Entangled In Ourselves?

“May we and can we look away from ourselves and solely at Christ?  Or do we look back at ourselves as made anew, seeking to monitor ourselves in the growth of faith and love, in the new obedience, in the progress we make, even in the sanctification that is said to follow after justification?  When we are blessed by God and born anew, do we seek to feel the pulse of our own faith?  Doing this is a dangerous displacement that leads us away from the Reformation understanding of faith.  The moment we turn aside and look back at ourselves and our own doings instead of at God and God's promise, at that moment we are again left alone with ourselves and with our own judgment about ourselves.  We will then be inevitably entangled in ourselves.  We will fall back into all the uncertainty of the defiant and despairing heart that looks only to self and not to the promise of God.  That is why it is so important to take note of the means or medium by which justifying faith comes.  According to Romans 10:17, faith comes by hearing.  It comes by hearing the Word that addresses us.  It comes in the promise and pronouncement by which Jesus Christ opens up himself and the kingdom of God to me, bringing me, within the Christian community, back home, to paradise, and making me a new person."

       -Oswald Bayer
Living by Faith: Justification and Sanctification