3245. Our Position And Our Purpose

by Charles H. Spurgeon on May 24, 2021
Share:

No. 3245-57:169. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, April 13, 1911.

Therefore having these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. {2Co 7:1}

1. Kindling with strong emotion, constrained by the love of Christ, and animated by the fellowship of all spiritual blessing, the apostle here delivers an exhortation, in which he appeals to the noblest passions of the children of God, to their sense of a divine lineage, and a present endowment, as well as of an exalted destiny, for an incentive to purity of character and holiness of life.

2. I. The first thought which he gives to stir up in us this godly ambition is that THE CHRISTIAN MAN IS POSSESSING MOST GLORIOUS PRIVILEGES.

3. By such words—“Therefore having these promises,” I understand not merely having the promises in reversion, {a} since they belonged to the Jews, but having them in seisin, {b} having received them, having obtained them, having gotten them, having grasped them, and being seized by them, as lawyers express it, so that the promises are no longer mere promises, but things which we actually have in our possession. I understand, by Paul’s language here, that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have a thousand blessed promises, in the enjoyment of which they daily live.

4. The promises he especially refers to are mentioned in the previous chapter. They appear to be these; first, divine indwelling: “I will dwell in them.” Now, this is no insignificant or inferior privilege of the Christian Church. God has been pleased to make the bodies of his people to be the temples of the Holy Spirit. At this very moment, in every one of you who have put your trust in the Lord Jesus, Deity resides. He does not dwell in houses made with hands, that is to say, of man’s building, but yet he dwells within these houses of clay, tabernacling in us; this is a promise which we have actually obtained, and are now positively enjoying.

5. The next is divine communion: “I will dwell in them, and walk in them.” Just as God talked with Abraham, so he does with every believer. God is not afar off from us, but he is our near and dear friend, our close acquaintance.

 

   With him high converse I maintain;

      Bold as he is I dare to be.

 

If I can tell him my heart, he also will tell me his heart, for “the secret of the Lord is with those who fear him.” Communion is not merely a matter of promise for you and me, beloved, but we enjoy it now. I hope it has become habitual with us to abide with Jesus Christ. At morning break, we can frequently say, “When I awake, I am still with you”; and when the sun has gone down, and we toss on the bed, and cannot sleep, in the night-watches our soul talks with him whose eyes never slumber. Blessed be his name, this walking of Christ with his people is one of the daily privileges of the heir of heaven.

6. Another promise we have obtained is that of divine covenanting: “and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” God gives himself to his people to be theirs, and they, by the purchase of his own Son, and by the effective conquest of the arm of his grace, are his. He has chosen us for his inheritance, and granted to us that he should become our portion and our inheritance. “I will be their God and they shall be my people.” Yes, God has entered into covenant relationship with us, bound himself by promise, and yet further by another immutable thing, in which it is impossible for him to lie, namely, by his oath. There are between us and our God bonds which cannot be snapped, links that can never be severed. Let us thank God tonight, and summon every faculty of our souls to praise his name. This is one of the blessings which was communicated to some of the olden saints, though they did not perfectly understand and comprehend it. Can you not and I basking in sunlight,—light compared with which theirs was only twilight,—say that we have obtained this promise?

7. In addition to all this, we have divine adoption: “‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Is this not our blessed state? He loves us with a father’s love, guides us with a father’s care, protects us with a father’s watchfulness, instructs us with a father’s wisdom, bears with us with a father’s patience, longs for us with a father’s longing. We are his tender children, and he is our loving Parent. These are not things which are yet to come, like the second advent of our Lord in millennial splendour. They are promises which we have obtained. These are things common to the worshippers at that altar of which we have a right to eat, and familiar at that table where we daily feed.

8. How unspeakably great is the dignity of a Christian, if we look at it in the light of these blessings! Before we understood it, how we thirsted for it! We thought, when under conviction of sin, could we dare to be among God’s people, it would be enough joy for us if we never had an earthly joy besides. I am afraid that, since there blessings have become ours, we have not prized them as we should; perhaps for this reason we are sometimes brought into the prison-house of doubt, and our faith fails us. Just as we do not know the value of health until we are sick, so some of these blessed privileges are not valued by us until we have to walk in the dark, and sigh and cry after unbroken fellowship amid intermittent snatches of sweet assurance. May the Lord give his people to know the value of these heavenly realities that, in an abiding sense of their calling and their standing, they may act in a way that is worthy of such great dignities!

9. Now you perceive that it is necessary for us to get a good clear view of the possessions of the Christian, because it is from there Paul draws his argument, “Therefore having these promises.” He uses, not the logic of the law, nor the logic of threatening, but the logic of love,—“we have these mercies; we are so unspeakably favoured; we are living in the daily enjoyment of divine indwelling, divine communion, divine covenanting, and divine adoption; therefore”—he takes a step in advance, and says, “let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.” It is clear, then, that the doctrines of grace, resplendent as they are with the privileges of the Christian, do not logically and spontaneously lead to licentiousness, as some have profanely said, but they naturally and instinctively, lawfully and reasonably, lead to holiness of life. The fact that we are absolutely and unconditionally saved by God’s grace, that our standing is secured, that we have become the children of God, is not an incentive to careless walking and to unholy living. Such an argument is the weak invention of malice; unworthy, I had almost said, of the father of lies, for Satan is accustomed to palm off his offspring with a plausible appearance. But the argument is to gratitude in the heart and obedience in the life. What is obedience to God but holiness? True obedience would be holiness in perfection.

10. II. We now proceed to an appropriate inference. THE CHRISTIAN, POSSESSING GLORIOUS PRIVILEGES, IS THEREFORE LABOURING TO BE RID OF OBNOXIOUS EVILS.

11. “Let us cleanse ourselves,” says the apostle. What then? Do they need cleansing? Are they such originally, and by nature, that they must be cleansed? God’s blood-bought, quickened people, and yet need cleansing? Ah, yes, brethren, every one of them, even the apostle Paul himself! Where will you find a warmer spirit, a more zealous heart, a more consecrated man than the apostle Paul? And yet he says, “Let us cleanse ourselves.” It would not surely be presumptuous, on my part, if there should be in this assembly some venerable saint who has been for many years kept in the faith with unblemished garments, and engaged more than many in the service of the Master, in winning souls,—it would not be presumptuous if I should say to him, “Let us cleanse ourselves.” I suppose that, the nearer we get to heaven, the more conscious we shall be of our imperfections. The more light we get, the more we discover our own darkness. What is scarcely accounted sin by some men, will be a grievous defilement to a tender conscience. It is not that we are greater sinners as we grow older, but that we have a finer sensitivity to sin, and see that to be sin which we winked at in the days of our ignorance. Yes, we may say to those whose grey hairs show that they are getting near home, “Let us cleanse ourselves.” And if it is so for the holiest and most eminent of the people of God, how much more is it for us, beloved, common saints, scarcely worthy to be called saints at all, only that we trust we are washed in the precious blood, and are saved through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. “Let us cleanse ourselves.”

12. How pointedly the apostle puts it! I want you to notice the points. The work is personal: “Let us cleanse ourselves.” It would be more in accordance with our tastes to cleanse other people, and attempt a moral reformation among our neighbours. Oh! it is easy to find out other men’s faults, and to bring the whole force of our mind to vehemently denounce them. It is delightful to expose vice and lampoon the follies of the age, with a dash of wit to enliven it, or to preach virtue, with a little of the sugar of scandal to sweeten a painful tale. It highly gratifies some people when they can find a fault in some highly-respected brother; they just pull him to pieces with about the same zest that might be displayed by a crow or an ape. That is their forte, the strength of their genius,—detraction,—pulling to pieces what they could not put together, and attempting to raise themselves by lowering others. But notice the apostle says, “Let us cleanse ourselves.” Oh, that we would all look at home! Oh, that we did more indoor work in this department! Yes, certainly it is our business to tell our brother of his faults; we ought to have done this, but certainly we ought not to have left the other undone, for that is our first business. “Let us cleanse ourselves.” It is all very well to drag the Church of God up to the altar, like some bleeding victim, and there to stab her with the sharpest knife of our criticism, and to say of the modern church that she is not this and she is not that. One might rather ask, “How far do I help to make her what she is? If she is degenerate, how far is that degeneracy the result of my having fallen from the high standing which I ought to have occupied?” We shall all have contributed our quota to the reform of the church when we are ourselves reformed. There can be no better way of promoting general holiness than by increasing in personal holiness. “Let us cleanse ourselves.”

13. There is activity needed, however, in discharging this personal duty. “Let us cleanse ourselves.” It seems to imply that the Christian man, while he is acted on by divine influence, and is cleansed by the Holy Spirit is also an active agent of his own sanctification. He is not like the vessels and the pots of which the apostle speaks, that were cleansed under the law; but man is a free agent, and the holiness which God works in him, is not the pretended holiness of lampstands and altars, but it is the holiness of a responsible being,—a holiness which is not forced on him, but which his whole soul gives consent to. He purges himself. Depend on it, you and I do not grow holy by going to sleep. People are not made to grow in grace as plants grow, of which it is said, “How they grow you do not know.” The Christian is developed by actively seeking growth, by earnestly striving after holiness, and resolutely endeavouring to obtain it.

14. The utmost of our activity ought to be used in cleansing ourselves. Your bad temper,—you will not overcome that by saying, “Well, you know I am quick-tempered; I cannot help it.” But you must help it; you must, if you are a Christian. You have no more right to shake hands with a bad temper than you have to fraternize with the devil. You have got to overcome it, and in the name of God you must. Or if you happen to be of a slothful disposition, you must not say, “Ah, well! you know, I am naturally so.” Yes, what you are naturally we know; you are naturally as bad as you can be; but surely that is not the point we are concerned with,—what you are to become by divine grace. Albeit sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit, yet it is equally true, and this we must always bear in mind, that the Holy Spirit makes us active agents in our own sanctification. In the first work of regeneration, doubtless the soul is passive, because it is dead, and the dead cannot contribute to their own quickening, but, being quickened, he “works in us both to will and to do for his good pleasure.” He does not work in us to sleep and to slumber; his good pleasure is served by us when we are constrained to will and to do; hence the apostle’s argument, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works it in you. He works it in, you work it out; you have to bring out in the outward life what he works in the inner springs of your spiritual being. You are to work it out because he works it in.” Sin is to be driven out of us as the Canaanites were driven out of Canaan by the edge of the sword. Jericho’s walls will come down, but not without being circled for seven days. Weary may be your march, but march you must if you would conquer. How does the apostle put it? “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” and so on; but he represented the conquest as being a conquest gained by wrestling. He declares that he had to fight with his old nature, and the conflict was stern. Although saved by grace, gracious souls make marvellous efforts—efforts beyond their natural powers,—to enter into a state of rest from sin.

15. Nor must we stop short of universality in our purification and cleansing: “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness.” Your eye must not spare, your heart must not pity, one pet sin. Most men would gladly be holy if it were not for some one sin that they vainly flatter themselves to be innoxious and harmless. “From all filthiness let us cleanse ourselves.” Oh Christian, you may very well doubt your right to that name unless all sin is obnoxious to you! You have no right to say, “I will give up pride and vanity,” if you excuse yourself for being covetous. If covetousness is the leak in your vessel, it will sink it quite as surely as pride. If neither pride nor covetousness should be there, yet if you have an unforgiving temperament, and cannot to heartily reconciled to those who offend you, you shall just as soon prove yourself to be reprobate that way as by any other. It must be an interesting sight to see the father of a Jewish family purging out the leaven before the Passover. He lights a candle, you know, and goes to the cupboard under the stairs, or wherever the bread may be kept, and takes care that every bit is put away. He then has every cupboard unlocked, and rummages with a brush in his hand, himself personally, and with a candle, too, to see lest there should be even a crumb of leaven, for he cannot keep the Passover if there is a crumb of leaven in the house. Such should be our earnest searching after all filthiness, to get it all out. Search as best we may, I am afraid something will still be left. There will be some beloved idol hidden away somewhere in the recesses of the mind. The heart will cling to its idols in such a way that we cannot find them all with one investigation; all the more need to search again and again; they must be searched for, and each one of us must be prepared to say,—

 

   The dearest idol I have known,

      Whate’er that idol be,

   Help me to tear it from thy throne,

      And worship only thee.

 

16. The apostle shows the thoroughness of this work by saying, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.” “Filthiness of the flesh.” We may consider this to include all the outside sins so well known and so easily distinguishable, those degrading sins which even morality condemns. Possibly, Christian, although you may guard yourself against these, yet you will be in danger from the next class, namely, sins of the spirit. These are the mothers of the sins of the flesh. Someone killed a wasp in the early spring, and it was said that he had killed a thousand wasps, for that wasp was full of eggs. Sins of the spirit are full of that spawn which, when matured, issues in shameful delinquencies. If you can cleanse yourself from these you will save yourself from dangers you little know, the outward life will be right enough when the inward life is right. I wish we were more concerned about cleansing ourselves from the filthiness of the spirit. I am inclined to think that some men heedlessly pollute their spirits; I mean that they do it wilfully. I am not sure that, when there is a divorce case in the papers, I have any business to read it; yet a great many very good Christian people, who often pray to be delivered from temptation, take pretty good care that they master all its details. When there is a bad story afloat about anyone, I do not know that I should listen to it; yet that curiosity of ours often tempts the devil to tempt us. If there is any ditch-water, or any dirty puddle of water, I do not know that I am bound to get a drink out of it. True, I may be an officer appointed to taste the water; if I am not, I would rather avoid the noxious sip; it would be better to leave it alone. We may all do a great deal of that kind of thing; and, now-a-days, when the press ventilates everything, and it is published all over the world, I am sure that Christians pollute their spirits a great deal more than they have any occasion to do; and besides that, we can turn over a sin, you know, in our mind, until we become so accustomed to it that we do not think it to be a sin. I know that some Christians have managed at last to dupe their conscience into the idea that what they do is not sin in them, but would be sin in other people; that they are so constituted that they require to be tolerated in this point, and to take a little liberty in the other point, so that, generally speaking, although it would be very, very wrong for other people to do the same, they have a kind of spiritual indulgence, such as used to be issued by Rome, and they never doubt that they can sin with impunity. Ah, dear friends, this will not do! “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.”

17. The drift of the argument is this,—if God dwells in us, let us make the house clean for so pure a God. What! indwelling Deity and unclean lusts? Indwelling Godhead, and yet a spirit defiled with evil thoughts? God forbid! Let us cry aloud to the Most High, that in this thing we may be cleansed, so that the temple may be fit for the habitation of the Master. What! does God walk in us, and hold communion with us, and shall we let Belial come in? What concord can we have with Christ? Shall we give ourselves up to be the servants of Mammon, when God has become our Friend, our Companion? It must not be! Divine indwelling and divine communion both require from us personal holiness. Has the Lord entered into a covenant with us that we shall be his people? Then does this not involve a call on us to live like his people, as becomes godliness? Favoured and privileged more than other men to be a special people, separated to God himself, shall there be nothing special about our lives? Shall we not be zealous for good works?

18. Divinely adopted into the family of the Most High, and made heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, what need is there for further argument to constrain us to holiness? You see the “therefore.” It is just this, because we have attained to such choice and special privileges, “therefore”—for this reason, “let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.”

19. III. The text goes on to DESCRIBE THE CHRISTIAN AS AIMING AT A MOST EXALTED POSITION: Perfecting holiness.

20. There was a bitter discussion, at one time, about the possibility of perfection in the flesh; it was a most unhappy thing that this controversy arose at all. Between Mr. Wesley and Mr. Toplady fierce altercations were carried on. Between Mr. Wesley and Mr. Whitfield, I believe the dispute was conducted in a manner honourable to both sides. One admires the Christian love of the two brethren, who both stood to advocate what they believed to be the truth, and maintained, I believe, their own views of truth in a very proper spirit. But, as the dispute was carried on between Mr. Wesley and Mr. Toplady, I do not think it was creditable to the Christianity of either; both of them seem to have lost their temper, and to have forgotten that “the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God.” Hence this doctrine of Christian perfection never seems to me to have had fair consideration at all. It has been rather made an arena for controversy then a subject for deliberate thought.

21.Can a Christian man be perfect in this life?” When this question was asked of me, the other night, I answered, “No.” “Well, but is not the Christian man perfect when he gets to heaven?” “Yes.” “Well, then, he was perfect when he died, was he not?” I thought he must be; I do not understand any change taking place in the solemn article of death, between the moment of departure from this world and the moment of entrance into heaven. “Very well!” was the answer, “but he was in the flesh, then, you know.” So the question turned on being in the flesh, and the answer is obvious. The flesh is inherently sinful, and all its carnal desires are at enmity against God. Perfection at present does not aim at regenerating the old nature; such perfection will be accomplished at the resurrection of the just. But as many as are perfect must control and keep the flesh and its motions completely under dominion. That is our present duty. If the death of the body releases us from sin, the mortification of our members which are on the earth must be our continual aim, until we are delivered from the bondage of corruption. An illustration may explain my meaning. I can imagine a room in your house being perfectly clean, but I cannot imagine it being kept perfectly clean unless the process by which it was first cleansed is frequently repeated. Whether that room is in constant use, or whether it is shut up, after a monastic fashion, it will require to be swept and dusted every day, or it will not be perfectly clean for very long.

22. I remember hearing a man say that he had lived for six years without having sinned in either thought, or word, or deed. I apprehend that he committed a sin then, if he never had done so before, in uttering such a proud, boastful speech. It seemed to me that, if he had known anything about his own heart, he would not have dared to speak so confidently. Were it true of me, I think I should be like a man who had diamonds on him, and dared not tell anyone, for fear the mention of it should prompt someone to rob him of his treasure. I should keep it all to myself. If such a priceless pearl as perfection can belong to any of the saints, and I were the happy possessor, I should be very jealous of it, lest anyone should know it, and seek to deprive me of it. No, no; I cannot believe that the flesh can be perfect, nor, consequently, that a man can be perfect in this flesh. I cannot believe that we shall ever live to see people walking up and down in this world without sin; but I can believe that it is our duty to be perfect, that this law of God means perfection, and that the law as it is in Christ—for there it is, you know,—is binding on the Christian. It is not, as in the hands of Moses, armed with power to justify or to condemn him, for he is not under the law, but, under grace; but it is binding on him as it is in the hands of Christ. The law, since it is in the hands of Christ, is just as glorious, just as perfect, just as complete, as when it was in the hands of Moses; Christ did not come to destroy the law, or to cast it down, but to establish it; and therefore, notwithstanding every point where I fall short of perfection as a creature, I am complete in Christ Jesus. What God requires of me is, that I should be perfect.

23. That I can understand; and the next thing I should know is, that for such perfection I ought to pray. I should not like to pray for anything short of that. I should not like, at the prayer meeting, to hear any of you say, “Lord, bring us halfway towards perfection.” No, no, no; our prayer must be, “Lord, put away all sin; deliver me from it altogether.” And God would not teach you to pray for what he did not intend to give. Your perfection is God’s intention, for he has chosen you to be conformed to the image of his Son; and what is that? Surely the image of his Son is perfection. There were no faults in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to be made like him; and since this is the work and intent of grace, then perfection is the centre of the target at which God’s grace is always aiming. All that he works in us is with this great ultimate end and aim, that he may sanctify us entirely,—spirit, soul, and body, and that he may release us from sin, and make us perfect even as our Father who is in heaven is perfect. Oh, when will it be? When will it be? Why, the very thought of it makes me feel as if I could sing,—

 

   Oh! happy hour, oh! blest abode,

   I shall be near and like my God.

 

What a joy it will be to be just like him, to have no more corruption of the flesh, and no more incitements to sin to destroy the soul’s delight and pleasure in her God! May the Lord hasten on the day! “Perfecting holiness.”

24. Although a young artist, when he starts in his work, dare not hope that he shall come up to Praxiteles in sculpture, or to Apelles in painting, yet, if he were to set before himself anything short of the highest standard, he would not be likely to attain honour as a student. When he begins to work, he studies, not imperfect pictures, but the most perfect models he can find. He studies Raphael; he wants to see what Michael Angelo could do. “Oh!” one says, “what are you trying to paint? Are you trying to be a Raphael? Will you ever paint like Raphael or Michael Angelo? Never.” What do your sneers and jibes mean? Would you have him go and buy some worthless print at a pawnshop, and copy that? What kind of an artist would he make then? The only possibility of his being a good artist is his taking perfect models. So with you, Christian, your model is to be the perfect Saviour, and this is to be what you are to strive for every day, “perfecting holiness.” And for all you may say, “Ah! I shall never come up to that; many failures have proved to me that I shall not reach it”; yet you will do better with that as your ambition than you could have done if you had selected some imperfect model, and had said, “Well, if I am as good as that man, that will suit me.” Nothing but perfection must satisfy you. Beloved, press forward towards it, and may God speed you in the race!

25. IV. Follow me one step further, and observe how THE CHRISTIAN IS PROMPTED BY THE MOST SACRED OF MOTIVES: “Perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

26. A continual sense of God’s presence, a perpetual feeling of our obligations to our Creator, produces a reverent fear of God,—not the slavish, servile fear which brings torment, but the fear which bows the tall archangel in adoration before the throne, the fear which makes the cherub veil his face with his wings while he adores the Lord. Such a constant fear as this is the mainspring of Christian holiness. Not the fear of man; though many people are kept moral by that; not the fear of some Christian man whom you respect, lest he should upbraid you, that fear may be very helpful, in some cases, to keep men from certain sins, but it is a better motive for an infant than for a man. No, your great motive is to be the fear of God. Not the fear of the public eye; this is a very marvellous thing. Have you not often noticed that the very thing which the world calls “bad, shameful, horrible, detestable,” if it does not succeed, would be thought clever, creditable, to be admired, if it succeeded? I believe that there have been scores of venturesome traders who have acquired wealth and gained a reputation for brilliant shrewdness by the very means which we see so much and so properly condemned in certain other large traders now-a-days, the only difference being that one man was fortunate enough to jump over the ditch, while the other man jumped in; both were equally reckless. The world only appreciates success; that is the measure of the world’s morality. The true Christian has a higher system of ethics. He perfects holiness in the fear of God; and if he should be successful, and the world should say, “Well done! well done!” yet, if he felt he had done a wrong thing or an unholy thing, his conscience would prick him. He would be as uneasy as though everyone pointed the finger of scorn at him. I think he would be as restless as Zacchaeus was until he had made a just disposition of his unholy gains.

27. I cannot speak to you as I would wish tonight. But ah! were the hour of my departure come, were I allowed to only utter one sentence, and then must die, I would say to you, members of this church, “Be holy!” Whatever you are, do seek to be holy. And if you will not be holy,—if you have a mind to keep your sins,—do us the favour to lay down your profession. If you will have your sins, and go to hell, you can do it so much better outside the church than you can inside. I cannot see why you need to do Christ the double bad turn to be his enemy, and yet profess to be his friend. Get out of the church, you who are hypocrites! What profit can you get? There are no loaves and fishes that I know of to be had here. If you want them, there are some places where you can have them in abundance. There is no particular honour that I know of in being associated with this church; we are generally held in little enough esteem by the world. Why should you come unless you intend to be true followers of the Crucified? Why, why, deacon, if you love the world, do you pretend to love the church? Judas, Judas, go sell someone else; what need is there to sell Christ, and to be a son of perdition? Oh you who are unholy, you who cheat in business, you who can lie in your daily lives,—there is room enough for you outside of God’s Church, why do you need to come with your filthiness where you are not asked to come, nor wanted? The Word of God calls his saints to come out, and be separate from such; but when they once thrust themselves into the church, what shall we say? We feel like the servants who would gladly uproot the tares, but that we must not do. They must both grow together until the harvest. Yet we would not sleep, but be watchful to prevent the enemy from sowing more tares among the wheat. Be holy, be holy, be holy! You who are servants, be holy in the family. You who are employers, show holiness among your employees. Mothers and fathers, let your children see your piety. Children, may the Holy Spirit make you to be the holiest of children, like the holy child Jesus! And may it be a point with one and all of us that, if we live, we will live for Christ, so that, when we die we may be found in him, prepared to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.

28. May the Lord bless you, dear friends, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.


{a} Reversion: An estate of this kind as granted or transferable to another party, esp. upon the death of the original grantee; hence, the right of succeeding to, or next occupying, an estate, etc. OED.
{b} Seisin: Scots Law. The act of giving possession of feudal property by the delivery of symbols; infeftment. Also, the instrument by which the possession of feudal property is proved. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {2Pe 1}

1. Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ,

Peter was pleased to be able to write those words. There was a time when he had thrice denied his Master, but now he is glad to call himself “a servant of Jesus Christ.” Once he had said, “I do not know the man,” but now he claims that he has been sent out by that glorious Lord to be his apostle,—a sent one,—“a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ.” Probably he had ringing in his ears, at that moment, those blessed words, “Feed my sheep; feed my lambs”; and he was going to do that work again in this second general Epistle of his.

1. To those who have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

These Epistles are not written to everyone. Some readers do not seem to remember this fact. This one is written, says the apostle, “to those who have obtained like precious faith with us.” The faith of the weakest believer in Jesus is the same kind of faith as what was found in Simon Peter, who stands among the very first of the worthies in the College of Apostles. “Like precious faith with us.” Only think of it, you whose faith is of a very trembling kind, which might be well described as “little faith.” Yet yours is “like precious faith” with that of Peter and the rest of the apostles. The tiniest diamond is as truly a diamond as the Koh-i-noor; {c} and the smallest faith, if it is really the work of the Spirit of God, is “like precious faith” with that of the apostles.

2. Grace and peace be multiplied to you—

You have some measure of these choice blessings; may you have a great many times as much! When we go to the multiplication table, we not only multiply by two and by three, but we can multiply by a hundred, we can multiply by ten thousand. Oh, that God would multiply like this to us the grace and the peace that he has already given to us! “Grace and peace be multiplied to you”—

2. Through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

The more we know of God, the more grounds and reasons shall we have for enjoying grace and peace, and the more we know of God and of Jesus our Lord, the more will our enjoyment of grace and peace be multiplied.

3. According as his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who has called us to glory and virtue:

It is through knowing God that we realize that “his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,” for all these things are in him; and as we know him, trust him, love him, and become like him, we also come to possess all these precious things in him.

4. By which are given to us very great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 551, “Faith and Life” 542}

See what is God’s great object in giving us these “very great and precious promises.” It is that we may become morally and spiritually like him,—just and true and holy and righteous, even as God himself is. Oh brothers and sisters, we fall far short of the high example that we find set before us in our gracious God; nevertheless, we press forward towards the goal, strengthened by God himself, who, having begun to make us like himself, will never cease that blessed work until he has fully accomplished it.

5. And besides this, giving all diligence,—

For we cannot expect to go to heaven asleep. We are not taken there against our wills. It is not our will that accomplishes our salvation; but still, it is not accomplished without our will. “Giving diligence,” yes, but more than that, “giving all diligence,”—

5, 6. Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge self-control;

It is ignorance that is intemperate and rash.

6-8. And to self-control perseverance; and to perseverance godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are in you, and abound, they make you so that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What Christian ever wishes to be barren or unfruitful? Is it not the aspiration of every branch in the true vine to produce much fruit?

9. But he who lacks these things is blind, and cannot see afar off,—

He is short-sighted; he has some light, and some physical sight, but he cannot see at a distance; spiritually, he is blind.

9. And has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

It is a great mercy not merely to see men as trees walking, but to have clear spiritual vision. There is a great deal of dust that gets into our eyes, and there is no way of clearing out that dust, and becoming far-sighted, getting a sight that can see to heaven, except by getting that spiritual life which reveals itself in faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.

10. Therefore, brethren, give even more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall;

This is the second time that Peter writes about giving diligence. We are told not to be slothful in business, and this matter of which Peter writes is the most important of all business. To prosper in this world may bring some advantages, but to prosper in heavenly things is infinitely better. “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure,”—that you may be sure of it, and that others may be sure of it too. Do not let it continue to be a subject of question with you, “Am I the Lord’s, or am I not? Am I called by grace, am I chosen by God, or am I not?” Make these things sure beyond all doubt.

11. For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 123, “Particular Election” 118}

You shall get far into the kingdom, you shall know its innermost joys. You shall get near the King, and you shall became like the King; and when you come to die, you shall not be tugged into the harbour like a dismasted, waterlogged vessel, but you shall go in like a fully-rigged ship with all sails set, and so you shall have an abundant entrance into the fair haven of eternal felicity. May God grant us this unspeakable blessedness, so that we shall not “be saved, yet so as by fire,” but that we shall find our heaven begun below, and go from heaven below to heaven above scarcely knowing any change at all! There have been saints who have found the stream of Christ’s love running so strongly, and carrying them down to the great ocean of eternal life, that they have scarcely known where the river and the ocean have met.

12. Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things,—

He who exhorts others to be diligent must himself be diligent, and Peter most appropriately writes, “Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things,”—

12. Though you know them, and are established in the present truth.

We need to preach the truth continually, for even those who know it need to be reminded of it again and again. Truth unpublished is like seed laid up in a florist’s shop, it does not produce any result. We need to have the truth constantly sown in our hearts, and watered by the Holy Spirit so that it may grow, and produce fruit.

13. Yes, I think it is fitting, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by reminding you;

When people are as they should be, it is worth while to stir them up. You do not want to stir up dirty water; but you may stir what is pure and sweet as much as you ever like. And a good fire sometimes becomes a better one by a little stirring up.

14. Knowing that shortly I must put off this tabernacle of mine, even as or Lord Jesus Christ has shown me.

The Lord had told Peter how he was to die. He had told him that he would die by crucifixion: “When you shall be old, you shall stretch out your hands, and another shall gird you, and carry you where you do not want to go.” He knew that the day of his martyrdom was approaching, and so, being divinely warned, he was all the more earnest to preach as a dying man to dying men. I have sometimes heard, as a criticism of that expression of Baxter’s about a dying man preaching to dying men, the remark that it would be better, as living men, to preach to living men. It is quite true that we must throw all our life into our preaching; but, as a rule, living men are never more truly alive than when they are under a due sense that they are also dying men. When we realize that eternity is very near us, and we are consciously drawing near to the great judgment seat of Christ, then all our faculties are fully aroused, and our whole being is bent on doing the Master’s work with the utmost vigour and earnestness.

15. Moreover I will endeavour that you may be able after my decease to always have a reminder of these things.

When we are gone from the earth, we want the truth that we have spoken to live on after us, we want even from our graves to continue to speak for Christ. Therefore it was that Peter kept on repeating the same truth over and over again. He hit this nail on the head many times, and sought to clinch it, so that, when he was gone, it would not move from its place, but would remain firmly fixed.

16. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables,—

He had no retractions to make as he came towards the close of his ministry. He did not have to say that, after all, he had been greatly mistaken; there had been an advance in theology since Jesus Christ had died, and he was sorry to say that he had preached a good deal when he was young which he would like to retract now that he was old. Oh, no! Peter held firmly to what he had previously preached because he knew that it was the very truth of God; and the other apostles had done the same, so that Peter could write, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables,”—

16. When we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty.

Peter was one of the three who saw the Lord Jesus Christ in his glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, and he recalls this.

17, 18. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him on the holy mount.

Peter was not deceived about that matter; at the time, he and his fellow apostles had been overcome by the too-transporting sight, but they all knew that it was no vision, or dream, or delusion, so Peter here speaks very positively concerning it. Why can we not receive the testimony of true witnesses such as Peter and the other apostles who sealed with their life’s blood the witness which they bore to their Lord and his truth?

19. We have also a more sure word of prophecy;

Can anything be more sure than what an eye-witness sees? Well Peter says that this prophetic Book, in which Holy Scripture is stored up, is better for us than if we had even seen Christ himself. If any one thing is more sure than another, it is this blessed book-revelation of the Christ of God.

19, 20. Which you do well that you take heed, as for a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the day-star arises in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.

It is not to be kept by any man to himself. God spoke to Jacob at Bethel, and we read concerning it, in Hosea, “There he spoke with us.” {Ho 12:4} With regard to the children of Israel rejoicing at the Red Sea, we read, in the sixty-sixth Psalm, “There we rejoiced in him.” The promises God made to this believing man or that he makes to all believing men. You remember that text, “He has said, ‘I will never leave you, nor forsake you.’” That promise was first of all spoken to Joshua, yet Paul quoted it, in writing the Epistle to the Hebrews, as if it was spoken to every believer, and so indeed it is. No apostle, no prophet, could hedge up a promise, and say, “This was mine and no one else’s.” It is a common inheritance of all the saints. Every promise is within the boundary of the covenant of grace, and all who are in that covenant are heirs of all the promises, to whomever they were made.

21. For the prophecy did not come in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

This is the foundation of our faith,—that this Book is divinely inspired. Allow no one to make you doubt concerning this matter; for you must give up Christianity itself if you give up the inspiration of this Book. You have nothing else to fall back on but this Book, and your own personal verification of it by the work of the Holy Spirit in your own soul. To tamper with inspiration is to tamper with the heart of true religion. The least doubt on that matter is fatal. I mean what I say, and I know how desperately this mischief is working in these days in which we live. Men used to say, with the famous Chillingworth, “The Bible and the Bible alone is the religion of Protestants”; and so it was once. Yet now it seems to me that anything but the Bible is coming to be their religion; but, as for us, we accept as authoritative nothing that contradicts these truths which are written in this Book. We intend to stand firm by these truths, God helping us; we can do no other, come what may in this evil age. “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”


{c} Koh-i-noor: An Indian diamond, famous for its size and history, which became one of the British Crown jewels on the annexation of the Punjaub in 1849. OED.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

Terms of Use

Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

Spurgeon Sermon Updates

Email me when new sermons are posted:

Privacy Policy

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

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

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390