The folks at Desiring God have put together a sweet demonstration from John Piper’s new Bible reading and sermon prep series.
Monthly Archives: July 2014
As Peter wept after his denial, it is appropriate for our sinful actions and unfulfilled promises to drive us to tears. Today’s Morning and Evening provides a good reason to cry.
How inappropriate would it have been for Peter to shrug and say, “Well, at least I’m forgiven by grace?” It is God’s faithfulness despite our failure that softens the stony heart.
Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.
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And Peter remembered . . . and he broke down and wept. — Mark 14:72
It has been thought by some that as long as Peter lived, the fountain of his tears began to flow whenever he remembered that he had denied his Lord. It is not unlikely that it was so (for his sin was very great, and grace in him had afterwards a perfect work). This same experience is common to all the redeemed family according to the degree in which the Spirit of God has removed the natural heart of stone.
We, like Peter, remember our boastful promise: “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.”1 We eat our own words with the bitter herbs of repentance. When we think of what we vowed we would be and of what we have been, we may weep whole showers of grief. He remembered denying his Lord—the place in which he did it, the little cause that led him into such heinous sin, the oaths and blasphemies with which he sought to confirm his falsehood, and the dreadful hardness of heart that drove him to do so again and yet again. Can we, when we are reminded of our sins and their exceeding sinfulness, remain stolid and stubborn? Will we not make our house a place of sacrifice and cry to the Lord for renewed assurances of pardoning love?
May we never take a dry-eyed look at sin, in case we discover our tongue parched in the flames of hell. Peter also remembered his Master’s look of love. The Lord followed up the rooster’s warning voice with an admonitory look of sorrow, pity, and love. That glance was never out of Peter’s mind so long as he lived. It was far more effectual than ten thousand sermons would have been without the Spirit. The penitent apostle would be sure to weep when he remembered the Savior’s full forgiveness, which restored him to his former place. To think that we have offended so kind and good a Lord is more than sufficient reason for being constant weepers. Lord, smite our rocky hearts, and make the waters flow.
1 Matthew 26:33
Some battles are not worth fighting. We are often told in Scripture to stand our ground… we contend with the flesh, the world, and the powers of the air… but when it comes to certain sins, the only course of action is to run! As Charles Spurgeon says in today’s Morning and Evening…
I am to resist the devil, and he will flee from me; but the lusts of the flesh I must flee, or they will surely overcome me.
1 Corinthians 6:18 issues the command to “flee from sexual immorality.” 1 Corinthians 10:14 says to “flee from idolatry.” Paul instructed Timothy to “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness” in 2 Timothy 2:22. We must actively desert wickedness in order to pursue righteousness. To dwell in the comfort of the flesh is to forsake the liberating reprieve of the Spirit. No man is stronger than the weakness of his flesh. 1 Corinthians 10:12 warns:
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
Let’s not kid ourselves, but recognize our weaknesses… forsaking all filth and clinging to Christ for strength. We are simply not strong enough to overcome our own lusts, so let’s flee from them into the arms of our Savior. Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.
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But he left his garment in her hand
and fled and got out of the house. — Genesis 39:12
In contending with certain sins there remains no mode of victory but by flight. The ancient naturalists wrote much of basilisks, whose eyes fascinated their victims and rendered them easy victims; so the mere gaze of wickedness puts us in solemn danger. He who would be safe from acts of evil must hurry away from occasions of it. A covenant must be made with our eyes not even to look upon the cause of temptation, for such sins only need a spark to begin with and a blaze follows in an instant.
Who would carelessly enter the leper’s prison and sleep amid its horrible corruption? Only he who desires to be leprous himself. If the sailor knew how to avoid a storm, he would do anything rather than run the risk of weathering it. Cautious navigators have no desire to see how near the quicksand they can sail or how often they may touch a rock without springing a leak; their aim is to keep as nearly as possible in the midst of a safe channel.
Today I may be exposed to great peril; let me have the serpent’s wisdom to keep out of it and avoid it. The wings of a dove may be of more use to me today than the jaws of a lion. It is true I may be an apparent loser by declining evil company, but I had better leave my cloak than lose my character; it is not needful that I should be rich, but it is imperative for me to be pure. No ties of friendship, no chains of beauty, no flashings of talent, no shafts of ridicule must turn me from the wise resolve to flee from sin.
I am to resist the devil, and he will flee from me; but the lusts of the flesh I must flee, or they will surely overcome me. O God of holiness, preserve us like Joseph, that we may not be seduced by the subtle, vile suggestions of the temptress. May the horrible trinity of the world, the flesh, and the devil never overcome us!
The command for God’s people to “stand firm” is found all throughout the Bible (Exodus 14:13; 2 Chronicles 20:17; Isaiah 46:8; Daniel 11:32; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 2 Corinthians 1:24; Galatians 5:1; Ephesians 6:13; Philippians 1:27, 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Peter 5:12).
This morning’s Morning and Evening highlights the importance of a rock steady faith. Our worst enemies often conspire against us from within. Spurgeon lists despair, cowardice, precipitancy, and presumption in today’s devotional. All four of these fleshly fiends are at war with our faith. In a world of self-help books and twelve step programs, it is easy to loosen our grip on the source of our strength and comfort. Abraham Lincoln once said:
Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
Are you are trapped by the darkness of despair? Is fearfulness as natural as a cold glass of water on a hot day? Do you become a self-reliant busy-bee when things fall apart? Have you ever drowned while expecting God to part the waters? Cling to the immovable rock of Christ and when all has passed, keep standing.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. — 1 Corinthians 16:13
Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.
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Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord,
which He will work for you today. — Exodus 14:13
These words contain God’s command to the believer when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut up on the right hand and on the left; what is he now to do? The Master’s word to him is, “Stand firm.” It will be well for him if at such times he listens only to his Master’s word, for other and evil advisers come with their suggestions.
Despair whispers, “Lie down and die; give it all up.” But God would have us put on a cheerful courage and even in our worst times rejoice in His love and faithfulness. Cowardice says, “Retreat; go back to the worldling’s way of action; you cannot play the Christian’s part—it is too difficult. Relinquish your principles.” But however much Satan may urge this course upon you, you cannot follow it if you are a child of God. His divine decree has bid you go from strength to strength, and so you shall, and neither death nor hell shall turn you from your course. Even if you are called to stand firm for a while, this is in order to renew your strength for some greater advance in due time.
Precipitancy cries, “Do something. Stir yourself; to stand still and wait is sheer idleness.” We must be doing something at once—we must do it, so we think—instead of looking to the Lord, who will not only do something but will do everything. Presumption boasts, “If the sea is before you, march into it and expect a miracle.”
But faith listens neither to presumption, nor to despair, nor to cowardice, nor to precipitancy, but it hears God say, “Stand firm,” and immovable as a rock it stands. “Stand firm”—keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long before God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, “Go forward.”