Recently, I have been listening to past African-American Pastor Conference CDs, both as I exercise in the morning and drive to and from work each day, and I was strongly convicted by Rev. Anthony Carter's message, entitled "The Faith once Delivered", which he delivered at the 2001 African-American Pastor's Conference in Miami, FL.
In this message, Rev. Carter instructed us to get familiar with "the Classics", those writings that have been a true blessing throughout all of Christian history. So, in following this command, I have started to re-read The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin. And in doing so, I ran across a very powerful statement by Calvin in regards to comparing our human righteousness to that of God's:
For if in broad daylight we either look down upon the ground or survey whatever meets our view round about, we seem to ourselves endowed with the strongest and keenest sight; yet when we look up to the sun and gaze straight at it the power of sight which was particularly strong on Earth is at once blunted and confused by a great brillance, and thus we are compelled to admit that our keenness in looking upon things earthly is sheer dullness when it comes to the sun. So it happens in estimating our spiritual goodness. As long as we do not look beyond the earth, being quite content with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue, we flatter ourselves most sweetly, and fancy ourselves as demigods. Supoose we but once begin to raise our thoughts to God and to ponder His nature and how completely perfect are His righteousness, wisdom, and power--the straightedge to which we must be shaped. Then, what masquerading earleir as righteousness was pleasing in us will soon grow filthy in it consummate wickedness. What wonderfully impressed us under the name wisdom will stink in its very foolishness. What wore the face of power will prove itself the most miserable weakness. That is, what in us seems perfection itself corresponds ill to the purity of God. (Book I , Chapter I, Section I)