Note: Click here for original sermon by Thomas Chalmers.
Expulsion is the act of forcing out someone or something, the act of expelling, projecting, or ejecting.
As a medical doctor expulsion recalls the effect of the hormone oxytocin which causes expulsion of milk from the lactating mammary gland. In other words, the milk is forced out by the powerful expulsive effect of the hormone. While it is close, that is not exactly what the concept refers to spiritually, because the idea is more of something replacing something else and that which is replaced is forced out. An good synonym for this kind of expulsion would be displacement which describes the moving of something from its place or position and implies the filling of a place once occupied by something lost, destroyed, or no longer usable or adequate. Spiritually speaking a negative or sinful affection is moved from its place of enthronement on our hearts. The affection that dethrones the negative affection then ascends to the throne of the heart and from there exercises control of one's mind, emotions and will. Sounds so simple doesn't it? It reminds me a little of what John the Baptist declared "He must (continually) increase and I must decrease." (John 3:30+). And as the hymn says "The things of this world grow slowly dim in the light of His glory and grace."
Another doctor Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes how believers are to put on the new self and put off the old self as Paul alludes to in (Eph 4:22-24+). He writes
"Indeed, as I have already said, you cannot truly deal with the negative unless you are at the same time doing the positive. The way to get rid of the defects is to cultivate the virtues. To use a well-known phrase of Thomas Chalmers (see his sermon below), what we need is to apply the “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection”. I use a simple illustration. The way the dead leaves of winter are removed from some trees is not that people go around plucking them off; no, it is the new life, the shoot that comes and pushes off the dead in order to make room for itself. In the same way the Christian gets rid of all such things as bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and evil speaking and all malice. The new qualities develop and the others simply have no room; they are pushed out and they are pushed off.
What the Doctor is saying is that to deal with the negative, you need to first accentuate the positive. Take special note of the order - the new needs to be put on in order to effect displacement or expulsion of the old. We see this order in several of Paul's epistles. For example, in Colossians 3, note that we first "put on" the positive attitudes in Colossians 3:1-5+ before Paul tells us to "put off" the old, or more directly to kill the sins in Colossians 3:5. The new affection in Colossians 3:1-5 enables us to expel the old affections (and actions) in Colossians 3:5+. Similarly, notice the critical order in Galatians 5:16+ , where Paul first commands us to walk by the spirit (the "new affections") and then and only then will you be enabled to not carry out the deeds of the flesh! In other words, the new affection in effect expels the old affection or old desires that come from our fallen flesh! Our fallen flesh tries to invert the order of Paul's Command by saying something like "I will walk by the Spirit by getting rid of this fleshly desire or that fleshly act." Can you see the subtle trap this individual has just fallen into? He (or she) has just fallen prey to legalism saying things like "I'll make a list of things I won't do, etc" That person has just placed themselves under the power of the Law and instead of expelling the fleshly desires, legalism actually stirs up the very desires the person sought to expel, displace or cast off! (See discussion of the effect of the law to actually arouse our sin nature.)
In the following there are quotes from many sources that relate to the expulsive power of a new affection.
Expulsive Power - When a new love enters our hearts, it can drive out old and stagnant feelings, even attraction for things that would do us harm. One writer called this kind of love “the expulsive power of a new affection.” Imagine for a moment a young child playing with something extremely dangerous, perhaps a knife from the kitchen. One way to solve that crisis would be to approach the child and try to grab the knife. Perhaps another would be to command the child to place the knife on the table or the floor. But using the expulsive power of a new affection, one might offer the child an attractive toy, a delicious piece of candy, or a shiny coin to attract immediate attention and then exchange the coin for the knife. God’s love is like that in our hearts. We only love one another because of the way Jesus loved us (cf Ro 5:5+). But when we do what he commands, others will notice that we are His disciples, cleansed and changed by the expulsive power of a new affection. (Kenneth Gangel - HNTC - John)
John Piper describes the expulsive power on the saints in Macedonia who had discovered the source of joy as in the "grace of God." (2 Cor 8:1) writing "What is wonderfully clear and refreshing in the Macedonians is this truth: finding supreme joy in Jesus severs the root of sin with the power of a superior satisfaction. Or as Thomas Chalmers says, our selfishness is driven out with “the expulsive power of a new affection.” (Reading the Bible Supernaturally)
H F Bayer notes that "the central issue is the heart: it drives the will, the mind, the actions, and sets parameters. Jesus says: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt 6:21). Thomas Chalmers notes: “The only way to dispossess the heart of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one.” (A Theology of Mark)
Chris Farley paraphrases Thomas Chalmers -- The best way to overcome the world is not with morality or self-discipline. Christians overcome the world by seeing the beauty and excellence of Christ. They overcome the world by seeing something more attractive than the world: Christ. (Gospel Powered Parenting)
Mike Cooper alludes to Chalmers' sermon in discussion of idols - In some ways, it’s easy to recognize our idols. Removing them is another story altogether. As Thomas Chalmers points out in his classic sermon, what we need is a vision of truth that displaces our obsession and affection for these hollow daydreams. He calls it the “expulsive power of a new affection.” Chalmers argues that we can’t simply destroy our idols; or to put it another way, we can’t simply erase our daydreams. Instead, we must replace them. He says, “What cannot be thus destroyed, may be dispossessed—and one taste may be made to give way to another, and to lose its power entirely as the reigning affection of the mind.” (Rhythms of Grace)
J I Packer - We are all, of course, creatures of desire; God made us so, and philosophies like Stoicism and religions like Buddhism which aim at the extinction of desire are really inhuman in their thrust. But desire that is sinfully disordered needs redirecting, so that we stop coveting others’ goods and long instead for their good, and God’s glory with and through it. When Thomas Chalmers spoke of “the expulsive power of a new affection,” he was thinking of the way in which knowledge of my Savior’s love diverts me from the barren ways of covetous self-service, to put God first, others second, and self-gratification last in my concerns. How much do we know in experience of this divine transforming power? It is here that the final antidote to covetousness is found. (Growing in Christ)
Ray Pritchard - Exodus 20:17 The Sin No One Will Admit – August 1992 –
We begin the final message in this series with the text of the Tenth Commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” The key word “covet” is repeated, emphasizing its importance.....This week I ran across the “Contentment Prayer” by George Herbert. In a very few words, it sums up what I am trying to say: Lord Jesus, You have given so much to me. Give one thing more, a grateful heart. Amen.
If you don’t know where else to begin, start with this simple prayer. Pray it every day this week. Pray it as you drive to work. Pray it as you come home in the evening. Pray it at the start and end of every day. Try it for seven days and see if God doesn’t begin to change your own heart.
One more word and I am finished. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God … and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) Healing begins when you refocus your life on Jesus Christ. Nothing human can cure covetousness; only an infusion of the supernatural power of Christ can make a lasting difference. One famous preacher called it “the expulsive power of a new affection.” Nothing will expel a coveting spirit except the power of a brand-new affection—a new love for Jesus Christ.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”
Take a new look at Jesus, focus your eyes on him, fall in love with him all over again … and it will happen just as the song says …
"The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”
F B Meyer - Remember, too, what Dr. Chalmers called the expulsive power of a new affection, and ask that the love of Jesus, as evidenced in His cross, may so constrain you that you may no longer live to yourself, but to Him who died and rose again.
Norman Bartlett - Galatians 5:16-18 In these verses we have clearly depicted the struggle between the old nature and the new nature which is the common experience of Christians everywhere. And this conflict is a war to the death. There can be no cessation of hostilities until we are called home to glory. A truce is out of the question. Appeasement policies are futile. We may as well recognize the situation at the outset. "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Herein lies the key to conquest - not through the terrors of the law, but through the SPIRIT of the LORD will victory over the flesh be won. The spirit of the law and the law of the SPIRIT are poles apart. The injunction to walk in the SPIRIT implies power of choice on the part of the believer, whether to submit to the bondage of sin or to enter into that freedom in the SPIRIT which is rightfully his as a child of GOD. True, the old nature has not been eradicated, but its power over the soul which is trusting in CHRIST for salvation has been broken. Putting it figuratively, the dogs have been chained; they are no longer at large; but if we fail to keep our distance, and carelessly or deliberately give occasion to sin, we have ourselves to blame for the consequence. We have the privilege of walking in the SPIRIT; but we are not compelled to do so; it is a voluntary matter. Approaching the subject from another angle, many a follower of JESUS fails of living a truly victorious life because he tries to study and prescribe for his own symptoms instead of giving the HOLY SPIRIT the right-of-way in his life and letting Him minister as only He can in the treatment of hidden roots of moral and spiritual ailment. It is to be noted that in the main the way to triumph over the old nature is not so much a matter of negative repression as of positive possession of the boundless resources of grace available through the SPIRIT. Thomas Chalmers once preached a sermon entitled "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection," and the reverberations of its challenging message still ring out. We turn the hose on dirt. We let in the pure air to drive out the foul. Tuberculosis is held at bay by a changing of climate. Need we enlarge at great length upon the application? There is no more effective way to fortify ourselves against the hurts of the flesh than to walk in the SPIRIT day by day and hour by hour. (Chapter Nine PRACTICAL APPLICATION The Struggle of the Two Natures - Gal 5:16-18)
J R Miller - The Flesh and the Spirit Galatians 5:16-26
Paul states a great principle in spiritual ethics, when he says, "Walk by the Spirit—and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." He prescribes here the true rule of spiritual culture. The way to cure ourselves of bad tendencies, is to cultivate the good. It was on these words that Dr. Chalmers preached his famous sermon, "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection." The way to become cured of evil lusts and desires—is to get the Spirit of God into one's heart. Where the Spirit is, everything is made to conform to the Spirit's life. The Spirit is love. Love is the fulfilling of the law, and love drives away all evil passion, all bitterness, all hatred. Those who walk by the Spirit—will not bite and devour one another—but will help one another ever toward "whatever things are true, . . . whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report."
John MacDuff - The expulsive power of a new affection. (Paul's Song of Songs") "
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you." Romans 8:9 God has made gracious provision to secure, on the part of His ransomed people, a holy walk and obedience; and that, not through their own strength, but through the strength and power of His indwelling Spirit. By that Spirit we are not only renewed, but 'led;' sweetly constrained to walk in harmony with the divine will, and the impulses of our regenerated natures. We have here what is called the expulsive power of a new affection. It is a plant which our Heavenly Father plants. Not indigenous to the natural soil of the human heart; it is of supernatural growth. The power of sin becomes slowly weaker and weaker. The power of grace, slowly, it may be imperceptibly, becomes stronger and stronger. Reader, have you in any feeble measure, been able to realize the presence and power of this indwelling Spirit; conscious of the surrender of heart and life to Christ; implying the gradual conquest of sin; the expulsion of whatever is base and impure, corrupt and selfish, grasping and covetous, unloving and unholy; our wills blending in greater harmony with the divine?
Sinclair Ferguson in an article dealing with contentment and discontentment asked "How, then, are we to learn contentment? Thomas Chalmers spoke rightly of the importance of “the expulsive power of a new affection.” Discontentment can only be reversed and driven out by an affection that is both greater than and opposite to it. Enter, then, the riches that are ours in union with Christ. Only when our Christ is big enough to satisfy us can we be content no matter our particular circumstances; more than that, satisfied with the circumstances and not merely despite the circumstances. This is a telling point. We have not yet attained to biblical contentment when we would be content with Christ were it not for our circumstances. No, genuine contentment is realized both in our circumstances and with our circumstances." (Our New Affection) (See related onsite discussion of Christian Contentment)
This is the whole secret of sanctification:
The expulsive power of a new affection!
-- John Piper
John Piper - Seeking your greatest and longest joy in God severs the root of sin. Sin only has power because of the promises it makes. Promises for happiness. Nobody sins out of duty. We sin because we believe the promise of sin that we will be happier. The only way to defeat the power of sin's promise is with the power of a superior promise. For example, how does the Bible free us from the love of money and the sin of anxiety and greed? "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me" (Heb 13:5–6)? We are freed from the sin of loving money by the pursuit of "contentment" in God. And that contentment is rooted in a superior promise: "I will never leave you nor forsake you." This is the whole secret of sanctification: The expulsive power of a new affection! (No One Will Take Your Joy From You).
Piper in another message says "I did not say that the work of God in justification makes the work of God in sanctification optional. I didn't say (the Bible doesn't say) that forgiveness makes holiness optional. It doesn't make it optional, it makes it possible. What we will see today is that the God who justifies also sanctifies. The faith that justifies also satisfies—it satisfies the human heart and frees it from the deceptive satisfactions of sin. Faith is the expulsive power of a new affection (Thomas Chalmers). That is why justification and the process of sanctification always go together. They both come from the same faith. Perfection comes at the end of life when we die or when Christ returns, but the pursuit of holy living begins with the first mustard seed of faith. That's the nature of saving faith. It finds satisfaction in Christ and so is weaned away from the satisfactions of sin. (1 Thes 5:23-24 - God Sanctifies His People).
Mark Dever asked "Did the (Early Church) Fathers Know the Gospel? He then gives an example -
You cannot battle the affections of the flesh with the command; the command is no match for the affections of the flesh. You can only battle the affections of the flesh with the affections of the Spirit, with the affections of the gospel. That's why Thomas Chalmers, the great Scottish pastor, said, "We need the expulsive power of an alien affection in us if we are going to be able to battle against the desires of the flesh." This post-sixteenth-century, Reformed, conservative, evangelical Protestant understanding was not the first time it had been put forth. As Augustine states:
There can be no hope for me except in Your great mercy. Give me the grace to do as You command and command me to do what You will. You command me to control my bodily desires. Truly it is by continence that we are made as one and regained the unity of self which we lost by falling apart in the search for a variety of pleasures. For a man loves You so much less if besides You he also loves something else which he does not love for Your sake. O love ever burning, never quenched. Oh charity my God set me on fire with Your love. You command me to be continent, chaste. You command me to be pure. Give me the grace to do as You command and command me to do what You will.
Those are gospel affections in the war against the flesh. The command can't help you. The gospel, grace, the Spirit, and the affections that are created by the gospel—can help you in that war against the flesh. The Fathers can help us in so many ways. - The (Unadjusted) Gospel)
R Kent Hughes - Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, was one of the most powerful preachers our nation has ever known. His strengths lay in his theological brilliance and his mastery of illustration. One of Dr. Barnhouse’s stories has helped many Christians understand the workings of the life of Christ within the human soul. Its mystic, dreamlike air is beautiful and inspiring.
Shortly after the Armistice of World War I, Dr. Barnhouse visited the battlefields of Belgium. In the first year of the war the area around the city of Mons was the scene of the great British retreat; in the last year of the war it was the scene of the greater German retreat. For miles to the west of the city the roads were lined with artillery, tanks, trucks, and other materials of war which the Germans had abandoned in their hasty flight.
It was a lovely day in spring; the sun was shining; not a breath of wind was blowing. As Dr. Barnhouse walked along examining the German war material, he noticed that leaves were falling from the great trees that arched above the road. He brushed at a leaf that had blown against his chest; it became caught in the belt of his uniform. As he picked it out he pressed it in his fingers and it disintegrated. Dr. Barnhouse looked up curiously and saw several other leaves falling from the trees. It was not autumn. There was no wind to blow them off. They were the leaves that had outlived the winds of autumn and the frosts of winter.
Now they were falling, seemingly without cause. Then he realized that the most potent force of all was causing them to fall. It was spring; the sap was beginning to run; the buds were beginning to push from within. From down beneath the dark earth, the roots were taking life and sending it along trunk, branch and twig, until that life expelled every bit of deadness that remained from the previous year. It was, as a great Scottish preacher termed it, “the expulsive power of a new affection.”
I know of no clearer or more beautiful illustration of how the new life of Christ expels the old. As the seasons of life roll past and we try to shake off the old leaves, some hold fast. But as the new life of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ grows within us, those leaves will quietly and surely drop away. This is precisely what happened in Ephesus when, through the persistent labors of Paul, the church began to repent of its dead leaves, so that believers “came and openly confessed their evil deeds” (Acts 19:18). Their lives took on such an authenticity that many other townspeople came to Christ and fueled a great bonfire with their idols. The continuation of the story reveals what happens when the leaves fall away. What should we expect when the Holy Spirit fills us and we truly repent of our sins? When the leaves fall away, we can expect persecution (Paul experienced at Ephesus in Acts 19:22-41). (Preaching the Word - Acts - The Church Afire)
Alan Redpath - It is not a question simply of trying to empty your heart and life of every worldly desire – what an awful impossibility! It is rather opening your heart wide to all the love of God in Christ, and letting that love just sweep through you and exercise its expulsive power till your heart is filled with love.”
A T Pierson gives us the background for Thomas Chalmers sermon Expulsive power of a new affection - Dr. Chalmers, riding on a stage-coach by the side of the driver, said: “John, why do you hit that off-leader such a crack with your lash?” “Away yonder,” said he, “is a white stone; that off-leader is afraid of that stone; so by the crack of my whip and the pain in his legs, I want to get his idea off from it.” Dr. Chalmers went home, elaborated the idea, and wrote “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” We must annul the influence of the world, the flesh and the devil by putting a new idea in the mind.
Love not (present imperative with a negative = command to stop doing this or do not let it begin) the world (kosmos), neither the things that are in the world (kosmos). If any man love (agapao - present tense - as one's lifestyle) the world (kosmos), the love (agape) of the Father is (present tense - continually) not in him.—1 John 2:15+.
THERE are two ways in which a practical moralist may attempt to displace from the human heart its love of the world; either by a demonstration of the world’s vanity, so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon simply to withdraw its regards from an object that is not worthy of it (ED: THIS IS IN ESSENCE "LEGALISM" WHICH BLUNTS THE WORK OF GRACE); or, by setting forth another object, even God, as more worthy of its attachment; so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon, not to resign an old affection which shall have nothing to succeed it, but to exchange an old affection for a new one. My purpose is to show, that from the constitution of our nature, the former method is altogether incompetent and ineffectual—and that the latter method will alone suffice for the rescue and recovery of the heart from the wrong affection that domineers over it. After having accomplished this purpose, I shall attempt a few practical observations.
Love may be regarded in two different conditions. The first is when its object is at a distance, and when it becomes love in a state of desire. The second is when its object is in possession, and then it becomes love in a state of indulgence. Under the impulse of desire, man feels himself urged onward in some path or pursuit of activity for its gratification. The faculties of his mind are put into busy exercise. In the steady direction of one great and engrossing interest, his attention is recalled from the many reveries into which it might otherwise have wandered; and the powers of his body are forced away from an indolence in which it else might have languished; and that time is crowded with occupation, which but for some object of keen and devoted ambition, might have driveled along in successive hours of weariness and distaste—and tho hope does not always enliven, and success does not always crown the career of exertion, yet in the midst of this very variety, and with the alternations of occasional disappointment, is the machinery of the whole man kept in a sort of congenial play, and upholden in that tone and temper which are most agreeable to it; insomuch that, if through the extirpation of that desire which forms the originating principle of all this movement, the machinery were to stop, and to receive no impulse from another desire substituted in its place, the man would be left with all his propensities to action in a state of most painful and unnatural abandonment. A sensitive being suffers, and is in violence, if, after having thoroughly rested from his fatigue, or been relieved from his pain, he continue in possession of powers without any excitement to these powers; if he possess a capacity of desire without having an object of desire; or if he have a spare energy upon his person, without a counterpart, and without a stimulus to call it into operation. The misery of such a condition is often realized by him who is retired from business, or who is retired from law, or who is even retired from the occupations of the chase, and of the gaming-table. Such is the demand of our nature for an object in pursuit, that no accumulation of previous success can extinguish it—and thus it is, that the most prosperous merchant, and the most victorious general, and the most fortunate gamester, when the labor of their respective vocations has come to a close, are often found to languish in the midst of all their acquisitions, as if out of their kindred and rejoicing element. It is quite in vain, with such a constitutional appetite for employment in man, to attempt cutting away from him the spring or the principle of one employment, without providing him with another. The whole heart and habit will rise in resistance against such an undertaking. The else unoccupied female, who spends the hours of every evening at some play of hazard, knows as well as you, that the pecuniary gain, or the honorable triumph of a successful contest, are altogether paltry. It is not such a demonstration of vanity as this that will force her away from her dear and delightful occupation. The habit can not so be displaced as to leave nothing but a negative and cheerless vacancy behind it—tho it may be so supplanted as to be followed up by another habit of employment, to which the power of some new affection has constrained her. It is willingly suspended, for example, on any single evening, should the time that is wont to be allotted to gaming be required to be spent on the preparations of an approaching assembly.
The ascendant power of a second affection will do what no exposition, however forcible, of the folly and worthlessness of the first, ever could effectuate. And it is the same in the great world. You never will be able to arrest any of its leading pursuits by a naked demonstration of their vanity. It is quite in vain to think of stopping one of these pursuits in any way else but by stimulating to another. In attempting to bring a worthy man, intent and busied with the prosecution of his objects, to a dead stand, you have not merely to encounter the charm which he annexes to these objects, but you have to encounter the pleasure which he feels in the very prosecution of them. It is not enough, then, that you dissipate the charm by your moral and eloquent and affecting exposure of its illusiveness. You must address to the eye of his mind another object, with a charm powerful enough to dispossess the first of its influence, and to engage him in some other prosecution as full of interest and hope and congenial activity as the former. It is this which stamps an impotency on all moral and pathetic declamation about the insignificance of the world. A man will no more consent to the misery of being without an object, because that object is a trifle, or of being without a pursuit, because that pursuit terminates in some frivolous or fugitive acquirement, than he will voluntarily submit himself to the torture, because that torture is to be of short duration. If to be without desire and without exertion altogether is a state of violence and discomfort, then the present desire, with its correspondent train of exertion, is not to be got rid of simply by destroying it. It must be by substituting another desire, and another line or habit of exertion in its place, and the most effectual way of withdrawing the mind from one object is not by turning it away upon desolate and unpeopled vacancy, but by presenting to its regards another object still more alluring.
These remarks apply not merely to love considered in its state of desire for an object not yet obtained. They apply also to love considered in its state of indulgence, or placid gratification, with an object already in possession. It is seldom that any of our tastes are made to disappear by a mere process of natural extinction. At least, it is very seldom that this is done through the instrumentality of reasoning. It may be done by excessive pampering, but it is almost never done by the mere force of mental determination. But what can not be thus destroyed, may be dispossest—and one taste may be made to give way to another, and to lose its power entirely as the reigning affection of the mind. It is thus that the boy ceases, at length, to be the slave of his appetite; but it is because a manlier taste has now brought it into subordination, and that the youth ceases to idolize pleasure; but it is because the idol of wealth has become the stronger and gotten the ascendency, and that even the love of money ceases to have the mastery over the heart of many a thriving citizen; but it is because, drawn into the whirl of city politics, another affection has been wrought into his moral system, and he is now lorded over by the love of power. There is not one of these transformations in which the heart is left without an object. Its desire for one particular object may be conquered; but as to its desire for having some one object or other, this is unconquerable. Its adhesion to that on which it has fastened the preference of its regards, can not willingly be overcome by the rending away of a simple separation. It can be done only by the application of something else, to which it may feel the adhesion of a still stronger and more powerful preference. Such is the grasping tendency of the human heart, that it must have a something to lay hold of—and which, if wrested away without the substitution of another something in its place, would leave a void and a vacancy as painful to the mind as hunger is to the natural system. It may be dispossest of one object, or of any, but it can not be desolated of all. Let there be a breathing and a sensitive heart, but without a liking and without affinity to any of the things that are around it, and in a state of cheerless abandonment, it would be alive to nothing but the burden of its own consciousness, and feel it to be intolerable. It would make no difference to its owner, whether he dwelt in the midst of a gay and a goodly world, or, placed afar beyond the outskirts of creation, he dwelt a solitary unit in dark and unpeopled nothingness. The heart must have something to cling to—and never, by its own voluntary consent, will it so denude itself of all its attachments that there shall not be one remaining object that can draw or solicit it.
The misery of a heart thus bereft of all relish for that which is wont to minister enjoyment, is strikingly exemplified in those who, satiated with indulgence, have been so belabored, as it were, with the variety and the poignancy of the pleasurable sensations that they have experienced, that they are at length fatigued out of all capacity for sensation whatever. The disease of ennui is more frequent in the French metropolis, where amusement is more exclusively the occupation of higher classes, than it is in the British metropolis, where the longings of the heart are more diversified by the resources of business and politics. There are the votaries of fashion, who, in this way, have at length become the victims of fashionable excess; in whom the very multitude of their enjoyments has at last extinguished their power of enjoyment; who, with the gratifications of art and nature at command, now look upon all that is around them with an eye of tastelessness; who, plied with the delights of sense and of splendor even to weariness, and incapable of higher delights, have come to the end of all their perfection, and, like Solomon of old, found it to be vanity and vexation. The man whose heart has thus been turned into a desert can vouch for the insupportable languor which must ensue, when one affection is thus plucked away from the bosom, without another to replace it. It is not necessary that a man receive pain from anything, in order to become miserable. It is barely enough that he looks with distaste to everything, and in that asylum which is the repository of minds out of joint, and where the organ of feeling as well as the organ of intellect has been impaired, it is not in the cell of loud and frantic outcries where you will meet with the acme of mental suffering; but that is the individual who outpeers in wretchedness all his fellows, who throughout the whole expanse of nature and society meets not an object that has at all the power to detain or to interest him; who neither in earth beneath, nor in heaven above, knows of a single charm to which his heart can send forth one desirous or responding movement; to whom the world, in his eye a vast and empty desolation, has left him nothing but his own consciousness to feed upon, dead to all that is without him, and alive to nothing but to the load of his own torpid and useless existence.
We know not a more sweeping interdict upon the affections of nature, than that which is delivered by the apostle in the verse before us. To bid a man into whom there is not yet entered the great and ascendant influence of the principle of regeneration, to bid him withdraw his love from all the things that are in the world, is to bid him give up all the affections that are in his heart. The world is the all of a natural man. He has not a taste, nor a desire, that points not to a something placed within the confines of its visible horizon. He loves nothing above it, and he cares for nothing beyond it; and to bid him love not the world is to pass a sentence of expulsion on all the inmates of his bosom. To estimate the magnitude and the difficulty of such a surrender, let us only think that it were just as arduous to prevail on him not to love wealth, which is but one of the things in the world, as to prevail on him to set wilful fire to his own property. This he might do with sore and painful reluctance, if he saw that the salvation of his life hung upon it. But this he would do willingly if he saw that a new property of tenfold value was instantly to emerge from the wreck of the old one. In this case there is something more than the mere displacement of an affection. There is the overbearing of one affection by another. But to desolate his heart of all love for the things of the world without the substitution of any love in its place, were to him a process of as unnatural violence as to destroy all the things he has in the world, and give him nothing in their room. So if to love not the world be indispensable to one’s Christianity, then the crucifixion of the old man is not too strong a term to mark that transition in his history, when all old things are done away, and all things are become new.
The love of the world can not be expunged by a mere demonstration of the world’s worthlessness. But may it not be supplanted by the love of that which is more worthy than itself? The heart can not be prevailed upon to part with the world, by a simple act of resignation. But may not the heart be prevailed upon to admit into its preference another, who shall subordinate the world, and bring it down from its wonted ascendency? If the throne which is placed there must have an occupier, and the tyrant that now reigns has occupied it wrongfully, he may not leave a bosom which would rather detain him than be left in desolation. But may he not give way to the lawful Sovereign, appearing with every charm that can secure His willing admittance, and taking unto Himself His great power to subdue the moral nature of man, and to reign over it? In a word, if the way to disengage the heart from the positive love of one great and ascendant object is to fasten it in positive love to another, then it is not by exposing the worthlessness of the former, but by addressing to the mental eye the worth and excellence of the latter, that all old things are to be done away, and all things are to become new.
This, we trust, will explain the operation of that charm which accompanies the effectual preaching of the gospel. The love of God, and the love of the world, are two affections, not merely in a state of rivalship, but in a state of enmity, and that so irreconcilable that they can not dwell together in the same bosom. We have already affirmed how impossible it were for the heart, by any innate elasticity of its own, to cast the world away from it, and thus reduce itself to a wilderness. The heart is not so constituted, and the only way to dispossess it of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one. Nothing can exceed the magnitude of the required change in a man’s character—when bidden, as he is in the New Testament, to love not the world; no, nor any of the things that are in the world—for this so comprehends all that is dear to him in existence as to be equivalent to a command of self-annihilation. But the same revelation which dictates so mighty an obedience places within our reach as mighty an instrument of obedience. It brings for admittance, to the very door of our heart, an affection which, once seated upon its throne, will either subordinate every previous inmate, or bid it away. Beside the world it places before the eye of the mind Him who made the world, and with this peculiarity, which is all its own—that in the gospel do we so behold God as that we may love God. It is there, and there only, where God stands revealed as an object of confidence to sinners—and where our desire after Him is not chilled into apathy by that barrier of human guilt which intercepts every approach that is not made to Him through the appointed Mediator. It is the bringing in of this better hope, whereby we draw nigh unto God—and to live without hope is to live without God, and if the heart be without God the world will then have all the ascendency. It is God apprehended by the believer as God in Christ who alone can dispost it from this ascendency. It is when He stands dismantled of the terrors which belong to Him as an offended lawgiver, and when we are enabled by faith, which is His own gift, to see His glory in the face of Jesus Christ, and to hear His beseeching voice, as it protests good-will to men, and entreats the return of all who will to a full pardon, and a gracious acceptance—it is then that a love paramount to the love of the world, and at length expulsive of it, first arises in the regenerating bosom. It is when released from the spirit of bondage, with which love can not dwell, and when admitted into the number of God’s children, through the faith that is in Christ Jesus, the spirit of adoption is poured upon us—it is then that the heart, brought under the mastery of one great and predominant affection, is delivered from the tyranny of its former desires, and in the only way in which deliverance is possible. And that faith which is revealed to us from heaven, as indispensable to a sinner’s justification in the sight of God, is also the instrument of the greatest of all moral and spiritual achievements on a nature dead to the influence, and beyond the reach of every other application.
Let us not cease then to ply the only instrument of powerful and positive operation, to do away from you the love of the world. Let us try every legitimate method of finding access to your hearts for the love of Him who is greater than the world. For this purpose let us, if possible, clear away that shroud of unbelief which so hides and darkens the face of Deity. Let us insist on His claims to your affection; and whether in the shape of gratitude, or in the shape of esteem, let us never cease to affirm that in the whole of that wondrous economy, the purpose of which is to reclaim a sinful world unto Himself, He, the God of love, so sets Himself forth in characters of endearment that naught but faith, and naught but understanding are wanting, on your part, to call forth the love of your hearts back again.
And here let me advert to the incredulity of a worldly man when he brings his own sound and secular experience to bear upon the high doctrines of Christianity, when he looks on regeneration as a thing impossible, when, feeling, as he does, the obstinacies of his own heart on the side of things present, and casting an intelligent eye, much exercised perhaps in the observation of human life, on the equal obstinacies of all who are around him, he pronounces this whole matter about the crucifixion of the old man, and the resurrection of a new man in his place, to be in downright opposition to all that is known and witnessed of the real nature of humanity. We think that we have seen such men, who, firmly trenched in their own vigorous and home-bred sagacity, and shrewdly regardful of all that passes before them through the week, and upon the scenes of ordinary business, look on that transition of the heart by which it gradually dies unto time, and awakens in all the life of a new-felt and ever-growing desire toward God, as a mere Sabbath speculation; and who thus, with all their attention engrossed upon the concerns of earthliness, continue unmoved, to the end of their days, among the feelings, and the appetites, and the pursuits of earthliness. If the thought of death, and another state of being after it, comes across them at all, it is not with a change so radical as that of being born again that they ever connect the idea of preparation. They have some vague conception of its being quite enough that they acquit themselves in some decent and tolerable way of their relative obligations; and that, upon the strength of some such social and domestic moralities as are often realized by him in whose heart the love of God has never entered, they will be transplanted in safety from this world, where God is the Being with whom, it may almost be said that, they have had nothing to do, to that world where God is the Being with whom they will have mainly and immediately to do throughout all eternity. They will admit all that is said of the utter vanity of time, when taken up with as a resting-place. But they resist every application made upon the heart of man, with the view of so shifting its tendencies that it shall not henceforth find in the interests of time all its rest and all its refreshment. They, in fact, regard such an attempt as an enterprise that is altogether aerial—and with a tone of secular wisdom, caught from the familiarities of every day of experience, do they see a visionary character in all that is said of setting our affections on the things that are above; and of walking by faith; and of keeping our hearts in such a love of God as shall shut out from them the love of the world; and of having no confidence in the flesh; and of so renouncing earthly things as to have our conversation in heaven.
Now, it is altogether worthy of being remarked of those men who thus disrelish spiritual Christianity, and, in fact, deem it an impracticable acquirement, how much of a piece their incredulity about the demands of Christianity, and their incredulity about the doctrines of Christianity, are with one another. No wonder that they feel the work of the New Testament to be beyond their strength, so long as they hold the words of the New Testament to be beneath their attention. Neither they nor anyone else can dispossess the heart of an old affection, but by the impulsive power of a new one—and, if that new affection be the love of God, neither they nor anyone else can be made to entertain it, but on such a representation of the Deity as shall draw the heart of the sinner toward Him. Now it is just their belief which screens from the discernment of their minds this representation. They do not see the love of God in sending His Son into the world. They do not see the expression of His tenderness to men, in sparing Him not, but giving Him up unto the death for us all. They do not see the sufficiency of the atonement, or of the sufferings that were endured by Him who bore the burden that sinners should have borne. They do not see the blended holiness and compassion of the Godhead, in that He passed by the transgressions of His creatures, yet could not pass them by without an expiation. It is a mystery to them how a man should pass to the state of godliness from a state of nature—but had they only a believing view of God manifest in the flesh, this would resolve for them the whole mystery of godliness. As it is, they can not get quit of their old affections, because they are out of sight from all those truths which have influence to raise a new one. They are like the children of Israel in the land of Egypt, when required to make bricks without straw they cannot love God, while they want the only food which can aliment this affection in a sinner’s bosom—and however great their errors may be, both in resisting the demands of the gospel as impracticable, and in rejecting the doctrines of the gospel as inadmissible, yet there is not a spiritual man (and it is the prerogative of him who is spiritual to judge all men) who will not perceive that there is a consistency in these errors.
But if there be a consistency in the errors, in like manner, is there a consistency in the truths which are opposite to them? The man who believes in the peculiar doctrines will readily bow to the peculiar demands of Christianity. When he is told to love God supremely, this may startle another, but it will not startle him to whom God has been revealed in peace, and in pardon, and in all the freeness of an offered reconciliation. When told to shut out the world from his heart, this may be impossible with him who has nothing to replace it—but not impossible with him who has found in God a sure and satisfying portion. When told to withdraw his affections from the things that are beneath, this were laying an order of self-extinction upon the man, who knows not another quarter in the whole sphere of his contemplation to which he could transfer them, but it were not grievous to him whose view had been opened to the loveliness and glory of the things that are above, and can there find, for every feeling of his soul, a most ample and delighted occupation. When told to look not to the things that are seen and temporal, this were blotting out the light of all that is visible from the prospect of him in whose eye there is a wall of partition between guilty nature and the joys of eternity—but he who believes that Christ has broken down this wall finds a gathering radiance upon his soul, as he looks onward in faith to the things that are unseen and eternal. Tell a man to be holy—and how can he compass such a performance, when his fellowship with holiness is a fellowship of despair? It is the atonement of the cross reconciling the holiness of the lawgiver with the safety of the offender, that hath opened the way for a sanctifying influence into the sinner’s heart, and he can take a kindred impression from the character of God now brought nigh, and now at peace with him. Separate the demand from the doctrine, and you have either a system of righteousness that is impracticable, or a barren orthodoxy. Bring the demand and the doctrine together, and the true disciple of Christ is able to do the one, through the other strengthening him. The motive is adequate to the movement; and the bidden obedience to the gospel is not beyond the measure of his strength, just because the doctrine of the gospel is not beyond the measure of his acceptance. The shield of faith, and the hope of salvation, and the Word of God, and the girdle of truth, these are the armor that he has put on; and with these the battle is won, and the eminence is reached, and the man stands on the vantage ground of a new field and a new prospect. The effect is great, but the cause is equal to it, and stupendous as this moral resurrection to the precepts of Christianity undoubtedly is, there is an element of strength enough to give it being and continuance in the principles of Christianity.
The object of the gospel is both to pacify the sinner’s conscience and to purify his heart; and it is of importance to observe, that what mars the one of these objects mars the other also. The best way of casting out an impure affection is to admit a pure one; and by the love of what is good to expel the love of what is evil. Thus it is, that the freer gospel, the more sanctifying is the gospel; and the more it is received as a doctrine of grace, the more will it be felt as a doctrine according to godliness. This is one of the secrets of the Christian life, that the more a man holds of God as a pensioner, the greater is the payment of service that He renders back again. On the venture of “Do this and live,” a spirit of fearfulness is sure to enter; and the jealousies of a legal bargain chase away all confidence from the intercourse between God and man; and the creature striving to be square and even with his creator is, in fact, pursuing all the while his own selfishness instead of God’s glory; and with all the conformities which he labors to accomplish, the soul of obedience is not there, the mind is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed under such an economy ever can be. It is only when, as in the gospel, acceptance is bestowed as a present, without money and without price, that the security which man feels in God is placed beyond the reach of disturbance, or that he can repose in Him as one friend reposes in another; or that any liberal and generous understanding can be established betwixt them, the one party rejoicing over the other to do him good, the other finding that the truest gladness of his heart lies in the impulse of a gratitude by which it is awakened to the charms of a new moral existence. Salvation by grace—salvation by free grace—salvation not of works, but according to the mercy of God, salvation on such a footing is not more indispensable to the deliverance of our persons from the hand of justice than it is to the deliverance of our hearts from the chill and the weight of ungodliness. Retain a single shred or fragment of legality with the gospel, and you raise a topic of distrust between man and God. You take away from the power of the gospel to melt and to conciliate. For this purpose the freer it is the better it is. That very peculiarity which so many dread as the germ of Antinomianism, is, in fact, the germ of a new spirit and a new inclination against it. Along with the lights of a free gospel does there enter the love of the gospel, which, in proportion as you impair the freeness, you are sure to chase away. And never does the sinner find within himself so mighty a moral transformation as when, under the belief that he is saved by grace, he feels constrained thereby to offer his heart a devoted thing, and to deny ungodliness.
To do any work in the best manner, you would make use of the fittest tools for it. And we trust that what has been said may serve in some degree for the practical guidance of those who would like to reach the great moral achievement of our text, but feel that the tendencies and desires of nature are too strong for them. We know of no other way by which to keep the love of the world out of our heart than to keep in our hearts the love of God—and no other way by which to keep our hearts in the love of God, than by building ourselves on our most holy faith. That denial of the world which is not possible to him that dissents from the gospel testimony, is possible, even as all things are possible, to him that believeth. To try this without faith is to work without the right tool or the right instrument. But faith worketh by love; and the way of expelling from the heart the love that transgresseth the law is to admit into its receptacles the love which fulfilleth the law.
Conceive a man to be standing on the margin of this green world, and that, when he looked toward it, he saw abundance smiling upon every field, and all the blessings which earth can afford scattered in profusion throughout every family, and the light of the sun sweetly resting upon all the pleasant habitations, and the joys of human companionship brightening many a happy circle of society; conceive this to be the general character of the scene upon one side of his contemplation, and that on the other, beyond the verge of the goodly planet on which he was situated, he could descry nothing but a dark and fathomless unknown. Think you that he would bid a voluntary adieu to all the brightness and all the beauty that were before him upon earth, and commit himself to the frightful solitude away from it? Would he leave its peopled dwelling places, and become a solitary wanderer through the fields of nonentity? If space offered him nothing but a wilderness, would he for it abandon the home-bred scenes of life and cheerfulness that lay so near, and exerted such a power of urgency to detain him? Would not he cling to the regions of sense, and of life, and of society? Shrinking away from the desolation that was beyond it, would not he be glad to keep his firm footing on the territory of this world, and to take shelter under the silver canopy that was stretched over it?
But if, during the time of his contemplation, some happy island of the blest had floated by, and there had burst upon his senses the light of surpassing glories, and its sounds of sweeter melody, and he clearly saw there a purer beauty rested upon every field, and a more heartfelt joy spread itself among all the families, and he could discern there a peace, and a piety, and a benevolence which put a moral gladness into every bosom, and united the whole society in one rejoicing sympathy with each other, and with the beneficent Father of them all. Could he further see that pain and mortality were there unknown, and above all, that signals of welcome were hung out, and an avenue of communication was made before him—perceive you not that what was before the wilderness, would become the land of invitation, and that now the world would be the wilderness? What unpeopled space could not do, can be done by space teeming with beatific scenes, and beatific society. And let the existing tendencies of the heart be what they may to the scene that is near and visible around us, still if another stood revealed to the prospect of man, either through the channel of faith or through the channel of his senses—then, without violence done to the constitution of his moral nature, may he die unto the present world, and live to the lovelier world that stands in the distance away from it.
F B Meyer - THE EXPULSIVE POWER OF A NEW AFFECTION -
In the seventh chapter (Rom. 7:1-6) the apostle takes a further forward step. We used, above, the illustration of a woman who had divorced her husband, and refused to own him, or to recognize him in the street. But, we will suppose, that after their divorce she had become the wife of a perfectly beautiful man, in every way suited to win and hold her affections and respect. If now she meets her former husband she will present, not the mere negative of former days: "I will have nothing more to do with you "; but the joyous positive: "I am perfectly happy. I have met one who understands me, who satisfies and engrosses my every thought. He is the chiefest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely." This, says the apostle, is the true attitude of the Christian. "We are married to another, even to him who was raised from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit unto God." We have died to what once held us, so that we can serve in a new way, not under the written code of "Thou shalt" or "Thou shalt not," but in the Spirit. This is what Dr. Chalmers called the expulsive power of a new affection. Once, when he was riding on the box-seat of a coach travelling through the Highlands of Scotland, the route took them along a narrow ledge of the mountain side--on the one side the steep mountain slope, and on the other a deep precipice. On this ledge one of the four horses took fright, and there was acute danger lest the coach and all its occupants should be flung to instant death. Immediately the driver began to whip the shying horse with all his might, causing such pain that it forgot its fright and began to pull at its traces. Dr. Chalmers asked the driver why he had flogged the animal so unmercifully, and got his answer: " I had to make him forget his fear by giving him something else to think about." Instantly this phrase formulated itself in the doctor's mind, and he said to himself, "The expulsive power of a new affection." This is the exact equivalent of the apostle's thought. May we not ask the Holy Spirit to shed abroad in our hearts the love of Jesus, that we may be sensitive against the least thing that would be foreign to His holy nature, or bring the tiniest film of distance between us? Directly we love, we become instinctively aware of the smallest incident which would bring pain or distaste to our beloved. When the wife of Tigranes came out of the royal tent, she was asked what she thought of its furniture, and especially of the King himself; and she replied that she had no eyes, save for the man (her husband), who had said that he would gladly give himself to death, if she might' be spared. Yes! child of God, you have Christ's honor entrusted to your keeping! Do not give Him needless pain! (The Problem of our Personal Sinnership).
THE EXPULSIVE POWER OF SUPREME AFFECTION. "Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her" (Gen. 29:20). That sentence always charms us for its beauty and its truth. Love has the power of making a rough road easy, and a weary waiting time short. It makes us oblivious to many things, which, for lack of it, would be insupportable. The three mighty men break through the armed host of the Philistines, to get one draught of water from the well for their beloved chieftain, oblivious of personal risk--for the love they bare to him. The trembling women, on the resurrection morning, ventured out into the perils of the crowded city, whilst it was yet dark, that they might embalm the body of their Lord; nor do they appear to have considered the perils amid which they threaded their way to His grave--for the love they bare to Him. The martyrs died amid bitter torture, with a smile on their faces and a song on their lips, not counting their lives dear; but reckoning it an honour to spill their heart's blood--for the love they bare to Him. Many a woman has nursed her children through loathsome disorders, doing for them what no money would hire a servant to do; but she has not considered the cost--for the love she bare to them. Yea, Jesus Christ Himself endured the cross, and despised the shame; stooped to a felon's death; bore the base treatment of coarse and brutal soldiery; and rejoiced to lay down His life---for the love He bare to us. Do you find it hard to deny yourself, to make the required sacrifices for doing His will, and to confess Him? There is one cure, a short and easy one. Go to the Holy Ghost, and ask Him to shed the love of Christ abroad in your heart, and so teach you to love Him who first loved you. Then, as the tides of that love rise within your heart, they will constrain you to live, not for yourself, but for Him; then burdens will be light that once crushed; roads will be pleasant that once strained and tired; hours will fly that were once leaden-footed; years will seem as a day. Love's labour is always light. (The Education of Home)
James Smith - (ILLUSTRATION) THE NEW LIFE It is a singular characteristic of the cuckoo that it never lays its eggs in its own nest. It deposits them in the nests of other smaller birds, where they are hatched. When the young cuckoo is strong enough it hoists the other occupants of the nest outside, and takes entire possession. This conduct seems very selfish and ungrateful, but it illustrates the process of the new life in the soul. "The expulsive power of a new affection," as Dr. Chalmers termed it. The new life, like the young cuckoo, has come from a different source—born from above. It is expected to take entire control of the whole being, and is to become a herald of the spring-time of salvation, bringing gladness and hope to others. (Handfuls of Purpose)
T. Whitfield, M. A. - The Divine order of all true progress - The first step is at all times to turn to the Lord; the second follows, “turn you now from your evil ways, and from your evil doing.” The motive and the power to forsake evil must be found in himself. Once know Jesus and His love, experimentally, and you possess a motive for holiness, greater far than either heaven or earth can furnish. It is the expulsive power of a new affection. And yet, as in all advance, there is reciprocal action. The first step must ever be to Jesus. When the man is in Christ he possesses the power. But in turning away from evil, new light and life are thrown back upon the starting point. We see truth more clearly, and embrace it more earnestly. Thus there is growth in grace. To every step of faithfulness on our part the Lord adds new light; and this light is reflected in the face of Jesus Christ. He becomes more known, more loved; and this produces its effect in more likeness to Him. (Biblical Illustrator)
John Phillips - Exploring Psalms - Comment on Psalm 26:3
A Divinely Obedient Life (Ps 26:3)
"For Thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in Thy truth." Love is the most powerful motive in the world. A man will do things for love he will not do for fear, hate, or gain.
Let me tear a page out of the history of British India to illustrate the power of love. One of the government's greatest problems was the vileness and moral uncleanness of the Hindu religion. But beyond that, there were some tribes in India more ignorant, more sunk in vileness than the rest. They were known as Criminal Tribes for they lived solely for and by crime. Sir John Hewett, the British governor of the United Provinces of India, had tried everything. The tribes had been harassed by the police. They had been punished with severity. Yet still they roved the land in lawless bands, scarcely human. Moslem, Hindu, and British government influence had failed. Then Sir John had an idea. Why not try kindness? He had heard of the Salvation Army's success in reclaiming the broken ones of Europe. So the governor paid a visit to General Booth in England. The old Salvationist's attitude could be summed up in a sentence: "You cannot make a man clean by washing his shirt." Only one power is known in all the long experience of human history by which a bad man can become a good man. That power is the gospel. The government agreed to provide territory; the Salvation Army undertook to provide men. The Criminal Tribes were to be brought into the territory, and the Salvationists would appeal to them with the love of Christ. The great statesman who governed a sizeable slice of empire for Britain, bowed to the argument of General Booth that love and kindness could do more for the wicked than an army of policemen and troops. The experiment was tried. It was so successful that it infuriated the Hindus, but the governor stood firm. As a result, story after story has been told of lives transformed by the power of love-the love of God in Christ as seen in the lives of the Salvation Army missionaries, which won large numbers of the Criminal Tribes to saving faith in Christ, to lives of usefulness and industry.
These vicious tribesmen had come under what Henry Drummond called "the expulsive power of a new affection." David knew something of it: "For Thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in Thy truth." His was a divinely obedient life, a life made obedient not by the compulsion of law but by the compulsion of love.
Love never faileth,
Love is pure gold-
Love is what Jesus
Came to unfold.
G Campbell Morgan in his commentary on Acts 19:21-41 -- And again, the Word of God grew and prevailed through a purified Church. The Church brought its secret books, and burned them, and then the Word grew and prevailed. Observe then the nature of that growth. The victories won were the victories of a positive, acting as a negative. When the town clerk presently dealt with the matter, he said,-and it was merely the statement of a common truth,-these men are no "robbers of temples, nor blasphemers of our goddess." These men had not broken into the temples and robbed them of wealth. These men had held no meetings for the denunciation of the worship of Diana. How then came the victories? Why did Demetrius call together his craftsmen? Because the sale of the silver shrines of Diana was falling off. How was that to be accounted for? The springs of character affected the streams of conduct. Not by denouncing shrines, but by so changing men and women that they did not need shrines to Diana, thus the victory was won. Men and women in Ephesus, who were themselves shrines of Deity, did not need the shrines to Diana. Men and women in Ephesus, who knew fellowship with God by the Holy Spirit, certainly would not spend their money upon these silver shrines. They· had no time to abuse the silver shrines; no time to make a public protest. A great phrase of Dr. Chalmers describes their condition, " the expulsive power of a new affection." This is the one way of victory, if the Church is to win real victories. They are won by the new, devitalizing the old ; by the rising of a new life within men and women, which triumphs over all other desires. In America there grows a wonderful tree called the scrub-oak. Travelling through the country in the springtime, we see this scrub oak, covered still with the leaves of last year. Every other tree is stripped by the tempest of the autumn and winter. But gradually, in the springtime, the leaves drop off the scrub-oak, by the rising of the new life. That which the tempest from without never accomplishes, the rising life within does accomplish. The rustling of the leaves seems to laugh at the storm, but when the new life rises, then quietly and surely they drop off. That was the victory in Ephesus. There was no demonstration against idolatry, but realization of fellowship with God. All the forces of the old were devitalized by the rising forces of the new. (Acts of the Apostles)
John Piper - SEX: SEXUAL PURITY – MATTHEW 5:28-29 SEX: MASTURBATION: MISSIONS AND MASTURBATION
September 10, 1984 | by John Piper | Topic: Sexual Purity
Masturbation is the experience of sexual orgasm produced by self-stimulation. Virtually every man and almost as many women have tried it. It is a regular practice of most single men.
One of the major forces preventing young people from obeying the call of God into vocational Christian service is defeat in the area of lust. A teenager hears a challenging call to throw himself into the cause of world evangelization. He feels the promptings of the Holy Spirit. He tastes the thrill of following the King of kings into battle. But he does not obey because he is masturbating regularly. He feels guilty. He can hardly imagine witnessing to a pretty girl about the eternal plight of her soul, because he has so habitually looked at girls naked in his imagination. So he feels unworthy and unable to obey the call of God. Masturbation becomes the enemy of missions.
Is masturbation wrong? Let me address the issue mainly for men. I cannot imagine sexual orgasm in the loins without sexual image in the mind. I know there are nocturnal emissions, which I regard as innocent and helpful, but I doubt that they are ever orgasmic apart from a sexual dream that supplies the necessary image in the mind. Evidently God has constituted the connection between sexual orgasm and sexual thought in such a way that the force and pleasure of orgasm is dependent on the thought or images in our minds.
Therefore in order to masturbate, it is necessary to get vivid and exciting thoughts or images into the mind. This can be done by pure imagination or by pictures or movies or stories or real persons. These images always involve women as sexual objects. I use the word “object” because in order for a women to be a true sexual “subject” in our imagination she must in reality be one with whom we are experiencing what we are imagining. This is not the case with masturbation.
So I vote no on masturbation. There may be other reasons why it is wrong. For now I rest my vote on the inevitable sexual images which accompany masturbation and which turn women into sexual objects. The sexual thoughts that enable masturbation do not help any man to treat women with greater respect. Therefore masturbation produces real and legitimate guilt and stands in the way of obedience.
Three encouragements to single men:
You are not alone in the battle.
Periodic failure in this area no more disqualifies you from ministry than periodic failures of impatience (which is also a sin). Pursue the expulsive power of a new affection. I walked by a whole section of “photography” books at the Walker Art Center last Thursday empowered by the better pleasure of feeling Christ conquer the temptation to look.
For the sake of your power,
Sewlyn Hughes - In the Right Direction
We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.—COLOSSIANS 1:28
In the Spirit-controlled life, self is still there, but now it is not self-centered but God-centered, and therefore, rhythmic and harmonious. "Perfect function," said a famous doctor, "is perfect health." The self functions perfectly and is, therefore, perfectly healthy; it is a self you can live with. The sex drive is still there, but now, being God-centered, it functions as God intended it to function. If one is married, then it can be expressed in a physical relationship, but if one is unmarried, then it can be refined and channeled into creativity in other directions. The herd instinct is still there, but now it is fastened on the kingdom of God, and one moves with the rest of the church toward the unity of the faith and of the Spirit. The life of the Spirit is not one of asceticism but one of assertion. We get rid of unacceptable desires in the only way possible, by replacing them with higher desires. We get rid of self-centeredness by God-centeredness, through surrender. We get rid of sex domination by surrendering the drive to God and the controls He places upon it, so that sex serves us and makes us creative in the whole of life—not just within the physical relationship of marriage. We get rid of the herd dominance by surrender to God and, when surrendered, we love people more because we are no longer dominated or intimidated by them. The expulsive power of a new affection casts out "lower loves" by focusing them on higher objectives. Prayer - Holy Spirit, I am beginning to learn that when You have control, everything is a perfect cosmos; when I have control, it is chaos. As life is for living, I want to live it to the brim. Help me not just to surrender, but to stay surrendered. Amen. (Every Day with Jesus)
Herbert Lockyer on the Greek verb Lutroo in his discussion of the doctrine of redemption - Lutroo - This word means "to loose by a price"; "the price paid for freeing a captive"; "to release by a ransom." It is used in this way in I Peter 1:18, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers"; and in Luke 1:68; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:12. With the prefixed preposition from, it is found in Luke 21:28; Romans 7:24; Ephesians 1:7, 14; 4:30; Colossians 1:16. The thought resident in this term is that of release from bondage or captivity by the judgment of a ransom, the ransom being the precious blood of Christ. He is the One who, by His sacrifice, liberates the sinner from the control of sinful and foolish self by a most costly price to Himself. By "the expulsive power of a new affection," He substitutes His redeeming love as the governing principle, instead of the sinful selfishness hitherto degrading and disgracing the sinner. We were slaves of Satan, sold under sin, and utterly unable to ransom ourselves because of the absolute obedience due to God. No act of ours could satisfy for the least offense. But Christ became our Ransom (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6). (All the Doctrines of the Bible)
Dr Fish in comment on Colossians 3:3-4 The power of a new affection
Dr. Chalmers, riding on a stage-coach by the side of the driver, said, “John, why do you hit that off leader such a crack with your lash?” “Away yonder there’s a white stone; that off leader is afraid of that stone; so, by the crack of my whip and the pain in his legs, I want to get his idea off from it.” Dr. Chalmers went home, elaborated the idea, and wrote, “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” You must drive off the devil and kill the world by putting a new idea in the mind. (Biblical Illustrator)
Vance Havner - New Lease On Life
A well-known physician and writer on medical subjects tells of a man he sent to the hospital for stomach ulcer surgery. The man rebelled, however, and put up at a hotel instead, resting, eating and sleeping. Within three weeks he had recovered from his pain. The doctor writes that, since an ulcer does not heal in a few weeks, the recovery was not due to the disappearance of the lesion. Then he concludes: "It would seem, then, that rest must immediately so lower the sensitiveness of the nerves that the man can no longer feel his ulcer."
After reading that, I came across a tract by a well-known minister. He tells of a man given up by physicians to die. On the night he was expected to die he was converted to God and filled with the joy of a new-born Christian. He recovered his health and lived for years. His physician explained it as "the result of an extraordinary stimulant that his new happiness brought into his system, which acted as no medicine could have done and lifted him above the ordinary laws of physiology."
I am not developing a theory or propounding a doctrine from these two experiences, but they have a connection; the one psychological and the other spiritual. We have all known cases of men and women transformed and delivered from all sorts of ailments by the stimulant of a new experience. Some have inherited a fortune. The doctor-writer I have quoted tells of another instance when a man was cured of an intractable ulcer after his uncle died" and left him $10,000. Others are made over by falling in love. Many an old man has married and romance has routed his rheumatism. Ministers often use the old phrase, "the expulsive power of a new affection." Even a new hobby has freed many a weakling of his hobbles.
Now if all this can happen on the lower level of the psychological, what shall we say of the life-changing power of God in Christ, not only in conversion but in subsequent experiences in the life of a Christian? We have all known of drunkards and derelicts, criminals and infidels, made into new creatures instantaneously by the new birth. Men have moved not only from the unchanged into the changed life, but beyond that into the exchanged life where they live in the strength of Another, saying, "Not I, but Christ."
The Scriptures tell us not to be drunk with wine but to be filled with the Spirit, thereby indicating that God has provided a heavenly stimulant for His people. The power that raised Jesus from the dead quickens even these present bodies of ours, before the resurrection, and enables us to do the work God wants us to perform. He renews our minds so that we may think wisely and well. He refreshes our spirits. Many a Christian has found a new lease on life long after conversion as he availed himself of the sufficiency of Christ for every need.
The Apostle Paul was so super-charged with the Spirit that he lived above his ailments. He carried on in spite of them, delivered from their power though not from their presence. He had his thorn in the flesh and he did not glorify it as some have done. He called it the messenger of Satan. His was the stimulant of the Spirit that brought him through an arduous career that would have exhausted his ordinary strength. He lived beyond his human reserves from heavenly resources.
You can have not only a new life; you can have a new lease on life!
John Piper - Covetousness
The third thing Paul mentions in verse 3 is covetousness. This must be eliminated too from the Christian life. It generally refers to greed for money but is really much broader than that. It means strong, inordinate craving; an inability to be content and satisfied with the necessities of life and ministry (cf. Hebrews 13:5; 1 Timothy 6:8). It may be a craving for money, or it may be a craving for sex, as it seems to be here.
The same word was used back in 4:19 in this same sense. Paul refers to unbelievers in that culture as people “who have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness.” Literally: “they gave themselves up to licentiousness to do every kind of uncleanness in covetousness.” Covetousness is what drives the pursuit of unclean behavior. It is the craving that ought to be conquered by a new and more powerful affection. Thomas Chalmers called it “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.”
If you are a Christian, these things must go: fornication; homosexuality; and the dominating power of all the cravings in your life that are not cravings for God. (The Enthronement of Desire)
G Campbell Morgan -
To go back again to that word of John, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." Dr. Chalmers' great sermon on that text is entitled, "The expulsive power of a new affection." What is the new affection? The true affection, love of God. What does it do for a man? Puts out of his heart that love of the world which makes him forget God, and puts into his heart a new love of the world because he sees it to be the handiwork of his Father. I remember as though it were yesterday something that happened in my own life at least thirty-seven years ago. I was a boy, and there came to my father's house a young man who had been brought to Christ in some meetings my father had been conducting in the Welsh hills. This young man was out in our garden talking to me about all sorts of things. I remember how he interested me, and how I loved him. Suddenly he stooped and picked a leaf from a nasturtium plant. He held it in his hand and said to me, "Did you ever see anything so beautiful." As a boy I looked at it, saw all the veins and the exquisite beauty. Then he said this, and I never forgot it. "I never saw how beautiful that leaf was until six months ago, when I gave myself to Christ." How true I know that to be now in my own experience. The worldly man loses his world. The godly man finds it. Where are you going for your summer holiday? I strongly advise you to get right with God before you go, and if you will, you will have such a holiday as you have never had. When a man crossing the ocean sits on deck and refuses to look at the sea because it is worldly, he is the most worldly man on board ship. He is self-centered and even though he is spiritually proud, he is godless and worldly. The love of the Father, let that fill your heart, and then what? Then all the things He made are exquisite with beauty. You will listen to the music of the thunder at night, and thank God that you are a child of the Thunderer. You will look at all the wonders in creation, and rejoice more than ever that you are the heir of the God Who made them, and that consequently they belong to you. I have lost neither poetry nor art nor music because I am His, in answer to the call of His grace. I have found them because I no longer believe that they are all. When you look on a painting and tell me it will fade, I tell you not half so soon as the pictures He paints. He is so great an artist that He flings a picture on the sky, and as you look it is gone, but in ten minutes there is another. All the things of beauty in the world are mine because I am His and He is mine. When you lose your vision of God you lose your sense of the eternal, and live wholly in the things of His beautiful world. Then you have imprisoned your own soul. May God deliver us from all worldliness by bringing us into such unity with Himself that we shall look nowhere without seeing Him, touch nothing without feeling Him, be in the midst of no circumstances without being conscious of Him. (The Problems of the Religious Life: the Opposing Forces of the Religious Life - The World)
Steven Cole -
In 1Jn 2:3-6, John applies the first test: authentic faith obeys God’s commandments. In 1Jn 2:7-11, he applies the second test: authentic faith loves God’s people. Then he pauses (1Jn 2:12-14) to give an assuring clarification, showing his confidence that his readers do have authentic faith. Now, he resumes his application of the tests by showing that authentic faith is not of the world (1Jn 2:15-17), but rather it knows and believes the truth about Jesus Christ (1Jn 2:18-27). John characteristically draws a sharp line, with no middle ground: If you love the world, you do not love the Father. He shows that…
You must choose your love and then maintain your choice:
you love either the world or the Father, but not both.
He’s saying the same thing that Jesus said (Luke 16:13), “You cannot serve God and Mammon.” He did not say, “You should not serve God and Mammon,” but, “you cannot” serve them both. You must make a basic decision in life: Will you live to know God and His eternal love, or will you live for this world and its fleeting pleasures? You can’t take a little of both.
Once you’ve made that decision, you must fight to maintain your choice against the strong current of the world. “Do not love” is a present imperative, indicating that it is an ongoing battle. “Love” is the Greek agape, indicating that it is a commitment, not a feeling, that John is commanding. The only way that you can fight the love of the world is to maintain and grow in your love for the Father. The old Scottish preacher, Thomas Chalmers, has a sermon, “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection,” where he argues that the only thing powerful enough to drive out our love for the world is our new love for the Father. (Choose Your Love - The World or the Father)
John Piper on the short life of Robert Murray McCheyne -
McCheyne grew up in this atmosphere with high moral standards, but was, by his own testimony, "devoid of God." When he went to the University of Edinburgh at the age of 14, he studied classics. His father said that "he turned his attention to . . . poetry and the pleasures of society rather more perhaps than was altogether consistent with prudence." And the professor of Moral Philosophy, Thomas Chalmers, who would later become McCheyne's most influential mentor, said that McCheyne was "a fine specimen of the natural man." He was kissing the rose of classical learning, and ignoring the thorn of suffering and death....
Call to Ministry and Thomas Chalmers - God knew that McCheyne would live only 29 years. Perhaps that's why he ordained that his call to faith and his call to the ministry were virtually simultaneous. Four months after the death of his brother, McCheyne enrolled in the Divinity Hall of Edinburgh University, November, 1831. And like so many of us, I suppose—at least it was true for me—he met the man who would have the greatest influence on his life and ministry, Thomas Chalmers. Chalmers had been converted while serving as a pastor in 1811, and was called to teach Moral Philosophy in the University of St. Andrews in 1823 and then to Edinburgh in 1828. He was the main human force in the revitalizing of the Scottish Church and overcoming the deadening effects of Moderatism.
A Growing Passion for Holiness - He embodied the warm-hearted, devotional, evangelistic Calvinism that shaped McCheyne's life and ministry. You may have heard of a sermon called, "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection." That was my first introduction to Thomas Chalmers, and I loved it. You could call it "Christian Hedonism Scottish Style." It typified the practical, heart-felt urgency for holiness that marked the Reformed pastoral ministry that McCheyne embodied. Chalmers pressed all of his great learning into the service of holiness and evangelism. He warned McCheyne and the other students of "the white devil" and "the black devil"—the black devil leading to "fleshly sins" of the world, and the white devil to "spiritual sins" of self-righteousness. And he made the gospel of Christ-crucified for sinners the central power for this holiness.
A Growing Passion for Evangelism - And Chalmers was deeply burdened about the poverty in the slums of Edinburgh and how little gospel witness there was there. He established the Visiting Society, and recruited McCheyne and his friends to join. This threw McCheyne into a world he had never seen as an upper-middle-class university student. It awakened in him a sense of urgency for those cut off from the gospel. On March 3, 1834, two and a half years into his divinity studies, he wrote:
Such scenes I never before dreamed of. Why am I such a stranger to the poor of my native town? I have passed their doors thousands of times; I have admired the huge black piles of buildings, with their lofty chimneys breaking the sun's rays. Why have I never ventured within? How dwelleth the love of God in me?
How cordial is the welcome even of the poorest and most loathsome to the voice of Christian sympathy! What embedded masses of human beings are huddled together, unvisited by friend or minister! 'No man careth for our souls' is written over every forehead. Awake, my soul! Why should I give the hours and days any longer to the vain world, when there is such a world of misery at the very door? Lord, put thine own strength in me; confirm every good resolution; forgive my past long life of uselessness and folly. So McCheyne would take away from his time in divinity school a passion for holiness and a passion for evangelism. These would never leave him and would become defining impulses of his life—all of it motivated by the beauty of the Rose and all of it intensified by the thorn of suffering. (He Kissed the Rose and Felt the Thorn: Living and Dying in the Morning of Life Meditations on the Life of Robert Murray McCheyne)
F B Meyer - The way to become meek is to be absorbingly taken up with the love of Christ for me. Be lowly before God, allowing His love to enter and fill thy heart, and thou wilt find it easy to be meek towards man. Thy pride will be driven out by the expulsive power of the new affection. Thou wilt be prepared to accept flouts and sneers, if only thou canst bless and help others; even as God who answers not the blasphemous and hard things that are said against Him, but continues to send His rain and cause His sun to shine to bring men back in penitence to His heart.
James Wells on 2 Chr 34 Josiah was--
I. AN EARLY SEEKER. Our Queen wears a velvet cap under her crown lest it should hurt her head: this eight-year-old king had more need of such a covering. The crown is a heavy burden for young soldiers. Yet there have been younger kings than Josiah. An old Norse king was called Olaf Lapking because he was king while on his mother’s lap. Royal boyhood is often poisoned boyhood. The people of Israel around little Josiah were doing worse than the heathen. The sins and sorrows of that time are described in the Lamentations of Jeremiah, whose heart they had broken, Yet Josiah at the age of eight did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and at sixteen began to seek the God of his father David with more earnestness than ever. God calls us to seek Him earlier. In our Latin exercises there was a story about a simpleton sitting one evening at the river’s brink. A traveller coming up wished his company in crossing. “No,” he replied, “I am waiting till the river flows past.” The tiny stream of difficulties between you and Christ won’t flow past, but will flow on, and broaden and deepen, till it grows like an angry torrent, swollen with winter floods, that threatens to sweep down the old man who would ford it.
II. JOSIAH WAS ALSO A HEARTY HATER OF EVIL. He did not hate in others the sins he practised himself, He was not like the Czar of Russia who used to say, “I reform my country, and am not able to reform myself.” Dr. Arnold used to say, “Commend me to boys who love God and hate evil.” Love without hate makes a mere milksop, and Christ’s disciples are to be the salt, and not the sugar of society. We need boys who will hate all evil as young Hannibal hated Rome. The young Christian ought to be the sworn foe of the kingdom of darkness.
III. JOSIAH WAS A REAL HERO. A hero is one who, in doing duty, scorns great dangers. He had the spirit of Chrysostom, who replied to the threats of the Empress Eudoxia, “I fear nothing but sin.” Josiah’s love for the Bible would open his soul to all the best influences from the heroic lives of Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Samuel and Gideon. Thus was developed in him what Dr. Chalmers calls “the expulsive power of a new affection.”
IV. JOSIAH WAS MISSED AND MOURNED WHEN HE DIED. There is a night in Spain called “the sad night”: and so in the history of Judah, the death of Josiah was “the sad day.” The Rabbis say that “the memory of him was like costly incense, and sweet as honey in the mouths of all.” (Biblical Illustrator)
U R Thomas - The garden of God (for children):--Here and elsewhere Holy Scripture pictures a gathering of the upright and holy as a garden, and Christly people, whether men or children, as the trees and plants and flowers in such a garden. In His garden--
I. GOD WILL HAVE NO WEEDS. This reminds us--
1. What a number of evils must be destroyed. Idleness, falsehood, cowardice, disobedience, etc., are weeds that must be plucked up and destroyed.
2. The ways by which evils are to be destroyed.
(1) Like weeds, they are to be plucked up and burnt. There must be no half measures in dealing with sin. We must get at the roots and then burn the whole.
(2) Like weeds, they must be cleared by better life taking their place. In New Zealand, where the hoe of the settlers failed to destroy the rank vegetation that had rooted there for centuries, they have successfully adopted the plan of planting among it our common English clover. And as it grows it actually is rooting out the formidable flax-weed with its fibrous leaves and strong woody roots. So truth, courage, love, will root out lying, cowardice, selfishness. We get rid of evil from hearts and lives by “the expulsive power of a new affection.”
W H Griffith-Thomas - Comment on Romans 8:13 Life in the Spirit
"f we do live according to the flesh, spiritual death will be the inevitable result. But if through the power of the Spirit we "keep on making dead" the deeds of the body, spiritual life will be the inevitable result. The issues of the two courses of life are certain. The flesh cannot be destroyed in this life, but the deeds which proceed from it can be mortified, or made dead. It is important for the spiritual life that we should remember that the flesh is still with us and dangerous, and that it is to be dealt with not by extirpation, but by mortification. Stifler thus clearly puts the truth:— "The man in Christ is not in the flesh, but it is in him, and the problem of salvation is not how to transmute the flesh into something good, but how to live with this thing every day without being overcome by it. The presence of the Spirit solves the problem" (The Epistle to the Romans, p. 148). It is important to observe this first reference that the Apostle makes to the actual process of the new life, for hitherto he has necessarily dealt with the change from the old life to the new. Now he tells his readers how precisely and continuously the new life is to be lived (Col. 3:10). It is a life of momentary victory over the flesh, and the secret of the triumph is the presence of the Holy Spirit in His counteracting power. A little girl once said that St. Paul kept under his body "by keeping his soul on top," and in like manner we keep under the flesh by allowing the Holy Spirit to reign supreme. This mortification by the Spirit is one of the most important factors of the spiritual life. Any attempt to crush down indwelling evil by our own strength will only end in disaster, as Romans 7. has already plainly shown. But by "the expulsive power of a new affection," the presence of the Holy Spirit in the heart, victory becomes not only possible, but easy. (ED: WELL, I AM NOT SURE I WOULD GO SO FAR AS TO SAY "EASY" - KILLING SIN BY THE SPIRIT DEMANDS CONTINUAL VIGILANCE OVER THE DOOR OF OUR HEARTS AND THUS IS SOBERING, SERIOUS WORK.)
John Phillips commenting on John 8 and the forgiven adulterous woman - Jesus set before her a new life (John 8:11b, c). He said, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." He did not condone sin; he conquered sin. With a new Lord and a new life, she went on her way. The Lord's commands are always his enablings. He imparts the power to do what he says. She experienced what Henry Drummond once called "the expulsive power of a new affection." What the law could not do, the Lord could accomplish by a few words from his understanding heart. Everyone else left the temple courtyard that day with a guilty conscience; the woman left it with joy in her heart. (Exploring John)
John Piper - The fourth reason that a passion for satisfaction in God is the primary goal of parenting is that this breaks the power of parental sins. A great hindrance to transmitting the reality of God to our children is that we are so prone to sin against them. To use them for our convenience. To take out our frustrations on them with irritability and anger. To refuse to apologize when we have wronged them. To neglect them because of desire for other things. Sometimes we sin against them directly. More often we sin against them indirectly by sinning against our spouse. The pain and disappointment of the marriage relationship takes a heavy toll on the children. Where does the practical power come from to break the power of cancelled sins, as Charles Wesley put it? Where do we find the spiritual resources to have peace and even joy in the midst of a marriage relationship that simply is not what you want it to be? It comes from what Thomas Chalmers called "the expulsive power of a new affection." In other words, when your heart is increasingly satisfied in God, that new affection gradually expels old cravings and old frustrations from the heart. (Parenting for the Glory of God)
Tim Chester -
Thomas Chalmers, the nineteenth-century Scottish minister, preached an extraordinary sermon entitled "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection." In it he argued that in order for us as Christians not to love the world, we must love God more. Love for the world is the affection to which our hearts default and from which we will be weaned only by a greater affection.
The gospel] brings for admittance to the very door of our heart, an affection which once seated upon its throne, will either subordinate every previous inmate, or bid it away. . . . In the gospel we so behold God, as that we may love God. It is then, and then only, when God stands revealed as an object of confidence to sinners and when our desire after him is not chilled into apathy. . . . It is when he stands dismantled of the terrors which belong to him as an offended lawgiver and when we are enabled by faith, which is his own gift, to see his glory in the face of Jesus Christ, and to hear his beseeching voice, as it protests good will to men, and entreats the return of all who will to a full pardon and a gracious acceptance . . . it is then, that a love paramount to the love of the world, and at length expulsive of it, first arises in the regenerated bosom. It is when released from the spirit of bondage with which love cannot dwell, and when admitted into the number of God's children through the faith that is in Christ Jesus, the spirit of adoption is poured upon us—it is then that the heart, brought under the mastery of one great and predominant affection, is delivered from the tyranny of its former desires, in the only way in which deliverance is possible.'
Chalmers's insight is compelling in its simplicity. Love for God is the great effect of the gospel. The love produced by the good news concerning Christ is so effective that our heart is captured and secured. It is this love that makes the world less attractive and enables us to resist the temptations of sin. And so time and again we go back to the gospel of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We must refocus our minds and hearts on him in all his redeeming glory. When others are struggling with sin, do not allow the sin to preoccupy you. Remind them of the God they worship, and bring them to the cross where he is seen in all of his glorious love, holiness, and grace.
Chalmers was not afraid to speak of the gospel as the place where we "behold God." In contrast we sometimes speak of the gospel as though it were nothing more than a series of propositions to which we give intellectual assent. But the gospel is not mere information about Christ: he himself is the good news! It is in and through this gospel word that God gives "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).
There is a lot of talk today of "gospel ministers," "gospel work," "gospel churches," and so on. There are some good reasons for this use of the word gospel since other definitions of identity are proving inadequate. But we need to be careful not to depersonalize our faith. In believing in the gospel we believe in Jesus Christ. To be gospel-centered is to be Jesus-centered. A gospel worker is a servant of Jesus Christ. We must not reduce Christianity to intellectual arguments or principles of ministry, however gospel-hyphenated they are. Our focus must be on the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. (Total Church)
John Piper - pray that God would give you, in ever-increasing strength, a longing to know and love and obey him above all else. I read a sermon once entitled, “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” The point was, there is no better way to overcome a bad desire than to push it out with a new one. It is in prayer that we summon the divine help to produce in us that new desire for God. (Sex and the Single Person)
Spurgeon - Rom 8:2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
And nothing else can do that. Every man is, by nature, under bondage to that which Paul describes as “the law of sin and death.” There is a law in our nature, which is so powerful that, even when we would do good, evil is present with us, and we cannot get away from that law, except by introducing another, which is “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” Dr. Chalmers has a remarkable sermon upon it. The Expulsive Power of a New Affection;” and it is this new affection for Christ, which is the accompaniment of the new life in Christ, which expels the old forces that used to hold us under bondage to sin and death.
Sam Storms - Hopeless without him, Colossians 3 Fighting Pleasure With Pleasure (Col 3:1-4)
Regardless of where I go or where I speak I can always count on at least one constant reality, one common thread that unites all Christians and all denominations and all churches: they all struggle with the temptation to sin and want to know how to defeat it and break free of its paralyzing grip.
I've said many times and written of it in my books that the church, to a large degree, has failed in its well-meant efforts to equip Christians to wage war against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Typically today (and throughout history) the approach to getting people to do what is right is by telling them in a very loud, angry, and threatening voice, "Don't do what is wrong!" We've operated under the assumption that if we portray the horrid consequences of sin in sufficiently graphic and revolting terms we will succeed in motivating the human will to turn from it.
I'm not suggesting that sin doesn't have horrid and devastating consequences. It most certainly does, now and especially in eternity. Nor am I suggesting that we cease telling people to abstain from sin or that we tone down the urgency with which we warn them concerning its deceitful and destructive ways.
But if all we bring to bear against the incredibly powerful allure of sensual self-indulgence is a "Just Say No!" campaign, we don't stand much of a chance. Any approach to resisting temptation that consists solely (or even primarily) of a teeth-gritting, fist-clenching, will-wracking resolve not to yield will ultimately fail. Or, if it does manage to succeed in the short term it will produce a joyless and mean-spirited legalism that will hardly prove attractive either to Christians or non-Christians.
What's missing in our battle with temptation? Without intending to be simplistic, it's the failure to understand the source of sin's allure. We sin because it feels good! Sin is hard to resist because it has a remarkable capacity to please. The author of Hebrews spoke of the "passing pleasures of sin" (Heb. 11:25; the ESV renders it "the fleeting pleasures of sin"). Granted, the pleasure sin brings is passing, transient, and fleeting. But it's still a pleasure! That's why we so readily yield to it.
The bottom line is this: when faced with temptation, the immediate gratification of sin will almost always triumph over the fear of its long-term consequences.
So how do we defeat the power of sin's promise of pleasure? Answer: by faith in God's promise of a superior pleasure! Paul concluded chapter two of Colossians with an indictment of any attempt to defeat the promptings of the flesh by the imposition of ascetic, legalistic, extra-biblical regulations. If they provide only an illusion of victory over fleshly impulses, what will actually work? Is there an alterative? Yes.
As I said in the previous meditation, Paul will do more than merely denounce what is ineffective in our battle with the flesh. His recommendation is found in Colossians 3:1-2 – "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth."
These two verses are simply another way of saying what I've already articulated on numerous other occasions: holiness, in this case the ability to say no to "fleshly indulgence" and the passionate desire to walk in the way of Christ (2:23b), comes not primarily from rigorous asceticism or self-restraint but from a mind captivated and controlled by the beauty and majesty of the risen Lord and all that we are in him in the heavenlies!
Yielding to fleshly urges is overcome by "seeking" the things above. Fixing our minds on "things above" leaves little time or mental energy for earthly fantasies. The heart that is entranced by the risen Christ is not easily seduced by "the things that are on earth" (v. 2b). Paul uses language that requires both the energetic orientation of our will ("keep seeking") as well as the singular devotion of our mind ("set your mind"). This is a conscious and volitionally deliberate movement of the soul to fix and ground itself on, indeed to glut itself in, if you will, the beauty of spiritual realities as opposed to the trivial and tawdry things of this world.
The reason we must seek the things above is because that is "where Christ is" (v. 1). He is the exalted center and supreme sovereign of the eternal and heavenly realm. Why would we want our lives and thoughts and actions fixed anywhere else? The appeal of heavenly things is the presence of Jesus. It is the glory and beauty and multifaceted personality and power and splendor of the risen Christ to which Paul directs our attention.
The apostle is not averse to calling us away from the earthly and transient temptations of the flesh. In fact, in Colossians 3:5-6 he grounds his appeal to abstain from immorality, impurity, and idolatry in the impending reality of divine wrath. But only after, and I believe because he has something incomparably more grand and glorious to which he has already called us, namely, Jesus and the grandeur of things above. This, I believe Paul would have us know, is of great value against fleshly indulgence!
Trusting in the expulsive power of a greater affection, Sam (Fighting Pleasure with Pleasure)
Ray Stedman on Acts 19 - Now, that is most interesting, because, you see, there was nothing negative about their approach. These early Christians did not go around faulting paganism; they simply introduced a positive new faith of such tremendous power and such fantastic reality that, when anyone experienced it, the old way of life was wiped out. The old was devitalized by the appearance of the new, and there was no need for attack. The Christians simply declared Jesus Christ and his availability to man. And men and women, sunken in darkness and superstition, gripped by fear, found him so loving, so genuine, so joyful, that all their empty paganism simply was lost by comparison. It never seems to have dawned upon Demetrius that this was what had happened and that therefore there was no possible way of defending against it. If the Christians had attacked this pagan philosophy, then a defense could have been erected, but they said nothing about it. It was simply "the expulsive power of a new affection," to use Thomas Chalmer's marvelous term. (Acts 19:20-20:1 - Christianity is Dangerous)
J C Ryle - "The Gospel of John
The woman left her water jar beside the well and went back to the village and told everyone, "Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did! Can this be the Messiah?" John 4:28-29 She had left her home for the express purpose of drawing water. She had carried a large vessel to the well, intending to bring it back filled. But she found at the well a new heart, and new objects of interest. She became a new creature! Old things passed away! All things became new! At once everything else was forgotten for the time. She could think of nothing but the truths she had heard, and the Savior she had found. In the fullness of her heart she "left her water jar," and hastened away to tell others. We see here the expulsive power of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Grace once introduced into the heart drives out old tastes and interests. A converted person no longs cares for what he once cared for! A new tenant is in the house! A new pilot is at the helm! The whole world looks different! All things have become new! Conduct like that here described is doubtless uncommon in the present day. Rarely do we see a person so entirely taken up with spiritual matters, that attention to this world's affairs is made a secondary matter, or postponed. And why is it so? Simply because true conversions to God are uncommon. Few really feel their sins, and flee to Christ by faith. Few really pass from death to life, and become new creatures. Yet these few are the real Christians of the world. What are WE ourselves? This is the question, after all, which demands our notice. Do we feel the supreme importance of spiritual things, and the comparative nothingness of the things of the world? Where is the reality of OUR Christianity? Let us take heed lest we awake too late, and find that we are lost forever, a wonder to angels and devils, and, above all, a wonder to ourselves, because of our own obstinate blindness and folly.
The Young Man Leaving Home by John Angell James, 1844 TRUE RELIGION AS A PRESERVATIVE FROM SIN
You need, young man—to defend you from the perils to which you are exposed—a shield always at hand, and impenetrable to the arrows of your enemies—and you may find it in true religion. It does this by various means. True religion changes the moral nature, producing a dislike and dread of sin, and a love of holiness and virtue. Piety is a spiritual taste; and, like every other taste, it is accompanied with a distaste for the opposites of those things or qualities which are the subjects of its delight.
Sin is that bitter thing which the soul of a true Christian hates; it is the object of his antipathy, and therefore of his dread. He turns from it with aversion and loathing, as that which is offensive and disgusting. It is not merely that he is commanded by authority to abstain from sin—but he is led away from it by the expulsive power of a new attraction. He may have sinful propensities of his carnal nature—but he resists the indulgence of them, for it is sin against God.
The Course of Faith, or The Practical Believer Delineated By John Angell James, 1852
Faith produces a new affection, as well as recognizes new objects. It not only sees these objects—but seeing them, desires them—loves them—enjoys them. Whoever is born of God overcomes the world. There is a new life, love, taste, brought into the soul by faith. One love is supplanted by another love—the expulsive power of a new affection. Make a new bed for a river, deeper and wider than its former one, and the stream will instantly leave its old channel, and flow in the new one. True religion is not all intellect and contemplation—but it is also affection. The faith which perceives these new objects works by love. It embraces these new objects of attraction—and lets go the other. The heart that once was under the power of a supreme love to the world—comes under the influence of a supreme love to God. And there is no love apart from faith. Love is faith's genuine fruit, which grows on no other stock.
We do, we shall, we must love this present world—until this divine principle gives us something better to love. The soul of the unrenewed man is blind to the beauty of spiritual objects, and therefore loves them not. But after being spiritually illumined, he sees not only their reality—but their excellence; and he now turns away from the poor, meager, unsatisfying things of earth and sense—to the more precious and glorious things of God, Christ, heaven, and eternity!
James Smith - THE SECRET OF A GREAT CHANGE.
"Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone" (Hosea 4:17), "Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard Him, and observed Him" (Hosea 14:8).
What a startling change we have here! The first speaks of a nation hugging its idols in spite of prophetic warnings concerning the dire consequences of such conduct, whilst the second Scripture depicts a nation—the same stubborn and wilful people of Israel—throwing away these very selfsame idols. Naturally we are interested in tracing the reason for swift and sudden decisions, especially if they are those of a strong-willed and stubborn folk, and we are not left in ignorance of the secret. We might remark that the discovery of the secret of such a change is not merely interesting, it is a vital matter, affecting our own moral and spiritual condition, for herein is disclosed God's way of weaning us from the world, and from vice and sin and self.
First, we are introduced to a nation wedded to its idols. Those were sad, sad days in the history of God's chosen people. Prophet after prophet had been sent with messages of love to a backsliding people, but all to no purpose, for they persisted in their evil courses. And now comes the Divine verdict: "Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone." To be left alone was just what they desired, yet no worse thing could possibly have happened to them. Sometimes when men and women of the world are pressed by earnest Christians to become concerned about their souls, and so seek the Lord in repentance and faith, they exclaim: "Why do you trouble me? Leave me alone." We are told that travellers in Arctic regions are sometimes so overcome with the cold that, sinking down exhausted upon the snow, they beg of their companions as a special favour, to be left to rest and sleep for a wee while. But that request is never granted. How false and cruel would be these fellow travellers if they did not shake the drowsy one, compiling him to keep on the move, for to be left alone means death. "Let us alone" (Luke 4:34), was the sinner's ignorant cry of the Saviour. Nay, more than that, it was a cry inspired by the evil one. May God never grant that request of any reader of this page!
"Hugging idols—I make no pretence to godliness, but I am not doing that," is that what you say? Pray remember this, that what a man thinks most of—money, position, pleasure, appetite, applause—that is his god. Frankly now, answer this question: "What comes first in your life? Who, what, is your first thought in the morning, and your last thought at night?" Can you say:
"I think of my blessed Redeemer, I think of Him all the day long."
Not one unsaved soul can answer in the affirmative. And, please remember, whatever comes first in your life is your god. Hugging sins and pleasures. Is that true of you? Perhaps, alas! some would sorrowfully confess that it is not so much they hugging their sins as their sins hugging them in a dreadful embrace. Oh! He loves you too much to leave you alone just yet. If in Hosea 4:17 He says "Let him alone," in 11:8, He exclaims, "How shall I give you up, Ephraim?"
The sequel is seen in our second Scripture, where we have a nation throwing away its idols. But how was, or rather, how will this be brought about? This stupendous change is the result of the expulsive power of a new affection, brought about by personal contact with the Lord, by hearing Him and observing Him. This is a prophecy that will be fulfilled by and by in the history of the Jews. But it may be fulfilled in every experience here and now. Wedded to idols and idols wedded to you, yet there is deliverance through Him. To know Him is life eternal, with all its accompanying blessing. "I have heard Him"—why, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. "I have observed Him"—that is how affection springs.
It is reported that a great sculptor spent eight years in producing the face of the Lord Jesus, and at last wrought one in which the emotions of love and sorrow were so perfectly blended that beholders wept as they looked upon it. Subsequently being solicited to employ his great talent on a statue of Venus, he replied: "After gazing so long into the face of Christ, think you I can now turn my attention to a heathen goddess?" And he spurned the offer. Here is the secret of weanedness from idols:
"I have heard the voice of Jesus,
Tell me not of aught beside;
I have seen the face of Jesus,
All my soul is satisfied."
Vance Havner - Big Meetin' Time
At Corinth Church, we always had our "revival" during the last week of July. That was the set time and as unchangeable as the laws of the Medes and the Persians. If a revival had broken out at some other time it would have been postponed until the last week in July! All the sinners who did not get converted during that week usually had to get along as best they could until the last week in July rolled around again.
Then, of course, we were afflicted (as we are to this day) with a chronic inability to distinguish between revival and evangelism. The usual revival gathered in some of the unconverted, but left the pattern of living among church people pretty much the same. Revival as a work of God among Christians—bringing to conviction, repentance, confession, restitution, reconciliation, separation from the world, submission to the Lordship of Christ and being filled with the Spirit—was, and still is, foreign to the thinking of almost all of our church members. A revival generally amounts to a drive for new members. They do not understand that, while evangelism is the great and glorious business of the church, revival within the church must precede, and will produce, effective evangelism.
During the horse-and-buggy days, preaching through a summer revival in the country was a herculean task. The preacher had been overfed in the homes of the farmers at both dinner and supper, to say nothing of watermelon in mid-afternoon. That night in the crowded church, where screens were unknown, kerosene lamps flickered, babies slept on pallets, dogs barked, and horses neighed outside. In spite of all that competition those faithful exhorters managed to get the message across, although the King's English suffered and time meant nothing. People "got happy" and shouted. As a lad I used to marvel at such joy—a joy that could release timid farmer folk from their inhibitions and make them bold enough to tell their experience to a crowded church when ordinarily they would have been frightened out of their wits. Nowadays I never see such shouting unless somebody wins an automobile or a mink coat on a TV show. I remember one dear lady who could go up and down the aisles with her eyes shut and never run into a bench. I don't know what kind of radar she had, but I wish we could recover the explosive as well as the expulsive power of a new affection that sent those rural saints out church doors with heaven's glow on their homely faces.
The preaching during "big meetin' time" was not aimed at making the service bright, brief, breezy, and brotherly. Some of the sermons were more like filibusters, but we got the idea that religion was serious business. Life was real and earnest and the grave was not the goal. We would never have thought of calling those old preachers by their first names. Some of them did not live up to expectations, but we regarded them as men of God and a higher grade of saint than most of us. Moreover, we thought a preacher's first business was to preach, and country people are good judges of preaching. It used to be said, "If you are preaching in town, take your best clothes; if you are preaching in the country, take your best sermon." Ministers were not measured in terms of how well they pleased the people and raised the budget, nor did our Bibles read, "How shall they hear without a public relations man?" These old-timers preached the Book as God's Word throughout and not just in spots where it might speak particularly to the listener. They would let God be true and every man a liar. The demythologizers had not come along yet to turn us from truth to fables—myths—and preachers were not myth-tified nor mythtaken! (It Is Toward Evening)
S Lewis Johnson -
One of the most serious problems facing the orthodox Christian church today is the problem of legalism. One of the most serious problems facing the church in Paul’s day was the problem of legalism. In every day it is the same. Legalism wrenches the joy of the Lord from the Christian believer, and with the joy of the Lord goes his power for vital worship and vibrant service. Nothing is left but cramped, somber, dull and listless profession. The truth is betrayed, and the glorious name of the Lord becomes a synonym for a gloomy kill-joy. The Christian under law is a miserable parody of the real thing. Ignatius was right when he said to the Magnesians, “It is absurd to talk of Jesus Christ and to practice Judaism.”At the heart of the problem of legalism is pride, a pride that refuses to admit spiritual bankruptcy. That is why the doctrines of grace stir up so much animosity. Donald Grey Barnhouse, a giant of a man in free grace, wrote: “It was a tragic hour when the Reformation churches wrote the Ten Commandments into their creeds and catechisms and sought to bring Gentile believers into bondage to Jewish law, which was never intended either for the Gentile nations or for the church.” He was right, too.
Of course, there is another side to this matter. It is not enough to be free of law. There must also be that which Thomas Chalmers called, “the expulsive power of a new affection.” Paul knew this for he not only wrote, “Ye are not under law,” but quickly he added that the Romans were “under grace” (Rom 6:14). Gratitude, the product of a Savior’s indescribable love, is the spiritual force that leads to fruitful contact with the outsiders. “Ah, Mr. Spurgeon,” said an old woman whom the great-hearted preacher was visiting, “if Jesus Christ does save me, He shall never hear the last of it!” That is the spirit produced by grace.
“I’ve found a Friend, oh, such a Friend!
He loved me ere I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
And thus He bound me to Him:
And round my heart still closely twine
Those ties which nought can sever;
For I am His, and He is mine,
Forever and forever.”
You might suppose that the great challenge of the ministry is getting a church to grow; or having a happy relationship with the elders and deacons, or perhaps learning Greek and coming to understand the Scriptures aright. Those are challenges all right; but there is another challenge that the minister faces, every week of his ministerial life, a challenge that few ministers ever master, a challenge that I, certainly, rarely meet with success: and that challenge is finding an arresting, interesting, appropriate sermon title for the bulletin every week. No seminary class prepares you, no Puritan divine ever wrote a book telling you how to do it; you are either clever enough to come up with a catchy title or you are not; and, early in my ministry I had to accept the fact that entitling sermons was not my gift. Every Friday as Sharon Rogland paces her office, glaring at me and looking at her watch, as I stare blankly at the rough draft of the bulletin unable to think of any title for this week's message, I am cruelly reminded of my shortcoming.
What do you think of the title I have chosen for this sermon: 'The Expulsive Power of a new Affection.' Well, if you thought it was quite clever or stately or both, you need not be surprised, for I did not think of it myself; it is actually the title given by Thomas Chalmers, the Scottish theologian and Pastor to one of his most famous sermons, a sermon which was preached on our very text this morning, 1 John 2:15. Indeed, Chalmers' sermon by this title is a classic; studied in seminary homiletics classes, and almost always included in published collections of the great sermons of the Christian church, alongside such other classics as Chrysostom's 'Excessive Grief at the Death of Friends,'and Edwards' 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.'
I will tell you what Chalmers meant by his curious title in a moment.
First, let me remind you that John, at this point in chapter 2, is in the midst of a small digression. He has introduced two of the three tests of genuine faith in Christ, two of the three ways he will recommend by which we may judge whether we have eternal life or not. He has said that those who truly believe in Christ will keep his commandments and, further, that those who are Christians in truth and not counterfeits, will love one another in the church. And he put those points quite sharply in the early verses of chapter 2. But, he did not want his readers to think that, for all his sharpness of tone, he thought that they were counterfeits themselves, and so he paused in his exposition of the tests of life, to say some complimentary things about them. He spoke to the church in its constituent parts: the new Christians, the believers who were, so to speak, in their spiritual young adulthood, and finally, the fathers and mothers of the faith and of the church.
He will return to his main theme in v. 18, but before he does, he cannot forbear to add to his commendation of these Christians some exhortation and warning. They are living the Christian life, but they must continue to do so, and especially they must continue to resist the allurements of the world and follow the Lord fully.
'Love not the world or anything in the world' that is his exhortation and warning. But those words present us with a problem. Are we to hate the world? Did God not make the world; and are we not to love even our enemies? And did God himself not love the world and give his Son to save the world?
Well the word 'world' is used in a variety of ways in the Bible; just as we use the word today with different meanings. We can use 'world' to mean this planet earth and all that it contains; or we can mean by it all people who live on earth, as when we speak of world peace, or world opinion. Or we can use the term to identify a particular outlook and pattern of life, as when we speak of the free world and the communist world; or the old world and the new world; the modern world and the ancient world. Or we can use the term for something quite small and specific, the world as it appears to a certain individual, as when we say, he lives in a world of his own, or when we speak of our world or my world.
The Bible uses the word in many of the same ways, but in some others as well, as a result of the fact that the Bible looks at the world not only from our perspective as human beings, but from God's perspective as its Creator, Savior, and Judge.
And this explains a very common use of the word in the Bible to refer to the present order of mankind in the grip of sin and in a determined and resolute rebellion against God. Jesus himself, in John 15:18, told his disciples that the world hated him and would hate them as well. And it is the world, in this sense, what one commentator terms: 'the life of human society as organized under the power of evil,' which John here says we must not love.
But even understanding 'world' in that way, as the unbelieving humanity, ranged against God, under the spell and the influence of Satan, we must still be careful to understand John's meaning. He is not saying that we shouldn't love even that world in the sense of wishing it good and salvation and seeking to care for and have compassion upon those masses of lost humanity, without God and without hope in the world. We are obliged to love the world in that way, as the Bible often says.
But, by 'love' here, John means not the holy love of Christians by which they share Christ's love with others; but rather the selfish love of participation. He is telling us not to set our own hearts on the godless world, to want to be a part of it, to make our home there, to seek its pleasures and rewards.
And in making that exhortation and issuing that warning, John makes this great point: that the allurements of the world are so powerful, so subtle, so all-encompassing that nothing short of the most profound considerations and counterweights can conquer them and subdue them in our hearts. And he offers two such considerations and counterweights in these three verses.
I. The first consideration heavy enough to break the grip of the world upon our hearts is that love for the world is completely incompatible with love for God.
If you love the world, John says, you cannot love the Father--the world and God are at such odds, are so violently and diametrically opposed to one another, they are at such crossed purposes, that it is simply impossible to love them both at the same time. Truly to love God requires one to love what he loves, to treasure what he treasures, to take his part and to have his interests in one's heart. But to do that is to set oneself against everything the sinful world stands for and values and seeks. And, similarly, if you love the ways of the world and want to belong to it, then you are, by that very fact, choosing against God, against his will, and against his interests, and that is not loving God.
Now, this was Thomas Chalmer's point with his famous sermon with its famous title: 'The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.' The point Chalmers was making with the title and with the sermon, was that the love of the world was so strongly rooted in our hearts, the allurements of the world so well-suited to our natural desires and propensities, that the only possible way that that love would ever be banished from our hearts would be if another, stronger, purer, more tenacious love should come into our hearts and drive the other love out. The Expulsive Power of a New Affection--that is, the power of love for God to expel from our hearts our former love for the world.
And if you will consider John's 'trinity of evil' in v. 16, if you will seriously ponder and measure the power of those worldly passions he speaks of, you will also realize how nothing short of a genuine love for God would suffice to displace in our hearts the love for the world which otherwise must rule there.
Look briefly with me at these three evil influences:
The first is the cravings of sinful man, literally, the lust of the flesh or sinful nature (the Greek word is the same as the NIV renders 'lust' in the next phrase--the word is used twice in a row by John, but the NIV has translated it with two different English words: cravings and lust).
And what a mass of cravings we are and what selfish, sinful, dark cravings they are. When John Owen referred to the human heart as a standing sink of abominations, it was not exaggeration for effect, it was an honest man speaking the truth about himself and others. And all of us know it to be so, however unwilling we may be at times to admit it to ourselves or others. But the fact is that every day, every hour, there are in our hearts desires and passions that we would be mortified for anyone else to discover; we hide away from everyone else huge areas of our lives because they are so shameful. Cravings of every kind: for the worship of others; for money and possessions; for sexual pleasures; for power; for revenge; and the like.
Think for just a moment of one of the least and the most benign of these cravings, the craving for ease. What is it accept this craving of our flesh for the easy way that keeps us from even such a simple duty and immense privilege as praying on our knees for 15 minutes, or 20 minutes, or 30 minutes out of an entire day, when the Almighty himself promised to listen to us whenever we pray to him, and to answer every prayer we sincerely offer. It is amazing how that single craving undoes so much of our Christian life and has such a grip upon our lives; and that is but one and one of the least of the cravings of our sinful nature!
Then John speaks of the lust of the eyes, by which he means our tendency to be captivated and drawn by the outward show of things without measuring their true value. As quickly as we see something, our hearts are set aflame, often in direct contradiction of what we know to be good, right, and true. Alexander Whyte once wrote: 'the eye is the shortest and surest road to the heart. The fact is, we would never know how malignantly wicked our hearts are but for our eyes. But a sudden spark, a single flash through the eye falling on the gunpowder that fills our hearts, that lets us know a hundred times every day what at heart we are made of.'
Tell me, Christian man sitting before me this morning, if the Apostle John and still more the Holy Spirit behind him has not spoken the truth about you when he spoke of the lust of the eyes. And Christian women, is it not your eyes and what they see and take note of every day that sets aflame your envyings and your jealousies and your covetousness and sets them all aflame with such heat that for all you can tell the Lord might just as well have never said all that he has said in his Holy Word about loving others, and being content in whatsoever state we are in, and if we have the Lord we have everything, and all the rest.
And then, says John, there is the pride of life. That is literally what John wrote; the NIV has paraphrased John's Greek with its 'boasting of what he has and does'. That infernal desire to be first, that constant tendency, no urge and compulsion to be set above others. Shakespeare was describing not only King Henry the 8th but every man and every woman when one of his characters said of the King: 'but I can see his pride peep through every part of him.'
Oh, yes; PRIDE. And in how many ways it appears in our hearts, our speech, and our behavior; including that very dark side of pride that urges us, if we are unable to rise above others in our own strength, at least to rejoice in secret when others around us sink lower.
I was in a long checkout line at the grocery store this week, and while I was waiting, I glanced through an article in the most recent TV Guide in which Robert Culp was reported to be wanting credit for Bill Cosby's extraordinary career as a TV actor. According to Culp, he had to teach Cosby how to act when they were first paired as the stars of the TV program 'I Spy' back in the 60s. And he was expressing his resentment that Cosby neither gave him the credit for his huge success or even bothered to look him up in Hollywood any more. The pride of life: boosting yourself and lowering others; it is the life's blood of Hollywood and, alas, of our own hearts as well.
I confess to you that this very week I had secretly to struggle not to rejoice in some genuinely bad news, because in the twisted counsels of my own heart the news could be taken, in some small way, as raising me by lowering another. And, believe me, it is possible for me to confess that dark secret to you, only because I am so well aware of how your hearts also so often boil over with the same dark pride of life.
Base desires, false values, and egoism; that is John's diagnosis of worldliness and the condition of anyone who loves the world, and, the condition of every Christian to the extent that he or she loves the world at any moment of life. When Freud said that the bottom principle of human life was the will to pleasure, and Adler said it was rather the will to power; these students of human nature were only grasping at single aspects of that naturalism and materialism and egocentrism which John has more comprehensively and accurately described in verse 16.
And such passions as these; so deeply rooted as they are; so well suited to the sinful nature as they are; will not be expelled from any heart except by a new love, still stronger, still more potent, still more arresting and gripping--and the only such love there is in the cosmos is the love for God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
II. And besides the fact that the love of the world is incompatible with the love for God; John adds this second consideration, sufficient to break the grip of this world upon a Christian's heart: viz. that this world is doomed and is soon to pass away, and that only what is done for God will last and only the one who lives for God will live forever.
Chalmers knew of what he spoke when he preached his sermon on the Expulsive Power of a New Affection. For Chalmers had lived a long time as an unbeliever; indeed, he had been a minister for a long time as an unbeliever. Indeed, while a minister in those unbelieving years he cared more about astronomy and mathematics, at which he was expert, than he cared about the Bible, which he hardly ever read; and his sermons were lectures in morality rather than the proclamation of Christ and salvation. They were, that is, until the Lord visited this man with a severe illness and the spectre of death and eternity was brought home to his mind and heart and the gospel born in upon his soul. He returned to his pulpit a new man, preaching with a passion he never had before, Christ and him crucified. As one of his parishioners put it, suddenly 'the world to come cast an awful shadow over every sermon.' He had come to know that this world was passing away...
So this sinful world and order will come to seem tawdry and futile and worthless to any heart which has been granted by the Spirit of God some glimpse of what is to come; of what will become of this sinful world and of what awaits those who neither love the world nor anything in the world.
Many folk in Charleston, S.C. recently may have loved their seaside homes; but it was not so difficult for them to decide to walk away and leave their homes behind, when it became clear to them that in a matter of hours Hurricane Hugo would arrive with waves and winds which would leave their homes nothing but empty slabs of buckled concrete scattered with sand and debris. And so it ought to be for us, whose citizenship is in heaven by faith in Christ; and who know by the sure word of God that the world and its desires will be destroyed on the great day of the Lord--a day coming sooner than anyone thinks!
What ought to be our response to John's challenge? We, who are Christians, who love the Lord God and who, in our truest selves, do not love the world and do not want those worldly loves and passions which still remain in our incompletely sanctified hearts to express themselves, but rather want to subdue and finally to put to death the lust of our flesh, the lust of our eyes, and the pride of our lives.
We will do such things as these:
We will step cautiously into the world each day; always on guard against that which could set our passions aflame. As Charles Simeon put it, when speaking of the world as a place for Christians to go into as necessary and then out again as soon as possible: 'I was tinder and did not like to go near sparks.'
We will study sin and worldly passion, especially our own, until we have convinced ourselves still more that the children of God have no business whatsoever tolerating that in their lives; and until we rise against it with the proper measure of revulsion and disgust and holy determination.
And we will, still more, take John' and Thomas Chalmer's advice, and cultivate those new affections, that love for God and love for his heavenly country, that alone are powerful enough to expel the love for this world out of our hearts.
Do that this very day, and this very week. Study to love God with a greater passion and to love heaven with a more ardent hunger and thirst. Read Revelation 21 and 22; or Baxter's Saints' Everlasting Rest; or Rutherford's Letters or Charles Colson's book, Loving God or any other book that will set God and heaven before your eyes; and pray that you might love him more and make a vow or, at least a promise, that you will manfully resist some particular piece of worldliness in your life as a witness born to your Father in Heaven that you would have your heart be full of love for him and empty of love for this world.
No more, believers, mourn your lot,
But if you are the Lord's,
Resign to them that know him not,
Such joys as earth affords.
To take a glimpse within the veil,
To know that God is mine,
Are springs of joy that never fail,
These are the joys which satisfy,
And sanctify the mind;
Which make the spirit mount on high,
And leave the world behind.