“Renew a right spirit within me.” – Psalm 51:10
For Charles Haddon Spurgeon, fresh consecration to the Lord Jesus Christ was incredibly precious. In this sermon, he recounted how he was joyously overwhelmed by the unity of his church at the previous Wednesday meeting of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. His church was a “loving family” and a “sight of the most encouraging kind.”
At first Spurgeon said “That solemnly joyful sight suggested to my heart the propriety of addressing you to-day upon the subject of the renewal of your consecration to Christ.” However, as Spurgeon reflected on that sweet occasion a new thought “over-rode” the former – that God might “Renew a right spirit within me.”
In his text for that morning, Psalm 51:10, Spurgeon recognized that “my text deals not with renewing our vows before God, nor with our proclaiming anew in the courts of the Lord’s house our surrender to him.” Rather, “it goes deeper than all this.” Indeed, he declared that “if the Lord will do this…if the fountain be filled, then the streams must flow.” Simply, if God would renew the hearts of his hearers, then fresh consecration to Christ would follow.
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon focused on “The absolute necessity for [renewal], if we would persevere.” Here he urged “That we need renewal is very clearly seen when we reflect that all created things need it.” Spurgeon declared that “Nothing that God has made is self-existent” and that “Self-existence belongs exclusively to the ‘I AM THAT I AM.’” Indeed, “the very mountains crumble, rocks dissolve, and marbles wears away.” Even the soil loses its “former fruitfulness” and yields no “perpetual harvests.”
Spurgeon insisted that “No created thing standeth by itself.” The thought that “anything can stand without the great Creator’s perpetual presence” was an “infernal conceit.” This was especially true for “those creatures of God which are endowed with life.” He reasoned that if “even the trees” need God’s sustaining grace, how much more do “You and I, having life, cannot expect that it should be sustained without renewal form God.”
While Spurgeon believed in the necessity of God’s sustaining grace for physical life, he also insisted in the need of grace for spiritual life.” Accordingly, he reminded his congregation, saying, “brother Christian, you are aware that your piety requires constant renovation.” He asserted that because of Adam’s fall all of his descendants have “downward [spiritual] tendencies.” The natural spiritual state of man was death in sin, but the gift of God through Christ was life.
However, this spiritual life in Christ had to be nourished by looking to Christ. The dangers of spiritual lethargy and decay were so acute that Spurgeon exclaimed “Oh! how dull our love becomes if we go for a little time without a sight of Christ! How our faith flickers if we are for a little season absent from the Cross!” And so, Spurgeon warned his congregation, saying “as men must breathe so you must exercise faith on Christ.”
In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon reflected on “Our own powerlessness to renew our own spirits.” Here Spurgeon meant that “without the Spirit of God we are unable to do anything aright.” Not only was conversion itself a miracle of God, not wrought by human hands, but spiritual renewal also required the same sovereign power. Indeed, only God had the power to “reverse the efforts of the flesh” and to eradicate “our old carnal corruptions.”
In the third section of his sermon, Spurgeon delighted in “The blessed results which are sure to follow, if the Lord shall renew your spirit.” He exclaimed “Think what joy you will experience!” Specifically, he reflected on the renewing of his early affections for Christ. He said “when my eyes first looked to Christ he was a very real Christ to me,” also adding “oh! how I loved my Saviour Christ then!” But, Spurgeon had not grown to love his Saviour less as he matured, rather only the freshness of feeling faded, as all feelings do. With this in mind, his pastoral plea for his congregation was to “drink in the word,” to savor Christ, and to pray for a renewing of affections.
In the fourth, and final, section of his sermon, Spurgeon briefly reflected on “Gospel obligations [which] irresistibly constrain us by the means of this our prayer to renew our covenant with God.” Here his point was to prohibit “legal motives” which lead to legalism and to remind his hearers that their prayers for spiritual renewal were grounded in God’s gracious promise of renewal. He urged his congregation to “look back at your old diaries” and rest in the belief that the God who saves is the God who sustains, that the God who gives life is the God who renews life, and that the God who makes covenants is the very God who will certainly keep his covenants.
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For Charles Haddon Spurgeon, fresh consecration to the Lord Jesus Christ was incredibly precious. He believed that “No created thing standeth by itself” and that all life, physical and spiritual, must be nourished and sustained by God. For those thirsting and seeking after spiritual renewal please take up and read.