All things else being equal, a Christian will make spiritual progress exactly in proportion to his ability to criticize himself. Paul said, "But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment" (1 Corinthians 11:31). We escape the critical judgment of God by exercising critical self-judgment. It is as simple as that.
We often hear the axiom "Practice makes perfect." The fact is that practice, far from making perfect, actually confirms us in our faults unless it is carried on in a humble, self-critical spirit. The whole philosophy of instruction rests upon the idea that the learner is wrong and is seeking to be made right. No teacher can correct his pupil unless the pupil comes to him in humility. The only proper attitude for the learner is one of humble self-distrust. "I am ignorant," he says, "and am willing to be taught. I am wrong and am willing to be corrected." In this childlike spirit, the mind is made capable of improvement.