A Call To Holy Living
By Charles H. Spurgeon (1834 – 1892)
“What do ye more than others?” (Matt. 5:47).
In our text, the great Master asks of those who are professors of His faith, that they should not only do as much as others to prove their title, but that they should do more than others; and He makes this a test question concerning their being really His followers: “What do ye more than others?”
There are legitimate reasons why the world, the church, and our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, may expect more from Christians than from the rest of mankind:
The first is because they profess more. Professions should always be supported by facts, or else they are deceits, impostures, and hypocrisies. A Christian professes himself to be a renewed man; he has learned the evil of sin, repented of it, and fled from it to Christ Jesus; he professes to have been pardoned, and to have received a new heart and a right spirit; he professes, also, to be a child of God, and an heir of heaven. Other men do not profess this. Some, who make no profession, wish that they could hope that these things belonged to them; others of them, altogether, despise these things; but, in neither case, do they profess to be what the Christian is.
Now, Christian, if you profess this, your life must prove it, or else, if your life gives the lie to your religious pretensions, you stand convicted of a flagrant falsehood, a fraud on men and a felony against God. It is a high crime and misdemeanor for a man to assume the name of a son of God, when he is utterly devoid of the divine nature, and lives in unholiness. In proportion as the privilege and the honor of a child of God is great, the sin of false pretensions to grace is increased. If you say you are regenerated, renewed, and sanctified, then be all that this means, or else cease your boasting.
But, secondly, we may well expect more from Christians than others, because it is a fact in the case of those who are truly Christians that they are more than others. It is not mere talk, it is a fact that the believer in Christ is born again. He is not only as other men are, made by God, but he has been twice made, new born, new created in Christ Jesus. It is no fiction but a matter of truthful experience; we have passed from death unto life. We have received the Spirit of God into our souls, which has implanted in us a new nature higher than the nature of other men, as much higher than the common soul of man as the soul of man is above the nature of the beast; for the children of God are partakers of the divine nature, God dwelleth in them, and the Spirit of God inhabits them as a king inhabits his palace.
Now, if they are more than others they ought to produce more than others in their lives. I will not insist upon the reasoning here, because I rather appeal to every believer’s heart than to his head. According as ye have received so will love suggest to you to render. Can any holiness be too precise in return for the infinite love which has been bestowed upon you from before the foundation of the world? Can any service be too hard to repay the suffering which your Savior bore for your redemption? Can any self-denial be too severe to prove that the Holy in you has subdued your flesh and overcome your corruptions?
It is certain that true Christians can do more than others. “Can,” saith one, “why, they can do nothing.” True, but through Christ that stengtheneth them they can do all things (Phil. 4:13); and Christ does strengthen His people. I admit their weakness, I admit, nay, I mourn and experimentally lament, in my own person, their feebleness; but, for all that, they are strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Eph. 6:10). Jesus Christ lends to them His conquering energy, and, as His blood has overcome the enemy, they overcome through the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 12:11). God has given them His Son, and in the power of Jesus they can and must vanquish sin.
Moreover, what is the indwelling Spirit within us? Is He not Omnipotence itself? The Holy Ghost who has come upon us is no influence which might be limited in its efficacy; but He is a divine Person, who dwelleth with us and shall be in us. Who shall set any limit to the power of that man in whom the Holy Ghost Himself dwells? All believers must never dare to say, “That habit we cannot give up.” We can and must overturn all the idols in our hearts. We may never say, “That height of devotion I can never reach.” Brethren, Omnipotence doth gird us; God giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor. 15:57). We are never to sit down and say, “I must be a sinner up to such-and-such a point; I cannot get beyond that attainment.” What saith the Scripture? “Be ye perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48); after this perfection we are to strain, and towards this mark of our high calling we are to press. God who dwells in us is working in us daily to will and to do according to His own good pleasure (Phil. 2:13), so that we can do what the dead sinner cannot do; we can do what sinners, without the Spirit, cannot do; and, if we can, we must. Surely, it is required of a man according to what he hath, and where much is given much will be required (Luke 12:48). Let us take care that we quench not the Spirit, that by our unbelief we restrain not His divine energies; but let us strive, God striving in us, after the highest conceivable standard of holiness and of separation from the world. O Spirit of God, do Thou help us that we may be sanctified by Thy grace, spirit, soul, and body.
Yet further, more is to be expected of Christians than others, because they have more. “But they are poor,” saith one. True, but the poorest Christian possesses more than the richest unbeliever. You shall set before me now the pauper who is a believer, and the emperor who has no faith in Christ, and I am persuaded that the poor, aged pauper would not exchange her lot though the imperial purple should be offered her. She would refuse to leave her Savior though the world were offered her.
While the poor believer feels that his God is his portion, he despises rather than covets the glories of the world.
Brethren in Christ, you know right well that you possess the covenant of grace, a covenant rich beyond comparison. More than that, you have Christ in the covenant, and Christ is all. All the glories of His immaculate manhood and His infinite Godhead, and all His merits, and all His conquests, and all His glories, all are yours, seeing you are His. And what is most of all, God is yours. “…I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (2 Cor. 6:16). And having God to be your God, Providence is yours – all things work together for your good (Rom. 8:28). Life’s goods are yours and so are its ills, this world is yours and worlds beyond the river; time and eternity, things present and things to come, life and death, all are yours.
And now, after all this, ought you not to do more than others? Oh, by the favors you have received, countless and immense; by the precious fountainhead of mercy, from which all those favors come; by the many years in which goodness and mercy have followed you all your days; if you be not indeed insensible, and your hearts changed to adamant, I beseech you, brethren, do more than others; serve your Lord with an intensity which others cannot reach, and live for Him with an ardor of which they cannot conceive.
– Condensed from a sermon.