“Men are afraid to have good thoughts of God. They think it is a boldness to eye God as good, gracious, tender, kind, loving. I speak of saints. They can judge him hard, austere, severe, almost implacable, and fierce (the very worst affections of the very worst of men, and most hated by God). Is not this soul-deceit from Satan? Was it not his design from the beginning to inject such thoughts of God? Assure yourself, then, there is nothing more acceptable to the Father than for us to keep up our hearts unto him as the eternal fountain of all that rich grace which flows out to sinners in the blood of Jesus.”
John Owen, Works (Edinburgh, 1980), II:35. Slightly updated.
We might think it would be more honoring to God to hold back from bold thoughts of his love in Christ. We might think, He is so holy. I am so opposite. God must despise me. And if he does, well, it’s only right.
But Owen calls that thinking “soul-deceit from Satan.” He asserts that “there is nothing more acceptable to the Father” than our seeing God above as flowing out to us in gracious love, that we believe it and receive it in Christ.
If Owen is right, then we are sinfully cautious. “But when he came to his senses . . .” (Luke 15:17).