Driving out the Canaanites and Their Iron Chariots
“For thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.” — Joshua xvii. 18.
WHEN the children of Israel had come to Canaan, and by God’s good care had entered into the land that flowed with milk and honey, they were not immediately at rest, for the Canaanites were there— there in possession, there in strong cities, which seemed to be walled up to heaven; and they had to drive out these Canaanites before they could possibly possess the country. In fact, this was the reason why they were sent there. The Canaanites had been outlawed of God. They had been guilty of such horrible offences that he had adjudged their race to destruction. It was necessary for the purity of the world that ancient races which had become so horribly depraved should be removed from it, and the Israelites were brought to the land, as the Lord’s executioners, to smite the Canaanites, and exterminate them. Some have dared to speak of it as a hideous massacre; but being commanded of the great Judge, who has the power of life and death, it is to be solemnly regarded as a terrible execution for which there was a stem necessity. We may rest well assured that he who commissioned his officers to slay had the most urgent reason for the employment of their swords. God knew best what was needful for the morals of the world, and he came to the conclusion that the iniquity of the Amorites was full, and that they could not be longer endured. The Israelites could not, therefore, enter upon their inheritance without first driving out the aboriginal races, since these had become the adversaries both of God and man.
You will see, then, dear friends, that Canaan is hardly a full type of heaven. It may be used so in a modified sense; but it is a far better emblem of that state and condition of soul in which a man is found when he has become a believer, and by believing has entered into rest, but not into an absolutely perfect deliverance from sin. He has come to take possession of the covenant heritage, but finds the Canaanite of sin and evil still in the land, both in the form of original sin within, and of temptation from without. Before he can fully enjoy his privileges he must drive out his sins. It is absolutely needful, before he can experience the blessings of the covenant of grace to the full, that he should contend with the iniquities and evils which are within him and around him. He must drive out the various tribes of enemies which, for a long time, have been dwellers in the land of his nature. No doubt, many young Christians think that, when they are converted, the warfare is all over. No, the battle has just begun. You have not come to the winning-post: you have only come to the starting-point. You have entered upon the land in which you will have to fight, and wrestle, and weep, and pray, until you get the victory. That victory will be yours, but you will have to agonize to obtain it. He that has brought you into this condition will not fail you nor forsake you; but, at the same time, not without strong contentions and earnest strivings will you be able to win your inheritance. Be not deluded with the idea that you may sit down at your ease, for the very reverse will happen to the true heir of heaven.
I speak at this time to many who understand the meaning of spiritual warfare, and I scarcely need remind them that they are called to be men at arms, and not men at ease. I speak to some, perhaps, who do not yet understand much of warfare; but they will know before long, for no believer’s sword will long sleep in its scabbard. Sin is a powerful enemy; and if you are a child of God, you will have to fight against it. If you are an heir of the true Canaan, you are born first to a heritage of warfare, and ultimately to the vast inheritance of unbroken and everlasting peace.
“The land of triumph lies on high,
There are no fields of battle there;
Lord, I would conquer till I die,
And finish all the glorious war.”
Our text is a war-speech to the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim. Joshua said to them, “Thou art a great people, and hast great power: thou shalt not have one lot only. But he told them that while he gave them two lots, they would have to drive out those who were then in possession:—“Thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.” May the Holy Spirit inspirit us for our life-struggles by the meditations of this hour!
I. Our first reflection shall be — WE MUST DRIVE THEM OUT. It is a command from God — “Thou shalt drive out the Canaanites.” Every sin has to be slaughtered. Not a single sin is to be tolerated. Off with their heads! Drive the sword into their hearts! They are all to die. Not one of them may be spared. The whole race is to be exterminated, and so buried that not a bone of them can be found. Here is a labour worthy of all the valour of faith and the power of love.
They must all be driven out, for, every sin is our enemy. I hope we have no enemies in this world among our fellow-men. It takes two to make a quarrel; and if we will not contend, there can be no contention. “We are neither to give nor to take offence; but if it be possible, as much as lieth in us, we are to live peaceably with all men. I trust that we have forgiven everybody who has ever harmed us, and would desire to be forgiven by all against whom we have done anything wrong. But every sin, every evil, of every shape, is our true enemy, against which we are to wrestle to the bitter end. You cannot say to any sin, “You may dwell in my heart and be my friend.” It cannot be your friend: evil is our natural and necessary enemy, and we must treat it as such. The seed of the woman will never find a friend in the seed of the serpent, any more than Eve found a friend in the serpent that beguiled her. Any pretence of friendship with iniquity is mischievous. If you are a friend of sin, you are not a friend of God. All sorts of sins are our enemies, and we are to hate them with our whole soul. If you can say of any sin, “I do not hate it,” then you may gravely question whether you were ever born again. One of the marks of a child of God is that, although he sins, he does not love sin. He may fall into sin, but he is like a sheep which, if it tumbles into the mud, is quickly up again, for it hates the mire. The sow wallows where the sheep is distressed. Now, we are not the swine that love the slough, though we are as sheep that sometimes slip with their feet. Would to God that we never did slip! What a misery sin is to us! Evil is the worst of evils to godly men. The Lord send us all the sorrow he pleases: if he will but prevent our ever falling into sin, the greatest of our griefs will be away. Every sin hates us, and we hate every sin. There is no sin, dear friends, that can help you, in any case whatever; but it must seriously harm and hinder you. Sin is that ill wind which blows nobody any good. There is no beauty in sin. There is no comfort in sin. There is no strength in sin. There is nothing whatsoever good in sin. From the crown of its head to the sole of its foot it is all bruises and putrefying sores. There is nothing to be said in its favour; and I am sure that no heir of heaven would take up its cause and plead for it. It is evil, only evil, and that continually. While you hate sin, sin hates you. It will do you all the hurt it can; it will never be satisfied with the mischief that it has wrought you. It will try to lead you farther and farther into danger, so as to bring you down to hell. Sin would utterly destroy you, if it could, and it certainly could and would, if the grace of God did not prevent. Proclaim, then, a ceaseless warfare against all sin. Cry, “war to the knife with sin!” The Canaanites war with you; take care that you war with them. Up with the blood-red banner! Draw the sword, and never sheath it again. So long as there remains sin in our heart, or in our life, or in the world, it is to be fought against to the death.
Again, we should contend against all these Canaanites, and drive them out, for sin is our Lord’s most cruel enemy. Jesus abhors all evil, and evil in every shape persecuted him. All sorts of sins he bore in his own body on the tree. Prom our sins, all of which were laid upon him, came the lashings of his back, when the ploughers ploughed deep furrows. From our sins came the bloody sweat that covered him from head to foot. From our sins came the crown of thorns, the nails, the spear, the vinegar and gall, and the dread death of agony. Sin — oh, how our Lord loathes it! In putting it away from us he drank of that cup from which, for a moment, he started, saying, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” “He was made sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him;” and this it was which caused him such an agony. Sin to Jesus was horror, torment, death. Jesus abhors sin with all the force of his holy nature. Saved by Jesus, will you not hate sin as he did? Would any person here lay up in his drawer as a treasure the knife with which his father was murdered? Our sins were the daggers that slew the Saviour. Can we bear to think of them? Oh, that our tears might flow at the very thought of our horrible conduct towards our Lord, whom we slew by our sins: and may we never, never, never indulge any one of all our iniquities, for no one of them is innocent of the murder of our best Beloved. They conspired to take away his life; let us execute them at once.
“Oh, how I hate those lusts of mine
That crucified my God;
Those sins that pierced and nail’d his flesh
Fast to the fatal wood!
“Yes, my Redeemer, they shall die;
My heart has so decreed:
Nor will I spare the guilty things
That made my Saviour bleed.
“Whilst with a melting, broken heart,
My murder’d Lord I view,
I’ll raise revenge against my sins,
And slay the murderers too.”
Remember, brethren, we cannot have Christ and have any one sin reigning in our hearts. We come to Christ as sinners, but when we receive Christ we hear him say, “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” Sin may look into our nature, as it does, with its tempting witcheries. Sin may ride through our nature, as it does, trampling down all that is good. Sin may lurk in our nature, as it does, ready to plot against the King of kings; but it cannot reign in our nature, for it has come under another sovereignty: Christ is on the throne. “Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life” within our nature at this present time. It is not possible that we could set a single sin on any throne, even though it should be lower than Christ’s throne; neither can we obey the lusts thereof. Our Lord Jesus will not share his dominion even with an angel, much less with a sin. If thou wilt have iniquity enthroned in thy heart thou must be lost. There is no hope for thee. Thou mayest have Christ and quit thy sin; but thou canst not have Christ and hug thy sin. Christ shall help thee to slay thy sin; but if thou sayest, “No, but I will indulge this evil,” even though thou addest, “Is it not a little one?” thou wilt perish in thine iniquity. If there be one darling sin that thou wouldst spare, Christ and thy soul will never agree. There can be no peace between thee and Christ while there is peace between thee and sin, let that sin be what it may. I have known men give up drunkenness, and when they have signed the pledge they have thought, “Now I am somebody”; and they have gone on with some other habit which was quite as bad. I am glad enough to see you total abstainers; but that will not save you. Drunkards cannot enter heaven; neither can liars, nor thieves, nor fornicators, nor unbelievers. You have driven out one Canaanite, but how about the rest? One man has said, “I cannot bear prodigality. The extravagant expenditure of that young profligate is abominable.” Just so, but is not avarice abominable also? I do not suppose that you ever would spend too much money, for you are a mean old screw. You would never be tempted to waste your money, for you love it too well. Extravagance is not in your line; but you may as surely be ruined by covetousness and greed as by prodigality. Covetousness may be a better sort of vice for your pocket, but it will be nothing better for your soul when you have to stand before the judgment bar of God. One man loathes hypocrisy, but then he is cruel, hard, and unforgiving; another man will never swear, but he will lie as fast as a horse will gallop. I have known a man hate lying, and yet he has been given to lechery. I have known another who has been perfectly pure from fleshly sin, but then he has been as proud as Lucifer himself; and pride will destroy a man as much as any other form of sin. The fact is, the whole nest of unclean birds must be thrown to the ground. All the eggs of the cockatrice must be crushed. Let us pray—
“The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from its throne,
And worship only thee.”
Suppose that one of our missionaries were to come back from India, and say, “I have achieved a great marvel among the natives. All through one of the districts I went and preached, and wrought wonders. I found them worshipping gods made of the mud of the Ganges. I showed them the folly of it, and they broke their mud-gods to pieces. And some of them had wooden gods, and I induced them to burn them all. But there were some beautiful gods—gods of marble, and of gold, and of silver, and I had not the heart to meddle with them, for they were so artistic, so valuable, and so venerable. Why, one of them had eyes of diamond; and another had about his wrist a bracelet of rubies.” Alas, Mr. Missionary! we see no reason for your self-congratulation. So you left the people worshipping those precious gods, did you? What good have you done? None whatever. It is evidently as evil an idolatry to worship a god of gold as it is to worship a god of mud. Now, if we come among you, and so deal with vice and improve the education and morals of the masses that we elevate the people, what have we done if we end there? We have taken away one set of sins, but have left others. We have broken the mud-gods, but if we leave the gold and silver gods, what good have we done, as before the sight of the Lord? Many men have been delivered from the bottom rank of lusts, and so far so good; but then the higher ranks of spiritual wickednesses in high places have been left untouched, and what has been the net result? Something for this world, but nothing for the next; something for morality, but nothing for spirituality. In the long run we shall not have done much even for morals, for the most loathsome of vices flourish, side by side with great apparent refinement. Even the King of Sodom was a perfect gentleman. Many an infamously unclean liver is a man honoured in society because of his cultured mind. Sins of all sorts must go, when grace takes possession of the soul. Bring out the golden calf! This costly idol must be ground to powder, and strewed upon the water. The golden calf is as detestable before the Lord as the most beggarly gods of wood. One form of enmity to God is as obnoxious to his law as another. Sin in satin is as great a rebel as sin in rags. You may wash sin in eau-de-Cologne, but it smells none the sweeter.
Remember, also, dear friends, that a man cannot be free from sin if he is the servant of even one sin. Here is a man who has a long chain on his leg— a chain of fifty links. Now, suppose that I come in as a liberator, and take away forty-nine links, but still leave the iron fastened to the pillar, and his leg in the one link which is within the iron ring, what benefit have I brought him ? How much good have I done? The man is still a captive. If you had a bird here— say, a canary— and it was all free except one leg, it would not be a free bird then. “It is only held by a single bit of cotton,” you say. Still the bird is not at liberty: it cannot fly as it pleases. As long as a man is held a captive by a single vice, no matter how small it is, he is still in bondage to iniquity. If any one sin binds him, masters him, he is not the Lord’s free man. He is still a slave in the worst form of slavery: he is under the dominion of evil. Hence, you see, I spoke not too largely, when I said, “Down with them all!” They must all be conquered, every one. Not one single sin must be allowed to occupy the love of our heart and the throne of our nature.
There are certain sins that, when we begin to war with them, we very soon overcome. These Israelites, when they were up in the mountains, and in the woods, soon got at the hill-country Canaanites and destroyed them; but down in the plain, where there was plenty of room for horses and chariots, the Israelites were puzzled what to do; for some of these Canaanites had chariots of iron, which had scythes fixed to the axles, and when they drove into the ranks of an army, they mowed down the people as a reaping machine cuts down the standing corn. For a while this seems to have staggered the Israelites altogether; it was a terrible business to think about, and fear exaggerated the power of the dreadful chariots. Dread made them powerless, till they plucked up courage; and when they once plucked up courage, they found that these chariots were not nearly so terrible as they were supposed to be. There were ways of managing and mastering them, if Israel would but trust in God, and play the man. When a man is converted by divine grace, certain sins are readily overcome: they fly away at once, never to return. I hardly recollect, after talking with thousands of converts, hearing any brother say that he found it difficult to give up swearing. I have often heard people express their wonder that though they had never for years used a single sentence without an oath, yet, from the moment of their conversion, no profane word ever escaped their lips. I remember one who said, having been a profane swearer of the worst kind, that some years after his conversion, a hogshead rolled on his toe, and an ill word escaped him for which he was nearly broken-hearted; but that during all his life beside, since his conversion, he never remembered that such a folly and sin had come near him. Swearing is a kind of Canaanite that is soon settled off — driven out and slain. So it is with many other forms of evil. We get our sword at their throats quickly, and by God’s grace we are clean rid of all temptation to return to them. Such sins, though once powerful, are left dead on the field of battle. Glory be to God! Goliath’s head is off, Sisera has the nail through his temple, Eglon is stabbed to the heart. The enemies of God and of our souls are dead. I know that some of you could bear testimony that your favoured sins became so disgusting to you that you have never had a temptation to wander in that direction; and if a desire towards them has crossed your mind, you have revolted against it, and cast it away from you with indignation.
But certain other sins are much tougher to deal with. They mean fight, and some of them seem to have as many lives as a cat. There is no killing them. When you think that you have slain them, they are up and at you again. They may be said to have chariots of iron. These sins are sometimes those which have gained their power—their chariots of iron—through long habit. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?” No, he never shall, but the grace of God can work the change. The grace of God has taken all the spots out of many leopards, and all the black out of crowds of Ethiopians. But occasionally old, deep-seated habits come up again from their graves by a hideous resurrection. Did you never catch yourselves with a snatch of an old song coming to your memory, when you have been in prayer? When you have drawn very near to God, have you not been suddenly startled with the recollection of a filthy thing into which you once plunged? Terrible is the power of habit which has long held sway. It is not easy to uproot the oak of many a year’s growth. These habits make chariots of iron, into which your sins mount, and they become terrible enemies to our holy desires and fervent resolves.
Some sins get their chariots of iron from being congenial to our constitution. Certain brethren and sisters are sadly quick-tempered; and as long as ever they live, they will have to be on their guard against growing suddenly angry, and speaking unadvisedly with their lips. They are quick and sensitive, and this might not in itself be a serious evil; but when sin wields that quickness and sensitiveness, evil comes of it. How many a sincere child of God has had to go for years groaning, as with broken bones, because of the quickness of his temper! As for these constitutional sins, you must not excuse them. I beseech you mark what I say about this; for many are ruined by supposing that their constitutional faults are hardly faults at all, but unavoidable accidents. You must not say of any sin, “I cannot help it.” You have to help it. You must not say, “Oh, but it is natural to me.” I know that it is natural— that is the very reason why you have to be doubly on your guard against it. Everything that is of nature—ay, and of your fallen nature when it is at its best—has to be put under the feet of Christ, that grace may reign over every form of evil.
Frequently the chariot of iron derives its force from the fact that a certain sin comes rushing upon you on a sudden, and so takes you at a disadvantage. If a man had notice of a temptation, he might he able to overcome it; but temptations never give us notice: can we expect them to do so? The sailor does not expect to have notice of every gale of wind that blows upon him. The soldier in battle does not reckon to have notice of every bullet that is coming his way. By what apparatus could we be kept aware of every advance of the evil one? The very essence of temptation often lies in the suddenness of it: we are carried off our feet or ever we are aware. Yet we must not say, because of this, “I cannot help it”; for we ought to be all the more watchful, and live all the nearer to God in prayer. We are bound to stand against a sudden temptation, as much as against a slower mode of attack. We must look to the Lord to be preserved from the arrow which flieth by day, and the pestilence which walketh in darkness. We are to cry to God for grace, that, let the gusts of temptation come how they may, and when they may, we may always be found in Christ, resting in him, covered with his divine power.
Dear friends, sometimes these sins get power from the fact that, if we do not yield to them, we may incur ridicule on account of them. Many a true believer who could burn at the stake cannot bear to be laughed at. Many persons are remarkably sensitive to a jest, or a sarcasm. They could bear to be flogged more easily than to be ridiculed. So the powers of darkness assail them with sneers, and jeers, and flouts, and gibes. These are to them as chariots of iron. I have no doubt that our soldier friends, who are about to be baptized to-night, will have a hard time of it in that respect. I pray God to strengthen them in the barrack-room, and make them like men in chain-armour, who cannot be wounded by sword or arrow. I would not, if I could, prevent any of you from being persecuted in your measure. Should not soldiers fight? I would stay the persecution for the sake of the persecutor; but for the sake of you who have to bear it, I would hardly lift a finger to screen you, because the trial is an education of the utmost value. We shall never see champions if there is no fighting. Brethren, some of us have lived in warfare so long, that we should be half afraid if we were long free from assault. We have been called pretty nearly every name now; and if there remain any other forms of abuse, we are waiting for their filthiness to be poured on our head. Yet our slanderers and revilers have not broken a single bone. They have not hurt our faith, nor blighted our hope, nor chilled our love, nor stopped our communion with God. Indeed, we are the better for the fire, the anvil, and the hammer with which our enemies have been good enough to work upon us. More closeness to God, more confidence in him, and more joy in him often come to the child of God when he is most under fire. Still the trial of cruel mockings makes sin seem to have chariots of iron.
Perhaps one of the things that is worst of all to a Christian is, that certain sins are supposed to be irresistible. It is a popular error, and a very pernicious one. “These chariots of iron,” the Israelites said, “it is of no use to try to contend with them.” So they gave up the plains to the Canaanites. It is a sad calamity when a Christian person says, “I can keep straight in everything except that. Bo not touch me there. You must allow me a great deal of latitude in that direction. Please make large allowances for my peculiar constitution.” All such pleading is mischievous. Listen to me, my sister. I will make allowances for you; but I beseech you, do not make any allowance for yourself. My brother, I implore you, do not take out a license to sin. If I make a kind excuse for you in sympathy with your weakness, being a man like yourself, it is one thing; but for you to make an allowance for yourself will be most injurious to your soul. You have to overcome and destroy the sin for which you claim toleration. Mark that! You must not— you dare not — allow any sin to master you; and if you know that it does overpower you, do not therefore claim that you may indulge it, but draw an inference of the opposite sort: because it has mastered you, concentrate your entire strength upon its utter destruction. Sin must come down: let not your eye spare it. The Canaanite must be driven out: the finest and fairest of the race must fall by the sword. We cannot enter heaven with a single sin remaining in us, for “they are without fault before the throne of God.” Ere we can pass the pearly portal every spot and wrinkle must be removed from us. See your calling, brethren. Look at it well. Do you not need heavenly strength? Will you not seek for the Holy Spirit?
II. I now turn to the second head. I have said that we must drive them out. The second head is that THEY CAN BE DRIVEN OUT. I do not say that we can drive them out, but I say that they can be driven out. It will be a great miracle, but let us believe in it; for other great wonders have been wrought. Note first that you and I have been raised from the dead. Is it not so? “You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” If a dead man has been raised, then anything can be done with the man who is now made alive. Do not tell me that there is a spot on the face of newly-risen Lazarus that cannot be washed away: I do not believe it. Do not tell me that there is a bent finger that cannot be straightened: after having seen the dead man live I am certain that the living man can be perfected. He that could raise Lazarus from the dead, can cause his grave-clothes to be unbound, can raise him beyond his imperfections and infirmities, can make him perfect in every good work to do his will. It can be done. The raising from the dead is the evidence that it can be done.
You have also by divine power been led to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as the result of divine grace within your heart, what is there that you cannot do? Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is a very simple thing, say you. I know it is, but still it is the greatest thing a man ever does. “What shall we do,” said they to Jesus, “that we might work the works of God?” And he said, “This is the work of God”— this is a God-like work, the highest kind of work that ever can be done —“that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” If you have been enabled to believe, you can be enabled to be holy. He that led you to exert faith, can lead you, by faith, to overcome any and every iniquity.
In the next place, you have already conquered many sins. Look at the heaps of Canaanites that you have killed. Begin at the beginning, where God began with you in the work of grace in your soul: is there not a wonderful difference between what you were then and what you are now? Were there not sins entrenched in your nature, like the Canaanites in their walled cities? But Jericho fell flat to the ground. Hosts upon hosts of unbeliefs and iniquities dwelt within your daily life, but you have driven them out. By God’s grace you have resisted temptation, and escaped from lusts, and risen above doubts. You have hitherto overcome through the blood of the Lamb. You can say, “O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.” He that has helped you so far can surely help you even to the conclusion of the fight. Do not doubt that the almighty power of divine grace, which has achieved so much, can achieve yet more. Be strong and very courageous, for the Lord of hosts himself is at your side.
Have you not seen other Christians conquer? Oh, let your memory charge you now with brethren and sisters in whom you saw great infirmities and sins at the commencement of their spiritual career; but how they have grown! How they have vanquished inbred sin! The tears come into my eyes when I think of certain members of this church — some in heaven, and some still among us. I remember what they used to be, and what they are now, and I can hardly believe that they are the same persons. Fierce temper has been tamed, strong passions have been bound, black melancholy has been chased away. When they first joined the church, they were good, useful, sound men, but the pear was very hard; I should not have liked to put my teeth into it: they were stern, self-willed, and obstinate. The fruit was not only hard, but sour, for with all their zeal they were tart, sharp, and the reverse of gentle. But now, how mellow they are! What a sweet smell of ripeness there is about them! How ready they are to be taken to the great feast above! What God has done for them he can do for you. He can get that hardness out of you. That greenness, that sourness— he can graciously remove. Every man among us has to wear out at least one pair of green slippers; and when he has worn them out, then he puts on something better by way of travelling gear, and has his feet “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” We generally begin with a fool’s boots at first, but God, who makes the foolish wise, makes men of us at length. He who trains the babes, till out of their mouths he brings forth mighty witness to his Word, can do the same with us.
Beloved, we have been talking about what can be done and what cannot be done. Have we thought about it? We are dealing with the Almighty; and with him all things are possible. I think I see the battle now going on, the enemy seems to prevail, and the timid hearts of the soldiers of the cross sink within them. Listen! You have not yet drawn upon your reserves. Do you not know that within call there is eternal power and Godhead, waiting to help you in your struggle against all evil. Call up your reserves! Intreat your great ally to send reinforcements in this hour of need. Beseech the Lord to give you more grace; and as you have received life at his hands, pray that you may receive it yet more abundantly.
Does any man know how holy he can be? “It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” God give us grace to pray, and watch, and believe, and expect, and may the prayer of my dear brother Williams be fully answered, for he just now prayed that “the weakest among us may be as David, and David as the angel of God.”
God help us to feel that the Canaanites can be driven out.
III. And then we close with our third head, and that is, THEY SHALL BE DRIVEN OUT. They must be driven out; they can be driven out; they shall be driven out.
They shall be driven out. That is a speech for a monarch. “Must” is for the king, and “shall” is for the King of kings. Well, well, we venture to say it, because we only give the echo of his sovereign tones. This is what Christ died for. He loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the Word, that he might present it unto himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish. Christ died to save his people, not from some of their sins, but from all their sins. His precious blood cleanseth from all sin. His perfect atonement secures perfection to his saints. The death of sin is guaranteed by the death of Christ. Let us pray to-night fervently—
“Let the water and the blood,
From thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse us from its guilt and power.”
Brethren, this is what Christ lives for. Up in heaven he pleads for us, and “he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” The desire of his heart is that we may be kept from sin. “Holy Father, keep them through thy Word.” He pleads that, though Satan may desire to have them and sift them as wheat, they still may be preserved. Christ in heaven is the pattern of what we shall be, and he will not fail to mould us after his own model. We shall one day be perfectly conformed to his image, and then we shall be with him in glory. Our Lord’s honour is bound up with the presentation of all his saints in spotless purity to himself in the day of his glorious marriage.
This is what the Holy Spirit is given for. He is not given to come into our hearts, and comfort us in our sins, but to deliver us from all evil, and to comfort us in Christ Jesus. He quickens, he directs, he helps, he illuminates ; he does a thousand things; but, chiefly, he sanctifies us. He comes into the heart to drive out every other power that seeks to have dominion there. By the living Spirit of God, who dwells in you, as God within his temple, I charge you cry to him that every Dagon may be broken, every altar of Baal cast down, every golden calf ground to powder.
O brothers and sisters, let us never from this time forth write out a pass for any sin to come and go in our hearts. We will have no licensed sin; no place in which evil may claim a lodging. We will not have a spare bed for iniquity, nor give it house-room, even in the barn or the out-house. Do not let us idly say, “I cannot get over that sinful habit.” You can get over it: you must get over it. Do not say, “I will draw the line there. I really must tolerate that one particular fault.” Do not tolerate it! It will ruin you. How dare you say, “I must drink so much poison”? Touch it not. Oh, that the poison of iniquity may never come near your lips, however sweet it may seem to the carnal taste!
This is the very object of the gospel which we preach to you; and we have preached in vain unless you are striving against sin. Ours is a holy gospel, and if it does not make you holy, it has done nothing for you. This, especially, is the meaning of the ordinance of baptism for which the pool is now open before you. It is one of the meanings of believer’s baptism that you are henceforth buried with Christ— dead to your old sins, and risen with Christ in newness of life. What a farce it is if you are still living in sin! I shall thank God that I baptized none of you, if I see you still alive unto sin as you used to be. If you and I are unholy, we stab religion in its vital parts, and murder our profession. When we make up our minds that we will allow any sin within us, we do to that extent deny to Christ the travail of his soul. Nothing grieves the Spirit of God like unholiness; and nothing pleases Christ like seeing his disciples walking in his footsteps.
I wish that I were able to speak more instructively upon such a subject as this; but I speak to myself, and I feel the effect of the truth as I utter it. I pray that I may speak to all here present with practical result. I doubt not that I address many dear brethren who are far in advance of myself, and to them I say, “Go on, dear friends, from strength to strength; and may the Lord help you to tread all the powers of darkness down, and win the day speedily.” But I speak to others that are far behind me; and I am sorry that they are so, for I am very far from having attained, although I press forward with all my heart. If you be living children of the living God, lay hold upon that promise, “By little and by little, I will surely drive them out.” If you cannot conquer all the Hivites and Jebusites to-day, at least down with one, and then with another. May the mighty grace of God, without which you can do nothing, help you to keep your sword out of its sheath, driving at the very heart of sin with your utmost strength, until the last sin shall lie dead at the feet of Christ, and you shall be perfectly happy because he has made you perfectly holy. There is no fear of your stopping here upon this sin-defiled earth if you have once reached the point of perfectness. This is a poor world for the completely sanctified. God does not leave his ripe wheat out in the fields too long: he takes the sheaves home to his barn when they are quite ready. We shall soon be with him where he is when we are made like him. The Lord grant it, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.