posted by Phil Johnson
The PyroManiacs devote space at the beginning of each week to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from "How God Condemned Sin," a sermon preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, on the evening of May 8th, 1870.
t has been thought that surely law might make men love holiness, albeit experience and observation prove that it never has that effect.
Very often men have needed nothing more than the knowledge of sin to enamour them of it, and they have loved sin all the better for knowing it to be sin. The apostle Paul tells us that he had not known lust if the law had not said, "Thou shalt not covet."
There was a citizen of Gaunt who had never been outside the city walls. For some reason or other the magistrate passed an order that he should not go outside. Strange to tell, up to the moment that the command had passed, the man had been perfectly easy, and never thought of passing the line, but as soon as ever he was forbidden to do it, he pined, and sickened, and even died moaning over the restriction. If a man sees a thing to be law, he wants to break that law.
Our nature is so evil, that forbid us to do a thing, and at once we want to do the thing that is forbidden, and in many minds the principle of law instead of leading to purity has even offered opportunities for greater impurity.
Besides, although you may point out the way of uprightness to a man, and tell him what is right and what is wrong with all the wisdom and force of counsel and caution, unless you can give him a heart to choose the right, and a heart to love the true, you have not done much for him.
This is just the province of law. It can write out its precepts on the brazen tablets, and it can brandish its fiery sword, and say, "Do this or else be punished," but man, carnal man, only wraps himself the more closely in his self-conceit, and perseveres the more doggedly in his obstinate rebellion. He defies God, defers to his own reprobate mind, goes on in sin, and waxes worse and worse, knowing the judgment threatened, yet committing the transgressions prohibited, and taking pleasure in those that do such things, as his boon companions.
Because of the malignity, as well as the infirmity of our flesh, the mere principle of law will never do anything to purify or ennoble our moral nature. It has been tried by eminent teachers and social reformers.
Dr. Chalmers tells us that in his early ministry, he used to preach morality, and nothing but morality, till, he said, he had hardly a sober or an honest man left in the parish. The preaching of morality seemed to lead to immorality.
Something more is wanted than merely to din into men's ears what they ought to be, and what they ought to do. Something is wanted more effectually to renovate the heart and move the springs of action. The water is nought, and if you make it flow it is bitter. You want an ingredient to be cast into it that will heal its poison springs, and make them sweet and clear.
God's great plan was thisthat inasmuch as His justice could not overlook sin, and sin must be punished, Jesus Christ should come and take the sin of His people upon Himself, and upon the accursed tree, the Cross of ignominious note, should suffer what was due on our behalf. And that through His sufferings the infinite love of God should stream forth without any contravention of His Infinite Justice. This is what God did.
But how comes the second necessity to be supplied? How does the sacrifice of Christ tend from now on to make such a man pure in heart, and produce in his very soul an aversion and a total abhorrence of sin?
This is not difficult to apprehend if you will give it a little quiet consideration. When the Holy Spirit comes with power into a man's heart, and renews his nature (oh, matchless miracle!)a miracle that has been worked many times in this houseat that moment the unhallowed and the impure are made chaste. The dishonest are made honest, and the ungodly are made to love God"for if any man is in Christ he is a new creature."