Spurgeon – I could fight the devil if it were not that I had an enemy within

C. H. Spurgeon, "The Prince of Preachers&...

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„I could fight the devil; I could overcome every sin that ever tempted me, if it were not that I had an enemy within.”

A Sermon (No. 83) Delivered  June 1, 1856, by the REV. C. H. Spurgeon at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark. (via http://spurgeon.org where you can read the sermon in its entirety).

Spurgeon minces no words about one of the dangers to which we are exposed to from our  indwelling sin, arising from the fact that sin is within us. Indwelling sin, he tells us:

 …not only prevents us from going forward, but at times even assails us, as well as seeks to obstruct us. It is not merely that I fight with indwelling sin; it is indwelling sin that sometimes makes an assault on me. You will notice, the Apostle says, „O, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Now, this proves that he was not attacking his sin, but that this sin was attacking him. I do not seek to be delivered from a man against whom I lead the attack: but it is the man who is opposing from whom I seek to be delivered. And so sometimes the sin that dwelleth in believers flies at us, like some foul tiger of the woods, or some demon, jealous of the celestial spirit within us. The evil nature riseth up: it doth not only seek to stop us in the way, but, like Amalek, it labours to destroy us and cut us off utterly. Did you ever feel, beloved, the attacks of inbred sin? It may be, you have not: but if not, depend upon it you will. Before you get all the way to heaven, you will be attacked by sin. It will not be simply your driving out the Canaanite; but the Canaanite, with chariot of iron, will attempt to overcome you, to drive you out, to kill your spiritual nature, damp the flame of your piety, and crush the new life which God has implanted in you.

Spurgeon further describes how this evil heart remains in the Christian-

A volcano is ever a volcano; even when it sleeps, trust it not. …My heart, even though for an hour, it may not have had an evil thought, is still evil. If it were possible that I could live for days without a single temptation from my own heart to sin, it would be still just as evil as it was before; and it is always either displaying its vileness, or else preparing for another display. It is either loading its cannon to shoot against us, or else it is positively at warfare with us. You may rest assured that the heart is never other than it originally was; the evil nature is still evil; and when there is no blaze, it is heaping up the wood, wherewith it is to blaze another day. It is gathering up from my joys, from my devotions, from my holiness, and from all I do, some materials to attack me at some future period.

We must not trust our heart at any time...

The new nature must always wrestle and fight with it; and when the two natures are not wrestling and fighting, there is no truce between them. When they are not in conflict, still they are foes. We must not trust our heart at any time; even when it speaks most fair, we must call it liar; and when it pretends to the most good, still we must remember its nature, for it is evil, and that continually.

I could fight the devil; I could overcome every sin that ever tempted me, if it were not that I had an enemy within.

…this evil nature of thine is very strong and very powerful—stronger than the new nature, if the new nature were not sustained by Divine power.

Behold I am vile !

Job said, „Behold, I am vile.” That word „behold” implies that he was astonished. The discovery was unexpected. There are special times with the Lord’s people, when they learn by experience that they are vile. They heard the minister assert the power of inbred lust, but perhaps they shook they heads and said, „I cannot go so far as that;” but after a little while they found, by some clearer light from heaven, that it was a truth after all—”Behold, I am vile.”

I believe we generally find out most of our failings when we have the greatest access to God. Job never had such a discovery of God as he had at this time. God spoke to him in the whirlwind, and then Job said, „I am vile.” It is not so much when we are desponding, or unbelieving, that we learn our vileness; we do find out something of it then, but not all. It is when by God’s grace we are helped to climb the mount, when we come near to God, and when God reveals himself to us, that we feel that we are not pure in his sight. We get some gleams of his high majesty; we see the brightness of his skirts, „dark—with insufferable light;” and after having been dazzled by the sight, there comes a fall: as if, smitten by the fiery light of the sun, the eagle should fall from his lofty heights, even to the ground. So with the believer. He soars up to God, and on a sudden down he comes. „Behold,” he says, „I am vile. I had never known this if I had not seen God. Behold, I have seen him; and now I discover how vile I am.” Nothing shows blackness like exposure to light. If I would see the blackness of my own character, I must put it side by side with spotless purity; and when the Lord is pleased to give us some special vision of himself, some sweet intercourse with his own blessed person, then it is that the soul learns, as it never knew before, with an agony perhaps which it never felt, even when at first convinced of sin, „Behold, I am vile.” God is pleased to do this. Lest we should be „exalted above measure, by the abundance of the revelation,” he sends us this „thorn in the flesh,” to let us see ourselves after we have seen him.

Spurgeon lays out some necessary duties  on account of the continual filthiness of our heart:

1) In the first place, if your hearts be still vile, and there be still an evil nature in you, how wrong it is to suppose that all your work is done. There is one thing concerning which I have much reason to complain of some of you. Before your baptism you were extremely earnest; you were always attending the means of grace, and I always saw you here; but there are some, some even now in this place, who, as soon as they had crossed that rubicon, began from that moment to decrease in zeal, thinking that the work was over. I tell you solemnly, that I know there are some of you who were prayerful, careful, devout, living close and near to your God, until you joined the church; but from that time forth, you have gradually declined. Now, it really appears to me a matter of doubt whether such persons are Christians. I tell you I have very grave doubts of the sincerity of some of you. If I see a man less earnest after baptism, I think he had no right to be baptized; for if he had had a proper sense of the value of that ordinance, and had been rightly dedicated to God, he would not have turned back to the ways of the world.

Oh! if, when you were converted, your old nature were cut up, there would be no need of watchfulness now. If all your lusts were entirely gone, and all the strength of corruption dead within you, there would be no need of perseverance; but it is just because ye have evil hearts, that I bid you be just as earnest as ever you were, to stir up the gift of God which is in you, and look as well to yourselves as ever you did. Fancy not the battle is over, man; it is but the first trump, summoning to the warfare.

2) Again, if your evil nature is still within you, how watchful you ought to be! The devil never sleeps; your evil nature never sleeps; you ought never to sleep. „What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.” These are Jesus Christ’s words, and there is nothing needs repetition half so much as that word „watch.”

You have corruption in your heart: watch for the first spark, lest it set your soul on fire. „Let us not sleep as do others.” You might sleep over the crater of a volcano, if you liked; you might sleep with your head before the cannon’s mouth; you might, if you pleased, sleep in the midst of an earthquake, or in a pest-house; but I beseech you, do not sleep while you have evil hearts. Watch your hearts; you may think they are very good, but they will be your ruin if grace prevent not. Watch daily; watch perpetually; guard yourselves, lest you sin.

3) Above all, my dear brethren, if our hearts be, indeed, still full of vileness, how necessary it is that we shouldstill exhibit faith in God. If I must trust my God when I first set out, because of the difficulties in the way, if those difficulties be not diminished, I ought to trust God just as much as I did before. Oh! beloved, yield your hearts to God. Do not become self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency is Satan’s net, wherein he catcheth men, like poor silly fish, and doth destroy them. Be not self-sufficient. Think yourselves nothing, for ye are nothing, and live by God’s help. The way to grow strong in Christ is to become weak in yourself. God poureth no power into man’s heart till man’s power is all poured out. Live, then, daily, a life of dependence on the grace of God.

…if God loves his people, while they are yet vile, dost thou think thy vileness will prevent his loving thee? Nay, vile sinner, come to Jesus! vilest of the vile! Believe on Jesus, thou off-cast of the world’s society, thou who art the dung and dross of the streets, I bid thee come to Christ. Christ bids thee believe on him.

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