The Healthy Christian

“The healthy Christian knows his frailty and suspects and distrusts himself, lest sin and Satan should be ensnaring him unawares; therefore he regularly grills himself before God, scrutinizing his deeds and motives and ruthlessly condemning himself when he finds within himself moral deficiency and dishonesty… The healthy Christian is not necessarily the extrovert, ebullient Christian, but the Christian who has a sense of God’s presence stamped deep on his soul, who trembles at God’s Word, who lets it dwell richly in him by constant meditation upon it, and who tests and reforms his life daily in response to it…

Does not this emphasis on constant self-suspicion and self-examination actually weaken faith, by diverting our gaze from Christ in his fullness to ourselves in our emptiness, so leading us to spiritual despondency and depression? No doubt it would if it were made an end in itself; but, of course, it never was. The Puritans ripped up consciences in the pulpit [particularly applying the law and exposing the pride of the human heart] and urged self-trial in the closet only in order to drive sinners to Christ and to teach them to live by faith in him.”

J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness – the Puritan View of the Christian Life, pp. 116 & 117