Sermon 1577. Sin Subdued
C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"He will subdue our iniquities." Micah 7:19.
BUT lately I tuned my harp to the music of forgiven sin and we sang of pardon bought with blood, finding our keynote in thewords of David-"Who forgives all your iniquities." It was a sweet subject to all our hearts, for we all have a portion init, seeing we are all sinful and have need to be forgiven-therefore did our souls dance to the high sounding cymbals as werejoiced in the complete pardon which our gracious God has given to all who believe in Jesus. But, Beloved, the pardon ofsin is not enough for us-we have another equally urgent need. If the Lord would forgive us all our sins we could not be happywith that alone. "Who forgives all your iniquities" is not perfect music till we add to it the next note, "who heals all yourdiseases."
We feel that we have within us a tendency to sin and that tendency is our misery. From this tendency we must be emancipated,or we are no more free than the captive who has had the manacles removed from one wrist but feels the iron eating into theother arm! We wish to be delivered from every propensity to sin-yes, to be rescued altogether from its power. God has nowgiven us a new life and this will never be easy till the last link of the chain of sin is utterly removed. Since our new birththere remains no rest for us short of being perfectly like our God in righteousness and true holiness. The heavenly Seed withinus must and will grow-and as it increases in the soul, it will expel the power of evil, for it cannot endure the least particleof it.
We may now be called "the Irreconcilables," for we can never be at peace with evil. We cannot tolerate sin. The thought ofit pains us and when we fall into a sinful act we are cut to the quick. We thirst to be pure! We pant to be holy and we shallnever be satisfied until we are perfectly so. We, dear Friends, who have been awakened by the Holy Spirit, find that we areby nature under the power of sin. It will not be an easy thing for us to escape from the terrible tyranny of sin-not withoutthe putting forth of great power can the iron yoke be broken. What little experience we have had in the Divine Life leadsus to see that there is an immense difficulty before us, making our upward progress one of conflict and labor. A dreadfulpower has our nature in subjection and that power cannot easily be overcome.
Ever since the Fall sin has taken possession of us. This flesh of ours lusts to evil-the propensities of our nature whichare not, in themselves, sinful, are made by our depraved hearts to be the occasions of concupiscence and transgression. Wecannot eat, or drink, or talk, or sleep but what there is a tendency to sin in each of these conditions. Out of the simplestmovements of our being, evil can arise. Actions which are incidental to the very fact that we are men-actions which are neithermorally good nor morally evil become, nevertheless, the nests in which sin lays its eggs and hatches them so that every propensityof ours, even that which is, in itself, natural and fitting, readily becomes polluted and depraved through the indwellingof sin in our nature.
Sin poisons the wellhead! Sin is in our brain-we think wrongly. Sin is in our heart-we love that which is evil. Sin bribesthe judgment, intoxicates the will and perverts the memory! We recollect a bad word when we forget a holy sentence. Like asea which comes up and floods a continent, penetrating every valley, deluging every plain and invading every mountain, sohas sin penetrated our entire nature! How shall this flood be stopped? This enemy so universally dominant, so strongly entrenched-howshall it be dislodged? It has to be driven out somehow, every particle of it, and we shall never rest until it is. But bywhom shall iniquity be subdued? How satisfactory the assurance of our text, "He will subdue our iniquities"!
We find that our inward enemies are assisted by allies from without. The world which lies in the Wicked One is always readyto assist his dominion within us. We cannot walk down a street but we hear language which pollutes us. We can scarcely transactbusiness in our own counting houses without being tempted. If we stay at home there is temptation there and if we go abroadit is the same. The most retired are not free from sin, no, their very retirement may only be a
sinful selfishness which shirks imperative duty. We cannot do good to others without running some risk, ourselves, and ifwe cease from godly endeavors because we would not jeopardize our own spiritual comfort, we are already taken in the snare!
We cannot mix in politics in any degree, with the purest desire for our country's welfare, without breathing tainted air.We cannot try to curb the social evil but we feel that we are on treacherous ground-yet we may not flinch from duty becauseof its perils. We shrink like the sensitive plant that is touched by the finger-we fold and furl up all the feelings of ourbeing because of the sin which touches us when we mingle with men. We often close up all the gates and windows of the soulbecause we are conscious that the enemies without are calling to the enemies within and saying, "We will conquer you yet!"
Moreover, that mysterious spirit, the devil, is always ready to excite our flesh and to urge on the world. I have beard thatsome people doubt his existence. Very likely they are so friendly with him that they would not like to betray him and so theydeny that he hides in their hearts. But those who are his enemies do not try to conceal him, but acknowledge with sad humiliationof heart that they are very conscious of his power. A wind from him will come sweeping through our spirit in the calmest hourof devotion and in a minute we are disturbed and distracted! We have had our thoughts all going up towards Heaven and in amoment it has seemed as if they were all sucked down into the bottomless Pit, merely because that evil spirit has spread hisdragon wing mysteriously over us and created a horrible downdraft which our poor brain could not at once resist.
We have to fight, then, not only with sin, but with the flesh, which, like a Gibeonite, has become a hewer of wood and a drawerof water for the devil-we have to fight with the world which "lies in the Wicked One," steeped up to the throat in sin. Andwe have to fight with Satan, himself. "We wrestle not with flesh and blood," or else we would gird on the sword and go infor knocks and blows and cuts and thrusts and have the battle out! No, but we wrestle with "principalities and powers andspiritual wickedness in high places." And what is to become of such poor, frail, feeble, weak creatures as we are? Who cansubdue these great and mighty kings? With so many in league against us, what can we do? What is to become of us?
My text is the answer to that question-"He will subdue our iniquities." That same blessed God who has pardoned our sins willconquer them! They may fight against us, but He will be more than a match for them. Their fighting will end in their destruction.Omnipotence has marched into our hearts to trample down the power of sin. Eternal faithfulness has called in invincible strengthand Divine Majesty to do battle against the serried hosts of darkness and we shall overcome! "Thanks be to God who gives usthe victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ." I am going to speak briefly upon seven points, if time shall hold out for meto do so, and each of these seven points will show phases of the energy of evil which God will subdue.
I. One of the first powers of evil which a man perceives when the heavenly life begins to breathe within him is THE FASCINATINGPOWER OF SIN. When Divine Grace in the soul is only like a little spark and has not come to its brightness, yet the man discoverswith alarm that he is held under the enchantment of evil. I do not know any other word which quite gives my idea except thatone. Satan casts a spell over men. They come and hear the Gospel and they are impressed by it-they see the reasonablenessof the endeavor to escape from sin. They perceive the beauty of holiness and see that the way of God's salvation is a veryglorious one, namely, by faith in Jesus Christ, and they begin to yield.
But yet they neither flee from their sins nor lay hold on the salvation of Christ-they remain as persons besotted who actcontrary to reason. In some cases one sin, in some cases another, seems to fascinate men like the eyes of the fabled basilisk.As certain snakes paralyze their victims by fixing their eyes upon them, so do certain sins paralyze those who are under theirinfluence so that none can awaken them to escape. Sin makes men mad! Against their reason, against their best interests, theyfollow after that which they know will destroy them! They are slaves, though they wear no fetters of iron! They are captives,though no walls enclose them. The magic arts of evil have taken them in a net and wrapped them about with invisible bondsfrom which they cannot escape!
In many cases Satan exercises over men a kind of soporific power. He puts them to sleep. I do not know whether there is anythingin mesmerism or not, but I know that there is a devilish sleep-creating charm which Satan casts over men. They are no soonera little awakened, startled and persuaded to escape for their lives, than suddenly they fold their arms, again, and cravea little more sleep. They are nodding over a prospect which, a few hours ago, made their hair almost
stand on end! They go back to do the deed which they dreaded and which they know to be evil and destructive. They forget theSavior whose charms began to influence them and renew their covenant with Satan from whom they had almost escaped.
In the matters of the soul you have not merely to get men awake, but to keep them awake. Over the Arctic traveler there comesa tendency to sleep in the cold-a tendency which he cannot resist. He may be awakened by his friends and shaken out of historpor but, by-and-by, he is anxious to sleep again. They march him on between two, perhaps, and try to keep him awake, butstill he cries, "Let me sleep!" He begs to be allowed to lie down and slumber. Such is the power of Satan over some of youwho are present here-you wish that we would let you be quiet and go on in your sins without worrying you with our warnings.I have shaken you, sometimes-at least I have tried to do so-but then, after all, you have gone to sleep and you are stillasleep, nodding with Hell beneath you and with the wrath of God abiding on you!
It seems as if you cannot be decided-you cannot be resolute-you cannot run away from sin but are held by mysterious bonds!You are held, worst of all, by a dreadful indifference which makes you slumber yourselves into Hell. Do you think one ungodlyman, in his senses, would remain what he is and where he is while there is a hope of being renewed if it were not for somestrange enchantment which is exercised upon him by sin? What art of wizard can equal the magic of sin? What other witcherycan cast men into such insensibility? If I were to cry, "Fire! Fire!" in this place tonight, the most of you would rush tothe first door or window, but yet when we tell you of what is infinitely worse-namely, of the wrath to come and the angerof Almighty God-you are in no great alarm, no, you sit at your ease and hear all about it.
The story of your future destiny is heard and heard till men think no more of it than of an old wives' fable and still sleepon in their sin. I have known this witchery to enthrall men who have been somewhat awakened. By the month and by the yeartogether they have been awakened and have been apparently very earnest. But, after all, sin has charmed them with its sirensong and they have returned like the dog to its vomit, or the sow which was washed to her wallowing in the mire. Now, I amrejoiced to think that, if there is any life in you, if the Lord enables you to look to Jesus Christ, His Son, for salvation,He will subdue your iniquities.
Man, He will help you to escape from the magician's wand! Sin shall no longer delude and ensnare you! He will so set eternalthings before you by the power of the Divine Spirit that you will not dare to sleep any longer! He will so convince you ofsin, of righteousness and of judgment to come that He will slay the enchanter, break his spell and free you from his blackarts. May the Lord set every fascinated one free at this good hour. May He pronounce the Word of God which will unbind theenchanter's charm and we shall then have one fulfillment of the text, "He shall subdue our iniquities."
II. A second form of the force of sin in most men is ITS DEPRESSING POWER. When men are really awake and no longer under thewitchery of sin, then Satan, their flesh and the sin that dwells in them, conspire to make them think that there is no hopeof salvation for them. The Evil One mutters, "It is no use your trying to be saved. You do not stand the smallest chance."Jeeringly the Tempter cries, "Look at your sins! Look at your sins!" Satan, who before did not want us to look at sin, becomes,all of a sudden, eager that we should take to self-examination and confession! He who is the Father of Lies sometimes findstruth answers his purpose so well that he uses it with terrible effect! But even then he uses it to support a lie.
He suggests to the heart the thought, "If you had not sinned so much you might have been forgiven, but you have piled on thelast ounce that has broken the back of Mercy-you will never be saved." Then comes the second suggestion, "You know you havetried already. You kept yourself pretty steady for a time, but it all broke down. There is not the slightest use in venturing,again, upon this hopeless business. Depend upon it, there is a Divine decree against you-you are one of the reprobate! Thereis no hope for you at all. Don't you see how false you are? You never make a resolve but you break it! You made an awful failureof it last time and you will again." Then there comes up, again, in the soul the depressing thought, "Perhaps it is not true,after all, that there is any mercy for sinners. It is very possible that there is no such power in the blood of Jesus as thepreacher wants you to think."
Once get a man upon the rails of doubt and you can draw him on as far as you please. It is interesting to see a man go ondoubting in the style I once followed. I doubted everything till at last I doubted my own existence! Now I have at least alittle bump of common sense and I laughed outright at myself when I got as far as that-and the ridiculousness of the situationbrought me back again to believe. To run right on to a reductio ad absurdum and prove the absurdity of your own unbelief isa very useful method of bringing a doubting spirit to a measure of belief. Yes, I know that this is the way
of sin. It depresses the man. "I want to, but cannot believe," he says. "I would have a hope, but I cannot believe that myname is among God's elect ones. I cannot think that the blood of the Atonement was shed for me" and so on.
What is to be done when you feel this and wish to conquer it? What is to be done but to fly to a promise like this in thetext, "He will subdue our iniquities"? Yes, this despondency of yours, the Lord Jesus will subdue! Believe that He is ableto cut off Giant Despair's head and dismantle his castle and set his prisoners free! Some have almost gone to the knife andto the halter in their despair and yet the Lord Jesus Christ has restored them to joy. Many a despairing soul have we hadto deal with and we have seen the Lord vanquish its misery and chase away its sorrow! Satan did his best to keep the soulfrom the joy which it might have had then and there-to keep it from the feast which was spread for it, from the blessing whichGod had prepared for it-but he could not prevail, for the hour of hope had struck.
O, cast-down one, be comforted! The Lord will subdue your iniquities in this respect. If you will but look to Jesus ChristHe will say to you, "Be of good comfort." He will tell you that your sins are forgiven and breathe hope into your soul. Thisis a second blessed way in which God subdues our iniquities-by casting out their depressing power. This He does by showingwhat a glorious Savior Christ is-how He is Divine and, therefore, equal to any emergency-how His Atonement is of a value thatnever can be limited. He shows how He is "able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him."
This He does by applying the precious promises to the soul, by His own Holy Spirit, who leads men to believe in God despitetheir despair, hoping against hope! And thus the snare is broken and their iniquities are subdued. O glorious victory of all-conqueringLove, sin's iron yoke of dark despondency is broken and the captives lead their captivity captive.
III. But now, thirdly, the Lord has power to subdue sin in another form of its force, namely, ITS DOMINEERING POWER. Whata domineering thing sin is over men. Any one sin will lord it frightfully over a man. I know a man in his senses-at any rate,he has never been in Bedlam-in business he is as sharp and smart a man as can be and yet he drinks himself into foolishness,into madness and even into delirium tremens! He has done this several times and acknowledges to the madness and wickednessof the deed-and yet he will repeat his insane and suicidal course! He has drunk away all his estate-from a man of propertyhe has descended to become a very inefficient worker. He has drunk away all his wife earns, for he does not earn much, himself,now, and he is mean enough to let the poor woman kill herself to provide him with food.
He drank a horse and cart a fortnight ago. He went out of the house upon a business errand for his wife, pulled up at a drink-shop,drank till his money was gone and so he sold the means by which his wife has kept him out of the workhouse! I dare say heis here-let this message pierce his heart-he knows that it is time. He never went home again till the last ear of that horsehad been drunk. And yet he would not like anybody to say that he is a fool, though I beg leave to have my doubts. His sindomineers over him. Only let drink come to him and say, "Go and do a mad thing," and he does it at once! Expense, pain, disgrace,disease, poverty and an early death-all these are demanded by the drink demon and his victims cheerfully pay the tax!
Why, now, if I were persuaded that it was the duty of any one of you to go and spend every penny that you have and starveyour own children in order to support a child at the Orphanage, you would laugh at me, I dare say. I should be a very longwhile before I could persuade you to do such a thing as that. I am sure I should not wish you to do so, but even if it wereright, I could not get you to do it. Yet things far more preposterous are done greedily at the bidding of drink. This devilof drunkenness comes to a man and he says, "Come along with me. Leave your fireside and your wife and little ones and associatewith the lowest of the low. Come and spend everything you have upon stuff that will muddle your head, harden your heart anddestroy your character. Sell your household furniture and drink till all your comrades call you a jolly good fellow. Pawnyour children's shoes, so that the little ones cannot even go to Sunday school."
The man goes along as meekly as a lamb. And he has done that scores of times. He knows what a fool he is and yet he will doit again if he gets a chance. Oh, the domineering power of sin! It is not the one sin of drunkenness, only, for there areother men who are domineered by their lusts. It is a delicate question to talk about, but I dare say there are some here whoare slaves to the vilest of lusts and it becomes me to be plain with them and assure them that persons living in fornicationor adultery cannot inherit the kingdom of God! Then there is anger which carries men away as with a flood-they cannot restrainthemselves-the least thing sets them off boiling with passion. They say they cannot get the mastery in
this respect and it is perfectly true-but there is a stronger power than ours which can be brought in, by which the victorycan be won.
Sin in some form or other has bound us hand and foot and made us slaves. Do you wish to be free? Do you wish to be deliveredfrom the tyranny of sin? Then I do not advise you to do anything in your own strength in the hope that you can accomplishdeliverance-but cry to Christ at once, whose precious blood can blot out the past and change you for the future. Give yourselfup to Him and be made a new man in Christ Jesus. Oh, you did try to mend, you say. One of our kings used, by way of swearing,to say, "God mend me"! That was his regular expletive till somebody said that he had tried that oath long enough. He thoughtthat God could more easily make a new one than mend him! That is just the truth about you. There is no mending you! You needto be made new creatures in Christ Jesus. It will be, by far, the easier work of the two, though in itself it will be impossibleto you. The Lord can do it! He can make you such a new man, woman, that you will not know yourself the next time you meetyourself-you will be so entirely new that you will begin to fight against your former self as your worst enemy.
Oh for an earnest cry at this good hour, "Lord, save me! I am sinking in the depths of my sin! Jesus, stretch out Your handas You did to sinking Peter. Save me, or I perish!" Jesus will lift His royal hand and cause both winds and waves to lie stillbefore Him, for it is written, "He will subdue our iniquities." The domineering power of sin is readily broken when Jesusenters the heart, but never till then. We refuse to obey our lusts when we bow our necks to the pure and holy Savior. Whata change He works! Speak, you who best can tell, you who have felt it! Ah, Lord, we bless You that it is even so-"You willsubdue our iniquities."
IV. Now, fourthly (for I must be brief on each point), there is another power about sin, namely, ITS CLAMORING POWER. I donot know any word, just now, which so nearly expresses what I mean. Some of us know that we are forgiven and we know thatthe domineering power of sin is broken in us and our old sins have been long washed away by the blood of Christ so that Goddoes not know anything about them. You say that is a strange expression. It is no stranger than the Scriptures warrant, forthe Lord says of our sins that He will remember them no more forever-and I believe that He means what He says.
But as for my transgressions, I remember them when God does not-and they come up before me and they howl at me. "Fou are saved?"asks one of my sins-"You?" "Remember what you did while yet a youth?" Sometimes thousand of them at once make an awful dinand howl out, "Guilty! Guilty! Guilty and doomed to die!" Then one or two bigger sins than the rest take the lead, howlingwith a deep bass, "Condemnation! Condemnation! Condemnation!" I have tried to argue with these memories of sins. When thedogs have barked in that fashion I have tried to put them down. Conscience has come out with his big whip and he has whippedthem till they howled more than ever. Conscience has said, "Why, even now that you are a Christian you are not what you oughtto be. You still fall short of your own standard. You condemn yourself while you are preaching. You know you do." Then allthe dogs have howled again, as if they were only now beginning their horrid music.
You have never heard, perhaps, a whole kennel full of sins all howling at once, but it is a most awful noise at night. Ifyou listen to the voice of these clamorous dogs, you will wish that you had never been born or could cease to exist. No voicethat I know of, short of the one in the text, can make them lie still. But the Lord Jesus can subdue our iniquities and whenHe steps into the middle of these dogs they lie cowed at His feet! As He speaks with gracious words of pardon, the Hell-houndsvanish and, instead of their baying, you hear the sweet voice out of Heaven-"There is therefore now no condemnation to themthat are in Christ Jesus."
Did you ever experience this delightful change? It is something like the case of a newcomer at a court of law who one daywent with a magistrate and sat on the bench. A prisoner was brought up and evidence was given and the counsel against theprisoner spoke. And this person said to his friend, the magistrate, "You may as well end it, the man is clearly guilty. Windthe case up and let's go to dinner." But the magistrate said, "You must listen and hear the advocate on the other side andthe case will look very different." When he listened to the advocate on the other side, he began to whisper, "I have my doubtsabout that, now." As he listened further, he said, I am glad you did not condemn that man. What a mistake I made-he is asinnocent as a new-born babe. That advocate has done his work wonderfully." The prisoner was acquitted.
It is so with us. When our sins plead against us, we readily allow that we are hopelessly ruined. But, oh, when our blessedAdvocate takes up His brief! When The Wonderful, The Counselor urges His plea and pleads that our sins were laid on Him-whata change comes over the face of things! The sin is admitted and then covered; lack of righteousness is acknowledged and thensupplied; condemnation is recognized as just and then seen to be, with equal justice, put away forever! Picture yourself incourt. There are the bills and they are put in evidence against you. "Do you owe those bills?" "Yes." "Have you anything tosay why you should not be treated as a defaulting debtor?" "No." But when the man is able to reply, "Yes, the charges areall paid," that settles the matter! And so when the Believer can say, "Lord Jesus Christ, You have paid all my debts for me."And when Christ shows His wounds and says, "I have put them all away, for I bore them in My own body on the Cross"-oh, thenthe case is ended and the clamor of our iniquities is subdued and so the text is again true-"He will subdue our iniquities."
V. But I shall have my time gone, otherwise I wanted to say that this text is true as to THE DEFILING POWER OF SIN. Do youknow, Brothers and Sisters, that after we are quite forgiven and after the domineering power of sin has gone, yet the defilingpower of sin is a great affliction to us? Our experience is embittered by the corruption of sins long ago dead which sendforth a dreadful rottenness and make our thoughts a terror to us. Some of you were converted late in life and you have verymuch, I am sure, to trouble you in the influence of evil upon your memory. Perhaps this very night while I am speaking therehas come up into your mind-though you cannot bear to think of it-some wretched scene in which you played a guilty part.
Even the holiest words, when you are in prayer, will sometimes suggest to you a loose song that you used to sing and a casualexpression which has no special meaning to others will awaken a thousand vile memories in you! This is what I mean by thedefiling energy of sin-it is a great plague to many Believers, especially to those converted after years of gross sin. Inaddition to that, many of you may have experienced the defiling power of sin in another form-when Satan has suggested blasphemousthoughts and abominable ideas to you. You cannot bear them! You are ready to fly to the ends of the earth to escape the venomof these hornets, but still they buzz around you and will not be quiet. You could almost tear your heart out of your bodyif you could thereby expel these vile suggestions, but they will not go. They descend in perfect floods-they are mud showers,or worse than that-fire showers. And they fall upon your poor brain and there is no getting out of the diabolical tempest.
Ah, I remember when words I never heard from human tongues rushed through my ears filling my heart with blasphemies whichI never thought of-profane suggestions which made me tremble like a leaf as they poured through my poor brain! I could havedied sooner than they should be there and yet they were rushing through my mind and bearing all before them. Many of God'speople are tried in that way. What is to be done? If old memories and satanic suggestions come upon you to defile you, whatis to be done but to fly to this text-"He will subdue our iniquities"? Let us plead this in prayer. Lord, conquer my memoryand wash it from the filth which clings to it! Put away its pollution from me, Lord. Chain up the devil and rebuke his suggestions.Let Your poor child have space for breath and time to sing and opportunity to pray! Save me, I beseech You, from the infernalsuggestions which now torment me!
Some of you know nothing about this and I hope you will abide in happy ignorance of it. But those of you who do know it willperceive what I am talking about and you will triumph in this priceless promise, "He will subdue our iniquities." Look toJesus Christ for power over infernal suggestions and over evil memories and He will give you that mas-tery-and it may be youshall never again be tried in that way as long as you live-for frequently the Lord gives such sudden and decisive deliverancethat between that one battle and Heaven, the Christian pilgrim pursues his way and never meets Apollyon again!
VI. We have now reached the sixth point. The Lord our God will subdue sin in ITS HAMPERING POWER. I am speaking, of course,to Christians in these latter points. There is a hampering power about sin. I will just hint at some instances of it. ManyBelievers might do a great deal of service for Christ and His Church, but they are hampered by shame. They are ashamed, afraid,alarmed where there is nothing to be troubled about. They indulge a foolish distrust of God. Their fear may once have beenmodesty, but it has grown rank till it is not, now, the kind of modesty which is wholesome. They might serve God, but theyare ashamed to make the attempt-ought they not to be ashamed of such cowardice?
Some, again, are hindered in their joy and their peace by unbelief. They are always doubting, inventing fears, planning suspicions,compiling complaints. This comes of evil and leads to no good. It is a dreadful thing to be hampered from doing good and hamperedfrom glorifying God by an inveterate tendency to unbelief. Others are hampered by frivolity. Many of us have merry spirits,but some are all levity. They were cradled in a bubble and made to ride upon thistle down. It is a pity when a man has nosolidity of character and runs to froth, for this sin dwarfs his manhood and dries up his vigor. Oh that the Lord would subduethis form of iniquity!
Some I know, too, are very unstable-they are never the same thing two days together. They might have borne fruit if they hadkept where they were, but they have been transplanted every week and so have never taken root. They have undertaken a dozenworks, but they have done nothing. Unstable as water, they shall not excel. Some, again, are hampered by pride. There is nouse in denying it-the natural tendency of many persons is to a silly pride. When they were children they could not have anew coat but they gloried in it-and since then they cannot have two pence more than their neighbors but they become almostunbearable!
I know some who I hope are Christians, but they have a dreadful tendency to swell-they will grow before your very eyes ifanyone will but favor the process. They have always looked upon the many-the multitude-as being far inferior to them becausetheir grandfather's grandfather was either a knight, or a baronet, or a foreigner of unknown degree! They feel that they aresuperior sort of people. This is a great drawback to godly workers, especially when it makes them feel that they could notgo among poor people. Those who do go visit the sick poor are often quite unable to reach their hearts because of their stiffnessof manner.
Some professors are slothful. They have a torpid liver and are always afraid of doing too much. They are a lethargic, Dutch-built,broad-wheeled wagon sort of Christians and all their movements are slow in the work of the Lord. They do not move at all byexpress. Indeed, they are distressed by zeal and disgusted by enthusiasm! May the Lord subdue these iniquities for us! Othersare hampered by a quick temper. They cannot take things calmly-they snap and snarl and scarcely know why. They boil over sosoon-they are very sorry for it, directly, but that does not cure the scalds. Some must be forever fighting, for peace isstagnation to their burning spirits.
I have given a long list of these hampering sins. What is to be done with them? "Well," says one, "I do not think we can doanything, Sir-these are our besetting sins." Now, do not make any mistake about it, if there is any sin that gets the masteryover you, you will be lost! You are bound to conquer every sin-remember that. You may call it a besetting sin or not, butit must be either overcome by you or it will be your ruin. A man may plead that a certain fault is his besetting sin but Iam not so sure of it. A sin that you willfully indulge-is that a besetting sin? Certainly not! If I had to cross Clapham Commontonight and three stout fellows beset me to take away whatever I had, I would do my little best in self-defense. That is whatI call besetting a man!
A besetting sin is a sin that sometimes surprises a man and then he ought to fight and drive the besetting sin away! If Iwere to walk over the common every night, arm-in-arm with a fellow who picked my pocket, I should not say that the man "beset"me. No, he and I are friends, evidently, and the robbery is only a little dodge of our own. If you go willfully into sin,or tolerate it, and say you cannot help it-well, you have to help it or you will be lost! One thing is certain- either youmust conquer sin or sin will conquer you-and to be conquered by sin is everlasting death!
Well, what is to be done? Fall back upon this gracious promise-"He will subdue our iniquities." They have to be subdued! Jesuswill do the deed and in His name we will overcome. If we are slothful, we will, in God's strength, do 10 times as much aswe should have done had we been naturally of an active turn. If we are angry we will school ourselves till we become meek.Some of the most angry men that I have ever known have come to be the meekest of men. Remember Moses, how he slew the Egyptianin his heat, and yet the man, Moses, became very meek by the Grace of God! You must overcome your sin, my dear Hearer, bethat sin what it may. Whatever else you forget of this evening's sermon I want to leave that in your heart-you must overcomesin!
By the blood of the Lamb it is to be done. By the power of Divine Grace it must be accomplished. Up! Slay this Agag that youthought to spare! Hew him in pieces before the Lord, or else the Lord will hew you in pieces one of these days. God give youGrace to get the victory.
VII. Now, the last and seventh point-God will deliver you from THE INDWELLING POWER OF SIN. Sin nestles in our nature. Itslair is in the jungle of our heart and if we are Believers in Jesus Christ we must hunt it out. The first
thing the Lord does with this indwelling sin is to neutralize it. He puts in His indwelling Spirit to subdue it and overcomeit. Next, He begins to drive it out. He said of the Canaanites, "By little and by little I will surely drive them out." Thanksbe to God, He has driven out certain of our sins already! I know that I speak to some who are not tempted, now, to vices thatonce ruled them with a rod of iron. You have conquered the grosser shapes of sin.
Brother, Sister, the day will come when there will not be one Canaanite left in the land-when, if you should search throughand through there will be no tendency to sin, no wandering of heart, no error of judgment, no failure of righteousness, noinclination to transgression! You will be as perfect as your Covenant Head, Jesus Christ. Where will you be, then? Not here,I think! I notice that God always puts His jewels into fit settings and the proper setting for a perfect man is the perfectjoy of Heaven! In a pure region the pure heart shall dwell! And you, Believer, shall go on towards that sacred height, till,one of these days, your Lord will say, "Dear Child, you have fought long enough with corruption and sin, come up here; theconflict is all over now." You will look back, when you get up to Heaven, and you will say to yourself, perhaps-if you canhave any such regrets-"I wish I had conquered those sins earlier, fought against them more earnestly, watched against themmore vigilantly. Oh, that I had honored and glorified my Lord more!"
However, forgetting all about regrets, what a song we will raise when we find ourselves quite free from the power of sin!What a song! O, you bad-tempered Brother, when that anger is all gone and you will never be angry again, will you not sing?Ah you, Brother, a little inclined to laziness-when you find that you can serve God night and day, will you not sing? Andsome of us who are inclined to despondency-when our gloom is all gone and life becomes everlasting joy and sunshine, willwe not sing? Yes, I was going to say-
"Then, loudest of the crowd I'll sing, While Heaven's resounding mansions ring With shouts of Sovereign Grace." I did utterthat resolution once in the pulpit and when I came down the stairs an aged woman said to me, "You made a mistake in your sermontonight." "Dear soul," I said, "I dare say I made a dozen." "Ah," she said, "but you made one great one. You said that youowed more to God's Grace than anybody and, therefore, you would sing the loudest. But," she said, "you won't, for I shall."
I find all my fellow Christians, both men and women, are resolved that they will sing the loudest to the praise of DivineGrace! This shall be Heaven's only contest! There shall be a grand contention among the birds of Paradise which shall singmost sweetly of Free Grace and dying love. What a Heaven there will be and what music there will be in Heaven when our iniquitiesare subdued! How will the Lord look down with joy upon us all when He shall see us all made like His Son-perfect, faultless,glorious! Then we will sing, "He has subdued our iniquities. Oh, come let us sing unto the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriouslyand all our iniquities has He cast into the sea."
Anticipate that joy and begin to sing tonight-and let this be the matter of your song-"Thanks be unto God which gives us thevictory through Jesus Christ our Lord." May that victory be yours and mine. Amen.