1846. The Purging Of The Conscience

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No. 1846-31:337. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, June 21, 1885, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? {Heb 9:13,14}

For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1481, “Red Heifer, The” 1481}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1846, “Purging of the Conscience, The” 1847}
   Exposition on Heb 9; Ex 24:1-10 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3293, “Blood of the Testament, The” 3295 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Heb 9 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2427, “Ark of His Covenant, The” 2428 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Le 16:1-31 Heb 9:1-22 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2369, “Blood Even on the Golden Altar” 2370 @@ "Exposition"}
   {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Heb 9:14"}

1. Some of you may remember that six years ago I preached from this text, principally dwelling upon the type of the red heifer. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No 1481, “The Red Heifer” 1481} We then tried to show how in these ashes of the heifer, laid aside in storage and applied to the unclean with water, God gave to his people in the wilderness a purification of the flesh whenever they had defiled themselves by touching any dead thing. This was the great instrument by which they were delivered from a ceremonial quarantine under which they were kept apart until they had been purified. I am not going to enlarge upon that type today. I felt when preaching upon it that I had not reserved due time for the latter and more important part of the text: it is my purpose to make amends this morning. May we be helped by the Spirit of God to yield our earnest attention to the deeply important subject now before us. The red heifer may roam out of sight, and only the Christ of God shall be seen.

2. “To serve the living God” is necessary for the happiness of a living man: we were made for this purpose and we miss the design of our making if we do not honour our Maker. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him for ever.” If we miss that end we are ourselves terrible losers. The service of God is the only element in which we can fully live. If you had a fish here upon dry land, supposing it possible that it could exist, yet it would lead a very unhappy life: it would scarcely be a fish at all! You could not tell of what it was capable; it would be deprived of the opportunity of developing its true self. It is not until you put it into the stream that the fish becomes really a fish and enjoys its existence. It is just so with man: he does exist without God, but we may not dare to call that existence “life”; for “he shall not see life; but the wrath of God resides on him.” If he lives in pleasure, yet he is dead while he lives. He is so constituted that to develop his manhood perfectly, as God would have it to be, he must addict himself to fellowship with God, and to the service of God. Many ways have been tried by men to make themselves perfectly content, but they cannot find satisfaction outside of God. When a man gets to serve God, and in proportion as he thoroughly does so, he is peaceful, restful, and happy. Man is a fallen star until he is right with heaven: he is out of order with himself and all around him until he occupies his true place in relationship to God. When he serves God, he has reached that point where he serves himself the best, and enjoys himself the most. It is man’s honour, it is man’s joy, it is man’s heaven, to live for God.

3. God’s idea of what a nation should be was shown in the camp in the wilderness. If God’s command had been fully carried out, the desert would have exhibited a scene of highest blessedness. We should have seen a holy people surrounding the central abode of the Holy God; a people, every one of whom was a servant of God and a priest for his worship; a people whose ordinary everyday life was sanctified by the presence of God; a people whose shadow by day was God in the cloud, and whose light by night was God in the pillar of fire; a people to whom God was leader, for whom God was the vanguard, and for whom God brought up the rear; a people who lived on the bread of heaven; a people who drank the water which leaped by divine power from the rock; a people having God to be their glory and their defence. Happy had they been if they could have carried out the divine ideal; it would have been good for them to the highest degree. Alas! they were always seeking to be like the evil nations around them; they could not rest until they had descended to the level of the common mass of mankind; but if they could have risen to God’s intention, so that the divine purpose of love had been fully carried out in them, they would have been the happiest of all the sons of men. We ourselves, as a church, if we can fulfil the type, if we live with God in the midst of us, if he is our dwelling-place throughout all generations, if we draw our supplies from him, if we move only at his bidding, if we intensely love him, we shall be a people to be envied by all who know us.

4. But, alas! a great difficulty comes in the way; and of that I am going to speak this morning, in order for its removal. Our text very plainly points out the sad hindrance in the way of our service: we require our conscience to be purged from dead works, or else we cannot serve the living God. Secondly, our text leads us to consider the true purification from this evil: if the blood of bulls and of goats purged the flesh of men so that they could draw near to the visible tabernacle of God, much more shall the blood of Christ purge our conscience from all that spiritual defilement which prevents our heart worship of God. When these two things are spoken of I shall ask you, in the last place, if time does not fail us, to consider the kind of service which we ought to render if we have been cleansed by such a costly purification, and purged from all conscience of dead works. Oh, living Spirit, help us now to think living thoughts, and so to carry on the worship of the living God while we are hearing your word!

5. I. First, then, let us briefly consider THE SAD HINDRANCE WHICH LIES IN THE WAY OF THE SERVICE OF GOD.

6. In the camp in the wilderness the law was that if a man touched a dead body he was made unclean by that touch; indeed, if he only trod upon a dead bone in his daily walks, he was polluted by his accidental contact with death. If any person died in the tent all the family and the tent itself became at once defiled, and they must undergo purification before the inhabitants could mingle with the rest of the congregation, much less could go up to the holy place of assembly. My brethren, we are all under the ban by coming into contact with spiritual death. The apostle does not say, purge your conscience from evil works, because he wanted to turn our minds to the type of defilement by death, and therefore he said, “dead works.” I think he had a further motive; for he was not altogether indicating wilful transgressions of the law, but those acts which are faulty because they are not performed as the result of spiritual life. I see a difference between sinful works and dead works which we may perhaps be able to bring into light as we go on. Suffice it to say for the moment, that sin is the corruption which follows necessarily upon spiritual death. First, the work is dead, and soon it rots into actual sin.

7. Upon our consciences there rests, first of all, a sense of past sin. Even if a man wishes to serve God, yet until his conscience is purged, he feels a dread and terror of God which prevents his doing so. He has sinned, and God is just, and therefore he is ill at ease. The law is not to be trifled with; it is sent into the world armed with terrible sanctions, and the conscience when awakened makes us know that we cannot sin with impunity. “God is angry with the wicked every day, if he does not turn, he will whet his sword; he has bent his bow, and made it ready”; and the sinner, knowing this, asks, “How can I serve this terrible God?” He is alarmed when he thinks of the Judge of all the earth; for it is before that Judge that he will soon have to take his trial. He is as a man in chains, reserved for the hour of terrible execution; and how can we serve this dreadful God? We tremble in the presence of an angry God, for that anger threatens us with destruction. Sin, like a dark cloud, darkens our spirit, and shuts us out from joy. It is impossible for any man rightly to serve God with a living, loving worship while he is conscious of guilt. Hence, brethren, we need the atoning sacrifice of Christ to purge the conscience; for the Lord will not be served by convicted criminals, neither can condemned rebels wish to serve him. He cannot look upon the rebellious with any pleasure until their iniquity is put away and their sin is covered. You see, then, that the first hindrance to holy service is our sense of guilt; and from this we must be entirely delivered: we must receive a new consciousness, a consciousness of perfect pardon and complete reconciliation, or else we cannot serve the living God.

8. Following this comes the consciousness that we ourselves are sinful, and inclined to evil. We say, and say correctly, “Who shall bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.” How can we whose will is obstinate, whose judgment is darkened, whose affections are depraved, whose desires are selfish, whose thoughts are evil, how can we stand in the presence of him before whom angels veil their faces as they cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty?” Men who know that they are forgiven, yet nevertheless are seized with trembling in the presence of the divine purity. They cry, “Woe is me! for I am a man of unclean lips.” How shall we bear the vessels of the Lord if we are not clean? And we are not clean by nature. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?” We feel that we do not have that perfect purity of heart and cleanness of hands which would outfit us for the holy place, nor can we ever be saved from this fear, in order to take up our heavenly priesthood and serve God, until the precious blood of Christ shall be applied to the conscience, nor until we feel that in Christ we are accounted righteous. Happy are we if we are believers in Jesus; for he has washed us and we are completely clean. Even our feet, though travel-stained, are now made clean, because he has taken the pitcher and the basin and has washed our feet, and has said to us, “You are clean.” We may now enter into the most holy place without the slightest fear, since the Great High Priest of our profession has himself purified us. We are accepted in the Beloved; “Christ is made by God to us righteousness.”

9. But, besides this consciousness of sin and sinfulness, we are conscious of a measure of deficient life. About us there is a body of death. We most require to be purged from our dead works. Dead works need not be in themselves works of wilful sin. As the renowned Dr. John Owen has said, there were many things that the Jews would have to do about the dead which could not be censured, but, on the contrary, were to be praised; and yet these acts brought ceremonial defilement. A person is dead; someone must lay out the corpse, someone must array it for the funeral, someone must lift it into the coffin, someone must dig the grave, and cover up the poor clay with its fellow clay; these last duties must be attended to, yet they defiled all who performed them. Although they were works of humanity and of necessity, yet, according to the law, all who performed them were rendered unclean by it. Without going into what the world calls actual sin, you and I may come into contact with spiritual death, indeed, we carry death about us, from which we daily cry to be delivered. For example, in prayer: our prayer in its form and fashion may be right enough, but if it lacks earnestness and persistence, it will be a dead work. A sermon may be orthodox and correct, but if it is devoid of that holy passion, that divine inspiration, without which sermons are only mere harangues, it is a dead work. An alms given to the poor is good as a work of humanity, but it will be only a dead work if a desire to be seen by men is found at the bottom of it. Like the alms-giving of the Pharisee, it will be a mockery of God. Without a spiritual motive the best work is dead. I confess that I never appear before you without a fear that my preaching may be a dead work among you. It must be so, since it comes from myself; its life must depend on the spiritual power with which the Lord clothes it. Do you not think that very much of common Christian conduct is dead, or very near to it? You stand and sing, but your hearts do not sing: you bow your heads in prayer, but you are not praying: you read the Scripture, but it is not inspired to you, so as to breathe its own life into you. Even our meditations and thoughts about God’s work may be mere intellectual exercises, and so may be devoid of that power which alone can make them living works, fit for the service of the living God. Beloved friends, we need the precious blood of Christ to purge our consciences from this death and its working, and to lift us into holy and heavenly life. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. God does not accept the dead sacrifice, but the living sacrifice. Even of old there were no fishes presented on his altar, because they could not come there alive: the victim must be brought alive to the horns of the altar, or God could not receive it. We must not bring our dead faith or our dead words as an offering to God; our prayers without emotion, our praises without gratitude, our testimonies without sincerity, our gifts without love — all these will be dead, and consequently unacceptable. We must present a living sacrifice to the living God, or we cannot hope to be accepted; and for this reason we greatly need the blood of Christ to purge our conscience from dead works.

10. Do you not sometimes fear concerning your services that they have been altogether dead? When we are lukewarm we hold the golden cup to our God, but he does not receive it when our service is dead and cold. Indeed, he says of us when we are lukewarm, “I will spue you out of my mouth.” The Lord cannot endure a worship which is half-dead: all worship must be presented at blood heat; the warmth of life must be there. Do you not fear that even when, as a whole, it is alive, large parts of our service may be dead? Even in the living body of our prayers may there not be a dead bone? Even in the living body of our praise may there not be mortification in parts? May God help us. What poor creatures we are! Is there one good thing about us? Are we not imperfect in our best doings? Are not the sins of our holy things glaring before our consciences today? Unless we are purged from them by the blood of Christ, who offered himself up without spot to God, how can we serve this living God, and be as priests and kings to him?

11. Once more: I told you that the Israelites were defiled by even touching a dead bone, and this teaches us the easiness of being polluted. We have to come into contact with evil in our daily dealings with ungodly men. Can we think of them, can we speak to them, can we trade with them, without incurring defilement? Even if we grow indignant with evil practices, may there not be sin in our indignation? And when we reprove the custom of the trade, may we not become Pharisees in that very act? We are seldom exactly right; in avoiding one sin we drop into another — we flee from the lion, and a bear meets us. How difficult it is to keep the middle path of perfect holiness!

12. Indeed, I go further: do we, as Christian men washed by Christ, ever associate with each other without a measure of defilement? Can we meet together at our homes and feel, when we separate, that everything we have said was seasoned with salt and ministered to edification? Is there not some taint about our purest friends; and does not the touch of that corruption which still remains, even in the regenerate, tend to defile us? Can we walk through such a graveyard as this world without being defiled even unconsciously? Remember, under the Jewish law the man who was defiled and did not know it was still under penalty; and when he did discover it, he was made to bring his sacrifice. He needed the blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of a heifer even for his sin of ignorance. If we have heard an evil thing, or read an evil thing, it has probably left some stain upon us though we do not perceive it. All the more surely it may be so because we do not see it; for that may only prove that the judgment has been depraved and the heart infected. The water of purification and the blood of atonement are needed day by day. Without these we cannot hope to minister before the Lord our God with acceptance.

13. II. Now, I want to show, in the second place, WHAT IS THE TRUE PURIFICATION FROM THIS EVIL.

14. Under the law there were several methods of purification, but the apostle was not of a mind, on this occasion, to speak particularly of any one of them; and therefore he summed them all up in these words: “The blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh.” These things purified the flesh, so that the man who had formerly contracted impurity might mix with his fellow men in the congregation of the Lord. Now, if these matters were so effective for the purifying of the flesh, well does the apostle ask, “How much more shall the blood of Christ purge our conscience from dead works?” Why does he say, “How much more?”

15. First, because it is more truly purifying. There was not really and truly anything of purification about the blood of bulls and of goats. Speaking very literally, the blood of bulls and of goats might defile a person. Falling upon any man it stained his garments. Who wanted to have a smear of blood upon his brow, or on his hands? It was not in itself a thing that could actually purify. All the prescribed purifications were types and shadows of the true propitiation for sin. Now, when the Lord Jesus Christ took upon himself our human nature, and lived a life of perfection, and then made an offering of himself in death, as the Just for the unjust; then there was a real sacrifice made to the Most High God. When the Lord Jesus gave his body, soul, and spirit; when in his entire nature he made himself a sacrifice for sin, “being made a curse for us: for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ ”; then in that deed there was a real atonement made; a true and effective expiation was offered. Therefore he says “How much more?” if the shadow cleansed the flesh, how much more shall the substance cleanse the spirit?

16. Moreover, our Lord Christ offered a much greater sacrifice. Why does the text here show the term “Christ?” The apostle Paul uses the name of our Lord with considerable variety: it is sometimes “Christ,” sometimes “Jesus,” sometimes “our Lord Jesus,” sometimes “our Lord Jesus Christ,” sometimes “Christ Jesus.” But there is a reason for the use of each name wherever it occurs. It would be an instructive study for you to try to find out why in such a place our Lord is called “Christ” and not “Jesus,” or “Jesus” and not “Christ.” In this passage the name used is “Christ.” One reason why the precious blood has such power to put away sin is because it is the blood of Christ, that is, of God’s Anointed, God’s Messiah, the Sent One of the Most High. Our Lord did not come as an amateur, but he came with a commission, he came with an appointment and unction from the Holy One. If, therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ is offered as a sacrifice for us, he is appointed to that purpose by God himself, and therefore he must be accepted by God. There is no will-worship about Christ. He says, “Lo, I come to do your will”; he did not come to do his own will, but the will of him who sent him: hence there is a particular purifying power about all that he did, because he did it as Christ, the anointed of God.

17. Notice, it is not stated concerning Christ that his life is purifying, though it had a wonderful relationship to it — nor is it said that his prayers are purifying, albeit everything is ascribable to the intercession of our risen Lord; nor is it said that his resurrection is purifying; but the whole stress is laid upon “the blood of Christ,” meaning by it death, death with pain, death as a victim, death with reference to sin. “The blood is its life,” and “without shedding of blood there is no remission.” It is by the blood of Christ that you and I have our consciences purged from dead works. Rejoice in Christ in glory, but put your trust in Christ crucified. Look with longing hope to his second coming; but for your purification rest upon his first coming. See in his agony and his death your joy and life. It is only the blood of Christ that can make you fit to serve the living and true God.

18. Notice what it was that Christ offered, and be sure that you lay great stress upon it. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself?” What a splendid word that is! Did he offer his blood? yes, but he offered “himself.” Did he offer his life? yes, but he specifically offered “himself.” Now, what is “Christ?” The “anointed by God.” In his wondrous complex nature he is God and man. He is prophet, priest, and king. He is — but time would fail me to tell you what he is; but whatever he is he offered himself. The entire Christ was offered by Christ. “He offered himself!” You cannot put it so strongly by the use of any other word. “He himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree.” “Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it”; not his life on earth, not his life in heaven, nor his abilities and his thoughts and his works; but he gave himself. This is the alabaster box which was broken, the precious ointment of which perfumes both earth and heaven, and makes the saints sweet to the Lord their God, who smells upon them a sweet savour of rest in the offering up of Christ. He offered “himself!” Dwell much upon that word.

19. It is said in our text that this offering of himself was “without spot.” The sacrificial act by which he presented himself was a faultless one, without spot. There was nothing in what Christ was himself, and nothing in the way in which he offered himself, that could be objected to by God: it was “without spot.” Now you see, brethren, why it is that it has such purifying power for us. God sent Christ; this Christ offered up himself; and he offered himself without spot; and so we for whom this wondrous Christ was sent, for whom he made this matchless offering, for whom he made that offering without spot, we, I say, are accepted in the Beloved, made perfect in his perfection.

20. Further, it is added that he did this “by the eternal Spirit.” This does not refer to the Holy Spirit; otherwise the apostle would have said “by the Holy Spirit.” It says, “By the eternal Spirit”; and the meaning is this, that his eternal Godhead gave to his offering of himself an extreme value which otherwise could not have been attached to it. He by the power of his Godhead offered up himself without spot.

21. Observe, then, the sacrifice was a spiritual one. You must never look at Christ’s sacrifice in a carnal way, as though the mere drops of literal blood, as a material substance, could have power in them for the purging of sin. Do not know Christ after the flesh: be no longer children, but understand spiritual things. It is true that our Lord had a material body and shed material blood; but the essence of his sacrifice lay in his will, intention, motive, and spirit. I once heard a dissertation upon what became of those drops of blood which fell to the ground on Calvary, and I felt that it was foolish talk. By the blood of Christ we mean his suffering to death, the obedience which made him yield his life, and especially the will of his soul to suffer, and the object of his mind in suffering. When the young bull was brought up its blood was poured out; but the young bull could not be a sacrifice in spirit; the young bull had no intention to die, and no understanding of the reason for its death; the young bull was not willing to die, and therefore it presented no sacrifice by the spirit. But Christ knew what he was, and why he was there, and why he must die, and he gave his willing assent to it. He entered with his whole heart into the substitution which involved obedience to death. “For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross.” It was by his spirit that he offered up a true and real sacrifice; for he says, “I delight to do your will, oh my God; yes, your law is within my heart.”

22. But then you must not forget that this spirit was divine — “by the eternal Spirit.” The spirit of Christ was an eternal spirit, for it was the Godhead. There was joined with his deity the natural life of a perfect man, but the eternal spirit was his highest self. His Godhead willed that he should die, and concurred in the death of the manhood, so that by the eternal spirit he offered himself. The blood which he shed was the blood of God, for so we read: “Feed the Church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.” Of course “blood” as a physical, material thing cannot be the blood of God; but viewing it as what it means — his sufferings, his griefs, his woes — these were consented to by the divine spirit of Christ; and so by the eternal spirit he offered himself to God. Because he is the Second Person of the adorable Trinity in unity, the suffering and death of his humanity had in them a potency of purification by which he cleanses our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Brethren, I never feel it hard to trust my sinful soul with the great sacrifice of Christ; I feel, on the contrary, that if I had all your souls within my body and all your sins heaped upon me, and all the sins of all the redeemed blackening my conscience, I could now readily trust in that divine sacrifice for the taking away of all that guilt. What limit can you set to the merit of one who by the eternal spirit offered himself up? What bound can there be to a divine sacrifice? You can no more set a limit to our Lord’s sacrifice than to Godhead itself.

23. Once more, I must call to your notice the use of that word “eternal,” — “who by the eternal Spirit” — for it gives to the offering of Christ an endless value. It can never cease to operate, for he offered himself up by the “Eternal Spirit.” There is as much purging power in the death of our Lord today as in that hour when for the first time he appeared in the presence of God for us. The blood of the young bull was a temporary thing; the “ashes of a heifer” could not last for ever, but the merits of Christ are the merits of one who lives for ever. His merits exist for ever; for they are the merits of an Eternal Person, who by his own Spirit offered himself up as a sacrifice for sin.

24. Now, all this tends to make us feel how clean are those who are purged by this sacrifice which our Lord offered once and for all to God. Need I call your attention to the fact that he offered himself “to God?” Yes, I must; for recently some have blasphemously said that the sacrifice was made to the devil. To mention such profanity is to condemn it.

25. Once more upon this point: as I have shown you that the sacrifice of Christ was more real and greater, so I want you to notice that it was better applied; for the ashes of a heifer mixed with water were sprinkled on the bodies of the unclean; the blood of bulls and of goats was sprinkled upon the flesh, but neither of them could reach the heart. It is not possible for a material thing to touch what is immaterial; but the sufferings of Christ, as I have explained them, offered up through his Eternal Spirit, were not only of a corporeal but of a spiritual kind, and they reach, therefore, to the cleansing of our spirit.

26. That precious blood comes home to us in this way: first, we understand something about it. The Israelite, when he was purged by the ashes of the red heifer, could only say to himself, “I am made clean by these ashes, because God has appointed that I shall be, but I do not know why.” But you and I can say that we are made clean through the blood of Christ, because there is in that blood an inherent efficacy; there is in the vicarious suffering of Christ on our behalf an inherent power to honour the law of God, and to put away sin. Because we can somewhat understand the cleansing given to us in Christ, it has a greater power upon our conscience, and all the better prepares us to serve God.

27. Then again, we appreciate and approve of this way of cleansing. The Israelite could not tell why the ashes of a red heifer purified him; he did not object to it, but he could not express any great appreciation of the method. We, as we see our Lord suffering in our place, fall at his feet in reverent wonder. We love the method of salvation by substitution; we approve of expiation by the Mediator. No truth charms my own spirit like the truth of atonement by vicarious suffering, that suffering presented together with his death by our Lord Jesus Christ. I feel my conscience is quieted by every drop of that blood; the method of federal headship commends itself to me: I see righteousness and grace blended in it, and so I am helped to serve the living God.

28. Further, brethren, it comes home to us this way: we read in the word of God that “He who believes in him has everlasting life,” and we say to ourselves, “Then we have everlasting life, for we have believed in him.” We read, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin,” and our conscience whispers, “We are cleansed from all sin.” Conscience finds rest and peace, and our whole consciousness becomes that of a forgiven and accepted person, with whom God is well pleased. Our conscience, instead of condemning us, perceives the justice of the way by which we are absolved, and leads our peace of heart up into full assurance of faith. So you see, brethren, that what the blood of bulls and of goats could not do, the blood of Christ has done; it has passed beyond the flesh, which, indeed, it has never touched in our case, and it has sanctified the heart, and calmed the spirit, thus preparing us to serve the Lord. The blood of Christ has purified us to the centre, it has purged the core of the heart, it has cleansed our spirit, our mind, our memory, our thought, our intellect, our affections, and we are clean; and therefore we are fit to exercise a holy priesthood before the living God.

29. III. This brings me to my last point, which is this: consider THE KIND OF SERVICE WHICH WE NOW RENDER. After so much preparing, how shall we behave ourselves in the house of God?

30. I am not speaking to you who have never been purged from dead works by the application of the precious blood of Christ; for you cannot serve God, you are forbidden to come into his presence, or to stand among his saints. You are in quarantine, even as lepers put out from the camp. Go home and set a red cross upon your door, and write over it, “Lord have mercy upon us.” That would best befit your unclean condition. As Joshua said to Israel, even so I say to you, “You cannot serve the Lord: for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God.” You must be born again before you can be acceptable to him; for as you are, an infection is upon all your doings, and you may not hope that he will accept anything from your hands.

31. But to you who have had that blood applied to your conscience by the Spirit of God, even to you I speak. You should present to the Lord the constant worship of living men. You see it is written, “Purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Today you are not likely to die in order to prove your love to God; but if you are ever called to it, you must be prepared to lose your lives for Christ’s sake. But what you have to do is to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.” Now a living sacrifice is much more difficult to present than a slain one. I believe there are thousands of men who could go to the stake and die, or lay their necks on the block to perish with a stroke for Christ, who nevertheless find it hard work to live a holy, consecrated life. The act of one moment, however painful, must be much easier than that service which is to run through a series of years, until life itself shall close. But if the Lord Jesus gave himself for you, will you not give yourselves for him? If he died for you by his eternal spirit, will you not live for him by that new spirit with which he has quickened you? Are you not under bonds to serve him? From this time on, you should not have a pulse that does not beat to his praise, nor a hair on your head that is unconsecrated to his name, nor a single moment of your time which is not used for his glory. Yes, brothers, sisters, it must be a lifelong sacrifice that we now present to him who lives for ever.

32. Should not our service be rendered in the full strength of our new life? Let us have no more dead works, no more dead singing, no more dead praying, no more dead preaching, no more dead hearing. “Oh,” one said, when he heard a sermon, “it was very good, if it had been alive.” Dead-and-alive Christianity is poor stuff. No dish ever comes to the table which is so nauseous as cold religion. Put it away. Neither God nor man can endure it. Let us have cakes hot from the oven, manna fresh from heaven, living waters leaping from the rock. Stale godliness is ungodliness. Let our religion be as warm, and constant, and natural as the flow of the blood in our veins. A living God must be served in a living way.

33. Are we to be excited, therefore? Yes, if needs be. What can excite a man like the grand sublimities of eternity? But if you are not excited with any carnal excitement, if principle rules rather than passion, it will be so much the better. Yet let it be living principle; principle alive with love. There is such a thing as an excitement which is dead spiritually. The fury of the flesh is not the life of God. Energy of mind is a distinct thing from being strong in the Lord. We need a steady, healthy pulsation of spiritual life to keep us in such service of the Lord as becomes saints and is worthy of our high calling. This only comes from having our conscience purged from dead works.

34. And, dear friends, do keep in mind that you are henceforth to “serve the living God.” You who are acquainted with the Greek will find that the kind of service mentioned here is not what the slave or servant renders to his master, but a worshipful service such as priests render to God. We who have been purged by Christ are to render to God the worship of a royal priesthood. It is ours to present prayers, thanksgivings, and sacrifice; it is ours to offer the incense of intercession; it is ours to light the lamp of testimony and furnish the table of showbread. You who are the sons of God are all the sons of Levi today; yes, you are the true seed of Aaron, the priesthood is with you, even with you who worship God in the spirit and have no confidence in the flesh. You who believe in Christ, and are made pure by his blood, it is for you to live as if you wore the snow-white robes of the priests of the house of Aaron — your garments should be vestments and your conduct a perpetual priesthood to God.

35. I close by noticing how this precious blood of Christ will work all this in us. It will operate upon us like this: when our conscience is perfectly pure from sin, and we know that we are forgiven and accepted in the Beloved, then how happy we shall be! and there is no service so acceptable to God as what is joyfully rendered. When it is a joy to us to serve him, then it is a joy to him to be served; when it is a delight to us to honour God, then God delights in such honour. He does not seek slaves to grace his throne. When we know that we are perfectly forgiven, then we are full of gratitude, we feel that we must serve God, not because of anything we are to get for it, but because we long to do so. He gladly accepts this unselfish service. To give play to our emotions we feel that we must glorify him: then we serve God truly, for what is born from love is living. Loving works are living works. Without love works are dead. When love resides in the soul, obedience is real and true, but not otherwise. When his glorious name is honey in the mouth, and music in the ear, and heaven in the heart, then we worship him in the manner which he accepts, even in the same manner as the angels in glory who see his face and do his commandments. It is the cleansing blood which brings us near enough to do this.

36. This precious blood of Christ has now given us perfect peace with God, and therefore we can serve him without fear. You cannot serve an enemy; while you hate him you cannot please him; but our enmity towards God is slain; he is our Friend, our Father and our God. His will is our will, his intentions are our intentions. As far as the little can keep pace with the great, and the minute with the infinite, we run parallel with God; and if we ever leave the lines for a moment we are in misery until we get back again. What the Lord aims at we aim at, what he desires we desire. Is Christ’s coming God’s ultimatum? so it is ours, and we cry, “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” Shall “the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ?” It is our last, best, and highest prayer. So we are truly serving the Lord.

37. Do you not see, then, how the washing of the precious blood has made us partakers of the service of heaven? How close it has brought us to God! In what amity and accord we walk with him! With what sympathy we enter into all that he does! With what intense delight we rejoice in him through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have received the atonement! How I wish that every soul here believed in Jesus! Oh that you would do so at once. Amen.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Heb 9:1-10:22]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 84” 84 @@ "(Song 3)"}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 51” 51 @@ "(Version 2)"}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Names and Titles — Priest” 395}

Lay preachers who have little time to spare would derive valuable assistance from Mr. Spurgeon’s new volume, entitled “My Sermon Notes.” The double volume, containing outlines from the Old Testament, costs only 5s. It may be had from Messers. Passmore and Alabaster, and all booksellers. It would be a very acceptable present for any minister.

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 84 (Song 1)
1 How pleasant, how divinely fair,
   Oh Lord of hosts, thy dwellings are!
   With long desire my spirit faints
   To meet the assemblies of thy saints.
2 My flesh would rest in thine abode,
   My panting heart cries out for God;
   My God! my King! why should I be
   So far from all my joys and thee?
3 Bless’d are the saints who sit on high
   Around thy throne of majesty;
   Thy brightest glories shine above,
   And all their work is praise and love.
4 Bless’d are the souls that find a place
   Within the temple of thy grace;
   There they behold thy gentler rays,
   And seek thy face, and learn thy praise.
5 Bless’d are the men whose hearts are set
   To find the way to Zion’s gate;
   God is their strength, and through the road,
   They lean upon their helper, God.
6 Cheerful they walk with growing strength,
   Till all shall meet in heaven at length,
   Till all before thy face appear,
   And join in nobler worship there.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.

Psalm 84 (Song 2)
1 Great God, attend while Sion sings
   The joy that from thy presence springs;
   To spend one day with thee on earth
   Exceeds a thousand days of mirth.
2 Might I enjoy the meanest place
   Within thy house, oh God of grace!
   Not tents of ears, nor thrones of power,
   Should tempt my feet to leave thy door.
3 God is our sun, he makes our day;
   God is our shield, he guards our way
   From all th’ assaults of hell and sin,
   From foes without and foes within.
4 All needful grace will God bestow,
   And crown that grace with glory too;
   He gives us all things, and withholds
   No real good from upright souls.
5 Oh God, our King, whose sovereign sway
   The glorious hosts of heaven obey,
   And devils at thy presence flee;
   Bless’d is the man that trusts in thee.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.

Psalm 84 (Song 3) <148th.>
1 Lord of the worlds above,
   How pleasant and how fair
   The dwellings of thy love,
   Thy earthly temples are!
   To thine abode,
      My heart aspires
      With warm desires,
   To see my God.
2 Oh happy souls that pray
   Where God appoints to hear!
   Oh happy men that pay
   Their constant service there!
   They praise thee still;
      And happy they
      That love the way
   To Zion’s hill.
3 They go from strength to strength,
   Through this dark vale of tears,
   Till each arrives at length,
   Till each in heaven appears:
   Oh glorious seat,
      When God our King
      Shall thither bring
   Our willing feet.
4 To spend one sacred day,
   Where God and saints abide,
   Affords diviner joy
   Than thousand days beside:
   Where God resorts,
   I love it more
   To keep the door
   Than shine in courts.
5 God is our sun and shield,
   Our light and our defence;
   With gifts his hands are fill’d;
   We draw our blessings thence;
   He shall bestow
      On Jacob’s race
      Peculiar grace
   And glory too.
6 The Lord his people loves;
   His hand no good withholds
   From those his heart approves,
   From pure and pious souls:
   Thrice happy he,
      Oh God of hosts,
      Whose spirit trusts
   Alone in thee.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 51 (Version 1)
1 Show pity, Lord; oh Lord, forgive;
   Let a repenting rebel live:
   Are not thy mercies large and free?
   May not a sinner trust in thee?
2 My crimes are great, but don’t surpass
   The power and glory of thy grace:
   Great God, thy nature hath no bound,
   So let thy pardoning love be found.
3 Oh wash my soul from every sin,
   And make my guilty conscience clean;
   Here, on my heart, the burden lies,
   And past offences pain my eyes.
4 My lips, with shame, my sins confess
   Against thy law, against thy grace:
   Lord, should thy judgment grow severe,
   I am condemn’d, but thou art clear.
5 Should sudden vengeance seize my breath,
   I must pronounce thee just in death;
   And, if my soul were sent to hell,
   Thy righteous law approves it well.
6 Yet save a trembling sinner, Lord;
   Whose hope, still hovering round thy word,
   Would light on some sweet promise there,
   Some sure support against despair.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.

Psalm 51 (Version 2)
1 Lord, I am vile, conceived in sin,
   And born unholy and unclean;
   Sprung from the man whose guilty fall
   Corrupts the race, and taints us all.
2 Soon as we draw our infant breath,
   The sees of sin grow up for death;
   Thy law demands a perfect heart,
   But we’re defiled in every part.
3 Behold I fall before thy face,
   My only refuge is thy grace;
   No outward forms can make me clean;
   The leprosy lies deep within.
4 No bleeding bird, nor bleeding beast,
   Nor hyssop branch, nor sprinkling priest,
   Nor running brook, nor flood nor sea,
   Can wash the dismal stain away.
5 Jesus, my God! thy blood alone
   Hath power sufficient to atone;
   Thy blood can make me white as snow;
   No Jewish types could cleanse me so.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.

Psalm 51 (Version 3)
1 Oh thou that hear’st when sinners cry,
   Though all my crimes before thee lie,
   Behold them not with angry look,
   But blot their memory from thy book.
2 Create my nature pure within,
   And form my soul averse to sin;
   Let thy good Spirit ne’er depart,
   Nor hide thy presence from by heart.
3 Though I have grieved thy Spirit, Lord,
   His help and comfort still afford;
   And let a wretch come near thy throne,
   To plead the merits of thy Son.
4 A broken heart, my God, my King,
   Is all the sacrifice I bring;
   The God of grace will ne’er despise
   A broken heart for sacrifice.
5 My soul lies humbled in the dust,
   And owns thy dreadful sentence just;
   Look down, oh Lord, with pitying eye,
   And save the soul condemn’d to die.
6 Then will I teach the world thy ways;
   Sinners shall learn thy sovereign grace;
   I’ll lead them to my Saviour’s blood,
   And they shall praise a pardoning God.
7 Oh may thy love inspire my tongue;
   Salvation shall be all my song;
   And all my powers shall join to bless
   The Lord, my strength and righteousness.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.

Psalm 51 (Version 4)
1 Oh God of mercy, hear my call,
   My load of guilt remove;
   Break down this separating wall
   That bars me from thy love.
2 Give me the presence of thy grace:
   Then my rejoicing tongue
   Shall speak aloud thy righteousness,
   And make thy praise my song.
3 No blood of goats, nor heifer slain,
   For sin could e’er atone:
   The death of Christ shall still remain
   Sufficient and alone.
4 A soul oppress’d with sin’s desert,
   My God will ne’er despise!
   A humble groan, a broken heart,
   Is our best sacrifice.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.

Jesus Christ, Names and Titles
395 — Priest
1 Jesus, in thee our eyes behold
   A thousand glories more
   Than the rich gems, and polish’d gold,
   The sons of Aaron wore.
2 They first their own burn offerings brought
   To purge themselves from sin:
   Thy life was pure without a spot,
   And all thy nature clean.
3 Fresh blood as constant as the day,
   Was on their altar spilt:
   But thy one offering takes away
   For ever all our guilt.
4 Their priesthood ran through several hands,
   For mortal was their race;
   Thy never changing office stands
   Eternal as thy days.
5 Once in the circuit of a year,
   With blood, but not his own,
   Aaron within the veil appears,
   Before the golden throne.
6 But Christ by his own powerful blood
   Ascends above the skies,
   And in the presence of our God
   Shows his own sacrifice.
7 Jesus, the King of Glory, reigns
   On Sion’s heavenly hill;
   Looks like a lamb that has been slain,
   And wears his priesthood still.
8 He ever lives to intercede
   Before his Father’s face:
   Give him, my soul, thy cause to plead,
   Nor doubt the Father’s grace.
                        Isaac Watts, 1709.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

Terms of Use

Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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