Sermon 1911. Hideous Discovery
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, JULY 25, 1886,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And He said, That which comes out of the man, that defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evilthoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy,pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within and defile the man." Mark 7:20-23.
How weary the Savior must have been of the idle prattle of the scribes and Pharisees! They are forever talking about washinghands before meals and washing pots and cups-and He is all the while occupied with the great griefs and sins of men and howHe can save them from the wrath to come. He must have felt as some true physician feels who looks upon a patient, marks theserious nature of the sickness and plans a remedy-while some quack is boasting his nostrums or performing ridiculous signsand passes over the dying man. To serious compassion, imposture is provoking and sincere truthfulness is grieved by the mockeriesof pretense. The dear Savior, knowing the Truth about the whole thing and solemnly concerned about it, is pained with thetalk of these pretenders of learning and religion who, knowing nothing at all about the real mischief, professed to purgeaway defilement by the washing of water and outward ceremonies! Truly, I think every spiritual man must have a feeling ofdisgust, every now and then, as in these days he reads dissertations upon the cut of a priestly garment or the positioningof an altar!
Have you ever read what is to be done if a little wine is spilt upon the cloth of the holy table, or how the cup used in the"mass" is to be rinsed again and again, and carefully drained by the person ministering? Have you ever heard of argumentsconcerning the fate of a mouse which was so irreverent as to eat the holy wafer? What trifling it all seems-this serious discussionof garments and vessels with strange names, this exact directory as to when to bow and when to kneel, when to put on a robeand when to take it off! What a waste of time, of learning and of thought! What exaltation of trifles and forgetfulness ofserious realities! Men are diseased to the heart with sin and ready to die and pass before the Judgment Seat to receive thecondemnation which must lie upon those who continue in sin-and meantime, the teachers of the people are either busy with vainceremonies or dreaming over equally vain philosophies!
Behold, a pretender to profound thought informs us that Moses was in error and Paul scarcely knew what he wrote about! Thesephilosophic amenders of the Gospel are as arrant triflers as the superstitious posture makers at whom they sneer! The Saviormakes short work of human traditions and authorities! Your meats and your drinks, your fasting thrice in the week, your payingof the tithe of mint, anise and cummin, your broad phylacteries and fringes-He waves them all away with one motion of Hishand-and He comes straight to the real point. He deals with the heart and with the sins which come out of it! He draws upa diagnosis of the disease with fearless truthfulness and declares that meats do not defile men! He states that true religionis not a matter of observation or non-observation of washing and outward rites, but that the whole matter is spiritual andhas to do with man's inmost self, with the understanding, the will, the emotions, the conscience and all else which makesup the heart of man. He tells us that defilement is caused by that which comes out of the man, not by that which goes intohim! Defilement is of the heart-not of the hands!
To this teaching our Savior calls particular attention. Observe that He spoke it to the whole of the people and not to thescribes and Pharisees, only. It is necessary for every man to know this Truth of God and to lay it to heart. When He spoke,He added these words-"Hearken unto Me, every one of you, and understand." And then He said more-"If any man has ears to hear,let him hear." If a man fails to understand more deep and mysterious Truths, yet let him understand this-for an error hereis an error upon a vital point and may lead to most serious damage, if not to eternal ruin! We are,
all of us, called upon, therefore, to hear and to understand this day what the Savior says in the words of the text! Let meread them again, that they may sink into your minds. "And He said, That which comes out of the man, that defiles the man.For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetous-ness,wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, anddefile the man."
I. First, this morning, think, dear Brothers and Sisters, with deep self-abasement, of THE SWARM OF SINS. I seem to have brokenopen a wasp's nest and the stinging creatures fly out in number, numberless! Here are 13 words, each one of them teeming withall manner of evils. Matthew, when he condenses the Savior's utterances, mentions seven of these horrible things, one of whichis omitted here, but Mark is more full in this instance and mentions 13 items of abomination. I am struck with the legionof foul spirits which are here set free, as if the door of the Bottomless Pit had been opened! As armies of locusts, or asswarms of the flies of Egypt, so are sins! As the wilderness was full of fiery serpents and scorpions, so is this world fullof iniquities. The very names of them are a pain to the ears! Let us bow our heads in sorrow as we read the muster-roll ofthis legion of terror-"Evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covet-ousness, wickednesses, deceit, lasciviousness,an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness."
Now, notice first, that this awful catalog, this horrible list of the unclean birds that find a cage within the human heart,begins with things that are lightly regarded among men-"evil thoughts." "We shall not be hanged for our thoughts," cries one!I wish that such idle talkers would remember that they will be damned for their thoughts and that instead of evil thoughtsbeing less sinful than evil acts, it may sometimes happen that in the thought, the man may be worse than in the deed! He maynot be able to carry out all the mischief that lurks within his designs and yet, in forming the design, he may incur all theguilt! Thoughts are the eggs of words and actions-and within the thoughts lie compacted and condensed all the villainy ofactual transgressions. If men did but more carefully watch their thoughts, they would not so readily fall into evil habits!Men first indulge the thought of evil and then the imagination of evil-but the process does not stop there. Picturing it beforetheir mind's eye, they excite their own desires after it-these grow into a thirst and kindle into a passion. Then the deedis speedily forthcoming-it was long in the hatching, but in a moment it comes forth to curse a whole lifetime!
Instead of fancying that evil thoughts are mere trifles, let us regard them as the root of bitterness, the still in whichthe poisonous spirit is manufactured. Our Savior here puts evil thoughts first in the catalog of evil things and He knew welltheir true nature. If we would be lost, we have only to indulge these-if we would be saved we must conquer these! Let us bevery aware of our thoughts. He that does not, will not long be very aware of his words or deeds. Let us pray God to purgeus in the inward parts, lest haply, by entertaining vain thoughts as lodgers within our hearts, they take up their residence,become masters of our lives and drive us onward to the outward sins which shall utterly pollute and defile us in the eyesof our fellow men.
Since this indictment begins with evil thoughts, who among us can plead guiltless? Since evil thoughts are the first of sins,we had better meet the charge with immediate repentance and an instant faith in the only Savior. These thoughts come intoour minds in the House of God! They intrude into our prayers, they defile our Psalms! They disturb our meditations. Is therea sacred hill so high, is there a quiet valley so deep that in it we may be quite clear from these "evil thoughts"? Who candeliver us from this plague but the Lord our God? We need to humble ourselves at the first reading of this list and cry untothe Lord for mercy!
Carefully notice the range which this catalog takes. It is a very singular one, for it begins with thoughts and then it runson until it lands us in utter lack of thought, or foolishness. Matthew Henry says, "Ill-thinking is put first and unthinkingis put last." Sin begins with "evil thoughts," but ends in foolishness. The word rendered, "evil thoughts," may be translatedevil disputes, evil dialog. Now, this is thought, by some, to be almost a virtue, certainly a manly exercise! To be able todispute, to be a questioner, a quibbler, a perpetual and professional doubter, that, I say, is highly esteemed among men!What is modern thought but evil thought? David says, "I hate vain thoughts" and all thoughts which run counter to the Revelationof God are vain. In this instance I may quote the Psalmist-"The Lord knows the thoughts of men, that they are vanity." Thoughtswhich are devout and reverent towards the sacred oracles are to be cultivated, but the thoughts which quibble at the revealedTruth of God and would improve upon the Infallible declarations of Jehovah are evil and vain thoughts. All manner of mischiefmay come out of thinking in opposition to God! Therefore it is said,
"Let the wicked forsake his ways and the unrighteous man his thoughts." Thinking contrary to God's mind and disputing withthe clear statements of God's own Word may be the first step in a descent which shall end in everlasting destruction!
Rising in evil thought, sin flows through a black country full of varying immoralities until it falls into the Dead Sea of"foolishness." How often have I heard it said of a vicious life, when it has ripened into horror-"The man must have been mad!He was not only wicked, but what a fool he must have been! The devil himself seems to have forsaken him. He acted craftilyenough at one time, but afterwards he went against his own interests and insured his own destruction!" Yes, men begin withthe thought that they know better than their Maker and, at last, they reach utter thoughtlessness, stolidity of conscienceand stupidity of mind! In the end they refuse to think at all and nothing can save them from reckless defiance of common prudence.They are given over to judicial senselessness. Though God Himself should speak, they have no ears for Him-their sin has broughton them the punishment of utter hardness of heart! They have made themselves to be as the adder which will not hear the voiceof the charmer, charm he ever so wisely. This is the way of sin-to begin with fancied wisdom and end with foolishness! Theman who thought himself more than a man, at last ends as a brute beast devoid of reason! What a range, my Brothers and Sisters,there is between these two points! Read the words, again, and see what a terrible zigzag path lies between wrong thought andno thought at all.
In this list you have an amazing variety of sins. The list is not complete and was not intended to be. It would be very difficultin words to compose a full roll, though it were written within and without, which would comprise all kinds of evils. But youhave here, "deceit," which seems to dread the judgment of men and, therefore, would delude it. And then you have, "pride,"which defies all mortal condemnation and lifts itself above its fellows. You have here different forms of the lust which seeksafter pleasure at any expense, in the form of "fornications" and "adulteries." And then you have the "covetousness" whichclings to its gold and will consent to no outlay which it can avoid. Sin is a contradictory thing which blows hot and cold.It hurries men, like fitful winds, this way and that, yet never in the right direction. "We have turned, everyone, to hisown way," but all to the wrong way. Virtue is one, as truth is one, and holiness is one, but vice is abnormal and monstrous.Sin is 10,000 evils conglomerated in dread confusion. God keep us from ever navigating the dangerous sea of iniquity wherecurrents run one way and undercurrents another-and where, oftentimes, sensual desires develop into whirlpools of abominablepassions which suck men down into the depths of infamy and perdition!
In this list you will notice certain sins which may be regarded as somewhat singular. It is remarkable that, "evil thoughts"should be placed so near to atrocious acts of crime. It is singular, also, to find "an evil eye" mentioned just in this connection.What can it mean? May the very use of the eye become a sin worthy to be ranked with theft and murder? Yes, when that evileye means envy, it proceeds to a high degree of wickedness and borders upon the worst of wrongs! When we look upon anotherman and regard him with malignity. When his prosperity makes us grieve. When in his very sorrows we take an inhuman delightand gloat over his misery, his sin, his degradation-we then sin most heinously and are prepared for any horror. This sin ofenvy and that other of blasphemy would appear to be a wanton superfluity of evil, ministering no appearance of benefit tomen. Some sins have a winning witchery with them, but there are old hags of sins which ought to attract no man in his senses-andyet they hold men enslaved. Among these sins I rank envy, blasphemy and pride. This last I mention because it reads like agrim sarcasm, that sinners should be proud! What have such creatures to be proud of? What? Adulteries, murders, thefts andyet pride? One would have said that such sins would have forbidden pride. What a misalliance! A being infamous and yet puffedup! Alas, the worse a man becomes, the more is he filled with a sort of vainglory by the force of which he justifies his owniniquities and refuses to see his own vileness! This enables men to set darkness for light and light for darkness-bitter forsweet and sweet for bitter. What an assemblage of banditti of every nationality range themselves under the banner of evil!Lord, save us from them!
Note, also, that of sins there are many of each sort. Especially in the original, it is observable that the first seven ofthese evil things are all in the plural. It is not, "evil thought," but, "evil thoughts." Not, "adultery," but, "adulteries,"fornications, murders, thefts-the translation should also be plural of covetousness and wickedness-these are all in the pluralfor in any one sin there lurks a multitude of sins! One crime is built up of many-in any one form of sin there is a tangleand conglomerate of many evils. There are myriads of evil thoughts. In the crime of uncleanness there are stages- the thought,the word, the deed-all these are varieties of the same species, but they are all sins and they are, each one, worthy of thegeneric name though they do not take the same form.
If the varieties of each sin are so many and if all sins must be spoken of as a plurality under each variety, how innumerablemust be the sins of men! O Lord, You alone know our iniquities! Who could set them in order before us but Your own OmniscientSelf? What must they appear to Your perfect vision! Brothers and Sisters, if we were once to see sin in its true colors andwere then to see it in its innumerable hosts, we would sink into despair if any sort of conscience remained in us. "Who canunderstand his errors? Cleanse You me from secret faults." "All these evil things," said our Lord, as He summed them up inthat one solemn phrase. As we read that word it sounds the knell of all human glorying! I hear it yet again. "All these evilthings." How like the Old Testament declaration-"The Lord looked down from Heaven upon the children of men to see if therewere any that did understand and seek God. They are all gone aside; they are all together become filthy: there is none thatdoes good; no, not one!"
How evil, my Brethren, each one of these sins may be, it is not possible for us to know, but there is, not one of them, thatis defensible. They are, each one of them, vile before God and some of them are mischievous towards men. Evil thoughts mainlyblacken the man's own mind, but when he expresses them in disputations, they destroy the love of the Truth of God in others.Adulteries, as violations of the marriage vow, shake the very foundations of family life. Fornications, which today are winkedat as though they were scarcely offenses, defile two persons at once in body and in soul! Actual murders follow frequentlyupon unbridled passion, but forget not that the command, "You shall not kill," may be broken by anger, hate, malice and thedesire for revenge. Many a murderer in heart may be among us this day, being angry at his brother without a cause. He thatconceives and hides malice in his soul is a murderer before God! This form of evil breeds all manner of harm to society.
Thefts in all their shapes are also injurious to the commonwealth. By this we mean not only robberies, but all taking fromothers unjustly, such as the oppression of the poor in their wages, the taking of undue advantage in trading, the incurringof debts without hope of being able to pay and the like-these are varied forms of dishonesty and are full of injury to others.Covetousness-the greed to get and the greed to keep; the adding field to field until the man seems eager to be left aloneon the earth; the grasping of excessive riches and the creation of poverty in others by crushing their humbler enterprises-allthis is evil, though some applaud it as business sharpness.
Need I mention the evils which come of wickedness, deceit and lasciviousness? These are poisons in the air deadly to all whobreathe them. I sicken as I think how man has plagued his fellow men by his sins. But I will not go through the list, norneed I-the devil has preached upon this text this week and few have been able to escape the horrible exposition! A foul exhalationhas entered into every house in this great city, polluting the very atmosphere and spreading moral infection. Oh for a hurricaneto sweep away the pestilent vapor! Within a narrow space, a multitude of iniquities have gathered like vultures upon a massof carrion! What a collection of sins may meet in a single story! How soon does one transgression call to its fellows till,"a little one has become a thousand and a small one a strong nation!" Alas, alas for the multitudes of sins!
II. Now, secondly, I want to indicate THE NEST FROM WHICH THEY COME. Now that we have seen these evil
beasts, we will go and look at their den. Let us make a journey there. No, you need not feel for your money to pay your fare-Iam not going to take you very far. I do not ask you to quit your homes, or even your pews. There is not even need for youto stretch out your hand to feel for this foul nest of unclean birds-you can keep your hand upon your bosom and it will notbe far off from the lair wherein these evil things are lurking, ready to leap forth whenever occasion offers. Our Lord JesusChrist says, "All these evil things come from within." "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts."The source from which these rivers of pollution proceed is the natural heart of man! Sin is not a splash of mud upon man'sexterior, it is a filth generated within himself!
Now this is a very different story from that which we sometimes hear from thoughtless people. "Oh, yes, he used to swear.He was unkind to his wife and family-no doubt he took too much drink-but he was a good-hearted fellow!" What an awful lie!His heart could have been no better than that which came out of it. Yet how common it is to say, when a man dies, "Well, poorman, he is gone! There was no fear of God or man about him. He was a passionate, drunken man and so full of vice that no onewas safe near him, but he was good at bottom." A likely story, is it not? The water which came up in the bucket was blackand putrid, but, no doubt, at the bottom of the well it is clear as crystal! Do you believe it? If men bring to market basketsof fruit which upon the top are rotten, they will not be believed if they say that they are, "good at bottom." If the goodsin the window are worthless, the stock in the warehouse is not much better. You can
only judge of a tree by its fruits-and if I gather sour crabapples from a tree, I shall not believe that it is a golden pippin!If grapes, when fully ripe, are sour, we cannot believe that the vine which bears them is a sweet one! Our Savior makes shortwork of the lie that the life may be impure and yet the heart is good!
Another fine theory of modern times is disproved by our text. According to this evolution doctrine, as applied to theology,the new birth is a development of that which is naturally within the heart. I hope we may be spared such births and evolutions!According to this theory we have had some fine specimens of regenerate people of late, for we have heard of evolutions ordevelopments which have brought out from within evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications and wickednesses of more than averageproportions! God save us from all development of the sin which dwells in man! Philosophically the dogma of evolution is adream, a theory without a vestige of proof! Within 50 years, children in school will read of extraordinary popular delusionsand this will be mentioned as one of the most absurd of them! Many a merry jest will be uttered bearing upon the follies ofscience in the 19th Century. In its bearing upon religion, this vain notion is, however, no theme for mirth, for it is notonly deceptive, but it threatens to be mischievous in a high degree. There is not a hair of truth upon this dog from its headto its tail, but it rends and tears the simple ones. In all its bearings upon Scriptural Truth, the evolution theory is indirect opposition to it! If God's Word is true, evolution is a lie! I will not mince the matter-this is not the time for softspeaking.
Regeneration is much more than reformation, or the development of natural goodness. It is described in Scripture as a newcreation and as a resurrection from the dead. It is not the cleansing of the carnal mind, but the implantation of a spiritualnature. It is not a shaping, feeding, washing and purging of what is already in fallen man-it is a putting into us a lifewhich was never there before. It is a supernatural work of God, the Holy Spirit-it is a miracle of Grace, a work of God! Outof the heart, if the volcano is permitted to pour forth its lava, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, and suchlike. The Savior compels us to see how bad the natural heart must be in itself, since that which comes out of it is so vile.Who could bring such unclean things out of a clean heart? The source must be foul if the streams are so filthy. These evilsmust be within, or else they could not come from within.
Our Savior is not speaking of a single man, or a certain set of men, but of man, generally, of man as a race! We are all verymuch alike by nature. "As in water, face answers to face, so the heart of man to man." Friend, you are of the same race asthose whose sins you censure. Though out of your heart there may never proceed actual fornications and adulteries-God grantthey may not!-yet the seeds of such evils are there and you will be foolish if you think that they can never grow into acts.If any man says that no such evil lurks in his heart, I lay to his charge the two last sins in the list, namely, pride andfoolishness! No man should dare to think that he is incapable of a sin into which another man has fallen! We may never havesuffered from fever, or cholera, or diphtheria-but we may not, therefore, conclude that we are not liable to such diseases.Nor may an unregenerate man, however excellent or moral he may be, conclude that he is invulnerable to the arrows of moraldisease. Put the man in certain circumstances, tempt him in certain ways and there is a terrible possibility that he willfall into those very actions which he now so righteously denounces in others! I am a man and, therefore, liable to all thefaults of human nature. Self-righteousness may induce us to say with Hazael, "Is your servant a dog, that he should do thisthing?" But we shall be wise to forego so proud a question, for we may rest assured that we are dog enough for anything ifthe Grace of God is withdrawn from us! It is certainly true that "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperatelywicked: who can know it?" "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders" and so forth.
But what is meant here, do you think, by, "the heart?" Is it not intended to indicate the man himself-the man's most realself? Sin is sin, for the most part, because it is of the heart and the will. If the man's heart had nothing to do with it,I do not see how it would be sin. If a man had no will in the matter, where would his responsibility be? It is because wewillingly do evil that we sin. The essence of the sin lies in the will to do it and the full consent of the heart in it. Theheart is the center of life, the core of being, the place where manhood maintains its throne and what a terrible statementthis is, that out of the very center of life there proceed from man "evil thoughts, wickedness, blasphemy" and the
The heart is the spring of action-the heart suggests, resolves, designs and sets the whole train of life in motion. The heartgives the impulse and the force and yet, out of the heart, thus initiating and working, proceeds all this mischief of sin.By the heart is meant mainly the affections, but it often includes the understanding and the will. It is, in fact, the
man's vital self. Sin is not a thing extra that comes to us and afflicts us like robbers breaking into our house at night,but it is a tenant of the soul, dwelling within us as in its own house. This evil worm has penetrated into the kernel of ourbeing and there it abides. Sin has intertwisted itself with the warp and woof of our nature and none can remove it but theLord God Himself! As long as the heart remains unchanged, out of it will proceed that which is sinful. "Every imaginationof the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually."
If it is so, that the nest in which sin is born and nurtured is the heart, itself, we always carry about with us, by nature,that which will surely be the cause of sin unless we look well to it and cry daily for Grace to conquer it. This evil natureof ours is an always present danger-it is a powder magazine which at any moment may explode. Oh for Grace to keep our heartswith all diligence!
How clearly sin comes from within and not from outside! How truly it is born in the heart! Oftentimes we see men commit sinsagainst conscience-they know they are doing wrong, for they will lie and even swear hard in order to conceal their folly.A man must know that he does wrong, for he labors to deny it when it is charged against him. Now, if a man sins against lightand conscience, it shows that his heart must be radically bad.
Sin must be within us naturally since the best training does not prevent it. Children secluded from the sight or hearing ofevil-kept, as it were, within a glass case-yet run to it when the restraint is removed! As the young duck which has been rearedin a dry place yet takes to the water as soon as it sees a pond, so do many hasten to evil at the first opportunity. How oftenit happens that those young persons who have been most shut out from the world have become the readiest victims of temptationwhen the time has come for them to quit the parental roof! It must be in them, or it could not thus come out of them. In manycases, evil cannot be the result of mistaken education nor of ill example-and yet there it is-the seed is in the soil andneeds no sowing.
Again, we frequently find men falling into sins towards which they would seem to have had no temptation. A man is rich andyet covetous. He has enough to content him if his heart were not evil. Men who have the enjoyment of almost every desirablepleasure too often crave after indulgences altogether unnatural. Does not this show how evil the heart is? Is not this speciallystriking when you see how men invent new sins, of which ordinary people would never have dreamed?
Moreover, put a man where you may and seclude him as you please, sin will still break out from him and, therefore, the sinmust be somewhere within, hidden away. Do we not know this? When we are in associations of the best kind we find evil thoughtsand imaginations springing up within our minds. Shut yourself up in a narrow cell, but there will be room in it for troopsof sins! Hasten away and dwell alone as a hermit where rumor of pollution and iniquity can never reach you from abroad andstill you will find the cauldron within boiling and bubbling up with evil! A door must be well sealed if it is to shut outtemptation. No, shut the door and hermetically seal it and sin has already entered with yourself, for it is within you! Untilyou are delivered from that evil man, yourself, you are not delivered from tendencies to wickedness. The heart of man is theseed plot of iniquity and the nursery of transgression. As the multitudes streamed forth from the hundred gates of Thebes,so do sins proceed from the heart! O Lord, have mercy upon us and give us new hearts and right spirits!
III. Thirdly, and briefly, let us notice for a minute THE DEFILEMENT WHICH IS CAUSED BY THE COMING
OUT OF THESE EVIL THINGS. While they lie asleep within us, they are bad enough, but when at last they pour forth into ourlives and buzz abroad in our acts, then they cause grievous defilement and make us unclean. In some cases they cause a defilementwhich our fellow men see and, seeing, begin to cry out against us and even to banish us from their society. Where that isnot the case, sin always causes defilement to the man himself. He goes from bad to worse, from worse to worst. Sin is likea ladder. Few reach the height of iniquity at once-the most of men climb from one evil to another- and then to a third anda fourth. Sin hardens men to further sin. He who is a moral monster was not always such. By sinning much, he learned to sinmore. The door of his heart was at first a little ajar, but outgoing sins opened it to its full width. A man is not capable,at first, of the sins which afterwards are habitual to him. Step by step, men descend into the abyss of infamy if their feetare not hindered by restraint, or stopped by Almighty Grace. Every sin produces a fresh degree of callousness in the heart.Even if sin is speedily repented of, its damage is not readily repaired-if its writing is erased, you can see where it usedto be. Even the passage of a momentary thought over the mind will leave a stain. See, then, the defiling power of sin.
Here is the main point-the man out of whose heart these evil things proceed is defiled before God. I know that many will notthink much of this, but that indifference only proves the hardening nature of sin. Only think of it-the sinful man is commonand unclean before God! He is not fit to enter the sanctuary of God, nor to come into His Holy Presence. Sinful man cannotcommune with a holy God! You do not mind that, you say. Ah me, how alienated from God are your hearts! If it were not so,we would judge that the most horrible thing in the world is for a man no longer to be able to speak with his Maker, nor hisMaker to look favorably upon him. A breach of communion between the creature and the Creator is a kind of Hell, a blight,a curse, a death! God cannot comfortably commune with us while our hearts are fountains of defilement from which iniquityproceeds. By this defilement we become incapable of doing God any service. A defiled priest of old could not offer sacrifice.He that is defiled in heart and life can do nothing for God. God does not accept him and, therefore, He cannot accept anythingat his hands.
All that a defiled person touches becomes defiled by that very fact-his hymns are defiled-sing them as sweetly as he may.His prayers are defiled, though he may offer them accurately as to their words. His very thoughts are defiled! By-and-by itcomes to this, that God cannot bear this defiled one anywhere in His universe, among holy beings, any more than men can bearlepers in common society. The just God is driven to find a place where the willfully unclean may be placed apart-"where theirworm dies not, and their fire is not quenched." At last the great High Priest will look upon the defiled one and, lookingat him and seeing his leprosy of sin still upon him, that Priest will say, "Depart! Depart!" Oh the terror of that final word!I dare not dwell upon this awful result of choosing sin and refusing mercy! I the more readily cease from this theme becausemy last point is that upon which I would dwell as long as possible.
IV. Hear me, then, while I speak of THE ONLY CURE FOR THIS EVIL. O Sirs, your hearts must be cured of sin! Not merely theoutcome of your heart, but the heart, itself, must be purged from defilement, for as long as sin comes forth from your heart,it shows that the heart is still sinful. The heart must be changed, or you can never meet God with acceptance, nor be foundamong the glorious throng who behold His face and find a Heaven in the sight! You must be renewed in the spirit of your minds,or you cannot dwell forever with God. How is this to be done? I answer, it is impossible-impossible with man! All that wecan do towards it must fall short of the mark-
"Madness by nature reigns within, The passions burn and rage; Till God's own Son, with skill Divine, The inward fire assuage."
You may take a thistle and water it carefully, but it will produce no figs-and you may cultivate a thorn through life, butit will yield no grapes. The leopard cub taken from its mother and tamed will still be a leopard-and the young serpent willstill go upon its belly, teach it as you may. It is beyond and above all power of mortal man to change his own heart!
How, then, can we be made fit to dwell with God? Must we despair? Must we die utterly broken-hearted? Listen! For all thedefilement that has fallen upon anyone here, even though all the defilement of my text should have met upon one single individual,there is cleansing! With God there is plenteous redemption and measureless mercy. For adultery, for murder, for blasphemy,for all manner of sin, there is forgiveness! The Lord rejoices to blot out the transgressions of repenting sinners, for Hedelights in mercy!
Last Sabbath morning it was my privilege to preach of Him who knew no sin, but was made sin for us, that we might be madethe righteousness of God in Him. [THE HEART OF THE GOSPEL, Sermon #1910, Volume 32.] The glorious Doctrine of the atoningSacrifice offered upon the Cross of Calvary is most charming to those who feel that they are defiled with sin. Upon that blessedTruth of God I could dilate without weariness by the month together-and this terrible theme of this morning, which sinks myheart into the dust-I have only brought forward that I may say afterwards, that the Lord Jesus is able to deliver us fromall iniquity and cleanse us from all sin. Oh, you who are defiled, whoever you may be, come and wash and be clean! He thatbelieves in Jesus is justified from all sin, whatever his transgressions may be! The Lord delights in mercy through the greatSacrifice of Christ. He is able to say, "Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they arered like crimson, they shall be as wool." "All manner of sin and of blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men." Oh, that men wouldseek pardon through Jesus Christ who is exalted on high to give repentance and remission!
"Yes," you say, "but pardon is not all we need." Most true, it is not all we need. We need to have the inward source of sintaken away. This is also provided. Do you not know that in the blessed Covenant of Grace it is written, "A new heart, also,will I give you, and a right spirit will I put within you. I will take away the heart of stone out of their flesh, and I willgive them a heart of flesh"? Our Divine Savior turns lions into lambs and ravens into doves! "With men it is impossible, butwith God all things are possible." There also lives among us One who came down to earth when Jesus went up to Heaven, abidingamong us evermore. The Holy Spirit is here to set us free from the bondage of sin! He comes into the heart where evil dwellsas a strong armed man and, being mightier than the evil, He drives out the foul spirit that held possession and He dwellsthere, Himself, changing the nature and creating faith and purity!
He makes us love the holiness which before we neglected and loathe the sin in which we once indulged. It is possible for usto be born again-Glory be to God for that! It is written, "Sin shall not have dominion over you." I do not think we have everpraised God enough for this possibility. To be washed in the blood is a precious thing. But, oh, to be cleansed with the waterwhich flowed with the blood from that dear pierced side is an equal blessing! To be made holy is a heavenly gift! To be sanctifiedis as great a favor as to be justified! Purity of heart is to be had by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ-is not this goodnews? Those who receive Jesus receive power to become sons of God and this means holiness! Those who become children of Godare made like the First-Born and they grow up into Him in all things. Grace reigns in them through righteousness unto eternallife!
Brothers and Sisters, it may be well to make laws to restrain fornication, theft and blasphemy, but the only sure cure forall sin is the Grace of God in the heart. Are they going to stop dogs from going mad by muzzling them? Dogs will go mad withtheir muzzles on and so will men sin despite the restraints of law! So long as hearts are evil, evils will proceed from them.The only physician for sin is the Lord Jesus and His heavenly surgery lies in the renewing of the heart by Grace through theHoly Spirit who works by the Gospel. My Brothers, keep to the old Gospel-keep to the one remedy which has healed so many!No new theories for us! We accept the old and tried everlasting Gospel of the blessed God! The Truth of God will live andflourish when all the evil thoughts of men have proven their foolishness and are cast to the moles and to the bats, as imagesof deception, without life or power!
Pray for a blessing upon this burden of the Lord which, with a heavy heart, I have delivered to you. Amen.