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The Loved Ones Chastened

Written by: Spurgeon, C.H.    Posted on: 04/03/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

                                                The Loved Ones Chastened by REV. C.H. SPURGEON                                

              "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."Revelation 3:19.

          THE DEALINGS OF GOD towards the sons of men have always puzzled the wise men of the earth who           have tried to understand them. Apart from the revelation of God the dealings of Jehovah towards his           creatures in this world seem to be utterly inexplicable. Who can understand how it is that the wicked           flourish and are in great power? The ungodly man flourishes like a green bay tree; behold, he stretcheth out his           roots by the river: he knoweth not the year of drought; his leaf withereth not; and his fruit doth not fall in an           untimely season. Lo, these are the ungodly that flourish in the world; they are filled with riches; they heap up gold           like dust; they leave the rest of their substance to their babes; they add field to field, and acre to acre, and they           become the princes of the earth. On the other hand, see how the righteous are cast down. How often is virtue           dressed in the rags of poverty! How frequently is the most pious spirit made to suffer from hunger, and thirst, and           nakedness! We have sometimes heard the Christian say, when he has contemplated these things, "Surely, I have           served God in vain; it is for nothing that I have chastened myself every morning and vexed my soul with fasting;           for lo, God hath cast me down, and he lifteth up the sinner. How can this be?" The sages of the heathen could not           answer this question, and they therefore adopted the expedient of cutting the gordian knot. "We can not tell how it           is," they might have said; therefore they flew at the fact itself, and denied it. "The man that prospers is favored of           the gods; the man who is unsuccessful is obnoxious to the Most High." So said the heathen, and they knew no           better. Those more enlightened easterns, who talked with Job in the days of his affliction, got but little further; for           they believed that all who served God would have a hedge about them; God would multiply their wealth and           increase their happiness; while they saw in Job's affliction, as they conceived, a certain sign that he was a           hypocrite, and therefore God had quenched his candle and put out his light in darkness. And alas! even Christians           have fallen into the same error. They have been apt to think, that if God lifts a man up there must be some           excellence in him; and if he chastens and afflicts, they are generally led to think that it must be an exhibition of           wrath. Now hear ye the text, and the riddle is all unriddled; listen ye to the words of Jesus, speaking to his servant           John, and the mystery is all unmysteried. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and           repent."               The fact is, that this world is not the place of punishment. There may now and then be eminent judgments;           but as a rule God does not in the present state fully punish any man for sin. He allows the wicked to go on in their           wickedness; he throws the reins upon their necks; he lets them go on unbridled in their lusts; some checks of           conscience there may be; but these are rather, as monitions than as punishments. And, on the other hand, he casts           the Christian down; he gives the most afflictions to the most pious; perhaps he makes more waves of trouble roll           over the breast of the most sanctified Christian than over the heart of any other man living. So, then, we must           remember that as this world is not the place of punishment, we are to expect punishment and reward in the world           to come; and we must believe that the only reason, then, why God afflicts his people must be this:

                                            "In love I correct thee, thy gold to refine,                                         To make thee at length in my likeness to shine."

              I shall try this morning to notice, first, what it is in his children that God corrects; secondly, why God           corrects them; and thirdly, what is our comfort, when we are laboring under the rebukes and correctings of our           God. Our comfort must be the fact that he loves us even then. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten."               I. First, then, beloved, WHAT IS IT IN THE CHRISTIAN THAT GOD REBUKES? One of the Articles of           the Church of England saith right truly, that, naturally, "man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of           his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person           born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in           them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in the Greek, phronema sarkos, which some do           expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire, of the flesh, is not subject to the Law           of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth           confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin," and because evil remains in the regenerate           there is therefore a necessity that that evil should be upbraided. Ay, and a necessity that when that upbraiding is           not sufficient, God should go to severer measures, and after having failed in his rebukes, adopt the expedient of           chastening. "I rebuke and chasten." Hence God has provided means for the chastisement and the rebuking of his           people. Sometimes God rebukes his children under the ministry. The minister of the gospel is not always to be a           minister of consolation. The same Spirit that is the Comforter is he who convinces the world of sin, of           righteousness, and of judgment; and the same minister who is to be as the angel of God unto our souls, uttering           sweet words that are full of honey, is to be at times the rod of God, the staff in the hand of the Almighty, with           which to smite us on account of our transgressions. And ah! beloved, how often under the ministry ought we to           have been checked when we were not? Perhaps the minister's words were very forcible, and they were uttered           with true earnestness, and they applied to our case; but alas! we shut our ear to them, and applied them to our           brother instead of to ourselves. I have often marveled when I have been preaching. I have thought that I have           described the cases of some of my most prominent members. I have marked in them diverse sins, and as Christ's           faithful pastor, I have not shunned to picture their case in the pulpit, that they might receive a well-deserved           rebuke; but I have marveled when I have spoken to them afterward, that they have thanked me for what I have           said, because they thought it so applicable to such another brother in the church, whilst I had intended it wholly for           them, and had, as I thought, so made the description accurate, and so brought it out in all its little points, that it           must have been received by them. But alas! you know, my friends, that we sit under the sound of the Word, and           we seldom think how much it belongs to us, especially if we hold an office in the Church. It is hard for a minister           when he is hearing a brother minister preach, to think, it may be, he has a word of rebuke to me. If exalted to the           office of elder or deacon, there groweth sometimes with that office a callousness to the Word when spoken to           himself; and the man in office is apt to think of the hundreds of inquirers unto whom that may be found           applicable, and of the multitudes of the babes in grace to whom such a word comes in season. Ay, friends, if we           did but listen more to the rebukes of God in the ministry, if we hearkened more to his Word as he speaks to us           every Sabbath day, we might be spared many corrections, for we are not corrected until we have despised           rebukes, and after we have rejected those, then out comes the rod.               Sometimes, again, God rebukes his children in their consciences, without any visible means whatever. Ye           that are the people of God will acknowledge that there are certain times, when, apparently without any           instrumentality, your sins are brought to remembrance; your soul is cast down within you, and your spirit is sore           vexed. God the Holy Spirit is himself making inquisition for sin; he is searching Jerusalem with candles; he is so           punishing you because you are settled on your lees. If you look around you there is nothing that could cause your           spirits to sink. The family are not sick; your business prospers; your body is in good health; why then this sinking           of spirit? You are not conscious at the time, perhaps, that you have committed any gross act of sin; still this dark           depression continues, and at last you discover that you had been living in a sin which you did not knowsome sin           of ignorance, hidden and unperceived, and therefore God did withdraw from you the joy of his salvation, till you           had searched your heart, and discovered wherein the evil lay. We have much reason to bless God that he does           adopt this way sometimes of rebuking us before he chastens.               At other seasons, the rebuke is quite indirect. How often have I met rebuke, where it never was intended to           be given! But God overruled the circumstance for good. Have you never been rebuked by a child? The innocent           little prattler uttered something quite unwittingly, which cut you to your heart, and manifested your sin. You           walked the street, may hap, and you heard some man swear; and the thought perhaps struck your mind, "How           little am I doing for the reclaiming of those who are abandoned!" And so, the very sight of sin accused you of           negligence, and the very hearing of evil was made use of by God to convince you of another evil. Oh! if we kept           our eyes open, there is not an ox in the meadow, nor a sparrow in the tree, which might not sometimes suggest a           rebuke. There is not a star in midnight, there is not a ray in the noon-day, but what might suggest to us some evil           that is hidden in our hearts, and lead us to investigate our inner man, if we were but awake to the soft whispers, of           Jehovah's rebukes. You know, our Saviour made use of little things to rebuke his disciples. He said, "Consider the           lilies of the field, how they grow. Behold the fowls of the air, how they are fed!" So he made lilies and ravens           speak to his disciples, to upbraid their discontent. Earth is full of monitors: all that we need, are ears to hear.           However, when these rebukes all fail, God proceeds from rebuke to correction. He will not always chide; but, if           his rebukes are unheeded, then he grasps the rod, and he uses it. I need not tell you how it is that God uses the           rod. My brethren, you have all been made to tingle with it. He has sometimes smitten you in your persons,           sometimes in your families, frequently in your estates, oftentimes in your prospects. He has smitten you in your           nearest and dearest friend; or, worse still, it may be he has given you "a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to           buffet you." But you all understand, if you know anything of the life of a Christian, what the rod, and the staff,           and the covenant are; and what it is to be corrected by God. Let me just particularize for a few minutes, and show           what it is that God corrects in us.               Very frequently, God corrects inordinate affection. It is right of us to love our relativesit is wrong of us to           love them more than God. You, perhaps, are yourselves to-day guilty of this sin. At any rate, beloved, we may           most of us look at home when we come to dwell on this point. Have we not some favored oneperhaps, the           partner of our heart, or the offspring of our bosom, more dear to us than life itself? Have I not heard some man           whose life is bound up in the life of the lad, his child?some mother, whose soul is knit into the soul of her           babesome wife, some husband, to whom the loss of the partner would be the loss of life? Oh, there are many of           us who are guilty of inordinate affection toward relations. Mark you, God will rebuke us for that. He will rebuke           us in this way. Sometimes he will rebuke us by the minister; if that is not enough, he will rebuke us by sending           sickness or disease to those very persons upon whom we have set our hearts; and if that rebuke us not, and if we           are not zealous to repent, he will chasten us: the sickness shall yet be unto death. The disease shall break forth           with more fearful violence, and the thing which we have made our idol shall be smitten, and shall become the food           of worms. There never was an idol, that God either did not, or will not pull out of its place. "I am the Lord thy           God; I am a jealous God;" and if we put any, however good and excellent their characters may be, and however           deserving of our affection, upon God's throne, God will cry, "Down with it," and we shall have to weep many           tears; but if we had not done so, we might have preserved the treasure, and have enjoyed it far better, without           having lost it.               But other men are baser than this. One can easily overlook the fault of making too much of children, and wife,           and friends, although very grievous in the sight of God; but alas! there are some that are too sordid to love flesh           and blood; they love dirt, mere dirty earth, yellow gold. It is that on which they set their hearts. Their purse, they           tell us, is dross; but when we come to take aught from it, we find they do not think it is so. "Oh," said a man once,           "if you want a subscription from me, Sir, you must get at my heart, and then you will get at my purse." "Yes,"           said I, "I have no doubt I shall, for I believe that is where your purse lies, and I shall not be very far off from it."           And how many there are who call themselves Christians, who make a god out of their wealth! Their park, their           mansion, their estate, their warehouses, their large ledgers, their many clerks, their expanding business, or if not           these, their opportunity to retire, their money in the Three per Cents. All these things are their idols and their gods;           and we take them into our churches, and the world finds no fault with them. They are prudent men. You know           many of them; they are very respectable people, they hold many respectable positions, and they are so prudent,           only that the love of money, which is the root of all evil, is in their hearts too plainly to be denied. Every one may           see it, though, perhaps, they see it not themselves. "Covetousness, which is idolatry," reigns very much in the           church of the living God. Well, mark you, God will chasten for that. Whosoever loveth mammon among God's           people, shall first be rebuked for it, as he is rebuked by me this day, and if that rebuke be not taken, there shall be           a chastisement given. It may be, that the gold shall melt like the snow-flake before the sun; or if it be preserved, it           shall be said, "Your gold and silver are cankered; the moth shall eat up your garments, and destroy your glory." Or           else, the Lord will bring leanness into their souls, and cause them to go down to their graves with few honors on           their heads, and with little comfort in their hearts; because they loved their gold more than their God, and valued           earthly riches more than the riches that are eternal. The Lord save us from that, or else he will surely correct us.               But this is not the only sin: we are all subject to another crime which God abhors exceedingly. It is the sin of           pride. If the Lord gives us a little comfort, we grow so big that we hardly know what to do with ourselves. Like           Jeshurun of old, of whom it is said, "Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked." Let us for a little time enjoy the full           assurance of faith; self-conceit whispers, "You will retain the savor of that all your days;" and there is not quite a           whisper, but something even fainter than that"You have no need to depend upon the influence of the Holy Spirit           now. See what a great man you have grown. You have become one of the Lord's most valued people; you are a           Samson; you may pull down the very gates of hell and fear not. You have no need to cry, 'Lord, have mercy upon           me.' " Or at other times, it takes a different turn. He gives us temporal mercies, and then we presumptuously say,           "My mountain standeth firm; I shall never be moved." We meet with the poor saints, and we begin to hector over           them, as if we were something, and they were nothing. We find some in trouble; we have no sympathy with them;           we are bluff and blunt with them, as we talk with them about their troubles; yea, we are even savage and cruel           with them. We meet with some who are in deep distress and faint-hearted; we begin to forget when we were           faint-hearted too, and because they cannot run as fast as we can, we run far ahead, and turn back and look at           them, call them sluggards, and say they are idle and lazy. And perhaps even in the pulpit, if we are preachers, we           have got hard words to say against those who are not quite so advanced as we are. Well, mark, there never was a           saint yet, that grew proud of his fine feathers, but what the Lord plucked them out by-and-by. There never yet           was an angel that had pride in his heart, but he lost his wings, and fell into Gehenna, as Satan and those fallen           angels did; and there shall never be a saint who indulges self-conceit, and pride, and self-confidence, but the Lord           will spoil his glories, and trample his honors in the mire, and make him cry out yet again, "Lord, have mercy upon           me," less than the least of all saints, and the "very chief of sinners."               Another sin that God rebukes, is sloth. Now I need not stop to picture that. How many of you are the finest           specimens of sloth that can be discovered! I mean not in a business sense, for you are "not slothful in business;"           but with regard to the things of God, and the cause of truth, why, nine out of ten of all the professors of religion, I           do hazard the assertion, are as full of sloth as they can be. Take our churches all around, and there is not a           corporation in the world, however corrupt, that is less attentive to its professed interest, than the church of Christ.           There certainly are many societies and establishments in the world that deserve much blame for not attending to           those interests which they ought to promote; but I do think the Church of God is the hugest culprit of all. She says           that she is the preacher of the gospel to the poor: does she preach it to them? Yes, here and there: now and then           there is a spasmodic effort: but how many are there that have got tongues to speak, and ability to utter God's           Word that are content to be still! She professes to be the educator of the ignorant, and she is so in a measure: there           are many of you who have no business to be here this morningyou ought to have been teaching in the           Sabbath-school, or instructing the young, and teaching others. Ye have no need of teachers just now; ye have           learned the truth. and should have been teaching it to other people. The church professes that she is yet to cast the           light of the gospel throughout the world. She does a little in missionary enterprise; but ah! how little! how little!           how little compared with what her Master did for her and the claims of Jesus upon her! We are a lazy set. Take           the church all round, we are as idle as we can be; and we need to have some whipping times of persecution, to           whip a little more earnestness and zeal into us. We thank God this is not so much the case now, as it was even           twelve months ago. We hope the church may progress in her zeal; for if not, she, as a whole, and each of us as           members, will be first rebuked, and if we take not the rebuke, we shall afterwards be chastened for this our great           sin.               I have no time to enter into all the other reasons for which God will rebuke and chasten. Suffice it to say that           every sin has one twig in God's rod appropriated to itself. Suffice it to say, that in God's hand there are           punishments for each particular transgression; and it is very singular to notice how in Bible history almost every           saint has been chastened for the sin he has committed by the sin itself falling upon his own head. Transgression           has been first a pleasure, and afterward it has been a scourge. "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own           ways," and that is the severest punishment in all the world.               Thus I have tried to open the first headit is that God rebukes and chastens.               II. Now, secondly, WHY DOES GOD REBUKE AND CHASTEN? "Why," says one, "God rebukes his           children because they are his children; and he chastens them because they are his children." Well; I will not go the           length of saying that is false, but I will go the length of saying it is not true. If any one should say to a father, after           he had chastened his child, "Why is it you have chastened the child?" he would not say, it is because I am his           father. It is true in one sense; but he would say, "I have chastened the child because he has done wrong." Because           the proximate reason why he had chastened his child would not be that he was his father, though that would have           something to do with it as a primary reason; but the absolute and primary cause would be, "I have chastened him           because he has done wrong, because I wish to correct him for it, that he might not do so again." Now, God, when           he chastens his children, never does it absolutely; because he is his father; but he does it for a wise reason. He has           some other reason besides his fatherhood. At the same time, one reason why God afflicts his children and not           others, is because he is their Father. If you were to go home to-day and see a dozen boys in the streets throwing           stones and breaking windows it is very likely you would start the whole lot of them; but if there is one boy that           would get a sweet knock on the head it would be your own; for you would say, "What are you at, John? What           business have you here?" You might not be justified, perhaps, in meddling with the othersyou would let their           own fathers attend to them; but because you were his father, you would try to make him remember it. Certain           special chastisements are inflicted on God's children, because they are his children; but it is not because they are           his children that he chastens them at any one time, but because they have been doing something wrong. Now, if           you are under chastisement, let this truth be certain to you. Are the consolations of God small with thee? Is there           any secret thing with thee? Art thou chastened in thy business? Then what sin hast thou committed? Art thou cast           down in thy spirit? Then what transgression has brought this on thee? Remember, it is not fair to say, "I am           chastened because I am his child;" the right way to say it is, "I am his child, and therefore when he chastens me he           has a reason for it." Now, what is it? I will help you to judge.               Sometimes God chastens and afflicts us, to prevent sin. He sees that the embryo of lust is in our hearts; he           sees that that little egg of mischief is beginning to hatch and to produce sin, and he comes and crushes it at           oncenips the sin in the bud. Ah! we can not tell how much guilt Christians have been saved from by their           afflictions. We are running on madly to our destruction, and then some dark apparition of trouble comes, and           stretches itself across the way, and in great fright we fly back astonished. We ask, why this trouble? Oh! if we           knew the danger into which we were rushing we should only say, "Lord, I thank thee that by that direful trouble           thou didst save me from a sin, that would have been far more troublous and infinitely more dangerous."               At other times God chastens us for sins already committed. We perhaps have forgotten them; but God has           not. I think that sometimes years elapse between a sin and the chastisement for it. The sins of our youth may be       &nbs

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