A CAUTION TO THE PRESUMPTUOUS – 1 Cor 10:12 (Spurgeon Sermon Snippets)


“Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
—1 Cor. 10:12

I speak not against strong faith or full assurance; God giveth it to us; it is the holiest, happiest thing that a Christian can have, and there is no state so desirable as that of being able to say, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.” It is not against that I speak, but I warn you against that evil thing, a false confidence and presumption which creepeth over a Christian, like the cold death-sleep on the mountain-top, from which, if he is not awakened, as God will see that he shall be, death will be the inevitable consequence. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

My first business shall be to find out The Character intended by the presumptuous man, the man who thinks he stands. The fanning must begin with the floor; the winnowing must try the wheat. So we are to winnow the church this morning to discover the presumptuous.

And first, a very common cause, is continued worldly prosperity. If God should always rock us in the cradle of prosperity—if we were always dandled on the knees of fortune—if we had not some stain on the alabaster pillar, if there were not a few clouds in the sky, some specks in our sunshine—if we had not some bitter drops in the wine of this life, we should become intoxicated with pleasure, we should dream “we stand;” and stand we should, but it would be upon a pinnacle; stand we might, but like the man asleep upon the mast, each moment we should be in jeopardy. We bless God, then, for our afflictions; we thank him for our depressions of spirit; we extol his name for the losses of our property; for we feel that had it not so happened to us, had he not chastened us every morning, and vexed us every evening, we might have become too secure.

Again, light thoughts of sin will engender presumption. It is sadly true, that even a Christian will grow by degrees so callous, that the sin which once startled him and made his blood run cold, does not alarm him in the least. The ear in which the cannon has been booming will not notice slight sounds. “We have not fallen,” say we, “we only did such a little thing; we have not gone astray. True, we tripped a little, but we stood upright in the main. We might have uttered one unholy word, but as for the most of our conversation, it was consistent.” Christian, beware! when thou thinkest lightly of sin, then thou hast become presumptuous. Do not little strokes fell lofty oaks? Will not continual droppings wear away stones?

A third reason often is, low thoughts of the value of religion. We none of us value religion enough. Religious furor, as it is called, is laughed at everywhere; but I do not believe there is such a thing as religious furor at all. If a man could be so enthusiastic as to give his body to be burned at the stake, could he pour out his drops of blood and turn each drop into a life, and then let that life be slaughtered in perpetual martyrdom, he would not love his God too much. When we consider we must be either in hell or in heaven throughout a never-ending state of immortality, how sirs, can we love too much? how can we set too high a value on the immortal soul? Can we ask too great a price for heaven? Can we think we do too much to serve that God who gave himself for our sins? If Christians knew the value of their souls, if they estimated religion at its proper rate, they never would presume; but low thoughts of Christ, low thoughts of God, mean thoughts of our souls’ eternal state—these things tend to make us carelessly secure.

But again, this presumption often springs from ignorance of what we are, and where we stand. All our life long the Holy Spirit reveals to us the horrid abomination of our hearts. I know there are some here who do not think anything about it; they think they are good-hearted creatures. Good hearts, have you? Good hearts! Jeremiah had a better heart than you, yet he said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” There is such corruption in a Christian, that while he is a saint in his life, and justified through Christ, he seems a devil sometimes in imagination, and a demon in the wishes and corruptions of his soul.

But to finish this delineation of a presumptuous man—Pride is the most pregnant cause of presumption.

Sometimes it is pride of talent. How am I wrapped in grandeur!” And thus in his self-complacency he thinks he stands. Ah! those are the men that fall.

Others have the pride of grace. A man says, “I have great faith, I shall not fall; poor little faith may, but I never shall.” There are some…who think their graces can keep them, knowing not that the stream must flow constantly from the fountain head, else the bed of the brook shall soon be dry, and ye shall see the pebbles at the bottom.

Many are worse still; they think they shall not fall because of their privileges. “I take the sacrament, I have been baptized in an orthodox manner, as written in God’s word; I attend such and such a ministry; I am well fed; I am fat and flourishing in the courts of my God. If I were one of those starved creatures who hear a false gospel, possibly I might sin; but oh! our minister is the model of perfection; we are constantly fed and made fat; surely we shall stand.” Pride cometh before a fall; and a haughty spirit is the usher of destruction. Take heed; watch thy footsteps; for where pride creepeth in, it is the worm at the root of the gourd, causing it to wither and die.

The true Christian cannot possibly suffer a final fall, but he is very much disposed to a foul fall. Though the Christian shall not stumble so as to destroy his life, he may break his limb.

The Danger.  I must now try and give you the reason why a man who thinks he stands is more exposed to the danger of falling than any other. First, because such a man in the midst of temptation will be sure to be more or less careless. The man who thinks he is strong, is off his guard; he is not ready to parry the stroke of the evil one, and then the poignard entereth his soul.

Again, the man who thinks he stands will not be careful to keep out of the way of temptation, but rather will run into it. Presumptuous men will say they can go into sin, they are so full of moral strength; but when a man tells you he is so good, always read his words backwards, and understand him to mean that he is as bad as he can be.

Another reason is, that these strong men sometimes will not use the means of grace, and therefore they fall. know some professedly religious people who are accepted in some churhes as being true children of God, who yet make it a habit of stopping away from the house of God, because they conceive they are so advanced that they do not want it. These are your presumptuous men. They are not to be found at the Lord’s table, eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ, in the holy emblems of bread and wine. You do not see them in their closets; you do not find them searching the Scriptures with holy curiosity. They think they stand—they shall never be moved; they fancy that means are intended for weaker Christians; and leaving those means, they fall.

Once more, the man who is self-confident runs a fearful hazard, because God’s, Spirit always leaves the proud. The gracious Spirit delights to dwell in the low places. God loves humility. He who walks with fear and trembling, fearing lest he should go astray, that man the Spirit loves; but when once pride creeps in, and the man declares, “Now I am in no danger,” away goes the dove; it flies to heaven and will have nought to do with him.

The third point is The Counsel. I would, if my Lord would allow me, speak home to your souls, and so picture the danger of a presumptuous man, that I would make you all cry out to heaven that sooner might you die than presume.

First, take heed, because so many have fallen. Oh! do you want to be saved by fire, Christians? Would ye not rather enter heaven, singing songs of praises? Would ye not glorify him on earth, and then give your last testimony with, “Victory, victory, victory, unto him that loved us;” then shut your eyes on earth, and open them in heaven? If you would do so, presume not.

Once more, my brother, take heed, because a fall will so much damage the cause of Christ. Nothing has hurt religion one-half, or one thousandth part, so much as the fall of God’s people. Ah! when a true believer sins, how will the world point at him. I heard one man say, a little while ago, that he did not believe there was a true Christian living, because he had found out so many hypocrites. I reminded him that there could be no hypocrites if there were no genuine ones. No one would try to forge bank notes if there were no genuine ones. But let those who are so, take heed; let them always, in their conduct, have the ring of true gold.

Oh ye, my beloved, ye my brethren, think not that ye stand, lest ye should fall. Oh ye fellow heirs of everlasting life and glory, we are marching along through this weary pilgrimage; and I, whom God hath called to preach to you, would turn affectionately to you little ones, and say, take heed lest ye fall. My brother, stumble not. Oh, my brethren; be much more in prayer than ever. Spend more time in pious adoration. Read the Scriptures more earnestly and constantly. Watch your lives more carefully. Live nearer to God. Take the best examples for your pattern. Let your conversation be redolent of heaven. Let your hearts be perfumed with affection for men’s souls. So live that men may take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus, and have learned of him; and when that happy day shall come when he whom you love shall say, “Come up higher,” let it be your happiness to hear him say, “Come my beloved, thou hast fought a good fight, thou hast finished thy course, and henceforth there is laid up for thee a crown of righteousness that fadeth not away”.

Sirs, there are some of you who know ye have not believed in Christ. If ye were to die where ye now sit ye have no hope that ye would rise amongst the glorified in bliss. How many are there here who if their hearts could speak, must testify that they are without God, without Christ, and strangers from the commonwealth of Israel. I cannot reverse my Master’s order—he says, “believeth,” and then “baptised;” and he tells me that “he that believeth not shall be damned.” Oh, my hearers, your works cannot save you. Though I have spoken to Christians, and exhorted them to live in good works, I talk not so to you. I ask ye not to get the flower before ye have the seed. I will not bid you get the roof of your house before ye lay the foundation. Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and ye shall be saved.

Oh, may God grant you grace to turn to him with full purpose of heart! Come, guilty sinner, come!

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The Sin of Unbelief – 2 Kings 7:19 (Spurgeon Sermon Snippet)


“And that lord answered the man of God, and said, Now, behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes but shalt not eat thereof.”—2 Kings 7:19.

For Elisha’s sake the Lord sent the promise that the next day, food which could not be obtained at any price, should be had at the cheapest possible rate—at the very gates of Samaria. However, the lord on whom the king leaned expressed his disbelief. We hear not that any of the common people, the plebeians, ever did so; but an aristocrat did it. Strange it is, that God has seldom chosen the great men of this world. High places and faith in Christ do seldom well agree.

This great man said, “Impossible!” and, with an insult to the prophet, he added, “If the Lord should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be.” His sin lay in the fact, that after repeated seals of Elisha’s ministry, he yet disbelieved the assurances uttered by the prophet on God’s behalf. Whereupon God pronounced his doom by the mouth of the man who had just now proclaimed the promise: “thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.”

His sin was unbelief.
Unbelief hath more phases than the moon, and more colors than the chameleon. At one time I see unbelief dressed out as an angel of light. It calls itself humility, and it saith, “I would not be presumptuous; I dare not think that God would pardon me; I am too great a sinner.” We call that humility, and thank God that our friend is in so good a condition. At other times we detect unbelief in the shape of a doubt of God’s immutability: “The Lord has loved me, but perhaps he will cast me off to-morrow. Sometimes this infidelity is embodied in a doubt of God’s power. We see every day new straits, we are involved in a net of difficulties, and we think “surely the Lord cannot deliver us.” But the most hideous of all is the traitor, in its true colours, blaspheming God, and madly denying his existence. Infidelity, deism, and atheism, are the ripe fruits of this pernicious tree; they are the most terrific eruptions of the volcano of unbelief.

Oh! sirs believe me, could ye roll all sins into one mass,—could you take murder, and blasphemy, and lust, adultery, and fornication, and everything that is vile, and unite them all into one vast globe of black corruption, they would not equal even then the sin of unbelief.

[Unbelief] is the parent of every other iniquity. There is no crime which unbelief will not beget. I think that the fall of man is very much owing to it.

[I]f there can be one sin more heinous than the unbelief of a sinner, it is the unbelief of a saint. But it is because my faith is weak, that I sin. Once take away faith, the reins are broken; and who can ride an unbroken steed without rein or bridle?

[U]nbelief not only begets, but fosters sin. [H]ow is it that when the sinner hears the tremendous threatenings of God’s justice, still he is hardened, and walks on in his evil ways? I will tell you; it is because unbelief of that threatening prevents it from having any effect upon him.

Methinks the tale of Calvary is enough to break a rock. Rocks did rend when they saw Jesus die. Methinks the tragedy of Golgotha is enough to make a flint gush with tears, and to make the most hardened wretch weep out his eyes in drops of penitential love; but yet we tell it you, and repeat it oft, but who weeps over it?

Unbelief disables a man for the performance of any good work. You shall never hear me say a word against morality; you shall never hear me say that honesty is not a good thing, or that sobriety is not a good thing; on the contrary, I would say they are commendable things; but I will tell you what I will say afterwards—these virtues may be current here below, but not above. If you have not something better than your own goodness, you will never get to heaven. All these things put together, without faith, do not please God. Virtues without faith are whitewashed sins. Obedience without faith, if it is possible, is a gilded disobedience. Not to believe, nullifies everything.

Faith fosters every virtue; unbelief murders every one. Thousands of prayers have been strangled in their infancy by unbelief.

[U]nbelief has been severely punished. By faith Noah escaped from the flood. By unbelief the rest were drowned. And, oh! do you not know that unbelief kept Moses and Aaron out of Canaan? Zechariah…doubted, and the angel struck him dumb.

[Unbelief] is the damning sin. There is one other sin for which Christ never made atonement. Mention every crime in the calendar of evil, and I will show you persons who have found forgiveness for it. But ask me whether the man who died in unbelief can be saved, and I reply there is no atonement for that man.

There is an atonement made for the unbelief of a Christian, because it is temporary; but the final unbelief—the unbelief with which men die—never was atoned for. You may turn over this whole Book, and you will find that there is no atonement for the man who died in unbelief; there is no mercy for him. Had he been guilty of every other sin, but believed, he would have been pardoned; but this is the damning exception—he had no faith.

Punishment
[T]he real reason why God’s people do not feed under a gospel ministry, is, because they have not faith. If you believed, if you did but hear one promise, that would be enough; if you only heard one good thing from the pulpit, here would be food for your soul, for it is not the quantity we hear, but the quantity we believe, that does us good—it is that which we receive into our hearts with true and lively faith, that is our profit.

[T]o the unconverted[:] A great work is going on in this chapel, but some of you do not know anything about it; you have no work going on in your hearts, and why? Because ye think it is impossible; ye think God is not at work. It is not the wrath now you have to fear, but the wrath to come; and there shall be a doom to come, when “ye shall see it with your eyes, but shall not eat thereof.”

I beseech you lay these things to heart, and remember that if you are damned, it will be unbelief that damns you. If you are lost, it will be because ye believed not on Christ; and if you perish, this shall be the bitterest drop of gall—that ye did not trust in the Saviour.