When doctrinal disputes blunt our appetite for righteousness


Valentines Day! When our thoughts turn to…righteousness.

Looking back to my time at Oak Hill, I think I found it hard to hunger and thirst after righteousness whilst I was studying, a problem which could probably only be addressed by better personal devotions.

Thomas Watson points out seven reasons why I don’t hunger for righteousness like I should. Point 7 helps shed some light on my particular struggle whilst in academia:

Those who are soul-sick and ‘in the gall of bitterness’, find no sweetness in God or religion. Sin tastes sweeter to them; they have no spiritual hunger. That men do not have this ‘hunger after righteousness’ appears by these seven demonstrations:

1 They never felt any emptiness. They are full of their own righteousness (Romans 10:3).

2 That men do not hunger after righteousness appears because they can make a shift well enough to be without it. If they have oil in the cruse, the world coming in, they are well content. Grace is a commodity that is least missed. You shall hear men complain they lack health, they lack trading, but never complain they lack righteousness.

3 It is a sign they have none of this spiritual hunger, who desire rather sleep than food. They are more drowsy than hungry.

4 It appears that men have no spiritual hunger because they refuse their food. Christ and grace are offered, nay, pressed upon them, but they put away salvation from them as the froward child puts away the breast (Psalm 81: 11; Acts 13: 46).

5 It is a sign they have none of this spiritual hunger who delight more in the garnishing of the dish than in food. These are they who look more after elegance and notion in preaching than solid matter. …So when men are for jingling words and like rather gallantry of speech than spirituality of matter, it is a sign they have surfeited stomachs and ‘itching ears’.

6 They evidence little hunger after righteousness that prefer other things before it, namely, their profits and recreations.

7 It is a sign men have no spiritual hunger when they are more for disputes in religion than practice. When men feed only on hard questions and controversies (1 Timothy 6: 3, 4) (like some of the schoolmen’s ‘utrums’ and distinctions), as whether one may partake with him that does not have the work of grace in his heart, whether one ought not to separate from a church in case of mal-administration, what is to be thought of paedobaptism, etc. When these niceties and criticisms in religion take men’s heads, neglecting faith and holiness, these pick bones and do not feed on the meat. Sceptics in religion have hot brains but cold hearts. Did men hunger and thirst after righteousness they would propound to themselves such questions as these, How shall we do to be saved? How shall we make our calling and election sure? How shall we mortify our corruptions? But such as ravel out their time in frothy and litigious disputes, I call heaven to witness, they are strangers to this text. They do not ‘hunger and thirst after righteousness’.

Point seven now also helps me to get my priorities straight when facing schismatic doctrinal issues at church.

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One Response to When doctrinal disputes blunt our appetite for righteousness

  1. L says:

    I feel rather convicted by point 6.

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