“My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.” – Psalm 119:20
“As a man longeth in his heart, so is he,” at least according to Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Spurgeon knew that “You cannot always judge a man by what he is doing at any one time.” For example, a man could be “under constraints which compel him to act contrary to his true self,” or maybe some “transient impulse” directed his steps. Rather, he believed that “One of the best tests of a man’s character will be found in his deepest and heartiest longings.”
When asked to judge between good and the evil characters Spurgeon simply asked “To which have you the greatest desire?” He asserted that “heart-longings” provide “excellent helps for self-examination” and he begged his hearers “to apply them at once.”
In Spurgeon’s view, holy longings were to be sought, cultivated, and fought for. Just as “desires are the buds out which words and deeds” come, so too then “heart-longings are prophecies of what a man will be.” And while “they cannot create capacity” Spurgeon asserted “they [can] develop it.”
Accordingly Spurgeon asked his congregation, “What are thy longings?” “Dost thou long to be holy? The Lord will make thee holy.” “Dost thou long to conquer sin? Thou shalt overcome it by faith in Jesus.” In light of God’s transforming grace, Spurgeon sought to fill the hearts of his hearers with consecrated desires which God could then set ablaze for his glory.
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon dwelt on “The saints’ absorbing object.” Here he noted that “judgments” did not mean “those judgments of God with which he smites sinners” but rather “the revealed will or declared judgments of God.”
Using David as his example, Spurgeon explained that “he greatly revered the word.” Spurgeon said, “Little as David had of the Scriptures, he had a solemn reverence for what he had.” Indeed, Spurgeon warned the “learned men” who “handle this book” not to succumb to “blasphemy against God himself in irreverence to his word.”
Second, Spurgeon observed that the Psalmist “intensely desired to know its contents.” While David likely only had the Pentateuch, it was enough to “fill his whole soul with delight.” And Spurgeon also pointed out that “the substance of the New Testament” can be found in “Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.” And so he warned “Never depreciate, I pray you, the Old Testament.”
Third, Spurgeon saw that David “longed to obey God’s word.” Indeed, “He wished in everything to do the will of God without fault either of omission or of commission.” In response to this example Spurgeon remarked, “There is no regeneration where there are no aspirations after holiness.” And so Christians were to feed upon God’s word as “heavenly food will make us heavenly minded.”
In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon turned to examine “The saints’ ardent longings.” Here Spurgeon asserted that “they constitute a living experience.” Simply, “dead things have no aspirations or cravings.” Accordingly, he believed that “eager desire proves spiritual life” as spiritual corpses cannot long after God.
Second, Spurgeon saw in his text a “humble sense of imperfection.” He noted that David’s desire implied that even he had “not yet come to be completely conformed to God’s judgments.” Furthermore, this desire for holiness, and for God himself, would grow continually as “the more grace saints have the more they desire.”
Third, Spurgeon observed that this whole experience was “bitter sweet,” or rather “a sweet bitter.” He noted that “there is a bitterness about being crushed with desire.” However, Spurgeon knew that “Heart-break for God is a sweeter thing than content in sinful pleasures.” And so an increased longing for God came with an increasing ache for God. Spurgeon counted the cost, knowing that “pangs of strong desire increase our overflowing pleasures.” The delight of God and all his goodness was worth the ache.
In the third, and final, section of his sermon, Spurgeon briefly turned to “close with a few cheering reflections.” Here he encouraged his congregation by saying “God is at work in your soul.” He declared this boldly, for he knew that “never did a longing after God’s judgments grow up in the soul of itself.” Love and longing for God was itself worked by God. Finally, Spurgeon closed by reminding his congregation that:
“In Christ Jesus there is exactly what your soul is panting for.”
Why you should take up and read:
Charles Spurgeon knew that “As a man longeth in his heart so is he.” But, Spurgeon also knew that “In Christ Jesus there is exactly what your soul is panting for.” In this sermon, Spurgeon sought fill the hearts of his hearers with consecrated longings for Christ. For those wanting to renew their longings for Christ please take up and read.
Here is the link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/holy-longings#flipbook/
Phillip Ort serves as the Director of The Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City while studying in The Residency Ph.D. program.