Charles Spurgeon’s ministry was marked by physical and mental wounds.
But there was a deeper grief – a sharper barb – that stung the preacher and his people: sin and shame.
“I had rather pass through seven years of the most wearisome pain, and the most languishing sickness, than I would ever again pass through the terrible discovery of the evil of sin” (Autobiography 1:80).
Spurgeon struggled greatly with guilt. He often lost sleep imagining the Ten Commandments saying to him, “You have broken me” (Autobiography 1:82). Just before his conversion in January 1850, Spurgeon’s anxiety over sin came to a violent climax:
“I feared lest the very skies should fall upon me, and crush my guilty soul” (Autobiography 1:79).
“There was not a day in which I did not commit such gross, such outrageous sins against God, that often and often have I wished I had never been born” (Autobiography 1:80).
“If God does not send me to hell, He ought to do it” (Autobiography 1:83).
“Oh, how I sought, in my poor dark way, to overcome first one sin and then another” (Autobiography 1:91).
“I must confess that I never would have been saved if I could have helped it” (Autobiography 1:91).
“I seemed to be all rottenness, a dunghill of corruption, nothing better, but something a great deal worse” (Autobiography 1:93).
But even after Spurgeon’s conversion, he continued to combat sins lingering in his life. He confessed, “We know what it is to get under a cloud sometimes: sin within us rises with a darkening force” (C. H. Spurgeon, Farm Sermons, 240).
Spurgeon even possessed a favorite sin . . . Yet in the midst of his ministry, Spurgeon discovered a mercy wider than his wounds – a grace deeper than his depravity.
Spurgeon believed – and we must believe – that God is in the business of new beginnings. No sin is greater than Christ’s desire to forgive it. No conscience is too stained that God cannot wash it white.
“Print every word of that in diamonds,” said Spurgeon about Jeremiah 31:34, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (MTP 57:362).
And so, from the depths of Spurgeon’s own struggles, we find these 13 comforting quotes for anyone fighting sin and shame:
1. “You are a great sinner, but he is a greater Saviour.”
“Let not your sense of sin make you think little of my Master. You are a great sinner, but he is a greater Saviour. Do not say that you have matched Christ, or overmatched him. Come, Goliath sinner, the Son of David can conquer thee or save thee yet: ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’”
“The Way” (Sermon 942, MTP 16:420)
2. “As far as God is concerned your sin has ceased to be.”
“As far as God is concerned your sin has ceased to be. He laid it on Jesus Christ your substitute, and he took it and bore the penalty of it — nay the thing itself; he as your scapegoat, carried your sin right away, and it is lost in the wilderness of forgetfulness.”
“The Heart Full and the Mouth Closed” (Sermon 1289, MTP 22:219)
3. “God is more ready to forgive than I am ready to offend.”
“If seven times a day we offend him and repent, does he forgive? Ay, that he does. This is to be unfeignedly believed, and I do believe it: I believe that, often as I transgress, God is more ready to forgive me than I am ready to offend, though, alas, I am all too ready to transgress. Hast thou right thoughts of God, dear hearer? If so, then thou knowest that he is a tender father, willing to wipe the tear of penitence away, and press his offending child to his bosom, and kiss him with the kisses of his forgiving love.”
“Increased Faith the Strength of Peace, Principles” (Sermon 1318, MTP 22:573)
4. “It is the church that is unmerciful sometimes, but not the Master: he is ever willing to receive us when we come to him.”
“The Lord is very ready to forgive: it is the church that is unmerciful sometimes, but not the Master: he is ever willing to receive us when we come to him, and to blot out our transgression. . . . Just so does your heavenly Father wait to catch you up, and to press you to his bosom and say, ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love.’”
“God’s Fatherly Pity” (Sermon 1650, MTP 28:165)
5. “If Christ was cursed for you, you cannot be cursed again.”
“Answer me this question, and I will tell you — Has God the Spirit taught you that you are accursed? Has he made you feel the bitterness of sin? Has he made you cry, ‘Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner?’ Then, my dear friend, Christ was cursed for you; and you are not cursed. You are not cursed now. Christ was cursed for you. Be of good cheer; if Christ was cursed for you, you cannot be cursed again.”
“A Call to the Unconverted” (Sermon 174, NPSP 4:79)
6. “He could not love us more than that if we had never fallen.”
“At this day God loves us, and he will love us for ever. He loves us infinitely, and he could not love us more than that if we had never fallen. At this time, in Christ Jesus, we are brought nigh — I will say it — as nigh as if we had never sinned, yea, and nearer.”
“Plenary Absolution” (Sermon 1108, MTP 19:235)
7. “In the family register of glory the small and the great are written with the same pen.”
“The smallest star that gleams is set in heaven; the faintest ray of light has affinity with the great orb of day. In the family register of glory the small and the great are written with the same pen. You are as dear to your Father’s heart as the greatest in the family. Jesus is very tender over you.”
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning By Morning, p. 293, October 19, Morning
8. “He is not the God of the hills only, but of the valleys also.”
“Friend, dost thou think that Christ’s ability to save depends upon thy fearful apprehensions of thy guilt? O soul, he is not the God of the hills only, but of the valleys also. . . . There is no sin in the whole catalogue but what the blood of Christ can wash its guilt away, and the water which flowed with the blood can take away its power over the soul. Jesus can give us the double deliverance, both from the criminality and the bondage of sin, whether the sin be of the mountain or of the valley. Only trust him, and the dominion of sin shall be broken.”
“God of the Hills and God of the Valleys” (Sermon 1311, MTP 22:490)
9. “Your sins are so gone that they cannot be laid to your charge.”
“Are you a believer and afraid of your old sins? You are afraid of foes which do not exist. Your sins are so gone that they cannot be laid to your charge. . . . You are not only pardoned, but you are a child of God. Go to your Father with joy and thankfulness, and bless him for all his love to you. Wipe those tears away, smooth those wrinkles from your brow: take up the song of joy and gladness.”
“Plenary Absolution” (Sermon 1108, MTP 19:239)
10. “I am forgiven, I am forgiven, I am forgiven!”
“I need not walk through the earth fearful of every shadow, and afraid of every man I meet, for sin is washed away; my spirit is no more guilty; it is pure, it is holy. The frown of God no longer resteth upon me; but my Father smiles, I see his eyes,—they are glancing love: I hear his voice,—it is full of sweetness. I am forgiven, I am forgiven, I am forgiven!”
11. “When a man believes in Christ, he is in that moment, in God’s sight, as though he had never sinned in all his life.”
“You shall be so cleansed, that not the shadow of a spot, nor the sign of a sin, shall be left upon you. When a man believes in Christ, he is in that moment, in God’s sight, as though he had never sinned in all his life. . . . This is the most wonderful thing about the gospel. This does not take away part of our sin, but the whole of it; it does not remove it partially, but entirely; not for a little time, but for ever.”
“The Silver Trumpet” (Sermon 366, MTP 7:151)
12. “Until God can change or lie, he never will bring to mind again the sin of that man whom he hath pardoned.”
“For when God once forgives he forgives for ever; he never plays fast and loose, and he never brings to mind again that of which he hath said, ‘I will remember it no more.’ . . . Immutability is stamped upon the patent of our pardon. Until God can change or lie, he never will bring to mind again the sin of that man whom he hath pardoned. ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee: go in peace.’”
“The First Note of My Song” (Sermon 1492, MTP 25:503)
13. “Just before I die sanctification will be finished.”
“Just before I die sanctification will be finished; but not till that moment shall I ever claim perfection in myself. But at that moment when I depart, my spirit shall have its last baptism in the Holy Spirit’s fire. It shall be put in the crucible for its last trying in the furnace; and then, free from all dross, and fine, like a wedge of pure gold, it shall be presented at the feet of God without the least degree of dross or mixture. O glorious hour! O blessed moment! . . . Oh to be washed white, clean, pure, perfect! Not an angel more pure than I shall be, —yea, not God himself more holy!”
Spurgeon’s Gems, p. 48.