• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Do Christians Sin?

Preached by Charles H. Spurgeon:

Saints are, without exception, sinners still. Sinner is my name, sinner my nature, but thanks be to him who came to save sinners, I am a sinner saved!

But the Christian no longer loves sin; it is the object of his sternest horror; he no longer regards it as a mere trifle, plays with it, or talks of it with unconcern. He looks upon it as a deadly serpent, whose very shadow is to be avoided. He would no more venture voluntarily to put its cup to his lip, than a man would drink poison who had once almost lost his life through it.

Sin is dejected in the Christian’s heart, though it is not ejected. Sin may enter the heart, and fight for dominion, but it cannot sit upon the throne. It haunts the town of Mansoul, and lurks in dens and corners to do mischief, but it is no longer honored in the streets, nor pampered in the palace. The head and the hands of Dagon are broken, although the stump remains. . . .

The sinner can sit down by the month together, and think over the iniquity that he means to perpetrate, until he gets his plans well organized and has matured his project; but the Christian cannot do this. He may put the sin into his mouth and swallow it in a moment, but he cannot continue to roll it under his tongue. He who can carefully arrange and plot a transgression is still a true child of the old serpent. . . .

The retrospect of sin to a converted man is nothing but blackness and darkness in his heart. The Christian, unlike other men, never finds enjoyment in his sin; he is out of his element in it. Conscience pricks him; he cannot, even if he would, sin like others. There is a refined taste within him, which all the while revolts at the apparently dainty morsel of sin. The finger of grace, with its secret and mysterious touch, turns all the honey of sin into gall, and all the sweetness of sin into wormwood.

If the Christian shall sin, and sin I grant he will, yet it shall always be with half-heartedness; still he clings to the right. The evil that he desires not to do, he does; while the good that he would do, he fails to perform. You will notice too, how different the Christian is as to the habit of sin. The ungodly man is frequent in overt deeds of rebellion, but the Christian, at least in open acts of crime and folly, rather falls into them, than abides in them. . . . You may drive the swine and the sheep together side by side; they come to some mire, and they both fall into it, and both stain themselves; but you soon detect the difference in nature between them, for while the swine lies and wallows with intense gusto, the sheep is up again, escaping as soon as possible from the filth. So with the Christian; he falls, God knows how many times, but he rises up again — it is not his nature to lie in sin; he abhors himself that ever he should fall to the ground at all: while the ungodly goes on in his wicked way until sin becomes a habit, and habit like an iron net has entangled him in its meshes. (“The Sinner’s Advocate”)

Why Does God Defer to Answer Prayers?

Prayer has the power to achieve the impossible. Yet, many do not use it regularly, or don’t believe in its efficiency as our Christian fathers certainly did. This is certainly a primary reason why our churches are so cold and, when we do pray, we feel as if our prayers are not penetrating the floor of heaven. John Knox continues this line of thought:

[S]ometimes God defers or prolongs to grant our petitions, for the exercise and trial of our faith, and not that he sleeps or is absent from us at any time, but that with more gladness we might receive that which, with long expectation, we have abidden [awaited]; that thereby we, assured of his eternal providence (so far as the infirmity of our corrupt and most weak nature will permit), doubt not but that his merciful hand shall relieve us in most urgent necessity and extreme tribulation. Therefore, such men as teach us that it is not necessarily required that we understand what we pray, because God knows what we need, would also teach us that we neither honor God, nor yet refer or give unto him thanks for benefits received. For how shall we honor and praise him, whose goodness and liberality we know not? And how shall we know, unless we receive and sometimes have experience? And how shall we know that we have received, unless we know verily what we have asked?

The second thing to be observed in perfect prayer is, that standing in the presence of God, we are found such as bear reverence to his holy law; earnestly repenting [of] our past iniquities, and intending to lead a new life; for otherwise all our prayers are in vain, as it is written, “Whoso withdraweth his ear that he may not hear the law of God, his prayer shall be abominable” (Prov. 28:9). Likewise Isaiah and Jeremiah says thus: “You shall multiply your prayers, and I shall not hear, because your hands are full of blood:” that is, of all cruelty and mischievous works (Isa. 1:15; cf. Jer. 11:14; 14:12). Also the Spirit of God appears by the mouth of the blind (whom Jesus Christ illuminated), by these words, “We know that God heareth not sinners” (John 9:31): that is, such as do glory and continue in iniquity. So that of necessity, true repentance must needs be had, and go before perfect prayer, or sincere invocation of God’s name. (“A Treatise on Prayer, or, a Confession, and Declaration of Prayers”)

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