In his sermon Great Guilt no Obstacle to the Pardon of the Returning Sinner, based on Psalm 25:11, Jonathan Edwards offers three excellent points that serve as reminders on how we must come to God for mercy. His first point is that we see our misery and need for mercy. His second point is that we should be sensible that we aren’t worth of God’s mercy.
They must be sensible that they are not worthy that God should have mercy on them. They who truly come to God for mercy, come as beggars, and not as creditors: they come for mere mercy, for sovereign grace, and not for any thing that is due. Therefore, they must see that the misery under which they lie is justly brought upon them, and that the wrath to which they are exposed is justly threatened against them; and that they have deserved that God should be their enemy, and should continue to be their enemy. They must be sensible that it would be just with God to do as he hath threatened in his holy law, viz. make them the objects of his wrath and curse in hell to all eternity.—They who come to God for mercy in a right manner are not disposed to find fault with his severity; but they come in a sense of their own utter unworthiness, as with ropes about their necks, and lying in the dust at the foot of mercy.
Wow… Again, conviction sets in at the sense of “entitlement” I often approach God for his mercy. Rarely do I ever come “as with ropes about their necks.” I wonder why it is that so often in regards to God’s mercy I neglect the very thing he is being merciful in regards to, namely that I deserve wrath. Mercy, somehow, has become an island to itself with no boards to touch the great expanse of wrath my sin deserves. Truly, I “have deserved that God should be their (MY) enemy, and should continue to be their (MY) enemy.”