I have been meditating on Calvin’s superb description of the impact of sin. All men are by nature self-absorbed in their idolatry factory producing more and more idols everyday. In fact, it is so incessant, that they pursue the creation of idols more than the Creator. Unbeknownst to them is that God himself is the Creator of all. In all its glory, “true piety,”– not to be confused with modern definitions of “piety,” which equate it with legalistic Pharisaism–is the salvation for idolaters. A holy trust in God and a holy fear of His nature is the prescription given to lost souls by Calvin. He writes:
Such is pure and genuine religion, namely, confidence in God coupled with serious fear–fear, which both includes in it willing reverence, and brings along with it such legitimate worship as is prescribed by the law. And it ought to be more carefully considered that all men promiscuously do homage to God, but very few truly reverence him. On all hands there is abundance of ostentatious ceremonies, but sincerity of heart is rare.
Instead of seeking a debonair spirit, Calvin without hesitation breaks the orientation of most readers that consider themselves to be pre-approved before a holy and righteous God. Man has a sense of deity (Calvin focuses his attention immensely on this point), but because of their nature this sense of deity leads them to utter wickedness and hatred of God. God must in Himself move man to the place of health, lest his sickness swallows him.
Calvin’s Institutes come as a penetrating sword to the contemporary reader. For those who have been constantly bombarded by the messages of godless teachers, these ancient words come as a refreshing drink from the most pristine waters.