Two Morning and Evening posts in a row! Today’s devotional is so good though, I feel obligated to share the wealth. Spurgeon touches on a universal conundrum that every believer experiences throughout their faithful journey… the motivations that drive our desires for holy living.
Spurgeon also has a talent for crafting pithy illustrations that stick. Today, he adds, “Under the greenest sods worms hide themselves; we need not look long to discover them.” And it’s true. We all wrestle with the pride and vanity that riddles our unseen bones. Self examination is humbling, but not crippling… thanks to the power of Christ’s sacrifice and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.
I am thankful for passages such as Colossians 1:29, where Paul says,
For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.
Or 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, when he says,
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.
What was true for them is true for us. God has called us. He is faithful. He will surely do it. What a glorious God and Savior we serve!
Here is Alistair Begg’s paraphrase of the Spurgeon classic.
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…guilt from the holy things… — Exodus 28:38
What a veil is lifted up by these words, and what a disclosure is made! It will be humbling and profitable for us to pause awhile and see this sad sight. The iniquities of our public worship, its hypocrisy, formality, lukewarmness, irreverence, wandering of heart, and forgetfulness of God—what a full measure have we there! Our work for the Lord, its emulation, selfishness, carelessness, slackness, unbelief—what a mass of defilement is there! Our private devotions, their laxity, coldness, neglect, sleepiness, and vanity—what a mountain of dead earth is there! If we looked more carefully, we should find this iniquity to be far greater than appears at first sight.
Dr. Payson, writing to his brother, says, “My parish, as well as my heart, very much resembles the garden of the sluggard; and what is worse, I find that very many of my desires for the improvement of both, proceed either from pride or vanity or indolence. I look at the weeds, which overspread my garden, and breathe out an earnest wish that they were eradicated. But why? What prompts the wish? So that I may walk out and say to myself, ‘In what fine order is my garden kept!’ This is pride. Or, so that my neighbors may look over the wall and say, ‘How finely your garden flourishes!’ This is vanity. Or I may wish for the destruction of the weeds, because I am weary of pulling them up. This is indolence.”
So even our desires after holiness may be polluted by ill motives. Under the greenest sods worms hide themselves; we need not look long to discover them. How cheering is the thought that when the High Priest bore the iniquity of the holy things he wore upon his brow the words, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD,” and even so while Jesus bears our sin, He presents before His Father’s face not our unholiness, but His own holiness. O for grace to view our great High Priest by the eye of faith!