And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there. (1 Kings 18:40)
Elijah – No Quarter part 2:
II. Secondly, let me remind you that the text is a very thoroughgoing one. “Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” Let me give some ARGUMENTS FOR THIS THOROUGHNESS. I fear there is good need why I should argue for the thoroughness of the slaughter of sin, because human nature makes desperate attempts to rescue at least one sin. Like Saul, it cannot bear to kill all the Amalekites – it would save a few of the better sort. I have heard men very eloquent against drunkenness, very, and I would not have them less so; but t hey have not had a word to say against Sabbath-breaking, or against unbelief, hardness of heart, pride, or self-righteousness. They would kill the adder and spare the viper. Have you not also known some who justify the taunt in Hudibras, and “compound for sins they are inclined to by damning those they have no mind to.” They are ferocious against certain sins and fond of others. They would not touch arsenic, but poison themselves with prussic acid. Just as Lot said of Zoar, so do they say, “Is it not a little one?” Some will avow that they have a constitutional tendency to a sin, and therefore they cannot overcome it; they take out a license to sin, and reckon themselves clear though they indulge their evil propensity. Brethren, this will never do. Indulgences for sin issued by the Pope are now rejected – shall we write them out for ourselves? Is Christ the messenger of sin? I know that some persons feel they are excused in the use of bitter language occasionally, because they are provoked, but I find no such excuses in the Word of God. In no one passage do I find a permit for any sin, or a furlough from any duty. Sin is sin in any case and in any man, and we are not to apologize for it, but to condemn it. It is pleaded by some that their father was passionate, and they are passionate, and therefore it runs in their blood, but let them remember that the Lord must cleanse their blood, or they will die in their sin. Others will say that their constant discontent, moroseness, and murmuring, and tendency to quarrel with everybody, must be set down to their infirmity of body. Well, I am not their judge; but the word of the Lord judges them, and declares that sin shall not have dominion over the believer. Does a sin easily beset us? We are doubly warned to lay it aside. More grace is needed, and more grace may be had. Never suppose that God has given to you a license for any sin, so that you may live in it as long as you please; no, but believe that Jesus has come to save us from our sins. I have received no intimation from the Lord to deal delicately with any man’s sins, or to become an apologist for transgression. My message is that of Elijah, “Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” For, observe this, one sin may result in fatal consequences. “To a child of God?” Say you. I say not that; but how know we that you are a child of God? How dare you think yourself born from above while your heart loves any one sin? In truth, you may be assured that you are not a child of God if there be any one sin from which you do not long to be delivered. A child of God may for a while be the captive of sin, but never a lover of sin. One sin ruined our race; one fruit plucked from the forbidden tree hurled manhood from its pristine glory. The effect of that one sin has gone on rankling in our blood through six thousand years, and will go on when years cease to be counted, destroying men throughout an eternity of woe, if it be not purged out of them. That is something dreadful to think of as the result of one sin. Where one sine does not ruin a church, see what mischief it causes. There was only o ne Achan, but Israel was defeated at Ai, and could not conquer until the accursed thing was discovered and put away. There are poisons so potent that one drop will envenom the whole body; one leak in a ship may be sufficient to send it to the bottom; one lone rock may break the staunches timbers of a gallant vessel. Say not that there is no danger in one sin, but may God grant us grace to feel that no evil must be spared.
Then, dear brethren, there is this about it, there never was one sin alone yet. Sins always hunt in packs. See one of these wolves, and you may be certain that a countless company will follow at its heels. I spoke just now of the sin of Adam in the garden in taking forbidden fruit – let me ask, what was the essence of that sin? I think it would not be difficult to maintain the thesis that it was pride, or that it was discontent, or that it was lust, or unbelief, or indeed almost any other sin you like to name. It was a many-sided transgression, its light resolves itself into all the colors of evil. That devils name was legion, “for they are many.” Sin’s whole brood may be hatched out of one egg; the first original sin had all others in its loins. So we must not think of indulging one sin, because it will bring seven others more wicked than itself. He who sports with one sin will soon come to play with more, and go from bad to worse. A thief who cannot get in at the front door because he finds it locked, tries the back door, and the windows, and then finds a little window so small that it was not fastened because no full grown man could enter by it, and therefore he puts a child through it, and that is quite enough, for the little one can unlock the door, and let in as many thieves as he will. So one sin put into the soul and allowed to run riot there, may prepare the heart for transgressions never dreamed of. Not all at once do men grow abominable, but sin works the way for sin, and folly nursed grows into crime.
Dear brethren, there are Christians who, through a measure of yielding to some one sin, are all their life-time subject to bondage. They are weak in grace, they are melancholy, they never rejoice in the Lord; their characters are doubtful; they are poor examples, they have but little influence for good; their usefulness is questionable, their life is weak, and in all probability their death will be clouded. They will be saved, but so as by fire; they will get into harbor, but they will be like a vessel I saw some few days ago after the late gales, they will have to be tugged in, their masts gone, their sails rent to pieces, so that they cannot realize the blessed word, “So an entrance may be administered unto you abundantly into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
There is one strong reason for thoroughness in searching out sin, with which I will close this point: it is this, there is certainly no sin that Jesus loves, consequently there is no sin that we should love. Jesus never smiles on any sin of ours, but for every sin he wept, and groaned, and bled, and died. Shall his murderers be our favorites? Shall we harbor those who spat in his dear face, and pierced his blessed side. Methinks there is no argument so powerful to the Christian as the love of Christ. If you are a wife, a loving, tender wife, you will do nothing which would grieve your husband. If you have grown cold in love, that motive will not sway you; but if your heart be warm, and you feel the love of your espousals, you will want no other law. Beloved, will you grieve the Lord that bought you? By all the charms of his matchless beauty, and the flames of his quenchless love, I charge you be chaste to your soul’s Bridegroom, and chase away the wanton rivals which would steal your hearts, and defile you. Let Calvary be the Tyburn of your sins.
My heart has so decreed;
Nor will I spare the guilty things
That made my Savior bleed.”
III. And now we shall close, in the third place, by mentioning CERTAIN DOCTRINES WHICH MAY HELP US IN THIS PRACTICAL WORK.
While I have been giving the exhortation to the people of God, I dare say many of you have been whispering, “Who is sufficient for all this?” That is just what I wanted you to say, and my first inference is this – hence we see how incapable is the natural man of self-salvation, and of sin-killing efforts. Tell him to slay his sins; not he – he will hide them as Rahab the harlot hid the spies, and let them out again when a quite time comes round. Kill his sins! Not he – they are his Absaloms, and he would sooner die than lose them. The sinner kill sin? Ah, no. There is an old league between them, a sworn confederacy. The unregenerate will no more quarrel with sin than bee with honey, or dogs with bones. Sin is the sunshine in which the sinner, like an insect, dances through his little hour. “Ye must be born again, ye must be born again.” All reformations which do not begin with regeneration are wood, hay, and stubble, and will come to an end. All that fallen nature weaves in her loom will be unravelled. “Ye must be born again, ye must be born again!”
And then, secondly, see how much this work is beyond all human strength. If I had to slay one sin, how could I do it? For to kill sin is not such easy work, it is hundred-headed and hundred-lived. You think, “I have overcome that evil,” and meanwhile you may hear it laugh at you. How true is that of pride. A man says, “I will be humbler, I will pray down my pride,” and at last he thinks, “Well, now, I have become humbler,” a sure sign that he is prouder than ever. A humble man mourns over his pride daily; it is only a proud man who has any humility to boast of. But if one sin cannot readily be put to death, what shall we do with the thousands which haunt us and find such convenient hiding-places in our old Adam nature? How shall we slay all these? He that made us must make us again, or we shall never be worth a farthing. He who first of all gave a pure nature to Adam must impart to us the pure nature of the second Adam, or our existence will be a failure. O God, how weak are we!
But then the third reflection is, behold, the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost is God, and he has undertaken to make us pure and perfect. Brethren, he will do it; blessed be his name, he will do it. We cannot help him in it, we cannot do it ourselves, it is absolutely certain we shall fail if we make the attempt; but he can perfect his own work. By his divine power and Godhead he will certainly take these prophets of Baal within us and slay them, till not one survives. Let us adore the Holy Spirit, let us love and bless him, make his person the object of our confidence, and the thought of him one of our richest delights. The Spirit of God will sanctify you wholly, spirit, soul and body, and you shall be presented faultless before the presence of God, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing. What a comfortable truth is this to our souls!
The next word is this: dear brethren, let us be very watchful. Since all these sins must die, let us be constantly watching for an opportunity to put them to death. They are watching for our halting; let us watch for their slaying. Sleeping Christian, you might be justified in sleeping if the devil would sleep too, but he was never known to slumber yet. Sleeping Christian, you might have some excuse if sin would go to sleep, but sin never sleepeth; day and night it dogs our footsteps. up, then, in the name of God, and be well aroused to watch and pray.
And lastly, and I delight to make this a closing note, what admiration and adoration ought we to give our Redeemer, the blessed Son of God, because in him was no sin. Remember, brethren, that the manhood of Christ was really human. Do not think of your Lord as though he were not truly man. Remember, he was tempted in all points like as we are, but, oh, that word, “yet without sin.” The devil sets him on the high mountain, and bribes him with a world, but he says, “Get thee behind me Satan.” The devil puts him on the pinnacle of the temple, and bids him cast himself down, but he will not tempt the Lord his God. Satan appeals to his hunger and bids him turn stones to bread, but he will not take the way of the flesh; he rests on God, knowing that “man lives not by bread alone.” O blessed Redeemer, pattern of our spirit, model to whom we are to be conformed, we reverence thee. Conquering in so many conflicts, coming forth from every trial victorious, thou art glorious indeed. It is not ours to open up the whole matter; it is ours to worship, ours to love, ours to imitate. O God, help us to do so, and the glory shall be unto thee forever. Amen. (Charles H. Spurgeon, No Quarter)