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When a man does wrong, and yet will not confess it, how wrong he must be! Or when having confessed it, he does not feel proper shame; or after feeling ashamed for a while he returns to the same evil like the dog to his vomit, how deep must the evil be in his moral nature, how terribly diseased he must be, inasmuch as he does not feel sin to be sin at all! When a man has done wrong and knows it, and stands with bitter repentance to confess the evil, why, you think hopefully of him; after all, there are good points about the man; there is a vitality in him that will throw out the disease. But when the villain, having perpetrated a grave and causeless offense, does not for a moment acknowledge he has done wrong but continues calmly to perpetrate the offense again; ah, then, where is there any good in him? Is he not thoroughly bad? Now, you are like that.
If you were at all right with God, you would fall at your Father’s feet, and never rise until you were forgiven; your tears would flow day and night until you had the assurance of pardon. But since your heart seems to yourself to be made of hell-hardened steel, and to be like a millstone that feels nothing, then there is need for healing, and you seem the very man whom Christ came to save, for he came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance, not to save those who had no need for healing but to heal those like you, whose need is desperate indeed.
As if to prove your own need for healing, you are, according to your own statement, unable to pray. You have been trying to pray lately and wished you could. You put yourself upon your knees, but your heart does not talk with God; a horrible dread comes over you, or else frivolous and vain thoughts distract you. “Oh,” you have said, “I would give a thousand pounds for one tear of repentance; I would be ready to pluck out my eyes if I could call upon God as the poor publican did, with ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ I once thought it the easiest thing in the world to pray, but now I find that a true prayer is beyond my power.” You do need healing indeed, possessed with a dumb devil, and all your other devils also, and unable to cry out for mercy; yours is a sad case. You need healing, and I cannot help repeating to you, “He healed them that had need of healing”; why should he not heal you?
Ah, but you tell me your feelings, your desires after good things are very often dampened. Perhaps you are sincerely in earnest, but tomorrow you may be just as careless as ever. The other day you went into your chamber and wrestled with God, but a temptation came across your path, and you were as thoughtless about divine things as if you had never been aroused to a sense of their value. Ah! this shows your need for healing. You are vile indeed when you dare to trifle with eternity, to sport with death and judgment, and to be at ease while in danger of hell—your heart indeed needs healing; and though I grieve that you should be in such a plight, yet I rejoice that I am able to add, “He healed those who had need of healing.”
Though you know your case is bad, at times you set up a kind of self-repentance and try to justify yourself in the sight of God. You say, “I have repented, or tried to do so; I have prayed, or tried to pray; I have done all I can to be saved, and God will not save me.” That is to say, you throw the blame of your damnation upon God, and make yourself out to be righteous in his sight. You know this is wrong. If you are not saved, it is because you will not believe in Jesus. There is the only hitch and the only difficulty. Your damnation is not of God, but of yourself; it is necessitated by your own willful wickedness in not believing in Christ; but inasmuch as you are so wicked as to dare to excuse yourself, you do need healing, you do urgently need to be saved. But, then, the minute that you have thus excused yourself, you rush to the opposite extreme; you declare that you have sinned past hope, that you deserve to be now in hell, and that God can never forgive you. You deny the mercy of God, you deny the power of Christ to forgive you and cleanse you; you fly in the face of God’s Word, and you make him out to be a liar.
When he tells you that if you trust Jesus you shall find peace, you tell him it is not possible there can be any peace to you; when he reminds you that he never rejected one, you insinuate that he will reject you; you thus insult the Divine Majesty by denying the truthfulness and honesty of God. You do need healing when you allow wicked despair to get the mastery of you like this; you are far gone, very far gone, but I rejoice to know that you are still among those Jesus is able to heal. He came to those who needed healing, and you cannot deny you are one of those. Why even Satan himself will not have the impudence to tell you that you have no need of healing. Oh, if only you would cast yourself into the Savior’s arms—not trying to make yourself out to be good, but acknowledging all that I have laid to your charge, and then, trusting as a sinner to that Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
Remember you need healing, for unless you are healed of these sins, and of all these wicked tendencies and thoughts, as sure as you are a living man you will be cast into hell. I know of no truth that ever causes me such pain to preach like this, not that sinners will be damned, awful though the truth of that is, but that awakened sinners will be damned unless they believe in Jesus. You must not make a Christ out of your tears; you must not hope to find safety in your bitter thoughts and cruel despairs. Unless you believe you shall never be established. Unless you come to Christ, you may be convinced of sin, of righteousness and judgment too, but those convictions will only be preludes to your destruction. You call yourself a seeker, but until you are a finder you are an enemy to God, and God is angry with you every day. I have no alternative for you, however tender and broken-hearted you may be, but this one—believe and live; refuse to believe, and you must perish, for your broken-heartedness, and tears, and professed contrition can never stand in the place of Christ. You must have faith in Jesus, or you must die eternally.
I need not enter into what your case is. Remember, Jesus has saved a parallel case to yours. Yours may seem to yourself to be exceedingly odd, but somewhere or other in the New Testament you will find one as singular as yours. You tell me that you are full of so much wickedness. Did he not cast seven devils out of Mary Magdalen? Yes, but your wickedness seems to be greater than even seven devils. Did he not drive a whole legion of devils out of the demoniac of Gadara? You tell me that you cannot pray, but he healed one possessed of a dumb devil; you feel hardened and insensible, but he cast out a deaf devil. You tell me you cannot believe; neither could the man with the withered arm stretch it out, but he did it when Jesus ordered him to. You tell me you are dead in sin, but Jesus made even the dead live. Your case cannot be so bad that it has not been matched, and Christ has conquered something like it.
Remember again, Christ can save you, for there is no record in the world, nor has there ever been handed down to us by tradition a single case in which Jesus has failed. If I could meet anywhere in my wanderings a soul which had cast itself on Christ alone, and yet had received no pardon—if there could be found in hell a solitary spirit that relied upon the precious blood and found no salvation, then the gospel might well be laid by in the dark, and no longer gloried in; but as that has not happened, and never shall happen, sinner, you shall not be the first exception. If you come to Christ—and to come to him is only to trust him wholly and simply—you cannot perish, for he has said, “Him that cometh to me I will in nowise cast out.” Will he prove a liar? Will you dare think so? O come, for he cannot cast you out. Think for a moment, sinner, and this may comfort you: he whom I preach to you as the healer of your soul is God. What can be impossible with God? What sin cannot he forgive who is God over all? If your transgressions were to be dealt with by an angel, they might surpass all Gabriel’s power; but it is Immanuel, God with us, who has come to save.
Moreover, you cannot doubt his will. Have you heard of him—he who was God and became man?
He was as gentle as a woman,
His heart is made of tenderness,
It overflows with love.
It was not in him to be harsh. When the woman found in the very act of adultery was brought to him, what did he say? “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” It was said of him, “This man receives sinners, and eats with them,” and he is not changed now that he reigns above; he is just as willing to receive sinners now as when he was here below.
Was the atonement a fiction? Was the death of the eternal Son of God ineffectual? There must be power enough there to take away sin. Come and wash, come and wash, you who are vile and stained with sin, come and wash, and you shall find instant cleansing the moment that by faith, you touch his purifying blood.
Jesus demands your trust. He deserves it, let him have it. You need healing; he came to heal those who need healing: he can heal you. What is to be done in order that you may be healed, that all your sins may be forgiven and yourself saved? All that is to be done is to leave off your own doing, and let him do for you; leave off looking to yourself, or looking to others, and just come and cast yourself on him.
“Oh,” you say, “but I cannot believe.” Cannot believe! Then do you know what you are doing? You are making him a liar. If you tell a man, “I cannot believe you,” that is only another way of saying, “You are a liar.” Oh, you will dare not say that of Christ. No, my friend, I take you by the hand and say another word—you must believe him. He is God, dare you doubt him? He died for sinners. Can you doubt the power of his blood? He has promised. Will you insult him by mistrusting his word? “Oh, no,” you say, “I feel I must believe; I must trust him, but suppose that trust of mine should not be of the right kind? Suppose it should be a natural trust? Ah, my friend, a humble trust in Jesus is a thing that never grew in natural ground. For a poor soul to come and trust in Christ is always the fruit of the Spirit. You need not raise a question about that. Never did the devil, never did mere nature empty a man of himself and bring him to Jesus. Do not be anxious on that point. “But,” says one, “the Spirit must lead me to believe him!” Yes, but you cannot see the Spirit; his work is a secret and a mystery. What you have to do is to believe in Jesus; there he stands, God and yet a suffering man, making atonement, and he tells you if you trust him you shall be saved. You must trust him; you cannot doubt him. Why should you? What has he done that should make you doubt him?
‘O believe the record true, God to you his Son has given.’
And if you trust him, you need not raise the question as to where your faith came from. It must have come from the Holy Spirit, who is not seen in his workings, for he works where he chooses. You see the fruit of his work, and that is enough for you. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? If so, you are born of God. If you have cast yourself, sink or swim, on him, then you are saved.
We read how a man was saved from being shot. He had been condemned in a Spanish court, but being an American citizen, and also of English birth, the consuls of the two countries interposed and declared that the Spanish authorities had no power to put him to death. And what did they do to secure his life? They wrapped him up in their flags, they covered him with the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack and defied the executioners. “Now fire a shot if you dare, for if you do, you defy the nations represented by those flags, and you will bring the powers of those two great nations upon you.” There stood the man, and before the soldiers, and though a single shot might have ended his life, yet he was as invulnerable as though in a coat of triple steel. In the same way, Jesus Christ has taken my poor guilty soul ever since I believed in him and has wrapped around me the blood-red flag of his atoning sacrifice, and before God can destroy me, or any other soul that is wrapped in the atonement, he must insult his Son and dishonor this sacrifice; and that he never will do, blessed be his name.
by C. H. Spurgeon
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