The WCF on sin and suffering

Not open for further replies.


Puritan Board Professor
John Murray reminds us, "The Westminster Confession of Faith contain in its chapter on Providence this judiciously-worded paragraph in God's dealings with His own children."
The most wise, righteous, and gracious God, doth often-times leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.


How can one reflect upon our past sins, for positive growth, without being overwhelmed with guilt, and still allow ourselves to move forward in victory and in God's strength? Any practical advice or Scriptural exhorations come to mind?

[Edited on 6-2-2006 by Puritanhead]
I would encourage you, dear brother, to look to the Psalms. I have found so much comfort there. Whether suffering comes about from the oppression of man, providential calamities or one's own sins, there is solace and grace to be found there.

Psalm 51 is especially comforting to those who are granted a sight and sense of their own sinfulness. Psalm 34 and 119 are also especially precious to those going through affliction.

Thanks be to God that where sin abounds grace abounds all the more in Jesus Christ (Rom. 5.20).

It is right to consider how wretched we are. Donald Cargill said it well: Those who know themselves best fear themselves most.

That said, look unto Christ, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12.2). Set your affections upon the things above. True wisdom remembers that during the fiery furnace, when afflictions come, to be thankful to God, to draw nearer to him, recognizing that such hard providences are meant to refine us like gold tried in fire. There is purpose in the suffering, it is not arbitrary or pointless. Christ himself suffered and died, shall we his servants avoid suffering unlike him? Nay. All those who will live godly will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3.12) and he whom the Lord loves will be chastised of him (Heb. 12.6). It is to purge away the gross, mortify the old man, and grow in sanctification that we experience such things. Putting on Christ and crucifying the flesh is a painful proposition, but God gives grace to the humble. Look unto Christ in the midst of trial, for it is then he is in a special way most near to those of faith.

There is a wonderful little book that I highly recommend to you and others which treats the suffering of the saints and how the godly should respond and discern the hand of the Lord, even the chastising hand, in the midst of our troubles: it is called The Path of True Godliness by Willem Teellinck.
Not open for further replies.