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  • 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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The Badge Of Godly Manhood

According to Donald S. Whitney:

Fathers, husbands – if you have been negligent in this duty and great privilege, repent by starting family worship today. Again, you may feel awkward about what to say to your wife or you children about starting, but simply say that God has convicted you of your responsibility to lead in family worship and you want to start at a given time today or tonight. Almost certainly your wife will be thrilled more than you can imagine to hear you say that. Your children may or may not be as enthusiastic, but that does not really matter. The less interested they are, the more your family needs family worship. The Lord will help you. He does not call His Spirit-begotten sons to this task without giving them the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish it. The same Father who gave you the Gospel and who drew you to Christ will strengthen you by His Spirit to put on this badge of godly manhood.

The Paternal Character Of God

From the pen of Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847):

[N]ow that the propitiation has been rendered, man is freely invited to rejoice in his God, and God rejoices over man as if man had never fallen. Sin is obliterated by the sacrifice that has been made for it; and now with a clear conscience because now on a consecrated way, might the guiltiest of our world draw nigh and make his requests known unto God. He is now on firm and high vantage ground for prayer; and in the face of Jesus Christ that veil which mantled the aspect of the Divinity is withdrawn. The voice of the intercessor is now added to the voice of the supphant; and while the mercy of the Godhead is all awake to the sinner’s imploring cry, the Truth and the Holiness and the Justice, are all propitiated by the Savior who died for him. This is the mediatorial ground on which the righteous God and His rebellious creatures can commune peaceably and now that the incense of a sweet-smelling savor is between them, He can effuse all the love and liberality of a Father on His redeemed children, and bestow good things on all who ask Him. Forgiveness is yours if you will. The clean heart and the right spirit are yours if you will. Heaven with all its glories is open to receive you. And holiness which is the dress of Heaven is ready to fall, like Elijah’s mantle, from the hand of Him who hath said “Turn unto me and I will pour out my spirit upon you.” Under the economy of the Gospel all the lets and hindrances, which obstructed these generous communications from the upper sanctuary, are now done away. And, kinder far than ever earthly father to his offspring, does the bountiful God who is in Heaven; rejoice in meeting all the wishes, and supplying all the wants of His spiritual family.

Do You Love The Word Of God?

Do you sit under a ministry that works upon your conscience? Are you grateful and humble when the Word of God strikes at the sin in your life? In the excerpt below, Thomas Watson continues this line of questioning:

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV)

Do we love the Word preached? Do we prize it in our judgments? Do we receive it into our hearts? Do we fear the loss of the Word preached more than the loss of peace and trade? Is it the removal of the ark that troubles us?

Again, do we attend to the Word with reverential devotion? When the judge is giving his charge from the bench, all attend. When the Word is preached, the great God is giving us his charge. Do we listen to it as to a matter of life and death? This is a good sign that we love the Word.

Again, do we love the holiness of the Word (Psa. 119:140)? The Word is preached to beat down sin and advance holiness. Do we love it for its spirituality and purity? Many love the Word preached only for its eloquence and notion. They come to a sermon as to a performance (Ezek. 33:31,32) or as to a garden to pick flowers, but not to have their lusts subdued or their hearts bettered. These are like a foolish woman who paints her face but neglects her health.

Again, do we love the convictions of the Word? Do we love the Word when it comes home to our conscience and shoots its arrows of reproof at our sins? It is the minister’s duty sometimes to reprove. He who can speak smooth words in the pulpit, but does not know how to reprove, is like a sword with a fine hilt but without an edge. ‘Rebuke them sharply’ (Titus 2:15). Dip the nail in oil, reprove in love, but strike the nail home. Now Christian, when the Word touches on your sin and says, ‘You are the man’, do you love the reproof? Can you bless God that ‘the sword of the Spirit’ has divided between you and your lusts? This is indeed a sign of grace and shows that you are a lover of the Word. (“A Godly Man is a Lover of the Word!”)

Are We Lovers Of The Word?

Thomas Watson

The Word of God is spiritually pure. By the Word of God, we are convicted. People who love the Word will seek to be a part of a heart-searching ministry. A Christian soul rejoices when God’s Word has pierced his sin. Thomas Watson shares his perspective on this subject in the excerpts below:

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV)

A godly man loves the Word preached, which is a commentary upon the Word written. This day-star has risen in his heart, and ushered in the Sun of righteousness. The Scriptures are the sovereign oils and balsams; the preaching of the Word is the pouring of them out. The Scriptures are the precious spices; the preaching of the Word is the beating of these spices, which causes a wonderful fragrance and delight. The Word preached is ‘the rod of God’s strength’ (Psa. 11O:2) and ‘the breath of his lips’ (Isa. 11:4). What was once said of the city of Thebes, that it was built by the sound of Amphius’ harp, is much more true of soul conversion. It is built by the sound of the gospel harp. Therefore the preaching of the Word is called ‘the power of God to salvation’ (Rom 1:16). By this, Christ is said (now) to speak to us from heaven (Heb. 12:25). This ministry of the Word is to be preferred before the ministry of angels.

A godly man loves the Word preached, partly from the good he has found by it – he has felt the dew fall with this manna – and partly because of God’s institution. The Lord has appointed this ordinance to save him. The king’s image makes the coin current. The stamp of divine authority on the Word preached makes it an instrument conducive to men’s salvation.

  • Application: Let us test by this characteristic whether we are godly: Are we lovers of the Word?

Do we love the Word written? What sums of money the martyrs gave for a few pages of the Bible! Do we make the Word our bosom friend? As Moses often had ‘the rod of God’ in his hand, so we should have ‘the Book of God’ in our hand. When we want direction, do we consult this sacred oracle? When we find corruptions strong, do we make use of this ‘sword of the Spirit’ to hew them down? When we are disconsolate, do we go to this bottle of the water of life for comfort? Then we are lovers of the Word! But alas, how can they who are seldom conversant with the Scriptures say they love them? Their eyes begin to be sore when they look at a Bible. The two testaments are hung up like rusty armor which is seldom or never made use of. The Lord wrote the law with his own finger, but though God took pains to write, men will not take pains to read. They would rather look at a deck of cards than at a Bible. (“A Godly Man is a Lover of the Word!”)

A Godly Man Loves Talking About God’s Word

When you need sound advice, do you consult the Word of God? When evil is strong in the land, do you take up the ‘sword of the Spirit’ to hew it down? When all seems against you, do you drink from the fountain of life? If so, you are a lover of God’s Word! However, most people could not carry on a conversation about the Word of God for five minutes. Thomas Watson explains the need for witnesses who can talk about Christ:

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV)

Never did a man take such delight in a dish that he loved as the prophet did in the Word. And indeed, how can a saint choose but take great pleasure in the Word? All that he ever hopes to be worth is contained in it. Does not a son take pleasure in reading his father’s will and testament, in which he bequeaths his estate to him?

‘Your word I have hidden in my heart’ (Psalm119:11) – as one hides a treasure so that it should not be stolen. The Word is the jewel; the heart is the cabinet where it must

Thomas Watson

be locked up. Many hide the Word in their memory, but not in their heart. And why would David enclose the Word in his heart? ‘That I might not sin against you.’ As a man would carry an antidote about him when he comes near an infected place, so a godly man carries the Word in his heart as a spiritual antidote to preserve him from the infection of sin. Why have so many been poisoned with error, others with moral vice, but because they have not hidden the Word as a holy antidote in their heart?

A wise man will not let his land be taken from him but will defend his title. David looked upon the Word as his land of inheritance: ‘Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart.’ (Psalm 119:111) And do you think he will let his inheritance be wrested out of his hands? A godly man will not only dispute for the Word but die for it: ‘I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God.’ (Rev 6:9)

‘I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.’ (Job. 23:12). ‘The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver.’ (Psalm 119:72). Memorable is the story of King Edward the Sixth. On the day of his coronation, when they presented three swords before him, signifying to him that he was monarch of three kingdoms, the king said, ‘There is still one sword missing.’ On being asked what that was, he answered, ‘The Holy Bible, which is the ‘sword of the Spirit’ and is to be preferred before these ensigns of royalty.’

‘My tongue shall speak of your word.’ (Psalm 119:172). As a covetous man talks of his rich purchase, so a godly man speaks of the Word. What a treasure it is, how full of beauty and sweetness! Those whose mouths the devil has gagged, who never speak of God’s Word, indicate that they never reaped any good from it.

The Word is his compass, by which he sets his life, the balance in which he weighs his actions. He copies out the Word in his daily walk: ‘I have kept the faith’ (2 Tim. 4:7). St Paul kept the doctrine of faith, and lived the life of faith.

Question: Why is a godly man a lover of the Word?

Answer: Because of the excellence of the Word.

The Word written is our pillar of fire to guide us. It shows us what rocks we are to avoid; it is the map by which we sail to the new Jerusalem. The Word is a spiritual mirror through which we may see our own hearts. The mirror of nature, which the heathen had, revealed spots in their lives, but this mirror reveals spots in the imagination; that mirror revealed the spots of their unrighteousness, this reveals the spots of our righteousness. ‘When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died’ (Rom. 7:9). When the Word came like a mirror, all my opinion of self-righteousness died.

The Word of God is a sovereign comfort in distress. While we follow this cloud, the rock follows us. ‘This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.’ (Psalm 119:50). Christ is the fountain of living water; the Word is the golden pipe through which it runs. What can revive at the hour of death but the word of life (Phil. 2:16)? (“A Godly Man is a Lover of the Word!”)

Loving The Written Word Of God

Thomas Watson

We should do our best to meditate on the Bible every day. The true Christian meditates on the truth and holiness of the Word. He endeavors to saturate his mind with the Scriptures. Thomas Watson explains the importance of loving God’s Word:

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. (Psalm 119:97-98 ESV)

Chrysostom compares the Scripture to a garden set with ornaments and flowers. A godly man delights to walk in this garden and sweetly solace himself. He loves every branch and part of the Word: He loves the counseling part of the Word, as it is a directory and rule of life. The Word is the direction sign which points us to our duty. It contains in it things to be believed and practiced. A godly man loves the directions of the Word.

He loves the threatening part of the Word. The Scripture is like the Garden of Eden: as it has a tree of life in it, so it has a flaming sword at its gates. This is the threatening of the Word. It flashes fire in the face of every person who goes on obstinately in wickedness. ‘God will wound the head of His enemies, the hairy scalp of the one who still goes on in his trespasses.’ (Psa. 68:21). The Word gives no indulgence to evil. It will not let a man halt half-way between God and sin. The true mother would not let the child be divided (I Kings 3:26), and God will not have the heart divided. The Word thunders out threats against the very appearance of evil. It is like that flying scroll full of curses (Zech. 5:1). A godly man loves the menaces of the Word. He knows there is love in every threat. God would not have us perish; he therefore mercifully threatens us, so that he may scare us from sin. God’s threats are like the buoy, which shows the rocks in the sea and threatens death to such as come near. The threat is a curbing bit to check us, so that we may not run in full career to hell. There is mercy in every threat.

He loves the consolatory part of the Word – the promises. He goes feeding on these as Samson went on his way eating the honeycomb (Judges 14:8, 9). The promises are all marrow and sweetness. They are reviving to us when we are fainting; they are the conduits of the water of life. ‘In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.’ (Psa. 94:19). The promises were David’s harp to drive away sad thoughts; they were the breast which gave him the milk of divine consolation.

A godly man shows his love to the Word written by diligently reading it. The noble Bereans ‘searched the Scriptures daily’ (Acts 17:11). Apollos was mighty in the Scriptures (Acts 18:12). The Word is our Magna Carta for heaven; we should be daily reading over this charter. The Word shows what truth is and what error is. It is the field where the pearl of price is hidden. How we should dig for this pearl! A godly man’s heart is the library to hold the Word of God; it dwells richly in him (Col. 3:16). It is reported of Melancthon that when he was young, he always carried the Bible with him and read it greedily. The Word has a double work: to teach us and to judge us. Those who will not be taught by the Word shall be judged by the Word. Oh, let us make ourselves familiar with the Scripture! (“A Godly Man is a Lover of the Word!”)

Living Godly Lives In This Present Age

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-15, ESV)

Our culture is enamored by pleasure and the stress free life. If we are unhappy, we simply want to get rid of whatever is the source. “After all,” we tell ourselves, “God doesn’t want me to be unhappy!” I have actually heard these words from men and women walking out on their husband, or wife and children. I often wonder if it is stress or responsibility they are running out on. Our society wants the “good life” without responsibilities.

Some people come to Christ because they think He will prevent problems from coming into their lives. They believe that God will always keep them healthy and prosperous. This assumption is biblically unsound. When the next crisis comes into their lives they think: “I’m a Christian now. This should not be happening to me!” Their incorrect thinking then causes them to drop out of church where they might have learned the Word of God correctly.

Most people who are really successful in their profession, family life or ministry have endurance. They are self-disciplined when they face trials and tribulations. They have confidence that when they walk through fire and flood – God is with them. They will go to God in prayer and ask for wisdom concerning the obstacles they face. (James 1:5) “Wisdom” is the right use of knowledge. In the case of a Christian, it is the spiritual perception given by God.

The providence of God has designed every circumstance that comes into your life. You may know the general truths of life in Christ, but the truth of God’s providential care is one of the most comforting to the believer. It requires, however, that you put on humility (You are not the most special person in the universe!), face your problems, cast off self-sufficiency, and ask God for the wisdom to deal appropriately with your situation.

No where in the Bible does it say that the Christian will always live in health, wealth and good times. The providential trials that face us, however, are designed to make us grow in maturity to become more like Christ. Our lives may be stressful, but we are not alone. Jesus reminds us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Do You Have A Holy Respect Towards God?

Excerpts from a sermon by S. Michael Durham:

The world will always steer you away from Calvary. It will suggest an easier path than a straight one; a broad gate rather than a narrow gate. It will preach a much easier road to God than the strait road. It offers you a broad gate rather than a narrow gate that requires you to put off all things; for the gate is so narrow that you can take nothing with you; you must unload everything.

You may be tempted to follow the easy way, but Jesus warned it would lead to everlasting destruction. I can’t say it more strongly; listen! You will perish! The world’s way leads to everlasting destruction! . . . .

Friend, whatever you may gain by following the ungodly is going to cost you much more when you stand before the Lord. Some of you are separated from God today and will not be saved because you will not separate yourself from the world. You want to please a few pagan friends, ungodly family members, and some blasphemers – you don’t want their rejection. You’re afraid of them. Let me ask you a question: can your friends or ungodly family members stop your beating heart and send you to hell? Of course they can’t. God can. And He will. God is gracious and He is magnanimous in His offer of salvation – it is large, infinite, in scope and degree. But it is narrow in how you receive it. You must come His way.

Beware of the world’s ways to God. How sad it is to see churches become so worldly and call it worship. Worldliness in the name of worship! Today, grunge is in – and glory is out. Looseness has replaced dignity; casualness has prevailed over carefulness. Sloppiness reigns over vigilance, and entertainment has unseated biblical joy so the world doesn’t even know the difference anymore. “As long as we’re having fun, isn’t that what it’s all about?” The more like the pagans we become, the more evangelistic we think we are.

That is what is happening, friends, even in our own city. New churches are cropping up everywhere almost monthly, all based on an idea of being like the world so we can reach the world. . . . The more a sinner can feel comfortable and enjoy the service, the better we feel about our worship services. Please don’t misunderstand me – there’s nothing holy about dressing up. It’s not more righteous to wear a dress than blue jeans. There’s no more godliness in a tie than an open collar; cuff links than T-shirts. It’s all the same. I do wonder, though, that if our casual dress is indicative of a casual heart toward God? I’m not judging holiness by clothing. . . .

Do you know what godliness really is? It is a prevailing attitude that believes God is to be so distinguished from everything. It is an attitude of mind and heart that says it’s my business to show the world that my God is not like all of us; He is so high and holy, so lifted up, that nothing or no one, not even the godliest of saints, is really like Him. It honors Him by approaching Him with godly fear and holy respect. It is to treat Him better than you treat anyone else. Godliness is to be careful about your heart! (“The Danger of Familiarity With God”)

Thomas Watson: God And Holiness

Thomas Watson

In the words of Thomas Watson:

God is holy intrinsically. He is holy in his nature; his very being is made up of holiness, as light is of the essence of the sun. He is holy in his Word. The Word bears a stamp of his holiness upon it, as the wax bears an impression of the seal. ‘Thy Word is very pure.’ Psa cxix 140. It is compared to silver refined seven times. Psa xii 6. Every line in the Word breathes sanctity, it encourages nothing but holiness. God is holy in his operations. All he does is holy; he cannot act but like himself; he can no more do an unrighteous action than the sun can darken. ‘The Lord is holy in all his works,’ Psa cxlv 17.

God is holy primarily. He is the original and pattern of holiness. Holiness began with him who is the Ancient of Days.

God is holy efficiently. He is the cause of all that is holiness in others. ‘Every good and perfect gift comes from above.’ James i 17. He made the angels holy. He infused all holiness into Christ’s human nature. All the holiness we have is but a crystal stream from this fountain. We borrow all our holiness from God. As the lights of the sanctuary were lighted from the middle lamp, so all the holiness of others is a lamp lighted from heaven. ‘I am the Lord which sanctify you.’ Lev xx 8. God is not only a pattern of holiness, but he is a principle of holiness: his spring feeds all our cisterns, he drops his holy oil of grace upon us.

God is holy transcendently. ‘There is none holy as the Lord.’ I Sam ii 2. No angel in heaven can take the just dimensions of God’s holiness. The highest seraphim is too low of stature to measure these pyramids; holiness in God is far above holiness in saints or angels. (A Body of Divinity)

The Practice Of Godly Discernment

Most of us would very much like to see God’s hand write a special message to us in the clouds so that we might know God’s providential guidance and will for our own actions. The truly serious Christian wants God to lead in each step before him, but very often he is faulty in his discernment of God’s Will.

How is such discernment to be found? It is to found by listening to the voice of God in His Word; the Bible. In the Scriptures, you will find the mind and will of God through the careful reading and hearing of His Word. God makes it our duty to study and live by His Word because it will be to our good and to His Glory. Therefore, discerning the Will of God involves acting in accordance with the Bible’s teachings to test the circumstances and then follow the godly path.

Suppose you have some business pending, whether secular or spiritual (Personally, I believe it is correct to look at the secular as only a subheading of the spiritual because all the areas of life are under God.): that you do not know the correct course of action to take. What you want is to know the Will of God. To do this, you use your understanding and judgment to apply God’s Word to your situation to decide the proper course of action. We do this by reading the Bible; serious contemplation of the matter; seeking the advice of godly friends; and earnest prayer to God to grant us understanding. We must also do all we are able to submit our own pride to the wisdom of the Lord.

Are you seeking knowledge of God’s Will by mysterious impulses or impressions upon your mind? I would suggest to you that this is not safe. Should we look for marks or signs indicating the way we should go? I do not deny that sometimes in His mercy God may offer such indications of His guidance. However, we must not make such things our rule of discernment. The mind is often inclined to see what we want it to see. Our own inclinations may overrule good sense, prudence, and our knowledge of the Scriptures.

Christian, do not use the Bible as a fortune-telling book. In troublesome times, opening the Bible carelessly and allowing your eyes to gaze as they will upon some random verse of Scripture and then ascribing to it some meaning which fits your fancy is ridiculous. This is an abuse of the Word of God. Do not forsake the Bible for imagination, impressions, or impulses. Do you consider yourself a spiritual giant who can easily discern the divine from the diabolical? Such lofty opinions of yourself will make you dependent upon delusions and self-deception.

The Holy Spirit will lead us through our minds; that our thoughts will be directed to the Word of God. Saturated in the truth of the Scriptures, we may then confidently begin to apply God’s principles to our circumstances. This is the practice of godly discernment.

The Prideful Pastor

Richard Baxter speaks here of pastors who hold their dignity and intellect in too high esteem. They consider themselves (though they would never admit it) the final arbiter of what God wants of the church and its people. Baxter writes:

[Pastors beware that] so high are our spirits, that when it becomes a duty to any man to reprove or contradict us, we are commonly impatient both of the matter and of the manner. We love the man that will say as we say, and be of our opinion, and promote our reputation, though he is less worthy of our love in other respects; but he is ungrateful to us that contradicts us, and differs from us, and that deals plainly with us in our miscarriages, and telleth us of our faults!” Especially in the management of our public arguings, where the eye of the world is upon us, we can scarcely endure any contradiction or plain dealing. I know that railing language is to be abhorred, and that we should be as tender of each other’s reputation as our fidelity to the truth will permit: but our pride makes too many of us to think all men condemn us that do not admire us, yea, and admire all that we say, and submit their judgments to our most palpable mistakes! We are so tender, that no man can touch us scarcely but we are hurt; and so stout and high-minded, that a man can scarcely speak to us . . . And a man that is not versed in complimenting, and skilled in flattery above the vulgar rate, can scarcely tell how to handle them so observantly, and fit their expectations at every turn, but there will be some word or some neglect which their high spirits will fasten, and take as injurious to their honor: so that a plain countryman that speaks as he thinks must have nothing to do with them, unless he will be esteemed guilty of dishonoring them.

I confess I have often wondered at it, that this most heinous sin should be made so light of, and thought so consistent with a holy frame of heart and life, when far lesser sins are by ourselves proclaimed to be so damnable in our people! And more have I wondered to see the difference between ungodly sinners and godly preachers in this respect. When we speak to drunkards, worldlings, or any ignorant, unconverted men, we disgrace them as in that condition to the utmost, and lay it on as plainly as we can speak, and tell them of their sin, and shame, and misery: and we expect, not only that they should bear all patiently, but take all thankfully, and we have good reasons for all this; and most that I deal with do take it patiently; and many gross sinners will commend the closest preachers most, and will say that they care not for hearing a man that will not tell them plainly of their sins. But if we speak to a godly minister against his errors or any sin – if we honor them and reverence them, and speak as smoothly as we are able to speak – yea, if we mix commendations with our contradictions or reproofs, if the applause be not apparently predominant, so as to drown all the force of the reproof or confutation, and if it be not more an applause than a reprehension, they take it as an injury almost insufferable. . . .

Brethren, I know this is a sad and harsh confession; but that all this should be so among us, should be more grievous to us than to be told of it. Could this nakedness be hid, I should not have disclosed it, “We have dishonored ourselves by idolizing our honor” at least so openly in the view of all. But, alas! It is long ago open in the eyes of the world: we print our shame, and preach our shame, and tell it unto all. Some will think that I speak over charitably to call such persons godly men, in whom so great a sin doth so much prevail. I know where it is indeed predominant, and not hated, bewailed, and mortified in the man, there can be no true godliness; and I leave every man to a cautious jealousy and search of his own heart. But if all are graceless that are guilty of any, or many, or most of the aforementioned discoveries of pride, the Lord be merciful to the ministers of this land, and give us quickly another spirit; for grace is a rarer thing than most of us have supposed it to be. (From the book: The Reformed Pastor)

The Practice Of Piety

Isaac Barrow

Quoting Isaac Barrow (1630-1677):

“It is a fair adornment of a man and a great convenience both to himself and to all those with whom he converses and deals, to act uprightly, uniformly, and consistently. The practice of piety frees a man from interior distraction and from irresolution in his mind, from duplicity or inconstancy in his character, and from confusion in his proceedings, and consequently securing for others freedom from deception and disappointment in their transactions with him.” (Godliness is Profitable for All Things by Isaac Barrow)

Apart From Godliness – All Religion Is Utterly Vain!

Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon writes the article below based on Joel 2:13:

“Rend your heart—and not your garments.” (Joel 2:13)

Garment-rending and other external signs of religious emotion, are easily manifested, and are frequently hypocritical. True repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Unsaved men will attend to the most multiplied and minute religious ceremonies and regulations—for such things are pleasing to their flesh. But true godliness is too humbling, too heart-searching, too spiritual for the tastes of carnal men! They prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly. External religious rituals are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up. But they are ultimately delusive, for at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than religious ceremonies and rituals to lean upon.

Apart from vital godliness—all religion is utterly vain! When offered without a sincere heart, every form of religious worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of God!

Heart-rending is divinely wrought—and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form—but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked of—but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating and sin-purging! But also, it is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proud unhumbled souls are unable to receive! This heart-rending distinctly belongs to the elect of God—and to them alone.

The text commands us to rend our hearts—but they are naturally as hard as marble! How then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary! A dying Savior’s voice rent the rocks once—and it is just as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us effectually hear the death-cries of Jesus—and our hearts shall be rent!

The Pursuit Of A Godly Heart

John MacArthur

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . (1 Timothy 6)

The man of God is known for what he flees from and for what he pursues. What then is the pursuit of a godly heart? John MacArthur writes:

This is a life-long pursuit. Proverbs 15:9 says, “The Lord loves them that pursue righteousness.” Not success, not fame, not size, not popularity, not esteem, not reputation. We are running after righteousness. And six words are here, righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Righteousness is doing right on the outside. We pursue right conduct. Godliness…is right on the inside. That’s motivation. That’s the heart. Do you pursue what’s right on the outside, and you cultivate what’s right on the inside. Your motives, your desires, your heart, then your behavior.

You pursue faith. Actually, this means confident trust in God for everything. You literally put your life and ministry and everything you have in God’s hands, and you trust Him. You live under His glorious, beneficent, gracious sovereignty. You pursue love. What is that? Selflessness. Willful sacrifice…you’re characterized by perseverance. That is endurance in trial and difficulty and trouble and persecution and suffering. And the word gentleness is actually the word meekness or humility. I mean it couldn’t be any more clear. Are you a man of God? You are if, having been called, you are faithful to the proclamation of the Word of God, and all the while you are running as fast as you can away from the love of money and all the vices that go with it. And you are running as fast as you can toward these things: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and humility. . . .

This is the pursuit of a godly heart. This is a pursuit of a godly righteous life. In Psalm 50 verses 16 and 17 it says, “To the wicked God says, ‘What right have you to tell of My statutes?'” To a wicked man, God says, “Who do you think you are opening your mouth and speaking My Word? What right have you…he says…to take My covenant into your mouth, for you hate discipline, and you cast My Words behind you.” That’s some strong indictment, isn’t it? “You stand up, and you speak of My statutes? You take My covenant? You talk about My gracious provision for salvation? You put those words in your mouth? And you hate discipline? And you cast My Words behind you? You’re wicked…God says.”

Psalm 101:6 says, “He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me. He who practices deceit shall not.” So the man of God is known by what he flees from and what he follows after. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “I beat my body to bring it into subjection.” Literally uses the word translated buffet in the English, but it means to strike with a fist in the face. I give a knockout punch to my body to bring it into subjection, literally to knock it out. To KO my human desire, lest in preaching to others I myself would be disqualified. I have to…I have to be a running man. I have to pursue these things…And people will feel the power of a godly life. Preaching puts the nails of truth in, but example pounds them deep…John Owen wrote, “A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouth of the public, but what he is in secret before Almighty God, that he is and no more. No more.” (“Identifying a Man of God”)

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