John Newton, who wrote “Amazing Grace,” is one of my favorite writers. He had a wonderful insight into the heart of man and I find him to be a physician of the soul. In writing of the inability of man to do as he ought because of remaining sin, he gives many illustrations to prove his point. He then adds,
It were easy to enlarge in this way, would paper and time permit. But blessed be God, we are not under the law, but under grace. And even these distressing effects of the remnants of indwelling sin are over-ruled for good. By these experiences the believer is weaned more from self, and taught more highly to prize and more absolutely to rely on him, who is appointed unto us of God, Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption. The more vile we are in our own eyes, the more precious he will be to us; and a deep repeated sense of the evil of our hearts is necessary to preclude all boasting, and to make us willing to give the whole glory of our salvation where it is due.
Again, a sense of these evils will (when hardly anything else can do it) reconcile us to the thoughts of death; yea, make us desirous to depart that we may sin no more, since we find depravity so deep rooted in our nature, that (like the leprous house) the whole fabric must be taken down before we can be freed from its defilement. Then, and not till then, we shall be able to do the thing that we would: when we see Jesus, we shall be transformed into his image, and have done with sin and sorrow for ever.