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Personal Reformation

By Andrew Bonar

    Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843) was a Scottish preacher known as a “man who had been with Jesus.”  He ever aspired to be holy like Christ.

    For himself and for all ministers, he wrote out what he felt would help in the quest for personal holiness and usefulness.  The material below is excerpted from the “Personal Reformation” which he drew up for himself.  If this saintly man needed to take such account of himself from time to time, how much more do we of this generation, when sin is treated so lightly!

A Confession of Sin

    It is the duty of ministers in this day to begin the reformation of religion and manners with themselves, their families, etc., with confession of past sin, earnest prayer for direction, grace and full purpose of heart, for Scripture has said, He shall purify the sons of Levi” (Mal. 3:3).

    I am persuaded that I shall do most for God’s glory and the good of man, and I shall have the fullest reward in eternity by maintaining a conscience always washed in Christ’s blood, by being filled with the Holy Spirit at all times, and by attaining the most entire likeness to Christ in mind, will and heart, that is possible for a redeemed sinner to attain to in this world.

Conscience Void of Offence

    To maintain a conscience void of offence, I ought to confess my sins more.  I ought to confess sin the moment I see it to be sin.  If I go on with what I am doing, leaving the sin unconfessed, I go on with a burdened conscience, and add sin to sin.

    I ought to go to Christ for the forgiveness of each sin.  In washing my body I go over every spot and wash it out.  Should I be less careful in washing my soul?  I ought to see the stripe that was made on the back of Jesus by each of my sins.

    I must never think a sin too small to need immediate application of the blood of Christ.  I must never think my sins too great, too aggravated, too presumptuous to hinder me from fleeing to Christ.

    I must not only wash in Christ’s blood, but clothe me in Christ’s obedience.  For every sin of omission in self, I may find a divinely perfect obedience in Christ.  For every sin of commission in self, I may find not only a stripe or a wound in Christ, but also a perfect rendering of the opposite obedience in my place, so that the law is magnified, its curse more than carried, its demand more than answered.

Study Christ More

    I ought to study Christ’s omnipotence more.  …He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him…” (Heb. 7:25; cf. 1 Thes. 5:23; Rom. 5:9-10).  Such Scriptures should be ever before me.  I should flee temptation, should watch and pray.  I should use the Word of God. It is written...It is written....”  So Christ defended Himself (Matt. 4:1-11).  But the main defense is casting myself into the arms of Christ like a helpless child, and beseeching Him to fill me with the Holy Spirit.  “...This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4) – a wonderful passage.

    I ought to study Christ as a living Saviour more – as a Shepherd carrying the sheep He finds; as a King reigning in and over the souls He has redeemed; as a Captain fighting with those who fight with me (Psa. 35); as One who has engaged to bring me through all temptations and trials, however impossible to flesh and blood.

    I ought to study Christ as an Intercessor.  He prayed most for Peter who was to be most tempted.  I am on His breastplate.  If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies.  Yet the distance makes no difference; He is praying for me!

    I ought to study the Comforter more – His Godhead, His love, His almightiness.  I have found by experience that nothing sanctifies me so much as meditating on the Comforter, as John 14:16, And I [Jesus] will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.”  And yet how seldom I do this. 

    I ought never to forget that my body is dwelt in by the Third Person of the Godhead.  The very thought of this should make me tremble to sin (1 Cor. 6:19-20).  I ought never to forget that sin grieves the Holy Spirit – vexes and quenches Him.  If I would be filled with the Holy Spirit, I must read the Bible more, pray more, and watch more.

    I ought not to delay parting with sins.  Now is God’s time.  I made haste, and delayed not…” (Psa. 119:60).  I ought to flee temptation, Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (Prov. 4:15).

Full Surrender to the Lord

    I ought constantly to pour out my heart to God, praying for entire conformity to Christ, for the whole law to be written on my heart.

    I ought statedly and solemnly to give my heart to God, to surrender my all into His everlasting arms according to the prayer, Into Thine hand I commit my spirit” (Psa. 31:5), beseeching Him not to let any iniquity, secret or presumptuous, have dominion over me, and to fill me with every grace that is in Christ in the highest degree that it is possible for a redeemed sinner to receive it, and at all times, till death.

    I ought to meditate often on heaven as a world of holiness, where all are holy, where the joy is holy joy, the work holy work, so that without personal holiness I can never be there.

    I ought to avoid the appearance of evil.  Eve, Achan, David, all fell through the lust of the eye.  I should pray, Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity” (Psa. 119:37).

    I am persuaded that nothing is thriving in my soul unless it is growing. “Grow in grace” (2 Pet. 3:18).  Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).  Forgetting those things which are behind” (Phil. 3:13).

    I am persuaded that I ought to be inquiring of God how I may overcome self and become more like Christ.  I ought to strive for more purity, humility, meekness, patience under suffering, love.  “Make me Christ-like in all things,” should be my constant prayer, and “Fill me with Thy Holy Spirit.”

    – Condensed from Memoirs And Remains of Robert Murray McCheyne by Andrew Bonar.

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