2743. Mistaken Notions About Repentance

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Mistaken Notions About Repentance

No. 2743-47:421. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, April 20, 1879, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, September 8, 1901.

Then you shall remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. {Eze 36:31}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2743, “Mistaken Notions About Repentance” 2744}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3506, “What Self Deserves” 3508}
   Exposition on Eze 36:16-38 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2743, “Mistaken Notions About Repentance” 2744 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Eze 36:16-38 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3338, “Witness of the Lord’s Supper, The” 3340 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Jer 31:31-34 Eze 36:25-32 Heb 8:7-13 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2762, “Taking Hold of God’s Covenant” 2763 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ps 50:14-23 Eze 36:21-38 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3472, “Solemn Deprival, A” 3474 @@ "Exposition"}

1. We noticed, in our reading, in what a kingly style the Lord speaks all the way through this chapter. He does not say “if” or “but”; but he says, “you will,” and “you shall”; and this teaches us that God is omnipotent even in the regions of free-agency. It would be preposterous to say that man is not a free agent. There are some who, in order to glorify the grace of God, have sought to deny the free-agency of man; — I do not mean that they have done it in so many words; but, practically, the effect of their language has been to deny it. But man is perfectly free, and God does not violate the human will; yet, I cannot explain to you how it is, he is as much able to rule perfectly free agents as he is to control the atoms of inert matter. It is omnipotence which compels those starry orbs to obey the laws which God has made, and to travel in their appointed courses; but, to my mind, it is even more marvellous omnipotence which leaves men free agents, and does not control their will, but yet sweetly triumphs over them, and wins for God the accomplishment of his divine purposes.

2. Will you attempt to exclude God from the realm of the mind? Do you dare to think that he does not have all power there? Then, your god is not mine; for my God “does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and no one can restrain his hand or say to him, ‘What are you doing?’ ” The operations of his grace are attended with such omnipotent energy that he is able to say to men, “I will also give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Yet, while the Lord speaks to them like this, they are still men, — as much men as they were before; and, indeed, their manhood is more perfect than it was before; yet God wins his way, and does with them according to his own will.

3. Yet the Lord is pleased, in some cases, to explain to us the processes by which he works. For example, in the production of the repentance described in this chapter, he tells us that it is the result of his superabundant love. By lavishing his goodness on undeserving people, who wilfully rejected his authority and despised his vengeance, he at last brought them to submission. They smarted for their sin, yet they sinned on; and then God dealt with them in another way; he blessed them, and pardoned them; he gave them back the mercies he had withdrawn from them; he gave them more, and more, and more, and more, until, by the wonderful power of his grace, he slew their enmity, and caused love to take its place. He conquered their love for sin, and then a hatred for the sin which had grieved their God sprang up in their minds. This is a very blessed process, and in every phase it magnifies the love and goodness of the Lord; so, while we think and speak of it, we bless and praise and magnify the name of the Most High whose love is revealed like this to the unworthy.

4. However, that is not quite the subject on which I am going to speak at this time, although it leads up to it. There are many people, who are truly awakened and anxious about their souls, and who are really seeking to be reconciled to God; but there is a great difficulty in their way. They say that they cannot repent. I am frequently receiving letters of this kind: — “I want to become a Christian. I am anxious to be reconciled to God. I do, I think, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; but my faith is feeble, and I am afraid I am not saved, because I cannot feel that sorrow for sin which I would like to feel. If I could, I would break my heart, and weep for my iniquities; but alas! I do not find myself to be of an emotional character, and I cannot stir my soul to that intense anguish which I have heard some speak of. May I still hope that faith will save me? May I come, and trust in Jesus Christ, for I do not feel that I have the repentance I ought to feel?” These cases are so many, that I thought I would devote the sermon of this evening to them; and see if, in some way or other, by God’s gracious guidance, I may not roll away the stone which has long been in the way of true seekers after Christ.

5. I shall deal, first, with some mistaken ideas of what repentance is; then, with some mistaken ideas of the place which repentance occupies; and lastly, with some mistaken ideas of the way in which repentance is produced in the heart.

6. I. Many people have MISTAKEN IDEAS OF WHAT REPENTANCE IS.

7. Some confound it with morbid self-accusation. It must have struck you, in reading the autobiographies of certain good men, that, in the description of their lives before conversion, they put the colouring on very heavily. I do not think they are always wise in doing so; but it must not be forgotten that, very often, they write their own autobiographies in later years when, through having seen much of God’s love, they get a clearer apprehension of what sin really is. They do not write their life history when its various events occur; and I do not suppose that, at the time, they regarded themselves as being such sinners as they later believed themselves to have been.

8. I advise you, dear friends, to beware of making yourselves out to be worse than you really are. There are some people who could not do so if they tried; but there are others who, having been by divine providence, brought up in the ways of godliness, have never gone into open sin as some of their fellows have done. They have been sinful enough, God knows, and as they themselves will know when later years shall have shed more light on their character; but let them not try to mimic the expressions of people of more advanced years. Do not call yourself “the chief of sinners” if you are not; and do not suppose that repentance means the exaggeration of your evil life into something more evil than it really was. It is enough for you to go and confess the truth, and to be sorrowful that you have so far forgotten your God, — that your thoughts have been turned away from the true centre, — that you have lived for yourself, and hence have been an enemy of the Most High. Go and confess that to the Lord, but do not bring against yourself a morbid self-accusation which is not true in God’s sight.

9. Again, some think that repentance means the dread of hell, and a sense of wrath. Men ought to dread hell; it is a thing to be indeed dreaded, as they know who are enduring its torments. Men ought to fear the wrath of God. It is a very solemn reflection that every unconverted person in the world has the wrath of God resting on him, and will have it resting on him until he escapes to the refuge provided in the atonement of Christ Jesus. But a sense of God’s wrath against sin is not repentance. It generally goes with it; it frequently attends it; but repentance is a change of mind with regard to sin, — with regard to everything, indeed; and it is a consciousness that sin is sin, — that you have committed it; — it is a sorrow to you that you have committed it, and a resolve, in God’s strength, that you will escape from it; — a holy desire and longing to be rid of sin which has done you so much mischief. In the words of the child’s hymn, —

    Repentance is to leave
    The sins we loved before,
    And show that we in earnest grieve
    By doing so no more.

And there is very much of real repentance which is not accompanied by a dread of hell at all. It is sweetened by a sense of love rather than embittered by a dread of vengeance. Do not, therefore, confuse things that differ.

10. A very gross mistake indeed is made by some who imagine that unbelief, despondency, and despair are repentance. These things are as wide apart as the poles. No doubt there are many, who ultimately come to Christ, who for a time think they are too great sinners to be saved. Do I commend them for thinking so? Far from it; they imagine a lie, and how can it be right for us to believe what is false? No doubt many, who come to Christ, do for a while despair of ever being saved; but is it necessary that you and I should do so? By no means; for, to despair of being saved, is to doubt God’s own truth; and that can never be the right thing for anyone to do. God is true, and he has declared that whoever will trust his Son shall be saved. If I turn around, and say, “I cannot be saved, and I cannot trust Christ,” I do, as far as in me lies, pour indignity on God; I insult him, for I doubt his word; and I doubt his Son, who is worthy of all confidence. That kind of thing cannot be repentance, on the contrary, it is something that needs to be repented of. If you have no such doubts, and no such despair, be glad that you do not have them, for they are not from God, but they are evil. To come, like a little child, and say, “I know that I have done wrong, and I am very sorry for it; and I wish to be set right. I find that Christ can set me right; and I trust him to do it”; — that is the way to repent of sin, and trust the Saviour; and he who does so is accepted by the Father.

11. Neither let anyone mistaken Satanic temptations for repentance. It is very true that, when some people are coming to Christ, Satan is very eager to keep them away; and, therefore, he plays all kinds of tricks in order to turn them aside, or to cast them down, lest they should be saved. But do you think that these Satanic temptations are any part of true repentance? Then, you make me smile; you might as well say that, if a child were coming to his father, and a dog were to howl at him, and try to frighten him away, that the howlings of the dog were a part of the child’s coming. By no means; they are a hindrance to him; and please never think that the devil’s temptations can do you any good. The less of him you have, the better it will be for you; it is better to go seven miles over hill and dale to miss the devil, than to have one conflict with him; and if you do not have conflicts with Satan in coming to Christ, do not wish for them, or think that they are at all necessary for your being truly a believer in Jesus. Come to him, and welcome; and if there is nothing in your way, come all the more readily, and cast yourself down at his dear feet, and take the mercy which he freely gives to all who trust him.

12. Do not let me be misunderstood in another observation that I make, namely, that the repentance which saves the soul — the repentance which is necessary for salvation — is not a full and complete view of the guilt of sin. You will understand me when I say that no man living has ever had a full and complete view of the guilt of sin, but that we all see the guilt of sin more as we grow in grace than we do at the first. The value of divine grace grows with a man; as experience strengthens his judgment, and enlightens his heart, his true estimate of the guilt of sin will increase daily. I suppose that the best repentance is that of a man who is just entering heaven. Therefore, the repentance which saves is not absolutely perfect or fully developed. If there is only this germ of it, — that you sincerely wish to be delivered from sin, — if you sincerely hate the sin which you once loved, — you have the repentance that saves you; and though you will hate sin more eventually, and you will be able to avoid it more eventually, as you are more completely sanctified by the Holy Spirit; yet the necessary thing, at the beginning, by which a soul comes to Christ, is a turning from sin, a loathing of it; and if you have that, you have true repentance; but not otherwise. Repentance is also a sense of shame for having lived in it, and a longing to avoid it. It is a change of the mind with regard to sin, — a turning of the man right around. That is what it is; and it is created in us by the grace of God. Therefore let no one mistaken what true repentance is, and seek for what they need not wish to have.

13. II. Now, secondly, we are to consider SOME MISTAKEN IDEAS ABOUT THE PLACE WHICH REPENTANCE OCCUPIES.

14. I do not suppose I am addressing very many who have fallen into the popular notion that repentance is the procuring cause of the grace of God; yet it is a very common notion. “Well, I do my best,” one says, “and God is just, so I have no doubt I shall have my due reward.” But you commit sin, do you not? “Yes,” he, replies, “but then I am sorry for it, and I try to get right again as soon as I can.” According to that notion, repentance is a kind of compensation for sin. If it is really so, the next time I am in that gentleman’s debt, I shall not think of paying him; I shall simply tell him I am sorry I am in his debt, and, of course, he will wipe out the score. He demurs to that, and says it would be unjust; yet that is the way in which he acts towards his God. God forbid that we should ever think that repentance can, by itself, put away any sin!

15. The same evil, however, comes up under other forms, and there are some who think that repentance is a preparation for grace. They hope they shall receive the grace of God if they repent. But, my dear friend, if you repent, that very fact is a proof that you already have one of the results of grace, and that God has looked on you in love. For you to say, “I must repent first,” reminds me of the supposed Roman Catholic miracle of Saint Denis, who, having his head cut off, picked it up in his hands, and walked away with it, I forget how many miles. A French wit said, when he heard the legend, “Ah! it was easy enough for him to walk so many miles after he had taken the first step; that was the only one that had any difficulty about it. If he could manage that, he could manage all the rest” In the same way, if repentance is the first step towards God, and the sinner can take that by himself, well, then, he can take all the rest, and he need not trouble himself about the grace of God, because it is not needed. The man can do the whole work of salvation to the very end if he can by himself take the first step. Ah! my dear friend, but repentance is not a preparation for grace, it is the first result of grace working within the soul. One of the earliest products of a divine visitation is the humbling of the heart on account of sin, and this is the beginning of true repentance.

16. There are others who think that repentance is a qualification for faith in Christ. Such a person says, “If I have repented of sin, I can then believe in Jesus. If I am conscious of my guilt, I may then come, and cast myself on Christ.” My dear friend, I know that you never will cast yourself on Christ until you are conscious of sin, for men do not usually eat until they feel hungry, and they do not clothe themselves until they realize that they are naked. It is good for you to have a sense of your iniquity, but, at the same time, it is no qualification for believing in Jesus. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” The only qualification a physician seeks in his patient is that he is sick. The qualification for pardon from Christ is guilt. The qualification for imparting his fulness is your emptiness; that is all; and if you feel yourself to be so empty that you do not even feel your emptiness, — if you feel yourself to be so hard that you do not even think you feel your hardness, — well, then, you are just the kind of man that Jesus Christ came to save. If there is no good thing in you whatever; — indeed, if there is no repentance in you; — yet still it is true that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”; and he still sends his servants to you with this plain gospel command, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.”

17. “Still,” one says, “repentance must be the basis for our belief. Do I not believe that I am saved because I repent?” Stop! There is a muddle there. What is the basis of my trusting Christ? That is what I mean by believing. I will tell you. My only basis for trusting Christ is this, — that I am told, by God’s Word, that he can save sinners, and I believe he can; and that then I am commanded to trust him to save me, and I do it. My warrant for believing is God’s Word, — not my sense of sin, or anything in me. How then do I know that I am saved? I do know, as I stand before you, that I am a saved man. Why do I know that? Because it is written, “He who believes in him is not condemned,” and I do believe, trust, rely on Jesus Christ. Sometimes, I feel as if I were not saved; but my feelings must go overboard if they come into conflict with the plain declaration of God’s Word: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life.” The basis of a man’s belief that he is saved, is not that he repents, but that he has trusted Jesus Christ, who is able to save him, and that God has declared that whoever trusts Christ is saved.

18. “Then,” one says, “there must be repentance and believing.” Yes, I know that; and repentance goes well side by side with believing. If I was asked, whether a man repented first, or believed first, I should reply, “Which spoke in a wheel moves first when the wheel starts turning?” When divine life is given to a man, these two things are sure to come, — repentance and faith; but if anyone should say, “He must repent first before he believes,” I should contest that point very strongly; and if, on the other hand, a man should say, “There is such a thing as a belief which is not attended with repentance which will save the soul” I would contest that point with equal ardour. No, they come together as the first signs of the new birth in the soul. This is the practical point which concerns you; no metaphysics of theology need perplex your mind; what you have to deal with is God’s command, and that command is, as I just reminded you, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” And if you do that, you have repentance in the germ; and that repentance will grow and increase; but you must take heed not to put your repentings into the place of Christ. I will say this, — bold and naked as the saying may seem to be — if you put your repentings into the place of Christ, you make an antichrist of them; and if you trust for salvation in your repentance, or even in your faith, you might as well trust in your sins. Nothing is to be trusted in except the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s bloody tree; and no feelings, no emotion, no believing, no conversion even, must ever be put into the place of that one eternal Rock of refuge, — the blood and merit of Jesus Christ. Flee there, poor soul! Whatever you are, or are not, flee there; cast your guilty self on Christ, and rest there, for only there can you find salvation. Learn this lesson, — not to trust Christ because you repent, but trust Christ to make you repent; — not to come to Christ because you have a broken heart, but to come to him so that he may give you a broken heart; — not to come to him because you are fit to come, but to come to him because you are unfit to come, your fitness is your unfitness; your qualification is your lack of qualification. You are to be nothing, in fact, and to come to Christ as nothing; and when you come like this, then repentance will come.

19. What then is the true place of repentance? It is this: “I trust Christ, just as I am, to forgive me. I have God’s assurance that I am forgiven, since I am trusting Christ. What then do I feel? I am forgiven; my transgression is covered; my iniquities are all washed away. Oh my Saviour, how I love you! And the next thought is, oh my sins, how I hate you!” This feeling naturally grows out of a sense of divine love. Am I pardoned? Am I fully forgiven? Can I never be cast into hell? Am I indeed a child of God? Then, how could I ever have lived as I once did? Can I ever play the fool in that way again? No, my Lord, your love shall bind me firmly, and nail me to the cross of Christ, my Saviour; henceforth, I am dead to sin; I cannot live in it any longer, because you have saved me! We do not repent in order to be saved, but we repent because we are saved. We do not loathe sin, and therefore hope to be saved; but, because we are saved, we therefore loathe sin, and turn altogether from it. May the Lord bless these words to the correction of some of the mistakes which are so frequently made!

20. III. Now I come, in the last place, to notice SOME MISTAKEN IDEAS CONCERNING THE WAY IN WHICH REPENTANCE IS PRODUCED IN THE HEART.

21. “I cannot repent,” one says; “I want to make myself repent, but I cannot.” Now, of all things in the world, that is one of the most absurd and impossible. Shut yourself up in a room, sit down on a chair, and try to make yourself repent. You could not do it. Did a man ever try to make himself love a woman? No, but he was smitten at the first glimpse of her face; he could not help himself, and before he was aware the deed was done. And it is just the same with repentance; it comes as a secondary thing. Through meditation and thinking over certain other things, the sacred passion of repentance comes over us; but it is not a direct operation of the mind that can be performed at will, any more than faith is. If you were to find something in the newspaper that you doubted, and you were to sit down, and say, “I will make myself believe it,” you could not do it. You would have to examine the matter, consult the proper authorities, and see about the dates and facts, and then your believing would come by itself through those considerations; but you could not, as a distinct and direct act, compel your mind to believe in anything of the kind, much less to believe in Christ. So it is in relationship to our regret on account of sin; it comes from other considerations.

22. There are some who have said, “Well, if we are to repent of sin, we ought to attend some exciting meetings; when everyone all around us gets warm, and begins to cry, perhaps we also shall be melted to tears.” I have no doubt that a great many have been melted, and have felt a good deal as the result of crowded meetings; but I very greatly question whether the repentance which comes from God is created by excitement. Indeed, I know it is not; it has to come from more substantial causes and influences than ever can be brought to bear by the mere eloquence of man, or the excitement of a multitude of people gathered together. “But, suppose,” says another friend, “I were to sit down, and meditate on the wrath of God, on the judgment day, and on the woes of hell, would that not produce repentance?” Yes, perhaps it would; such meditations might have a very salutary influence on you, and might tend to awaken in your mind serious thoughtfulness, but I am not certain that they would lead you to repentance. I will try to show you how God brings sinners to repentance, for that will help you who are now seeking it. How, then, does the Lord lead men to repentance?

23. According to this chapter, the first thing he does is, to change their nature: “I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” This is regeneration, — the change of nature. The heart of unimpressionable stone, naturally hard, is removed; and a sensitive, impressible heart is given, — a fleshy heart, so that the man can feel. If you really want to repent, this is the message I have to deliver to you, “You must be born again.” If I wish to grow olives, I must have an olive tree. “Can the fig tree bear olive berries?” “Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?” The thorn must be turned into a vine, and the thistle into a fig tree, if we are to get grapes and figs from them; and, therefore, again I say to you that, if you would produce repentance, you must be born again.

24. “Oh!” one says, “there is not much comfort in such teaching as that, for it drives us away from all hope.” That is exactly what I want to do with you. I want to convince you of the simple fact that there is no hope for you in and of yourselves; but that you must come, and find all your hope, your regeneration, and everything else, in Jesus Christ, from whom alone it comes to all who trust him.

25. But how does God work repentance in the soul when he has renewed the nature? As we read the chapter, we noticed that he gave great mercy to the undeserving. So, then, if you wish to obtain repentance, the way to secure it, by the grace of God, is through a consideration of the goodness of God to you. Think, dear friends, of the many years that God has spared you; and of the almost miraculous escapes which some of you have had. Think of how, all that while, you were provoking him, and going on from bad to worse and from one sin to another; yet, in his longsuffering, he bore with you, and so was leading you to repentance. Think of the fact that, at this moment, you are “not in torment, not in hell,” but you are in the place where the gospel of God’s grace is freely preached to you, and where pardon may be bestowed on you, — where God is still dressed in the white robes of mercy, and has not yet come in the scarlet robes of judgment. Oh, the goodness of God, to have spared a tree that has encumbered the ground for so long, — to have spared a rebel who has provoked him so grievously! Such thoughts as these have a tendency to lead men to say, “I will sin no longer; I will love sin no longer, because God has been so merciful to me.”

26. But let me tell you that, when God works repentance in the heart, he does more than this. He not only gives the man blessings, he gives him forgiveness also; and when the man sees that he is forgiven, he says “What! forgiven? Then, how can I live any longer in sin? I hate my sin.” The Lord says to him, “You are my child; I will feed you, clothe you, and train you for my house above.” “Your child?” he exclaims; “a child of God after all that I have done?” And he begins to take vengeance on his sin, and to drive them out of his heart; for how can we, who are the children of God, endure the presence of sin?

27. That forgiven man begins to pray. I can distinctly remember one of the first answers I ever had to prayer; and when I woke to the consciousness that God really did hear and answer my supplication, I tell you that I loathed sin. I could not bear to do anything to grieve a God who really listened to my cry. Then, when I was delivered out of great trouble, and was enriched with very great mercy, I felt, “How could I ever have been what I have been? How could I have lived as I have lived?” And when I found out that God would continue to visit me with his lovingkindness as long as I ever lived, and that I should be his favoured child for ever and ever, then I hated sin more than I had ever done before, and I was grieved and cried out to the Lord by reason of the bondage I had been under, and I longed to be completely rid of every trace of sin. I do not know that I felt, at such times, any dread of hell. It was quite the opposite; but I hated sin, because of God’s love for me. That is the way in which God brings repentance into the hearts of his children. He loves them so much, and does so much for them, that they cannot continue any longer in sin.

28. Now, dear seeking soul, do you see the tack to go on? Your business is to believe in Christ Jesus just as you are, and to trust him to save you; and then to believe what the Word of God says concerning those who trust in Jesus, namely, that they are saved, forgiven, loved by God, and at peace with him. Do you believe that? As you believe it, you will feel, “My heart melts under a sense of this superlative love. Now I can and do repent of sin, — the very thing which seemed impossible to me before.”

29. If I had time, I would like to show you that every blessing of the covenant of grace leads us to repentance. Take the doctrine of election. “What!” says the man, “have I been chosen by God from before the foundation of the world? Then, how could I live in sin?” Take the doctrine of redemption. “What!” he says, “am I redeemed from among men, — bought with the precious blood of Christ? Then, how can I go and live as others live?” Take the doctrine of final perseverance. “What!” he says, “does the grace of God give me the guarantee that I shall hold out to the end? Then, God forbid that I should at any time turn aside from the paths of integrity!”

30. You may take the gospel ordinances, as well as its doctrines, and you will find that they all lead you to repentance. Have you been to the communion table, sitting and feasting with Christ, and have you not even there said, “Alas! that I should ever have had in my hand the cup of demons, and have been, as I once was, a companion of those who hated the name of Christ?” I am sure, beloved, that, if you have been with the Lord in private prayer, and he has lifted you up to his bosom, and revealed to you his secret thoughts of love, you have beat on your breast, and said, “Such love as his for such a worm as I am is altogether too great. Such love for one who was so provokingly, so aggravatingly sinful, — oh, why is this for me? Oh my Lord, I do love you! I could wash your feet with my tears; and, henceforth, I resolve to devote myself to holiness, and to that alone.” No, beloved, there is nothing that God gives us that leads us to sin, but the gifts and grace of God all lead us to repentance; so that is the way by which repentance is formed in the soul.

31. So this is my last word on the subject. If any of you are still under bondage in this matter, and say that you cannot repent, — if you really wish to have a tender and deep sense of sin, — do not sit down, and study your sin, — do not sit down, and study its penalty; but begin to think of the supreme love of God in Christ Jesus, the greatness of that mercy which is as high above you as the heavens are above the earth. Believe that he can save you. Do more than that; trust yourself with Christ that he may save you. You are saved the moment you do that. Do not believe it because I say it, but because God declares it over and over again. “He who believes in him is not condemned.” “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life.” “By him all who believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Believe in Jesus; cling to him, and to him only, and repentance must come into your soul. Old Donne, the famous preacher, used to say, “Hang on him who hung on the tree”; and that is what I will say to you, “Hang on him who hung on the tree.” And, then, until he falls, you will never fall. If Christ is first, and last, and midst, and everything to you, he will give you repentance, he will give you the heart of flesh, he will give you a sensitive conscience, he will give you the pure and cleansed life; but you must not think to bring any of these to put them into his place, but — again I say it, — just hang on him who hung on the tree.

32. May the Lord bless you, and help you to do so, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Eze 36:16-38}

16-19. Moreover the word of the LORD came to me saying, “Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a menstruous woman. Therefore I poured my fury on them for the blood that they had shed on the land, and for their idols with which they had polluted it: and I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: I judged them according to their way and according to their doings.

When God comes out to deal with men according to their just deserts, there will always be times of dire distress. The land of Israel was made into a wilderness; the houses of men were burned by fire, the inhabitants fell by the sword, or they were carried away captive, and untold miseries became the lot of God’s revolting people.

20. And when they came to the heathen, where they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, ‘These are the people of the LORD, and are gone out of his land.’

For the heathen did not remember the sin of Israel; they only saw that they had been cast out of their land by their God, so they blamed Jehovah, and not his guilty people. So God’s holy name was doubly profaned.

21. But I had compassion for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, where they went.

If the Lord could see no reason for mercy in them, yet he is so full of mercy that he would find a reason for exercising compassion for his own name’s sake. If lovingkindness cannot come to them by any other means, then it shall come for God’s name’s sake.

22-24. Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, "I do not do this for your sakes, oh house of Israel, but for my holy name’s sake which you have profaned among the heathen, where you went. And I will sanctify my great name which was profaned among the heathen, which you have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen, shall know that I am the LORD," says the Lord GOD, "when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

He says that he will do this for his holy name’s sake. If the heathen profaned that name because they saw Israel scattered, they should be made to eat their own words when God gathered Israel again to their own land.

25, 26. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, I will cleanse you. I will also give you a new heart and I will put a new spirit within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.

What grand language this is! How different it is from the stern commands of the law! The law says, “Make your hearts clean; put away the evil of your doings”; but the gospel covenant of grace says, “I will also give you a new heart, and I will cleanse you from all your iniquities.”

27-30. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments and do them. And you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your forefathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the grain, and will increase it, and lay no famine on you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that you shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.

What splendour of love is this for a people who, mind you, had done nothing whatever to deserve it, — who were just as undeserving as in the day when the Lord struck them, and scattered them among the heathen! For no reason whatever but his own free grace, and for the glory of his holy name, would God do these extraordinary deeds of love. What a wonderful God he is! Rightly do we sing, —

    Who is a pardoning God like thee?
    Or who has grace so rich and free?

31, 32. Then you shall remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe ourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. I do not this do for your sakes," says the Lord GOD, "be it known to you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, oh house of Israel!"

There was nothing for them to boast about in all the mercies they received. No merit of their own had brought them back the grain and oil; it was all from God’s infinite sovereign grace because he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he will have compassion on whom he will have compassion. How royally he talks — like such a King as he is — the Sovereign Lord of all!

33-35. Thus says the Lord GOD: "In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be built. And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all who passed by. And they shall say, ‘This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.’

As much as they noticed before the chastising hand of God, so much shall even the heathen be compelled to perceive the great goodness of God in restoring the land to all its former glory.

36, 37. Then the heathen who are left all around you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant what was desolate: I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it." Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; —

The blessing shall come, but not without prayer for it, — not without a hopeful expectancy of it, — not without a faithful belief in it: “I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them”; —

37, 38. I will increase them with men like a flock. As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts;

Like the multitudes of lambs that were brought up to Jerusalem at the time of the passover, such should be the number of the chosen people once again.

38. So shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the LORD."’ ”

The result of all this wonderful mercy was to be, that they were to be ashamed of their former sins, and loathe their past iniquities, and so know the Lord as to turn from their evil ways, and live for him.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — The Great Sight” 561}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — ‘Look On Him Whom They Pierced, And Mourn’ ” 581}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — I Crucified Him” 580}


Gospel, Received by Faith
561 — The Great Sight
1 In evil long I took delight,
      Unawed by shame or fear,
   Till a new object struck my sight,
      And stopp’d my wild career.
2 I saw One hanging on a tree,
      In agonies and blood,
   Who fix’d his languid eyes on me,
      As near his cross I stood.
3 Sure never till my latest breath
      Can I forget that look;
   It seem’d to charge me with his death,
      Though not a word he spoke.
4 My conscience felt and own’d the guilt,
      And plunged me in despair;
   I saw my sins his blood had spilt,
      And help’d to nail him there.
5 Alas! I knew not what I did;
      But now my tears are vain;
   Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
      For I the Lord have slain.
6 A second look he gave, which said,
      “I freely all forgive;
   This blood is for thy ransom paid,
      I die, that thou mayest live.”
7 Thus while his death my sin displays
      In all its blackest hue
   (Such is the mystery of grace),
      It seals my pardon too.
8 With pleasing grief and mournful joy,
      My spirit now is fill’d
   That I should such a life destroy,
      Yet live by him I killed.
                        John Newton, 1779.


The Christian, Contrite Cries
581 — “Look On Him Whom They Pierced, And Mourn”
1 Infinite grief! amazing woe!
      Behold my bleeding Lord!
   Hell and the Jews conspired his death,
      And used the Roman sword.
2 Oh, the sharp pangs of smarting pain
      My dear Redeemer bore,
   When knotty whips and rugged thorns
      His sacred body tore.
3 But knotty whips and rugged thorns
      In vain do I accuse;
   In vain I blame the Roman bands,
      And the more spiteful Jews.
4 ‘Twas you, my sins, my cruel sins,
      His chief tormentors were;
   Each of my crimes became a nail,
      And unbelief the spear.
5 ‘Twas you that pull’d the vengeance down
      Upon his guiltless head:
   Break, break, my heart, oh burst mine eyes!
      And let my sorrows bleed.
6 Strike, mighty grace, my flinty soul,
      Till melting waters flow,
   And deep repentance drown mine eyes
      In undissembled woe.
                           Isaac Watts, 1709.


The Christian, Contrite Cries
580 — I Crucified Him
1 My Jesus! say what wretch has dared
      Thy sacred hands to bind?
   And who has dared to buffet so
      Thy face so meek and kind?
2 ‘Tis I have thus ungrateful been,
      Yet, Jesus, pity take!
   Oh, spare and pardon me, my Lord,
      For thy sweet mercy’s sake!
3 My Jesus! who with spittle vile
      Profaned thy sacred brow?
   Or whose unpitying scourge has made
      Thy precious blood to flow?
         ‘Tis I have thus ungrateful been, &c.
4 My Jesus! whose the hands that wove
      That cruel thorny crown?
   Who made that hard and heavy cross
      That weighs thy shoulders down?
         ‘Tis I have thus ungrateful been, &c.
5 My Jesus! who has mock’d thy thirst
      With vinegar and gall?
   Who held the nails that pierced hands,
      And made the hammer fall?
         ‘Tis I have thus ungrateful been, &c.
6 My Jesus! say who dared to nail
      Those tender feet of thine:
   And whose the arm that raised the lance
      To pierce that heart divine?
         ‘Tis I have thus ungrateful been, &c.
7 And, Father! who has murder’d thus
      Thy loved and only One?
   Canst thou forgive the blood stain’d hand
      That robb’d thee of thy Son?
8 ‘Tis I have thus ungrateful been
      To Jesus and to thee;
   Forgive me, Lord, for his sweet sake,
      And mercy grant to me.
                  Alphonso M. Laguori, 1769;
                  tr. by R. A. Coffin, 1854.

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).

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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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