2928. Sham Conversion

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Sham Conversion

No. 2928-51:145. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, December 10, 1876, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, March 23, 1905.

And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they did not fear the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which killed some of them. … They feared the LORD and served their own gods, according to the ways of the nations whom they carried away from there. To this day they do according to their former ways: they do not fear the LORD. {2Ki 17:25,33,34}

1. The world is full of deceptions and counterfeits. We have had to protect ourselves by law against adulterations of the commonest articles of diet, but all the laws in the world will not be able to protect us against the constant, the almost universal deceit which is found in daily life. Men seem continually to be set on making the worse appear the better: putting the bitter for the sweet and the sweet for the bitter. If any man shall go through this world with his eyes shut, believing all that he hears, he will find himself the dupe of a thousand knaves. You must keep your eyes open; you must carry a test with you by which you shall be able to discern between things that differ, or else in the ordinary affairs of life you will soon be brought to bankruptcy and poverty.

2. In the highest regions also, where we have to deal with spiritual and eternal things, there are even worse cheats than anywhere else. That old enemy of God and man, who is rightly said to be a liar from the beginning, takes care to use falsehood in order, if it were possible, to deceive even the very elect. If there is a Christ, he sets up an antichrist. If there is a church of Christ, he makes a world’s church that shall mimic it. If there is a gospel, he too comes with his good news and sets up “another gospel, which is not another.” In the matters which concern the inner man — in the work of the Holy Spirit on the soul — Satan is most adept at deception there also. He can imitate repentance with remorse. He can match faith with credulity. He can mimic assurance with presumption. He can give us the pleasures of this world instead of the joy of the Lord, and instead of a simple confidence in Christ he can offer us what may look remarkably like it, and yet, after all, be confidence in self. Hence, one of the very first things that a man has to do if he would be right at last is to search his own heart, to test and try what he supposes to be there whether it is the work of God or not; whether his mark is the mark of God’s children or only a vile imitation of it.

3. Conversion which is absolutely necessary for salvation — conversion by which man turns from sin to righteousness, from self to Christ, from the world to heaven, from rebellion to obedience — conversion which we must all experience if we are to be right towards God, for “unless you are converted and become as little children you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” — conversion, too, has been mimicked in many ways. In this discourse we are going to look at one case in which the false has been put for the true, in order that by the light of that case, as by a beacon, we may be warned off this dangerous rock. Another man’s shipwreck ought always to be a beacon to us, so where these Samaritans failed, let us take heed to ourselves lest we fall in a similar way.

4. We shall have three points which will follow the order of the narrative. We shall look, first, at their first estate:“ They did not fear the Lord,” secondly, their sham conversion:“ They feared the Lord and served their own gods,” thirdly, their real state while they professed to be converted:“ They did not fear the Lord.”

5. I. First, then, let us observe these Samaritans in THEIR FIRST ESTATE.

6. They were brought, very likely much against their will, from different parts of the Assyrian empire, and they were settled as colonists in the various towns which had formerly been occupied by the tribes of Israel. There they were compelled to dwell. They do not appear to have had any reverence for God at all. They were totally indifferent. “They did not fear the Lord”; they scarcely knew his name, and they seem to have made no enquiries. They found that the land was good, and they tilled it; the vines were fruitful, and they pruned them; the houses were built, and they inhabited them; and so they settled down. What did it matter to them about Jehovah? Who was he and what was he? No doubt there had been a people living there who more or less had reverenced his name, but what was that to them? They were strangers. It had never crossed their mind that they should be interfered with at all in the matter of worshipping Jehovah, and so they lived altogether carelessly and indifferently. How many there are who are doing the some today: many who are altogether thoughtless about divine things: taken up with trifles: occupied only with the things of this life. It does not seem to enter into their heads that they are immortal — that they will have to live in another state. As for their having a Creator and one who daily preserves them in life, no doubt they believe it, but they are not concerned about it. Practically they say, “Who is the Lord that we should obey his voice?” That was the condition of these Samaritans at the first. They were altogether indifferent to the matter. It never troubled them at all.

7. They had no fear of God. They may have heard of some who trembled at Jehovah, but they never trembled. Perhaps they heard that he was a God whose worship was very troublesome, whose laws were very strict, whose subjects often had to mourn because they rebelled, and hence they did not want to know too much about him, lest, they should be drawn into the same exercise of heart and have to confess the same sins and fall into the same sorrows. They did not know and they did not want to know. They were not troubled.

8. I should not wonder that when they began to hear something about him they even ridiculed Jehovah. Had not their gods overcome the God of the land? Had they not taken possession of these fair cities? Had not the hosts of Assyria scattered, like clouds before the wind, all the companies that the men of Israel could bring against them? So they would have a sneer for the Israelites, and the men of Judah, for their God and their worship. Any religion they had only went as far as to lead them to despise the only true religion and to meet it with jest and sarcasm: that was all. “They did not fear the Lord.”

9. Yet there was this point. They had come to live near a people who did fear the Lord, for at that time, the people of Judah were in a great measure right towards the Lord God of hosts. Hezekiah, I suppose, was then on the throne, a king who in all things walked before the Lord and sought to uphold, in singleness of heart, the worship of the one only God. These strangers coming into the neighbourhood where the ancient faith of God’s people prevailed must have found it dangerous to their indifference and perilous to their scepticism and their false belief. So I have known men without religion or the fear of God, or any respect whatever for divine things, who have been brought, in the order of providence, into a society where there have been true piety and fervent religion. That always means trouble for their impiety, and disturbance for their indifference. They receive some sparks from that fire into their souls, and who knows whether the sparks may not light a fire that will burn down the wood and the hay and the stubble that are within their spirits? It ought to be a very hard thing for a man to live near us, my dear brothers and sisters, and to remain indifferent to religion. The preacher ought so to preach that it shall be almost an impossibility for his hearer to be altogether careless. You Christian people should set such an example in your households, that it shall be next door to an impossibility for son or daughter or servant to remain at peace while they remain outside of God and outside of Christ in a state of sin. These people did not fear the Lord; but the point that would be sure to bring them difficulty was that they had come near to the people of Judah who did fear God — near to a commonwealth that was presided over by Hezekiah, who feared the Lord with all his heart and all his soul.

10. II. Now, secondly, we come to THEIR CONVERSION. In the thirty-third verse we read, “They feared the Lord,” but, there is a very ugly “and” after it which shows that it was a sham conversion. “They feared the Lord and served their own gods.” Still, it was a kind of conversion; it meant at any rate an outward change.

11. How did it come about? If you read the chapter, as we have done just now, you will find that their conversion was caused entirely by terror. The country had been devastated. War had raged all over it for years. The cities and villages had become uninhabited, and consequently the wild beasts had come down from the mountains, and had multiplied so that lions became a terror throughout the land. Imagining that every country had a different god these people said, “The god of the land must have sent these lions among us.” Yes. And the sacred writer does not hesitate to say that, God did send the lions among them, for even common things which can be readily accounted for in the order of nature must nevertheless be ascribed to God. He did send lions among them, and it was these lions that converted them. Their teeth and fangs and fiery eyes and the thunders of their roars — these converted them. They must have a god to deliver them: they could not bear the lions, therefore they must fear the Lord who could send lions, and who perhaps would cease to send them. Now, dear friends, always be somewhat sceptical of your own conversion if you can trace it only and solely to motives of terror. Here is one man who never would have feared God if disease had not come into the house, if a child had not died, then another and another: it seemed as if they would all sicken, and so he became religious. Another went into business, and for a while he was very prosperous, but the tide turned and he lost his money; bankruptcy stared him in the face; he made a second effort, only to fail again, and then he seemed to feel as if the lions were out against him, so, he turned religious. Another had seen his children grow up, and having trained them for the world they went to the world; his son almost broke his heart: his daughter acted so as almost to bring his grey hairs with sorrow to the grave: everything seemed to go badly with him, and so he said he would go to church or go to the meeting or something. He turned religious because the lions were out. Still another who had been a very hale, healthy, strong man, and had never thought about religion at all — he had an accident, he had a fit, or he was attacked with a complaint of which he had warning that in all probability it would be fatal eventually, and there did not seem any cure for it. He got worse and worse, and so — well, he thought he would be religious. There was something sensible in the resolution: indeed, it was a most proper resolution if it had only been carried out properly and in the way of truth. But you see in all these cases there was no sense of having done wrong. There was no desire to do right. It was the lions, the lions, the lions, the lions. If there had been no lions there would have been no religion. If there had been no lions there would have been no seeking the Lord. If there had been no lions there would have been no wanting to know the ways of the god of the land. Such men have no desire after God, nothing of the kind. The thing that drives them is just that awful lion: the dread of death is on them, and the dread of something after death, the judgment to come — nothing else. Now some are really brought to God by terrors, but many are only brought into a condition of sham conversion; the root of their religion has been nothing else but the lions.

12. Now, notice that their conversion was attended with gross ignorance. What little sincerity there was — and there was a measure of sincerity — was, nevertheless, dimmed by lack of knowledge, its eyes were put out by an utter ignorance. They did not really know God at all. They looked on Jehovah as if he were only the same as the gods of Cuth and Ava and Sepharvaim, as if he were a petty god of that district, too powerful for them to venture to withstand — nothing more than that. They did not want to know him you notice, for their request to the king of Assyria was not that they might know about God, but that they might know “the ways” of the god of the land. Indeed, and there are lots of people who, when they desire conversion, wish only to know the ways of the people who are converted. What way ought a religious man to behave? What is required to satisfy outward decencies? What are the sacraments? What are the doctrines? Their thought is altogether of externals. They only want to know the ways of the god of the land. When a man is really awakened by the Holy Spirit his cry is, “I will arise and go to my Father”; but when it is not the Spirit of God, but only fear which rouses him, his cry is, “I will arise and hide in my Father’s house. I want to get into some secret room of his abode.” The desire is not for God himself, you see, not for himself, but for his “ways.” I know many who are converted in just this way — converted to a profession, converted to a creed, converted to sacraments, to forms. But as the Lord lives you must be turned to God himself or else you are not turned properly; ignorance of God is a fatal ignorance. Not to know him or to seek to know him, but only to know the ways and the mode of worshipping him, is a poor desire; yet, many rest satisfied with that and nothing more.

13. Further, these people were not only led to their conversion by fear: not only was their conversion marred by ignorance; but probably also they were instructed by an unfaithful priest. The king of Assyria sent them one of the priests so that he might teach them the religion. One of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and lived in Bethel and taught them how they should fear the Lord. It looks very suspicious, that residing in Bethel. I suspect he taught them worship of the calves of Bethel; and you know that the worshippers of the calves of Bethel were the Romanists of that day, just as the pure worshippers of God in Judah were the Protestants of the day. The worshippers of the calves of Bethel did not perhaps worship the calves: they worshipped God under the image of an ox, and they said that image of an ox indicates power and strength. “So we do not worship it, ” they would have said, “we worship God in it.” They were symbol-users — worshippers of emblems; and this priest was one of them. Well it is a poor conversion which is helped on by a blinded priest. Oh brethren, take heed how you hear, and take heed what you hear; we ought not to entrust ourselves to every person who professes to be a spiritual instructor. “Try the spirits whether they are from God.” One good test I will give you; see whether they search and probe you; rest assured that the Lord has not sent those who speak smooth words and never trouble your conscience or make you search yourselves. “If you take out the precious from the vile, you shall be as my mouth,” says the Lord to his prophets but not otherwise. So this man came and he taught them, I dare say, in his own easy way. He would say, “Well, my dear fellows, you see you all have your own gods, and I am no sectarian, as long as you worship the true God I do not mind. You may worship Nergal and Ashima and Tartak and Adrammelech, and all the rest of them, just whenever you like. I am teaching you, you see; this is to be the recognised state religion for the present time, and I will teach it to you. But do not afflict yourselves too much: it will be all right.” That is the way these people got converted. No wonder that they came over so easily, since they had such a nice comforting minister who never troubled them at all about any vital change.

14. Being converted like this they adopted a good many outward ceremonies. “So they feared the Lord, and made for themselves from the lowest of them priests for their high places, who sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.” They went in for doing the thing thoroughly. Since it was a matter of form, when they had found out how to do it — why, they would do it. One priest would not be enough: they would make a great many, and they made as many as they ever could get, and since the lowest of the land would probably be the cheapest they selected them. Men generally have an eye for business even in these things. They set to work worshipping on every high hill though God had said that he was to have sacrifices offered nowhere but at Jerusalem. He would have one altar only but they took every high place and consecrated it, and they began with great form and pomp and show to go in for the worship of Jehovah. Generally the more show the less reality, and it was so in this case.

15. You see then that this conversion, though it looked very fine, was radically unsound. Let me emphasize the reasons for this.

16. It was so, first, because there was no repentance. You do not find these people confessing that they had been wrong in worshipping each man his own god. They are quite willing to worship Jehovah, to have sacrifices and do the right thing, but as for any confession of sin making the place a Bochim — a place of weeping, because they had transgressed against the only living and true God — there is not a word of it. Now, my hearer, let me speak to you about your own conversion. If you have skipped the first page of the book, namely, repentance, go back and begin again, for that faith which has a dry eye and never wept for sin is not the faith of God’s elect. There must be repentance: it is an essential grace; no man is truly saved who does not have a hatred of the sin he loved before, who has not made a confession of it before God with an earnest prayer for pardon.

17. Notice, again, these converts had no expiatory sacrifice. The true believer — the man of Judah — had a day of atonement once every year, and there were great sacrifices of sin offerings whenever there had been special sin. But there is no mention of trespass offering or sin offering among these colonists, they had no sacrifice, no blood of expiation. Ah, sirs, that religion that does not begin with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is a religion that will soon come to an end, and the sooner it comes to the end the better, that you may begin again on a firmer foundation. A religion without the blood of Christ in it is a lifeless religion. A religion without the atonement and reconciliation by the blood of the covenant has missed the most essential part true of godliness. There was a radical unsoundness in the conversion of these people, for there was no repentance and no sacrifice.

18. Moreover, there was no putting away of the false gods. They did not mind worshipping Jehovah, but every man worshipped his own god too. This is not a true nor worthy service. “I will trust Christ,” one says. Yes, and you intend to trust your baptismal regeneration too. That is a false god. You will serve God, but you must indulge some secret sin too. That is another false god which cannot be tolerated. If we are converted to God we must take the hammer and smash the idols. Dagon and Nergal and Adrammelech must not stand in the same temple where Jehovah’s ark stands. All the false gods can live comfortably together, but when the living God comes, he is a jealous God, and they must all fall before him. You do not worship God at all if you do not worship God only. There must be an image-breaking in the soul if the conversion is really true. There was none of it here.

19. In fact, there was no love for God in these Samaritans. They were afraid of the lions, but their hearts did not go out to the God who could deliver them from the lions.

20. I wonder whether I could pick out any characters, among those present, who are like that, some of the Samaritan breed who are trying the fear of the Lord and serving other gods. I have known a man of this kind; he came to a place of worship, and if he had been allowed he would have joined the church and come to the communion table. At the same time he was a great worshipper of Bacchus — a great lover of what he called “a little drop,” though I question whether you could not have made a very considerable number of drops out of what he took. I was speaking the other day to a clergyman who said that there was a man in his parish who told him that he did not know how it was, but he never felt more spiritually-minded than when he had had four or five glasses of beer. There are people of that kind around. They fear the Lord and they serve their own gods. Only think of such a thing as a Christian drunkard. Can there be such a thing? Your common sense shall answer: I need not.

21. I have known also such a thing as this: a man — such an excellent man; his guinea was always ready for the cause of God, he had a very prominent pew, and was very well known in connection with religion, but if you had known that he had a second household besides his own, and known the way in which he lived, you would have held him up to intense abhorrence. Yet he dared to come into the house of God, and if he did not actually unite himself with the church, he was prominently identified with it. At the same time he was living in the lusts of the flesh and professing to be a servant of God — fearing the Lord — keeping a bit of religion, because he was afraid of the lions: that was all: and all the while he was worshipping his own god as well.

22. You know the thing is done in business also. There is a man that can sing a hymn most beautifully and he can pray in the prayer meeting. But he can prey on you as well. His mode of business is such that he takes advantage, cheats, and sails wonderfully near the wind; yet he has the name of being a very good man. He is a religious scoundrel. Oh, that God would save our churches from this kind of people who are to be found so often. The lions make them fear God. They are such cowards that they must be religious, and yet all this while they are worshipping other gods.

23. I have known a woman, too — I think I may truthfully say a woman in this case — and she has been, oh, such a dear Christian soul, only there was no one’s character safe within seven miles of her tongue — she was always ready to slander the character of the best who lived. She was a slandering saint, a gossiping mother in Israel. May God save us from such.

24. I cannot describe all the characters that may be suggested by those Samaritans, nor am I intending to hit anyone I know to be here just now, but if I do, please take the cap and wear it and keep it on until it does not fit you any longer. Although you smile, these inconsistencies are very serious matters, and, what is more, they are very common matters. Sham conversion is a thing that may be found all over the world. Oh, we have it on a large scale in this “Christian” England of ours which fears the Lord and yet sells opium, fears the Lord and is the most drunken nation under heaven. May God save us from such national hypocrisy! May God save us too from similar hypocrisy on a minor scale in all ranks and classes and conditions of men who attempt to fear the Lord and to serve their own gods! Such double religion will not run: it is no use: it will not work. If God is God, serve him, and if the devil is God, serve him; but the attempt to join the two together will never succeed, either in this world of in what is to come.

25. Such is the pattern of the sham conversion which these people experienced.

26. III. Now, lastly, we have before us THEIR REAL STATE AND GOD’S VERDICT ON IT. He says, “They did not fear the Lord.”

27. No. They insulted the Lord. They did not fear him. The men who worshipped God and worshipped Baal too, worshipped God and Adrammelech too, were impiously daring. The Lord’s claim is that only he is God, and he would have us know that the gods of the heathens are not gods. Our God made the heavens, but as for these they are the work of men’s hands. One of the Roman emperors was willing to put up a statue of Christ in the Pantheon among all the rest of the gods, and there were some who thought that that showed a kindly spirit. But what an insult to set up Christ by the side of lustful Jupiter, and infamous Venus, and all the rest of these horrible gods, which were only fit for a reformatory, the very best of them. And for the Samaritans to mention the name of Jehovah side by side with those cruel, bestial gods which they worshipped was not to do him honour, but was to insult his sacred majesty. Even so, gentlemen, to try and keep religion, and yet to keep your sins, is not to fear God but to insult him. “To the wicked God says, ‘What have you to do to declare my statutes or that you should take my covenant in your mouth’?” Keep clear of such trickery. If you must sin, do not add to your sins this needless and unnecessary one, of making a hypocritical pretence of fearing the living God. Spare yourself from that excess of wickedness.

28. These people did not fear God for they did not really obey him. Obey him? Why, if they had obeyed him they would have broken their gods to pieces at once. But no, they only wanted to know “the ways” of the God. They were willing to fall in with that, but as for really asking what his mind and will were, and being willing to do it — that was foreign to them. Therefore they did not fear God.

29. They were not in covenant relationship with God, as were the Israelites. They were under his old covenant of works, but they were not under the covenant of grace, neither did they know anything about it. God had not brought them up out of Egypt with a high hand and an outstretched arm. He had never redeemed them by blood and set them apart to be his people. They did not know anything about that. There are multitudes of professed converts to religion today who know nothing about the covenant of grace — nothing about redemption by blood: they cannot sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb. No, they simply keep an outward ceremonial observance of the ways of the God of the land, and they are content with that, but they have not come into the very vitals of religion, therefore they do not fear God.

30. These people soon acted so as to prove this. You know what they did a few years afterwards when God had brought back his servant Ezra, together with a company of people, to begin to build the temple. These people first of all came and said that they would like to join in the work. But Ezra and Nehemiah looked at them very sternly and said, “We have nothing to do with you. You cannot trace your pedigree to Abraham: you do not belong to the covenant seed. You know nothing about it. Go about your business.” Then these people showed the old spirit, they wrote letters to the various kings who were then in authority, and so the building of the temple was stopped several times, and they even tried afterwards to attack the people of Jerusalem and put an end to the building of the temple. There are no people in the world who turn out, generally, to be such haters of real religion and of genuine Christianity as those people who are scared into a nominal religion by the lions and yet are continuing in their sins. When the Methodists first began to preach, you know what an outcry there was against them. The great and heinous crime that they were committing was that they were insisting on regeneration and on holy lives. So crowds of people all over the country said, “Why we are as religious as people can be. It is true we drink and we do all kinds of things, but you really cannot set up anything like a pure and perfect church in the world. To talk about that is mere pious platitudes, you know. There cannot be such a thing; we cannot all be consistent in our profession, and there cannot be anyone who always is; it is all lies and hypocrisy to suppose that any people can be holy or can walk only in the fear of God”; and so they began to pelt the pioneer Methodists with mud and to put them into prison and to oppose them in all kinds of ways. I say it again, it is Ishmael that hates Isaac because though he is not in the line of succession he is very closely related to him. It is Esau who hates Jacob because though Esau did not get the blessing he is very closely related to Jacob, and comes from the same parents. There is no enmity like the enmity of the Samaritan to the Jew — no enmity like that of the mere moralist or the mere hypocritical professor to the man who has vital godliness, who has received the grace of God into his soul.

31. Perhaps you will think that I have spoken somewhat severely, but I have spoken to myself as well as to you with this earnest desire that we may be right before the living God. There are many of us here who profess to be Christians. Are we really so? Do we have real faith in Christ? Does our life prove that it is the living faith — the faith that produces good works? Brethren, if we are indeed what we say we are, we have only one God. All other aims, objects and designs are secondary. We seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. If we are indeed Christians we have broken a great many idols, we still have some more to break, and we must keep the hammer going until they are all broken.

    The dearest idol I have known,
       Whate’er that idol be,
    Help me to tear it from thy throne
       And worship only thee.

If we are real Christians we have only one trust; we hang all our weight on Jesus, and all other trusts have been flung to the bats and the moles long ago. If we are really the servants of God, we are trying to get rid of sin; we are not harbouring any lust or any false way. Though we are not perfect, yet we want to be, we long to be. There is not a wilful sin that we would keep. God helping us, we desire to steer clear of everything that is contrary to his holy mind. May God grant us this thoroughness, this depth of sincerity, this real change of heart, that we are not among the Samaritan trimmers, but that it may to said of us, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.”

32. May God bless you for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Expositions By C. H. Spurgeon {Ex 20:1-17 2Ki 17:23-41}

20:1-3. And God spoke all these words saying, “I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out of the land of Egypt; out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.

God is the only God, and no other object of worship is to be tolerated for a moment.

4-6. You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me; and showing mercy to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Here we are forbidden to worship God under any form whatever. The first command forbids the worship of another God: the second strictly forbids us to worship anything which our eyes can see, under the pretence that we are worshipping God by it. This is another offence, and much more common than the first; and it is often pleaded — “Oh, we do not worship these things: we worship God whom these represent.” But here it is strictly forbidden to represent God under any form or substance whatever and to make that an object of worship.

7. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD shall not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

A reverence for the very name of God is demanded and all things that are connected with his worship are to be kept sacred.

8-11. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your man-servant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within the gates: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day: therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.

It is good for us that we make the Sabbath a day of rest — a day of holy worship — a day of drawing near to God. So far, we have the first table, containing the duties towards God. The rest inscribed on the second table are our duties towards man.

12-14. Honour your father and your mother: so that your days may be long on the land which the LORD your God gives you. You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery.

These commandments take a far wider sweep than the mere words. “You shall not kill” includes the doing of anything by which life may be shortened as well as taken away. It includes anger — every evil wish and every malicious passion. And “You shall not commit adultery” includes every form of unchastity and impurity.

15-17. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. You shall not covet your neighbour’s house, you shall not covet neighbour’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.”

It was the tenth commandment that convicted the apostle Paul, for he says, “I had not known sin unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’ ” When men break the other commandments they often break this one first.

Reading from second Kings chapter seventeen,

23, 24. So Israel was carried away out of their own land to Assyria to this day. And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and lived in its cities.

It was a part of the tactics of the Assyrian empire to take people away from their original location and colonize them in other places — to move them to another land; so that while the Israelites were taken to Babylon, numbers of those who had lived all around Babylon were brought to live in the Samaritan province, in order that nationalities might be broken down and patriotism might expire by this, so making it easier for the Assyrian tyrant to govern the land.

25-27. And so it was at the beginning of their living there, that they did not fear the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which killed some of them. Therefore they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, “The nations which you have removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, do not know the ways of the God of the land: therefore he has sent lions among them, and, behold, they kill them, because they do not know the ways of the God of the land.” Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, “Carry there one of the priests whom you brought from there; and let them go and live there, and let him teach them the ways of the God of the land.”

He did not care one single bit himself what religion they were of: but if they did not happen to have a religion to suit the country, “Well, then, send one of the priests who used to live there who can teach them what it is.” According to his notions, they could take it up just when they liked.

28-31. Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and lived in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD. However every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities where they lived. And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech the gods of Sepharvaim.

It would serve no practical purpose if I were to explain the meaning of the names of these various gods. Some of them were of brute forms. Their worship was generally attended with the most lascivious rites, and especially the worship of Molech or Moloch, who is mentioned under two different forms here. He was a god whose worship was consummated with the most dreadful cruelties, for children were passed through the fires and burned in his honour.

32-38. So they feared the LORD, and made for themselves from the lowest of them priests for the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. They feared the LORD, and served their own gods after the ways of the nations whom they carried away from there. To this day they do according to the former ways: they do not fear the LORD, neither do they obey their statutes, or their ordinances or the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; with whom the LORD had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, “You shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them; but the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, you shall fear him, and you shall worship him, and you shall do sacrifice to him. And the statues, and the ordinances, and the laws and the commandment, which he wrote for you, you shall observe to do for evermore and you shall not fear other gods. And the covenant that I have made with you you shall not forget; neither shall you fear other gods.

How this warning comes over and over and over again! “Hear, oh Israel. The Lord your God is one God.” The worship of anything else under any pretext whatever, besides the one ever-blessed trinity in unity is for ever forbidden to us.

39-41. But you shall fear the LORD your God, and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.” However they did not listen, but they did their former ways. So these nations feared the LORD and served their carved images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so they do to this day.

Trying, as far as they ever could, to link the old idolatries with the worship of the true God, which thing is the most loathsome in the sight of the Most High.

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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