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February 6, 1859 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
© Copyright 2004 by Tony Capoccia. This updated file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold. All rights reserved.
Verses quoted, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ©1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
This sermon, preached by Tony Capoccia, is now available on Audio Cassette or CD:
“Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” [Luke 12:1 ]
This age is full of shams. Deception never stood in so eminent a position as it does at the present hour. I fear that there are only a few who love the naked truth; we can scarcely endure it in our homes; you will scarcely find a person in business who absolutely states it. If you walked through our city streets, you might imagine that all the shops were built of marble, and that all the doors were made of mahogany and woods of the rarest kinds; and yet you soon discover that there is scarcely a piece of any of these precious materials to be found anywhere, but that everything has simulated grain, and painted, and varnished. I find no fault with this, except that it is an outward example of an inward evil that exists. As it is in our streets, so is it everywhere; graining, painting, and ornamentation, are at an enormous premium. Counterfeit has finally attained to such an eminence that it is very difficult to detect. The counterfeit so nearly approaches the genuine item that the eye of wisdom itself needs to be enlightened before it can discern the difference. This is especially true in religious matters. There was once an age of intolerant bigotry, when every person was evaluated, and if they were not precisely up to the orthodox standard of the day, the fire devoured them; but in this age of love and acceptance, we are very apt to allow the counterfeit to pass by, and to imagine that outward show is really as beneficial as inward reality. If ever there was a time when it was needful to say, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy,” it is now. The minister may not need to preach this doctrine in the days of severe persecution: when the stakes are blazing, and when the torture rack is in full operation, for few men and women will be hypocrites. These are the clear tests of impostors; suffering, and pain, and death, for Christ's sake, for they will not be endured by mere pretenders. But in this silky-smooth age, when being religious is respectable, when following Christ is honored, and when godliness itself has become gain, it is doubly necessary that the minister should cry aloud, and lift up his voice like a trumpet against this sin, “the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” I am sure that every true child of God will, at times, doubt themselves, and their fear will probably take the shape of a suspicion concerning their own state. They will at times begin to be terribly alarmed, lest, the reality is that their godliness is only external, and their profession of faith is nothing but an empty vanity. Those who are true Christians will sometimes suspect that they aren’t truly saved, while those who are false believers will wrap themselves up in the constant confidence of their own sincerity.
My dear Christian brothers and sisters, if you are at this time in doubt concerning your own salvation, then the things I have to say this morning, will perhaps, help you in searching your own heart and evaluating your faith, and I am sure that you will not blame me if I should seem to be a bit severe, but you will rather say, “Sir, I desire to find out for certain the true condition of my own soul, tell me faithfully and tell me honestly what are the signs of a hypocrite, and I will sit down and try to read my own heart, to discover whether these things have a bearing on me, and I will be happy if I will come out of the fire like pure gold.” We will note, then, this morning, first, the character of a hypocrite; then we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of being a hypocrite ; and then we will offer a cure for hypocrisy, which, if constantly applied to our daily lives, will certainly prevent us from attempting to deceive. The cure is contained in these words which follow the text “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” [Luke 12:2-3 ]
I. First, THE CHARACTER OF A HYPOCRITE.
1. A hypocrite may be known by the fact that their speech and their actions are contrary to one another.
We have an elaborate description of the hypocrite in the 23 rd chapter of Matthew, and I don’t know of a better way that I can portray him than by turning again to the words of Christ. As Jesus says, “they do not practice what they preach.” The hypocrite can speak like an angel, he can quote texts with the greatest speed; he can talk concerning all matters of Christianity, whether they are theological doctrines, mystical questions, or practical difficulties. In his own mind he knows a lot and when he speaks, you will often feel embarrassed at your own ignorance in the presence of his superior knowledge. But watch him when he comes to actions. What do you see there? The fullest contradiction of everything that he has said. He tells others that they must obey the Bible: does he obey it? No! he doesn’t. He declares that others must experience this, that, and the other, and he sets up a fine scale of experience, far above even that of the Christian himself; but does he touch it? No, not with so much as one of his little fingers. He will tell others what they should do; but will he remember his own teaching? Not he! Follow him to his house; trail him to the marketplace, see him in the stores, and if you want to refute his preaching you may easily do it from his own life. My dear friends! is this the way it is with you? You are a member of a church, an elder, a deacon, a minister. Is this your case? Is your life a contradiction of your words? Do your hands witness against your lips? How is it with you? With embarrassment, each one of us must confess that, to some extent, our life is contradictory to our profession. We blush and we mourn over this. But I hope there are some here who can say, “Notwithstanding many weaknesses, with my whole heart have I endeavored to run in the ways of your commandments, O my God, and I have not intentionally spoken anything with my lips which I did not intend to carry out in my life.” Oh! believe me, my brothers and sisters, talk is easy, but walk is hard: speech any one may attain to, but action is difficult. We must have grace within us to make our life holy; but holiness only expressed with our lips needs no grace. The first mark of a hypocrite, then, is that they contradict by their acts what they say with their words. Do any of you do this? If so, stand convicted of hypocrisy, and bow your heads, and confess the sin. 2 . The next mark of a hypocrite is that whenever they do right it is that they may be seen of others. The hypocrite sounds a trumpet as he gives money to the poor, and chooses the corner of the streets for his prayers. To him virtue in private is almost a vice, he can never detect any beauty in virtue, unless she has a thousand eyes looking at her, and then she is something special. The true Christian, like the nightingale, sings in the night; but the hypocrite sings all his songs in the day, when he can be seen and heard of men. To be well spoken of is the ecstasy of his life; if he is praised, it is like sweet wine to him. The criticism of man on a virtue would make him change his opinion concerning it in a moment; for his standard is the opinion of his fellow creatures, his law is the law of self-seeking, and of self-honoring: he is virtuous, because to be virtuous is to be praised; but if tomorrow wickedness were to be praised then he would be as wicked as the rest. Applause is what hypocrites are seeking after. They avoid all secret religion, and only live where men may see them. Now, is this the way it is with us? Let us deal honestly with ourselves; if we give to the poor, do we desire to do it in secret, where no one will know? Are our prayers offered in our closets, where only God can hear the cry of our secret prayers? Can we say, that if every person were struck stone blind and deaf and dumb, that we would not alter our conduct in the least? Can we declare that the opinion of others is not our guiding law, but that we stand servants to our God and to our conscience, and will not do a wrong thing just to be accepted, nor are we urged to do the right thing from fear of being condemned by others? Note that the person who does not act properly from a higher motive than that of being praised, gives evidence that they are a hypocrite, but they who do the right thing against the opinion of every man, and simply because they believe it is right, and sees the stamp of God's approval on it, that person need not be afraid that they are a hypocrite. Hypocrites do their good works for applause. Is it this way with you? If so, be honest, and as you would convict another convict yourself. 3. Again; hypocrites love titles, and honors, and respect from others.
The Pharisee was never so happy as when he was called “Rabbi,” he never felt himself to be really great as when he was given the most honored seat in the synagogue. But the true Christian does not care for titles. It is one of the marks of true Christians that they have generally taken names of abuse to be their distinctive titles. There was a time when the name “Puritan” was the lowest of all; it was the name which was always used by the drunkard and blasphemer to express a godly man. “Well,” says the godly man, “I will be called a puritan; if that is a name of reproach I will take it.” It has been this way with Christians all over the world. They have chosen for themselves the name which their enemy has given them as a name of reproach. Not so the hypocrite. They take that which is the most honorable; they always wish to be thought to belong to the most respectable religious group, and to hold an office in that religion which will confer upon them the most honorable title.
Can you honestly say from your inmost soul, that in religion you are not seeking for honors or titles, but that you can tread these beneath your feet, and want no higher degree than that of a sinner saved by grace and no greater honor than to sit at the feet of Jesus and to learn from him? Are you willing to be the despised followers of the carpenter's son, as were the fishermen on the lake? If so, I think you have very little hypocrisy in you; but if you only follow Jesus because you are honored by men, farewell to the sincerity of your religion, you are unmasked, and stand before the face of this congregation as an acknowledged hypocrite. 4. There was another evidence of hypocrites which was equally good, namely, that they strained out a gnat but swallowed a camel.
Hypocrites in these days do not find fault with us for eating with unwashed hands, but they still focus on some ceremonial omission. Sabbatarianism has furnished hypocrisy with an extremely convenient refuge. Acts of necessity done by the Christian, are the objects of the sanctimonious horror of Pharisees, and labors of mercy and smiles of joy, are damning sins in the esteem of hypocrites, if done on a Sunday. Though our Father worked, and Christ worked, and though works of kindness, and mercy, and love are to be done every day of the week, to include Sundays: yet if the Christian does these things on Sunday, the hypocrite accuses them of violating God's holy law. The slightest infringement of any ceremonial observance becomes a great sin in the eye of the hypocrite. But the hypocrite who will find fault with you for some little thing in this respect, straining out a gnat, is the man you will find cheating, committing adultery, lying, boasting, and taking advantage of the poor. I have always noticed that hypocrites watch for the little things, they are always searching out little points of difference, and yet they themselves have neglected the more important matters of the law, and while they are so particular about the tithe of mint and cumin, yet they horde wheat and other commodities in their own barns. Always suspect yourself when you are more careful about little things than about great things. If you find it hurts your conscience more to be absent from the Lord’s Supper than to cheat a widow, then rest assured that you are a hypocrite. And there are many people, who, if they should do any work on Sunday consider themselves wicked; but if they are lazy the other six days of the week, it no sin at all. Be assured, that the person who strains out a gnat but yet swallows the camel, is a deceiver. But note this, my dear friends, I like for you to strain out the gnats; I have no objection to that at all only do not swallow the camel afterwards. Be as particular as you like about right and wrong. If you think a thing is a little wrong, it is wrong to you. “Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” If you can’t do it, believing yourself to be right in not doing it, though another man could do it and do right, yet to you it would not be right. Strain out the gnats; they are not good things in your wines, strain them out; it is good to get rid of them; but then do not open your mouth and swallow a camel afterwards, for if you do that, you will give no evidence that you are a child of God, but prove that you are a damnable hypocrite. 5. But read on in this chapter, and you will find that these people neglected all the inward part of religion, and only observed the outward.
As our Savior said, they “clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence” [Matthew 23:25 ]. There are many books which are beautifully bound, but there is nothing worthwhile inside; and there are many persons that have a very spiritual exterior, but there is nothing whatever in the heart. Don’t you know some of them? Perhaps if you know yourself you may discover one. Don’t you know some who are extremely religious who would scarcely miss attending a church service, or reading their Bibles or praying, or going to the Lord’s Table. They practice the ritual in all of its forms and all of its ceremonies, and would not turn aside as much as a hair's breadth from any outward command? Before the world they stand as being eminently devout, because they are minutely attentive to the externals of Christianity; but yet they are careless of the inward matters. So long as they take the bread and wine they are not careful about whether they have eaten the flesh and drunk the blood of Christ; so long as they have been baptized with water they are not careful whether they have been buried with Christ in baptism unto death. So long as they have been to church, it is nothing to them whether they have had communion with Christ, or not. No, they are perfectly content, so long as they have the shell, without looking for the kernel of wheat within.
Some people I know of are like inns and public places of lodging, which have an angel hanging outside for a sign, but they have a devil within for a landlord. There are many men of that kind; they are careful to have an excellent sign hanging on the outside, they want to be known by everyone to be strictly religious; but within, which is the most critical part, they are full of wickedness. But I have even heard people who are wicked on the outside be given credit for being good on the inside! People will say, “Ah! well, poor man, he is a sad drunkard, certainly, but inside he is a very good-hearted man.” Now, as Rowland Hill used to say, that is a most astonishing thing for any man to say of another, that he was bad on the outside and good inside. When men take their fruit to market they cannot make their customers believe, if they see rotten apples at the top of the basket, that there are good ones at the bottom. A man's outward conduct is generally no better than his heart. Therefore, do not misunderstand me. When I say we must pay attention more to the inward than the outward, I would not have you leave the outward to itself. “Be sure to clean the outside of the cup and dish” make it as clean as you can, but also be sure that the inside is clean too. Look to that first. Ask yourself these questions “Have I been born again? Have I passed from darkness to light? Have I been brought out of the realms of Satan into the kingdom of God's dear Son? Do I live by private communion with My Lord Jesus? Can I say that my soul pants after the Lord, just as the deer pants for streams of water? For if I cannot say this, whatever my outward life may be, I am self-deceived and deceive others, and am nothing but a hypocrite who will incur God’s judgment. I have cleansed the outside of the cup and dish, but inside is still full of wickedness. Does this apply to any of you? Am I preaching personally to you? Then God be blessed for it. May the truth be the death of your delusions. 6. You may know a hypocrite by another sign. His religion depends on the place, or on the time of day.
Perhaps he rises at seven a.m., and you will find him religious for fifteen minutes; for he is saying his prayers to himself in the first part of the morning. Well, then you find him pretty pious for another half-hour, for there is family prayer; but when the business day begins, and he is talking to his employees, I won't guarantee that you will be able to admire him. If one of his employees has been doing something a little wrong, you will find the hypocrite perhaps using angry and shameful language. You will find him too, if he gets a customer whom he thinks to be rather naive, not quite so pious, for he will take advantage of the customer. You will find, too, that if he sees a good chance at any hour of the day, he will be ready to be a bit dishonest. He was a saint in the morning, for there was nothing to be lost by it; but he has a religion that is not too strict; business is business, he says, and he puts religion aside by stretching his conscience, which is made of very elastic material. Well, some time in the evening you will find him very pious again, unless he is on a business trip, where neither wife, nor family, nor church can see him and you will find him at questionable places of entertainment. He would not go if there was a chance of the minister hearing of it, for then he would be excommunicated, but he does not mind going when the eye of the church or of any of his friends is not on him. Fine clothes make fine gentlemen, and fine places make fine hypocrites; but the man who is true to his God and to his conscience, is a Christian all day, and all night long, and a Christian everywhere. “Though you were to fill my house full of gold,” he says, “I would not be impure or unethical; though you would give me the stars and the countless wealth of empires, yet I would not do that which would dishonor God, or disgrace my profession of faith.” Put the true Christian where he might sin, and be praised for it, and he will not do it. He does not hate sin for the sake of the company, but he hates it for its own sake. He says, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” You will find him a fallible man, but not a false man; you will find him full of weaknesses, but not a man of premeditated lust and sin. As a Christian, you must follow Christ in the mire as well in the green meadows; you must walk with him in the rain as well as in the sunshine, you must go with Christ in the storm as well as in fair weather. He is no Christian who cannot walk with Christ, come poverty, come contempt or shame. A person is the hypocrite who can walk with Christ in silver slippers and leave the Master when it becomes necessary for him to go barefoot. The hypocrite's religion is like a chameleon, it takes its color from the light which falls on it, but the true Christian's religion is always the same. Is this true of us? Can we say we desire to always be the same? Or do we change with our company and with the times? If so, we are confessed hypocrites, and let us confess it before God, and may God change us to be sincere Christians. 7. There is another sign of a hypocrite, and now it will get very personal to most of us here. Hypocrites are generally severe with others, and very lenient with themselves.
Have you ever heard a hypocrite describe himself? I describe him this way: you are a mean, selfish person. “No,” he says, “I am not; I am economical.” I say to him, “You are dishonest, you are a thief.” “No,” says he, “I am only shrewd and clever.” “Well, but,” I say to him, “you are proud and conceited.” “Oh!” he says, “I am simply a well-bred person.” “Yes, but you are a flatterer and a cowardly fellow.” “No,” he says, “I am all things to all men.” Somehow or other he will make vice look like a virtue in himself, but he will deal the opposite with others. Show him a Christian who is really humble, and he says, “I hate his submissive ways.” Tell him there is one who is very courageous for Christ; and he says, “Oh! he is insensitive to the feelings of others!” Show him one who is doing what he can for his Master's service, spending, and being spent for him, and the hypocrite says that, “He is rash, and irresponsible, and extravagant; the man does not know what he is doing.” You may point out a virtue, and the hypocrite will immediately say it is a vice. Have you ever seen a hypocrite turn doctor? He has a plank of wood in his eye, large enough to shut out the light of heaven from his soul, but nevertheless he is a very skillful ophthalmologist. He waits on some poor brother, whose eye is a little affected with a speck of sawdust so tiny that the full blaze of the sun can scarcely reveal it. Look at our plank-eyed friend, he puts on a knowing look, and cries out, “Allow me to take the speck out of your eye.” “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye” [Matthew 7:5 ]. There are people like that who make virtues in others into vices, and vices in themselves they transform into virtues.
Now, if you are a Christian, I will tell you what your spirit will be like, it will be the very opposite; you will always be making excuses for others, but you will never be making excuses for yourself. The true Christian, if he sees himself sin, mourns over it. He says to another, “Oh! I feel so sinful;” and the other one says, “I cannot really see it; I can see no sin in you; I could only wish that I were as holy as you.” “No,” says the other, “I am full of weaknesses.” John Bunyan describes Mercy, and Christiana, and the children, after having been washed in the bath, and sealed with the seal, as coming up out of the water, and being all fair and lovely to look upon; and one began to say to the other, “You are fairer than I!” and “You are more beautiful than I!” said another. And then each began to bemoan their own imperfections, and to praise the beauty of the others. That is the spirit of a Christian; but the spirit of the hypocrite is the very reverse; he will judge, and condemn, and severely punish every other man; and as for himself, he is exempt, he is a king, he knows no law, and his conscience slumbers and allows him to go on easily in the very sins which he condemns in others. This is a very prominent mark of the hypocrite, and I question whether all of us must not blame ourselves a little here. II. And now we are going to LOOK AT THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF BEING A HYPOCRITE.
Now, sir, bring us your ledger, and let us have a look at it. You are a hypocrite. Well, what is on the profit side? A good deal, I must confess.
Here is, first of all credit and honor. If you were to say outright, “You are a thief, you are a secret drunkard, you can curse God as well as any man;” or if the world would hear as much, you would have no honor; but as it is you have joined the church, and the minister is very fond of you, the deacons and elders think a great deal of you, and you are a very honorable, respectable man. You go walking to your pew with your Bible, and everybody says, “There is an exemplary character;” and they pat their little boys on the head, and say, “May you grow up to be a very good man like Mr. So-and-so.”
The next advantage is the case which you enjoy. The minister often preaches a solemn, thundering sermon against sin. You know it doesn’t apply to you; you are not a sinner, are you? not at all; who would suspect you? You are one of the brightest of the saints; it is almost a pity you were not one of the twelve; there was one among them almost as good as you, and his end will probably be yours. You escape every thunder of the law; your conscience rests easy, and the very thing which makes the child of God tremble, puffs you up, and the very marks and evidences which cast him down, help to exalt you. The sun of the gospel which melts wax, hardens the poor clay of your hearts, and you get the more exalted in your self-conceit through everything you hear. And that is good too, is it not? Certainly very much in your favor. And then there is another advantage of being a hypocrite. How nicely your business has prospered through it; that, perhaps, is the part of the bargain which you like the best. Ever since you have made a profession of Christianity, haven’t those who go to your church supported your business? You would not have done half as well if you had been suspected to be what you really are, but because of that fine cloak of yours, that fine garment of hypocrisy, how nicely you have prospered! What a nice little round sum you have been able to lay aside, haven’t you? Again, all that is on the profit side. And besides that, what honors haven’t you received in the church. Aren’t you a deacon, or an elder; yes, and perhaps a minister too: how pleasant that is! And you puff yourself up, and you feel satisfied. “Oh, what a good man I am, other people think I am, therefore I must be. It is true I devour the widow's house; it is true I am not very particular about what I do; nevertheless the minister, the elders, the deacons think I am a godly person, the whole church applauds me; they cannot all be mistaken; surely I must be a special saint.” These were the advantages of being a hypocrite, but what about the disadvantages? I think we will be able to see that the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. In the first place, I see a great disadvantage. Some of the people of the world do not think quite as much of you, as you imagine. The poor widow that you have taken advantage of knows that you are a wicked person. You will have to be very careful sir, or your true colors will be revealed. The very first disadvantage I see, is a fear that your hypocrisy will be discovered. It would take you only half as much time and trouble to be an honest man as it does to be a deceiver. A man who is in the habit of speaking truth, needn’t worry how he opens his mouth, nor where; but a man who lies, must be very careful, and have a very good memory, and remember all he has ever said before, lest he should trip himself up. So it is with you my friend, your religion is a Sunday religion, and you have to be very careful, so as to keep Monday’s dealings a secret and Sunday’s external worship as good as you can. Hard work! I would not stand in your place to have all the trepidation and fear of discovery which so often comes on you. No, I would sooner be a professed unbeliever, than I would have the fear that constantly haunts you, lest you should stand ashamed before the Church by your secret sins being discovered. But I see something worse than this, here is constant anxiety of conscience; hypocrites may seem as if they were at ease but they cannot really be. The Christian who is true to God, and is really his child, can confidently say, “I know that Jesus has taken away my sin.” Assurance, given to him by the Holy Spirit, calms his fears and he can rest in Christ. But the highest presumption, to which the hypocrite can attain, brings no such peace as that which is breathed upon the Christian by the lips of assurance. He can go to his bed, yes, he can go to his grave in peace, but the hypocrite is afraid of a shadow, and flees when no man pursues. And last of all, Mr. Hypocrite, I see a disadvantage here which you usually forget, it is this that despite your profession God abhors you, and if there is one man more than another who stinks in the nostrils of Jehovah, it is a person like you you miserable pretender. There will be a special place reserved for you among the damned. Think man! Think what will be your misery when your secret deeds of iniquity are read before an assembled universe, and men and angels utter one unanimous hiss against you. What will it be like when your mask is torn off; when the masquerade of your hypocrisy is finished and you are stripped naked to your shame, to be observed by everyone and to be despised by everyone? What do you say to this? Will you go from your deaconship, or from your ministry, to be among the devils in hell? Will you go from the Lord’s Table to drink the sulfurous cup of torment? Will you descend from the song of the sanctuary and from the Church of the Living God to the abode of fiends and to the wailing of the damned? Yes, you will as sure as this word is true, if you continue on in your hypocrisy, Death will find you out, and hell will be your doom, for the hope of the hypocrite is like the spider's web, soon swept away; and where is he when God takes away his hope? Such are the advantages and disadvantages of being a hypocrite, and there is an infinite amount of disadvantages. III. Now for the matter of the CURE OF THE HYPOCRITE.
Oh! my friends, I feel that in speaking of the hypocrite, I have tried to speak in a direct and stern manner, but I have not been able to reach the heart as I wished, because it is a mark of human nature that this is the last sin of which we really suspect ourselves, and yet one into which it is most easy to fall. I often fall on my knees in an agony of doubt, and cry out, “Lord, make me sincere; if I am deceived, undeceive me.” I don’t think that any Christian will live long without some such seasons of anguishing self-examination.
Let me put it to you clearly today, let no one exempt themselves. You may have been professing Christians for many years, and yet you may have been hypocrites. Remember there was a hypocrite among the apostles, so there may be hypocrites among the ministers of Christ. There have been deceivers among the apostolic churches, how much more may we expect them among us. Don’t look around to search them out, it is God's business not yours, to search out hypocrites; but look at yourselves to see whether you might be one.
Driving along the other day in the wind, I observed a large branch fall off of a tree. I remarked that it was rotten, and wondered within myself how long that might have been on the tree, and yet have been rotten all along. Then I thought, “Oh! if the wind of persecution were to sweep through the church, would I fall off like a rotten branch? Wouldn’t many of my congregation fall off? They have professed to be united to Christ for a long time, and have spoken for him, perhaps preached for him, but if the time of trial, which will test the earth, should come on us again, how many of us would stand? Oh! my friends don’t be content to take your Christianity for granted; let it not be a superficial work. Don’t think that because you have seen me and have seen my elders, and we have admitted you into the church, that you are therefore a true Christian. We have been deceived many times; it is not hard work to deceive a kind heart. I have looked into the eyes of some, and have tried to read their very soul, and yet I have misjudged; I have seen tears in their eyes when they have made a profession of Christ, and yet they have been deceivers after all, and I have been very grossly taken in. In fact, the more kind-hearted a person is, then the more human nature will endeavor to trust them. I am certain I have used the utmost diligence to weed out of the church those whom I have suspected of hypocrisy, and greater diligence will yet be used. But, oh, do deal with yourselves, I beg you. I will not send you to hell blind-folded if I can help it; I don’t wish to be in error myself, and God forbid that I should allow you to be deceived. Oh! if you are not true Christians, away with your profession altogether. If it is not sound work, then down with it. Better to see the house tumble now, than let it stand until the rain descends and the floods come, and the winds beat on it in the dread eternity of the future. Oh, no, I would rather send every heart home uncomfortable than let the hypocrite sit here and think all is well; I would rather wound the child of God than allow the hypocrite to escape. But now for the cure of the hypocrite. What will we do to cure ourselves of any hypocrisy that may exist among us?
Let us remember that we cannot do anything in secret even if we try. The all-seeing God, apprehended in the conscience, will be the death of hypocrisy. I cannot try to deceive when I know that God is looking at me. It is impossible for me to try to deceive others when I know that I am in the presence of the Most High, and that he is reading my thoughts and the secret purposes of my heart. The only way in which the hypocrite can play the hypocrite at all is by forgetting the existence of God.
Let us, therefore, remember wherever I am, on my bed or in my secret place, God is there. There is not a secret word I speak in the ear of a friend that God doesn’t hear. Do I seek out the most private part of the city to commit my sin God is there. Do I choose the darkness of night to hide my iniquity? He is there looking at me. The thought of a ever present Deity, if it were fully realized, would keep us from sin; always looking at me, always looking in my heart.
We think we are doing many things in secret, but there is nothing concealed from God. And the day is coming, when all the sins of the hypocrite will be read and published. Oh! what a blush will be on the hypocrite when God will read the secret diary of his iniquity! O, those of you who claim to be Christians, let us always look on our actions in the light of the great revealing of them in the day of judgment. Pause over everything you do, and say, “Can I bear to have this sin shouted into the ears of all men and women?” No, before you sin, think this way, “Can I dare to do this and still to repeat the words, ‘You are the God who sees me.’”
You may deceive men, and deceive yourselves, but you cannot deceive God. You may die with the name of Christ on your lips, and men may bury you with a sure and certain hope of a glorious resurrection, but God will not be deceived neither by your profession of faith nor by men's opinion. He will put you in the scales, and if you are found lacking, he will cry out, “Away with him.” He will write down your name forever as a counterfeit. He will strip the mask off you. To detect you, you will be stripped naked, and reveal your wicked heart. How will you endure this? Will you dig into the depths of the earth to hide yourselves? Will you plunge into the sea to find a way of escape? Will you cry for the rocks to hide you, and the mountains to fall on you? In vain will you cry out. The all-seeing God will read your soul, will discover your secret, will reveal your hidden things, and tell the world that, though you did eat and drink in his streets, though you preached his name, yet he never knew you, you were still a worker of iniquity, and must be driven away for ever. Come let us just for one second reflect, that we will soon lie on our death bed. A few more months, and you and I will face the cruel tyrant, death. It will be hard work to play the hypocrite then; when the pulse is faint and few, when the eyes become weak, when the tongue is cleaving to the roof of your mouth, it will be vain to try to play the hypocrite then. O may God make you sincere; for if you die with an empty profession of faith, you will truly die for all of eternity. Of all deaths, I think the most awful is that of the hypocrite, and after death, for him to lift up his eyes and find himself lost for all eternity! O make sure you know the true condition of your heart. May God give you true grace and true faith, and may we all meet in heaven. This is our earnest prayer, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Anxiety, Ambition, Indecision
January 27, 1876 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Neither be ye of doubtful mind." Luke 12:29
The chief concern of a man should be, to see that his own soul is right in the sight of God. Solomon said, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Many persons think a great deal about the adorning of the body, but do not think anything about the ornaments of the soul. The feeding of the physical frame engrosses much care, but the supply of spiritual food is often neglected. Yet, O man, thou thyself art better than thy body! Thine immortal soul is worth far more than that poor carcase of thine which will soon become food for worms; pad all the things that thou hast, what are they compared with thine inner self, thy real self, thy heart, thy soul, thy spirit? In our text, our Savior bids us see to the condition of our mind: "Neither be ye of doubtful mind." He thus calls our attention to the higher and nobler part of our mind, and bids us see to it that it is in a right state. No doubt there are some people who are in easier circumstances than others, some who are in positions where they enjoy many comforts, while others are in places where they suffer many hardships; but, after all, happiness lies more in the mind than it does in the circumstances in which any individual is found, and the man within has far more to do with his own joy or sorrow than anything outside of him has. There have been some who have been perfectly free in a prison, while others have been in absolute bondage with wide estates to roam over. We have known some, whose spirits have triumphed when all around has tended to depress them; and we have seen others, who were wretched and desponding when they had, apparently, all that heart could wish. It is the mind which is the main thing; it will bring thee daylight or midnight, wealth or poverty, peace or war. I wish, dear friends, that half the time we spend in trying to better our circumstances were spent in bettering ourselves after the right fashion; and that even a tenth of the trouble we take to fit our circumstances to our desires were used in fitting our desires to our circumstances. If we did that, how much happier men and women we should be! Try as you may, you cannot alter the world in which your lot is cast, and you cannot alter God's providential arrangements; So, would it not be better that you should be altered so as to suit the providence, and be resigned to the will of God? It is beautiful to see how often the inspired writers of Holy Scripture were busy with what I may call indoor work, the work that has to be done within one's own heart. "Bless the Lord, O my soul," says David, in the 103rd Psalm; "and all that is within me, bless his holy name." This indoor work, brethren and sisters in Christ, will always pay us best; and our Lord Jesus, in his exhortations, often bids us attend to it. Did he not say to his disciples, "Let not your heart be troubled"? A little later, he said to them, "In the world ye shall have tribulation;" and he says the same to his disciples in every age. It is no use for you to try to avoid that, for you will have tribulation; yet, "Let not your heart be troubled." All the water in the sea will not hurt your vessel so long as you keep it outside; the danger begins when it gets inside the ship. So, it matters little what is outside you, if all is right within. Have that little bird in your bosom that sings sweetly of the love of God; wear the flower called heart's-ease in your button-hole; and you may go merrily through a perfect wilderness of trouble and a desert of care. A hurricane of afflictions may beat about you, yet you shall be a blessed man, for all the elements of blessedness are within your own heart. God has given them to you, and the devil himself cannot take them away. In speaking upon this text, I mean to preach a good part of the sermon to myself, for I need it as much as anybody does; but I ask each brother and sister to take home to themselves any part that suits them. And before I have done, I shall have a word for you unconverted people, and I pray God that that word may do you good, and that you may cease to be of a doubtful mind. The original of the text is not easy to explain, for the word translated "doubtful" is not used anywhere else in the New Testament. It appears to have something to do with meteors, so that the passage might be rendered, "Neither be ye of meteoric mind." As the word is so singular, there have been a great many different opinions as to its meaning. Some have said that it relates to high things that float above, such as the clouds. If they are right, our text says to us, "Do not be like the clouds, do not have cloudy minds, blown about with every wind of doctrine." Others render it, "Do not be like the birds, high up in the air, always on the wing, unsettled and uncertain, ever dying about, and never at rest." Others find an allusion to the ship that is far out upon the sea, and the text says to them, "Do not always be at sea, tossed up and down; have some anchorage; do not be always drifting to and fro." The word "doubtful" means so much that I do not expect to be able to tell you all that it means, but shall rather give you a few practical thoughts concerning it. I. "Neither be ye of doubtful mind." That is, first, CHILDREN OF GOD, BE NOT ANXIOUS.
Be not tossed up and down by your outward circumstances. If God prospers you, do not ride high, as the vessel does when the tide lifts it up; and if he does not prosper you, do not sink down as the vessel does when the tide ebbs away again. Do not be so affected by external things as to got into a state of worry, and fretfulness, and care, and anxiety, and distress. Our Savior's injunction means, "Do not be anxious about your temporal affairs." Be prudent; you have no right to spend the money of other people, nor yet your own, in wastefulness. You are to be careful and discreet, for every Christian should remember that he is only a steward, and that he is accountable to his Master for whatever he has, and the use he makes of it. But when you have done your best with your little, do not worry because you cannot make it more. And when you have done your best to meet your expenses, do not sit down, and wring your hands because you cannot lessen them. You cannot make a shilling into a sovereign, but be thankful if you have the shilling; and if you sometimes find that you must live from hand to mouth, recollect that you are not the first child of God who has had his manna every morning, nor the first of God's servants to have bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening, with nothing to lay by for the morrow. If this is your case, be not staggered and astonished, as though some new thing had happened unto you; and do not begin to fret, and fume, and worry, and trouble yourself about what you cannot help. Can you alter it with all your worrying? Have you, you who are in the habit of worrying and fretting, ever made any profit by doing so? How much a year do you think that anybody would give you for all your fretting? How much has it brought you in, Come, brother, if it is a good business, I would like to go into partnership with you; but I should like first to know something about your profits. As I look at your face, I notice that it is careworn and anxious. That does not seem to indicate that the business is a profitable one. If I listen to your speech, I hear you murmuring a great deal instead of praising God. That does not seem to me to be a profitable concern. In fact, as far as I have ascertained, either by my own experience or by the observation of others, I have never discovered that anxiety has comforted anybody, or that it has brought any grist to the mill, or any meal to the barrel. Well, if a thing does not pay, what is the good of it? But perhaps you say, "I cannot help fretting and worrying." No, my good brother or sister, but do you not think that the Lord can help you to help it, and that your faith in him, if it were what it ought to be, would soon be the end of your distress and trouble? Have you not found out yet I have, that the very anxiety, which arises through your being in a difficulty, unfits you to meet that difficulty? You are in a great hurry to do something or other, and that something or other does more mischief than could possibly have happened if you had kept still, resting in the Lord, and waiting patiently for him. Instead of doing so, you rush this way, and that way, and so add to your worries instead of decreasing them. You are like the servant with the basket of eggs on her head, who shakes her head because she is afraid her eggs will fall, and makes them fall by the very process of her trembling. So, you go and make ten troubles in endeavoring to get out of one. There is a text that is very easy to repeat, but not always so easy to obey: "Stand still, and see the salvation of God." But you want to see your own salvation, so you cannot stand still. There is many a man who has run before God's cloud, and who has been very glad to run or even to crawl back again. Some people are so anxious to carve for themselves that they cub their own fingers; they had better leave the carving in the hands of God, and take what he gives them, for he knows far better than they do what is good for them, and his hand is infinitely wiser than theirs can possibly be. "Oh, but!" says one, "I feel that I must be doing something." That "doing"will just be your undoing unless you stop and consider what God would have you do. The probability is that your action will be unwiso and hasty while you are in your present feverish condition. Wait till you get quite cool, brother; you will see your way far better then. At the present moment, you are in such a fidget and flutter that you are very apt to mistake your right hand for your left; and to put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. You say again that you cannot help being anxious. Then, my dear friend, I must very solemnly ask you what is the difference between you and the man of the world? There is an orphan child, and it is afraid it will not be fed; but you have a Father in heaven, and if you are afraid, surely, it is of little use for you to have such a Father. Are you not dishonoring his holy name by such conduct as that? Do you not think that others, who see you in this condition, will say, "There is not much power in religion, for these people, who profess to be Christians, are not comforted by it in their time of trouble, and it will not be of much use to them in the hour of their death." Remember Jeremiah's questions, "If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustest, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?" Surely it is time that we plucked up courage, and were not so easily disheartened, for we have worse trials on ahead than any we have yet been called to endure. "That is just what I dread," says one. What would you do, then, brother? "I have been thinking that perhaps I had better turn back." But you have no armor for your back; and the perils of going back are far worse than the perils of going forward. Therefore, I charge thee, if thou art indeed a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, to play the man, and let thy faith overcome thy fear. Obey that gracious word, "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." Do you not believe that "all things work together for good to them thas love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose"? You say that you do. Do you not believe that?
"He sits a Sovereign on his throne And ruleth all things well"?
You say that you do. Do you not believe he loves you with an everlasting love? Do you not know that he spared not his only begotten Son, but delivered him up for you; and do you think that, after having done so much for you, he will withhold from you anything that is necessary for your well-being? You must not think so. Brother, sister, it would be unkind, ungenerous, ungrateful to think so. Therefore, be not of anxious or doubtful mind concerning temporal things. "Well," says one, "as far as temporal supplies are concerned, I can leave them entirely in the hands of God; but my anxieties arise from quite another form of trouble. There is a Christian brother who is at enmity against me, and he has been spreading an ill report about me, although I have earnestly sought to walk before God in holy fear, and have watched every step that I have taken, and I feel so worried that I do not know what to do." Well, dear friend, there is one rule which you will generally find to be applicable in such a case as yours. When you do not know what to do, do not do anything at all; and, usually, if the trouble has arisen through false reports about your own character, "the least said, the soonest mended." I believe that, if there is anything you want to have well done, you had better do it yourself; but there is one exception to that rule, and that is the matter of defending yourself. No defense is needed for a good man who can say, "By the grace of God I am what I am." You may leave that matter of your own character, therefore; and as to the good brother not getting on with you, if you have done anything that has grieved him, confess the wrong. "Well, perhaps, if I did, he might not meet me in the same spirit." You have nothing to do with that, dear friend; that is his business, and God a You go and do the right thing, and then be no longer anxious about it, but leave the result with God I hear another brother say, "My anxiety has nothing to do with my personal affairs; I am anxious about the cause of God, the church over which I preside, the Bible-class that I conduct, the mission-field that I try to cultivate. Somehow, things do not go as I could wish, and I am greatly concerned that they are not more prosperous." And what are you doing, good friend, to bring about that result? Are you telling the Lord about it, and agonizing before him in prayer? That is right; but if you are telling yourself about it, and your anxiety is confined to yourself, no good will come of that. "But, sir, all things seem to be going amiss." Yes, I am constantly hearing that. There are some of our friends who believe that we have fallen upon the worst days that have ever been known in this world. Well, it may be so, I cannot say much about that; but I will say this, my dear friends, that you and I are not of anything like so much importance to the Church of God as we may have imagined; and that the particular department of work which has been entrusted to us, though we ought to think well of it, and to do it well, is not, after all, the hinge upon which the whole universe turns. God managed the world very well before we were born, and he will manage it quite as well when we are dead; his Church will not die, for the Lord still liveth, and his Spirit still abides in the Church, and therefore it must live. But there will be trouble for us if we begin to think that everything depends upon us Uzzah was well intentioned, no doubt; yet God smote him for putting forth his hand to stay the ark of the Lord from falling. Let none of us become guilty of Uzzah's sin. It is our business to serve the Lord with all our heart and soul, just as Martha, with all her energy, sought to prepare a supper for Jesus; but when we begin to be cumbered about our service, then we may expect the Master to say to us, as he did to Martha, "Thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." It is not well that we should be cumbered about our service. No, brethren; the Lord loves his Church far better than we do, and he knows far better than we do how to manage her affairs, so we must
"Just do the little we can do, And leave the rest with him."
May his blessed Spirit help us so to get rid of all improper anxieties! II. Another meaning of the text will make a second division of our subject. "BE NOT AMBITIOUS."
That is, do not fly high; do not be as the clouds and the meteors, that not only move about, and are uncertain in their movements, but are also high and lofty. Some people are troubled because they are aiming at amassing great wealth. Years ago, if anybody had told them they would one day possess what they have already obtained, they would have thought it was a wonderful sum, more than sufficient to satisfy all their desires. If somebody had asked them, "Will you retire from business then, and be quite happy and content?" they would have answered, "Oh, yes, certainly! "Well, they have gathered far more than that already, yet they are as grasping as ever, and they want more, and more, and more and they are by no means content with what they have, much as it is. We should all be happier than we are if we were more contented with what is really all that we need, namely having food and raiment, having neither poverty nor riches. Many men have been like that dog, in the fable, that had the meat in his mouth, but did not eat it because he saw the shadow of it in the water, and was so anxious to get that shadow as well as the substance that he already had that he lost the piece that he might have eaten. Such people are always trying to grasp the shadow, instead of enjoying what God has given to them. Let us not be of such a mind as that. There are others, who are ambitious to attain a higher position. They might be very well content with the kind, good friends they have, but there was a lord, who once looked at them; and ever since that time, they have thought it a very wonderful thing to know a real, live lord. I have heard of a man who used to boast that the king once spoke to him; and though his majesty only told him to get out of the way, he was very proud of having been addressed by the king; and there are many people who think a great deal of that sort of thing. They are only shillings now, but they are anxious to get among the sovereigns. I have no sympathy with that desire; the best society in the world for me is a company of the Lord's people; and whether they are poor or rich, so long as they are God's saints, I feel myself at home with them. If a brother spoils the Queen's English, and makes a great many mistakes in pronunciation, that does not matter to me. The real piety that is, in the man, the grace of God that is in his soul, that is the thing which ought to please us. To be proud of our association with the great ones of the earth, is both a folly and a sin on the part of any child of God. Sometimes, we are ambitious in the service of God beyond what we ought to be. You are doing well in that little chapel, my brother; the place is full, and God is blessing you; but you want a bigger place, or you want to get away from those poor people whom the Lord has helped through your ministry. Possibly, my friend, you are a Sunday-school teacher, and you have charge of the infants, and they love you, and you are fitted for the work; yet you are not content to be an infant class teacher, you would like a senior class, and a great stupid you would make of yourself, if you had such a class, for you are not adapted for it. It is well always to be seeking to do more for the Lord Jesus Christ, but I would earnestly discourage you from endeavoring to attain to a higher position merely for the sake of occupying it. Dear brethren and sisters, be not ambitious in this sense; for, after all, what is human greatness." Have you ever met with a really great man who would have given a penny for his own greatness? Do you not know that the higher you rise, even in the Church of Christ, the more responsibility you have, and the heavier burdens you have to carry? Do you not also know that the way to be really great is to be little, and that he who is greatest of all is the one who has learned to be least of all? He who is chief in the Church of Christ is he who serves the Church most, and who is willing to go lowest for Christ's sake. Cultivate that kind of greatness as much as you like; but put aside the other, and be not of ambitious mind even in your Lord's service. I meet, every now and then, people who are, I hope, God's children, but they seem to me to have got into a very curious state of mind. They have notions, that are not at all according to the realities of every-day life, flighty notions, romantic notions about their own rights, and dignities, and importance, and so on. Ah, dear brethren and sisters, some of us were, in our own estimation, very important individuals, were we not, before the grace of God came into us? But when the grace of God works in us, we are made to feel that the very lowest and meanest place is a better position than we have any right to take. When we are in our right senses, we never give ourselves those high and mighty airs. A truly humble believer does not say, "So-and-so did not treat me with proper respect." Oh, dear me! what is the proper respect to which you and I are entitled? May the Lord preserve us from such a spirit as that! But there are some people, professing Christians, too, whose heads are always being filled with that kind of nonsense. They do not seem to have learned that the spirit of Christ is a spirit of meekness, which teaches us to bear and forbear, to forgive until seventy times seven, to expect to have our rights trampled on, and to be willing to lay them all down for any who please to tread upon them. It is blessed to feel, "I will be content to take any place, so long as I can love others, and do them good by loving them, so long as I can but love them to Christ, and help them to love Christ, and manifest the love of Christ to them." O brothers and sisters, we all need to go to school to our dear Lord and Master! You have never read that he said anything about his rights, or about defending his dignity. No, he who is the King of kings, and Lord of lords, was the servant of servants when he was here upon earth; and, truly, he that serves most is the most royal of all. Therefore, "let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus," and then you will not be anxious or ambitious to be great. III. A third meaning of the text is this, "BE YE NOT OF IRRESOLUTE MIND, WITHOUT DECISION OF CHARACTER." If you look at the connection of the passage, you will see that this meaning fits in exceedingly well. There are persons, in the world, who may be described as time-servers. The main consideration with them is, what they shall eat, or what they shall drink, or how they shall be clothed; so they are always watching to see which is the best way to go in reference to those matters. As the old proverb has it, they know on which side their bread is buttered; or, according to another familiar saying, they are waiting to see which way the cat jumps; and when they have ascertained that, their "principles" will lead them to jump in that particular direction. Mr. John Bunyan, in "The Pilgrim's Progress," has well described just such persons, Mr. By-ends and Mr. Fair-speech; and some of us have known their descendants. You remember hearing of the waterman, who got his living by looking one way, and pulling another; and that waterman has had a great many sons, of very much the same character as himself, and they have made a certain kind of progress in the world by that sort of scheming. But you and I, beloved, are not to be of irresolute mind. Every Christian should say, "By the grace of God, my mind is made up to serve him, cost what it may. Does my Lord desire me to keep the Sabbath day holy? Sunday is the best day in my particular line of business, but that does not matter to me. My mind is made up to serve the Lord; and whatever it costs, will make no difference to me. There is a party to be held to-night; and I know that, if I go to it, I shall have to witness the utmost frivolity, and I shall have to be a partaker in what will be, to me, a good deal of sin. Uncle Jonas will be angry if I don't go; but I mean to do the right thing, whether Uncle Jonas is pleased, or no." That is the way all you, who have the love of God shed abroad in your hearts, ought to speak. The question, " What is right?" being answered, you have only to do the right, whatever happens. This is what our Lord meant when he said to his disciples, "Neither be ye of doubtful mind." "Oh, but!" say some, "we really must look at both sides of that question. There may come a time when we know that a certain course is right; but, if we take it, we may bring ruin upon ourselves and upon others, too." Let me read the 4th and 5th verses of this chapter, and when I have done so, there will to no need for you to say anything: "Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him; and the 8th and 9th verses: "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: but he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God." Does not that decide you to God grant that it may, and that you may henceforth say, "I will confess Christ, and act for the right and the true; and, by the aid of his blessed Spirit I will never hesitate to do as he bids me.
"'Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead, I'll follow where He goes;'
"neither will I be of doubtful mind." IV. A fourth meaning of the text is, BE YE NOT AT SEA SO FAR AS YOUR OWN PERSONAL SALVATION IS CONCERNED. Brothers and sisters, there are some, who are not saved, who yet imagine that they are. There are many, who know nothing of vital godliness, yet who sing as joyfully as the brightest of saints, never suspecting their real condition in the sight of God. Whenever I meet with a man who never has had a doubt about his own condition, I feel inclined to quote to him those lines of Cowper,
"He has no hope who never had a fear And he that never doubted of his state, He may perhaps-perhaps he may too late."
Beware of all presumption. There are some, who even decry any thing like self-examination. They cannot bear for us to look for the signs and tokens of the Holy Spirit's work within them; and if we talk about practical holiness, they say that we are getting upon legal ground, and turning aside to the "beggarly elements" of the law. From all such turn away, for they can do you no good. You are exhorted, in the Scriptures to examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith, and to prove your own selves; nay, self-examination alone is not sufficient, and you must cry, with the psalmist, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in this way everlasting." But, on the other hand, there are some, who think that doubts and fears are necessary to a child of God. I draw a very grave distinction between doubting the truth of God's promise, and questioning whether that promise is made to me; they are two very different things. To doubt the power of the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse from all sin, is one thing; but, sometimes, to question whether I really have trusted in that blood, is quite another thing. The first is sinful; the second is only proper and discreet. I would advise everyone often to look-to the foundation of his faith, to see whether he really has believed in Jesus, and has, in his heart, the true life which grows out of such faith. But, brethren, there is really no reason in a man saying, "Whether I am a child of God, or not, I am sure I do not know; I sometimes hope I am;" and so on. I suppose there are few men who have not, at some time or other suffered pain; but it is not necessary for us always to have the toothache in order to prove that we really are men. And, in like manner, there are few Christians who have never had any doubts, yet it is not necessary to be always doubting in order to prove that we are Christians; but, as we are glad enough to get rid of pain, so are we to be glad to get rid of doubt by fully trusting our Lord who is so worthy of our trust. Dear brethren, you ought to know, you can know, you can know now, whether you are saved, or not. At any rate, if I did not know myself to be saved, I would give no sleep to my eyes, nor slumber to my eyelids, till I had found the Savior. If a shadow of a doubt about my being washed in the blood of Christ were on my soul, I would get to my knees, and not rise from them until I did really know that Christ had saved me. If you are in doubt, and yet are content about your condition, I fear that you know nothing at all about the matter; for the true child of God, if he is in any doubt about his salvation, is uneasy till that doubt is gone. He cannot rest till he knows that he is saved; and, after all, that is not a very difficult thing to know, for we are told, over and over again, in this blessed Book, that he that believeth in Christ is not condemned, but hath everlasting life. If you have believed in him, you are not condemned, you have his own word for it. He who trusts to Jesus only, builds on a sure foundation; so, if you are trusting in him, you may have the full assurance that you have passed from death unto life, and shall never come into condemnation. Do not, brother, go limping along all your life when you might run in the way of God's commandments. A good old minister, of my acquaintance, when people used to say to him that they hoped, and hoped, and never got any further than that, was in the habit of replying, "You are always hoping, and hopping; I hope you will learn to run one of these days, to run without weariness in the ways of God." The last thing I have to do is to bid all here present, who have not believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, to do so at once. My dear friends, my text says, "Neither be ye of doubtful mind. But you cannot help being of doubtful mind while you remain as you are, and I really wish that your conscience would trouble you even more than it now does, that your uneasiness might become even greater, and your unrest yet more unrestful. Look at yourself, my dear hearer. You have not believed in Christ, so you are in debt to divine justice, and you are hopelessly bankrupt, for you cannot meet one in a million of the claims that are recorded against you; how can you rest as long as you are thus indebted to God? You are a prisoner, too. When Marshal Bazaine had many of the comforts of life on the Isle of St. Marguerite, off the coast of the South of France, he could not rest till he had regained his liberty; and I marvel how you can be so happy, even with the joys of this world, while you are without the great blessing of spiritual liberty. I wish you felt that you could not rest till you had become emancipated from the bondage of sin, and been made the Lord's freeman. How would you like be in a condemned cell, and not to know when your execution was to take place! I am sure that you would pity any poor creature, whatever his crime, if you could see him under such circumstances. Perhaps you say that you are living in a wide world, and not in a prison; yet you are condemned already. It was said of the old Roman Empire that, if a man once broke the law, the whole world was a prison for him, for Caesar had almost universal sway; and God sees you wherever you are, and everywhere you are in the condemned cell; and, perhaps, before the sun shall rise again, your execution will have taken place. I have been told that, some years ago, there went into the chamber of horrors at Madame Tussaud's exhibition a young gentleman, who was foolish enough to put himself under the guillotine in the place which had been occupied by criminals; and as he lay there, with his bare neck exposed to the terrible knife, he was so struck with horror that he was unable to move; and people who went by thought he was one of the waxwork figures and he could not stir until someone took him away. And, oh! if you did but know where you readily are, with that dreadful axe of divine justice just above your head, you might well be paralyzed with horror! Only let your breath fail, or your pulse stop, and down it descends to your utter destruction. But alas! you are insensible to these things. May the Spirit of God arouse you! May he make you feel your true position, and then I am sure you will not be content to remain a moment longer of a doubtful and undecided mind. Hearken, my friend. That sin of thine can be forgiven, for Jesus died for sinners. That heart of thine can be renewed by grace, for Jesus lives again. You can be delivered from the wrath to come, for Jesus has gone up on high to plead for just such sinners as you are. What are you to do in order that you may have Christ as your Savior? Why, as the hymn says,
"Only trust him, only trust him, Only trust him now."
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Luke 12". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Seventh Sunday after Easter