Knowing Oneself

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Words For Zion’s Wayfarers

“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that rules his spirit than he that takes a city.” Proverbs 16:32

What a foe to one’s peace is one’s own spirit! And what shall I call it? It is often an infernal spirit. Why? Because it bears the mark of Satan upon it. The pride of our spirit, the presumption of our spirit, the hypocrisy of our spirit, the intense selfishness of our spirit are often hidden from us. This wily devil, SELF, can wear such masks and assume such forms; this serpent, SELF, can so creep and crawl, can so twist and turn, and can disguise itself under such false appearances, that it is hidden often from ourselves.

Who is the greatest enemy we have to fear? We all have our enemies. But who is our greatest enemy? He that you carry in your own bosom; your daily, hourly, and momently companion, that entwines himself in nearly every thought of your heart; that suggests well near every motive; that sometimes puffs up with pride, sometimes inflames with lust, sometimes inflates with presumption, and sometimes works under feigned humility and fleshly holiness.

Now this SELF must be overcome; for if SELF overcomes us eventually, we shall perish in the condemnation of SELF. God is determined to stain the pride of human glory. He will never let self, (which is but another word for the creature,) wear the crown of victory. It must be crucified, denied, and mortified; it must be put off, so that Jesus may be put on; that in the denying of SELF, Jesus may be believed in; and that in the crucifixion of SELF, there may be a solemn spiritual union with Him who was crucified on Calvary.

Now, are we overcoming SELF? Are we buffeted? What says SELF? “Buffet back.” Are we despised? What says SELF? “Despise back; retort angry look for angry look, and hasty word, for hasty word; an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” But what says the Spirit of God in a tender conscience? “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

The way to overcome self is by looking out of self to Him who was crucified upon Calvary’s tree; to receive his image into our heart; to be clothed with his likeness; to drink into his spirit; and “receive out of his fullness grace for grace.”

Trusting in God

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“We know that all things work together for good—to those who love God.” Romans 8:28

The believer is absolutely sure, that an invisible hand is always on the world’s helm, and that wherever providence may drift, Jehovah steers it. That reassuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters—and sees Jesus treading the billows; and he hears a voice saying, “It is I, do not be afraid!” He knows also, that God is always wise, and, knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes; that nothing can occur—which ought not to arise. He can say, “If I should lose all I have, it is better that I should lose than have—if God so wills. The worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that could befall to me—if God ordains it.”

“We know that all things work together for good—to those who love God.” The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory—but he knows it as a matter of fact. Everything has worked for good as yet; the poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions, have worked the cure; the sharp cuts of the lancet, have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil—the believer’s heart is assured, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes. The believer can in the spirit of true resignation pray, “Send me what you will, my God—so long as it comes from You! A bad portion never came from Your table—to any of Your children.”

Our Willing Savior

Excerpted from the book, Holiness, by J. C. Ryle

‘And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, “If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us.” But the other answering rebuked him, saying, “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this Man hath done nothing amiss.” And he said unto Jesus, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.” And Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with Me in paradise”—Luke 23:39-43

There are few passages in the New Testament which are more familiar to men’s ears than the verses which head this paper. They contain the well-known story of ‘the penitent thief’.

And it is right and good that these verses should be well known. They have comforted many troubled minds; they have brought peace to many uneasy consciences; they have been a healing balm to many wounded hearts; they have been a medicine to many sin-sick souls; they have smoothed down not a few dying pillows. Wherever the gospel of Christ is preached, they will always be honoured, loved and had in remembrance.

…we are meant to learn from these verses Christ’s power and willingness to save sinners.

This is the main doctrine to be gathered from the history of the penitent thief. It teaches us that which ought to be music in the ears of all who hear it: it teaches us that Jesus Christ is ‘mighty to save’ (Isaiah 63:1).

I ask anyone to say whether a case could look more hopeless and desperate than that of this penitent thief once did. He was a wicked man, a malefactor, a thief, if not a murderer. We know this, for such only were crucified. He was suffering a just punishment for breaking the laws. And as he had lived wicked, so he seemed determined to die wicked, for at first, when he was crucified, he railed on our Lord. And he was a dying man. He hung there, nailed to a cross, from which he was never to come down alive. He had no longer power to stir hand or foot. His hours were numbered; the grave was ready for him.

There was but a step between him and death. If ever there was a soul hovering on the brink of hell, it was the soul of this thief. If ever there was a case that seemed lost, gone and past recovery, it was his. If ever there was a child of Adam whom the devil made sure of as his own, it was this man.

But see now what happened. He ceased to rail and blaspheme, as he had done at the first; he began to speak in another manner altogether. He turned to our blessed Lord in prayer. He prayed Jesus to ‘remember him when He came into His kingdom’. He asked that his soul might be cared for, his sins pardoned and himself thought of in another world. Truly this was a wonderful change!

And then mark what kind of answer he received. Some would have said he was too wicked a man to be saved; but it was not so. Some would have fancied it was too late, the door was shut, and there was no room for mercy; but it proved not too late at all. The Lord Jesus returned him an immediate answer, spoke kindly to him, assured him he should be with Him that day in paradise, pardoned him completely, cleansed him thoroughly from his sins, received him graciously, justified him freely, raised him from the gates of hell, gave him a title to glory. Of all the multitude of saved souls, none ever received so glorious an assurance of his own salvation as did this penitent thief. Go over the whole list, from Genesis to Revelation, and you will find none who had such words spoken to him as these: ‘Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.’

I believe the Lord Jesus never gave so complete a proof of His power and will to save, as He did upon this occasion. In the day when He seemed most weak, He showed that He was a strong deliverer. In the hour when His body was racked with pain, He showed that He could feel tenderly for others. At the time when He Himself was dying, He conferred on a sinner eternal life.

Now, have I not a right to say, ‘Christ is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him’? (Hebrews 7:25.) Behold the proof of it. If ever sinner was too far gone to be saved, it was this thief. Yet he was plucked as a brand from the fire.

Have I not a right to say, ‘Christ will receive any poor sinner who comes to Him with the prayer of faith, and cast out none’? Behold the proof of it. If ever there was one that seemed too bad to be received, this was the man. Yet the door of mercy was wide open even for him.

Have I not a right to say, ‘By grace ye may be saved through faith, not of works: fear not, only believe’? Behold the proof of it. This thief was never baptized; he belonged to no visible church; he never received the Lord’s Supper; he never did any work for Christ; he never gave money to Christ’s cause! But he had faith, and so he was saved.

Have I not a right to say, ‘The youngest faith will save a man’s soul, if it only be true’? Behold the proof of it. This man’s faith was only one day old; but it led him to Christ, and preserved him from hell.

Why then should any man or woman despair with such a passage as this in the Bible? Jesus is a Physician who can cure hopeless cases. He can quicken dead souls, and call the things which be not as though they were.

Never should any man or woman despair! Jesus is still the same now that He was eighteen hundred years ago. The keys of death and hell are in His hand. When He opens none can shut.

Footnote

‘O Saviour, what a precedent is this of Thy free and powerful grace! Where Thou wilt give, what unworthiness can bar us from Thy mercy? When Thou wilt give, what time can prejudice our vocation? Who can despair of Thy goodness, when he, that in the morning was posting to hell, is in the evening with Thee in Paradise?’ (Bishop Hall.)

Ryle, J. C.. Holiness (pp. 161-163). Heritage Bible Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

 

Our Efforts

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“Make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;
and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance;
and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness;
and to brotherly kindness, love.”

2 Peter 1:5-7

If you would enjoy the eminent grace of the full assurance of faith, under the blessed Spirit’s influence, and assistance, do what the Scripture tells you, “Make every effort.” Take care that your faith is of the right kind—that it is not a mere belief of doctrine—but a simple faith, depending on Christ, and on Christ alone. Give diligent heed to your courage. Plead with God that He would give you the face of a lion, that you may, with a consciousness of right, go on boldly. Study well the Scriptures, and get knowledge; for a knowledge of doctrine will tend very much to confirm faith. Try to understand God’s Word; let it dwell in your heart richly.

When you have done this, “Add to your knowledge self-control.” Take heed to your body—be temperate without. Take heed to your soul—be temperate within. Get temperance of lip, life, heart, and thought. Add to this, by God’s Holy Spirit, patience; ask Him to give you that patience which endures affliction, which, when it is tried, shall come forth as gold. Array yourself with patience, that you may not murmur nor be depressed in your afflictions.

When that grace is won—look to godliness. Godliness is something more than external religion. Make God’s glory your object in life; live in His sight; dwell close to Him; seek for fellowship with Him; and you have “godliness”.

And to that add brotherly love. Have a love to all the saints—and add to that a charity, which opens its arms to all men, and loves their souls. When you are adorned with these jewels, and just in proportion as you practice these heavenly virtues—will you come to know by clearest evidence, “your calling and election.” “Make every effort,” if you would get assurance, for lukewarmness and doubting very naturally go hand in hand.

Our Own Sore, Our Own Grief

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Words for Zion’s Wayfarers

“Then what prayer or what supplication soever shall be made of any man, or of all your people Israel, when every one shall know his own sore and his own grief, and shall spread forth his hands in this house.” Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men)

2 Chronicles 6:29, 30

Solomon comes to experience; he puts his hand upon the right spot. It is knowing his “own sore” and his “own grief.” You may know another man’s; that will not profit you. You may read of experience in books, love to hear experimental ministers, and will hear no others; and yet not know your “own sore,” your “own grief.” Like a physician who may know the symptoms of every malady, and yet not have one malady of his own; so you may hear described every symptom of every disease, and yet be untouched by one.

But the man for whom Solomon’s prayer is, he that knows and feels, painfully feels, his “own sore” and his “own grief,” whose heart is indeed a grief to him, whose sins do indeed trouble him. How painful this sore often is! how it runs night and day! how full of ulcerous matter, and how it shrinks from the probe!

Most of the Lord’s family have a “sore,” each some tender spot, something perhaps known to himself and to God alone, the cause of his greatest grief. It may be some secret slip he has made, some sin he has committed, some word he has spoken, or some evil thing he has done. He has been entangled, and entrapped, and cast down; and this is his grief and his sore which he feels, and that at times deeply before God. For such Solomon prays–he casts his net upon the right side of the ship; and says, “Then hear from heaven your dwelling-place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart you know; for you only know the hearts of the children of men.” Yes; God alone knows the heart; he knows it completely, and sees to its very bottom.

 

Our Heavenly Citizenship

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“Fellow citizens with the saints.” Ephesians 2:19

What is meant by our being citizens in heaven? It means that we are under heaven’s government. Christ the king of heaven reigns in our hearts; our daily prayer is, “May Your will be done on earth—as it is in heaven.” The proclamations issued from the throne of glory are freely received by us—the decrees of the Great King we cheerfully obey.

Then as citizens of the New Jerusalem, we share heaven’s honors. The glory which belongs to beatified saints—belongs to us, for we are already sons of God, already princes of the blood imperial; already we wear the spotless robe of Jesus’ righteousness; already we have angels for our servitors, saints for our companions, Christ for our Brother, God for our Father, and a crown of immortality for our reward! We share the honors of citizenship, for we have come to the general assembly and Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven.

As citizens, we have common rights to all the property of heaven. Ours are its gates of pearl and walls of chrysolite; ours the azure light of the city that needs no candle nor light of the sun; ours the river of the water of life, and the twelve kinds of fruits which grow on the trees planted on the banks thereof; there is nothing in heaven that belongs not to us. “Things present—or things to come,” all are ours!

Also as citizens of heaven—we enjoy its delights. Do they there rejoice over sinners that repent—prodigals that have returned? So do we. Do they chant the glories of triumphant grace? We do the same. Do they cast their crowns at Jesus’ feet? Such honors as we have we cast there too. Are they charmed with His smile? It is not less sweet to us who dwell below. Do they look forward, waiting for His second advent? We also look and long for His glorious appearing. If, then, we are thus citizens of heaven—let our walk and actions be consistent with our high dignity!

Prayer for Ministers

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“Brethren, pray for us.” 1 Thessalonians 5:25

This one morning in the year, we reserved to refresh the reader’s memory upon the subject of prayer for ministers, and we do most earnestly implore every Christian household to grant the fervent request of the text first uttered by an apostle—and now repeated by us.

Brethren, our work is solemnly momentous, involving weal or woe to thousands; we treat with souls for God on eternal business, and our word is either a savor of life unto life—or of death unto death. A very heavy responsibility rests upon us, and it will be no small mercy if at the last, we are found clear of the blood of all men. As officers in Christ’s army, we are the especial mark of the enmity of wicked men and devils; they watch for our halting, and labor to take us by the heels. Our sacred calling involves us in temptations from which you are exempt; above all it too often draws us away from our personal enjoyment of truth into a ministerial and official consideration of it. We meet with many knotty cases, and our wits are bewildered. We observe very sad backslidings, and our hearts are wounded. We see millions perishing, and our spirits sink. We wish to profit you by our preaching; we desire to be blessed to your children; we long to be useful both to saints and sinners. Therefore, dear friends, intercede for us with our God!

Miserable men are we—if we miss the aid of your prayers; but happy are we—if we live in your supplications. You do not look to us but to our Master for spiritual blessings, and yet how many times has He given those blessings through His ministers. Ask then, again and again, that we may be the earthen vessels into which the Lord may put the treasure of the gospel. We, the whole company of missionaries, ministers, city workers, and students, do in the name of Jesus beseech you, “brethren, pray for us!”

To Love God

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Daily Portion

“Draw me; we will run after you! Let the king bring me into his chambers.”

Song of Solomon 1:4

How many of us can take the words of the bride into our lips, or have ever been able at any one time of our life to use such an expression? We must have had some sight and sense of the preciousness and loveliness of Jesus before ever we can cry, “Draw me,” from the depth of a sincere heart. For the sincere soul is afraid to approach the holy Jehovah, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, and insult him with mock petitions and words that it does not feel. But if ever that desire has been kindled, and that prayer raised up in your soul, “Draw me, we will run after you,” it must have been the work of the Holy Spirit in your hearts, to raise up those feelings and to give you a living faith in the Son of God.

And “he that believes shall be saved.” Whatever doubts, whatever fears, whatever temptations, whatever exercises beset the path, “he that believes shall be saved.” He that has had given him one grain of spiritual faith in Christ’s glorious person, who has had one sight of his atoning blood, one sip of divine love shed abroad in his heart, is sure to go to glory; he is saved with an everlasting salvation, in his covenant Head.

The Lord that has kindled these strong desires after himself in his soul, will surely fulfill them. As we find he did in the case of the bride; he said to her, after a little time, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds has come, and the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”

The Powerful Root of Practical Love

Devotional by John Piper

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. (1 John 3:14)

So, love is the evidence that we are born again — that we are Christians, that we are saved.

Sometimes the Bible makes our holiness and our love for people the condition of our final salvation. In other words, if we are not holy and not loving, we will not be saved at the judgment day (e.g., Hebrews 12:14Galatians 5:211 Corinthians 6:10). This doesn’t mean that acts of love are how we get right with God. No, the Bible is clear again and again as Ephesians 2:8–9 says, “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast.” No, when the Bible says that we are saved by faith but that we must love people in order to finally be saved, it means that faith in God’s promises must be so real that the love it produces proves the reality of the faith.

So, love for others is a condition of future grace in the sense that it confirms that the primary condition, faith, is genuine. We could call love for others a secondary condition, which confirms the authenticity of the primary and essential condition of faith which alone unites us to Christ, and receives his power.

Faith perceives the glory of God in the promises of future grace and embraces all that the promises reveal of what God is for us in Jesus. That spiritual sight of God’s glory, and our delight in it, is the self-authenticating evidence that God has called us to be a beneficiary of his grace. This evidence frees us to bank on God’s promise as our own. And this banking on the promise empowers us to love. Which in turn confirms that our faith is real.

The world is desperate for a faith that combines two things: awestruck sight of unshakable divine Truth, and utterly practical, round-the-clock power to make a liberating difference in life. That’s what I want too. Which is why I am a Christian.

There is a God of Grace who magnifies his own infinite beauty and self-sufficiency by fulfilling promises to helpless people who trust him. And there is a power that comes from prizing this God that leaves no nook or cranny of life untouched. It empowers us to love in the most practical ways.

 

Devotional is excerpted from Future Grace, pages 257-259
By John Piper. © Desiring God Foundation. Source: desiringGod.org
Used with permission.

Our Assurance

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” John 10:28

The Christian should never think or speak lightly of unbelief. For a child of God to mistrust God’s love, His truth, His faithfulness, must be greatly displeasing to Him. How can we ever grieve Him—by doubting His upholding grace? Christian! it is contrary to every promise of God’s precious Word that you should ever be forgotten or left to perish. If it could be so, how could He be true who has said, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget—yet will I never forget you.” What were the value of that promise, “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, says the Lord who has mercy on you.”

Where were the truth of Christ’s words, “I give unto My sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, who gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” Where were the doctrines of grace? They would be all disproved—if one child of God would perish. Where were the veracity of God, His honor, His power, His grace, His covenant, His oath—if any of those for whom Christ has died, and who have put their trust in Him, should nevertheless be cast away?

Banish those unbelieving fears which so dishonor God. Arise, shake yourself from the dust, and put on your beautiful garments.

Remember that it is sinful to doubt His Word wherein He has promised you that you shall never perish. Let the eternal life within you express itself in confident rejoicing.