2795. The Double Drawing Near

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The Double Drawing Near

No. 2795-48:421. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, September 22, 1878, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, September 7, 1902.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. {Jas 4:8}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1408, “Reason Why Many Cannot Find Peace, The” 1399}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3212, “Command and a Promise, A” 3213}
   Exposition on Jas 4 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2795, “Double Drawing Near, The” 2796 @@ "Exposition"}

1. As soon as man had disobeyed God, he ran away from him. Our first parents hid themselves among the trees of the garden when they heard the voice of the Lord God calling them. They did not come to him at once, confess the wrong, which they had committed, and ask for mercy. The natural result of their sin was to harden their hearts, and not to lead them penitently to the great Father, but it led them impertinently to run away from him. So, when the Lord came walking in the garden, in the cool of the day, Adam did not seek him to plead for mercy from him; but the first words had to come from God: “the Lord God called to Adam, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ ” It was God’s voice speaking in mercy to his wandering child.

2. Our blessed Saviour has described the result of sin in his parable of the lost sheep, which has strayed from the fold; and which, if left to itself, continues to go farther and yet farther away. All of us have gone astray; as Dr. Watts says, —

    Each wandering in a different way,
       But all the downward road.

3. Our Lord Jesus has presented this same truth in that other parable in which he describes the prodigal son as gathering all together, and taking his journey into a far country, away from his father. He could not live as he wished in his father’s house; he could not waste his substance there with riotous living. His father’s eye would have been a check on him at home; so, the only way for him to obtain that foolish and ruinous liberty for which he sought was to get as far off as he ever could from his father. Alas! this is the condition of every unregenerate sinner; he has gone away from God, and he tries continually to get farther and farther away from God. Why do men neglect to keep holy the Sabbath day, unless it is that they do not want to think of God? Why do they set religious books aside? Why do they leave their Bibles unread, but because God’s name, God’s person, God’s law, God’s gospel, — all about God, — has become distasteful to them? Like the fool, of whom David tells us, they say in their hearts, “No God!” They do not want him; and if there could be an official announcement made that there is no God, they would welcome it. God is not in all their thoughts; or if he is there, it is as an enemy, or as one for whom they have no care, one whom they are not willing to have to reign over them. Oh heart of man, you have indeed gone astray from your God when the distance at which you are from him is loved by you, and you even wish, in your unkindness and your folly, to make that distance greater! If you wish to return, you are already halfway back; but, alas! you do not wish to return. That thought does not come to you; but, if you could, you would take the wings of the morning, and fly to the uttermost parts of the earth, in the hope that there you could be hidden from the eye and the presence of God.

4. Knowing this to be true, I am glad to be able to give the message of my text to those who are far off from God, because the only cure for such sinful wandering is for the sinner to come back to God. While the prodigal was in the far country, he could not be set right. The first step towards getting back into his right position was his resolve, “I will arise and go to my father.” If he could have filled his belly with husks or anything else, — if he could have had his rags exchanged for robes, — if he could have been made a nobleman in that far-off land, it would have been a curse rather than a blessing to him, for the radical cure, in his case, must lie in his saying, “Father, I have sinned,” and in receiving his father’s kiss of forgiveness, and all the signs of restoration to his father’s favour. It must be the same with any of you who are far off from God; if you would be right with him, you must come back to him. Poor creatures, how can you be right until you love your Creator? Poor sheep, how can you be right until you are back under the care of the good Shepherd? Oh poor immortal, how can you hope for an eternity of blessedness until the immortal God is reconciled to you, and you are reconciled to him? A creature remaining at enmity against God must expect to dwell for ever with the demons in hell; where can it dwell but where other rebels are confined in chains? You must come back to your God, man, if you would have eternal bliss; for if you could have one of the harps of heaven, it would yield no music for you until you had yielded yourself into submission to the God of heaven. If you could have the street of gold, it would not enrich you until you had the God of heaven to be your Friend; so I say again that the only remedy for sin — the only radical efficient cure for the great evil of iniquity — is for the sinner to come back to God. I want to impress this one point on you, and I pray that God, the Holy Spirit, will work effectively on some who are here, and draw them back to God while, in his name, I deliver this gracious message to them, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

5. First, I shall ask you to consider this message with hope. When we have done that, we shall, secondly, learn how to put it into practice; and then, thirdly, we shall think of how many ways it will help us if we draw near to God.

6. I. First, then, let us CONSIDER THIS MESSAGE WITH HOPE: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

7. We may consider it with hope, because, first, here is a sincere call to us to come back to God. When we preach from such a text as this, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you,” someone is sure to say, “But is that not the wrong order? Is it not a fact that God draws near to us, and then we draw near to him?” Yes, that is the right order, and our text is in the right order too, because there is understood here something which is obvious to every careful reader, and which shows that the grace of God is implied behind it all. The text itself is a call from God; and no sinner ever comes back to the Lord until the Lord calls him back. But in this text he does call him; by the mouth of the apostle, he says, “Draw near to God”; and he tells us to repeat this message in his name. To those, who are the farthest off, and who have wandered the greatest distance from him, God says, “Draw near to me.” If you had offended some friend, and wished to make it up, you would feel that it was an easy matter if your friend himself invited you to come, — if he took the initiative, and asked you to come to him. Then, I think, you would feel great gratitude to him, and say, “He has taken the first step towards our reconciliation, now I will willingly and cheerfully take the second.” It is like this that the Lord sends to you this message to induce you to return to him, “Draw near to God.”

8. “But may I come to him?” asks someone. May you do what he tells you to do? Of course you may. The text is not merely an invitation, it is a command. Obey it, I beseech you. You must have liberty to obey when God commands. You need not entertain any fear that you will be an intruder when, in the exercise of his gracious sovereignty, he says to you, “Come, come, come!” Surely, among those here, who are still unconverted, there must be some who will say to him, “Oh Lord, you have said to us, ‘Seek my face,’ and our heart says to you, ‘Your face, Lord, we will seek.’ ”

9. Next I have to remind you that, in addition to a sincere call from God, there is also an open road to him. God says to you, “Draw near to me,” but he would not tell you to come to him if there were no road by which you could come. Once, there was a great gulf fixed between you and God. Your sin had dug a fathomless gulf, which you could never have bridged; but Jesus bridged the awful chasm by throwing his cross across it, and now there is a plain and easy way by which the sinner may come back to God. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” When the Babe was born at Bethlehem, a multitude of the heavenly host praised God, and said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men”; and when that Babe, after a life of perfect obedience to God’s law, offered himself up on Calvary’s cross, he said, “It is finished,” and, then, every mountain was laid low, and every valley was filled up, so that there might be a magnificent causeway over which fallen and far-off sinners might draw near to God. The making of that way cost the Saviour his life; but he did make it. His heart bled out its life so that he might make plain that way of expiation by which a sinner can only come near to God; but the road is made, and there is nothing in the way now — no divine anger, no righteous wrath, no avenging law, — to prevent your coming, oh you who desire to return to your God! Christ has made the way, and cleared it; and “no lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go on it, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there.” So, draw near, for the road is open. Draw near, “without money, and without price,” for the road is free to all who believe in Jesus. Christ has completed it; he has not merely made it halfway, but he has finished it all the way, and he himself has said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Oh, then, with what force does the command come, “Draw near to God,” when there is an open road by which you may come to him!

10. Consider the invitation of the text with great hopefulness, next, because there is an encouraging promise appended to it. You fear that, if you were to try to get to God, you could not; and that, if you did reach him, he is so pure and holy that he must spurn you because of your impurity, and drive you from his presence. But read the entire of the text: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” There is nothing in it about casting out, or spurning, or rejecting; but the promise is emphatic, “He will draw near to you.” I have already referred to the parable of the prodigal son; I will refer to it again by reminding you that, “when he was still a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” It is, after all, very little of the way that the sinner has to go in returning to his God; the greater part — no, I might say, all the way — God comes to the sinner who desires to return to him. Only turn your face towards God, and your God is at once with you.

11. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” That is the inspired declaration; do you believe it? Oh, I think, if you do, you will at once draw near to him. Satan will perhaps whisper, “He does not mean you.” But, indeed, he means any soul that comes to him, for his promise is, “whoever comes to me I will in no wise cast out”; and the “he who comes” means any sinner, all the world over, who trusts in Jesus. Yes, you shall be received graciously, and loved freely, if you will only come back to your God through Jesus Christ his dear Son. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” Our text ought to be like a hand to beckon you, and to draw you back to your God, and you ought to run to him as swiftly as the doves fly to their windows; you have seen the pigeons hastening home to their dovecots as if anxious to reach their nests, so may the gracious Spirit move you to flee away to your resting-place in the loving heart of your Lord!

12. There is one more thing that I want to say, before I leave this first point, in which I am urging you to hopeful consideration of the text, and that is, draw near to God, oh dear trembling ones, because he will help you to come to him. Before our Lord Jesus Christ went up on high, he promised that the Holy Spirit should be given to his Church; and he had not long sat on his throne before the Spirit descended, and that Spirit has never gone away, but he is still here to help our infirmities, to guide us in prayer, to convict us of sin, to reveal Christ to us, to create faith in us, and to strengthen that faith while it is still weak. If you cannot come to God by yourself, here is One for you to lean on, who will help you to come. If you feel as if you could not move a foot, here is a sweet prayer for you to present to God, “Draw me, we will run after you,” and he will draw you; I hope he is drawing some of you now. Do you feel as if you wish you could come to him? I think that wish is a proof of his gentle drawing. Are you saying to yourself, “I will think this matter over; I will be careless no longer?” He is, as it were, putting out his finger to guide you, to help you, as a mother does for a little child whose tottering footsteps can scarcely avoid a fall. Only be willing to be helped, and he will help you. Yield yourself up to him, and he will bless you. Be like the mariners, who spread the ship’s sails, after which they can do no more; but when the sails are spread, the wind fills them, and the vessel is driven onward to its desired haven. Be like the needle of the mariner’s compass, and the Spirit of God will be like the magnet to attract you. Be willing to be cleansed from all defilement, and he will say to you, “Be clean,” and so you shall be; for, where the will has yielded itself to him, the citadel of the town of Mansoul is won, and Prince Emmanuel takes the entire possession and control of it.

13. Listen to me, for a moment or two, while I put together these things of which I have been speaking. God says, “Draw near.” There is his call; will you disobey it? It is implied, in that call, that he has made a way for you to come to him; will you not avail yourself of it? He has added to his call an encouraging promise that you shall be welcomed if you come to him; will you permit that promise to be made known to you, and yet not obtain the blessing that is promised? Then, beside all this, there is the Holy Spirit waiting to be gracious; will you resist the Spirit, as so many have done, who have perished in their sin? I can do no more than tell you these things with affectionate earnestness; but, dear hearers, who are far off from God, the day will come when, however poorly I have told you these things, if you despise or neglect them, you will have to answer, not to me, but to him who sent me! Therefore, please consider what answer you will give to him, to the question whether you will come to him or not, while he says to you, “Draw near to me, and I will draw near to you.”

14. II. The second part of our subject is very practical. It is this, LET US LEARN HOW TO DRAW NEAR TO GOD.

15. “How can a man draw near to God?” someone asks. Well, we must begin like this. Draw near to him by thinking of him. God is not fixed in any one place so that we need to go on a pilgrimage in order to reach him. “God is a Spirit,” and the way to draw near to a spirit is, first of all, to think of him in our own spirit. I shall begin to have hope for any man’s salvation when he begins seriously to think about God, and about his own relationship to God. Will you do so, dear hearer? Take time to think about your Creator, your Preserver, your Provider, your Guardian, your Friend, your Judge, your Saviour. To help you to think of him, read his Word, for Scripture will both give you the best subject for thought and assist you to understand and know more of God.

16. Seek, also, to hear the gospel. If you know anyone who speaks to your heart about God, and Christ, and the gospel, give him the opportunity of speaking to you as often as it is possible. Try also to talk with some of God’s friends, — with men who pray to him, and who have communion with him, and get as far away as you ever can from those who deny him and blaspheme him. In this way, I believe that it will not be long before he will begin to show himself to you. You will be astonished to find how he is present everywhere around you, — in every flower, in every blade of grass, in every drop of dew, you will see signs of his presence. If you are willing to find him, you will see traces of his skill and of his wisdom there. If you look at the workings of his providence, expecting to find him, you will not look long before you do find him; for, as we have often been reminded, he who watches providence will never be without a providence to watch. And when you begin to say, “Wherever I go, I feel that God surrounds me; he is within me, and I am in him”; — when such thoughts as those possess you, I shall begin to have bright hopes concerning you.

17. Draw near to God, next, by trusting him. Some of you will not be able to do that immediately; you will have to think a little about him first. And when you have thought about him, and, especially, when you have received what this Book tells you about him, then draw near to him by trusting him. If, man, you do trust God, he will not deceive you. If you believe in him that he will pardon your sin, he will pardon it. His rule still is, “According to your faith, be it done to you.” Whatever you can believe concerning God, that is in accordance with what he has revealed in his Word, and that is for his glory, you shall find that he will do. He has been pleased to give his dear Son to be the Redeemer of men, and he tells us that all those who trust in him have everlasting life. Now draw near to him by just saying, “If these things are true, I will trust myself on them. As God has revealed them, they are true, and I will just cast myself on him. Jesus Christ has shed his precious blood to put away sin, and he promises to forgive all who confess their sin, and trust him; I will confess my sin, and trust him to forgive it.” One is getting very near to God when he does that; so I ask you, in that sense, to draw near to God by trusting him; and if you do, he will draw near to you by forgiving you. He will accept your trust, and he will welcome you. He will be as good to you as your faith, and better still.

18. Next, draw near to God by repentance. You have done wrong; do not keep away from him, and so do more wrong. Do not try to hide your sin, or to make up a righteousness of your own, but go to God and tell him that you have done wrong, and plead for his forgiveness for Christ’s sake. Tell him that you have a tendency to do wrong, and ask him to change your heart. Tell him that you seem to be wrong altogether, and beg him to make you “a new creature in Christ Jesus.” Draw near to him in a penitential spirit. It is your sense of sin that keeps you back from him; but, rightly considered, that sense of sin should drive you to him rather than restrain you from going to him. What should a man do, if he has offended another, but try to make matters right between them? To my mind, it is a beautiful thing to clear up difficulties and to settle disagreements; but it is the sweetest thing of all to get right with God, — to tell him that you have been all wrong, to plead the merit of his dear Son’s obedience and sacrifice, and to ask him to set you right both concerning the past and the future, too. Draw near to God in that way, by repentance.

19. Then draw near to him in prayer. Did I hear you say, “I do pray”? Yes, but do you really pray? That is the question; you may have said certain words, morning and evening, for many years; yet you may never once have prayed all the while. Do you know that prayer is the soul speaking to God? It is not the act of repeating something that you have learned, or heard, or read; the mere utterance of any particular form of words is nothing. You might as well set up one of the prayer windmills, at which so many have smiled, as expect to pray by the mere repetition of good words. No, no; speak to God. Any true speech, straight from the heart, is accepted by God. Mr. Rowland Hill stayed one night at an inn, and he told the landlord that he must have family prayer there. “But, sir,” said the man, “we never had such a thing in our lives.” “Then,” said Mr. Hill, “fetch my horses, for I will not stay in any house where I cannot get the people together to pray.” “They shall all come in, sir,” said the landlord, hardly realizing the preacher’s purpose. Then the Bible was read, and Mr. Hill said, “Now, sir, you pray; every master should pray in his own house.” “But I cannot pray,” he said, “I wish I could.” “Tell the Lord that,” said Mr. Hill; and the man said, “Lord, I cannot pray; I wish I could.” Then Mr. Hill said, “You have begun to pray already, so I will go on for you. Only tell the Lord, from your heart, anything that is true about yourself, and you have begun praying.”

20. Please, dear friends, draw near to God in prayer. Make it your habit to ask from him what you really need, and he will draw near to you, and you will get what you have asked him for. You will be surprised to find what gracious answers you will receive to your supplications, for I have noticed that, if the Lord delays his answers to the prayers of his saints when they grow strong, he generally hears them very quickly indeed when they first begin to pray. I have often known the answer to come while they have been still speaking. Try it, dear friend, in your own case; draw near to God in prayer, and see what answers he will give you. How I wish that those who doubt the existence of God had ever tried to speak to him! If they once came into familiar acquaintance with him from day to day, doubts of his existence would be no more possible for them than doubts of their own existence, for they would say, “We have spoken to him, and he has heard us, and given us the desire of our heart.” Draw near to God in prayer, and he will draw near to you.

21. Then, dear friend, try to draw near to God every day by laying all your affairs before him, and yielding up all your plans to his will. Begin the day by asking him to be with you, and to glorify himself in you. Ask him to stay near you, and to let you feel his presence, and you will have truly blessed times if you draw near to God in that way.

22. Sometimes, you will most appropriately draw near to God by praise, — with sweet songs in your mouth and thankfulness in your heart. You will feel it to be indeed a —

    “Happy day, happy day,” —

when you are brought near to God like this. You will do well to keep on at that praise until there will come a day — (you need not mind how soon it comes) when the Lord will say to you, in another sense, “Draw near to me”; and you will go up to your bedroom, and gather up your feet into the bed, and he will draw near to you with such a glorious vision of his presence that, even before you are aware, you will find yourself at his right hand, your poor mortal body left behind to wait a little while for the resurrection, but you yourself very near to him in heaven. Then, before long, the archangel’s trumpet will sound out that blast of that shall wake even your body from its slumber among the dust into which it had mouldered, and it shall rise again; and then there shall come One, whom you have known in this life, and known even better in heaven, who will say to you, and to all the redeemed, “Come, you blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Then your body, soul, and spirit shall draw near to him as he draws near to you, and so you shall be “for ever with the Lord.” That is what will come of your drawing near to God; it will end in your being with him where he is, so that you may behold his glory for ever and for evermore; and therefore I feel a deep stirring within my soul that every far-off sinner should hear this gracious invitation, and obey it at once; “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”


24. Well, now, if we draw near to God, it will have an effect on our common, everyday life. How? Why, first, if you will follow the run of the chapter, you will see that drawing near to God will help us to resist the devil. The injunction, and promise, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” are immediately followed by the words of our text, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” The devil is not quite everywhere, but it is difficult to tell where he is not to be found. He, and the powers of darkness under his control, tempt us in all kinds of ways and places; and if any one of us would be so armed as to be able to resist the great adversary of souls, the very best thing he can do is to draw near to God. The sheep is never so safe as when it is close to the shepherd, and the prodigal son is never so safe and happy as when he is sitting at his father’s table, and feasting on the good things provided by his father’s love. Draw near to God, and you will be able to resist the tempter, and drive him away from you.

25. In the next place, drawing near to God will help you to become pure. Read the whole verse from which our text is taken: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” You do wish to be chaste, do you not? You wish to be sober; you wish to be honest; you wish to be pure in speech, and pure in act, do you not? Well, nothing purifies us like getting near to God in Christ. There is cleansing by water as well as by blood; the blood, that washes away the guilt of sin, is accompanied by a cleansing flood that takes away the power of sin, so that hands are cleansed and hearts are purified when we draw near to God.

26. Further, drawing near to God will help us to sorrow for sin, for the next verse after our text says, “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep.” “Oh!” says some thoughtless person, “I do not want to be helped to sorrow for sin”; and yet, — and yet, — and yet, if you only knew it, one of the sweetest things in all the world is godly sorrow for sin. Often I quote to myself that verse,

    Lord, let me weep for nought but sin,
       And after none but thee;
    And then I would — oh, that I might! —
       A constant weeper be.

“It is a bitter-sweet,” say some; but I say that it is a sweet-bitter, and that the sweetness predominates, — the sweetness of so feeling the evil of sin as to loathe and shun it. It is a miserable state of things to have a calloused heart. Even a calloused hand may be a burden. It happened to a poor blind woman, who read with her fingers, that, after a while, they lost the delicacy of touch so that she could not distinguish the letters. It was a great grief to her; but, putting up to her lips the precious Bible that she had been accustomed to read, she found that she could read with her lips. She was very glad to have tenderness somewhere. A tender heart is necessary for the reading of the mind of God, so always try to keep your heart tender. A calloused heart, or a stony heart, is an awful curse. When you feel your heart beginning to harden or to petrify, pray God to plunge it in a bath of the Redeemer’s blood to make it soft again. May the Lord grant that we may so draw near to him that our heart may be kept soft, for hardness of heart can never come to the man who is kept near to God.

27. If you draw near to God, dear friends, it will also help you to think well of other people. “Do not speak evil of each other,” says the apostle, in the eleventh verse. When you know that the great Judge of all himself is near, you will not be so quick as you sometimes are to take his work out of his hands, but you will let him judge. I am sure that the man who lives near to God gets to have a kindly feeling towards others. If ever you find a person saying that there is no life in the Church, and finding fault with everyone, you may be sure that that man has not seen Jesus Christ recently, for Jesus Christ does not speak like that. He says of his people all he can that is good. Surely, if Christ loves his Church, you ought not to find so much fault with it. “Do not speak evil of each other, brethren,” otherwise it will prove that you have not been anywhere near your Master recently.

28. And, last of all, if we live near to God, it will help us to think of eternal things. The apostle warns us not to say, “We will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain,” and all that kind of talk. He who speaks like that has not seen God recently, for he who is much with God thinks of eternal things, and he knows how near they are, and he says to himself, “I shall soon be gone. This world is not my rest; there is nothing here that is substantial and enduring.” So he is waiting to hear the trumpet sound, “Boot and saddle! Up and away!” and he stands ready, at his Captain’s call, to be gone to another and a better world. If you dwell near to God, you will not be afraid of dying; you will rather dread to remain here than to be taken away. Remember, this is your place of exile, and your state of probation. Oh Lord, bring us near to you! Really, brethren, I do not know anything that can do us so much good in our daily life as walking with God. If you live near to God, the family worries and troubles will not vex your spirit as they do now. You will live above them; and the outside world, with all its fault-finding, and its anxieties, and its ups and downs, will seem very small and insignificant to you when you dwell on high, and your place of defence is the munitions of rocks. Some of us know what it is not to care even a snap of the fingers when the world seems enraged against us, if we can only get away into the secret chamber of communion where God is pleased to reveal himself to us.

29. If you live down in the marshes, you will get the ague and fevers; but if you live up on the mountain top, you will rejoice in the sun’s rays before your fellow creatures see them, and you will bask in them long after those below have lost sight of them; you will also find the air up there to be fresh and bracing; and, among the eagles, you will grow like an eagle yourself, for you will mount up with wings as eagles, until, one of these days, you will mount so high that you will not come down again, for you will have gone to dwell near your Lord for ever.

30. May the Lord bless you, beloved, with all that this drawing near to him is capable of giving to you, for his dear name and mercy’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Jas 4}

1. From where come wars and fightings among you?

Whether between nations, or parties or individuals, — if there are wars and fightings, from where do they come?

1. Do they not even come from your lusts that war in your members?

Do they not arise from one desiring something, and another desiring the same thing? Is there not a competition or rivalry of an evil kind, in which each one prefers himself, and does not seek the good of his neighbour?

2. You lust, and do not have: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you do not have, —

This is nature’s way of trying to get by contention what it desires to possess, — fighting, and warring, and killing, yet the result of all this is nothing. After all is done, “yet you do not have.” There is a simpler and a better way which men forget; they leave that divine path untrodden: “You do not have,”

2. Because you do not ask.

With all your efforts you do not succeed, because you omit to pray to God. Prayer would have brought you every blessing that you need; but, instead of going to God, and asking from his hands, you rush against your neighbour, and seek to take what you desire as plunder from him.

Perhaps some say, “But we do ask.” “Well, then,” says the apostle, —

3. You ask, and do not receive because you ask amiss, so that you may consume it on your lusts.

The lusts of the flesh come in, and put us on the wrong track; or if we take the right road, yet, if the lusts are there, God will not bless us because, in doing so, he would be helping us to gratify our lusts.

4. You adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?

The apostle uses this strong language not concerning the actual sin of adultery as the term is commonly understood, but in applying to our not loving God with true chastity of heart, but lusting after something else. This is the very essence of spiritual adultery. We ought to give God all the affection of our being; but, instead of doing so, we allow at least some of it to wander to other objects, and therefore we are called, by the Holy Spirit himself, “adulterers and adulteresses.” These may seem to be harsh words, but they are true ones. May they bring us to our spiritual senses, and cause us to love our God with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength!

4. Therefore whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

In one sense, Christians are the greatest friends of the world, for they desire the good of all men, and seek their salvation. But, in another sense, viewing the world as a great conglomerate of evil, we are no friends of the world. There is a certain form of theology, popular nowadays, which teaches us that we ought to remove the line of demarcation between the Church and the world. This kind of teaching may be called theology, but it does not come from God; it is a gross falsehood which we ought to abhor in the very depth of our spirit.

5, 6. Do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy?” But he gives more grace.

There is a spirit, resident in the natural man, the human nature of man, which is always inclined towards hate and envy, always wanting to get something from other men, and always grieved if other men seem to be or to have more than the person himself has. How is this spirit to be dealt with? This verse supplies the answer, “He gives more grace.” “More grace,” — this is the great remedy for hate and envy. “More grace,” — this is the balm for sorrow. “More grace,” — this is our greatest help out of all difficulties. “More grace,” — this is the universal recipe for all that we need: “He gives more grace.”

6, 7. Therefore he says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God.

Lay aside that fighting spirit, — that effort to pull others down so as to raise yourself up, — and bow before God, yield yourself entirely to his blessed will. This is the way of peace, and the way of joy, too.

7. Resist the devil, —

Who will seek to stir you up to rebellion; give no place to him: “Resist the devil,” —

7, 8. And he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

Hear this command, and practise it; get near to God in Christ Jesus, and you shall soon find him to come to your help in every hour of need.

8. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

For, if you are double-minded, your hands and your hearts must both need to be cleansed. The apostle does not say, “Concentrate your thoughts,” but he does say, “Cleanse your hearts”; for, to have two objects in life, is a kind of spiritual adultery, from which we need to be purged, so the command is, “Purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

9. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

If the previous verses have rightly accused you of sin, confess your guilt with shame and sorrow, and so come to Christ imploring pardon.

10. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

If you exalt yourself, he will pull you down. If you lie down in the dust before him, he will lift you up. It is according to God’s usual way of acting to practise these reversals. Mary truly sang, “He has put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted those of low degree. He has filled the hungry with good things; and he has sent the rich away empty.”

11. Do not speak evil of each other, brethren. He who speaks evil of his brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law, and judges the law: but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge.

If you cease to think what is evil, you will also cease to speak evil. If I speak evil of my brother, I have condemned the law which commands me to love him as I love myself; I have practically said that it is an absurd law, and an unrighteous law; and this is a great evil in God’s sight.

12-15. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who are you who judge another? “Come now,” you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there for a year, and buy and sell, and get gain”: whereas you do not know what shall happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. For that you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live, and do this, or that.”

We are all too apt to say what we will do, and where we will go, forgetting to add, “If the Lord wills, we shall live, and do this, or that.”

16, 17. But now you rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him who knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin.

There are sins of omission as well as sins of commission; may the Lord graciously keep us from both forms of the evil, for his dear Son’s sake! Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 130” 130}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — ‘Come To Me’ ” 590}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Stated — ‘Jesus Only’ ” 537}

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 130
1 Out of the depths of doubt and fear,
   Depths of despair and grief,
   I cry; my voice, oh Jesus, hear,
   And come to my relief!
2 Thy gracious ears, oh Saviour, bow
   To my distressful cries,
   For who shall stand, oh Lord, if thou
   Shouldest mark iniquities?
3 But why do I my soul distress?
   Forgiveness is with thee:
   With thee there is abundant grace,
   That thou mayest feared be.
4 Then for the Lord my soul shall wait,
   And in his word I’ll hope;
   Continue knocking at his gate,
   Till he the door shall ope.
5 Not weary guards who watch for morn,
   And stand with longing eyes,
   Feel such desires to see the dawn,
   The joyful dawn arise!
6 They never feel such warm desires
   As those which in me move,
   As those wherewith my soul aspires
   To see the God of love!
7 Oh God of mercy! let me not
   Then hope for thee in vain;
   Nor let me ever be forgot,
   And in despair remain.
                        John Ryland, 1775.

The Christian, Contrite Cries
590 — “Come To Me”
1 With tearful eyes I look around,
   Life seems a dark and stormy sea;
   Yet ‘mid the gloom, I hear a sound,
   A heavenly whisper, “Come to Me.”
2 It tells me of a place of rest;
   It tells me where my soul may flee;
   Oh, to the weary, faint, oppress’d,
   How sweet the bidding, “Come to me!”
3 “Come, for all else must fail and die,
   Earth is no resting place for thee;
   To heaven direct thy weeping eye,
   I am thy portion; come to me.”
4 Oh voice of mercy! voice of love!
   In conflict, grief, and agony,
   Support me, cheer me from above!
   And gently whisper, “Come to me.”
                     Charlotte Elliott, 1834.

Gospel, Stated
537 — “Jesus Only”
1 When wounded sore the stricken soul
      Lies bleeding and unbound,
   One only hand, a pierced hand,
      Can salve the sinner’s wound.
2 When sorrow swells the laden breast,
      And tears of anguish flow,
   One only heart, a broken heart,
      Can feel the sinner’s woe.
3 When penitence has wept in vain
      Over some foul dark spot,
   One only stream, a stream of blood,
      Can wash away the blot.
4 ‘Tis Jesus’ blood that washes white,
      His hand that brings relief,
   His heart that’s touch’d with all our jays,
      And feeleth for our grief.
5 Lift up thy bleeding hand, oh Lord;
      Unseal that cleansing tide;
   We have no shelter from our sin,
      But in thy wounded side.
               Cecil Frances Alexander, 1858.

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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