Packer on Our Moral Ill-Desert

This comes from chapter 13 of J. I. Packer’s classic book Knowing God, there he talks about God’s grace. This is a very lucid, insightful, and damning description of modern man:

1.  The moral ill-desert of man. 

Modern men and women, conscious of their tremendous scientific achievements in recent years, naturally incline to a high opinion of themselves.  They view material wealth as in any case more important than moral character, and in the moral realm they are resolutely kind to themselves, treating small virtues as compensating for great vices and refusing to take seriously the idea that, morally speaking, there is anything much wrong with them. They tend to dismiss a bad conscience, in themselves as in others, as an unhealthy psychological freak, a sign of disease, and mental aberration rather than an index of moral reality. For modern men and women are convinced that, despite all their little peccadilloes – drinking, gambling, reckless driving, sexual laxity, black and white lies, sharp practice in trading, dirty reading, and what have you – they are a heart thoroughly good folks.  Then, as pagans do (and modern man’s heart is pagan  – make no mistake about that), they imagine God as a magnified image of themselves and assume that God shares his own complacency about himself.  The thought of themselves as creatures fallen from God’s image, rebels against God’s rule, guilty and unclean in God’s sight, fit only for God’s condemnation, never enters their heads.

J. I. Packer, Knowing God, (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2005), 146-147.