The Conviction of Sin

Charles Spurgeon on the conviction of sin, from The Soul Winner:

“First, regeneration will be shown in conviction of sin. This we believe to be an indispensable mark of the Spirit’s work; the new life as it enters the heart causes intense inward pain as one of its first effects. Though nowadays we hear of persons being healed before they have been wounded, and brought into a certainty of justification without ever having lamented their condemnation, we are very dubious as to the value of such healing and justifying.”

It’s hard to imagine this ever being preached in our pulpits today. Far too many men enter to the pulpits of the church, merely to blow sunshine up the skirts of their congregations, and never mention the painful reality of becoming a Christian. If we come to Christ, we will suffer, as He suffered.

This is undeniable truth of the gospel. Coming to Christ will be a joy, but it will also be painful as we will learn to loath the sin that remains in our own hearts. This is one of the marks of a true believer, we mourn our own sinfulness. This is what Jesus was saying when He proclaimed “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

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Self Control in Golf and the Christian Life

2013-03-13 18.30.34I noted on my Facebook page the other day that golf is a great metaphor for the Christian life in that the more self-control you maintain during the game, the better it goes for you. In other words, playing golf well will not come about when you give yourself over to the flesh. The flesh screams at you every time you stand over the ball for the next shot. What does your flesh scream? “Hit the hell out of it!” But any golfer knows that hitting the hell out of it will lead to a hell of shot… out of bounds, into the woods, into the river, or even into the unknown. Very few good things ever come from hitting the hell out of the ball.

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Spurgeon on The ABSOLUTE Necessity of the Holy Spirit in Conversion

Taken from Charles Spurgeon’s sermon No. 201, “Delivered on Sabbath morning, June 20, 1858, at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens,” and based on Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

Supporting the argument of the “absolute necessity of the Spirit’s work in order to conversion,” he writes:

“It is quite certain that men cannot be converted by physical means. The Church of Rome thought that she could convert men by means of armies; so she invaded countries, and threatened them with war and bloodshed unless they would repent and embrace her religion. However, it availed but little, and men were prepared to die rather than leave their faith. She therefore tried those beautiful things–stakes, racks, dungeons, axes, swords, fire; and by these things she hoped to convert men. You have heard of the man who tried to wind up his watch with a pick-axe. That man was extremely wise, compared with the man who thought to touch mind through matter.”

“Nor, again, can man be converted by moral argument. ‘Well’ says one, ‘I think he may. Let a minister preach earnestly, and he may persuade men to be converted.’ Ah! beloved, it is for want of knowing better that you say so. Melanchthon thought so, but you know what he said after he tried it — ‘Old Adam is too strong for young Melanchthon.’ So will every preacher find it, if he thinks his arguments can ever convert man. Let me give you a parallel case. Where is the logic that can persuade an Ethiopian to change his skin? By what argument can you induce a leopard to renounce his spots? Even so may he that is accustomed to do evil, learn to do well… If sin were a thing ab extra and external, we could induce man to change it. For instance, you may induce a man to leave off drunkenness or swearing, because those things are not a part of his nature–he has added that vice to his original depravity. But the hidden evil at the heart is beyond all moralsuasion. I dare say a man might have enough argument to induce him to hang himself, but I am certain no argument will ever induce him to hang his sins, to hang his self-righteousness, and to come and humble himself at the foot of the cross; for the religion of Christ is so contrary to all the propensities of man, that it is like swimming against the stream to approach it, for the stream of man’s will and man’s desire is exactly the opposite of the religion of Jesus Christ.”

“But again, if you will just think a minute what the work is, you soon see that none but God can accomplish it. In the Holy Scripture, conversion is often spoken of as being a new creation. If you talk about creating yourselves, I should feel obliged if you would create a fly first. Create a gnat; create a grain of sand; and when you have created that, you may talk about creating a new heart. Both are alike impossible, for creation is the work of God.”

“And there is yet one more consideration, and I shall have concluded this point. Beloved, even if man could save himself, I would have you recollect how averse he is to it. If we could make our hearers all willing, the battle would be accomplished. ‘Well,’ says one, ‘If I am willing to be saved, can I not be saved?’ Assuredly you can, but the difficulty is, we cannot bring men to be willing. That shows, therefore, that there must be a constraint put upon their will. There must be an influence exerted upon them, which they have not in themselves, in order to make them willing in the day of God’s power. And this is the glory of the Christian religion. The Christian religion has within its own bowels [insides] power to spread itself. We do not ask you to be willing first. We come and tell you the news, and we believe that the Spirit of God, working with us, will make you willing. If the progress of the Christian religion depended upon the voluntary assent of mankind, it would never go an inch further. But because the Christian religion has within an omnipotent influence, constraining men to believe it, it is therefore that it is, and must be, triumphant, ‘ till like a sea of glory it spreads from shore to shore.'”

Coram Deo — Living before the face of God

I use Tabletalk Magazine for my daily devotionals and I really loved the Coram Deo section from yesterday’s devotion.

“There are many demands upon us all, and it can be tempting to offer God only what is left over of our time, energy, and funds. But we do this because we do not revere Him as we ought. Yet while we should not be fearful of God’s condemnation as His children, we betray a lack of love for God and His people if we do not put Him first. Let us give our first and best to the Lord from our time, energy, funds and so on.”

You can see the problem we have right off the bat. So many of us only put God first in everything in theory only, yet Scripture calls for us to do so in reality, not just belief which is not truly possible. He wants our best at all times. We are just like the apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane the night He was betrayed: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

O how weak it is. We can read admonitions like the one above and not moments later, after re-committing ourselves with new zeal, fall quickly away to the tyranny of the urgent, or worse, the tyranny of the mundane. Just look at our use of the internet. So much of our time on the internet is wasted time. How much of it really seeks to glorify God and work for the Kingdom? Not much at all. Yet, it appeals to our flesh and we just keep right on surfing.

This all drives us back to Christ because no matter how many times we gird ourselves and pull ourselves up by our Croc straps we fail. The reason it sends us back to Christ is because He DID NOT FAIL in His complete and utter devotion to the Father. This is why our faith must rest in Him, even in our sanctification. He is the One who fully satisfied the Father in all things. When we trust in Him, that righteousness of His is given back to us, and the Father is pleased with us even when we do fail to endeavor to live as we have been called to live. This does not mean we do not still endeavor to live as Christ did, but we know that our salvation is not dependent upon ourselves. When we do fail, we are to repent and trust in Him all the more, and trust in the Holy Spirit to help us live as we should. By faith, we will endeavor to live more and more as He did. Therefore, let us trust in Him all the more to put Himself first in every aspect of our lives. What areas? Our time, thoughts, finances, gifts, possessions, relationship, etc. Start one step at a time and look to Him to lead us.