05 November 2006

Moralism fosters immorality

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
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 this—that 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 house—at 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."

C. H. Spurgeon


21 comments:

candyinsierras said...

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.

Oh my goodness. In light of recent events, isn't this so true? I think of the line...me thinketh he doth protest too much..(paraphrased or butchered, take your pick)

no2salvation-by-process said...

And the 'moral' of the story is!!??

n2sbp

Lamblion said...

As is usually the case with Spurgeon, the moral of the story is --

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." Galatians 6:15

For as Spurgeon concluded in this week's dose --

"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 house—AT 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."

Lamblion
http://www.lamblion.net

no2salvation-by-process said...

"For if any man is in Christ he is a new creature."

Spot on lamblion, but can you tell why most of mainstream 'Christianity' doesn't teach this, but rather a message of sanctification and/or salvation by process - self-improvement - daily cleansing and getting more Jesus (I never could work that one out).

In a sentence: They contradict everything you've said.

n2sbp

Lamblion said...

no2salvation-by-process stated --

"Spot on lamblion, but can you tell why most of mainstream Christianity doesn't teach this..."

Yes, I can explain it (and I am sure you can, too), but I won't bother to do so here. -:)

2 Corinthians 4:4

Lamblion
http://www.lamblion.net

sk said...

My goodness, Spurgeon is both dead on in this (as usual), but there is nothing here to say sanctification is not also a process involving effort. There is definitive, passive sanctification and there is progressive, active sanctification. The difference that confuses is not between those two things but it's between the state prior to regeneration and the state after regeneration.

After regeneration you aren't going around thinking "I can't do this or that because it's against the law of God" you are more in the mode of "I don't want to sin because I'm alive to the battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil." I.e. I'm literally allowed to sin or do anything I like, but it's not my (new) nature to like to sin. And if I fall into it, I recognize it for what it is, and I get out. The unregenerate not only fall into it, but they can't recognize it for what it is and never desire to get out of it.

Jesus tells us to do this and this and this over and over. This is effort in sanctification. He gives us the power to do it, but we have to do it. But it's something we desire to do, it's not something that is like a chain about our neck that we obey against our will.

It's important to, like Paul, say EVERYTHING IS ALLOWED ME. But not everything is good for me. This is radical, and the moralists and legalists will forever not grasp it and think it dangerous. They think the very Word of God is dangerous.

The law is no longer outside you. It is now in your heart. It's not what you 'do', it's what you are. This is the difference.

sk said...

A practial note to my comment above:

Much of acting from God's will rather than self-will (which is what having the law of God in one's heart is about) involves simply waiting. Waiting on the lord. That pregnant phrase in Scripture. God's will is "descent of the dove" type of will action. It's not self-will effort and doing in the way we normally think of doing. But it requires really, practically speaking, a pause and reflection in the moment, in the midst of an event. To allow God's will to manifest in us. Really this is what is needed once you DO have ability to act from God's will (you are regenerated by God).

Think of this: think about such a trivial and simple example as when we write a heated comment on the internet and quickly hit 'send.' Then we read it later and see how intemperate and crazy it is and wish we wouldn't have said it like that. Now think how much difference is put into the process if we just pause even for a slight moment before sending, and what happens? We delete, edit, clean up; we see the intemperate nature of what we've written and desire to NOT send it. This sounds like a trivial example, but it's not. This is waiting and literally allowing God's will to act in us. God's will can't act in us if we don't pause and reflect...if we don't wait on the Lord.

no2salvation-by-process said...

SK,

"but there is nothing here to say sanctification is not also a process involving effort."

Exactly, there is nothing here to say it, because there isn't anything to say.

When something or someone is made Holy it or he/she is sanctified - immediately - instantaneously. When a believing husband's unbelieving wife is happy to dwell with her believing husband she is sanctified - period. There is no effort on his part and certainly none on her part.

Back to 'drawing board' for you SK and learn that His yoke is light. Our effort goes into us growing in Grace and Faith, our Faith, not the Lord's faith which we are given when Born Again - new creatures as Lamblion quoted for you.

n2sbp

sk said...

no2salvation-by-process,

Your name suggests you have a thing about this subject that will make you a pit-bull, but, and I don't know if you are confusing the two, salvation is not the question here. salvation is like justification, a one time done deal you can't lose even if you make no efforts in the battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

But rather than make you rely on my word I'd suggest you pick up a good Reformed systematic theology (Berkhof or Grudem will suffice) and read up on sanctification. Grudem especially goes into the passive and active aspects of sanctification, but Berkhof as well. Packer is good in his Concise Theology as well. He talks of God-reliant effort.

Just entertain the possibility that you may be missing something, without having to nuke the parts of biblical doctrine you currently have right.

no2salvation-by-process said...

SK,

You have completely ignored what I have written about sanctification.

Salvation, Justification, Sanctification it's all the same thing. We are saved through Jesus Christ, we are justified through Jesus Christ and we are made Holy - sanctified through Jesus Christ.

We are made Holy at baptism - Sanctified with the indwelling of The Holy Spirit. You cannot be more Holy or more sanctified than that - it's impossible.

As for your theologians, well they're a dime a dozen. Why, as a Spirit led Son of God would I have any use for them? Don't make me laugh SK.

You'll have to do better than that.

n2sbp

Steve said...

n2sbp said: "We are made Holy at baptism - Sanctified with the indwelling of The Holy Spirit. You cannot be more Holy or more sanctified than that - it's impossible."

If it's true that salvation, justification, and sanctification are all the same thing, and if what you said above is true, then how do you deal with the reality that we as believers are still capable of committing sin?

Before you so quickly claim justification and sanctification to be the same, you would do well to look at the actual definitions of those terms and note how Scripture distinguishes between the two.

donsands said...

"the Cross of ignominious note"

And it's this Cross that we glory in. Gal. 6:14

To the old rugged Cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He'll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I'll share.

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

sk said...

>As for your theologians, well they're a dime a dozen.

If that were true I would have alot more money in the bank right now.

>Why, as a Spirit led Son of God would I have any use for them?

This is a stronger statement. Conversion requires understanding of what the Bible itself calls sound doctrine. This can be acquired from the Bible itself, no doubt. The Bible though does say also that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is teaching, so, with discernment one can also use teachers to understand sound, biblical doctrine; but there is a strength in your statement nevertheless, and we must ultimately derive our sound doctrine from the Bible itself.

You're being a theologian/teacher yourself when you attempt to influence others on points of doctrine. Your worth and a Berkhof's worth, will always be judged by the Word of God. Berkhof may have been vetted more than you...

no2salvation-by-process said...

To Steve.

"If it's true that salvation, justification, and sanctification are all the same thing."

There are no 'if's' about it.

"And if what you said above is true."

It's true - 100%

"Then how do you deal with the reality that we as believers are still capable of committing sin?"

I don't deal with anything, The Lord has dealt with all your sins, all of mankind's sins, past present and future. All of them and all means all.

We, The New Creatures don't sin only our bodies of sin, sin. We are now two people in one body and Paul supports that in Romans 7. Read it and see.

1 John 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Every man that keeps his hope in Jesus Christ purifies himself even as pure as The Lord Himself - sinless.

1 John 3:6 "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him."

Either you are Born Again - saved - not a sinner, or you are not saved and don't know Jesus Christ and are sinners. Sinners cannot enter The Kingdom of God - it's impossible.

1 John 3:9 "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."

Sons of God cannot sin and don't sin because His seed remains in them and because His seed remains in them they are new creatures - new beings. The old man died in the watery grave, and the old man was the sinner. I hope for your sake your old man is dead.

"Before you so quickly claim justification and sanctification to be the same."

I am not claiming anything I am telling you straight. If you need to justify yourself then you must be under some kind of condemnation, and there is no further condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

Now Steve, do you walk after the Spirit or after the flesh? Are you saved or are you a sinner?

"You would do well to look at the actual definitions of those terms and note how Scripture distinguishes between the two."

No need, whatever definitions you think are there, are only going to cause contradictions to what the Scriptures say above. There are no contradictions in The Word of God.
By all means quote them, but they won't stand up once we look at the original Greek and/or take them in context if that's necessary.

n2sbp

Phil Johnson said...

No2:

Enough.

If you want to teach this peculiar view, you can take it to your own blog. Your comments are barely (and only tangentially) related to the actual topic of this post. You have only one subject you want to post on and so far you have tried to steer the discussion in several threads to that subject. Future comments like these from you will be automaticaslly deemed violations of rules 3 and 4.

JSB said...

Phil (or anyone!), isn't this sentiment of No. 2--

"We, The New Creatures don't sin only our bodies of sin, sin."

--pure Gnosticism?

donsands said...

There are those who teach this. The flesh sins, but not me. Anthony Evans does. He's not a gnostic.

I disagree. I believe we do sin, and it's me. However, the precious blood of Christ has paid the debt of all my sins. And He has imputed His righteousness to me.

I am forgiven and righteous by His grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone, so says the Holy Writ alone, and for the glory of our Savior and His Father alone.

Galatians 6:14.

Rick Potter said...

In the past I would have struggled with that last paragraph. But, as we study things like sanctification, it's important to remember the "already/not yet" scheme.

I like the way John Murray put it in "Redemption Accomplished and Applied"

"Respecting this freedom from the dominion of sin, this victory over the power of sin, it is likewise to be recognized that it is not achieved by a process, nor by our striving or working to that end. It is achieved once for all by union with Christ and the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit. Perfectionists are right when they insist that this victory is not achieved by us nor by working or striving or labouring; they are correct in maintaining that it is a momentary act realized by faith. But they also make three radical mistakes, mistakes which distort their whole construction of sanctification.
(1) They fail to recognize that this victory is the possession of every one who is born again and effectually called.
(2) They construe the victory as a blessing separable from the state of justification.
(3) They represent it as something very different from what the scripture represents it to be - they portray it as a freedom from sinning or freedom from conscious sin. It is wrong to use these texts to support any other view of the victory entailed than that which the scripture teaches it to be, namely, the radical breach with the power and love of sin which is necessarily the possession of every one who has been united to Christ. Union with Christ is union with him in the efficacy of his death and in the virtue of his resurrection - he who thus died and rose again with Christ is freed from sin, and sin will not exercise dominion." (Page 142, 143)

no2salvation-by-process said...

Mr Johnson,

When are you going to say 'enough' to the others, or is equitable not a word in your vocabulary and mindset?

n2sbp

Phil Johnson said...

No2:

Tell you what: I'll moderate the blog; you try to follow the rules. I've cut you slack, but you are about to get tagged as a full-time troll. If the people who answered your comment had been routinely thumbing their noses at the blogrules, or if one of them seemed to have an agenda to hijack all the threads and turn them to a pet subject, I would warn them, too. For the moment, the warning applies chiefly to you, because you are the one who has been making yourself hyper-annoying.

But to all others, I'll remind you of the rule not to feed the troll. K?

REM said...

Phil,
Colossians 3:23 and Galatians 3:19 come to mind as I read this post. Thanks for this great reminder from Spurgeon (Is it lowbrow to refer to him as Chuck? Did Spurgeon's friends ever call him that?).