By nature we are thoroughly in love with ourselves–but as the Divine work of grace is carried forward in our souls, we come to loathe ourselves. Those who have been saved from penalty of sin, are being made increasingly conscious not only of sin’s polluting presence, but of its tyrannizing power!
How can we explain the fact, that the Christian finds himself growing worse and worse–the more closely he endeavors to walk with God? The answer is because of increased light from God, by which he now discovers heart-filth of which he was previously unaware. The sun shining into a neglected room, does not create the dust and cobwebs–but simply reveals them. Thus it is with the Christian. The more the light of the Spirit is turned upon him inwardly, the more he discovers the horrible plague of his heart (1 Kings 8:38), and the more he realizes what a wretched failure he is!
The fact is, dear discouraged soul, that the more you are growing out of love with yourself, the more you are being saved from the power of sin. Wherein lies its fearful potency? Why, in its power to deceive us. It lies to us. It did so to Adam and Eve. It gives us false estimates of values so that we mistake the tinsel for real gold. To be saved from the power of sin is to have our eyes opened so that we see things in God’s light–it is to know the truth about things all around us, and the truth about ourselves.
But further–sin not only deceives, it puffs up, causing its infatuated victims to think highly of themselves. Sin ever produces self-love and self-righteousness. But when God takes us in hand, it is the very opposite–the workings of the Spirit subdue our pride. How? By giving increasing discoveries of SELF and of the exceeding sinfulness of SIN, so that each one cries with Job, “Behold! I am vile!” (40:4). Such a one is being saved from the power of sin–its power to deceive and to inflate.
– Arthur W. Pink, “A Fourfold Salvation“, 1938