What is True Gospel Holiness?

1 Peter 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:3

Be ye holy, for I am holy.

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): There is not more counterfeit coin this day in the world than there is counterfeit holiness in the world.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): There be those who, in order to purge themselves of sin, flagellate their bodies, observe protracted fasts, wear sackcloth and hair shirts next to their skin, and even some have gone so far as to imagine that to refrain from ablutions, and to allow their body to be filthy, was the readiest mode of purifying their soul. A strange infatuation certainly! Yet today, in Hindostan, you shall find the fakir passing his body through marvellous sufferings and distortions, in the hope of getting rid of sin.

JOHN BROWN (of Haddington) (1722-1787): Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervors, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): Some would have moral virtue to be holiness.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): A man may not be morally evil, yet not spiritually good.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Why, self-love will carry a man to perform all moral actions.  A man, perhaps, will not get drunk for fear of making his head ache; a man may be honest, because it would spoil his reputation to steal. And so a man who has not the love of God in his heart, may do moral actions.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The natural man’s attitude towards morality is generally negative. His concern is that He should not do certain things. He does not want to be dishonest, unjust or immoral. The Christian’s attitude towards morality is always positive; he hungers and thirsts after a positive righteousness like that of God Himself…Something more than morality is necessary―a radical change of heart is necessary.

C. H. SPURGEON: There is a young man here who says, “I mean to lead a perfectly pure and holy life. I resolve to serve God.” Now should we dissuade such a man from the attempt? By no means! It has been sometimes said that we speak against morality. Never!—never a word against it!

THOMAS BROOKS: Ah, sirs, holiness is a flower that grows not in Nature’s garden. Men are not born with holiness in their hearts, as they are born with tongues in their mouths: holiness is a divine offspring: it is a pearl of great price, that is to be found in no nature but a renewed nature, in no bosom but a sanctified bosom.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564):  No one leads a holy life except he is united to God.

C. H. SPURGEON: You must get a new heart or you cannot be holy…Holiness is better than moral­ity. It goes beyond it. Holiness affects the heart. Holiness re­spects the motive. Holiness re­gards the whole nature of man. A moral man does not do wrong in act; a holy man hates the thought of doing wrong―a moral man would not commit outward sin; a holy man would not commit inward sin.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): When we are born again, then our sanctification, our inward and outward holiness begins.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): There are three things which are essential to inward gospel holiness: 1. The Holy Ghost

2. Faith in Christ

3. A new heart and new spirit.

Without these three, there is no such thing as gospel holiness in man.

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): The Holy Spirit assumes the office of the sanctifier of the people of God.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The Spirit sanctifies us by bringing us to the Word, the Word that brings us to a knowledge of Jesus.

C. H. SPURGEON: You will never find true faith unattended by true godliness; nor will you ever discover a truly holy life which does not have at its root a living faith based upon the righteousness of Christ. We must have faith, for this is the foundation; we must have holiness of life, for this is the superstructure.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The Holy Spirit came in order to reveal Christ to us. His primary work is to make Christ real to us, to show us what Christ has done for us, to remind us of His teaching, to give us a longing and a love for Christ, to enable us to live as Christ lived―to conform us to His image.

A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): The Holy Spirit is first of all a moral flame. It is not an accident of language that He is called the Holy Spirit, for whatever else the word “holy” may mean it does undoubtedly carry with it the idea of moral purity. And the Spirit, being God, must be absolutely and infinitely pure. With Him there are not―as with men―grades and degrees of holiness. He is holiness itself, the sum and essence of all that is unspeakably pure…At the base of all true Christian experience must be a sound and sane morality.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): We may depend upon it as a certainty that where there is no holy living there is no Holy Ghost.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: And grieve not the holy Spirit of God,” Ephesians 4:30. We have here what really makes Christian ethics what it is, and differentiates it from every other kind of moral or ethical system. There is no other kind of moral ethical teaching which ever makes this kind of statement. This is the peculiar thing about Christianity. All the others will tell you not to lie, they’ll tell you always to speak the truth, they’ll tell you not to lose your temper, but always to be controlled and disciplined, they’ll tell you not to steal, they’ll tell you not to use bad language, or any kind of corrupt communication, and to be kind and good and helpful and philanthropic―they do all that! But never in their systems do you find this―grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.  Never!

A. W. TOZER: As water cannot rise higher than its source, so the moral quality in an act can never be higher than the motive that inspires it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: And that is important of course in this way: that unless our conception of the Christian life, and of Christian conduct and behaviour includes this, is based upon this, and always leads us to this, it is not truly Christian. Good conduct is not of necessity Christian. And this is a tragic fact in the life and history of the Church, as we all know so well; that so often morality is taken for Christianity, a morality which uses Christian terminology. But this is the test. Is our whole life centered around a truth like this? Is this at the very heart of our whole outlook upon conduct and behaviour, and at the very heart of our practice?

JOHN OWEN: Gospel truth is the only root whereon Gospel holiness will grow.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Holiness, or that piety which is proper and genuine, is wrought by a Divine Truth, otherwise it is superstition, not godliness―and civility, not holiness.

JOHN BERRIDGE (1716-1793): All fancied sanctification, which does not arise wholly from the blood of the cross, is nothing better than Pharisaism…Holiness, as well as pardon, is to be had from the blood of the cross.


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Hammers & Nails in the Service of God

Jeremiah 23:29; Ecclesiastes 12:11

Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): The Word is a hammer, but it breaks not the flinty heart when lightly laid on.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): The truth must be preached boldly.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Let us be bold and outspoken, and never address our hearers as if we were asking a favour of them, or as if they would oblige the Redeemer by allowing Him to save them.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The preacher should never be apologetic, he should never give the impression that he is speaking by their leave as it were; he should not be tentatively putting forward certain suggestions and ideas.  That is not to be his attitude at all.

C. H. SPURGEON: Sometimes godly men rap hard; they do not merely hint at evil, but hammer at it…Martin Luther was wont to smite with his fist at such a rate that they show, at Eisenach, a board—I think a three-inch board—which he broke while hammering at a text. John Knox seemed as though he would “ding the pulpit in blads” which, being interpreted, means in English that he would knock it into slivers. That was evidently the style of the period when Protestants were fighting for their very existence, and the Pope and his priests and the devil and his angels were aroused to special fury: yet I do not suppose that Melancthon thought it needful to be quite so tremendous, nor did Calvin hammer and slash in a like manner.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): I preach as though Christ was crucified yesterday; rose again from the dead today; and is coming back to earth tomorrow.

WILLIAM GURNALL: King James said of a minister in his time, he preached as if death was at his back. Ministers should set forth judgment as if it were at the sinner’s back, ready to take hold of him. Cold reproofs or threatenings, they are like the rumblings of thunder afar off, which affright not as a clap over our head doth.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): There are always wanton persons who, while they fearlessly despise God, treat with ridicule all threatenings of His judgment, and at the same time hold in derision all injunctions as to a holy and pious life. Such persons must not be taught, but must be beaten with severe reproofs as with the stroke of a hammer.

C. H. SPURGEON: A hard, unfeeling mode of speech is also to be avoided; want of tenderness is a sad lack, and repels rather than attracts. The spirit of Elijah may startle, and where it is exceedingly intense it may go far to prepare for the reception of the gospel; but for actual conversion more of John is needed,—love is the winning force. We must love men to Jesus. Great hearts are the main qualifications for great preachers, and we must cultivate our affections to that end. At the same time our manner must not degenerate into the soft and saccharine cant which some men affect who are for ever dearing everybody, and fawning upon people as if they hoped to soft-sawder them into godliness.

GEORGE SWINNOCK (1627-1673): The hammer of the law may break the icy heart of man with terrors and horrors, and yet it may remain ice still, unchanged; but when the fire of love kindly thaweth its ice, it is changed and dissolved into water―it is no longer ice, but of another nature.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Let the reproof be as sharp as thou wilt, but thy spirit must be meek. Passion raiseth the blood of him that is reproved, but compassion turns his bowels. The oil in which the nail is dipped makes it drive the easier, which otherwise have split the board. We must not denounce wrath in wrath, lest sinners think we wish their misery; but rather with such tenderness, that they may see it is no pleasing work to us to rake in their wounds, but do it that we might not by a cruel silence and foolish pity be accessory to their ruin, which we cordially desire to prevent…Dip the nail in oil, reprove in love―but strike the nail home.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Sometimes it is necessary to say and write the same things over and over again, partly that they may be the better understood, and partly that they may be more strongly fixed in the memory; as also, that the saints may be the more established in the present truth.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Indeed he is the better workman, who drives one nail home with reiterated blows, than he which covets to enter many, but fastens none. Such preachers are not likely to reach the conscience, who hop from one truth to another, but dwell on none. Every hearer is not so quick as the preacher, to take a notion as it is first darted forth.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The great art of teaching is the art of repetition; the true teacher always knows that it is not enough to say a thing once, but that it needs to be repeated…There never was a Teacher in this world like the Lord Jesus Christ! His method is particularly interesting and fascinating―you find Him repeating “Seek ye first the kingdom of God,” Matthew 6:33. That is just another way of saying that you must have the single eye, and serve God and not mammon, verse 24. At all costs we must do this. He therefore puts it three times over, introducing it by means of the word “therefore.”―Verse 25: “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” Then in verse 31, He says it again, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” Then in verse 34, He says it again finally: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” So He says it three times, but each time in a slightly different form.

C. H. SPURGEON: Some repetitions are not vain. The reduplication here used is like the repeated blow of a hammer.

E. PAXTON HOOD (1820-1885): Some preachers expect too much of their hearers; they take a number of truths into the pulpit as a man might carry up a box of nails; and then, supposing the congregation to be posts, they take out a nail, and expect it to get into the post by itself. Now that is not the way to do it. You must take your nail, hold it up against the post, hammer it in, and then clinch it on the other side.

C. H. SPURGEON: Our esteemed brother D. L. Moody has a lively, telling style, and he thinks it wise frequently to fasten a nail with the hammer of an anecdote.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Men are dull to conceive, hard to believe, apt to forget, and slow to practise heavenly truths, and had therefore great need to have them much pressed, and often inculcated―a nail, the further it is driven in, with the greater difficulty it is pulled out.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Surely the hammer cannot break the rock in pieces, unless wielded by an able workman―and it is God’s Spirit alone that can thus apply it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The prime and greatest need in the pulpit is spiritual authority…There is but one thing that gives a preacher authority, and that is that he be “filled with the Holy Spirit.”


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Jesus Christ’s Parable of the Wedding Garment

Matthew 22:2, 3, 10-13

The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding…

So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Many a time the question has been asked: “What was the wedding garment?”

BENJAMIN KEACH (1640-1704): The garment of salvation is Christ’s righteousness.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The perfect righteousness of Christ is “upon all those who believe,” Romans 3:22. It is their “wedding garment”—“the best robe,” Luke 15:22, by which they are covered.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Not only Christ is made righteousness to His people (1 Corinthians 1:30), but they are made “the righteousness of God in Him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21; His righteousness is put upon them, and imputed to them, so that they are righteous as He is righteous…This is imputed to the elect of God by the Father, through a gracious act of His, and what they are clothed and covered with by the Son, and is put upon them and applied unto them by the Spirit; and which faith receiving puts off its own rags of righteousness, and makes use of this as its proper dress to appear in before the most High.

THOMAS WILCOX (1622-1687): Poor ragged nature, with all its highest improvements, can never spin a garment fine enough—without spot—to cover the soul’s nakedness.  Nothing can do it but Christ’s perfect righteousness.

C. H. SPURGEON: It may be said to be Christ’s righteousness imputed to us, for alas, many nominal Christians kick against the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of the Saviour and set up their own self-righteousness in opposition to it. To be found in Christ, not having our own righteousness, which is of the law, but having the righteousness which is of God by faith, is a very prominent badge of a real servant of God, and to refuse it is to manifest opposition to the glory of God, and to the name, person, and work of his exalted Son…The true saint wears the wedding garment, but he owns that the Lord of the feast provided it for him, without money and without price.

A. W. PINK: And thus may each one say, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,” Isaiah 61:10.

C. H. SPURGEON: But we might with equal truth say that the wedding dress is a holy character, the imparted righteousness which the Holy Spirit works in us, and which is equally necessary as a proof of grace. If you question such a statement, I would remind you of the dress which adorns the saints in heaven. What is said of it? “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” Revelation 7:14. Their robes therefore were such as once needed washing; and this could not be said in any sense of the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ; that was always perfect and spotless. It is clear then that the figure is sometimes applied to saints in reference to their personal character.

A W. PINK: Righteousness imputed, and righteousness imparted, constitute our salvation.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): The righteousness of Christ―first imputed, then implanted.

C. H. SPURGEON: Holiness is always present in those who are loyal guests of the great King, for “without holiness no man shall see the Lord,” Hebrews 12:14. Too many professors pacify themselves with the idea that they possess imputed righteousness, while they are indifferent to the sanctifying work of the Spirit. They refuse to put on the garment of obedience…This man without the wedding garment is the type of those who, in these days, pretend to be Christians.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): This man was not naked, or in rags; some raiment he had, but not a wedding garment―this hypocrite was never discovered to be without a wedding garment, till the king himself came in to see the guests.

CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945): Matthew says, the king “saw there a man which had not on wedding garment. And he saith unto him, “Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment.” The little word not appeared twice over, but it is not the same Greek word on those two occasions. The first word, ‘Ou,’ simply marks a fact; he had it not on. But when the king asked him the reason, Jesus used a slightly different word for ‘not,’ ‘Me,’ which suggests not merely the fact that he lacked the wedding garment, but that he did so definitely―of his own thought, and will, and intention. When the man came in not having a wedding garment, and the king talked to him, he said, “it is not only a fact that you have not a wedding garment; you did not intend having one. Your ‘not’ is the definite not of not willing. You are determined not to have it on. Your presence in here is the supreme sign of your rebellion.”—“And he was speechless;” he had nothing to say.

C. H. SPURGEON: The original Greek says, “he was muzzled.” He may have talked glibly enough before the King came in; he had not a word to say afterwards. Eloquent silence that! Why did he not even then fall on his knees, and seek forgiveness for his daring crime? Alas! pride made him incapable of repentance; he would not yield even at the last moment. There is no defense for a man who is in the Church of Christ, but whose heart is not right towards God.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The true believer embraces His righteousness as the wedding garment, whereby alone he expects admission to the marriage-feast of heaven.

C. H. SPURGEON: The King still comes in to see the guests who have accepted his royal invitation to his Son’s wedding. Woe be to any whom He finds without the wedding garment!―If the Lord our God were to come into His church today there would be an awful shrinkage among the number of His guests; a panic would seize the assembly, and the door would be blocked with men hastening to escape His eye.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): But there will be no deception at the last day. The unerring eye of God will discern who are His own people, and who are not. Nothing but true faith shall abide the fire of His judgment. All spurious Christianity shall be weighed in the balance and found lacking. None but true believers shall sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb. It shall avail the hypocrite nothing that he has been a loud talker about religion, and had the reputation of being an eminent Christian among men.

JOHN GILL: Such as are without the wedding garment―the robe of Christ’s righteousness―shall be cast into outer darkness.


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The Headcovering Contention ― Ignorance, or Feminist Rebellion?

1 Corinthians 11:3-16

I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): We know how to distinguish contentious persons. A contentious person is one who does not care what becomes of the truth. Of this description are all who, without any necessity, abolish good and useful customs, raise disputes respecting matters that are not doubtful, and who do not yield to reasonings.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): From the attention that the apostle has paid to the subject of veils and hair, it is evident that it must have occasioned considerable disturbance in the Church of Corinth. They have produced evil effects in much later times.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The root trouble, even among good Evangelicals, is our failure to heed the plain teaching of Scripture. We accept what Scripture teaches as far as our doctrine is concerned; but when it comes to practice, we very often fail to take the Scriptures as our only guide. When we come to the practical side we employ human tests instead of scriptural ones. Instead of taking the plain teaching of the Bible, we argue with it.

JOHN CALVIN: Let us therefore carefully mark this passage.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It was the common usage of the churches for women to appear in public assemblies, and join in public worship, veiled.

JOHN MURRAY (1898-1975): Since Paul appeals to the order of creation, it is totally indefensible to suppose that what is in view and enjoined had only local or temporary relevance. The ordinance of creation is universally and perpetually applicable, as also are the implications for conduct arising there from.

MATTHEW HENRY: The woman was made for the man,” to be his help-meet, “and not the man for the woman.” She was naturally, therefore, made subject to him, because made for him―for his use, and help, and comfort.

EZEKIEL HOPKINS (1633-1690): The men were uncovered in their assemblies, as the apostle tells us, to signify that they had nothing over them, but were superior to all visible creatures, and subject only to God.

JOHN CALVIN: As the man honours his head by showing his liberty, so the woman, by showing her subjection.

MATTHEW HENRY: And she who was intended to be always in subjection to the man should do nothing in Christian assemblies that looks like an affectation of equality. She ought to have power on her head—power, that is, a veil, the token not of her having the power or superiority, but being under the power of her husband, subjected to him, and inferior to the other sex.

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): I suspect there are some women in our modern day who would resent that―they resent the thought that God has given to woman anything that looks like a subject or inferior place. Let us put aside any thought of inferiority.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): As far as my personal opinion is concerned, I have no hesitation in saying that in many things the woman is the superior of the man: in the finer sensibilities, in the nobler qualities that go to make up character, in patience and powers of endurance, in gentleness, in tenderness, in unselfishness, in ministering to the suffering, in love, the woman is the superior to man. But that is not what is under discussion here. What is under discussion here is the position that God has given unto each and how that position must be owned and acknowledged by the symbol that God has appointed—Because God has placed woman in the position of subordination her head must be covered.

H. A. IRONSIDE: Bear in mind that Paul is not speaking here, as he does elsewhere, of a woman’s place in the new creation. In the new creation there are no distinctions: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus,” Galatians 3:28. We are all one in Christ. We were all sinners alike, we have all been redeemed alike, we are all indwelt by the Holy Spirit alike, we have all been baptized into one body alike, and so all these distinctions vanish and we think of one another as members of Christ. But this does not alter the fact that we still have our place in nature and must maintain that place.

You will see how important this is if I illustrate it in this way: According to the Word of God I am a heavenly citizen. Suppose I say, “Inasmuch as I am a heavenly citizen, I have no responsibilities to any country here on earth,” I will soon have to reckon with the income tax collector and other authorities―and I shall have to learn by experience that I have responsibilities, I have earthly relationships that must be maintained. Just so, although there is neither male nor female in the new creation, yet we have our places to fill in nature and in the church… “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee,” Genesis 3:16―and that relationship still exists. “The head of the woman is the man. 

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Paul does not say that it was only for the time being―it is something that is true, therefore, of the age in which we live.

JOHN ANGEL JAMES (1785-1859): Why were not the women to lay aside their veils? Because it would be forgetting their subordination and dependence, and assuming an equal rank with man. This is the gist of the apostle’s reason. It was not merely indecorous, and contrary to modesty, but it was ambitious, and violating the order of heaven.

H. A. IRONSIDE: She shows by uncovering her head that she wants to be like the man; she dishonours her head when she says, “I am not going to take any subject place, I have as much right to have my hat off in a public meeting as a man.”

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: But thus, you see, we argue with Scripture. Instead of taking its plain teaching, we say that times have changed—when it suits our thesis we say it is no longer relevant…The apostle tells them that that’s quite wrong; it’s not only wrong because a woman should have her head covered to show that she is under the authority of the man, but in addition to that he says that she should be covered because of the presence of the angels.

CHRISTOPHER LOVE (1618-1651): The women are to take heed how they come into the church, because the angels are spectators and behold how you behave yourselves, they being fellow-worshippers of God with you in church assemblies. And this should make you take heed of your carriage; for although they do not know your hearts, yet they behold your carriage as you come into the presence of God.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The reason why our sisters appear in the House of God with their heads covered is “because of the angels,” since the angels are present in the assembly and they mark every act of indecorum, and therefore everything is to be conducted with decency and order in the presence of the angelic spirits.

R. L. DABNEY (1820-1898): The holy angels would be shocked by women professing godliness publicly who throw off this appropriate badge of their position.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Therefore, be covered “because of the angels.”

WILLIAM GOUGE (1575-1653): Her hair is given her for a covering.” And if hair be given her for a covering, say you, wherefore need she add another covering?

JOHN CALVIN: Should anyone now object, that her hair is enough, as being a natural covering, Paul says that it is not, for it is such a covering as requires another thing to be made use of for covering it.

JOHN MURRAY: The covering is not simply her long hair. This supposition would make nonsense of verse 6; for the thought there is, that if she does not have a covering she might as well be shorn or shaven, a supposition without any force whatever if the hair covering is deemed sufficient.

A. W. PINK: What is so solemn in that sixth verse is the word “also.” I want you to notice that the Holy Spirit has there linked two things together. “If the woman be not covered let her also be shorn.”―In other words, God requires a double covering. He has given the woman the long hair to cover her head naturally, so that her head is covered when she is outside the church, to show that she is not her own ruler, her own head, but in subjection to the head of her household; but when she enters the house of God, another covering is required, to show that she is also in subjection to her spiritual head—those who have the rule in the house of God.

DAVID DICKSON (1583-1662): She ought to profess subjection by the covering of herself.

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407): That not nature only, but also her own will may have its part in her acknowledgement of her subjection.

JOHN ANGEL JAMES: If the veil were thrown aside, they might as well cut off their flowing hair, one of the woman’s distinctions from the man, the ornament, as well as the peculiarity of the sex.

JOHN CALVIN: And hence a conjecture is drawn, with some appearance of probability―that women who had beautiful hair were accustomed to uncover their heads for the purpose of showing off their beauty. It is not, therefore, without good reason that Paul, as a remedy for this vice, sets before them the opposite idea―that they be regarded as remarkable for unseemliness, rather than for what is an incentive to lust.

THOMAS MANTON: Women who come with shameless impudence into the presence of God, men, and angels―such boldness feeds your own pride and provokes others of your rank to imitate your vanity.

A. W. PINK: The long hair is a “glory” to the woman. Now what does that mean? Her “glory” is not to be limited to her physical attractions, but refers to the loveliness of submission, and the beauty of obedience. I want you to turn now to John 12, verse 3:—“Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair.” Mary placed her “glory” at the feet of Christ! Have you?

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Methinks, holy and beloved sisters, you should be content to wear this.

H. A. IRONSIDE: In the presence of God she covers her chief beauty in order that no mind may be turned from Christ to her beautiful hair.

MATTHEW HENRY: Those must be very contentious indeed who would quarrel with this, or lay it aside.

ADAM CLARKE: If any person puts himself forward as a defender of such points―that a woman may pray or teach with her head uncovered―let him know that we have no such custom as either, nor are they sanctioned by any of the churches of God, whether among the Jews or the Gentiles.


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The Political Princes of Modern Times

Psalm 146:3; Psalm 118:9; Psalm 40:4

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): I have heard that politicians can make use of a state lie—though the credit of it lasts but a little while—for great advantage to their designs.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Politicians consider not often what is just, but what is of use for the present purpose, be it right or wrong.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Oh, how often we hear this brought up! You are told to regard the difference between right and wrong everywhere, except when you get into politics; then stick to your party through thick and thin. Right and wrong vanish at once. Loyalty to your leader—that is the point. Never mind where he leads you, follow him blindly. You are even told that you may do wrong because it is politically right. I hate such an argument!

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Crimes are not lessened in their demerit by the political importance of those who commit them.

C. H. SPURGEON: There seems to be connected with politics in every country, something that besmears the mind, and defiles the hand that touches it.

ROBERT E. LEE (1807-1870): Politicians are more or less so warped by party feeling, by selfishness, or prejudices, that their minds are not altogether balanced. They are the most difficult to cure of all insane people.

JOHN TRAPP: There is no more truth nor assurance in them than in a false tale…Politicians are all for their own ends—when they soar highest, they are like the eagle, which, while aloft, hath her eye still upon the prey, which by this means she spies sooner, and seizes upon better…Nothing more ordinary, with politicians, than to cover private ends and respects with a pretense of public good: as Jeroboam told the people, it was too much trouble for them to go up to Jerusalem to worship; they should take a shorter cut to Dan and Bethel, 1 Kings 12:26-33. So Jehu, in all his reformations, had a hawk’s eye to a kingdom; his main end was to settle the crown upon his own head.

C. H. SPURGEON: May we not trust the elite? Surely reliance may be placed in the educated, the chivalrous, the intelligent?

JOHN KING (1559-1621): If princes deserve not confidence, the argument must needs hold by comparison, much less do meaner men deserve it.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): They promise much, but generally deceive those who trust in them.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): There is no depending upon their wisdom to advise us, their power to act for us, their good-will to us, no, nor upon their promises.

JOHN DONNE (1572-1631): Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity,” Psalm 62:9. The Holy Ghost hath been pleased to vary the phrase here, and to call “men of high degree not “vanity,” but “a lie; because the poor, men of low degree, in their condition promise no assistance, feed not men with hope, and therefore cannot be said to lie; but in the condition of men of high degree, who are of power, there is a tacit promise, a natural and inherent assurance of protection and assistance flowing from them. For the magistrate cannot say that he never promised me justice, never promised me protection; for in his assuming that place, he made me that promise…So, then, when men of high degree do not perform the duties of their places, then they are a lie of their own making.

ADAM CLARKE: “Rich men are a lie.” They promise much, but perform nothing; they cause you to hope, but mock your expectation…Men of high estate are generally proud, vainglorious, self-confident, and rash: it is better to trust in God than in them. Often they cannot deliver, and often they will not when they can.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): This is the reason why Scripture so frequently warns “not to trust in men, than whom nothing can be more vain,” Psalm 146:3; “Cursed is he who trusteth in man, and relieth on an arm of flesh,” Jeremiah 17:5. Yet we see both princes and men of ordinary rank contrive and resolve in such a manner as if they could establish for a hundred years all that they contrived, and could subject heaven, sea, and earth, and could regulate and dispose everything according to their will.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The first thing the Gospel tells you is that you can never put yourself right; men can never put the world right.  Now that is the very heart of the Gospel.  Ah, the politicians say the opposite, they say, “now, we can put it right.” Well all I say is this: they’ve had a very long time, why don’t they do it?  They cannot do it. History proves that they cannot do it.—Do you people still believe in politicians?

C. H. SPURGEON: To trust God is better policy than the craftiest politicians can teach or practise.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I heard one man say that he didn’t really see could how a Christian could possibly be a conservative.  But I heard another man say that he really didn’t see how any Christian could possibly be a socialist.  The fact of the matter is, of course, that both were wrong―both were wrong! And any attempt to equate the teaching of the New Testament with either of the political parties, or any other conceivable party, is to do violence to the teaching of the Scripture.

C. H. SPURGEON: Of two evils, choose neither.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): I have so poor an opinion of the bulk both of the electors and the elected, that I think if the seats in the house of commons could be determined by a lottery, an abundance of mischief and wickedness might be prevented, and perhaps the nation might be represented to as much advantage by this as by any other method.


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The Greatest Peril of Perilous Times

2 Timothy 3:1-6; Matthew 24:10-13

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Ask the children of this world what it is in their account that makes the times bad, and they will tell you, “Scarcity of money, decay of trade, and the desolations of war, make the times bad.” But the scripture lays the badness of the times upon causes of another nature: “Perilous times shall come,” for “iniquity shall abound.”

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Surely no anointed eye can fail to see that this prediction is now being fulfilled. Men are bent on pleasing themselves. Authority is openly flouted. Discipline is a thing of the past. Parental control is rarely exercised. Marriage has, for the most part, degenerated into a thing of convenience.

SAMUEL MILLER (1769-1850): Think of the abounding atheism and various forms of infidelity, the pride, the degrading intemperance, the profanations of the Sabbath, the fraud, the gross impiety, the neglect and contempt of the gospel, and all the numberless forms of enormous moral corruption ­which even in the most favoured parts of our country prevail in a deplorable degree, and in the less favoured hold a melancholy and undisturbed reign.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Worse still, if worse can be: those who dare walk our streets after sundown tell us that Sodom, in its most putrid days, could scarce exceed this metropolis for open vice.

MATTHEW HENRY: The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted,” Psalm 12:8. When wickedness abounds, and goes barefaced, under the protection and countenance of those in authority, then the times are very bad. When the vilest men are exalted to places of trust and power (who, instead of putting the laws in execution against vice and injustice and punishing the wicked according to their merits, patronize and protect them, give them countenance, and support their reputation by their own example), then the wicked walk on every side; they swarm in all places, and go up and down seeking to deceive, debauch, and destroy others; they are neither afraid nor ashamed to discover themselves; they declare their sin as Sodom and there is none to check or control them.

C. H. SPURGEON: Deep is our shame when we know that our judges are not clear in this matter, but social purity has been put to the blush by magistrates of no mean degree.

SAMUEL MILLER: Think of these abounding sins; and think also in how small a degree multitudes even of the professing people of God seem to be awake to the great responsibilities and duties of their high vocation.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): One of the heaviest complaints made in the prophets against Jerusalem for her backsliding, is that she was a “comfort” to Samaria and Sodom (Ezekiel 16:54); that those who had the name and place of God’s people, so lived as to make the wicked feel at ease.

A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): I confess to a feeling of uneasiness about this when I observe the questionable things Christ is said to do for people these days. He is often recommended as a wonderfully obliging, but not too discriminating Big Brother―who delights to help us to accomplish our ends, and who further favours us by forbearing to ask any embarrassing questions about the moral and spiritual qualities of those ends.

Within the past few years, Christ has been popularized by some so-called evangelicals as one who, if a proper amount of prayer were made―would help the pious prize fighter to knock another fighter unconscious in the ring. Christ is also said to help the big league pitcher to get the proper hook on his curve. In another instance He assists an athlete to win the high jump; and in another case, not only to come in first in a track meet―but to set a new record in the bargain. He is said also to have helped a praying businessman to beat out a competitor in a deal. He is even thought to lend support to a praying movie actress while she plays a role so lewd as to bring the blood to the face of a professional prostitute!

Thus our Lord becomes the Christ of utility―a kind of Aladdin’s lamp to do minor miracles in behalf of anyone who summons Him to do his bidding…Theirs is a Christ of carnal convenience, not too far removed from the gods of paganism.

C. H. SPURGEON: Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. They have risen in all ages; in these modern times they have risen in clouds, till the air is thick with them, as with an army of devouring locusts.  These are the men who invent new doctrines, and who seem to think that the religion of Jesus Christ is something that a man may twist into any form and shape that he pleases…Yet, when it so happens, let us remember that the King said it would be so. Is it any wonder that, where such “iniquity abounds” and such lawlessness is multiplied, “the love of many shall wax cold?”

MATTHEW HENRY: Though the world always lies in wickedness (1 John 5:19), yet there are some times in which it may be said, that iniquity doth in a special manner abound; as when it is more extensive than ordinary, as in the old world, when “all flesh had corrupted his way,” Genesis 6:12; and when it is more excessive than ordinary―and the abating of love is the consequence―Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Understand it in general of true serious godliness, which is all summed up in love; it is too common for professors of religion to grow cool in their profession, when the wicked are hot in their wickedness; as the church of Ephesus in bad times “left her first love,” Revelation 2:2-4.

C. H. SPURGEON: I think that you can see why our Saviour has given us a warning in this particular form. Iniquity is naturally opposed to grace, but it is most of all injurious to the grace of love.

A. W. PINK: This particular grace is the one which most affects the others: if the heart be kept right the head will not go far wrong; but when love cools, every grace languishes. Hence we find the apostle praying for the Ephesian saints that they might be “rooted and grounded in love,” Ephesians 3:17…In fact, of all of our graces this one is the most sensitive and delicate and needs the most cherishing and guarding (Matthew 24:12; Revelation 2:5).

C. H. SPURGEON: No peril can be greater than this. Lose love, lose all!


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Angels & Archangels: The Ranks of God’s Holy Angels

Daniel 8:16; Daniel 9:21

And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.

Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): When Daniel saw this angel Gabriel that appeared in a human form, and he knew this to be his name, by a man’s voice calling him by it; and now he knew him to be the same angel by his appearance and voice.

A. A. HODGE (1823-1886): Gabriel is distinguished as one that “stands in the presence of God” evidently in some preeminent sense, Luke 1:19―Is there any evidence that angels are of various orders and ranks?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): It seems quite clear that there is a division both in status, and in the work. For instance, we read twice in the scripture of one who is described as the “archangel,” the chiefest of all, the supreme. He is only mentioned twice in the New Testament, you remember, but it’s important to notice it. In the first epistle to the Thessalonians, the fourth chapter, the sixteenth verse, we read this: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The archangel will discharge the office of a herald to summon the living and the dead to the tribunal of Christ. For though this will be common to all the angels, yet, as is customary among different ranks, He appoints one in the foremost place to take the lead of the others.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The other reference [to an archangel] is in the ninth verse of the epistle of Jude, where we read that “Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” I think that taking the two together, we are not only entitled to deduce, but we must come to the conclusion that the archangel therefore is the one who is also referred to as Michael.

A. A. HODGE: Do the Scriptures speak of more than one archangel?

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Indeed there is no archangel mentioned [by name] in the whole Scripture but this one…There can be properly only one archangel, one chief or head of all the angelic host. Let it be observed that the word archangel is never found in the plural number in the sacred writings.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Michael is called “one of the chief princes,” Daniel 10:13, which, though the word “archangel” be not found in the plural number in Scripture, it may well imply a plurality of them; for what is one of the chief princes among the angels, but an archangel?

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Whether there be one archangel only, or more, it is not possible for us to determine.

A. A. HODGE: In both instances the term “archangel” is used in the singular number, and preceded by the definite article―many suppose that the archangel is the Son of God. Others suppose that he is one of the highest class of creatures, since he is called “one of the chief princes,” and since divine attributes are never ascribed to him.

JOHN WESLEY: That Michael is a created angel appears from his not daring, in disputing with Satan, to bring a railing accusation; but only saying, “The Lord rebuke thee,” Jude 9. And this modesty is implied in his very name; for Michael signifies, “Who is like God?” which implies also his deep reverence toward God, and distance from all self-exaltation. Satan would be like God: the very name of Michael asks, “Who is like God?” Not Satan; not the highest archangel.

JOHN GILL: Michael the archangel is not a created angel, but an eternal one, the Lord Jesus Christ; as appears from his name Michael, which signifies, “who is as God”―and who is as God, or like unto him, but the Son of God, who is equal with God? And from his character as the archangel, or Prince of angels, for Christ is “the Head of all principality and power,” Colossians 2:10; and from what is elsewhere said of Michael, that he is the great Prince and on the side of the people of God, and to have angels under him, and at his command, Daniel 10:21.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: You’ll find a reference to him also in Daniel 12:1; Michael seems to have a special relationship to the children of Israel; he was the one who fought for them against the prince of Persia. The children of Israel seem to have been allotted to Michael as his special care, his special work; he looked after them, and does look after them, he is their protector; his peculiar function is to guard them.

A. A. HODGE: In Revelation 12:7, Michael is said to have fought with his angels against the dragon and his angels.

MATTHEW POOLE: Whether this “archangel” be not the same with Christ Himself, who is “the Head of all principality and power I leave it as doubtful.

JOHN CALVIN: By Michael many agree in understanding Christ as the Head of the Church. But if it seems better to understand Michael as the archangel, this sense will prove suitable, for under Christ as the Head, angels are the guardians of the Church. Whichever be the true meaning, God was the preserver of His Church by the hand of His only-begotten Son, and because the angels are under the government of Christ, He might entrust this duty to Michael.

ADAM CLARKE: But we know so little of the invisible world that we cannot safely affirm anything positively.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: And then you’ll remember the other angel that is mentioned by name is Gabriel, and we are told about Gabriel that he “stands in the presence of God.”

ADAM CLARKE: From the allusion we may conceive the angel Gabriel to be in a state of high favour and trust before God.

JOHN CALVIN: To “stand before God signifies to be ready to yield obedience.

JOHN GILL: Sometimes such are God’s messengers, sent by Him on errands to men, and are interpreters of things to them, as Gabriel was to Daniel.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: He “stands in the presence of God,” waiting, as it were, to be given a message. And he has been given messages. It was he, you remember, that was given the special message to tell Mary what was to happen to her, and how she was to become the mother to the Son of God.  And in the same way we are told that it was he who gave the message to Zacharias.

JOHN GILL: Gabriel, as seems manifest from Luke 1:19, is the same angel that had appeared to Daniel, about the time of the evening oblation, near five hundred years before, and gave him an account of the time of the Messiah’s coming. Now the angel, by making mention of his name, puts Zacharias in mind of the prophecy of Daniel concerning the coming of the Messiah.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Thus, you see, he has a special function with regard to the coming of the Lord into this world, and into this life. So thus there is some kind of order, some kind of division.


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The Devil’s Deceptions & Decoys

Matthew 4:6

And [the devil] saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

JOSEPH HALL (1574-1656): But what is this I see? Satan himself with a Bible under his arm and a text in his mouth: “It is written.” What can be a better act than to speak Scripture? It is a wonder if Satan does a good thing well―he cites Scripture―but with mutilation and distortion; it comes out of his mouth maimed and perverted; one piece left [out and] all misapplied.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The devil has always tried to pervert scripture.

JOSEPH HALL: Let no man henceforth marvel to hear heretics or hypocrites quote the Scriptures, when Satan himself has not spared to cite them.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Hypocrisy is a thing not to be much wondered at in this world, especially when we consider the great influence Satan has upon the minds of many, who rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience. As he can turn himself into any shape, and put on almost any form, and look sometimes like an angel of light, in order to promote his kingdom of darkness, so he will teach his ministers and instruments to do the same.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Therefore he is said to “transform himself into an angel of light,” 2 Corinthians 11:14. Of all plots it is most dangerous, when he appears in Samuel’s mantle, and silvers his foul tongue with fair language. Thus in a point of error he corrupts some in their judgement, by commending his notions for special gospel truths, and like a cunning chapman puts off his old wares―errors I mean, that have lain long upon his hand, only turning them a little after the mode of the times, and they go for new light, under the skirt of Christian liberty.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Under a show of truth, Satan introduces the most notorious falsehoods and errors; and, under a pretense of religion, all sorts of idolatry, superstition, and impiety; it is in this way he has succeeded in his enterprises and temptations; these are his wiles, stratagems, and cunning devices.

JOSEPH HALL: No devil is so dangerous as the religious devil―those that wrest or mangle Scripture for their own purpose, it is easy to see from what school they come.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): And mark, Satan is very careful in the men whom he chooses to be decoys. He never employs a wicked man to be a decoy for a good man. It is very seldom, when Satan would decoy a Christian into a snare, that he makes use of an open reprobate. No; he makes use of the man who is pretendedly religious, and who looks to be of the same quality as yourself, and therefore entices you astray.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): The devil is a cunning pirate―he puts out false colours, and ordinarily comes up to the Christian as a friend.

WILLIAM GURNALL: He comes up to the Christian in the disguise of a friend, so that the gates are opened to him, and his motions received with applause, before either be discovered―such as 1 Kings 13:18―the old prophet leads the man of God out of his way: “He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): A prophet, and yet tell a lie! What a foul business is that! A prophet of God, likely, but corrupt.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Probably once a prophet of the Lord, who had fallen from his steadfastness, and yet not so deeply as to lose the knowledge of the true God, and join with Jeroboam in his idolatries.

JOHN GILL: It is hard to say what he was, a good man or a bad man; if a good man, he was guilty of many things which are not in his favour, as dwelling in such an idolatrous place, suffering his sons to attend idolatrous worship, and telling the man of God a premeditated lie.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): I cannot but call him a false prophet and a bad man.

JOHN GILL: Yet there are several things which seem contrary to his being a bad man, and of an ill character, since he is called an old prophet, did not attend idolatrous worship, showed great respect to the man of God, had the word of God sent unto him concerning him, believed that what he had prophesied should come to pass, buried the man of God in his own grave, and desired his sons to bury him with him—though he now dwelt at Bethel, he was originally of Samaria, 2 Kings 23:18.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): A holy prophet might possibly have continued in the kingdom of Israel, but he would never have gone from his own habitation to dwell at Bethel, the chief seat of idolatry, unless with design to preach against it―which it is evident he did not―his sin was great; for he did not only tell a premeditated lie, but also made God a liar, and to contradict Himself.

JOHN TRAPP: Nothing is so apt to deceive as the fairest semblances, as the sweetest words. We cannot be deceived, saith a reverend writer, if we believe not the speech for the person, but the person for the speech. A good man, saith another, may act for Satan, and not discern it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Every heresy that the church has ever known has been introduced by men who were sincere and who thought that they were promoting God’s interest and God’s kingdom by teaching what they taught. It’s the subtlety of it all.

C. H. SPURGEON: If Satan wants his errand done well, he sends one to me whom I call brother; and so through the brotherhood of profession, I am apt to give him credence and pay him respect; and then if he goeth astray the force of example is very powerful, and so I may easily be led into the net too.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Satan makes choice of such as have a great name for holiness: none like a live bird to draw other birds into the net. Abraham tempts his wife to lie: “Say thou art my sister,” Genesis 12:13.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): It is his policy, to send his temptations by the hands of those that are dear to us. We must therefore carefully watch, that we be not drawn to any evil, by them whom we love and value the most.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Sometimes he pretends pity and natural affection, which in some cases may be good counsel, and all the while he desires to promote cowardice and sinful self-love, whereby the Christian may be brought to fly from his colours, shrink from the truth, or decline some necessary duty of his calling. This wile of his, when he got Peter to be his spokesman, saying, Master, pity thyself, Christ soon spied, and stopped his mouth with that sharp rebuke, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” O what need have we to study the Scriptures, our hearts, and Satan’s wiles, that we may not bid this enemy welcome, and all the while think it is Christ that is our guest!


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Overcoming the Prejudices of a Religious Upbringing

Acts 15:1-15

Certain men came which came down from Judæa taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question…

And when they were come to Jerusalem…there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise [the Gentiles], and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider this matter.

And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simon [Peter] hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets, as it is written…

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It is very hard for men suddenly to get clear of their prejudices: those that had been Pharisees, even after they became Christians, retained some of the old leaven. All did not so—witness Paul―but some did. And they had such a jealousy for the ceremonial law, and such a dislike of the Gentiles, that they could not admit the Gentiles into communion with them, unless they would be circumcised, and thereby engage themselves to keep the law of Moses. This was, in their opinion, needful; and for their parts they would not converse with them unless they submitted to it.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): There remained no Phariseeism in Paul, but a great part [of the Pharisees] had gotten the habit of stubbornness by long custom, which they could not shake off so easily by and by. They were likewise puffed up with pride, so that they did tyrannously covet to make all other men subject to their decrees.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The whole tragedy of the Jew at that time was that he’d missed the real point. He’d missed the real sense of values. He thought that it was circumcision in the flesh that mattered. What Paul and others had to teach him was that it was circumcision in the spirit that really matters―that the man who is right with God is a man who has been circumcised in his spirit…They were only interested in the externals, the forms, the ceremonies, and the rituals, and missed the spirit completely.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): No one would think what danger there is in traditions and ceremonies. Of the law cometh a trust and affiance in works, and where that is, there can be no proper trust in Christ.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): After that council, when Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch, Peter came there; and the following contention happened [between Peter and Paul]:

JOHN CALVIN: Peter Judaized in such a manner as to “compel the Gentiles” to suffer bondage, and at the same time to create a prejudice against Paul’s doctrine.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Here was Peter’s fault. He was convinced that God had pulled down the middle wall of partition that had so long separated the Jews and Gentiles, and he acted on this conviction, associating with the latter and eating with them; but when certain Jews came [to Antioch], who it appears considered the law still to be in force, lest Peter should place a stumbling-block before them, he withdrew from all commerce with the converted Gentiles, and acted as if he himself believed the law to be still in force, and that the distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles should still be kept up.

MARTIN LUTHER: It is much to be marvelled that Peter, being so excellent an apostle, should fall into this error, for at the council in Jerusalem, he was very bold in defence of this very article, when the Pharisees which believed, held that it was necessary to circumcise the Gentile converts, and command them to keep the law of Moses. Peter then protested vehemently against putting a yoke upon the Gentiles.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Even believers are apt to retain their former turn of mind, and prejudices derived therefrom.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I think this is true of many of us. We may have been worshipping for years in a given way and manner. Why have we done that?  There is only one answer: it is how we were brought up. We have never thought about it, we have never examined it, we have never asked any questions. We have inherited a custom; we have inherited a tradition and, indeed, a prejudice.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Martin Luther himself, though he saw many things were without ground which he had received for truth, had yet to work hard enough, as he himself intimates, to get his conscience clear from all those roots and strings of inbred error.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Luther’s view of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper—Luther wrecked the whole prospect of comprehension and Protestant unity on this one particular. As somebody has put it so well, “The sacrament of communion became the apple of discord.” It is a terrible thing, but it is true…Just before his death in 1546, Luther read a little book by John Calvin which bore the title A Little treatise on the Holy Supper of our Lord, and having read it, this is what he said to Melanchthon: “In this matter of the sacrament we have gone much too far. I will commend the thing to the Lord.  Do something after my death.”  Pathetic, is it not?

MARTIN LUTHER: Learn by me how difficult it is to disencumber oneself of errors which the whole world confirms by its example, and which, from long habit, have become a second nature.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: And it’s still the same…You know there are people who are much more loyal to the tradition of their particular denomination than they are to the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s generally an accident that they belong to the denomination; it was simply that their parents did, and they were brought up in it, but they’ll fight for it, they’ll quarrel about it―this is the important thing! and Christ and His truth are somehow forgotten entirely and are not mentioned…Very well, there’s the cause, what of the cure?

AUGUSTINE (354-430): We must surrender ourselves to the authority of Holy Scripture.

J. H. M. d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): The infallible authority of the Word of God alone was the first and fundamental principle of the Reformation…The Reformers and the Apostles held up the Word of God alone for light, just as they hold up the sacrifice of Christ alone for righteousness. To attempt to mix human authority with this absolute authority of God, or human righteousness with this perfect righteousness of Christ, is to corrupt Christianity in its two foundations.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): This is a most weighty principle for every child of God and every servant of Christ—the vital importance of submitting, in all things, to the inspired testimony—the voice of God in Scripture.


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The Preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ over Angels

Isaiah 6:1-3; Colossians 1:16-18

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

By him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Isaiah saw not Jehovah, the essence of God―no man has seen that, or can see it―but Adonai, His dominion. He saw the Lord Jesus; so this vision is explained, John 12:41, that Isaiah now saw Christ’s glory and spoke of Him, which is an incontestable proof of the divinity of our Saviour.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): John, therefore, saying that it was the glory of Jesus, shows that he considered Jesus to be Jehovah.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts.” It is there expressly said to be the glory of the Lord, Jehovah, the Supreme God…“Holy”―This is repeated thrice, to intimate the Trinity of persons united in the Divine essence.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): I have no doubt that the angels here describe One God in Three Persons―and, indeed, it is impossible to praise God without also uttering the praises of the Father, of the Son, and of the Spirit.

MATTHEW HENRY: See God upon His throne, and that throne “high and lifted up,” not only above other thrones, as it transcends them, but over other thrones, as it rules and commands them…Above the throne, as it were hovering about it, or nigh to the throne, bowing before it, with an eye to it, the seraphim stoodthe holy angels, who are called seraphim―“burners;” for He “makes his ministers a flaming fire,” Psalm 104:4…Whether they were only two or four, or―as I rather think―an innumerable company of angels that Isaiah saw, is uncertain.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): How many angels are there? The answer of the Scriptures is that they are very great, that they are countless in number…You remember that we are told that the shepherds at His birth heard “a multitude of the heavenly host,” suggesting almost an innumerable company, Luke 2:13. And indeed, the fifth chapter of the book of Revelation tells us that such is the case, for “the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,”―a great mighty host, a myriad of these angelic beings…Read again the fifth chapter of the book of Revelation, and you’ll find that they’re singing His praise, worshipping and adoring Him―that’s the thing they delight in.

JOHN CALVIN: Now, when we are informed that the angels are employed in uttering the glory of God, let us know that their example is set before us for imitation.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): The holy angels make their addresses unto Him with greatest reverence and self-abasement; for they know that He humbleth Himself to behold things in heaven, Psalm 113:4-6.

MATTHEW HENRY: The earth is full of his glory,” the glory of his power and purity; for He is “holy in all His works,” Psalm 145:17. “Holy, holy, holy”―this bespeaks the zeal and fervency of the angels in praising God; they even want words to express themselves, and therefore repeat the same again. It is God’s holiness which, above all His attributes, the angels celebrate―the superlative excellency of God’s holiness, above that of the purest creatures. He is holy―thrice holy, infinitely holy―originally, perfectly, and eternally so.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Though there are holy men and holy angels, there are none holy as the Lord.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The first chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews draws a distinction between the Son of God and the angels―the angels, while they are spiritual beings, are nevertheless created beings; they have not existed from eternity, as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit have existed. Indeed, Paul in Colossians 1:16 very definitely teaches that the angels were created by the Son. So, as we think of the angels, we realize that they are inferior to the Godhead, inferior to the Son in particular.

JOHN GILL: Christ is not only above them, as He is God, being their Creator Who has made them―but also as He is man, in union with the Son of God; and chiefly in Hebrews 1:13, He is said to be above them on account of place, being at the right hand of God, where they are not: “To which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Christ having the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in Him bodily, is Head unto the good angels in regard of His excellency and eminency above them, who are far below Him in perfection, Ephesians 1:21 Hebrews 1:4; the best of them are “ministering spirits” (Hebrews 1:14), and “subject unto Him” (1 Peter 3:22), and so under His authority and at His command, (Matthew13:41; 24:31).

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Clearly, the angels are divided into two groups…There are good angels, and bad angels―there are some angels that can be described as the elect angels, and others not.

JOHN CALVIN: The elect angels are always obedient to Him, and the devils are compelled to obey His command, although they strive in the contrary direction. We know how strongly the demons resist God, but yet they are compelled to obey Him, not willingly, but by compulsion.

JOHN GILL: The holy elect angels―good angels―are subject to Him, as appears by their attendance on Him at His incarnation, ascension, and second coming; by their ministration to Him in the wilderness, and in the garden; by their employment under Him, for the good of the heirs of salvation; by their dependence on Him, as their Creator and Head, and by their adoration of Him as their Lord and God. Evil angels, the devils, are also put under His feet, as is evident from His overcoming Satan, and baffling all his temptations; by His dispossessing the devils out of the bodies of men, and giving His disciples also power over them; by His spoiling them at death, and triumphing over them in His ascension; by delivering His people out of their hands, and power, in conversion; and by His binding of Satan during the thousand years, and by casting him and his angels into everlasting fire prepared for them.

JOHN CALVIN: It hence follows that none of the angels should stand in the way of His preeminence, Who alone possesses supremacy.


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