2088. The Form Of Godliness Without The Power

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No. 2088-35:301. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, June 2, 1889, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

Having a form of godliness, but denying its power: from such turn away. {2Ti 3:5}

1. Paul warns us of certain characters who will appear in the last times. It is a very terrible list. Similar ones have appeared in other days, but we are led by his warning to know that they will appear in greater numbers in the last days than in any previous age. “Lovers of themselves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those who are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” These will swarm like flies in the end of the age, and will make the times extremely perilous. We are nearing that period at this very time. That some of these people would be within the church is the most painful part of it; but they will be so, for they are specified in this last clause of the black catalogue, which we have taken for our text—“Having a form of godliness, but denying its power.”

2. Paul does not paint the future with rose-colour: he is no smooth-tongued prophet of a golden age, into which this dull earth may be imagined to be glowing. There are sanguine brethren who are looking forward to everything growing better and better and better, until, at last, this present age ripens into a millennium. They will not be able to sustain their hopes, for Scripture gives them no solid basis to rest on. We who believe that there will be no millennial reign without the King, and who expect no rule of righteousness except from the appearing of the righteous Lord, are nearer the mark. Apart from the second Advent of our Lord, the world is more likely to sink into a pandemonium than to rise into a millennium. A divine intervention seems to me the hope set before us in Scripture, and, indeed, to be the only hope sufficient for the occasion. We look to the darkening down of things; the state of mankind, however improved politically, may yet grow worse and worse spiritually. Certainly, we are assured in verse thirteen that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” There will spring up in the Christian church, and all around it, a body of faithless men who profess to have faith; unsaintly men who will unite with the saints; men having the form of godliness, but denying the power. We may call these hard times, if we wish, but we have hardly yet come to the border of those truly harder times when it will go hard with the church, and she shall need, even more than today, to cry mightily to the Lord to keep her alive.

3. With this cloud upon our spirit, we come to the text itself. Let us consider it carefully, and may the Holy Spirit help us! True religion is a spiritual thing, but it necessarily embodies itself in a form. Man is a spiritual creature, but the human spirit needs a body in which to enshrine itself; and so, by this need, we become allied to materialism; and if not “half dust, half Deity,” as one has said, we are certainly both matter and soul. In each of us there is the form or body, and the soul or power. It is so with religion: it is essentially a spiritual thing, but it requires a form in which to embody and reveal itself. Christian people fall into a certain outward method of procedure, a particular outward mode of uttering their faith, which becomes to true godliness what the body is to the soul. The form is useful, the form is necessary, the form ought to be vitalized; just as the body is useful, and is necessary, and is vitalized by the soul. If you get both the form, as modelled in the Word of God, and the power, as bestowed by the Spirit of God, you do well, and are living Christians. If you get the power alone, without the ordained form, you somewhat maim yourself; but if you get the form without the power, then, you dwell in spiritual death. The body without the spirit is dead; and what follows upon death with flesh? Why, corruption, corruption so horrible, that even love itself has to cry, “Bury my dead out of my sight.” So that if there is in anyone the body of religion without the life of religion, it leads to decay, and this to corruption; and that has a tendency to putridity of character. The raw material of a devil is an angel bereft of holiness. You cannot make a Judas except out of an apostle. The eminently good in outward form, when without inward life, decays into the foulest thing under heaven. You cannot wonder that these are called “perilous times,” in which such characters abound. One Judas is an awful weight for this poor globe to bear, but a tribe of them must be a peril indeed. Yet, if not of the very worst order, those are enough to be dreaded who have the shadow of religion without its substance. Of such I have to speak at this time: from such may God give you grace to turn away! May none of us ever be spots in our feasts of love, or clouds without water carried about by winds; but this we shall be if we have the form of godliness without its power. With great solemnity of soul I approach this subject, seeking from the Lord the aid of his Spirit, who makes the Word to be a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

4. First, I shall speak of the men, and secondly, of their folly, and when I have done that, I shall have some words of instruction to give by way of conclusion.

5. I. First, let us talk for a while about THE MEN. They had the form of godliness, but denied its power. Notice what they had, and then observe what they did not have.

6. They had a form of godliness. What is the form of godliness? It is, first of all, attention to the ordinances of religion. These, so far as they are scriptural, are few and simple. There is baptism, in which, in metaphor, the believer is buried with Christ, so that he may rise into newness of life; and there is the Lord’s Supper, in which, in type and emblem, he feeds upon Christ, and sustains the life which came to him by fellowship with Christ’s death. Those who have obeyed the Lord in these two ordinances have exhibited in their own persons the form of godliness. That form is instructive in every way to others, and impressive to the man himself. Every baptized person, and every communicant at the Lord’s table, should be godly and gracious; but neither baptism nor the communion will secure this. Where there is not the life of God in the soul, neither holiness nor godliness follows upon the ordinances; and so we may have around us baptized worldlings, and men who go from the table of the Lord to drink the cup of demons. It is sad that it should be so. Such people are guilty of presumption, falsehood, sacrilege, and blasphemy. Ah me! We sit beside such people every Lord’s day!

7. The form of godliness involves attendance with the assemblies of God’s people. Those who have professed Christ are accustomed to come together at certain times for worship, and, in their assemblies, they join in common prayer and common praise. They listen to the testimony of God by his servants whom he calls to preach his Word with power. They also associate together in church fellowship for the purposes of mutual help and discipline. This is a very proper form, full of blessing both to the church and to the world, when it does not die down into mere form. A man may go to heaven alone, but he will do better if he travels there with Mr. Great-Heart, and Father-Honest, and Christiana, and the children. Christ’s people are called sheep for one reason, that they love to go in flocks. Dogs do very well separately, but sheep do best in company. The sheep of Christ love to be together in the same pasture, and to follow in a flock the footsteps of the good Shepherd. Those who constantly associate in worship, unite in church fellowship, and work together for sacred purposes, have the form of godliness, and a very useful and proper form it is. Alas! it is of no value without the power.

8. Some go further than public worship, for they use a great deal of religious talk. They freely speak of the things of God in Christian company. They can defend the doctrines of Scripture, they can plead for its precepts, and they can narrate the experience of a believer. They are most fond of talking about what is happening in the church: the tattle of the streets of Jerusalem is very pleasant to them. They flavour their speech with godly phrases when they are in company that will relish it. I do not censure them; on the contrary, I wish there were more of holy talk among professors. I wish we could revive the old habit, “Those who feared the Lord spoke often to each other.” Holy conversation causes the heart to glow, and gives to us a foretaste of the fellowship of the glorified. But there may be a savour of religion about a man’s conversation, and yet it may be a borrowed flavour, like hot sauces used to disguise the staleness of ancient food. That religion which comes from the lips outward, but does not well up from the deep fountains of the heart, is not that living water which will spring up into eternal life. Tongue godliness is an abomination if the heart is destitute of grace.

9. More than this, some have a form of godliness upheld and proclaimed by religious activity. It is possible to be intensely active in the outside work of the church, and yet to know nothing of spiritual power. One may be an excellent Sunday School teacher after a fashion, and yet have need to be taught what it is to be born again. One may be an eloquent preacher, or a diligent officer in the church of God, and yet know nothing of the mysterious power of the Spirit of truth upon the heart. It is good to be like Martha in service; but one thing is necessary, and that is, to sit at the Master’s feet and learn, as Mary did. When we have done all the work our position requires of us, we may only have displayed the form of godliness; unless we listen to our Lord, and from his presence derive power, we shall be as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Brethren, I speak to myself and to each one of you in solemn earnestness; if much speaking, generous giving, and constant occupation could win heaven, we might easily make sure of it; but more than these are necessary. I speak to each one of you; and if I singled out any one more than another to be the pointed object of my address, it would be the best among us — the one who is doing the most for his Master, and who, in his innermost soul, is thinking, “That warning does not apply to me.” Oh my active and energetic brother, remember the word, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he falls.” If any of you dislike this searching sermon, your dislike proves how much you need it. He who is not willing to search himself should stand self-suspected by that unwillingness to look at his affairs. If you are right, you will not object to be weighed in the balances. If you are indeed pure gold, you may still feel anxiety at the sight of the furnace, but you will not be driven to anger at the prospect of the fire, for your prayer will be, “Search me, oh God, and know my heart: test me, and know my thoughts: and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

10. I need not enlarge further. You all know what a form of godliness is, and most of us who are present here hold that form firmly: may we never dishonour it! I trust we are anxious to make that form accurate according to Scripture, so that our form of godliness may be that into which the earliest saints were delivered. Let us be Christians of a high type, cast in our Lord’s own mould. But do not become sticklers for the form and neglect the inner life: that will never do. Shall we fight about a man’s clothes, and allow the man himself to die?

11. But now, since these people did not have the power of godliness, how did they come to hold its form? This needs several answers.

12. Some come by the form of godliness in a hereditary way. Their ancestors were always godly people, and they almost naturally take up with the profession of their fathers. This is common, and where it is honest, it is most commendable. It is a great mercy when, instead of the fathers, shall be the children; and we may hopefully anticipate that our children will follow us in the things of God, if by example, instruction, and prayer, we have sought it before the Lord. We are unhappy if we do not see our children walking in the truth. Yet the idea of birthright-membership is an evil one, and is as perilous as it is unscriptural. If children are taken into the church simply because of their earthly parentage, surely this is not consistent with that description of the sons of God which is found in the inspired Scripture — “Who were born, not by blood, nor by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of man, but by God.” Not generation, but regeneration, makes the Christian. You are not Christians because you can trace a line of fleshly descent throughout twenty generations of children of God; but you must, yourselves, be born again; for unless a man is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Many, no doubt, lay hold naturally on the form of godliness because of family ties: this is poor work. Ishmael is a sorry son of Abraham, and Esau of Isaac, and Absalom of David. Grace does not run in the blood. If you have no better foundation for your religion than your earthly parentage, you are in a wretched state.

13. Others have accepted the form of godliness by the force of authority and influence. They were, as lads, apprenticed to godly men; as girls, they were under the guidance of pious teachers; and, as they grew up, they came under the influence of people of superior intelligence and character, who were on the Lord’s side. This accounts for their form of godliness. Many people are the creatures of their surroundings; religion or irreligion is with them the result of circumstances. Such people were led to make a profession of faith in Christ because others did so, and friends encouraged them to do the same. The deep searching of heart, which they ought to have exhibited, was slurred over, and they were found among the people of God without having to knock for entrance at the wicket-gate. I do not wish any one to condemn himself because he was guided to the Saviour by godly friends — far from it; but, nevertheless, there is danger lest we fail to have personal repentance and personal faith, and are content to lean upon the opinions of others.

14. So I have seen the form of godliness taken up on account of friendships. Many a time courtship and marriage have led to a formal religiousness, lacking heart. The future husband is induced to make a profession of religion for the sake of gaining one who was a sincere Christian, and would not have broken her Lord’s command to be unequally yoked together with an unbeliever. Godliness should never be put on in order that we may put a wedding ring on the finger: this is a sad abuse of religious profession. Other kinds of friendship, also, have led men and women to profess a faith they never had, and to unite themselves visibly with the church, while in spirit and in truth they were never truly a part of it. I put these things to you so that there may be great searchings of heart among us all, and that we may candidly consider how we have come by our form of godliness.

15. Certain people assume the form of godliness from a natural religious disposition. Do not suppose that all unconverted people are without religion. Much religiousness is found in the heathen, and there are nationalities which have naturally more of reverence than others. The German, with his profound philosophy, is often free, not only from superstition, but from reverence; while the Russian is by nationality naturally religious, not to say superstitious. I am speaking according to the manner of men: the usual Russian takes off his hat to holy places, pictures, and people, and he is little inclined to doubt or scoff. We perceive similar differences among our own acquaintances: one man is readily fooled by sceptics, while another is ready, with open mouth, to believe every word. One is naturally an infidel, another is as naturally credulous. I mean, then, that to some the form of godliness commends itself, because they have a natural leaning that way. They could not be happy unless they were attending where God is worshipped, nor unless they were counted among the believers in Christ. They must play at religion, even if they do not make it their life business. Let me remind you of the questionable value of what springs out of fallen human nature. Assuredly, it brings no one into the spiritual kingdom, for “what is born by the flesh is flesh,” and only “what is born by the Spirit is spirit.” “You must be born again.” Beware of everything which springs up in the field without the sowing of the farmer, for it will turn out to be a weed. Oh sirs, the day will come when God will test us by fire, and what comes of unregenerate nature will not stand the test, but will be utterly consumed.

16. I do not doubt that, in these silken days, many have a form of godliness because of the respect it brings them. There was a time when to be a Christian was to be reviled, if not to be imprisoned, and, perhaps, burned at the stake. Hypocrites were fewer in those days, for a profession cost too much; yet, strange to say, there were some who played the Judas even in those times. Today religion walks around in her velvet slippers; and in certain classes and ranks, if men did not make some profession of religion, they would be looked upon with suspicion, and therefore men will take the name of Christian upon them, and wear religion as a part of full dress. Today the cross is worn as a decoration. The cross as the instrument of our Saviour’s shame and death is forgotten, and instead of that, it is made the badge of honour, a jewel with which ungodly men may adorn themselves. Is this indicative of the deceitfulness of the age? Beware of seeking respect by a hypocritical godliness. Honour gained by a heartless profession is, in God’s sight, the greatest disgrace. The actor may strut in his mimic royalty, but he must take off his crown and robes when the play is over; and what will he be then?

17. From the days of Iscariot until now, some have taken up the form of godliness to gain by it. To make gain of godliness is to imitate the son of perdition. This is a perilous road, and yet many risk their souls for the lucre which they find in it. Apparent zeal for God may really be zeal for gold. The Emperor Maximilian {a} showed great zeal against idolatry, and published a decree that images of gold and silver should be melted down. He was extremely zealous about this. The images were all to be melted down, and the metal forfeited to the emperor. It was shrewdly suspected that this great iconoclast {b} was not altogether swayed by unselfish motives. When a business brings grist to the mill, it is not hard to keep at it. Some love Christ because they carry his bag for him. Beware of that kind of godliness which makes a man hesitate until he sees whether a duty will pay or not, and then makes him eager because he sees it will serve his purpose.

18. Once more: I do not doubt that a form of godliness has come to many because it brings them ease of conscience, and they are able, like the Pharisee, to thank God that they are not as other men are. Have they not been to church? Have they not paid for their pew? They can now go about their daily business without those stings of conscience which would come from neglecting the requirements of religion. These people profess to have been converted, and they are numbered with believers; but, alas! they are not of them. Of all people these are the hardest to reach, and the least likely to be saved. They hide behind the earthworks of a nominal religion; they are out of reach of the shot and shell of gospel rebukes; for these fly among the sinners, and they have taken up their quarters among the saints. Sad is that man’s plight who wears the name of life but has never been quickened by the Holy Spirit.

19. So, I have very feebly tried to show what these men had, and why they had it.

20. Let us now remember what they did not have. They had “the form” of godliness; but they denied “the power.” What is that power? God himself is the power of godliness. The Holy Spirit is the life and force of it. Godliness is the power which brings a man to God, and binds him to him. Godliness is what creates repentance towards God, and faith in him. Godliness is the result of a great change of heart in reference to God and his character. Godliness looks towards God, and mourns its distance from him; godliness hurries to draw near, and does not rest until it is at home with God. Godliness makes a man like God. Godliness leads a man to love God, and to serve God; it brings the fear of God before his eyes, and the love of God into his heart. Godliness leads to consecration, to sanctification, to concentration. The godly man seeks first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and expects other things to be added to him. Godliness makes a man commune with God, and gives him a partnership with God in his glorious plans; and so it prepares him to dwell with God for ever. Many who have the form of godliness are strangers to this power, and so are in religion worldly, in prayer mechanical, in public one thing, and in private another. True godliness lies in spiritual power, and since they are without this, they are dead while they live.

21. What is the general history of those who do not have this power? Well, dear friends, their course usually runs like this: they do not begin with denying the power, but they begin by trying to do without it. They would like to become members of the church, and since they fear that they are not fit for it, they look around for something which looks like conversion and the new birth. They try to persuade themselves that they have been changed: they accept emotion as regeneration, and a belief of doctrine for belief in Christ. It is rather hard at first to value brass as gold, but it grows easier as it is persisted in. Patching up a conversion, and manufacturing a regeneration, they venture forward. At the first they are a good deal suspicious of themselves, but they industriously kill every question by treating it as a needless doubt. So, by degrees, they believe a lie.

22. The next step is easy: they deceive themselves, and come to believe that they are surely saved. All is now right for eternity, so they imagine; and they fold their arms in calm security. Meeting with godly people, they put on a bold front, and speak up as bravely as if they were the true soldiers of King Jesus. Good people are charmed to meet with new brethren, and at once take them into their confidence. So they deceive others, and help to strengthen themselves in their false hope. They use the choice phrases of earnest Christians. Mixing with them, they pick up their particular expressions, and pronounce Shibboleths in the most approved manner.

23. At last they take the daring step of denying the power. Being without it themselves, they conceive that others are without it also. Judging from their own case, they conclude that it is all an affair of words. They get on very well without any supernatural power, and others, no doubt, do the same; only they add a few pious platitudes to it to please the very godly folk.

24. They practically deny the power in their lives, so that those who see them and take them for Christians say, “There really is nothing in it; for these people are just as we are. They have a touch of paint here, and a little varnish there, but it is all the same wood.” Practically, their actions assure the world that there is no power in Christianity; it is only a name. Very soon, privately, in their hearts they think it is so, and they invent doctrines to match. Looking around them, they see inconsistent Christians and faulty believers, and they say to themselves, “There is not much in faith, after all. I am as good as any of these believers, and perhaps better, though I am sure there is no work of the Spirit in me.” So, within their own hearts they believe, what, at first, they dare not speak: they consider godliness an empty thing. Eventually, in some cases, these people profanely deny the divine power of our holy faith, and then they become the greatest enemies of the cross of Christ. These traitors, nourished in the very house of God, are the worst foes of truth and righteousness. They ridicule what once they professed to reverence. They have measured Christ’s grain with their own bushel; and because they never felt the powers of the world to come, they imagine that no one else has done so. Look at the church of the present day; the advanced school, I mean. In its midst we see preachers who have a form of godliness, but deny its power. They talk about the Lord Jesus, but they deny his Godhead, which is his power; they speak of the Holy Spirit, but deny his personality, in which lies his very existence. They take away the substance and power from all the doctrines of revelation, though they still pretend to believe them. They talk about redemption, but they deny substitution, which is the essence of it; they extol the Scriptures, but deny their infallibility, in which lies their value; they use the phrases of orthodoxy, and believe nothing in common with the orthodox. I do not know which to loathe the most, their teachings or their spirit: surely they are worthy of each other. They burn the kernel and preserve the husk. They kill the truth, and then pretend to reverence its sepulchre; “they say they are Jews, and are not, but lie.” This is horrible, but the evil is widely spread, and in the presence of it the children of God are formulating compromises, selling their Lord, and becoming partakers with the despisers of his truth. “Having a form of godliness, but denying its power.” It is the sin of the age — the sin which is ruining the churches of our land.

25. II. In the second place, we are to observe THE WICKED FOLLY of this hypocritical conduct. Those who rest in the mere show of godliness are acting in a shameless manner, and I will try to expose it.

26. First, they degrade the very name of Christ. Brethren, if there is no spiritual power in godliness, it is worth nothing. We want no clouds without rain. Of shams and mere pretences we have more than enough. Those who do not have the power of godliness, show us a very damaging picture of religion. They make out our Lord’s religion to be comparable to a show at a county fair, with fine pictures and loud drumming on the outside, and nothing within worth a moment’s consideration. The best of the show is on the outside; or if there is anything within, it is a masquerade where everyone acts out borrowed parts, but no one is what he seems to be. Gracious Lord, never permit us to act so as to make the world think that our Redeemer is nothing more than the clever manager of a theatre, where nothing is real, but all is pantomime. Men and brethren, if you pray at all, pray God to make you real, through and through. May you be made of true metal! It would be better for you that you had never been born than that you should make Christ dishonourable among the sons of men, by leading them to conclude that religion is all a piece of acting.

27. The folly of this is illustrated by the fact that there is no value in such a dead form. The form of godliness without the power is not worth the trouble it takes to put it together, and keep it together. Imitation jewels are pretty and brilliant; but if you take them to the jeweller he will give you nothing for them. There is a religion which is all paste gems — a godliness which glitters, but is not gold; and in that day when you will want to experience something from it, you will be wretchedly disappointed. A form of godliness joined to an unholy heart is of no value to God. I have read that the swan was not allowed to be offered upon the altar of God, because, although its feathers are as white as snow, yet its skin is black. God will not accept that external morality which conceals internal impurity. There must be a pure heart as well as a clean life; the power of godliness must work within, or else God will not accept our offering. There is no value to man or to God in a religion which is a dead form.

28. Next, there is no use in mere formality. If your religion is without spiritual life, what is the use of it? Could you ride home on a dead horse? Would you hunt with dead dogs? Would anyone like to go into battle with a cardboard helmet? When the sword fell on it, what use would such a helmet be? What an outcry has been raised about bad swords! Is false religion any better? In the depth of winter, can you warm yourself before a painted fire? Could you dine off the picture of a feast when you are hungry? There must be vitality and substantiality, or else the form is utterly worthless; and worse than worthless, for it may flatter you into deadly self-conceit.

29. Moreover, there is no comfort in it. The form without the power has nothing in it to warm the heart, to raise the spirits, or to strengthen the mind against the day of sickness, or in the hour of death. Oh God, if my religion has been a mere form, what shall I do in the swelling of Jordan? My fine profession will all disappear, and nothing will come of it with which I may face the last enemy. Peter called hypocrites “wells without water.” You are thirsty, and you gladly find a well. It is well surrounded with a curb, and provided with a rope and a bucket. You hurry to draw water. What! Does the bucket come up empty? You try again. How bitter is your disappointment! A well without water is a mockery. It is a mere pit of destruction, a deadly delusion. Are some of you possessors of a religion which never yields you a drop of comfort? Is it a bondage to you? Do you follow Christ as a slave follows his master? Away with such a religion! The godliness which is worth having is a joy to a man: it is his choice, his treasure, his all. When it does not yield him conscious joy, yet he prizes it as the only source from which joy is expected by him. He follows after Christ con amore, out of his heart’s desire after him, and not from the force of fashion, or the power of fear.

30. To have the form of godliness without its power is to lack constancy in your religion. You never saw the mirage, but those who have travelled in the East, when they come home are sure to tell you about it. It is a very hot and thirsty day, and you are riding on a camel. Suddenly there rises before you a beautiful scene. Just a little from you are brooks of water, flowing between beds of willows and banks of reeds and rushes. Over there are palm trees and orange groves. Yes, and a city rises on a hill, crowned with minarets and towers. You are cheered, and ask your guide to lead you nearer to the water which glistens in the sun. He grimly answers, “Take no notice, it is the mirage. There is nothing over there but the burning sand.” You can scarcely believe him, it seems so real; but lo, it is all gone, like a dream of the night. So unsubstantial is the hope which is built upon the form of godliness without the power. The white ants will eat up all the substance of a box, and yet leave it standing, until a touch causes the whole fabric to fall in dust: beware of a profession of which the substance has been eaten away. Believe in nothing which does not have the stamp of eternity upon it. Come, poor child; you may blow your bubble, and the sunlight may paint it with rainbows; but in an instant it is gone, and not a trace of it remains. Your transient globe of beauty is for you and your fellow children, and not for men.

31. In reality, this kind of religion is in opposition to Christ. It is Jannes and Jambres all over again: the magician of hypocrisy is trying to work miracles which only belong to God. In appearance he would produce the same marvels as the finger of God; but he fails. May God grant that we may never be guilty of resisting the truth by a lying profession. False men do serious injury to true godliness; for, like Ehud, they come with a pretended message from God, and with their dagger sharpened at both edges, they strike vital godliness in its very bowels. No one can do so much damage to the church of God as the man who is within its walls, but not within its life.

32. This nominal godliness, which is devoid of power, is a shameful thing. I close with that. It is a shameful thing for this life, for the Lord Jesus loathes it. When he passed by the fig tree, which was so early with its leaves, but so devoid of fruit, he saw in it the likeness of the proud professor who has no real holiness, and he said, “Henceforth let no fruit grow on you for ever.” His word withered it at once: it stood as a terrible emblem of the end of a false profession. How shameful will such a fruitless, lifeless professor be in eternity, when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed! What shame and everlasting contempt will await him when his falsehood shall be detected, and his baseness shall fill all holy minds with horror! What will be the hell of the false professor!

33. I am finished when I have added a few words of instruction. The form of godliness is most precious; let those who feel the power of godliness honour it and use it. Do not despise it because others have damaged it. Come forward, and make a public profession of religion; but see that you have its power. Cry to God that you may never wear a sleeve which is longer than your arm: I mean, may never go beyond what is really and truly your own. It will be better for you to go to God as a lost soul, and cry for mercy, than to profess yourself saved when you are not. Yet do confess Christ without fail or fear. Do not be ashamed of Jesus because of the bad manners of his disciples. Regard the foul stench of false professors as a part of the cross which you will have to bear for your Lord. To be associated with some who are not true seems inevitable in this life, however carefully we choose our company.

34. My next is a word of discrimination. Those to whom my text has nothing to say will be the first to take it home to themselves. When I discharge my heart with a faithful sermon, certain trembling souls whom I would gladly comfort are sure to think that I mean them. A poor woman, in deep distress, comes to me, crying, “Sir, I have no feeling.” Dear heart, she has ten times too much feeling. Another moans out, “I am sure I am a hypocrite.” I never met a hypocrite who thought himself one; and I never shall. “Oh!” another said, “I feel condemned.” He who feels himself condemned may hope for pardon. If you are afraid for yourselves I am not afraid for you. If you tremble at God’s Word, you have one of the best marks of God’s elect. Those who fear that they are mistaken are seldom mistaken. If you search yourselves, and allow the Word of God to search you, it is well with you. The bankrupt trader fears to have his books examined. The sound man even pays an accountant to overhaul his affairs. Use discrimination, and neither acquit nor condemn yourself without reason. If the Spirit of God leads you to weep in secret for sin, and to pray in secret for grace; if it leads you to seek after holiness; if it leads you to trust only in Jesus, then you know the power of godliness, and you have never denied it. You who cry, “Oh, that I felt more of the power of the Holy Spirit, for I know that he could comfort and sanctify me, and make me live the life of heaven on earth!” You are not the target of the text or the sermon; for you have not denied the power. No, no, this text does not belong to you, but to quite another class of people.

35. Let me give you a word of admonition. Learn from the text that there is something in godliness worth the having. The “form” of godliness is not all: there is a blessed “power.” The Holy Spirit is that power, and he can work in you to will and to do God’s good pleasure. Come to Jesus Christ, dear souls. Do not come to the minister, nor to the church, in the first place; but come to Jesus. Come and lay yourselves at his feet, and say, “Lord, I will not be comforted unless you comfort me.” Come, and take everything at first-hand from your crucified Lord. Then you shall know the power of godliness. Beware of second-hand religion, it is never worth carrying home. Get your godliness directly from heaven by the personal dealing of your own soul with your Saviour. Profess only what you possess, and rest only in what has been given to you from above. Your heavenly life, as yet, may be very feeble, but the grain of mustard seed will grow. You may be the least in Israel, but that is better than being the greatest in Babylon. May the Lord bless these words, and apply them to each one in his own way by his Holy Spirit. You can make either a blister of them, or a plaster of them, as conscience shall direct. May God guide you, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

[Portions Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — 1Ti 3; 4]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 122” 122}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Names and Titles — Saviour” 399}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Holy Anxiety — Was It For Me?” 642}

{a} Maximilian I (July 6, 1832-June 19, 1867) was the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire. He was a younger brother of the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximilian_I_of_Mexico"
{b} Iconoclast: A breaker or destroyer of images. OED.

The Sword And The Trowel. Edited by C. H. Spurgeon.
Contents for June, 1889.
The Preacher’s Power and the Conditions of Obtaining it. By C. H. Spurgeon.
The Up-Grade Journey.
Why always Whisper?
“The Greatest of these is Love.”
Unconscious Sanctification.
John Newton’s Preaching.
Ecclesiastical Amusements.
“The C. H. Spurgeon.”
Fighting the Dummy.
V. J. Charlesworth.
The Butcher and his Coat.
“Know thy Opportunity.”
A Student’s Impressions of the 1889 Conference.
Notices of Books.
Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle.
Stockwell Orphanage.
Colportage Association.
Society of Evangelists.
For General Use in the Lord’s Work.
Report of the Pastors’ College.

Price 3d. Post free, 4 Stamps.
Passmore & Alabaster, Paternoster Buildings; and all Booksellers.

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 122 (Song 1)
1 How did my heart rejoice to hear
   My friends devoutly say,
   “In Zion let us all appear,
   And keep the solemn day!”
2 I love her gates, I love the road;
   The church adorn’d with grace,
   Stands like a palace built for God
   To show his milder face.
3 Up to her courts with joys unknown
   The holy tribes repair;
   The Son of David holds his throne,
   And sits in judgment there.
4 He hears our praises and complaints;
   And, while his awful voice
   Divides the sinners from the saints,
   We tremble and rejoice.
5 Peace be within this sacred place,
   And joy a constant guest!
   With holy gifts and heavenly grace
   Be her attendants blest!
6 My soul shall pray for Zion still,
   While life or breath remains;
   There my best friends, my kindred dwell,
   There God my Saviour reigns.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.

Psalm 122 (Song 2)
1 Pray that Jerusalem my have
   Peace and felicity:
   Let them that love thee and thy peace
      Have still prosperity.
2 Therefore I wish that peace may still
   Within thy walls remain,
   And ever may thy palaces
   Prosperity retain.
3 Now, for my friends’ and brethren’s sakes,
   Peace be in thee, I’ll say;
   And for the house of God our Lord,
   I’ll seek thy good alway.
                  Scotch Version, 1641, a.

Jesus Christ, Names and Titles
399 — Saviour <8.7.4>
1 Jesus is our great salvation,
   Worthy of our best esteem!
   He has saved his favourite nation!
   Join to sing aloud to him:
      He has saved us,
   Christ alone can us redeem.
2 When involved in sin and ruin,
   And no helper there was found,
   Jesus our distress was viewing;
   Grace did more than sin abound:
      He has call’d us,
   With salvation in the sound.
3 Save us from a mere profession!
   Save us from hypocrisy;
   Give us, Lord, the sweet possession
   Of thy righteousness and thee:
      Best of favours!
   None compared with this can be.
4 Free election, known by calling,
   Is a privilege divine:
   Saints are kept from final falling;
   All the glory, Lord, be thine;
      All the glory,
   All the glory, Lord, is thine.
                        John Adams, 1776.

The Christian, Holy Anxiety
642 — Was It For Me?
1 Was it for me, dear Lord, for me,
   Thou didst endure such pain and grief;
   For me, the direful agony,
   That knew not limit or relief?
         Was it for me? Was it for me?
2 Was it for me the mocking scorn,
   While love perfumed thy passing breath;
   The rude contumely meekly borne,
   Thy soul desertion unto death?
         Was it for me? Was it for me?
3 Was it for me, thou Lord of light,
   Thy path through darkness to the grave;
   For me, the triumph infinite,
   When thou didst rise, and live to save?
         Was it for me? Was it for me?
4 Was it for me, Lord Christ! for me,
   Ascending high, thy mission done,
   Saviour to all eternity,
   In heaven thou didst resume thy throne?
         Was it for me? Was it for me?
                     Henry Bateman, 1862.

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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