Monday, March 18, 2013

Reliance on the Holy Spirit - Spurgeon

Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Gal 3:3
Yes, we are just so foolish. Folly is bound up not only in the heart of a child, but in the heart of even a child of God. I suppose we are all very sound as a matter of theory upon this point. If any should ask us how we hope to have our salvation worked in us, we should without the slightest hesitation proclaim our belief that salvation is of the Lord alone, and we should declare that, as the Holy Spirit first commenced our piety in us, we look alone to his might to continue and to preserve and at last, to perfect the sacred work.

I say we are sound enough on that point as a matter of theory, but we are all very heretical and unsound as a matter of practice. For alas… you will not find a Christian who does not have to mourn over his self-righteous tendencies. You will not discover a believer who has not at certain periods in his life, felt the need to groan because the spirit of self-confidence has risen in his heart and prevented him from feeling the absolute necessity of the Holy Spirit. Instead, it has led him to put his confidence in the mere strength of nature, the strength of good intentions, or the strength of strong resolutions, instead of relying upon the might of God the Holy Spirit alone.

This one thing I know brethren, that while as a preacher I can tell you that the Holy Spirit must work all our works in us, and that without him we can do nothing, yet as a man I find myself tempted to deny my own preaching; not in my words, but to deny them in fact by endeavoring to do deeds without looking first to the Holy Spirit. While I should never be unsound in the didactic part of it [the teaching or theory], yet in that part which concerns the working of it out [application and practice], in common with all who love the Lord Jesus but are still subject to the infirmities of flesh and blood, I have to groan that I repeatedly find myself, having begun in the Spirit, seeking to be made perfect in the flesh. [The Greek word sarx translated as "flesh" refers to our human sinful nature.]

Yes, we are just as foolish as that, my brethren; and it is well for us if we have a consciousness that we are foolish. For when a man is foolish and knows it, there is the hope that he will one day be wise: to know one’s self to be foolish is to stand upon the doorstep of the temple of wisdom. To understand the wrongness of any position is half way towards amending it. To be quite sure that our self-confidence is a heinous sin and folly, and an offense towards God, and to have that thought burned into us by God’s Holy Spirit, is going a great length towards the absolute casting away of our self-confidence, and the bringing of our souls in practice, as well as in theory, to rely wholly upon the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

--Charles H Spurgeon (from a Sermon delivered at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, London on Nov 5, 1857)

Note: We have modernized the language somewhat, added bold emphasis, and inserted a few brief comments in brackets.