by these admonitions, he will reply to us in the language which he addressed to the Pharisees, "Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." Go now, and among men proudly glory in your righteousness, while the God of heaven abominates it.
But what is the language of the servants of God, who are truly taught by his Spirit? One says, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified." And another, though in a sense somewhat different, "How shall man be just with God? If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand."
Here we are plainly informed respecting the righteousness of God, that it is such as no human works can satisfy; and such as renders it impossible for us, if accused of a thousand crimes, to exculpate ourselves from one of them. —Institutes, III, xii, ii
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.