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    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 Eternal Sufficiency of the Blood of Christ

Christ is our Mediator through His blood; by it our conscience, is freed from sin in the sight of God. Martin Luther writes in this excerpt to help us understand:

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:11-15 ESV)

According to Leviticus 16, the high priest must once a year enter into the holy place with the blood of rams and other offerings, and with these make formal reconciliation for the people. This ceremony typified that Christ, the true Priest, should once die for us, to obtain for us the true atonement. But the former sacrifice, having to be repeated every year, was but a temporary and imperfect atonement; it did not eternally suffice, as does the atonement of Christ. For though we fall and sin repeatedly, we have confidence that the blood of Christ does not fall, or sin; it remains steadfast before God, and the expiation is perpetual and eternal. Under its sway grace is perpetually renewed, without work or merit on our part, provided we do not stand aloof in unbelief.

Christ, in God’s sight, purifies the conscience of dead works; that is, of sins meriting death, and of works performed in sin and therefore dead. Christ purifies from these, that we may serve the living God by living works. (“Christ Our Great High Priest”)

Blessings to Come!

Martin Luther continues his exposition of Hebrews 9:11-15 in the excerpts below:

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 9:11-15, Luther’s Translation?)

Christ’s blood has obtained for us pardon forever acceptable with God. God will forgive our sins for the sake of that blood so long as its power shall last and its intercession for grace in our behalf, which is forever. Therefore, we are forever holy and blessed before God. This is the substance of the text. Now that we shall find it easy to understand, we will briefly consider it.

The adornment of Aaron and his descendants, the high priests, was of a material nature, and they obtained for the people a merely formal remission of sins, performing their office in a perishable temple, or tabernacle. It was evident to men that their absolution and sanctification before the congregation was a temporal blessing confined to the present. But when Christ came upon the cross no one beheld him as he went before God in the Holy Spirit, adorned with every grace and virtue, a true High Priest. The blessings wrought by him are not temporal–a merely formal pardon–but the “blessings to come”; namely, blessings which are spiritual and eternal. Paul speaks of them as blessings to come, not that we are to await the life to come before we can have forgiveness and all the blessings of divine grace, but because now we possess them only in faith. . . .

The apostle does not name the tabernacle he mentions; nor can he, so strange its nature! It exists only in the sight of God, and is ours in faith, to be revealed hereafter. It is not made with hands, like the Jewish tabernacle; in other words, not of “this building.” The old tabernacle, like all buildings of its nature, necessarily was made of wood and other temporal materials created by God. God says in Isaiah 66:1-2: “What manner of house will ye build unto me? For all these things hath my hand made, and so all these things came to be.” But that greater tabernacle has not yet form; it is not yet finished. God is building it and he shall reveal it. Christ’s words are: [“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”] (John 14:3) (“Christ Our Great High Priest”)

The Spiritual Priesthood

In the Old Covenant, the priest offered sacrifices and sprinklings of blood which merely effected an external pardon. This absolution rendered no one inwardly holy and just before God. Something beyond this was necessary to secure true forgiveness. According to Martin Luther:

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 9:11-15, Luther’s Translation?)

An understanding of practically all of the Epistle to the Hebrews is necessary before we can hope to make this text clear to ourselves. Briefly, the epistle treats of a twofold priesthood. The former priesthood was a material one, with material adornment, tabernacle, sacrifices and with pardon couched in ritual; material were all its appointments. The new order is a spiritual priesthood, with spiritual adornments, spiritual tabernacle and sacrifices–spiritual in all that pertains to it. Christ, in the exercise of his priestly office, in the sacrifice on the cross, was not adorned with silk and gold and precious stones, but with divine love, wisdom, patience, obedience and all virtues. His adornment was apparent to none but God and possessors, of the Spirit, for it was spiritual.

Christ sacrificed not goats nor calves nor birds; not bread; not blood nor flesh, as did Aaron and his posterity: he offered his own body and blood, and the manner of the sacrifice was spiritual; for it took place through the Holy Spirit, as here stated. Though the body and blood of Christ were visible the same as any other material object, the fact that he offered them as a sacrifice was not apparent. It was not a visible sacrifice, as in the case of offerings at the hands of Aaron. Then the goat or calf, the flesh and blood, were material sacrifices visibly offered, and recognized as sacrifices. But Christ offered himself in the heart before God. His sacrifice was perceptible to no mortal. Therefore, his bodily flesh and blood becomes a spiritual sacrifice. Similarly, we Christians, the posterity of Christ our Aaron, offer up our own bodies (Rom 12:1). And our offering is likewise a spiritual sacrifice, or, as Paul has it, a “reasonable service”; for we make it in spirit, and it is beheld of God alone.

Again, in the new order, the tabernacle or house is spiritual; for it is heaven, or the presence of God. Christ hung upon a cross; he was not offered in a temple. He was offered before the eyes of God, and there he still abides. The cross is an altar in a spiritual sense. The material cross was indeed visible, but none knew it as Christ’s altar. Again, his prayer, his sprinkled blood, his burnt incense, were all spiritual, for it was all wrought through his spirit. Accordingly, the fruit and blessing of his office and sacrifice, the forgiveness of our sins and our justification, are likewise spiritual. (“Christ Our Great High Priest”)

Freedom and the Blood of Christ

Martin Luther, in the excerpt below, explains the necessity for the blood of Christ:

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:11-15 ESV)

Under the old law, which provided only for formal or ritualistic pardon, and restored to human fellowship, sin and transgressions remained, burdening the conscience. It–the old law–did not benefit the soul at all, inasmuch as God did not institute it to purify and safeguard the conscience, nor to bestow the Spirit. It existed merely for the purpose of outward discipline, restraint and correction. So Paul teaches that under the Old Testament dispensation man’s transgressions remained, but now Christ is our Mediator through his blood; by it our conscience, is freed from sin in the sight of God, inasmuch as God promises the Spirit through the blood of Christ. All, however, do not receive him. Only those called to be heirs eternal, the elect, receive the Spirit.

We find, then, in this excellent lesson, the comforting doctrine taught that Christ is he whom we should know as the Priest and Bishop of our souls; that no sin is forgiven, nor the Holy Spirit given, by reason of works or merit on our part, but alone through the blood of Christ, and that to those for whom God has ordained it. This matter has been sufficiently set forth in the various postils. (“Christ Our Great High Priest”)

What Have You Done With Your Soul?

Every one of us will stand before God and give an account of our lives. Think of it! God holds us responsible and accountable. We will stand before God and He will ask us, “What have you done with your soul?” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes on this subject:

This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:27-29 ESV)

Well, this Book [the Bible] tells you, this is the word of God. It tells us about God, Himself. As I told you He is the creator, He is the sustainer of everything. Yes, and He made man. Man is not an accident, you know, it is an insult to say that man is a creature that has evolved from the animal. It is not true. The Bible tells me that man has a dignity that makes him the lord of creation. Why? He has been created in the image and the likeness of God. We have an animal part but God has put something of Himself into us. When He came to make man He said, ‘Let us make man in our own image and likeness.’ He gave us reason, understanding, certain faculties and propensities that none of the animals have. And man is able to look on at himself and evaluate himself. Man! Yes and he is a responsible being to God. The popular theory is, as I say, that when a man dies that is the end. He is finished with. No! No! Says the Bible. Man is bigger than the universe; he has these qualities and potentialities in him. God has put them there and God holds man responsible and He is going to ask man at the end, ‘What have you done with the soul that I gave you? You may have made a lot of money; you may have garnered a lot of knowledge – what have you done with the soul – that part of you that was meant to commune with Me and to be my companion? What have you done with it?’ God is going to ask us – that is the judgment. (“A Kingdom Which Cannot Be Shaken”)

A Place Unshaken

I think that one of man’s ultimate fallacies is that he chooses to belong to kingdoms that can be shaken and removed. Man chooses to refuse the kingdom of God in order to build his own kingdom. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes on this topic:

This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:27-29 ESV)

Are you disappointed that the world is as it is? Are you astonished and are you amazed at it? Or does it fit in with your philosophy and your outlook and your point of view?

Do you understand why the world is as it is tonight? Can you explain it? The Christian, the true Christian, is not surprised that the world is as it is and he can understand why it is as it is. Can you? This is a very vital question. You see the trouble is that people refuse to think. They just wring their hands, they say, ‘Is it not terrible!’ But they must explain it, why is it that things are as they are in spite of all our amazing advances and developments in so many realms and spheres. Can you understand it? Can you explain it? If not, there is something wrong with your point of view. . . .

Now those are the questions I want to consider with you and I want to do so in the light of these verses that I have just read to you. This man was writing to a number of people who were known as Hebrew Christians; that means that they had been brought up as Jews but having heard the Christian Gospel they had left their old religion and the Temple and the ceremonial and the priesthood and they had espoused this new teaching, this new doctrine; they had become Christians. And for a while they were very happy. But then difficulties arose; they were persecuted; they were molested; they were tried grievously in many ways; and the result was that the faith of some of them was being shaken and they were beginning to look back with longing eyes to the old religion of their fathers. And this man writes to them because of that. He says you are not going back to that! That was only the type, that was only the preliminary, that has been shaken, that has been removed, that was only temporary. Do not go back to the temporary which can be shaken – hold on to the final, the ultimate, that which can never be moved and never be shaken.

But he goes beyond that and he reminds them, and through them he reminds us, that a day is coming when everything in this world that can be shaken is going to be shaken and that we, all of us, belong either to some kind of kingdom that can be shaken and removed, or we are citizens of a kingdom which cannot be shaken and which can never be moved. And in putting it like that, of course, this man is really giving us a summary of the message of the whole of the Bible from beginning to end. The Bible is a book which calls upon us all to make a decision. It tells us that there are two ways before us in this life and in this world. We can either build upon foundations which can be shaken and removed or else we can build on a foundation which can never be moved. . . . It says it either has to be God or mammon. You either enter by a strait gate onto a narrow way or you go with the crowd through the wide gate and the broad way that leadeth to destruction. And [all] the way through it puts the two possibilities before us, shows us the folly of the wrong choice and pleads with us to accept the true, the only way that leads to peace here in this world and a hope of glory for all eternity. (“A Kingdom Which Cannot Be Shaken”)

Our Times are in God’s Hands

Finding peace is impossible unless you yield your life to the will of God. Our times are in His hand. We must accept this as best for us. Waves of trouble may come against you, but it will soon be over. By and by when you enter heaven’s gate, you will see in the light of His Divine presence that “all things” did “work together” for good – your eternal good and the eternal good of all who love God. Thomas Watson (1620-1686) writes:

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13 ESV)

Here is a breast of consolation to the saints of God (in these sad times), in the midst of all that hard measure they may meet with; let the world frown, let men persecute and calumniate, (and it may be, think they do God service), here is sap in the vine, a strong cordial to take, all things are naked. They do nothing but what our Father sees. They make wounds, and then pour in vinegar; God writes down their cruelty, he sees what rods they use, and how hard they strike; and he that hath an eye to see, hath also an hand to punish; ‘I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people,’ not only with an eye of providence, but with an eye of pity. This was a great comfort to David in his affliction, and was like a golden shield in the hand of his faith, ‘My groaning is not hid from thee,’ Psalm 38.6. When I weep, Christ weeps in my tears, he bleeds in my wounds. There are two bloods will cry: the blood of souls, when they have been starved or poisoned, and the blood of saints. I do not mean saints without sanctity, titular saints, but such as have Christ engraven in their hearts, and the word copied out into their lives: it is dangerous meddling with their blood; if we spill their blood, it is no better than spilling Christ’s blood, for they are members of his body, ‘In all their afflictions he was afflicted.’ The people of God are precious to him. . . .

God being so infinite in wisdom; if things go cross in church or state, take heed of charging God with folly; do not censure but admire. All things are naked. There is not any thing that stirs in the world, but God hath a design in it, for the good of his church: he carries on his designs by men’s’ designs: all things are unveiled to the eye of providence. God is never at a stand: he knows when to deliver, and how to deliver.

David saith, ‘My times are in thy hand,’ Psalm 31.15. If our times were in our own hand, we would have deliverance too soon; if they were in our enemy’s hand, we should have deliverance too late: But my times are in thy hand; and God’s time is ever best. Every thing is beautiful in its season: when the mercy is ripe, we shall have it. It is true; we are now between the hammer and the anvil: we may fear we shall see the death of religion, before the birth of reformation. But do not cast away your anchor; God sees when the mercy will be in season. When his people are low enough, and the enemy high enough, then usually appears the church’s morning-star: let God alone to his time. (God’s Anatomy upon Man’s Heart)

Secrets of the Heart

God is so infinite in wisdom that all things are naked to His eyes. Nothing stirs in the world except God knows its intent, purpose, and eventual outcome. Thomas Watson (1620-1686) discusses what this means concerning men’s hearts:

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13 ESV)

If the secrets of our hearts are unveiled and unmasked, walk as in the eye of God. Methinks that of Hagar should be a Christian’s motto, Thou God seest me. And David’s prospect should be ever in our eye, Psalm 16.8. ‘I have set the Lord always before me:’ some set their bags of money always before them, others set the fear of men always before them; but a wise Christian will set God, and judgment, and eternity always before him. If indeed God’s eye were at any time off from us, we might take the more liberty; but if all things be naked, and open to his eye, we cannot sin but in the face of our Judge. Oh then reverence this eye of God. . . .

The eye of God should be ever in our eye; this would be as a counter poison against sin: nor is it enough to prune sin, viz. to cut off the external acts, but kill the root. Crucify complexion sins; let not thy heart sit brooding upon sin. Again, let God’s omniscience deter thee from hiding sin. . . . Men think to walk in the dark, and to carry their sins under a canopy, that no eye shall see them: as those that have bad eyes think that the sky is ever cloudy, whereas the fault is not in the sky, but in their eyes; so when the prince of the world hath blinded men’s eyes, because there is darkness within, they think it is dark abroad too, and now the sky is cloudy, God cannot see: but remember, all things are naked: do not go about to hide sin: confess, confess, it is a work proper for the day. Confession doth that to the soul which the surgeon doth to the body; it opens a spiritual vein, and lets out the bad blood. The only way to make God not see sin, is to see it ourselves, but not with dry eyes; point every sin with a tear. . . .

It is a whetstone to duty. O thou Christian that art much in private, that settest hours apart for God, (a sign he hath set thee apart) thou sheddest many tears in thy closet: the world takes no notice; but remember, God’s eye is upon thee, thy prayers are registered, thy tears are bottled up, ‘and he that sees in secret will reward thee openly.’ How should this add wings to prayer, and oil to the flame of our devotion? (“God’s Anatomy upon Man’s Heart”)

The Hypocrite

The hypocrite is all show in the effort to hide his wickedness. Yet, we still find him sinful in deed. Pilate might have thought he could convince the world that he had a tender heart. Still, he may wash his hands as much as he wills, but he has no true claim to innocence. God sees it all. Thomas Watson (1620-1686) provides more insight into the nature of hypocrites below:

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13 ESV)

I shall give you two distinguishing characters whereby you may know a hypocrite. He is one that is partial in his goodness; zealous in lesser things, and remiss in greater: as Luther complained of some in his time, and our Savior in his time, which ‘strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.’ He is one that sweats only in some part, but is cool in all the rest, which is a sign his zeal is distempered. He is zealous against a ceremony, a relic or painted glass (not that I plead for these), but in the mean time lives in known sin, lying, cozening, extortion, &c. Just as the High Priests, ‘It is not lawful, say they, to put the money into the treasury, because it is the price of blood,’ Matt. 27.6. They speak like conscientious men. Oh do not defile the treasury! But let me ask the question, why did they shed that blood? It was innocent blood. They will not take the price of blood into the treasury, but they never scruple to take the guilt of blood into their souls. They were zealous for the temple, but in the mean time murderers of the Son of God. And we have a parallel scripture to this, Rom. 2.22. ‘Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?’ Who at the first blush would not have taken these for very holy, devout men that were zealous against idolatry? But see a root of hypocrisy! They were partially good, they hated one sin, but not another; idolatry, but not sacrilege. Though it was an abominable sin, and there was an express law of God against it; yet these seeming zealots make no conscience of robbing God of his tithes.

And here as in a scripture looking-glass, we may see our own faces; have we not many now-a-days seemingly zealous against popery? If they see a cross, (though it be in a coat of arms), they are much offended, and are in a kind of convulsion: but in the mean time make no conscience of sacrilege, starving out the ministry, they put out the fire on God’s altar, shut the doors of his temple; is not this visible hypocrisy? There are some, it may be, will not be heard to swear, it will not stand with their saintship; (this were to call the devil father aloud,) but they will defraud and defame, which is a sin they can never satisfy for; take away a man’s name, what mends can you make him? It is no better than murder; and if these be saints, there are as good saints in hell.

The second character of a hypocrite is that he makes religion a mask to cover his sin. Herod pretended to worship Christ, but his zeal was no other than malice, for it was to have destroyed him. Thus oft bad purposes lie hid under good pretenses. Jezebel, that she may dissemble her murderous intentions, proclaims a fast. Absalom, to color over his treason, pretends a religious vow. How cunning is the heart to go to hell; sometimes covetousness pretends conscience; Judas fisheth for money under a pretence of religion, ‘This ointment might have been sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor,’ John 12.5. How charitable Judas was! But his charity began at home, for he carried the bag. Many make religion a cloak for their ambition, ‘Come, see my zeal, saith Jehu, for the Lord.’ 1 Kings 10.16. No, Jehu, thy zeal was for the kingdom. It was not zeal, but state-policy. Jehu made religion hold the stirrup till he got possession of the crown; here was double-dyed hypocrisy. (“God’s Anatomy Upon Man’s Heart”)

Christ Is Not Ashamed To Call Us Brothers

Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of those whom the Father gave him. He opened up the way of eternal life for all who are called his brothers. Martin Luther explains:

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews has grasped the words of Ps 22,23 and taken them well to heart, when he says of Christ: “For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the congregation will I sing thy praise.” Heb 2,11-12. If any worldly lord were to condescend so low as to say to a thief, or a murderer or to a low French character, Thou art my brother; that would be a great thing and everyone would be amazed at it; but that this King, who in his glory sits at the right hand of God, his Father, says to a poor sinner: Thou art my brother, that no one takes to heart, no one receives it in earnest, and yet on that hangs our highest comfort and courage against sin, death, Satan, hell, law, and against all misfortune, both of the body and of the soul.

Since we are flesh and blood, and subject to all kinds of affliction, it follows that it must be thus also with our brother; or he would not be like us in all respects. Therefore, in that he becomes like us, he tastes of all that we do, in order to be our true brother and save us, so that we on the other hand may become like him. This the Epistle to the Hebrews paints and brings out very beautifully when it says: “Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily not to angels doth he give help, but he giveth help to the seed of Abraham. Therefore it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, be is able to succor them that are tempted.” Heb 2, 14- 18.

St. Paul in a very beautiful way condensed the benefit and use both of Christ’s sufferings and his resurrection in one short passage, as in a nutshell, when he says to the Romans: “Who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.” Rom 4, 25. But on this theme enough has been said for the present; whoever desires may with profit meditate on it. . . . (“The Fruit and Power of Christ’s Resurrection”)

Libertines And Hypocrites

Because of man’s fallen nature, he often tries to use religion as a mask to cover his sins. The counterfeit Christian is therefore good in show so that he may have freedom in his secret sins. How strange it is that a man may feel he can avoid the eyes of God. Thomas Watson (1620-1686) makes some interesting observations about this condition:

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13 ESV)

The profane libertine, that fancies to himself a God made up of mercy; and therefore he engulfs himself in sin, he is upon the spur to go to hell, as if he were afraid hell would be full before he could get thither. Doth not he say, ‘God shall not see?’

The religious libertine, that sins because grace abounds; that saith, God sees no sin in his people, and therefore what need we see it? After we are in Christ, we cannot sin; therefore repentance is out of date. . . .

[We need] repentance after we are in Christ: for though sin in a believer be covered, yet it is not perfectly cured. There are still some remainders of corruption; and certainly, as long as there is an issue of sin open, there must be an issue of sorrow kept open.

Every sin, after we are in Christ, is a sin of unkindness, the sin of a spouse; and if any thing will melt and break the heart, this will. The sins of the regenerate do wound Christ’s heart deeper than others. Hath not Christ suffered enough already? Wilt thou wound him whom God hath wounded? Will you give him more vinegar to drink? O rather ‘Give wine to him that is of an heavy heart;’ cheer him with thy tears: look on a bleeding Christ with a bleeding heart. . . .

[H]ypocrites are like turning pictures, which have on one side the image of a lamb, on the other side a lion: so they are on their outside saints, but their inside devils. Hypocrites may be compared to trumpets that make a great sound, but within they are hollow. Do these believe the all-seeing eye? The hypocrite turns all religion into mere compliment; he walks with a dark lantern, saying, No eye shall see . . . The hypocrite takes more care to make a covenant, than to keep it; and is more studious to enter into religion, than that religion should enter into him. . . . (“God’s Anatomy Upon Man’s Heart”)

Thomas Watson: Everything In Its Proper Place

Thomas Watson (1620-1686) discusses here the ungratefulness of men who oppose truth in God’s church:

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13 ESV)

This nation is sick of a spiritual pleurisy, we begin to surfeit upon the bread of life; when God sees his mercies lying under table, and it is just with him to call to the enemy to take away. I heartily pray that plenty of ordinances doth not as much hurt in this city, as famine hath done in other places of the land; and if we once say, what is this manna? No wonder if we begin to say, who is this Moses? Oh what a sad change is there in our days! Those that once would have counted our feet beautiful that would have been ready to have pulled out their eyes for their minister, are now ready to pull out their minister’s eyes; and what is the quarrel? Even this, ‘Am I become your enemy because I tell yon the truth?’ If ministers would preach smooth things, make the way to heaven nearer than ever Christ made it, then they should be admired. (You have more people gaze at a Comet or blazing star, than at the sun.) But if they come to lay the ax of the law to the root of conscience; if they fall a hewing and cutting down men’s’ sins, ‘The land is not able to bear their words.’ If the prophet goes to tell king Asa of his great sin in joining with a wicked army; ‘Herein thou hast done foolishly.’ if he goes about to imprison his sin, he himself shall be imprisoned. ‘Then Asa was wroth with the Seer, and put him in a prison-house.’ This was Jerusalem’s sin, and it drew tears from Christ. . . .

Those that would annihilate the ministry, go to pull the stars out of Christ’s hand; and they will find it a work not feasible; it will fare with them as with the eagle, that going to fetch a piece of flesh from the altar, a coal sticking to the flesh, she burnt herself and the young ones in the nest. . . .

We act against God, when we act against that order and government which he hath set up in his church; God is the God of order, he hath set every thing in its proper sphere. . . .

God Is Truth

Anything which enhances sin is against the truth. Opposing absolute truth is rebellion against God. God’s Word of Truth is a solid foundation for faith to rely upon. Do not carelessly cast it aside. Thomas Watson (1620-1686) discusses the importance of truth below:

“But all Things are naked and open unto the Eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13)

If we act against his Truth, we act against God; Truth is a beam of God, it is his essence; it is the most orient pearl of his crown: Take away his truth, and we ungod him. Truth is the precious seed by which we are begotten to life; it is the pillar of our salvation; it is not only the rule of faith, but it is the root out of which faith grows: take away truth, and what is faith but fancy? We believe ourselves into hell. Truth is the great purchase of Christ’s blood, and it hath been transmitted to us in the blood of many saints and martyrs; if we strike at truth, we strike at God; and doth not God see this?

Give me leave to plead in God’s cause: is not this pure wine of truth mixed with water, nay, with poison? How are the truths of God almost lost in the crowd of errors? What truth in divinity but is now called in question? Some denying the scriptures, others denying the Lord that bought them; not only the foundations of the earth are out of course, but even the foundations of scripture are shaken. We read that, when the bottomless pit was opened, there arose a smoke as the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened. The late errors sprung out of the furnace of hell, have made such a smoke and mist in the church of God, that the bright sun of truth is much eclipsed in our horizon. How many religions are there now among us, and every day in a new dress? Old heresies newly vamped. Our Savior saith, ‘If the son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?’ yes sure, he may now find many faiths; so many men, almost so many faiths: these things are done, but are they punished? Are they not countenanced? God sees: silence, when truth is wounded, is a loud sin. (“God’s Anatomy Upon Man’s Heart”)

God’s Window Into The Heart

Thomas Watson

What one may call the “secret sins of the heart” are really no secret at all. God is always aware and easily sees into the heart of a man. Thomas Watson (1620 – 1686) explains below:

“But all Things are naked and open unto the Eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13)

‘What manner of persons ought we to be,’ 2 Peter 3.11. Hath God a window that opens into our hearts? Doth he make a critical descant upon our actions? Oh what holiness, what sincerity, what exemplary piety becomes us, being in such a presence! Were we to come before some great monarch, what solemn preparations would we make? Shall the eye of a king do so much, and not the eye of God? The king can only see the outside; there may be a treason within for ought he knows: but God hath a key for the heart, Jer. 17.10. ‘I the Lord search the heart;’ and will not this command reverence? In these days of solemn humiliation, God’s eye is principally upon the heart. God looks there most, where we look least; some have no heart at all; sin hath stolen away their heart; others have an heart too much, ‘An heart and an heart,’ Psalm 12.2. Others have hearts good for nothing, earthly hearts, like ‘Saul that was hid among the stuff,’ 1 Sam. 10.22. Some have angels’ tongues, but, as Nebuchadnezzar he had the heart of a beast given to him. Brethren, did our hearts stand where our faces do, this would be a day of blushing, we should be ashamed to look one upon another; remember, God hath a key for the heart.

When we come to these solemn duties, God asks that question, as Jehu did Jehonadab, 2 Kings 10.15. He saluted him, and said to him, ‘Is thy heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?’ and he said, ‘It is. If it be, give me thy hand: and he took him up into the chariot.’

This is God’s question. You come this day to humble yourselves and make atonement, ‘Is your heart right with me?’ If we can answer as he did, Lord, thou knowest it is; though I have much weakness, yet my heart is right, I have no false bias upon it; though I am not perfect, I hope I am sincere; then will God say, Give me your prayers, give me your tears, now ‘come up with me into the chariot.’ A tear from a bleeding heart is a precious perfume in heaven. Oh did we consider this all-seeing eye, we durst not bring so much strange fire into the Divine presence. We read of Ezekiel’s wheels, they had a wheel within a wheel. Thus God hath a thought within a thought: he comes between us and our thoughts.

The goddess Minerva, as the Poets feign, was drawn in such lively colors, that which way so ever one turned, still Minerva’s eye was upon him. Thus, turn which way you will, fall in love with any sin, still God looks upon you: he hath an eye in your heart. What manner of persons ought we to be?

Jerry Bridges On Holiness

Jerry Bridges

From the wonderful writings of Jerry Bridges:

What is holiness? The best practical definition that I have heard is simply “without sin.” That is the statement that was made of the Lord Jesus’ life on earth (Hebrews 4:15), and that should be the goal of every person who desires to be godly. Granted, we will never reach that goal in this life; nevertheless it is to be our supreme objective and the object of our most earnest efforts and prayers. (The Practice of Godliness, NavPress, 1996, p. 121)

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