A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, July 6, 1879, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *11/26/2012
Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness. [Ro 6:18]
1. Man was made to rule. In the original creation he was intended for a king, who should have dominion over the beasts of the field, and the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea. He was designed to be the lord-lieutenant of this part of creation, and the form of his body and the dignity of his countenance indicate it. He walks erect among the animals, while they move upon all fours; he subjugates and tames them to perform his will, and the fear and dread of him is upon all creatures, for they know their sovereign. Yet is it equally true that man was made to serve. At his beginning he was placed in the garden to keep it, and to dress it, and so to serve his Maker. His natural feebleness, his dependence upon rain, and sun, and dew, his instinctive awe of an unseen and omnipotent spirit, indicate that he is not the chief of the universe, but a subordinate being, whose lot it is to serve. We find within man various powers and propensities seeking to get dominion over him, so that his mind also is capable of servitude. The appetites which are essential for the sustenance of his bodily frame, even such as eating and drinking, endeavour to master him: and if they can they will do so, and reduce him below the level of the swine. Man is in part spirit, but he is also in part animal, and the animal strives to get dominion over the spiritual; and in many, many men it does so, until they are utterly degraded. Nothing can be worse than a soul enslaved by such a body as that of man. The brute nature of man is the worst kind of brute. There is no beast in wolf, or lion, or serpent that is so brutish as the beast in man. Did I not tell you last Sunday that whereas, according to the Levitical law, he who touched a dead animal was unclean until the evening, he who touched a dead man was unclean for seven days, for man is a seven times more polluting creature than any of the beasts of the field when his animal nature rules him. [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1481, “The Red Heifer” 1481]
2. If evil aims at ruling man the good Spirit; also strives with him. When God in his infinite mercy visits man by his Spirit, that Spirit does not come as a neutral power to reside quietly within man, and to share his heart with the Prince of Darkness, but he enters with full intent to reign. Hence there is a conflict which cannot be ended by an armistice, but must be carried on to the end, and that end will be found either in the driving out of the evil or in the thrusting out of the good; for one or the other, either the Prince of Darkness or the King of Light, will have dominion over man. Man must have a master: he cannot serve two masters, but he must serve one. Of all kinds of men this has been true, and it has perhaps been most clearly seen in those who were evidently made to lead their fellow men: it is especially seen in such a man, for example, as Alexander, a true king of men, so heroic and great-hearted that one does not wonder that armies were fired with enthusiasm by his presence, and drove everything before them. Alexander conquered the world, and yet on occasions he became the captive of drunkenness and the slave of his passionate temper. At such times the king of men, the vanquisher of armies, was little better than a raving maniac. Look for further illustration at the busts of the emperors of Rome, the masters of the world; study their faces, and see what grovelling creatures they must have been. Rome had many slaves, but he who wore her purple was the most in bonds. No slave who ground at the mill, or died in the amphitheatre, was more in bondage than such men as Tiberius and Nero, who were the bondslaves of their passions. High rank does not save a man from being under a mastery: neither does learning nor philosophy deliver men from this bondage, for the teachers of liberty are themselves enslaved, but it has happened as the apostle says “While they promise them liberty they themselves are the servants of corruption.” Solomon himself, with all his wisdom, greatly played the fool, and though he was the most sagacious ruler of his age he became for a while completely subject to his fleshly desires.
3. Man is born to be a servant, and a servant he must be. Who shall be his master? That is the question. Our text proves the point with which I have started, for it speaks of “being made free from sin,” and in the same breath it adds, “You became the servants of righteousness.” There is no interregnum: there does not appear to be a moment left for an independent state, but out of one servitude we pass into another. Do not think I made a mistake in the use of the word servitude; I might have translated the Greek word by that of slave, and have been correct. “Being made free from sin, you were enslaved to righteousness.” The apostle makes an excuse for using the metaphor, and says, “I speak after the manner of men, because of the infirmity of your flesh.” He did not know how else to describe it, for when we come from under the absolute power of sin we come at once into a similar subjection to righteousness; as we were governed and swayed by the love of sin, so we become in a similar manner subject to the forces of grace and truth. Just as sin took possession of us and controlled our acts, so grace claims us as its own, takes possession of us, and rules us with an absolute sway. Man passes from one master to another, but he is always in subjection. I have often heard of free will, but I have never seen it. I have encountered “will,” and plenty of it, but it has either been led captive by sin or held in blessed bonds by grace. The passions drive it here and there like a rolling thing before a whirlwind; or the understanding sways it, and then, according as the understanding is darkened or enlightened, the will acts for good or evil. In any case the bit is in its mouth, and it is guided by a power beyond itself.
4. However, I leave that question, and call attention this morning first of all to our change of masters — “Being made free from sin, we become the servants of righteousness”: secondly, to the reasons for that change; and thirdly, to the results of that change.
5. I. We begin with our CHANGE OF MASTERS.
6. We must have a master, but some of us by divine grace have made a change of masters infinitely to our advantage. In describing this inward revolution we will begin with a word or two about our old master. The apostle says in the verse preceding our text, “You were the servants of sin.” How true that is! Those of us who now believe, and are free from sin, were all without exception the servants of sin. We were not all equally enslaved, but we were all under bondage. Sin has its liveried servants. Did you ever see a man dressed in the full livery of sin? A fine suit, I warrant you! Sin clothes its slave with rags, with shame, and often with disease. When fully dressed in Satan’s uniform the sinner is abominable, even to his fellow sinners. If you want to see sin’s liveried servants dressed out in their best or their worst, go to the prison, and you will find them there; or go to the dens of infamy in this great city, or to the liquor bars, or to the places of vicious amusement, and you will find them there. Many of them wear the badge of the devil’s drudgery upon their backs in poverty and rags, upon their faces in the blotches born from drunkenness, and in their very bones in the consequences of their vice. Satan has regimentals for his soldiers, and they are worthy of the service.
7. But great people have many servants who are not in livery, and so has sin. We were not all public transgressors before our new birth, though we were all the servants of sin. There are many slaves of evil whom you would not know to be such if you only saw the surface of their characters. They do not swear, or steal, or commit adultery, or even break the Sabbath outwardly; on the contrary, they are most moral in their conduct. They are the servants of sin, but they are secretly so, for fear of rebuke; they are non-professing sinners and yet sincerely in love with sin. They stood up and sang the hymn just now, they bowed their heads in prayer, and they are now listening to the sermon, and no one will know the difference between them and the servants of Christ by their exterior; but at heart they reject the Son of God, and refuse to believe in him, for they love the pleasures of sin and the wages of unrighteousness. A kind of selfish caution restrains them from overt acts of transgression, but their heart does not love God, and their desires are not towards his ways. Oh, my dear hearer, if you are setting up your own righteousness in your soul as an antichrist against God’s Christ, if you are kicking against the sway of the Divine Spirit, if you are secretly living in sin, if you are indulging some sweet sin in secret, even though you dare to appear in the livery of Christ, yet still you are the slave of sin. Hypocrites are worse slaves than any others, because they are laid under the restraints of religious men without enjoying their consolations, and they practise the sins of the ungodly without their pleasures. Every hypocrite is a fool and a coward; he does not have the will to serve the Lord and yet he does not have the courage to serve the devil out-and-out. These go-betweens are of all kinds of people the most to be pitied and the most to be blamed.
8. As long as we are unbelievers we are the servants of sin, but we are not all public servants of sin. Sin has its domestic servants who keep quiet, as well as its soldiers who beat the drum. Many keep their sin to themselves: no one hears about them in the street, they raise no public scandal, and yet at heart they are the faithful followers of wickedness and rebellion. Their idols are set up in secret rooms, but they are heartily loved. Their desires and aspirations are all selfish, but they try to conceal this fact even from themselves; they will not serve God, they will not bow before his Son, and yet they would shrink from affirming their rebellion. They are amiable, admirable, and excellent in their outward deportment; but they are the secret servants of Satan for all that, and their heart is full of enmity against God. Some of us confess that it was so with us. When no one found fault with us we were, nevertheless, rotten at heart. We used to pray, but it was a mockery of God; we went up to God’s house, but we did not regard his word, and yet in all this we prided ourselves that we were righteous.
9. There are, however, many believers, who were once public servants of Satan, sinning openly and in defiance of all law. I thank God that there are some here who are now the servants of Christ, upon whom I can look with great delight, although they were once the open, overt, zealous, diligent servants of the devil. Now they are washed, renewed, and sanctified. Glory be to God for it. Oh that the Lord would bring some more great sinners inside this house and turn them into great saints, for bold offenders make zealous lovers of Jesus when he puts away their sins. They love much because they have had much forgiven, and inasmuch as they desperately sinned so do they devoutly love; and their surrender to Christ is as entire and unreserved as their former surrender to the service of evil. In this let God be praised. Still, let us all humbly bow before the truth we are now speaking of, and admit with great humiliation of spirit that we were the servants of sin.
10. In passing on we notice next the expression of the apostle, “Being made free from sin.” Through divine grace we have been led to trust the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal salvation, and having done so we are at this moment free from sin. Come you who trust the Saviour’s name, and rejoice in the words before us, for they describe you. You are made free from sin — not you shall be, but you are. In what sense is this true?
11. First, in the sense of condemnation. The believer is no more condemned for sin. Your sin was laid on Christ of old, and he as your scapegoat took it all away. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” You are acquitted and justified through the Lord your righteousness. Clap your hands for joy! It is a mercy worth ten thousand worlds. You are made free from the damning power of sin, now and for ever.
12. Next, you are made free from the guilt of sin. Just as you cannot be condemned so the truth goes further, you cannot even be accused; your transgression is forgiven, your sin is covered. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” You are delivered from sin’s guilt at this moment — “made free from sin.” As a result you are free from the punishment of sin. You shall never be cast into hell, for Jesus has suffered in your place, and the justice of God is satisfied. As a believer in Christ, for you there is no bottomless pit, for you no undying worm, for you no unquenchable fire; but, guilty as you are by nature, Christ has made you so completely clean that the greeting is reserved for you, “Come, you blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world.”
13. Nor is this all. You are made free from sin with respect to its reigning power, and this is a point in which you greatly delight. Sin once said to you, “Go,” and you went: it says “Go” now, but you do not go. Sometimes sin stands in your way when grace says “Go,” and then you would gladly run but sin opposes and hinders; and yet you will not yield to its demands, for grace holds dominion. You push, you struggle, you resolve that sin shall not be lord of your life, for you are not under the law but under grace. Sin hides itself in holes and corners of your nature, skulks about in the dark in the streets of Mansoul, plots and plans if it can to get the mastery over you; but it never shall: it is cast out of the throne, and the Holy Spirit sits there ruling your nature, and there he will sit until you shall be perfected in holiness, and shall be caught up to dwell with Christ for ever and ever.
14. “Made free from sin.” I wish I could now stop preaching, and get into a quiet pew, and sit down with you and meditate upon that thought; chewing the cud as you farmers say, and getting the juice out of this rich pasturage. “Made free from sin.” Why, as I pronounce those blessed words I feel like an escaped negro in the old slave days when he leaped upon British soil in Canada. After all his running through the woods, and crossing of hills and rivers, he was free! How he leaped for joy! How he cried with delight! Even so we exalted in our liberty when our Lord Jesus first set us free. You who were never slaves, and never felt the taskmaster’s lash, you do not know the value of liberty; and so in spiritual things, if you have never felt the slavery of sin, and have never escaped from it into the good land of grace where Christ has made you free indeed, you do not know the joy of the redeemed. I am free! I am free! I am free! — I who was once a slave to every evil desire! I am made free by omnipotent love! I have escaped from the taskmaster’s fetters, and I am the Lord’s free man! Let all the angels praise my redeeming Lord. Let all the spirits before the throne praise the Lord, who has led his people out of bondage, for he is good, for his mercy endures for ever.
15. Now, how did we come to be free? We have become free in three ways. First, by purchase, for our Saviour has paid the full redemption money for us, and there is not a halfpenny due upon us. Blessed be his name, there is no mortgage on his inheritance; the price is all paid and we are Christ’s unencumbered property for ever. Here we stand at this moment free, because we are ransomed, and we know that our Redeemer lives. Our body, soul, and spirit are all bought with a price, and in our complete manhood we are Christ’s.
16. Next, we are free by power as well as by purchase. Just as the Israelites were the Lord’s own people, but he had to bring them out of Egypt with a high hand and an outstretched arm, so has the Lord by power broken the neck of sin and brought us up from the dominion of the old Pharaoh of evil and set us free. The Spirit’s power, the same power which raised Christ from the dead, indeed, the same power which made the heavens and the earth, has delivered us, and we are the ransomed of the Lord.
17. And then we are free by privilege. “To as many as believed him, he gave to them the privilege to become the sons of God.” God has declared us to be free. His own royal, majestic, and divine decree has ordered the prisoners to go out. The Lord himself releases the prisoners, and declares that they shall no more be held in captivity. Price and power and privilege meet together in our liberty.
18. How did we come to be free? I will tell you another story. We are free in a strange way. According to the chapter in which we find our text we are free because we have died. If a slave dies his master’s possession of him is ended. The tyrant can rule no longer, death has relaxed his hold. “He who is dead is free from sin.” Sin comes to me and asks me why I do not obey its desires. I have a reply ready. “Ah, Master Sin, I am dead! I died some thirty years ago, and I do not belong to you any more. What have you to do with me?” Whenever the Lord brings a man to die in Christ the blessed, heavenly death to sin, how has sin any more dominion over him? He is free from his old master, because he is dead. Our old master lives to us, but we do not live to him. He may make what suit he pleases, we will not acknowledge his right. Some of us have made a public claim of our freedom by death, for we have been buried, and the apostle says, “Do you not know, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” We do not trust in the burial of baptism, for we know that there would have been no truth in it if we had not been dead first; but still it is a blessed sign to us that inasmuch as we died we have also been buried. Whenever the devil comes to us each one can say to him, “I am no servant of yours, I died and was buried, did you not see me laid in the liquid tomb?” Oh, it is a blessed thing when the Lord enables us to feel a clear assurance that our baptism was not a mere form, but the instructive sign of a work within the soul accomplished by the divine Spirit, which set us free from the thraldom of sin.
19. A third thing has happened to us: we have risen again. According to Paul’s teaching we have risen in the resurrection of Christ: a new life has been given to us: we are new creatures in Christ Jesus. We are not the same people that we once were; old things have passed away, behold all things have become new. If some of you were to meet your old selves you would not know yourselves, would you? My old self does not know me, and cannot figure me out. I am dead to him with respect to his reigning power, and buried too, so that I can never be his subject, nor can he ever be the king of my heart, yet he struggles to live within me, and seems to have as many lives as a cat. Every now and then my old self sneeringly cries to my true self, “What a fool you are.” My true self answers, “No, I was a fool when you had sway, but now I have come to my right mind.” Sometimes that old self whispers, “There is no reality in faith,” and the new self replies, “There is no reality in the things which are seen. This world is a shadow, but heaven is eternal.” “Ah,” says the old self, “you are a hypocrite.” “No,” says the new self, “I was false when I was under your power, but now I am honest and true.” Yes, brethren, we are risen with Christ: with him we died and were buried, and with him we are risen, and hence we are free. What slave would remain under the dominion of a master if he could say, “I died, sir: you cannot own me now, for your ownership only extended over one life. I was buried; did you own me when I was buried? I have risen again, and my new life is not yours; I am not the same man that I was, and you have no rights over me.” We have undergone this wondrous death and resurrection, and so we can say this morning with heartfelt joy, “We are made free from sin.”
20. We are also free from sin in our hearts: we do not love it now, but loathe the thought of it. We are free from sin with respect to our new nature: it cannot sin because it is born by God. We are free from sin with respect to God’s purpose about us, for he will present us before long blameless and faultless before his presence with extremely great joy. We do not belong to sin; we refuse to serve sin; we are made free from it by the grace of God.
21. Now, the third part of this change of masters is this — “you became the servants of righteousness.” So we have done this, and we are now in the possession of righteousness and under its rule. A righteous God has made us die to sin: a righteous God has redeemed us: a new and righteous life has been infused into us, and now righteousness rules and reigns in us. We do not belong to ourselves, but we yield ourselves up entirely to the Redeemer’s sway through his Spirit, and the more completely he rules us the better. The text says we are enslaved to righteousness, and so we wish to be. We wish we were so enslaved that we could not even will a wrong thing nor wish an evil thing. We desire to give ourselves up wholly and absolutely to the divine sway, so that the right, and the true, and the good may hold us in perpetual bonds. We abandon ourselves to the supremacy of God, and we find our liberty in being entirely subjected to the will of the Most High. This is a change of masters with which I know that some of you are well acquainted. I am afraid, however, that others of you know nothing about it. May the Lord grant that you may be made to know it before you go to sleep tonight. May you be delivered from the black tyrant and brought into the service of the Prince of Peace, and that immediately.
22. II. Secondly, let us survey the REASONS FOR OUR CHANGE. How do we justify this change of masters?
23. A man who frequently changes masters is not good for much. But we changed our old master because he never had any right to us, and we were illegally detained by him. Why should sin have dominion over us? Sin did not make us, sin does not feed us, sin has no right to us whatever; we never owed it a moment’s homage; we are not debtors to the flesh to live after the flesh. Our old master cannot summon us for desertion, for he stole our services. Besides, our old master was as bad as bad could be. You never saw his portrait; but he who would paint a picture of sin would have to put upon the canvas all the monstrosities that ever existed, and all the horrors that were ever imagined, and these would have to be exaggerated and condensed into one, before they could fairly depict the deformity of sin. Sin is worse than the devil, for sin made the devil a devil; he would have been an angel if it had not been for sin. Oh, who would serve the destroying tyrant who of old cast down even the stars of light and turned angels into fiends? We ran away from our old master because we never had any profit from his hands. The apostle says, “What fruit had he then?” Ask the drunkard, “What did you get by the drink?” Who has woe? Who has redness of the eyes? Ask the spendthrift what he gained by his debauchery. He would hardly like to tell you, and I certainly should not like to repeat his tale. Ask any man who lives in sin what he has gained by it, and you will find it is all loss; sin is evil and only evil, and that continually. We have found that out, and therefore we have quit the old master, and taken up with the new. Besides that, our old master, sin, brought us shame. There was no honour in serving him. His work is called by Paul, “those things of which you are now ashamed.” We are in the sight of God, indeed, and in our own sight, ready to blush scarlet at the very thought of the evil in which we once took delight. Sin is a grovelling, base, despicable thing, and we are ashamed of having been connected with it. Moreover, its wages are death, and this is dreadful to think upon. Sin at one time was pleasant to us, but when we found out that sin led its servants down to hell, and plunged them into unquenchable fire, we renounced its rule, and found another lord.
24. But why did we take up with our new Master? We could not help it for it was he who set us free; it was he who bought us, it was he who fought for us, it was he who brought us into liberty. Ah, if you could see him you would not ask us why we became his servants. In the first place, we owe ourselves wholly to him; and in the next place, if we did not, he is so altogether lovely, so matchless, and so charming, that if we had a free choice of masters we would choose him a thousand times over, for he is the crown and glory of mankind, among the sons of man there is no one to be compared to him.
25. If you want us to justify our service for him, we tell you that service is perfect freedom and supreme delight. We have had to suffer a little sometimes when his enemy and ours has barked at us, and the ungodly have called us bad names, but we consider it an honour to suffer for the sake of Jesus: for he is so sweet, and so good, that if we had a thousand lives, and could give each one away by a martyr’s death, we consider him worthy of those lives, so sweet is he to our hearts’ love. Why have we taken our new Master? Why, because he gives us even now a present payment in his service. If there were no hereafter we would be satisfied with the present delight he gives us, but in addition to that he has promised us, as a future reward, eternal life at his right hand. We think, therefore, that we have more than sufficient reason for becoming the servants of Jesus Christ, who is made righteousness to us by God. Dear hearers, how I wish that you would all enter my Lord’s service by faith in his name.
26. III. In the third place, and very practically, I want to talk to those who are servants of God upon THE RESULTS OF THIS CHANGE.
27. You have become the servants of righteousness, and the first result is that you belong entirely to your Lord. Have you recognised this? I know numerous Christian people — I hope they are Christian people, for in some points they seem as if they were — but if I were asked to look at their lives, and give an opinion as to whom they belong, I should be compelled to say, “They seem mostly to belong to themselves.” To whom does their property belong? “To themselves.” To whom does their time belong? “To themselves.” To whom does their talent belong? “To themselves.” As far as I can see they expend everything on themselves, and live for themselves. And what do they give to God? If they are rather generous they give him the candle-ends and the cheese-parings, and little odds and ends, threepenny bits, and things they do not need, and can give without missing them. There are hundreds of professors who never gave God anything that cost them a self-denial; no, not so much as going without a dish on the table, or a picture on the wall, or a ring on the finger. There are numerous professing Christians who spend a great deal more on the soles of their boots than on Christ, and many women who spend more on the feathers and the flowers which deck their hats than on their Saviour. Yes, and I have heard of men who said they were perfect, and yet they were worth millions, and were hoarding up more! Sinners dying and being damned and missionaries without support, and yet these absolutely perfect men are piling up gold and letting the cause of Christ stop for lack of means. It is not my theory of perfection, no, it does not seem to me to come up to the idea of a common Christian who says he is not his own. If you are really saved, brethren, not a hair of your heads belongs to yourselves: Christ’s blood has either bought you or it has not, and if it has, then you are altogether Christ’s, every bit of you, and you are neither to eat nor drink, nor sleep, but for Christ, “Whatever you do all for the glory of God.” Have you ever gotten a hold of that? Just as a negro used to belong to the man who bought him, every inch of him, so you are the slave of Christ; you bear in your body the brand of the Lord Jesus and your glory and your freedom lies in this. That the first result of being set free from sin, — you became the servants of righteousness.
28. What next? Why, because you are Christ’s his very name is dear to you. You are not such a slave that you would escape from his service if you could; no, but you would plunge deeper and deeper into it. You want to be more and more the Lord’s. His very name is sweet to you. If you meet the poorest person who belongs to Christ you love him, and though perhaps some who are like Christ in other respects may have awkward tempers, you put up with their infirmities for his sake. Where there is anything of Christ there your love goes out. I remember when I left the village where I first preached I felt that if I had met a dog that came from Waterbeach I should have petted him; and such is the love we have for Christ that the lowest and weakest thing that belongs to him we love for his sake: the very sound of his name is music to us, and those who do not love him we cannot endure. Haydn, the great musician, one day walked down a London street and turning into a music seller’s shop, he asked the salesman if he had any select and beautiful music? “Well sir,” he said, “I have some sublime music by Mr. Haydn.” “Oh,” said Haydn, “I will have nothing to do with that.” “Why, sir, you come to buy music and will have nothing to do with Mr. Haydn’s composition! What fault can you find with it?” “I can find a great deal of fault with it, but I will not argue with you: I do not want any of his music.” “Then,” said the shopkeeper, “I have other music, but it is not for such as you,” and he turned his back on him. A thorough enthusiast grows impatient with those who do not appreciate what he so much admires. If we love Jesus we shall sometimes feel an impatient desire to get away from those who do not know him. You do not love Christ? What kind of man can you be to be so blind, so dead? You can be no friend of mine if you are not a friend of Christ’s. I would do anything for your good, but you cannot yield me delight or be my bosom friend unless you love my Lord, for he has engrossed my heart and taken entire possession of my spirit. If you have become a servant of righteousness like this, you will weary of what does not help you in his service, but the name of your Master will be as choicest music to you.
29. And now, dear friends, let me mention another result. All your members are henceforth reserved for Christ. What does the apostle say? “When you were the servants of sin you were free from righteousness.” When Satan was your master you did not care about Christ, did you? You had no respect for him, and if anyone brought the words of Jesus before you, you said, “Take them away — I do not want to hear them.” You went entirely in for evil. Now just in the same way yield yourself up completely to Christ, and say, — “Now, Satan, when I was yours I did not yield obedience to Jesus, and now that I am Christ’s I can yield no obedience to you.” If Satan brings sin before you, say, “I cannot see it: my eyes are Christ’s”: and if he would charm you with the sweet sound of temptation say, “I cannot hear it: my ears are Christ’s.” “Oh,” he says, “seize on this delight.” You answer, “I cannot reach it; my hands are Christ’s.” “But taste this sweet draught,” he says. You say, “I cannot take it, my lips are Christ’s, my mouth is Christ’s, all my members are Christ’s.” “Well, but you can form a judgment can you not about this error?” “No, I do not want to know anything about it; my understanding is Christ’s.” “Oh, but hear this new thing.” “No I do not want to hear it; I have found Christ who is new enough for me; I do not want your novel discoveries; I am dead to them, I do not want to be troubled by arguments which dishonour my Lord: take them away. When I was a servant of sin I would not meddle with the truth, and now that I am a servant of Christ I will not trifle in the opposite direction; I have finished with all that and now serve only Jesus.”
30. Think my brethren, when we were servants of sin in what way we served it; for just as we used to serve sin, so ought we to work for Jesus. I do not speak to all here present, but I speak to many who were sinners of a public kind: how did you serve sin? I will answer for them. They did not require to be egged on to do it; they did not need any messenger of the devil to plead with them and urge them to do unholy pleasures and unclean delights. Far from it; some even of their own companions thought them to be too imprudent. Now, dear friends, you ought not to need your ministers or Christian friends to stir you up to good works; you ought to be just as eager after holiness as you were after sin. Evil was very sweet to you once. You used to watch for the day when you could indulge in a sweet sin; did you not? When the time was coming around when you could take a deep draught of iniquity you took the calendar and looked for it as a child for his holidays. You did not mind travelling from town to town to make a round of dissipation. Brother, serve Christ in the same way. May his Holy Spirit help you to do so. Watch for opportunities for doing good; do not need to be whipped into duty. Instead of requiring to be urged forward in evil we needed holding back: did we not? Our parents had to restrain us! Sometimes mother would say, “John, do not do that,” and father would cry, “My boy, do not do this.” We needed a great deal of restraint. I wish I had a band of Christians around me who needed holding back in the service of Christ: I have not met any of that kind yet. I am prepared with any kind of curb when I meet a high-mettled Christian, who goes at too great a rate in his Lord’s service. For the most part my Master’s horses are more fond of getting into the stables than out into the hunting field. I have not met one who has done too much for the Lord. I shall never be guilty of too much work myself; I wish I could go like the wind in serving Jesus.
31. Brethren, be just as hot to honour Christ as you once were to dishonour him. Since you have given the devil first-rate service, let Christ have the same. You remember, in the days of your sin, some of you who went in for it thoroughly, that you never spared any expense — did you? Oh no, if you wanted pleasure in sin, away went the five pounds, and the hundreds. How often do I meet men, particularly those given to drink, who get pounds in their pockets and never know how they go; but they will never stop until all is spent, whether it is little or much. Poor fools, poor fools. Yet I wish we could serve Jesus Christ unstintedly like this. No expense should be deemed too much as long as we can honour him and bless his name. Bring out the alabaster box; break it, never mind the chips and pieces; pour out the oil, and let Jesus have it all. I once served Satan like this and now I would serve Christ like this.
32. Indeed, and the poor slaves of sin not only do not spare any expense, but they are not frightened by any kind of loss. See how many lose their characters for the sake of one short hour of sin. How many are wringing their hands now because no one will trust them, and they are cut off from decent society because of one short-lived sin. They ruin their peace and think nothing of it. A quiet conscience is the brightest of jewels but they fling it away to enjoy their sin. They will lose their health, too, for the sake of indulging their passions. The devil says, “Drink, drink; drink yourselves blind”; and they do it as eagerly as if it were for their good. They are martyrs for Satan. Never did a Zulu fling himself upon death for his king so recklessly as these servants of Satan yield themselves for his service. They will do anything; they will destroy their health, and, what is worst of all, destroy their souls for ever for the sake of sin’s brief delights. They know that there is a hell, they know that the wrath of God resides for ever on guilty men, but they risk all and lose all for sin. In that same way we should serve our Lord. Be willing to lose character for him; be willing to lose health for him; be willing to lose life for him be willing to lose all, if by any means you may glorify him whose servant you have become.
Oh, who will be my Master’s servant? Here he comes! Do you not see
him? He wears upon his head no diadem but the crown of thorns; you
see the spittle flowing down his cheeks, his feet are still rubied
with their wounds, and his hands are still bejewelled with the marks
of the nails. This is your Master, and these are the insignia of his
love for you. What service will you render him? That of a mere
professor, who names his name but does not love him? That of a cold
religionist, who renders unwilling service out of fear? I urge you,
brethren, do not dishonour him so. I lift the standard this morning
to enlist beneath the banner of Christ those who will henceforth be
Christ’s men from head to foot; and happy shall the church be, and
happy the entire Israel of God if a chosen number shall enlist and
remain true to their colours. We need no more of your nominal
Christians, your lukewarm Christians, whom my Master spews out of his
mouth: we need men on fire with love, consecrated all over, intensely
devoted, who, by the slavery from which they have escaped, and by the
liberty into which they have entered, are under bond to spend and be
spent for the name of Jesus, until they have filled the earth with
his glory, and made all heaven ring with his praise. May the Lord
bless you, beloved, for the sake of Jesus. Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ro 6]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 116” 116 @@ "(Song 2)"]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Desires After Holiness — Holiness Desired” 653]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 119” 119 @@ "(Song 3)"]
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 116 (Song 1)
1 I Love the Lord: he heard my cries,
And pitied every groan:
Long as I live, when troubles rise,
I’ll hasten to his throne.
2 I love the Lord: be bow’d his ear,
And chased by griefs away;
Oh let my heart no more despair,
While I have breath to pray!
3 My flesh declined, my spirits fell,
And I drew near the dead;
While inward pangs, and fears of hell,
Perplex’d my wakeful head.
4 “My God,” I cried, “Thy servant save
Thou ever good and just;
Thy power can rescue from the grave,
Thy power is all my trust.”
5 The Lord beheld me sore distress’d,
He bid my pains remove:
Return, my soul, to God thy rest,
For thou hast known his love.
6 My God hath saved my soul from death,
And dried my falling tears;
Now to his praise I’ll spend my breath,
And my remaining years.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 116 (Song 2)
1 What shall I render to my God,
For all his kindness shown?
My feet shall visit thine abode,
My songs address thy throne.
2 Among the saints that fill thine house,
My offerings shall be paid:
There shall my zeal perform the vows
My soul in anguish made.
3 How much is mercy thy delight,
Thou ever blessed God!
How dear thy servants in thy sight!
How precious is their blood!
4 How happy all thy servants are!
How great thy grace to me!
My life, which thou hast made thy care,
Lord, I devote to thee.
5 Now I am thine, for ever thine,
Nor shall my purpose move!
Thy hand hath loosed my bands of pain,
And bound me with thy love.
6 Here in thy courts I leave my vow,
And thy rich grace record:
Witness, ye saints, who hear me now,
If I forsake the Lord.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 116 (Song 3)
1 Redeem’d from guilt, redeem’d from fears,
My soul enlarged, and dried my tears,
What can I do, oh love divine,
What, to repay such gifts as thine?
2 What can I do, so poor, so weak,
But from thy hands new blessings seek?
A heart to feel my mercies more,
A soul to know thee and adore.
3 Oh! teach me at thy feet to fall,
And yield thee up myself, my all;
Before thy saints my debt to own,
And live and die to thee alone!
4 Thy Spirit, Lord, at large impart!
Expand, and raise, and fill my heart;
So may I hope my life shall be
Some faint return, oh Lord, to thee.
Henry Francis Lyte, 1834.
The Christian, Desires After Holiness
653 — Holiness Desired
1 Lord, I desire to live as one
Who bears a blood bought name,
As one who fears but grieving thee,
And knows no other shame.
2 As one by whom thy walk below
Should never be forgot;
As one who fain would keep apart
From all thou lovest not.
3 I want to live as one who knows
Thy fellowship of love;
As one whose eyes can pierce beyond
The pearl built gates above.
4 As one who daily speaks to thee,
And hears thy voice divine
With depth of tenderness declare,
“Beloved! thou art mine.”
Charitie Lees Smith, 1861.
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 119 (Song 1)
1 Oh how I love thy holy law!
‘Tis daily my delight;
And thence my meditations draw
Divine advice by night.
2 How doth thy word my heart engage!
How well employ my tongue!
And in my tiresome pilgrimage
Yields me a heavenly song.
3 Am I a stranger, or at home,
‘Tis my perpetual feast:
Not honey dropping from the comb,
So much allures the taste.
4 No treasures so enrich the mind,
Nor shall thy word be sold
For loads of silver well refined,
Nor heaps of choicest gold.
5 When nature sinks, and spirits droop,
Thy promises of grace
Are pillars to support my hope,
And there I write thy praise.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 119 (Song 2)
1 Oh that the Lord would guide my ways
To keep his statutes still!
Oh that my God would grant me grace
To know and do his will!
2 Oh send thy Spirit down, to write
Thy law upon my heart!
Nor let my tongue indulge deceit,
Nor act the liar’s part.
3 From vanity turn off my eyes;
Let no corrupt design,
Nor covetous desires arise
Within this soul of mine.
4 Order my footsteps by thy word,
And make my heart sincere;
Let sin have no dominion, Lord,
But keep my conscience clear.
5 My soul hath gone too far astray,
My feet too often slip;
Yet since I’ve not forgot thy way
Restore thy wandering sheep.
6 Make me to walk in thy commands,
‘Tis a delightful road;
Nor let my head, or heart, or hands,
Offend against my God.
Isaac Watts, 1719
Psalm 119 (Song 3)
1 My soul lies cleaving to the dust;
Lord, give me life divine;
From vain desires and every lust,
Turn off these eyes of mine.
2 I need the influence of thy grace
To speed me in thy way,
Lest I should loiter in my race
Or turn my feet astray.
3 When sore afflictions press me down,
I need thy quickening powers;
Thy word that I have rested on
Shall help my heaviest hours.
4 Are not thy mercies sovereign still,
And thou a faithful God?
Wilt thou not grant me warmer zeal
To run the heavenly road?
5 Does not my heart thy precepts love,
And long to see thy face?
And yet how slow my spirits move
Without enlivening grace!
6 Then shall I love thy gospel more,
And ne’er forget thy word,
When I have felt its quickening power
To draw me near the Lord.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 119 (Song 4)
1 My soul lies grovelling low,
Still cleaving to the dust:
Thy quickening grace, oh Lord, bestow,
For in thy word I trust.
2 Make me to understand
Thy precepts and thy will;
Thy wondrous works on every hand,
I’ll sing and talk of still.
3 My soul, oppress’d with grief,
In heaviness melts down;
Oh strengthen me and send relief,
And thou shalt wear the crown.
4 Remove from me the voice
Of falsehood and deceit;
The way of truth is now my choice,
Thy word to me is sweet.
5 Thy testimony stands,
And never can depart;
I’ll run the way of thy commands
If thou enlarge my heart.
Joseph Irons, 1847
Psalm 119 (Song 5)
1 Consider all my sorrows, Lord,
And thy deliverance send;
My soul for thy salvation faints;
When will my troubles end?
2 Yet I have found ‘tis good for me
To bear my Father’s rod;
Afflictions make me learn thy law,
And live upon my God.
3 This is the comfort I enjoy
When new distress begins:
I read thy word, I run thy way,
And hate my former sins.
4 Had not thy word been my delight
When earthly joys were fled,
My soul oppress’d with sorrow’s weight,
Had sunk amongst the dead.
5 I know thy judgments, Lord, are right,
Though they may seem severe;
The sharpest sufferings I endure
Flow from thy faithful care.
6 Before I knew thy chastening rod
My feet were apt to stray;
But now I learn to keep thy word,
Nor wander from thy way.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 119 (Song 6)
1 Oh that thy statutes every hour
Might dwell upon my mind!
Thence I derive a quickening power,
And daily peace I find.
2 To meditate thy precepts, Lord,
Shall be my sweet employ;
My soul shall ne’er forget thy word;
Thy word is all my joy.
3 How would I run in thy commands,
If thou my heart discharge
From sin and Satan’s hateful chains,
And set my feet at large!
4 My lips with courage shall declare
Thy statutes and thy name;
I’ll speak thy words though kings should hear,
Nor yield to sinful shame.
Isaac Watts, 1719
Psalm 119 (Song 7)
1 Father, I bless thy gentle hand;
How kind was thy chastising rod;
That forced my conscience to a stand,
And brought my wandering soul to God!
2 Foolish and vain, I went astray
Ere I had felt thy scourges, Lord;
I left my guide, and lost my way;
But now I love and keep thy word.
3 ‘Tis good for me to wear the yoke,
For pride is apt to rise and swell;
‘Tis good to bear my Father’s stroke,
That I might learn his statutes well.
4 Thy hands have made my mortal frame,
Thy Spirit form’d my soul within;
Teach me to know thy wondrous name,
And guard me safe from death and sin.
5 Then all that love and fear the Lord,
At my salvation shall rejoice;
For I have hoped in thy word,
And made thy grace my only choice.
Isaac Watts, 1719.