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31 March, 2013

The Heavenly Sanctuary - Celebrating Easter

The Heavenly Sanctuary
Hebrews 9:11-15

Empty tomb - courtesy of
But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.  Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

I find the King James Version of Hebrews 9 so beautifully crafted. So my quote above is directly from the King James Version. Christ death was necessary to redeem us from the dominion of darkness. But today we can rejoice because He is seated at the right hand of the Father as our high priest of the good things to come.

I just want to shout it out to all who can hear “don’t look for Him in the tomb, He is risen.” What’s beautiful about Easter is that while He is in heaven as our high priest interceding for us, He is also equally right here on earth with us. He is equally right here in our heart. Not part of Him but to each one of who wants Him, we possess Christ in His fullness. Do you understand the beauty of walking inside of Christ? He could not be nearer to us. Yet, I have to admit it, while I myself know too well what it means to see myself inside of Him with all the protection and authority that comes with being in Christ, sometimes life gets the best of me, and I forget to live out the beauty, the power and security I have in Him.
So this year, let’s not celebrate Easter and put it away for next year. Let’s remember for us Christians, Easter is every day as we make Christ our living God and living hope. May our lives reflect the beauty, the passion, and the truth of the empty grave. 

30 March, 2013

The Doctrine of Repentance - Part 9

By Thomas Watson, 1668
 The Nature of true repentance

Ingredient 5. HATRED of Sin
The fifth ingredient in repentance is hatred of sin. The Schoolmen distinguished a two-fold hatred: hatred of abominations, and hatred of enmity.

Firstly, there is a hatred or loathing of ABOMINATIONS: "Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices!" (Ezek. 36:31). A true penitent is a sin-loather. If a man loathes that which makes his stomach sick, much more will he loathe that which makes his soul sick! It is greater to loathe sin—than to leave it. One may leave sin for fear, as in a storm the jewels are cast overboard—but the nauseating and loathing of sin argues a detestation of it. Christ is never loved—until sin is loathed. Heaven is never longed for—until sin is loathed. When the soul sees its filthiness, he cries out, "Lord, when shall I be freed from this body of death! 

When shall I put off these filthy garments of sin—and be arrayed in the robe of Your perfect righteousness! Let all my self-love be turned into self-loathing!" (Zech. 3:4-5). We are never more precious in God's eyes—than when we are lepers in our own eyes!

Secondly, there is a hatred of ENMITY. There is no better way to discover life—than by motion. The eye moves, the pulse beats. So to discover repentance there is no better sign than by a holy antipathy against sin. Sound repentance begins in love to God—and ends in the hatred of sin. How may true hatred of sin be known?

1. When a man's HEART is set against sin.

Not only does the tongue protest against sin—but the heart abhors it. However lovely sin is painted—we find it odious—just as we abhor the picture of one whom we mortally hate, even though it may be well drawn. Suppose a dish be finely cooked and the sauce good—yet if a man has an antipathy against the meat—he will not eat it. So let the devil cook and dress sin with pleasure and profit—yet a true penitent has a secret abhorrence of it, is disgusted by it, and will not meddle with it.

2. True hatred of sin is UNIVERSAL.

True hatred of sin is universal in two ways: in respect of the faculties, and of the object.

(1) Hatred is universal in respect of the faculties. That is, there is a dislike of sin not only in the judgment—but in the will and affections. Many a one is convinced that sin is a vile thing, and in his judgment has an aversion to it—yet he tastes sweetness in it—and has a secret delight in it. Here is a disliking of sin in the judgment and an embracing of it in the affections! Whereas in true repentance, the hatred of sin is in all the faculties, not only in the intellectual part—but chiefly in the will: "I do the very thing I hate!" (Romans 7:15). Paul was not free from sin—yet his will was against it.

(2) Hatred is universal in respect of the object. He who truly hates one sin—hates all sins. He who hates a serpent—hates all serpents. "I hate every false way!" (Psalm 119:104). Hypocrites will hate some sins which mar their credit. But a true convert hates all sins—gainful sins, complexion sins, the very stirrings of corruption. Paul hated the motions of sin within him (Romans 7:23).

3. True hatred against sin is against sin in all forms.
A holy heart detests sin for its intrinsic pollution. Sin leaves a stain upon the soul. A regenerate person abhors sin not only for the curse—but for the contagion. He hates this serpent not only for its sting but for its poison. He hates sin not only for hell—but as hell.

4. True hatred is IMPLACABLE.
It will never be reconciled to sin any more. Anger may be reconciled—but hatred cannot. Sin is that Amalek which is never to be taken into favor again. The war between a child of God and sin is like the war between those two princes: "there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days" (1 Kings 14:30).

5. Where there is a real hatred, we not only oppose sin in ourselves but in OTHERS too. The church at Ephesus could not bear with those who were evil (Rev. 2:2). Paul sharply censured Peter for his deception, although he was an apostle. Christ in a holy anger, whipped the money-changers out of the temple (John 2:15). He would not allow the temple to be made an exchange. Nehemiah rebuked the nobles for their usury (Neh. 5:7) and their Sabbath profanation (Neb. 13:17).

A sin-hater will not endure wickedness in his family: "He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house" (Psalm 101:7). What a shame it is when magistrates can show height of spirit in their passions—but no heroic spirit in suppressing vice.

Those who have no antipathy against sin, are strangers to repentance. Sin is in them—as poison in a serpent, which, being natural to it, affords delight. How far are they from repentance who, instead of hating sin, love sin! To the godly—sin is as a thorn in the eye; to the wicked sin is as a crown on the head! "They actually rejoice in doing evil!" (Jer. 11:15).

Loving of sin is worse than committing it. A good man may run into a sinful action unawares—but to love sin is desperate. What is it, which makes a swine love to tumble in the mire? Its love of filth. To love sin shows that the will is in sin, and the more of the will there is in a sin, the greater the sin. Wilfulness makes it a sin not to be purged by sacrifice (Heb. 10:26). O how many there are—who love the forbidden fruit! They love their oaths and adulteries; they love the sin and hate the reproof. Solomon speaks of a generation of men: "madness is in their heart while they live" (Eccles. 9:3). So for men to love sin, to hug that which will be their death, to sport with damnation, "madness is in their heart". It persuades us to show our repentance, by a bitter hatred of sin. There is a deadly antipathy between the scorpion and the crocodile; such should there be between the heart and sin.

29 March, 2013

Good Friday Quotes

Jesus died praying. His last words were words of prayer. The habit of life was strong in death. It may seem far off; but this event will come to us also. What will our last words be? Who can tell? But would it not be beautiful if our spirit were so steeped in the habit of prayer that the language of prayer came naturally to us at the last?

James Stalker

14:36 He said,"Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want."
Gethsemane is where He died; the cross is only the evidence.

Leonard Ravenhill

And in the article of death, as He saw the last fold of the grand design unrolled, He passed out of the world with the cry on His lips, "It is finished!" He uttered this cry as a soldier might do on the battlefield, who perceives, with the last effort of consciousness, that the struggle in which he has sacrificed his life has been a splendid victory. But the triumph and the reward of His work never come to an end; for still, as the results of what He did unfold themselves age after age, as His words sink deeper into the minds of men, as His influence changes the face of the world, and as heaven fills with those whom He has redeemed, "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied."

James Stalker

No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.

William Penn

Good Friday is the mirror held up by Jesus so that we can see ourselves in all our stark reality, and then it turns us to that cross and to his eyes and we hear these words, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." That's us! And so we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. We see in that cross a love so amazing so divine that it loves us even when we turn away from it, or spurn it, or crucify it. There is no faith in Jesus without understanding that on the cross we see into the heart of God and find it filled with mercy for the sinner whoever he or she may be.

Robert G. Trache

Does God really love us? I say look to the crucified Jesus. Look to the old rugged cross. By every thorn that punctured His brow. By every mark of the back lacerating scourge. By every hair of his beard plucked from his cheeks by cruel fingers. By every bruise which heavy fists made upon His head. God said, "I love you!" By all the spit that landed on his face. By every drop of sinless blood that fell to the ground. By every breath of pain which Jesus drew upon the cross. By every beat of His loving heart. God said, I love you.

Billy Lobbs

Christ died He left a will in which He gave His soul to His Father, His body to Joseph of Arimathea, His clothes to the soldiers, and His mother to John. But to His disciples, who had left all to follow Him, He left not silver or gold, but something far better - His PEACE!

Matthew Henry

God led Jesus to a cross, not a crown, and yet that cross ultimately proved to be the gateway to freedom and forgiveness for every sinner in the world. God also asks us as Jesus' followers to carry a cross. Paradoxically, in carrying that cross, we find liberty and joy and fulfillment.

Bill Hybels
Willow Creek Community Church

We take our stand at the cross and consent to be nailed to it, voluntarily, actually; to submit to the pain whereby the flesh dies; the hands are pierced that carnal work may no longer be done in the energy of the flesh; the feet are pierced that no longer we may walk according to the flesh; the brow is pierced with the thorn crown that our head may not any longer be held up for human diadems and fading laurel wreaths; the side is pierced that the heart may relinquish its fleshly energy and preference, and be occupied with God.

Arthur Tappan (A. T.) Pierson

Our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.

Watchman Nee

Christ is the Son of God. He died to atone for men's sin, and after three days rose again. This is the most important fact in the universe. I die believing in Christ. - Note found under his pillow, in prison, at his death.

Watchman Nee

As out of Jesus' affliction came a new sense of God's love and a new basis for love between men, so out of our affliction we may grasp the splendor of God's love and how to love one another. Thus the consummation of the two commandments was on
Golgotha; and the Cross is, at once, their image and their fulfillment.

Malcolm Muggeridge

The Christian community is a community of the cross, for it has been brought into being by the cross, and the focus of its worship is the Lamb once slain, now glorified. So the community of the cross is a community of celebration, a eucharistic community, ceaselessly offering to God through Christ the sacrifice of our praise and thanksgiving. The Christian life is an unending festival. And the festival we keep, now that our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us, is a joyful celebration of his sacrifice, together with a spiritual feasting upon it.

John R. W. Stott

This Word played life against death and death against life in tournament on the wood of the most holy cross, so that by his death he destroyed our death, and to give us life he spent his own bodily life. With love, then, he has so drawn us and with his kindness so conquered our malice that every heart should be won over.

Catherine of

Some of us think at times that we could cry, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" There are seasons when the brightness of our Father's smile is eclipsed by clouds and darkness; but let us remember that God never does really forsake us. It is only a seeming forsaking with us, but in Christ's case it was a real forsaking. We grieve at a little withdrawal of our Father's love; but the real turning away of God's face from His Son, who shall calculate how deep the agony which it caused Him? In our case, our cry is often dictated by unbelief: in His case, it was the utterance of a dreadful fact, for God had really turned away from Him for a season. O thou poor, distressed soul, who once lived in the sunshine of God's face, but art now in darkness, remember that He has not really forsaken thee. God in the clouds is as much our God as when He shines forth in all the lustre of His grace; but since even the thought that He has forsaken us gives us agony, what must the woe of the Saviour have been when He exclaimed, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Jesus defeated Satan in
Gethsemane on the cross, not by directly confronting the devil, but by fulfilling the destiny to which He had been called. The greatest battle that was ever won was accomplished by the apparent death of the victor, without even a word of rebuke to His adversary!

Francis Frangipane

The God on whom we rely knows what suffering is all about, not merely in the way that God knows everything, but by experience. In the darkest night of the soul Christians have something to hold onto that Job never knew. We know Christ crucified. Christians have learned that when there seems to be no other evidence of God's love, they cannot escape the cross. "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"(Rom.
8:32) … When we suffer, there will sometimes be mystery. Will there also be faith? Yes, if our attention is focused more on the cross, and on the God of the cross, than on the suffering itself.

D. A. Carson 


28 March, 2013

The Doctrine of Repentance – Part 8

I apologize for the length of this study. It turns out that I still have what seems to be three more post to go before I can finish it.  I think this study is necessary to go through because when we allow God to deal with our soul and bring us to the place where we are holy, every word of this study will make sense to your soul. What is astonishing is the way He views even the tiniest sin and you are astonish by the way you start viewing sin too. It is beautiful, because you know there is no way on your own you would ever see sin in this manner. You also realize how far you have come. So please this week is a week of repentance, a week to truly examine what His cross truly means to us.

It is a reminder for us true Christians to see how lucky we are to have been embraced by His grace and found redemption in Him. God does not care about our empty rituals, lip service, empty hearts, and our empty practices as a remembrance for His voluntary death on the cross for us.  He cares about our repentant hearts. Not just agreeing with Him, while agreeing with Him over our sins is good we need to take it deeper. He does care about what our faith amount to.

If you have been a Christian over a few decades and you find this repentance study a little bit annoying, then it simply means you are missing a major component in what you call Salvation. Instead of getting upset or dismiss the study, tomorrow to commemorate the anniversary of His death for you and me so that we might have life in abundance, you might want to adopt a different approach, a different attitude and this time go to Him with a repentant heart for the limit you have put on Salvation, for your stubborn heart and your wilful ignorance.  Search your heart my dear friend, do not let Satan influence your thinking process anymore and go forward in claiming your LIFE in Him.

When Salvation has touched your soul, you find this is truly a day of thanksgiving for the true Christian. When I was not a practicing Christian and I did not understand what Salvation meant according to His standards, I used to cry and feel sad because they killed Him. Now that Salvation has reached my soul, I know I do not need to cry because of His pain on the cross because it did not happen to Him. But I cry with a heavy heart because I am happy I died with Him. His voluntary death for me is a good thing. I cry with a heavy heart because I know how much I do not deserve Him. I cry with a heavy heart because of the depth of His love for humanity who does not even deserve Him. I cry with a heavy heart because I am still in awe that such a sinner like me can find so much grace in such a Holy God. – The only response to all that, is to give Him our all in return because He deserves it.

May this Easter weekend is truly the week-end where your heart embraces His sacrifice with no reserve and truly repents for your friendship with sin.
With all my love,
MJ Andre

By Thomas Watson, 1668

The Nature of true repentance

(7) In every sin there is folly ( Jer. 4:22). A man will be ashamed of his folly. Is not he a fool who labors more for the bread which perishes—than for the bread of life! Is not he a fool who for a lust or a trifle—will lose heaven! They are like Tiberius, who for a drink of water forfeited his kingdom? Is not he a fool who, to safeguard his body, will injure his soul? As if one should let his head be cut, to save his shirt! Is not he a fool who will believe a temptation of Satan—before a promise of God? Is not he a fool who minds his recreation more than his salvation? How may this make men ashamed—to think that they inherit not land—but folly (Proverbs 14:18).

(8) That which may make us blush, is that the sins we commit are far worse than the sins of the heathen. We act against more light. To us have been committed the oracles of God. The sin committed by a Christian is worse than the same sin committed by a heathen, because the Christian sins against clearer conviction, which is like weight put into the scale, which makes it weigh heavier.

(9) Our sins are worse than the sins of the devils. The fallen angels never sinned against Christ's blood. Christ did not die for them. The medicine of his merit was never intended to heal them. But we have affronted his blood by unbelief. The devils never sinned against God's patience. As soon as they apostatized, they were damned. God never waited for the angels—but we have spent upon the stock of God's patience. He has pitied our weakness, borne with our rebelliousness. His Spirit has been repulsed—yet has still importuned us and will take no denial. Our conduct has been so provoking as to have tired not only the patience of a Job, but of all the angels. The devils never sinned against example. They were the first that sinned and were made the first example. We have seen the angels, those morning stars, fall from their glorious orb; we have seen the old world drowned, Sodom burned—yet have ventured upon sin. How desperate is that thief who robs in the very place where his fellow hangs in chains. And surely, if we have out-sinned the devils, it may well put us to the blush.

Use 1. Is shame an ingredient of repentance? If so, how far are they from being penitents who have no shame? Many have sinned away shame: "the wicked know no shame" (Zeph. 3:5). It is a great shame not to be ashamed. The Lord sets it as a brand upon the Jews: "Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush!" (Jer. 6:15). The devil has stolen shame from men. When one of the persecutors in Queen Mary's time was upbraided for murdering the martyrs, he replied, "I see nothing to be ashamed of!" When men have hearts of stone and foreheads of brass—it is a sign that the devil has taken full possession of them.
There is no creature capable of shame but man. The brute beasts are capable of fear and pain—but not of shame. You cannot make a beast blush. Those who cannot blush for sin, do too much resemble the beasts. There are some so far from this holy blushing that they are proud of their sins. They are so far from being ashamed of sin, that they glory in their sins: "whose glory is in their shame" (Phil. 3:19). Some are ashamed of that which is their glory: they are ashamed to be seen with a good book in their hand. Others glory in that which is their shame: they look on sin as a piece of gallantry. The swearer thinks his speech most graceful when it is interlarded with oaths. The drunkard counts it a glory that he is mighty to drink (Isaiah 5:22). But when men shall be cast into the fiery furnace, heated seven times hotter by the breath of the Almighty—then let them boast of sin!

Use 2. Let us show our penitence by a modest blushing: "O my God, I blush to lift up my face" (Ezra 9:6). "My God"—there was faith; "I blush"—there was repentance. Hypocrites will confidently avouch God to be their God—but they know not how to blush. O let us take holy shame to ourselves for sin. Be assured, the more we are ashamed of sin now—the less we shall be ashamed at Christ's coming. If the sins of the godly are mentioned at the day of judgment, it will not be to shame them—but to magnify the riches of God's grace in pardoning them. Indeed, the wicked shall be ashamed at the last day. They shall sneak and hang down their heads—but the saints shall then be as without spot (Eph. 5:27), so without shame; therefore they are bid to lift up their heads (Luke 21:28). 

27 March, 2013

The Doctrine Of Repentance - Part 7

By Thomas Watson, 1668
The Nature of true repentance

Ingredient 4. SHAME for Sin
The fourth ingredient in repentance is shame: "that they may be ashamed of their iniquities" (Ezek. 43:10). Blushing is the color of virtue. When the heart has been made black with sin, grace makes the face red with blushing: "I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face" (Ezra 9:6). The repenting prodigal was so ashamed of his sinfulness, that he thought himself not worthy to be called a son any more (Luke 15:21). Repentance causes a holy bashfulness. If Christ's blood were not at the sinner's heart, there would not so much blood come in the face. There are nine considerations about sin which may cause shame:

(1) Every sin makes us guilty, and guilt usually breeds shame. Adam never blushed in the time of innocency. While he kept the whiteness of the lily, he had not the blushing of the rose. But when he had deflowered his soul by sin—then he was ashamed. Sin has tainted our blood. We are guilty of high treason against the Crown of heaven. This may cause a holy modesty and blushing.

(2) In every sin there is much unthankfulness, and that is a matter of shame. He who is upbraided with ingratitude will blush. We have sinned against God when he has given us no cause: "What iniquity have your fathers found in me?" (Jer. 2:5). Wherein has God wearied us, unless his mercies have wearied us? Oh the silver drops which have fallen on us! We have had the finest of the wheat; we have been fed with angels' food. The golden oil of divine blessing has run down on us from the head of our heavenly Aaron. And to abuse the kindness of so good a God—how may this make us ashamed!

Julius Caesar took it unkindly at the hands of Brutus, on whom he had bestowed so many favors, when he came to stab him: "What, you, my son Brutus?" O ungrateful—to be theworse for mercy! One reports of the vulture, that it draws sickness from perfumes. To contract the disease of pride and luxury, from the perfume of God's mercy—how unworthy is that! It is to requite evil for good, to kick against our feeder, "He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag, with curds and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats, with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat. You drank the foaming blood of the grape. Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked. He abandoned the God who made him and scorned the Rock of his salvation" (Deut. 32:13-15). This is to make an arrow of God's mercies—and shoot at him! This is to wound him with his own blessing! O horrid ingratitude! Will not this dye our faces a deep scarlet? Unthankfulness is a sin so great, that God himself stands amazed at it: "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: I have nourished and brought up children—and they have rebelled against me!" (Isaiah 1:2).

(3) Sin has made us naked, and that may breed shame. Sin has stripped us of our white linen of holiness. It has made us naked and deformed in God's eye—which may cause blushing. When Hanun had abused David's servants and cut off their garments so that their nakedness appeared, the text says, "the men were greatly ashamed" (2 Sam. 10:5).

(4) Our sins have put Christ to shame, and should not we be ashamed? The Jews arrayed him in purple; they put a reed in his hand, spit in his face, and in his greatest agonies reviled him. Here was "the shame of the cross". And that which aggravated the shame, was to consider the eminency of his person—as he was the Lamb of God. Did our sins putChrist to shame—and shall they not put us to shame? Did he wear the purple—and shall not our cheeks wear crimson? Who can behold the sun as it were blushing at Christ's passion, and hiding itself in an eclipse—and his face not blush?
(5) Many sins which we commit are by the special instigation of the devil—and should not this cause shame? The devil put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ (John 13:2). He filled Ananias' heart to lie (Acts 5:3). He often stirs up our passions (James 3:6). Now, as it is a shame to bring forth a child illegitimately, so too is it to bring forth such sins as may call the devil father. It is said that the virgin Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35)—but we often conceive by the power of Satan. When the heart conceives pride, lust, and malice—it is very often by the power of the devil. May not this make us ashamed to think that many of our sins are committed in copulation with the old serpent?

(6) Sin turns men into beasts (2 Peter 2:12), and is not that matter for shame? Sinners are compared to foxes (Luke 13:32), to wolves (Matt. 7:15), to donkeys (Job 28 11:12), to swine (2 Pet. 2:22). A sinner is a swine with a man's head. He who was once little less than the angels in dignity—has now become like the beasts. Grace in this life does not wholly obliterate this brutish temper. Agur, that good man, cried out, "surely I am more brutish than any!" (Proverbs 30:2). But common sinners are in a manner wholly brutified; they do not act rationally, but are carried away by the violence of their lusts and passions. How may this make us ashamed, who are thus degenerated below our own species? Our sins have taken away that noble, holy spirit which once we had. The crown has fallen from our head. God's image is defaced, reason is eclipsed, conscience stupified! We have more in us of the brute, than of the angel.

26 March, 2013

The Doctrine of Repentance Part 6

By Thomas Watson, 1668

The NATURE of true repentance

(6) Confession of sin makes way for pardon. No sooner did the prodigal come with a confession in his mouth, "I have sinned against heaven", than his father's heart did melt towards him, "Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him" (Luke 15:20). When David said, "I have sinned", the prophet brought him a box with a pardon, "The Lord has put away your sin" (2 Sam. 12:13). He who sincerely confesses sin, has God's bond for a pardon: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins" (1 John 1:9). Why does not the apostle say that if we confess, God is merciful to forgive our sins? He says that God is just, because he has bound himself by promise to forgive such. God's truth and justice are engaged for the pardoning of that man who confesses sin and comes with a penitent heart by faith in Christ.

(7) How reasonable and easy is this command that we should confess sin!

(a) It is a reasonable command, for if one has wronged another, what is more rational than to confess he has wronged him? We, having wronged God by sin, how equal and consonant to reason is it that we should confess the offence.

(b) It is an easy command. What a vast difference is there between the first covenant and the second! In the first covenant it was, if you commit sin you die! In the second covenant it is, if you confess sin you shall have mercy! In the first covenant no surety was allowed; under the covenant of grace, if we do but confess the debt, Christ will be our surety. What way could be thought of as more ready and facile for the salvation of man, than a humble confession? "Only acknowledge your iniquity" ( Jer. 3:13). God says to us, I do not ask for sacrifices of rams to expiate your guilt; I do not bid you part with the fruit of your body for the sin of your soul, "only acknowledge your iniquity." Do but draw up an indictment against yourself and plead guilty—and you shall be sure of mercy. All this should render this duty amiable. Throw out the poison of sin by confession, and "this day is salvation come to your house".

There remains one case of conscience: are we bound to confess our sins to men? The papists insist much upon auricular confession; that is—one must confess his sins in the ear of the priest or he cannot be absolved. They urge, "Confess your sins one to another" (James 5:16)—but this scripture is little to their purpose. It may as well mean that the priest should confess to the people as well as the people to the priest. Auricular confession is one of the Pope's golden doctrines. Like the fish in the Gospel, it has money in its mouth: "when you have opened its mouth, you shall find a piece of money" (Matt. 17:27). But though I am not for confession to men in a popish sense—yet I think in three cases there ought to be confession to men:

(1) Firstly, where a person has fallen into scandalous sin and by it has been an occasion of offence to some and of falling to others, he ought to make a solemn and open acknowledgment of his sin, that his repentance may be as visible as his scandal (2 Cor. 2:6-7).

(2) Secondly, where a man has confessed his sin to God—yet still his conscience is burdened, and he can have no ease in his mind—it is very requisite that he should confess his sins to some prudent, pious friend, who may advise him and speak a word in due season ( James 5:16). It is a sinful modesty in Christians, that they are not more free with their ministers and other spiritual friends in unburdening themselves and opening the sores and troubles of their souls to them. If there is a thorn sticking in the conscience, it is good to make use of those who may help to pluck it out.

(3) Thirdly, where any man has slandered another and by clipping his good name has made it weigh lighter, he is bound to make confession. The scorpion carries its poison in its tail—the slanderer in carries its poison in his tongue! His words pierce deep like swords. That person who has murdered another in his good name or, by bearing false witness, or has damaged him in his estate, ought to confess his sin and ask forgiveness: "if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God" (Matt. 5:23-24). How can this reconciliation be effected but by confessing the injury? Until this is done, God will accept none of your services. Do not think the holiness of the altar will privilege you; your praying and hearing are in vain, until you have appeased your brother's anger by confessing your fault to him.

25 March, 2013

The Doctrine of Repentance - Part 5

By Thomas Watson, 1668

The Nature of true repentance

Use 1. Is confession a necessary ingredient in repentance? Here is a bill of indictment against four kinds of people:

(1) It reproves those who hide their sins, as Rachel hid her father's idols under her saddle (Gen. 31:34). Many had rather have their sins covered—than cured. They do with their sins as with their pictures: they draw a curtain over them. But though men will have no tongue to confess—God has an eye to see! He will unmask their treason: "But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face!" (Psalm 50:21). Those iniquities which men hide in their hearts—shall be written one day on their foreheads as with the point of a diamond! They who will not confess their sin as David did—that they may be pardoned; shall confess their sin as Achan did—that they may be punished. It is dangerous to keep the devil's counsel—to hide our sins. "He who covers his sins shall not prosper" (Proverbs 28:13).

(2) It reproves those who do indeed confess sin, but only by halves. They do not confess all; they confess the pence—but not the pounds. They confess vain thoughts or badness of memory—but not the sins they are most guilty of, such as rash anger, extortion, immorality. They are like one who complains that his head aches—when his lungs are full of cancer! But if we do not confess all, how should we expect that God will pardon all? It is true that we cannot know the exact catalogue of our sins—but the sins which come within our view and cognizance, and which our hearts accuse us of, must be confessed as ever we hope for mercy.

(3) It reproves those who in their confessions, mince and mitigate their sins. A gracious soul labors to make the worst of his sins—but hypocrites make the best of them. They do not deny they are sinners—but they do what they can to lessen their sins. They indeed offend sometimes—but it is their nature. These are excuses rather than confessions. "I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord: because I feared the people" (1 Sam. 15:24). 

Saul lays his sin upon the people: they would have him spare the sheep and oxen. It was an excuse, not a self-indictment. This runs in the blood. Adam acknowledged that he had tasted the forbidden fruit—but instead of aggravating his sin he transferred it from himself to God: "The woman you gave me, she gave me the fruit—and I ate" (Gen. 3:12), that is, if I had not had this woman to be a tempter, I would not have transgressed. How apt we are to pare and curtail sin, and look upon it through the small end of the telescope, that it appears but as "a little cloud, like a man's hand" (1 Kings 18:44).

(4) It reproves those who are so far from confessing sin, that they boldly plead for it. Instead of having tears to lament it, they use arguments to defend it. If their sin is anger, they will justify it: "I do well to be angry!" (Jon. 4:9). If it be covetousness, they will vindicate it. When men commit sin they are the devil's servants; when they plead for it they are the devil's attorneys, and he will give them a fee.

Use 2. Let us show ourselves penitents by sincere confession of sin. The thief on the cross made a confession of his sin: "we indeed are condemned justly" (Luke 23:41). And Christ said to him, "Today shall you be with me in paradise!" (Luke 23:43), which might have occasioned that speech of Augustine's, that "confession of sin shuts the mouth of hell and opens the gate of paradise" That we may make a free and sincere confession of sin, let us consider:

(1) Holy confession gives glory to God. "Give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel—and make a confession to Him" (Josh. 7:19). A humble confession exalts God. When we confess sin, God's patience is magnified in sparing, and his free grace in saving such sinners.

(2) Confession is a means to humble the soul. He who subscribes himself a hell-deserving sinner, will have little heart to be proud. Like the violet, he will hang down his head in humility. A true penitent confesses that he mingles sin with all he does—and therefore has nothing to boast of. Uzziah, though a king—yet had a leprosy in his forehead; he had enough to abase him (2 Chron. 26:19). So a child of God, even when he does good—yet acknowledges much evil to be in that good. This lays all his plumes of pride in the dust.

(3) Confession gives vent to a troubled heart. When guilt lies boiling in the conscience, confession gives ease. It is like the lancing of an abscess, which gives ease to the patient.

(4) Confession purges out sin. Augustine called it "the expeller of vice". Sin is bad blood; confession is like the opening of a vein to let it out. Confession is like the dung-gate, through which all the filth of the city was carried forth (Neh. 3:13). Confession is like pumping at the leak; it lets out that sin which would otherwise drown. Confession is the sponge which wipes the spots from off the soul.

(5) Confession of sin endears Christ to the soul. If I say I am a sinner—how precious will Christ's blood be to me! After Paul has confessed a body of sin, he breaks forth into a thankful triumph for Christ: "I thank God through Jesus Christ" (Romans 7:25). If a debtor confesses a judgment but the creditor will not exact the debt, instead appointing his own son to pay it, will not the debtor be very thankful? So when we confess the debt, and that even though we should forever lie in hell we cannot pay it—but that God should appoint his own Son to lay down his blood for the payment of our debt—how is free grace magnified and Jesus Christ eternally loved and admired!

24 March, 2013

The Doctrine of Repentance - Part 4

By Thomas Watson, 1668

The Nature of true repentance

1. Confession must be VOLUNTARY.
It must come as water out of a spring—freely. The confession of the wicked is extorted, like the confession of a man upon a rack. When a spark of God's wrath flies into their conscience, or they are in fear of death—then they will fall to their confessions! Balaam, when he saw the angel's naked sword, could say, "I have sinned!" (Num. 22:34). But true confession drops from the lips—as myrrh from the tree, or honey from the comb—freely. "I have sinned against heaven, and before you" (Luke 15:18). The prodigal charged himself with sin, before his father charged him with it.

2. Confession must be with REMORSE.
The heart must deeply resent it. A natural man's confessions run through him as water through a pipe. They do not affect him at all. But true confession leaves heart-wounding impressions on a man. David's soul was burdened in the confession of his sins: "as a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me" (Psalm 38:4). It is one thing to confess sin—and another thing to feel sin's wounds.

3. Confession must be SINCERE.
Our hearts must go along with our confessions. The hypocrite confesses sin—but loves it; like a thief who confesses to stolen goods—yet loves stealing. How many confess pride and covetousness with their lips—but roll them as honey under their tongue. Augustine said that before his conversion he confessed sin and begged power against it—but his heart whispered within him, "not yet, Lord". He really did not want to leave his sin. A good Christian is more honest. His heart keeps pace with his tongue. He is convinced of the sins he confesses, and abhors the sins he is convinced of.

4. In true confession a man PARTICULARIZES sin.
A wicked man acknowledges he is a sinner in general. He confesses sin by wholesale. A wicked man says, "Lord, I have sinned"—but does not know what the sin is; whereas a true convert acknowledges his particular sins. As it is with a wounded man, who comes to the surgeon and shows him all his wounds—here I was cut in the head, there I was shot in the arm; so a mournful sinner confesses the various sins of his soul. Israel drew up a particular charge against themselves: "we have served Baal" (Judg. 10:10). The prophet recites the very sin which brought a curse with it: "Neither have we hearkened unto your servants the prophets, which spoke in your name" (Dan. 9:6). By a diligent inspection into our hearts, we may find some particular sin indulged—point to that sin with a repentant tear!

5. A true penitent confesses sin in the FOUNTAIN.
He acknowledges the pollution of his nature. The sin of our nature is not only a privation of good—but an infusion of evil. It is like rust to iron or stain to scarlet. David acknowledges his birth-sin: "I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalm 51:5). We are ready to charge many of our sins to Satan's temptations—but this sin of our nature is wholly from ourselves; we cannot shift it off to Satan. We have a root within, which bears gall and wormwood (Deut. 29:18). Our nature is an abyss and seed of all sin, from whence come those evils which infest the world. It is this depravity of nature which poisons our holy things; it is this which brings on God's judgments. Oh confess sin in the fountain!

6. Sin is to be confessed with all its circumstances and AGGRAVATIONS.
Those sins which are committed under the gospel horizon, are aggravated sins. Confess sins against knowledge, against grace, against vows, against experiences, against judgments. "The wrath of God came upon them and slew the fattest of them. For all this they sinned still" (Psalm 78:31-2). Those are killing aggravations, which enhance our sins.

7. In confession, we must so charge ourselves as to clear God.
Should the Lord be severe in his providences and unsheathe his bloody sword—yet we must acquit him and acknowledge he has done us no wrong. Nehemiah in his confessing of sin vindicates God's righteousness: "Every time you punished us you were being just. We have sinned greatly, and you gave us only what we deserved" (Neh. 9:33). Mauritius the emperor, when he saw his wife slain before his eyes by Phocas, cried out, "Righteous are you, O Lord, in all your ways".

8. We must confess our sins with a resolution not to commit them over again. Some run from the confessing of sin—to the committing of sin, like the Persians who have one day in the year when they kill serpents; and after that day allow them to swarm again. Likewise, many seem to kill their sins in their confessions, and afterwards let them grow as fast as ever. "Cease to do evil" (Isaiah 1:16). It is vain to confess, "We have done those things we ought not to have done", and continue still in doing so. Pharaoh confessed he had sinned (Exod. 9:27)—but when the thunder ceased he fell to his sin again: "he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart" (Exod. 9:34). Origen calls confession "the vomit of the soulwhereby the conscience is eased of that burden which did lie upon it." Now, when we have vomited up sin by confession—we must not return to this vomit! What king will pardon that man who, after he has confessed his treason, practices new treason? Thus we see how confession must be qualified.

23 March, 2013

The Doctrine Of Repentance - Part 3

 By Thomas Watson, 1668
The NATURE of true repentance

Question 1. Suppose a person has wronged another—and the wronged man is dead. What should he do?

Answer: Let him restore his ill-gotten goods to that man's heirs and family. If none of them are living, let him restore to God—that is, let him put his unjust gain into God's treasury by relieving the poor.

Question 2. What if the party who did the wrong is dead?

Answer: Then those who are his heirs ought to make restitution. Mark what I say—if there are any who has an estate left to them, and he knows that the one who left his estate had defrauded others and died with that guilt upon him—then the heir who now possesses the estate, is bound to make restitution, otherwise he entails the curse of God upon his family.

Question 3. If a man has wronged another and is not able to restore, what should he do?
Answer: Let him deeply humble himself before God, promising to the wronged party full satisfaction, if the Lord makes him able, and God will accept the will for the deed.

6. Godly sorrow is ABIDING. It is not a few tears shed in a passion, which will serve the turn. Some will fall a-weeping at a sermon—but it is like an April shower, it is soon over—or like a vein opened and presently stopped again. True sorrow must be habitual. O Christian, the disease of your soul is chronic and frequently returns upon you; therefore you must be continually medicating yourself by repentance. This is "godly sorrow."
Application: How far are they from repentance, who never had any of this godly sorrow! Such are:

(1) Deluded Papists, who leave out the very soul of repentance, making all penitential work consist in external fasting, penance, pilgrimages, in which there is nothing of spiritual sorrow. They torture their bodies—but their hearts are not torn. What is this, but the carcass of repentance?

(2) Carnal Protestants, who are strangers to godly sorrow. They cannot endure a serious thought, nor do they trouble their heads about sin. One physician spoke of a frenzy some have—which will make them die dancing. Likewise, sinners spend their days in mirth—they fling away sorrow—and go dancing to damnation! Some have lived many years—yet never put a drop of repentant tears in God's bottle, nor do they know what a broken heart means. They weep and wring their hands as if they were undone, when their estates are gone—but have no agony of soul for sin!

There is a two-fold sorrow: Firstly, there is a rational sorrow, which is an act of the soul whereby it has an animosity against sin, and chooses any torture rather than to admit sin. Secondly, there is a sensitive sorrow, which is expressed by many tears. The first of these is to be found in every child of God—but the second, which is a sorrow running out at the eye, all have not.

Yet it is very commendable to see a weeping penitent. Christ counts as great beauties—those who are tender-eyed; and well may sin make us weep. We usually weep for the loss of some great good; by sin we have lost the favor of God. If Micah did so weep for the loss of his idols, saying, "You've taken away all my gods, and I have nothing left!" (Judges 18:24). Then well may we weep for our sins, which have taken away the true God from us!

Some may ask the question—whether our repentance and sorrow must always be at the same level. Although repentance must be always kept alive in the soul—yet there are two special times when we must renew our repentance in an extraordinary manner:

(1) Before the receiving of the Lord's Supper. This spiritual Passover is to be eaten with bitter herbs. Now our eyes should be fresh broached with tears, and the stream of sorrow overflow. A repenting frame is a sacramental frame. A broken heart and a broken Christ do well agree. The more bitterness we taste in sin—the more sweetness we shall taste in Christ! When Jacob wept—he found God: "Jacob named the place Peniel—face of God—for I have seen God face to face!" (Gen. 32:30). The way to find Christ comfortably in the sacrament, is to go weeping there. Christ will say to a humble penitent, as to Thomas: "Put your hand into the wound in my side" (John 20:27), and let those bleeding wounds of mine heal you.

(2) Another time of extraordinary repentance is at the hour of death. This should be a weeping season. Now is our last work to be done for heaven, and our best wine of tearsshould be kept until such a time. We should repent now—that we have sinned so much—and wept so little; that God's bag of our sins has been so full—and his bottle of our repenting tears has been so empty (Job 14:17). We should repent now—that we repented no sooner; that the garrisons of our hearts held out so long against God before they were leveled by repentance. We should repent now—that we have loved Christ no more—that we have fetched no more virtue from him and brought no more glory to him. It should be our grief on our death-bed that our lives have had so many blanks and blots in them—that our duties have been so tainted with sin, that our obedience has been so imperfect—and we have gone so lame in the ways of God. When the soul is going out of the body—it should swim to heaven in a sea of tears!

Ingredient 3. CONFESSION of Sin
Sorrow is such a vehement passion—that it will have vent. It vents itself at the eyes by weeping, and at the tongue by confession. "The children of Israel stood and confessed their sins (Neh. 9:2). "I will go and return to my place, until they acknowledge their offence" (Hos. 5:15). This is a metaphor alluding to a mother who, when she is angry, goes away from the child and hides her face until the child acknowledges its fault and begs pardon. Gregory Nazianzen calls confession "a salve for a wounded soul." Confession is self-accusing: "I have sinned!" (2 Sam. 24:17). When we come before God, we must accuse ourselves. The truth is—that by this self-accusing we prevent Satan's accusing. In our confessions we accuse ourselves of pride, infidelity, passion, so that when Satan, who is called "the accuser of the brethren", shall lay these things to our charge, God will say, "They have accused themselves already; therefore, Satan, you have no suit; your accusations come too late."

The humble sinner does more than accuse himself; he, as it were, sits in judgment and passes sentence upon himself. He confesses that he has deserved to be bound over to the wrath of God. Hear what the apostle Paul says: "if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment" (1 Cor. 11:31). But have not wicked men, like Judas and Saul, confessed sin? Yes! but theirs was not a true confession. That confession of sin may be right and genuine, these eight qualifications are requisite: