“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful inn my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10.
Dear friends, let me tell you, once for all, that you cannot make yourselves fit for heaven, you cannot clothe yourselves with the garments of salvation, you cannot renew your own nature. Somebody says, “But, sir, you discourage people by telling them that they cannot change themselves.” That is the very thing I want to do. “Oh, but, I want to set a man working!” says one. Do you? I want to set him not working; that is to say, I want him to have done with any idea that salvation is of himself; I want him to drop that thought altogether, and just to feel that, if his salvation is to some out of himself, he has to get everything out of nothing, and that is not only difficult, but impossible. He has to get life out of his own death, to get cleanness out of the filthy ditch of his own nature, out of which it can never come. Discouragement of this sort is the very thing I always aim at in my preaching. I am afraid that there are many people who are made to believe that they are saved when they are not. My belief is that God never healed a man till he was wounded, and that he never made a man alive till he was dead. It is God’s way first to drag us down, and make us feel that we are nothing, and can do nothing, and that we are shut up to be saved by grace, that Christ must save us from beginning to end, or else we can never be saved at all. Oh, if I could but bring all my hearers, not only into a state of discouragement, but into a condition of despair about themselves, then I should know that they were on the road to a simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!
It is absolute helplessness and death that lays the sinner where Christ can deal with him. When he is nothing, Christ shall be everything. . . . When you become just nothing, when you have no good feelings, no good desires, or anything you can bring to Christ – when you come to Christ, not with a broken heart, but for a broken heart, then he will receive you, then you will be the kind of man that Christ came to save.