The Snare of Godliness

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Daily Reformation, Acts 4:7-12

About the Reformer

In Apr., 1532, [John Calvin] published in Paris at his own expense, and at a pecuniary loss, the text of Seneca’s De Clementia, with a commentary, which showed that he was still a humanist within the Roman Church. But the Reformation was making headway in France among the humanistic class to which he belonged, and so must have often been a topic of his conversation. Step by step he approached the position of the Reformers, but slowly, for, as he says himself, in the partly autobiographic preface to his commentary on the Psalms (and it is about all that is known on the subject), he “was too obstinately devoted to the superstitions of popery to be easily extricated from so profound an abyss of mire.” But, some time in 1533, “God by a sudden conversion subdued and brought [his] mind to a teachable frame. Having thus received some taste and knowledge of true godliness, [he] was immediately inflamed with so intense a desire to make progress therein, that although [he] did not altogether leave off other studies, [he] yet pursued them with less ardor. [He] was quite surprised to find that before a year had elapsed, all who had any desire after purer doctrine were continually coming to [him] to learn, although [he himself] was as yet but a mere novice and tyro.”

—Philip Schaff, The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge

Pulling It Together

Do you pursue with less passion those things that used to thrill you, yet now devote yourself to the pursuit of godliness? Be careful. Godliness can become a snare. People will praise you for your deeds, and the devil will try to inflate your ego, making you worse off  than you were before. Be certain that God is your focus and not simply being good or doing good deeds. When the Holy Spirit does inspire you to acts of godliness, be sure it is Jesus who gets the credit. Otherwise, you may find people propping you up as their source of religion instead of looking to the only true source of salvation.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers

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