2153. The Iniquity Of Our Holy Things

by on
Share:

No. 2153-36:373. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, July 6, 1890, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

And you shall make a plate of pure gold, and inscribe on it, like the inscription of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. And you shall put it on a blue lace, so that it may be on the mitre; it shall be on the forefront of the mitre. And it shall be on Aaron’s forehead so that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always on his forehead, so that they may be accepted before the Lord. {Ex 28:36-38}

1. Dear friends, I must begin by reminding you that in this passage we are not dealing with unconverted men in their sins, but with God’s people Israel in their holy things. I say this because we must never forget that “without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin”; and when we are dealing with certain types, it must be understood that the blood has done its essential work. Even a high priest, with all his “glory and beauty,” could not put away sin as before God without reference to the shedding of blood. The atonement is supposed to have been offered: these people have been purified and brought near by the appointed offerings.

2. But now, here comes in the point with which this type concerns itself. They are God’s people, and therefore they come to him with their gifts and thank offerings: these alone can draw near to him, or will care to do so. But how shall they draw near, for even after being reconciled by the blood they still continue to sin; there is iniquity even in their holy things. How shall they come to God without someone to stand between, who shall continually bear for them the iniquity of the “holy things which they shall hallow in all their holy gifts?” There is need of one who is “able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by him, since he lives for ever to make intercession for them.” That sacred person is provided by God in Christ Jesus our Lord, and so the way to present acceptable sacrifice has been made clear for all the blood-washed people of God. Aaron in his glorious attire was the type of the living Christ who presented to God the sacrifices of his people. He is made to bear their faults in worship and fellowship, and so their gifts and prayers are accepted before a holy God. Remember that about this we are now speaking; not about the way of bringing the guilty sinner at first near to God, for that is by the blood alone: but the way of rendering the pardoned one continually acceptable to God in his daily service of thanksgiving, and prayer, and praise, and labour, and consecrated substance, which he gladly brings to the Most High.

3. Aaron for this purpose was set apart beyond all other priests. They wore their plain white clothing of hallowed service, but he wore garments “for glory and for beauty.” As I said, in the reading of the chapter, how glorious, how beautiful is the Lord Jesus in the eyes of God! Let me now add, how beautiful he is in our eyes! The unveiled sight of him will be our heaven. Our present view of him is our salvation, comfort, strength, and sanctification. Oh, the glory of Christ! I have often cried to God in prayer, “I beseech you, do not look on me, my God; but look on the face of your Anointed! Did you ever see the like of him? Is he not altogether lovely to you? Even the poor, half-opened eyes of your servants have seen enough beauty in the Lord Jesus to ravish their hearts, and hold every affection in glad captivity. Look, oh God, on him, for in him you are always well pleased.

   Him and then the sinner see:
   Look through Jesus’ wounds on me.”

4. Why was the high priest so adorned for glory and beauty? We need such a high priest; but stop! Paul does not put it like that. He says, “Such a high priest became us.” {Heb 7:26} It was becoming for us to have this glorious high priest so splendidly arrayed. When I thought over that saying of the apostle, it seemed to me that if the high priest had been covered with ashes, if he had been dressed in rags, he might have seemed such a high priest as would befit us. But God does not think so: he has said, “Take away the filthy garments from him. Let them set a fair mitre upon his head.” He has covered us with a robe of righteousness, and we are attractive with his beauty which he has put upon us; and we are such in God’s sight that it is becoming that we should not be represented by a high priest in sordid garments, but by one who is dressed in “gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine linen.” What great things God thinks of his elect! What a high price he puts upon his redeemed! His delight is in his saints. He takes more solace in those who fear him than in all creation besides. “To you who believe Christ is precious”; but you who believe are also precious to him. Does he not say, “Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honourable?” Therefore, no one but an honourable and glorious person shall represent the chosen. Let us humbly rejoice in the glory and beauty of him who takes our place before the infinite Jehovah.

   Jesus, in thee our eyes behold
      A thousand glories more
   Than the rich gems, and polish’d gold,
      The sons of Aaron wore.

I thank God that, though lowliest and vilest of all his creatures because of my sin, yet he who represents me to God is neither lowly in person nor vile in apparel, but he is altogether perfect in himself, and altogether beautiful in his array. Take comfort from this thought to begin with. You will need such consolation, for I am going to remind you of very uncomfortable truths.

5. Let us consider first a sad subject — “The iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts”; and then, secondly, we shall dwell on a glad subject — “HOLINESS TO THE LORD shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, so that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things. It shall always be on his forehead, so that they may be accepted before the Lord.” May God, the Holy Spirit, open up the type before us, and also open our hearts to receive its teaching!

6. I. First, consider A SAD SUBJECT — “The iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel shall hallow.”

7. They were “holy things.” Despite the iniquity, their offerings were hallowed and holy. This is a precious saving clause. Our prayers, our praises, our service for God, these are holy things, albeit that iniquity attaches to them. They are holy concerning God’s ordinance, for he has ordained them for his glory. He has told us to serve him. He has told us to draw near in prayer. He has also said: “Whoever offers praise glorifies me.” When we do what God tells us, the act is holy, because done in obedience to the divine ordinance.

8. Such deeds are holy concerning the divine design: for the sacrifices which the Israelites brought were meant to illustrate Christ and his glorious work, and therefore they were holy. They were meant to be signs of our gratitude, love, dedication, and homage, and therefore they are holy. The great Father teaches us much precious truth by every institution of the tabernacle, and the temple, and the gospel church, and therefore obedience to each ordinance is holy.

9. These deeds were often holy in the intent of the worshipper. When he brought his turtle-doves, or his lamb, or his young bull, he intended, if he was not altogether outside of spiritual worship, to exercise real reverence, true allegiance, and sincere gratitude to God, and this intent was holy. Our God is so gracious as to call his people’s love, his people’s faith, his people’s labour, his people’s patience, “holy things,” because he sees how truly their hearts desire that they should be so. He knows what is holy, and what is not holy; and though there is a defilement about our holy things, yet they are holy things, if sincerely presented, for the Lord God calls them so. Blessed be his name!

10. But although “holy things,” there was iniquity on all of them; and I shall not confine myself to the case of the Israelites, but shall speak of our own case. Did we ever do anything yet that did not have some spot of iniquity on it? Is not our repentance, after all, very poor stuff compared with what it ought to be? Is not unbelief mixed with our faith? Has not our love a measure of lukewarmness in it? Did you ever sing to the Lord yet with pure, reverent praise, and without these being some forgetfulness of the God to whom you sang? I have never prayed a prayer yet with which I have felt content. From my first prayer until now I have need of grace to cover my shortcomings at the mercy seat. No act of consecration, no act of self-sacrifice, no rapture of fellowship, no height of spirituality has been without its imperfection. If even the apostles on the mount of transfiguration feared as they entered into the cloud, and wandered in their speech, not knowing what they said, it is no strange thing that we are like them. If we ourselves see much to regret, what must the eye of God behold? Sadly do I say, in the language of the hymn —

   If I sing, or hear, or pray,
   Sin is mixed with all I do.

11. Furthermore, some of these sins are apparent: indeed, many of them are painfully before our own eyes. Brethren, I need not enlarge upon our omissions: how we omit to pray; how we forget to study the Word with intelligent care; how we are remiss in keeping up daily fellowship with God; how slow we are in serving; how impatient in suffering; how backward in alms-giving; how apt to compromise with the world! If the Lord should mark iniquity, who among us could stand? When you think of what you have not done, who among you can talk about perfection? It is not so much sins of commission that trouble some of us — for by God’s grace we are for the most part kept from such transgressions — but sins of omission bear terrible witness against us. Who can number them? Who can escape their accusing voice? You have done well; — you ought to have done much better. You have done much; — you might have done far more. You have given freely; but have you ever given all that you have, like the poor woman with her two mites, which were all her living? Oh brethren, if we have any idea of what the height of the standard of holiness is we shall be far more inclined to lament our failures before God than to vaunt our holiness before men.

12. But rather I will dwell upon the iniquity of those holy things which we do attend to. The phrase used in my text troubles me: I felt laid in the dust before God as I thought of it: “The iniquity of the holy things” is a terrible word to me. If the Lord sees iniquity in our holy things, what iniquities there must be in our unholy things! If even what God calls holy still has iniquity about it, how vile must that be which even divine condescension could not call holy, which even our own conscience could not describe as holy! Let us look into this sad matter. Do you never feel great dulness and deadness in holy things? One of my brethren behind me said to me one Lord’s day morning, “We come here from business dull and dead; but you seem always to be full of holy life.” I dropped a tear when I got away from him, to think that he should have an opinion of me which I could not pretend to deserve. Alas, beloved! we know what it is to kneel down, and feel as if we could not pray, though we had then most need to wrestle at the throne. We know what it is to read our Bible, but we might as well have read a newspaper, for all the desire of our heart for the truth of God. Have you never felt almost unwilling to worship God? I am sure some of you do, when you so readily stay away from public worship because of a little rain, or a slight headache, or some other excuse of the kind. Your willing absence is an outward and visible sign of the lack of inward and spiritual grace. When we do come to the house of God, do we always find our heart in the Lord’s ways? At the hour of prayer are we eager and earnest? Do not our spirits need whipping to devotion? Towards the business of the world we can fly like eagles, but in coming to God we creep like snails.

   Our souls, how heavily they go
   To reach eternal joys!

This is one of the common sins of our holy things — lack of life, lack of energy, lack of joy in the Lord.

13. When you get over this, have you not very often to confess a lack of reverence? We pray, my brethren, and we address God as “Holy! Holy! Holy!” but do we veil our faces with awe in his sacred presence? If we had a true sense of his holiness and glory, would not our sense of imperfection humble us in the dust? Alas! we draw near to God with our lips, but in our spirit we are flippant, impertinent, and comparatively careless. Are we ever as fully conscious of the divine Majesty as we ought to be? We sing his praises, and think rather of the music than of the worship. We use the language of prayer without an adequate sense of what we are saying. Is it not so? The Lord God is in heaven, and we are on earth; he is perfect, and we are full of sin: how lowly should be our behaviour! Is it so? We should prize the Saviour far more as our Mediator if we had a deeper feeling of reverence for the thrice-holy God to whom we approach by him. Do you not fail too often in this respect in your holy things? When you come to the Lord’s table tonight, may you come with that holy thoughtfulness by which you may discern the Lord’s body; but you have not always done so; or if you have, you are far in advance of your pastor. It is true we pay no superstitious reverence to the material substances of bread and wine, but before him whom they symbolize we bow in lowliest worship, and with subdued spirits we eat from this bread, and drink from this cup. I fear in this holy thing we may not always have been so spiritual, so concentrated, so withdrawn from the world, or so fired with holy affection as we ought to have been.

14. I have to complain — and I suppose you also do so — that wandering thoughts will intrude in my prayers, my study of the Word, my sacred song, my choice meditation: indeed, even in ministering of the Word among you, I find my mind roaming. I cannot wonder if you have wandering thoughts in hearing my poor words, for I cannot even hold my own mind to them as I wish; yet as far as it is my Lord’s Word which I proclaim, it is an unholy thing for us to be making room in our minds for other things while the truth of God is being spoken. Oh, that we could tether our thoughts to the cross, and never allow them to go further than where they can constantly have him in view! Sabbath worship, how holy and how precious it is, when the soul is at home, with her doors shut, and no one within except God! but when our minds are all over the place, climbing the hills of vanity, or diving into the abysses of care, then we are in a bad state. If you bring your children on your back into your pew, or if you keep on jingling the keys of your cupboards, or if all your ledgers and your journals seem spread out before you, and all your fields and your spoiling hay are on your minds, surely such common care will spoil your holy exercises, and prevent you from enjoying the repose of the day, and the sanctity of the holy assembly.

15. Too often, I am afraid, the best of God’s people play the hypocrite, in a measure. Have we not in public prayer spoken beyond our experience? Have we not seemed very earnest, when, in truth, we were working ourselves up to fervency rather than speaking because our hearts were on fire? It is an awful thing to be more glib than gracious. Our own brethren soon discern the imitation of fervency. I can at the prayer meetings readily tell when the brother is praying, and when he is only performing, or playing at prayer. You know how it is with some prayers — they are like an invoice, “as per usual,” or a list of goods with “ditto, ditto” every here and there. Oh, for a living groan! One sigh from the soul has more power in it than half-an-hour’s recitation of pretty pious words. Oh, for a sob from the soul, or a tear from the heart — a dewdrop of heaven’s own life! May the Lord help us to get rid of all pretence; but it is this which to a degree defiles our sacrifices.

16. I have to complain also — and I fear many here would have to complain even more than I do — of lack of faith in prayer. We plead with God a very great and precious promise, and we think we believe it, when we do not more than half trust in it. If God wanted to surprise his people, all he would have to do would be to answer certain of their prayers; for these are offered as a matter of course, with no idea of their being heard! I think I have seen this kind of thing in many good brethren in another form. They say, “Here is an amazing thing: I prayed for such and such a thing, and the Lord has given it to me.” Is that not amazing? You are on strange terms with God when it becomes a marvel to you that he keeps his promise. I like better the utterance of the good woman, who, when her friend said, “It is amazing!” replied, “Yes, in one sense it is amazing, but not as you mean it. It is not amazing for God to fulfil his promises: it is just like him.” It is just like the Lord to hear his people’s prayers. Oh friends, our lack of faith has done more mischief to us than all the demons in hell, and all the heretics on earth. Some cry out against the Pope, and others against agnostics; but it is our own unbelief which is our worst enemy. If we could kill Old Incredulity, we could soon rout all the rest of the devil’s army. Oh for more faith, so that our unbelief might not mar our holy things!

17. Suppose we do not fail in any of these respects, do you know what often happens? Well, after the private prayer is done, or the public worship is over, or the preaching, or the visiting of the sick has been performed, we sit down and inwardly say, “Yes, I did that uncommonly well, I know I did. I was wonderfully helped” — which, being interpreted, often means “I am a fine fellow.” Then we rub our hands, and say to ourselves, “And the wonder is I am not at all proud. Thank God I am never tempted in that direction. I have too much common sense. I know what a poor creature I am”; and so on, and so on. In this way we do our utmost to coat over our good deed with the slime of self-conceit. This is to pour filthiness upon our sacrifice, and make it an abomination in the sight of the Lord.

18. Besides this, there generally mingles with the pride a contempt of others. Our endeavours to go up lead us to push others down. We have brought a young bull, and we patronizingly say, “I like to see those poor people over there bring their pigeons and their doves. I am glad that they do something, though it is so much less than mine.” This often means, “It makes my young bull look bigger when the turtle-doves and pigeons are seen by way of contrast. No doubt those good people are doing their best; but yet, I think if they tried, they might have done better. At any rate, I have far exceeded them.” Oh foolish one! what have you to do with your brother’s sacrifice? What right have you to compare yourself with another? What do you have that you have not received? and if you have received it, why do you boast yourself as though you had not received it? But enough of this!

19. These are only a few of the iniquities of our holy things which we can see; but besides these, there are many imperfections of our service which we do not notice, because we are not spiritual enough to discern them; but God sees them. Bring me a needle. This is a highly polished needle. What an example of human skill to make so small an implement so bright, so absolutely smooth! Bring me that microscope! I have just now put the wing of a butterfly under it. That is God’s work, and, as I enlarge it, I discover no imperfection, but more and more of marvellous beauty. That butterfly’s wing under the microscope becomes most wonderful, and I worship God as I gaze upon his handiwork. Take the butterfly away now, and put your needle in its place. What? Why this is a rough bar of iron, which has never been smoothed or polished. This is wretched workmanship. It does not seem appropriate for delicate work. Such is man’s manufacture, the best of it. When God puts your prayers and my sermons under his microscopic eye, they are not at all what we thought they were, but quite the opposite. This ought to humble us as we come before the presence of the All-Seeing One.

20. These imperfections in our holy things are so grievous that they would prevent any one of our works, or offerings, or prayers being accepted before the thrice-holy God. He is so pure that he cannot endure what is defiled; he is so perfect that he cannot enter into fellowship with what has a blemish. We must bring what is perfect, for it to be accepted in itself; and we have nothing of our own that is perfect; and therefore, were it not for the great high priest, of whom I am about to speak, we should be cut off from every kind of acceptance or communion with God. We have nothing which God can accept:

   Our best is all defiled with sin:
      Our all is nothing worth.

21. II. Secondly, we now have to consider A GLAD SUBJECT; may the Lord help me to speak on it properly! The glad subject is that a high priest was provided, through whom the iniquity of Israel’s holy things could be purged, and the holy things themselves could be pleasant to God. What was done in type has also been done in reality.

22. Consider, then, that God provided the high priest. It was ordained that he should be a man perfect in his body. Any defect that could be seen in eye, or hand, or foot, disqualified him for being high priest; and secret faults, which could not be observed by his fellow men equally disqualified him. In our Lord Jesus there is no defect, open or secret. The verdict of Pilate was true: “I find no fault in this man.” He was tempted in all points; but he never sinned, in any point. The piercing eye of the prince of this world found nothing in him. He is perfect, and so he can be high priest to God.

23. The man had to be chosen by God. Aaron was so. God elected him to that high office; and even so our Lord is God’s elect, in whom his soul delights. The Lord says, “I have exalted one chosen out of the people.” Christ is ordained by God, and by divine authority he stands as high priest for us.

24. This man had to be anointed for his work. Aaron was anointed with oil; but our Lord was anointed with the Holy Spirit. We could not have a better high priest, nor could his anointing be more complete: he was anointed with the oil of gladness more than his fellows. If we had to choose, and we had the wisdom of God granted to us to make the choice, we could only say, “Let him stand for us, for there is no one like him.” Blessed be God, we have precisely the high priest whom we need!

25. This high priest was altogether given up to his people. Only a word here. He has a heart: his people’s names are on the breastplate which covers it. He has shoulders: his people’s names are written on his shoulder-pieces, and so he lends them his power. He has feet: there were no sandals for the priest, he ministered bare-footed before God. Why? Because it is the only way in which the Lord can be worshipped, according to his repeated command — “Take off your shoes from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Christ has given to us the heart of his love, the shoulders of his strength, the feet of his humiliation. “He loved me, and gave himself for me.” But, you observe that his head is left. Ah, well! he must give us his head. The power to think is supposed to dwell in the temples and the forehead. The golden plate covered Aaron’s forehead from temple to temple, and it was always conspicuous there. So, Christ has given up his thought, his judgment, his mind, his every faculty, to his people. He is all ours. The high priest reserved nothing for himself: he gave all of himself to all his people. Christ is ours. From head to foot, he serves us personally and constantly.

26. The point I want, however, to bring out most prominently, is this — the high priest bore “the iniquity of the holy things.” You and I have been guilty of iniquity in our holy things: we have said enough on that humbling subject; but here is our joy, that Jesus bears it all. Putting on his heavenly mitre, marked as “HOLINESS TO JEHOVAH,” he bears for us the iniquity. “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” “He was made sin for us, who knew no sin.” It is a wonderful mystery, the transference of sin and of merit: it staggers human reason; faith alone apprehends it. How can the guilty be accounted righteous? How can the perfectly righteous One be made sin? These things are mysterious; but they are true, and the Word of God is full of declarations to this effect. In this truth lies the one hope of sinners. All the iniquity of our holy things our Lord Jesus has borne, and it is no longer imputed to us.

27. As he stood before God, though he bore the iniquity of the people, yet he exhibited to God no iniquity, but on his forehead; was written, “HOLINESS TO JEHOVAH.”

28. Notice that he bore before God a holiness most precious; in sign of which, in type, the inscription was inscribed on a plate of pure gold. The righteousness of Christ is more precious to God than all the mines of gold in the whole world. His righteousness was absolutely perfect, hence there was nothing on that plate of gold except “HOLINESS TO JEHOVAH.” There was no iniquity in his holy things; his holiness was conspicuous and undeniable, it shone on the forefront of his mitre. That holiness of his was permanent. It was not painted on that sheet of gold, it was inscribed like the inscription of a signet. Christ’s righteousness will neither wash out, nor wear out. Inscribed in incorruptible gold, his righteousness shines gloriously, and never loses its virtue: it retains its permanent perfection before the Lord. And just as it was precious, perfect, and permanent, so it was unique; for it was not merely holiness, but “HOLINESS TO JEHOVAH.” Christ was entirely dedicated to Jehovah. It was his food and his drink to do the will of him who sent him. His one thought was to glorify the Father. And that holiness of his was prominent: although it was in his secret heart, it was also on his brow, where even his enemies were forced to see it and honour it. In everything he thought, said, did, or suffered, he was always “Holiness to Jehovah.”

29. One more thing I want you to notice, and that is, that he always wore it — “And it shall always be on his forehead.” He is always “Holiness to God” on our behalf. Our Lord Jesus Christ never changed his character, never ceased to be a servant of the Most High, and never ceased to be perfectly obedient to him whom he came to serve. Dwell on these things. If that plate were once taken off the high priest he could not officiate, and if Christ were once to lay aside his righteousness on your behalf you could not be accepted. Your holiness is not always on your brow, but his holiness is always on the forefront of his mitre, and therefore you are always accepted in the beloved. How I delight to speak of this truth! There is a flood of infidelity in the church of God today, and it often rushes against the doctrine of imputation; in fact imputed righteousness has been kicked down the aisles of most of our places of worship: it cannot be endured. Yet we believe in it all the more for this. Listen to my text, “It shall always be on his forehead, so that they may be accepted before the Lord.” We are accepted because of something in him. It is not what is on our forehead, but what is on his forehead that makes us and our offerings to be accepted. We are accepted in the Beloved, justified by his righteousness.

30. I cannot preach about this matter as I wish, but I ask you to think it over. The Lord Jesus by his holiness secures our personal acceptance, and then the acceptance of our holy things. Our prayers are accepted, our tears are accepted, our zeal is accepted, and our patience is accepted; to God there is now sweet music in our praises. In very deed God accepts our sermons, our Sunday School teaching, our tract distribution, our alms-givings to the poor, our contributions to his cause.

31. Our holy work is now viewed with divine favour. Will you not offer more and more of these holy things, since they are in very deed accepted in Christ? Through his glorious righteousness we are favourably regarded by the Lord: there is no question about it. First God accepts us, and then he accepts our holy things. The Lord is pleased with all we do for him, because he is pleased with his Son. When he sees our iniquity, he turns his eye away, and looks on that perfect holiness which shines upon the forehead of the Well-Beloved. Our Lord is that altar which sanctifies both the giver and the gift. May God grant us to know the comfort of this truth!

32. Now I have taught you the main doctrine of the type, I desire to bring out one or two lessons.

33. The first is, see here a lesson of humility. We always want to be growing in this grace. Brethren, take us all around, we are by nature as proud as Lucifer; and if we do not happen to be flaming with pride just now, there is enough of tinder in the tinder-box of our heart to get up a blaze of pride within five minutes. We do not need the devil, nor our friends, to flatter us: we can do that business better than any of them. We have a very fine opinion of ourselves. But what do we have to flatter ourselves about? Nothing. Bring out here this morning all your holy things, and enlarge upon their excellence. Bring out your diaries from the time of your conversion until now, and read the record of your good deeds. There is iniquity in them all. I have heard of a good man, who lay dying, who thought he would examine his life, and sort out his actions, laying his good deeds on his right hand, and his sins on his left hand. He went on with the sorting for a little time; but very soon he perceived that they were so much of a muchness, the good and the bad, that he felt sick of them all, and determined to bind them all up in one bundle, and throw them overboard, and trust to enter heaven by free grace alone. This was a very sensible decision. Oh friends, our good works, if we lay them up in store, and value them as jewels, will, like the manna in the wilderness, very soon breed worms and stink. There is enough rottenness in our best performances to make them offensive to an enlightened conscience. Oh, that this fact, that even our holy things are tainted, may be the death-warrant of our pride!

34. In the next place, learn the awful hazard of going to God without our high priest. Our forehead will be leprous if we dare offer sacrifice without the high priest who wears the golden plate of holiness to the Lord on his forehead. I am not going to expound the passage; but I will simply read it to you. Uzziah was a commendable king; and he did what was right in the sight of the Lord: “His name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, until he was strong. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him eighty priests of the Lord, who were valiant men: and they withstood Uzziah the king, and said to him, ‘It does not appertain to you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for you have trespassed; neither shall it be for your honour from the Lord God.’ Then Uzziah was angry, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was angry with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, from beside the incense altar. And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked at him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from there; yes, he himself hurried also to go out, because the Lord had struck him.” {2Ch 26:15-20} Whenever you get to think that you can stand before God, and present your own offering without the Lord Jesus, the leprosy of fatal pride is white on your forehead. I tremble for some people when I hear them parading their own perfection. One said, “My will is so in accord with God, that I do not need to pray.” The leprosy was on his forehead when he spoke like that. This has polluted many who seemed to be among the most excellent servants of God. They have tried to do without the great high priest and his representative holiness, and, like Uzziah, they have been cut off from the house of the Lord, and made to dwell alone and bemoan their folly.

35. But, dear friends, we may find another lesson here — learn how you must be dressed as a royal priesthood to the Lord. I thought I would copy out what George Herbert {a} says about the dress of the Lord’s Aarons. You will not understand it all as I read it; but if you have George Herbert’s Poems, read the piece entitled “Aaron,” and chew on it until you have masticated its meaning. He speaks of the clergy, but we will understand him as speaking of all believers, who are as assuredly priests and clergy as any ordained ministers can be. We are made kings and priests to our God. We want to know how we ought to be dressed. One cries, “Wear a surplice”; {b} another says, “No, keep to the black gown.” We are not thinking of such trivialities as garments, black or white. We belong to a spiritual kingdom, and our robes are spiritual. “Then,” one says, “it is clear that we must be holy.” Granted; but this is not our beauty and our glorious dress before the Lord. If you put on your own holiness, to be dressed in it, you will only display your iniquity. “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” The Lord Jesus himself is our dress: we put on Christ. Let Herbert speak: —

         Holiness on the head,
      Light and perfections on the breast,
   Harmonious bells below, raising the dead,
      To lead them unto life and rest;
         Thus are true Aarons drest.
         Profaneness in my head,
      Defects and darkness in my breast,
   A noise of passions ringing me for dead
      Unto a place where is no rest;
         Poor priest, thus am I drest.
         Only another head
      I have, another heart and breast,
   Another music, making live, not dead,
      Without whom I could have no rest:
         In him I am well drest.
         Christ is my only head,
      My alone only heart and breast,
   My only music, striking me even dead;
      That to the old man I may rest
         And be in him new drest.
         So holy in my head,
      Perfect and light in my dear breast,
   My doctrine tuned by Christ (who is not dead,
      But lives in me while I do rest);
         Come, people: Aaron’s drest.

When you have Christ’s head, and breast, and doctrine, then you are ready for service, and may say, “Come, people: Aaron’s drest.” This is how I desire to preach to you, putting off self, and putting on Christ as all. C. H. S.: away with him! I. H. S.: {In His Service} let that dear name be glorified for ever. When you go to Sunday School, do not go as pious Mary or thoughtful Thomas; you will make a mess of it if you do; but go as the messenger of the Lord, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: he is Lord of all. Be clothed with the Lord Jesus. Hide yourself away in his glory and beauty, and then you will be a true Aaron, dressed for your holy work.

36. Lastly, let sinners gain a measure of comfort here. If God’s own people have iniquity in their holy things, and yet they have Christ to bear it for them, how patient must he be who is our high priest! You, poor sinner, you need a Saviour very much; but, lo! he is here, ready to be a go-between for you, and put his righteousness in front of your iniquity, and himself in the place of your poor guilty and condemned person. Come, now, and hide away in Christ. Come, now, and trust my Lord with all his beautiful garments on. He still wears them, and wears them for poor ragged sinners. Come, and look up to Jesus, and he will stand for you, and you shall become the righteousness of God in him, because he is made a curse for you. May God bless you, beloved, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ex 28:1-38]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Lord’s Day — The Eternal Sabbath Anticipated” 912}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Names and Titles — High Priest” 382}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, In Heaven — Prevalent Intercession” 325}


{a} George Herbert (April 3, 1593-March 1, 1633) was a Welsh-born English poet, orator and Anglican priest. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Herbert"
{b} Surplice: A loose vestment of white linen having wide sleeves and, in its amplest form, reaching to the feet, worn (usually over a cassock) by clerics, choristers, and others taking part in church services. OED.

Public Worship, The Lord’s Day
912 — The Eternal Sabbath Anticipated
1 Lord of the Sabbath, hear our vows,
   On this thy day, in this thy house;
   And own, as grateful sacrifice,
   The songs which from the desert rise.
2 Thine earthly Sabbaths, Lord, we love,
   But there’s a nobler rest above;
   To that our labouring souls aspire,
   With ardent pangs of strong desire.
3 No more fatigue, no more distress,
   Nor sin nor hell shall reach the pace;
   No groans to mingle with the songs
   Which warble from immortal tongues.
4 No rude alarms of raging foes;
   No cares to break the long repose;
   No midnight shade, no clouded sun;
   But sacred, high, eternal noon.
5 Oh long-expected day, begin;
   Dawn on these realms of woe and sin:
   Fain would we leave this weary road,
   And sleep in death, to rest with God.
                     Philip Doddridge, 1755.


Jesus Christ, Names and Titles
382 — High Priest
1 Now let our cheerful eyes survey
   Our great High Priest above,
   And celebrate his constant care,
   And sympathetic love.
2 Though raised to a superior throne,
   Where angels bow around,
   And high o’er all the shining train,
   With matchless honours crown’d;
3 The names of all his saints he bears
   Deep graven on his heart;
   Nor shall the meanest Christian say,
   That he hath lost his part.
4 Those characters shall fair abide,
   Our everlasting trust,
   When gems, and monuments, and crowns,
   Our moulder’d down to dust.
5 So, gracious Saviour, on my breast
   May thy dear name be worn,
   A sacred ornament and guard,
   To endless ages borne.
                  Philip Doddridge, 1755.


Jesus Christ, In Heaven
325 — Prevalent Intercession
1 Awake, sweet gratitude, and sing
   Th’ ascended Saviour’s love;
   Tell how he lives to carry on
   His people’s cause above.
2 With cries and tears he offer’d up
   His humble suit below;
   But with authority he asks,
   Enthroned in glory now.
3 For all that come to God by him,
   Salvation he demands;
   Points to their names upon his breast,
   And spreads his wounded hands.
4 His covenant and sacrifice
   Give sanction to his claim;
   “Father, I will tat all my saints
   Be with me where I am.
5 “By their salvation, recompense
   The sorrows I endured;
   Just to the merits of thy Son,
   And faithful to thy word.”
6 Eternal life, at his request,
   To every saint is given;
   Safety on earth, and after death,
   The plenitude of heaven.
               Augustus M. Toplady, 1771.

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.

Newsletter

Get the latest answers emailed to you or sign up for our free print newsletter.

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390