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What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?}


QUESTION: But what is this heavenly work that wisdom’s merchants must be forging ahead with every day?


Heavenly Work Has a Heavenly Source, Rule, and Purpose

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Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

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What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work Has a Heavenly Source, Rule, Purpose}


ANSWER: In general, heavenly work is work that has a heavenly Originator and Foundation [God], is done according to heavenly rule, and has a heavenly purpose. It is work that is done in God by His Spirit (John 3:21),770 according to the will of God, and by the rule of Scripture (Colossians 4:12).771 It is work done for God and designed purely and ultimately for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).772


But more particularly, heavenly works may be considered under two categories:

  1. Works that are heavenly in the matter of them, as well as manner and purpose.

  2. Works that are earthly in the matter of them, but are done in a heavenly manner and for a heavenly purpose.


Heavenly Work in Heavenly Matters

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Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

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What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work in Heavenly Matters}


There is heavenly work that is of a heavenly nature, matter, manner, and purpose, such as all of those Christian duties that are in regard to God, ourselves, and others.


Heavenly Work of Worship of God

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Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

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What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work in Heavenly Matters

Heavenly Work of Worship of God}


Pursue that work every day that has God Himself for its first and more immediate object; these are all acts of Christian worship, both natural and instituted, moral and commanded. “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only”’” (Matthew 4:10 NASB). Worship is due to God from all His rational and intelligent creatures, both people and angels. They must worship only Him with that reverential fear, faith, love, hope, and delight that is due to Him as the supreme majesty of Heaven and earth, the great creator and preserver of all His creatures. They must serve Him with the subjection and obedience that their relation to God their sovereign demands. This is the duty of all people, especially those who profess their allegiance to God and choice of Him to be their God in Christ and their special treasure. “You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name” (Deuteronomy 6:13 NKJV). Christian, to pour out your heart on the world, relatives, self, and created things is to rob God of His service and to commit idolatry with the creature. Think this way: When my heart runs out to things below God, and my affections, hope, trust, and delight overflow their banks and break out past their due bounds of subordination to God, I rob Him and give His glory to another. When I fondly dote on and take pleasure in any creature apart from God or His service, I then deal treacherously with my God, rob Him, and give His glory to another (Isaiah 48:11).773 Oh, habitually set your heart on God and let out your faith, love, hope, reverent fear, desires, and delighting pleasures on God every day, even all day long, as your chief good, supreme sovereign and highest purpose. “Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day” (Proverbs 23:17 NKJV).


Again, external acts of divine worship are part of your everyday work that you owe to God. They are to be duly and daily done for him, for example, to pray and hear and read His sacred Word. These things are the honor, homage, and service that are due to God every day, especially morning and evening (Proverbs 8:34; Deuteronomy 6:7; Numbers 28:3–4; 1 Chronicles 23:30; Ezekiel 46:13–15; 1 Chronicles 16:39–40; Psalm 55:17).774 This is the daily burnt offering to be prepared for the Lord (Exodus 29:38–39).775 We are to perform our vows776 morning and evening each day (Psalm 61:8).777 God’s mercies are new every morning, and so must your praises be also (Lamentations 3:22–23).778 He keeps you day and night (Isaiah 27:2–3).779 And therefore it is only reasonable that you should give Him your morning and evening sacrifice [of worship]. You depend on Him for each day’s mercies, and He expects the duties of each day from you, which are your reasonable service (Romans 12:1).780 You have daily necessities, difficulties, trials, dangers, and duties in which you need His help. Is it not thus your business to be at His feet daily seeking His favor, counsel, strength, and blessing?


In this worship rests your claimed subjection to God also. If you take religious duties lightly, you reject God from being your God. This very reason is the one Moses gave to Israel why they should serve the Lord, cling to Him, swear by His name,781 and give Him all religious worship. “You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen” (Deuteronomy 10:20–21 ESV). “So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, ‘Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you’” (Daniel 6:16 NKJV). It is a contradiction to say that God is your God and yet withhold His service from Him. As soon as God had a people in the world, He had service from them. “And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26 NKJV).782 Seth783 was the other seed whom the Lord had appropriated to Himself in the place of Abel. As soon as Seth had a son and family, they worshiped God and were distinguished from the family of Cain by their serving God. This is the work of God that every soul is required to dispatch every day, alone and with family, in spirit and truth, and fervently with a pure heart.


This is also the best part of your work in the world: to attend on God. All other service is just drudgery compared with serving God and conversing with Him on the great matters of your souls and your everlasting concerns. This is for your benefit also: to maintain nearness to God, Who is the life of your souls, the length of your days, and the source of all your supplies. There is no pleasure like the ways of God, nor profit like keeping His commands.784 Oh, the blessedness of conversation with God and maintaining a daily interaction with the Father of Spirits. It is the privilege of angels and glorified saints to be always beholding His face (1 Thessalonians 4:17; Matthew 18:10).785 And, the special honor of the upright is to dwell in His presence (Psalm 140:13).786


There is also no advantage like that of being much with God every day. “But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works” (Psalm 73:28 ESV). Frequent journeys to Heaven bring in much profit. This was how David thrived so much in wisdom, grace, and experience, outshining all of the people of that age and serving his generation by the will of God; he was often with God. “If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You” (Psalm 139:18 NASB). By this nearness to the Son of Righteousness Enoch was quickly ripened for Heaven, and by his constant walking with God, reached Heaven early. Of all in that age, only holy Enoch went to Heaven so soon and was directly conveyed there after three hundred sixty five years. In contrast, the rest lived around seven to nine hundred years. That which accelerated his fitness for rest was his activity in heavenly work. “After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:22–24 NKJV). Enoch kept his constant times with God in His garden and gallery walks, then went in with Him into His presence-chamber, there to sit down with Him forever.


This will make you also thrive in your own work if you are faithful and diligent in God’s work. If you mind His concerns, He will care for yours. “And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today. The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers” (Deuteronomy 30:8–9 ESV). In the work of your hand, He will make you abundantly prosperous—the Hebrew is הוֹתִירְךָ [root: יתר yaw-thar´], meaning to make you have more than enough. As Montanus renders it, He will bless you in every work of your hand, according to the Septuagint. Other copies render He will have a great deal of care for you, etc.787 “He will make you excellent with good things,” said Junius. “He will make you to enjoy good in every work of…,” said Symmachus. He will prosper the work of your hand. It will go well with [those who obey God]. “So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time” (Deuteronomy 4:40 NASB). It was piety that made Joseph so prosperous in all he did; he feared God. “Then Joseph said to them the third day, ‘Do this and live, for I fear God’” (Genesis 42:18 NKJV). God was with him and made all he did to prosper in his hand (Genesis 39:3).788He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:3 NASB). The blessing of the Lord will be on the head and hands of such pious people. Whatever may be their condition in the world, it will be well with those who fear the Lord. If they are afflicted, their afflictions will turn to their good and be part of their prosperity. [Of Hezekiah:] “And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered” (2 Chronicles 31:21 ESV). The way to true prosperity leads through Heaven-gates. Christian, if you ever wish to thrive in your own work, be sure to carry on God’s work. Begin with God every day; the firstfruits are His. Dispatch religious worship in your closets and families before you start on your earthly business. Meet privately with Him every day; He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, and must have the beginning and end of every day. The morning and evening sacrifice are His (1 Chronicles 16:40; 2 Chronicles 13:11; Psalm 55:17).789 Give God His due before you give the world its dues. Pay your vows to God every evening before you beg for new mercies (Psalm 61:8).790 Make sure all things are secure in the everlasting arms before you lie down to rest; put your soul and your all into the hands of Christ by solemn devotion and resignation every night. Get the watch set and all things safe before you expose yourself to the hazards of the night and expose your affairs to an incapacity to secure yourself from the least danger.791 Oh, precious soul, do not lie down as dogs and pigs, which, when they have filled their bellies, get to their kennels and sties.




Heavenly Work on Ourselves

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Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

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What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work in Heavenly Matters

Heavenly Work on Ourselves}


Also, carry on that work daily that operates on your own selves, work that sanctifies, comforts, strengthens, edifies, and saves your souls. Next to the glory of God, indeed in pursuance of God’s glory, your own salvation is your chief concern. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26 NASB). What is left if the soul is lost? What is to be done, if at last, the soul is undone? To look after others’ souls and neglect your own, or to make all else secure but leave your own soul to be destroyed, is folly; it is as that of the woman who saved her possessions from a fire, but left her child to perish in the flames. Salvation is your most important work; it is work committed to your care and you will give an account of it in the day of Christ. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12 ESV). This is also a substantial amount of work with many things to be attended to and much to be completed if our souls are to be saved.


Heart Work

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Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

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What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work in Heavenly Matters

Heavenly Work on Ourselves

Heart Work}


First, you must carry on heart work every day, and that is substantial work. Those who are [honestly and truly] acquainted with their own hearts know there is much to do in and about them. There is nothing more out of order than the human heart, and nothing in a person that is in need of more attention than the heart. Thus, the Lord has given His people a strict charge to keep their hearts. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23 NASB). The beginning of the Hebrew could be more literally translated, “Above all, keeping, keep792 your heart…” (Proverbs 23:2; Ephesians 3:17; Proverbs 4:4).793 The heart is the one thing Christ looks at, for it is the main room He dwells in. It is His warehouse where He lays up His goods and His workshop where He cuts out and prepares His work (Proverbs 16:1).794 A great part of salvation work is done in the secret chambers of the heart. The heart is the root and spring of a person from which all acceptable duties flow. “not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Ephesians 6:6 NASB). The heart thus must be especially guarded. A Christian finds a great deal of work to be done on his or her heart every day. This includes:


Heart-Searching Work

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What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

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Heavenly Work on Ourselves

Heart Work

Heart-Searching Work}


Part of heart work is heart-searching work (Psalm 64:6).795 The human heart is deep and the bottom is not easily found. It is a long journey to the furthest end of the heart, and nobody has ever reached it in this life. The sea is deep, but it has a bottom. The world is large, but it has been circumnavigated. But who has ever traveled through his or her own heart and set up a marker saying, “To here its wickedness goes, and no further”? “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV).796 A person has no worse cheater to deal with than his own heart. It has chameleon colors, meandering and labyrinthine paths, subtle shifts, false pretenses, secret plots, fair-seeming promises, smooth excuses, rational pleas, seeming integrity, and deeply rooted hypocrisy. Thus, nobody can tell what to make of his or her heart or how to evaluate it, and the problem calls for constant searching and observing the heart. The Lord purposefully gives His people the scale of the sanctuary in which to weigh the heart, and He gives providences each day by which to measure the heart. People encounter various occasions of providences, temptations, employments, companions, changes, mercies, and afflictions; these all help uncover the heart, and the results of these are to be observed in order to evaluate the heart.797


Heart-Judging Work

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Heart Work

Heart-Judging Work}


After Christians have searched their hearts they will discover the evil in their hearts, their pride, hypocrisy, and so on. They will clearly see the proof and evidence of it, and then understand how repugnant and inconsistent their sin is to the Law and Gospel, equity and mercy, light, experience, warnings, their Christian profession, and [God’s] promises and patience. Then they must indict the heart for these things and drive home the evil of it and all the aggravations798 of their sin. Aggravations can include:


By indicting their hearts for their sin by these considerations, the sin’s repugnance to God, and its aggravations, Christians must convince their hearts of these things and pass sentence against their hearts. They must condemn their hearts as unworthy of any mercy and deserving of all the threatenings of the Word against their sin. The heart must come to understand and bear the blame for its iniquity, feel its exceeding sinfulness, and cry out with the apostle, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24 NASB). This can be highly useful to you to prove to yourself your sincerity, preserve the tenderness of your spirit [conscience], and to cut off all excuses, false hopes, and security in sin. It will make sin appear more abominable [even] when it appears with its most attractive allurements (2 Corinthians 7:11; 1 Corinthians 11:31).800 This will also be evidence to you of your pardon and freedom from divine condemnation.


Heart-Humbling Work

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Heavenly Work on Ourselves

Heart Work

Heart-Humbling Work}


Oh, the pride that lodges, lives in, and becomes a part of this little part, the heart of man. How unknowable it is and hard to evaluate. It is like yeast in dough or poison in a cup; it cannot be separated out by a human hand. It is as rottenness in the bones801 that cannot be diagnosed or cured. Pride is as that lofty mountain before Zerubbabel that must become a plain (Zechariah 4:7).802 Pride is as deeply rooted trees whose tap roots are not easily pulled out. One person compared spiritual pride to the undershirt, which the saints take off last of all, or like ivy that will not be pulled off until the wall on which it hangs comes down also.803 Oh, the struggles a child of God has with his proud heart, to get and keep it low. Whatever a spider feeds on, it makes it poisonous.804 The proud heart of humans likewise uses all it does, has, meets with, and sees for nourishing pride. It is proud of its sins, proud of its graces, proud under afflictions, and proud of mercies. It is proud of honor and proud of humility. It is proud of God’s favor and proud under His frowns. Oh, what a strange disease pride is; it feeds upon the means that the Lord gives to cure it and gets strength from medicine meant to destroy it. Pride is like Ephraim’s wound (Hosea 5:13).805 When God would have healed one wound, another appeared.806 And this helps to make a Christian’s work a great amount of work indeed; the work is never done until the day [life] is over and his earthly body is pulled down.


Heart-Purging Work

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Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work in Heavenly Matters

Heavenly Work on Ourselves

Heart Work

Heart-Purging Work}


The heart of a man is naturally a complete cesspit and kennel807 of uncleanness and a spring [source] of pollution. It spews an effluent full of filthiness of flesh and spirit. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man” (Matthew 15:19–20 NKJV). This filthiness is not accidental or from some outside source; that may be more easily washed away (Jeremiah 6:7).808 Rather, the filthiness is innate and inherent, and never ceases bubbling forth until the source is cleansed and the root changed. Sin in the heart is the root and spring [source] of all the wickedness that defiles the thoughts, words, and actions. Christians complain about their thoughts; they are pestered by vain, unclean, and distracting thoughts both in and out of duty. But the sickness is in the heart; thoughts are just the boilings-over and effluent of the heart. A person who wants to cure thoughts must first cleanse the heart (Jeremiah 4:14).809 The heart is the nest from which those wasps fly out and trouble the soul. It is the root that feeds those luxuriant branches, briars, and thorns that wound the conscience. The heart is as a strong fort where bandits hide themselves and go out to prey on the gracious soul. Until these nests are destroyed, the ax laid to the root of this tree, and the strong fort attacked and the bandits destroyed, souls will never be freed from eruptions of sin into their thoughts and life. This, Christian, is long, busy, and hard work, and part of your daily employment in the heavenly trade: to sweep, wash, drain, and cleanse your filthy heart by sound repentance and faith in the promises and death and blood of Christ. [Emphasis added. Ed.]


Heart-Enlivening Work

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What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work in Heavenly Matters

Heavenly Work on Ourselves

Heart Work

Heart-Enlivening Work}


The heart is the prime mover, the great wheel810 in the clock that makes everything else go. If that stops, all abilities to act are stilled. A lively heart makes a diligent hand to do soul-work with dispatch and a nimble foot to run in the ways of God’s commands. When the heart is enlivened, then every duty, inward or outward, public or private, goes ahead. Such a soul needs no spurs to enliven it nor any winch to pull it to its duties. Oh, what a burden some people are to their Christian friends; these friends have to work to keep them up and drag them on in the way of God. It is because their hearts are dead and the liveliness that once seemed to be in them has departed! The mainspring811 that at first made them so active is now weakened or broken. The streams that powered the waterwheel of their mills has failed. This is because temporary love and common grace are like puddles that have no flowing water to maintain them; they are dried up by consuming lusts and scorching temptations so that all a person’s branches are withered and they are weak, cold, and averse to every work of God and their souls. Some of these dangerous symptoms of decayed grace are also found in sincere souls because they are not keeping timely watch on their hearts and not keeping them close to the enlivening Lord Jesus by a lively faith in the promises. Christian, give heed to this also every day so as to maintain your spiritual life by fresh, enlivening, and reviving influences from the fountain of life on your weak and dying heart. Make use of all instituted helps for strengthening your soul, such as hearing sermons, reading, meditation, holy conversation, and the like.


Heart-Teaching and Heart-Enlightening Work

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Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work in Heavenly Matters

Heavenly Work on Ourselves

Heart Work

Heart-Teaching, -Enlightening Work}


A light head and a dark heart may dwell together, and it seems to be the condition of too many under the Gospel today. It is rare to find a spiritual eye that looks into the mystery of truth, or one who discerns excellent things with belief and affection for them. Even as Christ is read [in Scripture or preached], a veil is on people’s minds and their foolish hearts are darkened. This is one reason souls do not walk as children of light: they are not light in the Lord (Psalm 40:8).812 The law of God is not inside their hearts. Thus, because of the lack of this heart-knowledge, they have no inclination or power against their hearts to do even what they know of the will of God. Be earnest with God and pray He will shine over your hearts as the sun shines on the earth that the Sun of Righteousness may rise each day with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2).813 Cry with David, “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” (Psalm 119:36 ESV). Let my heart lean upon and be supported by your law, as a man leans on a staff814 to help him. Get the truth nearer to your heart so that the Word may become part of your hearts, that it may be a Goshen,815 a land of vision,816 and full of the understanding of the Lord.


Heart-Keeping and Heart-Watching Work

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Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

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Heavenly Work on Ourselves

Heart Work

Heart-Keeping and -Watching Work}


The heart is naturally prone to backsliding. If it is not kept and held fast to the Lord and His ways, it will be turning aside and wandering off from its proper duty. The Lord complains about Israel: “And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not prepare its heart And whose spirit was not faithful to God” (Psalm 78:8 NASB). They did not prepare, incline, and adapt their hearts to God. Neither were their hearts constant and steadfast to God, but on every occasion darted aside. A human heart will be very deceitful unless it is kept under a watchful eye and strong hand to hold it fast to God. “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23 NKJV). Keep it as if under lock and key, its door bolted against sin, and bound by cords of love to every duty.817 And what a hard business this is! Oh, the work that a child of God has to keep his heart in order for even one moment: to keep down sin, to keep it from corruption and temptation, to keep up grace in the heart, to maintain its desires for God and the things that are excellent, to preserve its affections for things above, to hold its thoughts on God and eternal things so that they do not dart away, to maintain its integrity, to make it fulfill its purposes, and to secure its proper structure, experiences, and enjoyments. The one who wants to thus keep his heart must watch it constantly, never take his eye off it, or allow his vigilant care for it to cease. He must always be making it over to the Lord Jesus for its security, imploring help from Heaven, and faithfully following all the instructions Christ gives for securing the heart. This is heart-work and the first part of this heavenly work that concerns yourselves.


Mortification Work

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Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work in Heavenly Matters

Heavenly Work on Ourselves

Mortification Work}


Second, you must carry on mortification818 work every day. “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5 ESV). The apostle had assured the believing Colossians of their future happiness. Therefore, because they are in Christ, it is now their duty and necessity to press after utmost holiness on earth as the way to this blessedness. The first part of this holiness lies in this great work of mortification. There is no greater motive for believers to put off sin than well-grounded hopes of a portion in Christ and glory. If Heaven is to be yours hereafter, holiness must be yours now. There is no place for sin in Heaven; no unclean thing can enter there. Therefore make haste to put away sin now; that is his argument: put to death sin in the members of your earthly body. Get yourselves rid of sin. Put to death, weaken, and destroy the whole body819 of sin with all the powers and outcomes of it. The head and ruling power of sin has already had its mortal wound: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3 ESV). Believers are thus habitually dead to sin, the world, and self; these have gotten their deadly wound, an incurable stab in the heart. But, though mortally wounded, they are not yet dead; they must bleed more and be further wounded; this monster must be weakened every day. The practice of putting sin to death is lacking and must be promoted daily. Davenant said, “This spiritual death to sin is unlike natural death; for natural death is complete, leaving no life at all. But spiritual mortification is never complete while we still live. There is always sin remaining that, in its very nature, is contrary to holiness. This sin must be daily opposed and destroyed.” In believers, sin is driven from the royal fort of the heart when Christ enters into it. But sin still possesses the suburbs and outer environs of the soul; from there also, it must be gradually expelled by the mortifying influence of the Spirit. This is as when the Canaanites were driven from the mountains, but not completely from the valleys, so that Israel might be tested and learn war (Judges 1:19; Judges 3:1–2).820 The Lord Jesus Christ does not immediately destroy corruptions from people, so that by these corruptions their sincerity may be proven, their graces exercised, and the mighty power of His Spirit openly displayed. This makes a Christian’s work busy and constant while dealing with potent enemies both inside oneself and outside (Ephesians 6:12).821 These enemies must be fought every day and continual war maintained against them all of one’s life. Without fighting, there is no conquering and without striving, there is no crowning (2 Timothy 2:5).822 The condition of a child of God is as that of Israel when fighting with Amalek (Exodus 17:11):823 if the hands of faith and prayer are not held up, there is no conquest; spiritual Amalek prevails. Oh, the losses that Christians sustain from lack of mortification, by reason of which their previously knocked down corruptions rally and take their graces captive! “Let people neglect the constant practice of mortification,” said Davenant, “and their vices that were trodden down and subdued will soon resume their strength. Their corruptions that were lopped off will bud out again, and because the graces of the Spirit in them are almost strangled, they return to their former tempers.” From this come those dreadful fears of good souls that the grace of God was never truly in them, but that they are still in a carnal state and will perish at last. And all of this is due to lack of carrying on the work of mortification of sin inside them. Just as a lively faith overcomes sin, so prevailing lust weakens faith (1 John 5:4; 1 Peter 2:11)824 and withstands the healing work of the Spirit. It overthrows the soul’s hopes and fills it with fears that his eternal state is unsound and that all his Christian profession, experience, and labor will have a miserable outcome. By this ladder of unmortified sin, the devil scales the walls of the royal fort of faith, throws down its towers and mans it against the soul’s peace, comfort, and holiness. Oh, the mischief that Christians do to themselves by indulging in sin and by not vigorously pursuing this great duty of mortification! It makes them like Israel, who were once at the border of Canaan, but by their unbelief and unsubdued lusts, were brought back near Egypt again and, after a wearying, inconstant life, perished in the wilderness (Numbers 32:13).825 So it is with gracious souls with unmortified lusts. After some access to grace, taste of divine love, hope of glory, and a clear path to Heaven, they are brought back to the border of Hell again and made to spend their life in an uncomfortable and soul-distressing wilderness. Christian, your peace and spiritual welfare are not secure merely because sin has lost its dominion; the strength and life of sin must also be abated. Dethroned sin may give you many battles with many sore defeats. Although it may not recover the scepter, it may keep the sword. When it cannot mount the throne, it may get into some stronghold and put the soul to much trouble before it is beaten out again. Neither is it safe to agree to some temporary truce with your corruptions; bloody overthrows have often come from a cessation of war for a time. “So Joab blew the trumpet; and all the people halted and pursued Israel no longer, nor did they continue to fight anymore” (2 Samuel 2:28 NASB). And yet, “Now there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David; and David grew steadily stronger, but the house of Saul grew weaker continually” (2 Samuel 3:1 NASB). Sin may seem to yield and trouble your soul no more for a time, staying quiet. Then suddenly, as Joab did to Abner (2 Samuel 3:27),826 sin knocks you to the ground, though not to death. Neither is it enough for sin to be in chains and under restraint through the present strength of overcoming grace; it must be hung up in chains as a dead malefactor.827 Caged lust may break prison and escape to do you worse hurt, as Ben-Hadad did to Ahab (1 Kings 20:42).828 Chained bears and lions have done great mischief when they broke loose. Believer, your condition is not safe until your sin is dead. What Saul said to Jonathan may be applied to your case: “For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Now therefore, send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die” (1 Samuel 20:31 NKJV). Your soul can have no stability in grace, but will always be full of ups and downs and wars and changes until your corruptions are subdued.


QUESTION: But what shall I do to get sin mortified? I am convinced that it is my duty but find it beyond my ability. After all my struggles, prayers, and hopes, I am still defeated. I fear that one day I will perish by the hand of these Sauls.829 Oh, when will the kingdom be restored to Israel?830 When will the deliverer come to my soul?831 What shall I do to get these mountains a plain before Zerubbabel?832 When will these thieves be crucified with my Lord Christ?833


ANSWER: If you truly mean to put to death your sins, follow these directions:


Do Nothing That Might Tend to Strengthen Sin

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Do Nothing that Tends to Strengthen Sin}


First, do nothing that could possibly help strengthen sin. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14 NKJV). The word signifies a provident care of the flesh, such as people do to maintain and provide for themselves and their families. Do not give thought to how to feed and please your lusts. Never think to kill your corruptions while you secretly feed and maintain them. Many people complain about their corruptions while secretly feeding and strengthening them. There are several things that contribute to the maintenance of lusts.


First, remembering former sins with delight will greatly please a carnal heart and stir up desire for future sins. Remembering former mercies is food for today’s faith. “You broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces, And gave him as food to the people inhabiting the wilderness” (Psalm 74:14 NKJV).834 Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt and the breaking of Pharaoh’s power, upon serious thought, was food to Israel’s faith in the wilderness. And, delightfully remembering former sins works in the same manner. When a person finds pleasure in thinking and talking of former evils [sins], this feeds present desires and hopes of sin. When Paul wanted to help free the Romans from the service of sin, he labored to make their memories of former sins bitter. “But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death” (Romans 6:21 ESV).


Second, pleasurably imagining and fantasizing of present or future sins greatly strengthens the habit of sin. The Lord condemns their wicked thoughts as the cause of Israel’s sinful actions. “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts” (Isaiah 65:2 NASB). Sin begins in the head and ends in the feet; there are first thoughts of sin, then actual works of sin. The devil usually sets fire to the tinder of people’s thoughts; the fire then burns in their hearts and lives. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14–15 NKJV). People who want to avoid the birth of sin in their lives must take heed of the conception of sin in their pleasing thoughts. Those who want to help Babylon835 to ruin must prevent its propagation and put a timely check on their growth, dashing their little ones [sins] against the stone (Psalm 137:9)836 Hugo said, “Do not leave anything that belongs to Babylon in your soul.”


Third, unbelief strengthens lust. “Keep your feet from being unshod And your throat from thirst; But you said, ‘It is hopeless! No! For I have loved strangers, And after them I will walk’” (Jeremiah 2:25 NASB).837 The Hebrew נוֹאָשׁ [root: יאשׁ, yaw-ash´, hopeless] refers to despair. My heart despairs of help; I fear it will never be better, therefore I will go on in my own way. Unbelief strengthens lust and makes the soul a prey to it.838 It was by unbelief that Israel fell in the wilderness, into both sin and ruin. And the apostle, by the same example of the unbelief of Israel in the wilderness, cautions Christians not to fall (Hebrews 4:11).839 It was unbelieving fear and despondence that made David almost stumble had not grace succored him by the Word. “But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped” (Psalm 73:2 ESV). And from where came this weakness of grace and strength of corruption? Why, it was from the apparent prosperity of sin and sinners and the [apparent] lack of success from his profession and obedience. “All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence” (Psalm 73:13 ESV). If this is the fruit of my holiness, then all my labor is in vain. If wickedness wins in the end, it is to no purpose that I have followed God all this time. Oh, take heed of unbelief if you ever want to suppress your lusts.


Fourth, presumption [audacity, daring sinfulness] secretly brings in supplies to sin and nourishes it against all the sieges of Word and Spirit.840And especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries” (2 Peter 2:10 NKJV). A presumptuous soul is a self-pleasing soul, one that persistently and willfully seeks its own carnal contentment. [The passage means that]841 he will boldly risk the most dangerous results of sin so that he may gratify his lusts and obtain his sinful desires. He fears no dangers and is not deterred by any hardships even though God and His Word are against him. Presumption makes the sinner go ahead, hoping for success, in spite of all warnings, threatenings, and counsel. “But they presumed to go up to the heights of the hill country, although neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses departed out of the camp” (Numbers 14:44 ESV). The Lord forbade them to go, threatening to leave them and ruin them if they dared to go up against His will. It was even said that the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and Moses did not go out of the camp. They would not go one step with them in that wicked enterprise, but the sinners willfully went. Oh, take heed of presumption, which exceedingly strengthens sin and pulls down the sinner.


Fifth, carnal security is a great friend to sin and contributes much to its advantage. When Christians let down their watch and lie down to slumber, corruptions rise up and prevail over them. When the Amalekites spread about over all the land, eating, drinking, and dancing because of the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines (1 Samuel 30:16–17),842 David attacked them from twilight to the evening of the next day, and none of them escaped, save four hundred young men who escaped on camels. So it is with gracious souls after some great mercy. They may get some special privilege, some victory over their lusts, or some token of God’s favor. Then they become secure, proud, and careless; they let down their watch, expose themselves to temptations, and soon become prey to sin and Satan. “Moab has been at ease from his youth and has settled on his dregs; he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into exile; so his taste remains in him, and his scent is not changed” (Jeremiah 48:11 ESV).843 If you want to have reform of your carnal hearts, take heed of carnal security in your hearts.


Sixth, self-indulgence helps to nourish sin. When people are lovers of their own selves and seek to please, indulge, and gratify the desires of the carnal, natural self, then lusts thrive in that soul. “He who feasts his body,” said Ephrem Syrus, “and starves his soul is like he who feasts his slave and starves his wife.” Self-love leads the van844 to all the iniquities and hypocrisies of the last times (2 Timothy 3:2).845 Oh, the troops of sin that march under the banner of self-love and are secured by its escort. Hence, self-denial is the first step to Christianity (Matthew 16:24).846 You can never prosper in your sanctification or against your soul-ruining lusts until you learn to deny yourselves in every part. Take heed of a selfish spirit if you want to be sincere souls and see the death of your lusts.


Seventh, opportunity exceedingly favors sin, helps to keep its hopes alive, and gives it room for growth. Opportunity is the midwife of lust and helps to deliver its inward conceptions and pregnant desires. It was opportunity that blew on the coal of David’s lust into a flame (2 Samuel 11:2),847 and was midwife to Hezekiah’s pride (Isaiah 39:2).848 Had it not been for opportunity, Lot might have escaped the sin of incest, as well as the sufferings of Sodom (Genesis 19:30–38).849 Had it not been for opportunity, Judah might have avoided uncleanness with his daughter-in-law, Tamar (Genesis 38:16).850 It was opportunity that exposed Dinah to rape (Genesis 34:1–2),851 and Peter to the temptation of denying his Lord and Master (Matthew 26:58).852 Take heed of venturing into the way of temptation and going to the borders of danger to the soul. Shun occasions of evil and turn aside out of the way of snares (Proverbs 1:10, 15; Proverbs 4:14–15).853 Temptation feeds corruption, ensnares and entangles the feet, and is fuel to keep the fire of lust going. You may as safely allow sparks near to gunpowder as opportunity to corruption.854


Eighth, refusal to repent of sin strengthens sinful habits. “I have listened and heard, They have spoken what is not right; No man repented of his wickedness, Saying, ‘What have I done?’ Everyone turned to his course, Like a horse charging into the battle” (Jeremiah 8:6 NASB). They furiously run on in sin as a horse into battle; it runs until it sweats. Thus they do not cease from sin nor have enough of sin. This refusal to repent was the cause of their persisting in sin. Refusal to repent hardens the heart and heaps sin upon sin for the day of wrath (Romans 2:5).855 Take heed then of all those things that may in the least maintain and keep up sin in your souls if you ever expect to knock it down. That is the first advice.


Do Not Battle Sin with Your Own Strength

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Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

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Mortification Work

Do Not Battle Sin in Own Strength}


The second direction is to not only shun whatever might strengthen sin, but take heed that you do not go out to battle in your own strength against sin if you ever expect to mortify it. The one who wants to mortify sin must be able to overpower demons (Ephesians 6:12).856 But human strength is no match for demons. If man [Adam] in his pure state was too weak for such an adversary, then how much more impotent is impure and imperfect [fallen] mankind. It is not the woman, but the woman’s seed [offspring, Christ] Who must bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15).857 The saints’ victory is through Him Who has loved them and given Himself as a sacrifice to God for them (Romans 16:20; Romans 8:37; Ephesians 5:2).858 Both His armor and arm must bring deliverance from spiritual enemies. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV). Here is what makes souls fail in their attempts against sin: they set about it with a strength that is inferior to sin. When Augustine, after all his striving, vows, and duties to bring down his corruptions, still found them too hard for him, he heard a voice saying to him, “You stand in [by] yourself, and therefore you do not stand.” Thus, he went to prayer and faith in the blood of Christ and so got some victory over them. When the exorcists went to cast out demons by the bare name of Christ, both they and their attempts soon went awry. “And the evil spirit answered and said, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’ Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded” (Acts 19:15–16 NKJV). The strength of creatures is too weak to overcome that enemy that has the power of Hell to guard him.


Oh, do not go out [to battle] against sin in the strength of your purposes [resolve] and [your own] promises [to yourself]! Peter, to his own cost, found that too weak to secure him in an hour of temptation.


Do not go out in the strength of your firmness or emotions. Satan can easily beat the saints from these and throw in a flood to drown their warmest emotions. The Galatians were strong in firmness and resolute emotions. While spiritual, they could talk of blessedness, but they soon felt an alteration when they became carnal (Galatians 4:15, 3:3).859


Do not go out in the strength or quality of performance of your holy duties or other works. These are too weak without faith and the arm of Christ to charm these serpents and disarm spiritual adversaries.


Do not go out in the strength of those personal virtues given you by God’s grace. These are not Christ and do not have God’s almighty power in them to bring down sin and Satan. It is not grace in believers, but grace in Christ that is sufficient to guard the soul from Satan’s buffetings and rescue it from his temptations (2 Corinthians 12:9).860


Break the Union between Your Heart and Sin

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Break the Union between Heart, Sin}


The third direction is to get the union between your heart and sin broken. The life of sin lies in that union it has with the heart. If that union is broken, sin dies, just as a man ceases to live when the union between soul and body is dissolved. Sin has too great a part even in a believer’s heart, which is inclined to some amount of respect and indulgence toward sin. When the enlightened mind says, “Crucify it,” the carnal affections cry, “Spare it. Is it not a little one?” And the heart, like the city of Iconium concerning Paul and Barnabas, is divided. “But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles” (Acts 14:4 ESV). So it is with a gracious soul; sin has too great a potency in the carnal mind; this potency must be broken or sin will never die. Get the Holy Spirit’s investment in your heart strengthened and sin’s investment weakened every day.


There are seven things that have a great tendency to weaken the heart’s union with sin and withdraw its affection for it.


The first thing that tends to weaken the heart’s union with sin is an abiding sense of the love of Christ toward the believer. Christ had pity on the believer even when nobody else did (Ezekiel 16:5).861 Christ loved the believer when he was altogether unlovely in himself and wallowing in his blood (Ezekiel 16:6).862 Christ loved the believer while he was yet an enemy to God and even to his own soul (Colossians 1:21–22).863 Christ loved the believer enough to give Himself for him (1 Timothy 2:5–6),864 left His Father’s glory (John 17:5),865 took up shame (Isaiah 50:6),866 and even died for him (Romans 5:8).867 God loved him and passed by others, called him and left others behind (Matthew 13:10–12).868 Serious consideration of this will cause the gracious heart to hate sin, which Christ also hates. In love for the believer, Christ came to destroy sin (1 John 3:8).869


The second thing that tends to weaken the heart’s union with sin is a due apprehension [strong perception and understanding] of the inconceivable sufferings of the Lord Jesus, all brought about by sin. “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:3–7 ESV). And what made the sorrows more excruciating: “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand” (Isaiah 53:10 ESV). This made the blows heavier: they came from a Father’s hand. “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance” (Psalm 55:12–13 NKJV). Had an enemy done it, his torments, though unimaginable, might have been easier to bear. “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” (Matthew 27:46 NKJV). All this is the fruit of sin. This makes a gracious soul hate sin, sin that has been so cruel to his best and only friend.870


The third thing that tends to weaken the heart’s union with sin is a believing sight of the excellence and holiness of Christ. This sight has a mighty power to draw the heart from sin. When the prophet got a view of the Lord in His holiness, he immediately thought of sin as unlovely and troublesome. “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!’ And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for’” (Isaiah 6:1–7 ESV). A sight of Christ’s holiness will make sin seem vile and loathsome; the soul will be restless until it is delivered from it. It is a lack of acquaintance with the holiness and beautiful perfections of Christ that makes people fall in love with that deformed monster, sin. The transcendent glory of Christ is His grace (John 1:14),871 and the glory of saints is to be like Him, which likeness comes from beholding Him. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2 NKJV). The hope of being able to behold Him and the hope of glory are soul-purifying even now. “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3 NKJV). As soon as the apostles saw Christ’s glorious grace, they were receiving grace for grace from His fullness. “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16 NKJV).


The fourth thing that tends to weaken the heart’s union with sin is a visceral sight of the exceeding sinfulness and evil of sin, which sight will help loosen the bond between the heart and sin. At the time Paul came to see the exceeding sinfulness of sin and felt the killing effects of it in his soul, his heart was loosened from the ruling power of it (Romans 7:11–13).872For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15 NASB). The sense of the shameful fruit of sin greatly influenced the believing Romans to help free them from sin (Romans 6:21–22).873 Christian, get your eyes more intently fixed on the cursed nature of sin, how contrary it is to God, how it is of the very nature of demons, and how filthy, loathsome, and abominable it is. Consider the inevitable dreadful effects of sin here and to all eternity—if it is not removed [in Christ]. Sin has brought death to the Son of God, destruction on people, bondage on creation, a curse on everything people do and enjoy, enmity against God, and alienation from God. Sin has robbed Him of His glory, clashed against His will, spoiled His works, and grieved His Spirit. Sin hinders a soul in duty, deprives it of mercy, exposes it to judgment, and makes evil in it unavoidable. Sin weakens a saint’s hopes, breaks his peace, opposes his grace, and puts his glory in danger of loss or weakening. Sin causes immeasurable other mischief, injuries, cruelty, and misery. It is removed only with great difficulty.874 I say, consider these things and take them to heart and you will only, with Paul, choose to be weary of sin, loathe it, and long to be separated from it (Romans 7:24).875 How can you love that knife that has stabbed your dearest Friend, Father, Husband, and your own soul? How can you like that cloud and veil that stands between you and the Son of Righteousness and keeps enlivening, warming beams [of God] from reaching you, which beams would have cleared and strengthened your heart? How can you hug the fetters and kiss the walls and doors that imprison your souls in bondage and keep you from your beloved and from the glorious liberty of the sons of God? What pleasure can you take in that thief that stole your richest jewels and has brought you to poverty?


The fifth thing that tends to weaken the heart’s union with sin is to clearly understand the high dignity and honorable state to which grace has advanced you, and to clearly understand the special glorious privileges that are now yours. This has a mighty influence on a gracious heart to make it abhor sin (1 John 1:1–3).876 Oh, how unsuitable are the works of darkness to the children of light! How unbecoming is vile [filthy] clothing to those who dwell in kings’ houses. To a saint, sin is as ugly as a pig’s snout. To the heirs of glory and children of the kingdom, dishonest commerce is as ugly as manure on the hands, face, and heart. What an ugly sight it is to see kings877 wallow in mud like pigs and those who enjoy the privileges of angels do the work of demons. Someone said to Antigonus, “Remember that you are the son of a king, and that will keep you from undignified behavior.” Oh, Christian, ponder these thoughts in your heart and see whether there can be any room left for the works of the flesh or unholy affections.


The sixth thing that tends to weaken the heart’s union with sin is expectations of future glory; this expectation will help you to despise that abominable thing, sin. Can you rationally look forward to a throne with your beloved Christ hereafter while you now lodge in the bosom of your idols and adulterous lovers? How can you think that your head will wear a crown of glory with Christ when you are always plotting to put crowns of thorns on Christ’s head now? Do you sow to the flesh now and expect to reap everlasting life hereafter? Do you hope for that time when you will be unable to sin, but make it your present work to put on sin and tightly hold on to sin? How inconsistent are sinful desires with hope for freedom! Christian, do not deceive your soul; you cannot be sure of fellowship with God hereafter if you cherish878 in your heart the least sin now.


The seventh thing that tends to weaken the heart’s union with sin is to maintain union and communion with Christ; this will break the heart’s union and fellowship with sin. This is similar to how a union of the heart with sin will break union and communion with God. “Ephraim is joined to idols; Let him alone” (Hosea 4:17 NASB). I will have no more to do with him; I will leave him and move away from him. So union and communion with God in Christ will not tolerate union with sin. The Lord would not say Israel was His wife until her whoredom was put away from her face and adultery from between her breasts (Hosea 2:2).879 And, as soon as she returned to belief in and affectionate union with Him, she cried out, “What have I to do with idols anymore?” (Hosea 14:8)880 Opposites oppose and weaken each other. “O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 97:10 ESV). “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24 NASB). Union with God is a joining together. “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:17 NKJV). This union cannot exist without separation of the heart from sin.881And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.Therefore ‘Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you’” (2 Corinthians 6:16–17 NKJV). Clinging to Christ by faith is the best way to give up sin. The soul that has constant fellowship with Christ will not care for other lovers (Philippians 3:8).882 That is the third direction: get the union between your heart and sin broken.


Strike at the Root of Sin

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Strike at the Root of Sin}


Fourth, if you want to mortify sin, strike at the root of it and get the body of this death destroyed. The life of a tree lies in the root; even if you cut off all the branches, if the root lives, the tree will live and the branches will sprout out again (Job 14:7–9).883 But once the roots are cut off, the whole tree dies and stops bearing fruit. So it is with sin; if you set yourself against this or that particular corruption, but let the body of death alone, not using means to weaken it, your endeavors will do little good. When you have put down one lust, another arises. It is to little purpose to bail water out of a ship unless you stop the leak. While there is water in the sea, water will otherwise keep flowing in. Those who want to cure a disease must remove its cause. Original sin is the source and spring of all actual sins. As that is weakened, the eruptions of actual sins will be abated.884 The way to prevent invasion from a foreign garrison885 is to not only surround their fort to prevent escapes, but to scale the walls of the fort and invade it. “This is the wisdom of a Christian,” said Mr. Burroughs, “that when he labors against any corruption, he does not spend his time so much against this or that particular corruption, but strikes at the body of corruption. And this is the reason that [some] Christians quickly grow so much and get so much power against their corruptions. But others take a long time before they get any power at all.” A believer’s heart is like a garden overgrown with weeds; though the tops of the weeds are often plucked off, the runners and roots still remain and live. All the labor is in vain and the weeds still spring up afresh. So it is with corruptions until the root is more withered and weakened. Now, to make this work go forward, do the following:


First, be deeply aware of your sinful actions, and even more, of your sinful nature. The biggest complaint of the faithful is of their sinful natures. “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isaiah 64:6 NASB). “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5 NKJV). “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24 ESV).


Second, to further the work of striking at the root of your corruptions, by faith, apply the death of Christ to the whole body of sin in you. Faith fetches virtue from the crucified Christ to dry up the bloody flow of sin (Luke 8:43–44; 6:19).886 This is the God-appointed means to bring down sin. The foundation of a soul’s redemption from sin is in the death of Christ. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24 ESV). This death to sin is the effect of Christ’s dying for [because of] sin. The purpose of His death was to redeem His people from all iniquity (Titus 2:14).887 Christ’s death for sin was not only a pattern to believers, but a medicine and appointed means to destroy their sin.888For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:5–6 ESV). It was by the Cross of Christ that Paul was crucified to the world and the world to him (Galatians 6:14).889 Carry over your [old] man to the Cross of Christ and bury your strong lusts, by faith, in the grave of Christ, and from there, get virtue to kill your sin. Faith brings the soul into fellowship with the death of Christ to receive the benefits and energy from it; one of these benefits is a killing power over sin.


Third, to further the work of striking at the root of your corruptions, improve your faith in the promises. The death of sin in believers is part of the new covenant and is as sure as pardon. “He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19 NASB). “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21 NKJV). See also Romans 6:14 and Deuteronomy 30:6.890 these promises are sure to all the seed. The Lord Jesus came for the purpose of performing the promises to and in His people (Romans 15:8),891Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14 NASB), and to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).892 Faith in these promises cleanses the soul and subdues sin. Carry your unruly corruptions to Christ in the promises and sue for justice against them.


Fourth, to further the work of striking at the root of your corruptions, implore the constant help of the Holy Spirit of grace both to reveal to you your corruptions and to oppose and destroy your corruptions. This work is too hard for flesh and blood; nothing short of the eternal Spirit can fully conquer sin and the power and wiles of Satan in your soul. It is through the Holy Spirit that believers put to death the deeds of the body. “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13 NKJV). “When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning” (Isaiah 4:4 NASB).893For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:2 NASB). Beware of grieving and impeding the Spirit of holiness; this suspends His gracious, sanctifying influences, and you are left to the weakness of your own spirit. Be much in prayer and fervent cries for the Spirit’s daily assistance in this great work.




Give No Place to the Least Motions of Sin

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work in Heavenly Matters

Heavenly Work on Ourselves

Mortification Work

Avoid the Least Motions of Sin}


Give no place to the least motion [mental act, impulse, or suggestion] to sin. Wage constant war against all the powers of and the whole body of sin. Preventative care, timely opposition, and constant warfare against all the corruptions of flesh and spirit are all necessary; a lack of these is one thing that lays gracious souls under the entanglements and prevalence of their lusts (James 4:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; Romans 12:9).894 Someone said, “We embrace the desires of our temptations on implicit faith,895 not examining and withstanding the first entrance of temptation, nor crushing the first motion of sin.” It is easy to crush the serpent’s egg, but dangerous to fight with it when it becomes a cockatrice.896 It takes less strength to suppress a rebellion at its first appearance than when it has gathered strength (Isaiah 14:29).897 Chrysostom said that the devil’s first assault is violent; resist that and his second will be weaker, and when that is also resisted, he proves a coward. A Christian’s wisdom and welfare depend much on these two helps:


The first help is to get a head start against sin, strike the first blow, and be in the field [of battle] before it. Indeed, barricade up sin’s way and attack it in its own headquarters. Lay in provision against sin’s very rising. Fortify the heart against the least consent to sin by applying God’s threatenings and promises [to yourself] ahead of time. Furnish your heart with sovereign and scriptural antidotes against sin. Neglect of this preventative care deprives the soul of needed helps against sin’s sneak attacks and so renders it weak against sin’s first assaults. Hierom said that Arius was at first only a spark, but because he was not suppressed early on, he set the whole Church on fire.


The second help is to relentlessly and completely destroy sin. Sometimes the Lord gives His people power over a lust by a sanctified affliction or blessed means of grace. This victory, if pursued, might tend to totally subduing the lust. But we usually grow secure after such successes and do not follow up on the victory, but give up the fight too soon, as did Joash when he struck the ground. The prophet told him to shoot the arrows of the Lord’s deliverance and strike the ground. “And he said, ‘Take the arrows,’ and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, ‘Strike the ground with them.’ And he struck three times and stopped. Then the man of God was angry with him and said, ‘You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times’” (2 Kings 13:18–19 ESV). Oh, what advantage [over his corruptions] might a Christian get if he just would follow up his victory over his corruptions and not allow them to regroup and gather strength again! Give no rest to your lusts nor opportunity for reviving, no, not for a moment; keep up the warfare every day.


Keep Up the Life of Grace

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work in Heavenly Matters

Heavenly Work on Ourselves

Mortification Work

Keep Up the Life of Grace}


If you want to further the death of sin, keep up the life of grace. Just as the life of sin weakens grace, so the life of grace weakens and keeps down sin. “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16 NKJV). Keep up grace and you will keep sin down. This is as when the house of David became stronger, the house of Saul grew weaker (2 Samuel 3:1).898 It is written of Ephrem Syrus that, although he was much given to passion [anger] in his youth, after he entered into a strict course of life, he was never seen to be angry with anyone. As you cannot get power over sin except by the Spirit of grace, so you cannot keep victory over sin except by the life of grace. Get your graces strengthened and you will find your corruptions weakened.


Carry on Renovation Work

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work in Heavenly Matters

Heavenly Work on Ourselves

Carry on Renovation Work}


You must carry on the work of renovation in grace and the inward work of sanctification every day, “and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23–24 NKJV). After the work of mortification, the apostle exhorts Christians to this work of renovation or internal holiness. You must be renewed in the Spirit of your minds, that is, renewed by the Holy Spirit in your minds; here, the mind stands for the whole person and the internal faculties of the soul: understanding, will, emotions, desires, and conscience. All Christians must be renewed by the Holy Spirit, becoming [in Christ] a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)899 or workmanship of Christ (Ephesians 2:10),900 being transformed after His own image in righteousness and true holiness and renewed in knowledge (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10).901 When the soul is truly regenerated, the stamp or exemplar of Christ’s holiness is truly placed in the whole soul. But at first, this placement is in small measure that must be renewed or enlarged in the soul until it grows to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ. New Christians are compared to newborn babies (1 Peter 2:2)902 who are weak in grace, but under a natural disposition and obligation to grow and increase in this grace of God, in both intensity and broadness of application to one’s life. This is a Christian’s duty by divine command and it fits in with God’s appointed means to it (2 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 2:2; Ephesians 4:11–13).903 This spiritual growth is the way by which grace becomes glory. It is greatly necessary to perfect a soul’s holiness so that he might come to his full stature and conformity to Christ (Ephesians 4:15–16; Romans 8:29).904 And, by the increases of grace, the Christian is enabled to carry out all his duties, bear his burdens, bear up under temptations, be capable of enjoying all his mercies, glorify the God of grace, and to [begin to] be made fit for the enjoyment of God in glory. Because of all this, it is the Christian’s great concern to press after larger measures of grace every day and grow up into Him in faith and love, who is the head of all things (Ephesians 4:15).905 The Christian must grow downward in humility and self-denial, grow broadly in every part of holiness and greater enlargement in every grace, and become stronger and stronger in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14 ESV). The lack of these increases of the [grace of the] Holy Spirit greatly obscures the glory of Christ in believers, clouds their evidence,906 and renders them too weak for their corruptions, growing trials, and duties. Christian, do not content yourself with the truth of grace without daily growth in grace. By faith, use your portion in the resurrection of Christ for daily enlivening of your heart, raising your affections to things above, and attracting your whole soul to God, grace, and glory. Be much in internal soul-work, heart-searching, soul-watching, contemplation of divine things, short private prayers, and longing of soul after God and higher manifestations of His light, life, and love.


Be faithful in every appointment of God, public and private: prayer, reading [Scripture and holy books], hearing sermons, and holy conversation, so that you may thus get nourishment given to your souls. Get under all the dew907 and showers of grace for your fruitfulness.


Be spiritual as well as frequent in exercising grace under the means of grace; without this, you cannot serve God acceptably (Hebrews 12:28)908 or receive nourishment to your souls from Him Who is the Head. This nourishment can only come by the ligaments and joints of faith and love (Colossians 2:18–19).909 [The opposite of spiritual,] formality, eats out that sap that should make you green and flourishing. A dead, cold heart under the Word can no more digest it for nourishment than a dead body can digest food.


Maintain a hungry desire for the Word of grace and the appointed means for your spiritual growth (1 Peter 2:2).910 Being hungry for food is evidence for a good digestion911 and wholesome food furthers nourishment. Keep up warm affection for every way of God, living on Christ for all the good and blessing of these ways. “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion” (Psalm 84:5–7 ESV). When Jehoshaphat’s heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord, he became increasingly powerful (2 Chronicles 17:6, 12).912 Heart-enlargement in the ways of God is a notable help to make a soul thrive.


Take one more instruction: be poor in spirit if you want to be rich in grace. The poor in spirit have the promise of being satisfied, of being guided in their judgment [critical discernment], of increase of joy, of grace, and of enlivening. Someone said, “Humble souls are empty vessels that God will fill and are small plants that God will make grow. To be nothing in our own eyes is the way to receive all good things, even abundant grace from God” (Psalm 22:6; 25:9; Isaiah 29:19; Proverbs 3:34; Isaiah 57:15).913


Keep Your Evidence for Entry to Heaven Unblemished and Unmistakable

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work in Heavenly Matters

Heavenly Work on Ourselves

Keep Evidence for Heaven Unblemished}


Another part of your work of salvation (Philippians 2:12)914 is to keep your evidences for [going to] Heaven unblemished and unmistakable. This will abundantly comfort you during all your tribulations, enliven you to vigorously do your duties, give you a humble boldness in your approaches to God, arm you against fear of death, and give you a comfortable passage into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Beware of quenching or grieving the Spirit of grace; this hinders His sealing work. Take heed of causing blots upon your evidence by allowing iniquity in your heart or unpurged defilement on your hands. These weaken your confidence in the Lord,915 fill you with dejection and despondency of spirit, and give your spiritual adversary great advantage over your souls (2 Peter 1:10; 1 John 5:13; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Hebrews 10:22; Job 19:25–27; 2 Peter 1:10–11).916


Keep up sincerity and truth in the inner person. Look often into the inner motives of your actions to ensure they are gracious [godly]. Look at your purposes for everything you do that they are pure and wholly and ultimately for God, His will, and His glory, in every duty, action, and project.


If you want evidence of the truth of your grace, you must every day exercise your grace and make it a matter of conscience to live up to known duties and avoid offense toward God and people. You must not slack off after attaining any measure of grace, but keep going on toward perfection and continually aim at greater quantities of grace in your souls.


Heavenly Work That Concerns Others

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work in Heavenly Matters

Heavenly Work That Concerns Others}


Carry on all the natural, moral, and Christian duties that concern others. This is the will of God and part of your sanctification. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 ESV). “Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God” (1 Corinthians 10:32 NASB), lest the Gospel be blamed. “So that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:10 NASB). “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12 NASB). Deal justly with all people, render to all people what is due them, do good to all as you have opportunity (Galatians 6:10; Psalm 35:13),917 and be kind to the just and unjust. Seek the salvation of sinners: mourn over them, pray for them, instruct them, and seek by a humble, holy, and affectionate demeanor to win over to the Lord Jesus those who are not won by the Word (Luke 19:41; Psalm 51:13; 2 Peter 3:1).918 Love, pray for, and do good to your greatest enemies. “Virtues that are separated,” said Chrysostom, “cancel each other out; equity without goodness is severity and justice without piety is cruelty.” It is better to do good than to receive good. It was said of Mr. Hooker that he was born for the good of many, but few were born for his good. Love, delight in, and do good to all saints; as saints, they carry the image of God in them. Make conscience of your duties in interpersonal relationships, both in your own house and the house of God (Psalm 101:2).919 Walk in your own house with a perfect heart; be a Christian at home as well as outside.920 Show the same spirit, zeal, and affection to your families as to others. Do your utmost to keep up God’s worship in your house, both privately and as a family, morning and evening with prayer and reading the Word of God (Acts 10:1–2, 9; Joshua 24:18; Psalm 25:10; Matthew 6:6).921 Faithfully carry out those duties you owe to each other, as husbands, wives, parents, children, masters, and servants as taught in Ephesians 5:22 to the end of chapter 6. Be meek, loving, and peaceable, in your words and demeanor toward one another, giving due respect that corresponds to a person’s station in life. Be holy and profitable in your conversations. Seek the spiritual welfare, edification, and salvation of each other’s souls, as of your own (Psalm 25:10; Proverbs 22:6, 23:13; Colossians 3:12–16; Hebrews 12:14; Genesis 18:19).922


The lack of this obligatory and Christian conduct in your houses causes an evil report on the ways of God, renders the truth of your grace questionable, hinders the gracious presence of God with you, and removes His blessing from you (Ephesians 4:29; Romans 11:14).923 Those of you whom grace has given the privilege of a position and name within the walls of God’s house are [particularly] obliged to the fellowship duties of love, care, and faithfulness to each other (John 15:12).924And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24 NASB). “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3 NASB). “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (1 Corinthians 10:24 ESV). “Just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:33 ESV). “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13 NKJV). Sympathize with each other in affliction (Colossians 3:12),925 and be helpful to them in bearing their burdens, supplying their needs, and comforting, counseling, and supporting them in all their troubles (Hebrews 13:3).926 Visit the sick and imprisoned, feed the hungry, clothe those in rags, warn the unruly, admonish wrongdoers, bear one another’s infirmities, and cover their weaknesses. Avoid whatever might offend or injure each other’s souls, lessen their affections [to one another or God], or break the unity of spirit and bond of peace between believers. Rather, by a sweet, humble, self-denying, and faithful demeanor, influence believers so as to bring their hearts closer to one another. Pray for the whole body and every member. Be gracious and spiritual in all your conversations and way of life, seeking the prosperity of Zion.927 Rejoice in each other’s graces and good, just as in your own. Do all that you can toward people’s comfort and salvation (Matthew 25:42; Acts 20:35; 1 John 3:17; Romans 15:1, 16:17; Leviticus 19:10; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Colossians 4:6; Philippians 2:17–18; Titus 2:12; 2 Corinthians 13:7; Psalm 15:2; Colossians 3:9).928


In your callings [occupations], commerce, and dealings with people, be just, honest, and faithful. Do as you wish to be done to you; do not defraud one another, but speak the truth in all your bargaining [negotiations], and make your promises good, even to your hurt. This is a considerable part of your heavenly trade, and the credit of Christianity greatly depends on it. Christianity also consists in pleasing and glorifying God, doing good to others, propagating the Gospel, and the peace and salvation of your own souls—even during the faithful discharge of these natural, moral, and Christian duties you owe to others.


This is the first part of your heavenly work, work that is of a heavenly nature, and is done in a heavenly manner, with respect to God, our own souls, and other people.


Another Part of Heavenly Work Is to Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner}


Another part of heavenly work is to do earthly things in a heavenly manner. Though the things [and affairs] of the world are of a different nature from things above, yet when rightly managed, they are servants of things above and are part of the heavenly trade. In light of this, three things are necessary:

  1. Do earthly things by heavenly rules.

  2. Do earthly things with heavenly hearts.

  3. Do earthly things for heavenly purposes.


Do Earthly Things by Heavenly Rules

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Do Earthly Things by Heavenly Rules}


First, earthly work is part of your heavenly trade when you transact it according to heavenly rules. Every science has its established principles, and different governments have their own distinct laws. Likewise every trade has its rules, principles, and instructions by which it is carried on. Earthly traders have their rules and methods by which they manage their businesses in order to best serve their purposes and advance their own earthly interests. So it is with heavenly traders; although they have to do with earthly things, they must act according to heavenly rules. Now, there are ten rules that heavenly merchants must observe in the management of their earthly affairs.


Be Sure the Matter Is Good and All You Do Is According to the Will of God

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Do Earthly Things by Heavenly Rules

What You Do Must Be Good, in God’s Will}


First, make sure that the matter of your employments is good, that your callings are lawful,929 and the things you do are just and honest in the sight of God. Evil things can never be well done. Do not meddle with prohibited goods. Do nothing that in its nature, use, or by divine law becomes evil (2 Corinthians 13:7; Philippians 4:8; Ephesians 4:28).930 Let your callings be lawful, of good report, and useful to your generation, not only for your concerns and advantage, but for the service and good of others. “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself” (Romans 14:7 ESV). Let your callings be from God, be according to Scripture, and have God for their teacher (Isaiah 28:26).931 Let your callings be those you can manage with peace of conscience, assurance that the work pleases God, and are those for which you can pray for God’s blessing on them. You cannot do this for employments that tend to nourish vice and wickedness (Romans 13:14).932


Also be sure that your recreations are lawful and free from scandal and temptation. They should be [commonly] used by those who fear God and done with those who fear God. They should have a tendency to refresh the mind and body and make them better fit for necessary duties. Recreation should be sparingly and wisely used so as not to be an occasion of sin for others. Seek God [in prayer] for good management of recreation and His blessing on it. Recreation that does not fit these criteria is not appropriate for Christians, who must give an account to God for every idle word, much more for idle actions (Matthew 12:36).933 Part of what will trouble souls when their sins are weighing down on them is that they have inherited934 lies, worthless things, and things in which is no profit (Jeremiah 16:19).935 Saints should do no work except what has good in it. “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28 NKJV), and what can bring some glory to God. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NASB). And this includes recreation. But what good to the body, soul, or estate; what glory to God; what peace of conscience in the day of Christ can be found in carnal sports,936 scandalous plays, cards, dice,937 lascivious dancing, and the like, which are the offspring of lewdness and lust. These things contain little praise, virtue, or good report, but are spots on Christianity and a bane of piety. They tend to debauch the desires, deaden the conscience, nourish sensuality, and feed a fleshly, carnal mind, the end of which is death (Romans 13:13; Philippians 4:8; Jude 12; 2 Peter 2:18).938For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6 ESV). It is doubly contenting to a person of generous and well-disposed nature when he does good for his pleasure [recreation, entertainment]. A worthy minister of the Gospel said:

Gambling greatly disorders the mind, provokes passion, and causes much disturbance in the soul for things of nothing. Games that depend on dexterity of body or mind are much to be preferred before games of chance. Chess will sharpen the mind, but can be too engaging and toilsome instead of true recreation which is the proper use of play. Of all games, the less the better, and when it causes bad emotions, the least is too much. And one who ventures money at play also ventures peace of mind, and will certainly lose [spiritually], whatever becomes of the money.

Squandering away money in play is not the way to make friends by means of unrighteous wealth so as to enter eternal dwellings (Luke 16:9).939 Rather, gambling will turn one out of his temporal habitation; it is the way to lose both earth and Heaven.940 So then, whether we win or lose, we commit robbery. For if we do not rob our opponents, we rob ourselves, our families, and God. We may add this also: such unprofitable recreation devours that unrecoverable and invaluable treasure of time which ought to be used for urgently pressing onward to Heaven and matters of salvation, which purpose is much neglected; rather it uses those hours for Hell.941 Oh, how careful then should souls that have heavenly hopes be of their earthly work because earthly work should be conducive to fulfilling heavenly hopes.


Engage in Earthly Things in Their Proper Place and Order

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Do Earthly Things by Heavenly Rule

Do Earthly Things in Proper Place, Order}


When engaging in earthly affairs, keep them in their proper place and order. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV). Let God have the uppermost throne in your hearts, the forefoot in your walk,942 and the first stroke in your work.943 Give heavenly things the priority in esteem, emotional investment, and time since they are things of greatest worth and your most important obligation. That is the right order and method of heavenly traders. Begin every day and work with God. Serve God first, then yourselves. Set apart some time for Christian duties before you engage in earthly employments. People will not go out into unwholesome air while fasting.944 The things of this world have a contagious breath in them. Break your fast with God every morning before you venture out on heart-ensnaring business. Labor with God first for His presence to be with you, His wisdom to direct you, and His grace and strength to help, protect, and bless you in your earthly labors. Immunize your hearts with divine medicine every morning before you get into the pestilence-house of this world. Let something of Scripture get nearest your soul for counsel, comfort, and enlivening every day. Augustine said that one who has tasted the sweetness of divine love will not care for temporal sweetness. Do not meddle with the thorns (Luke 8:14)945 of this world until you have put a fence around your heart and hands by prayer and the sword of the Spirit. Haste makes waste if you run into the world before you have conversed with God. The lawful way to earthly employments is via Heaven’s gates. Christian, God will sue you for trespassing if you take any other road besides His prescribed road of holy duties to your trades and employments in the world. Besides this, you need God’s eye and hand in everything you do. You do not know the snares and deaths that lurk in your employments and the dangers to which you are subject with every step you go and everything you do. You may go out in the morning and never return again. Some have died as Israel did, with food in their mouths (Numbers 11:33).946 Others have fallen down dead while at work or have been found dead on the road with broken necks. Oh, engage in earthly work in God’s way, and do not go about the world’s business until you have been with God and secured your all in His hands.


Keep Your Earthly Business within Appropriate Time Limits

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Do Earthly Things by Heavenly Rule

Keep Earthly Business within Time Limits}


Keep your earthly business within the boundaries of appropriate time limits. God has given you both your work and your time for it. It is not in accordance with man’s state, relation [to God], and portion [in life] to be ungoverned in anything, but to walk by rule. “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV). “I said in my heart, ‘God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, For there is a time there for every purpose and for every work’” (Ecclesiastes 3:17 NKJV). “Has not man a hard service on earth, and are not his days like the days of a hired hand?” (Job 7:1 ESV). As there is an appointed time for people to be on earth, so there is an appointed time for earthly things. God has set boundaries for the world and He has not left worldly employments without boundaries, but has fixed people’s earthly affairs within their proper season. “Man goes forth to his work And to his labor until evening” (Psalm 104:23 NASB). The psalmist here acknowledges God’s power and providence in setting boundaries to His creatures, including boundaries to the sun and moon: “He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting” (Psalm 104:19 ESV). He set boundaries for the night and day: “You make darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest creep about. The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God. When the sun rises, they steal away and lie down in their dens” (Psalm 104:20–22 ESV). God limits the labors of wild animals and people; wild animals have their hunting time confined to the night and people have their working time in the day. “Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening” (Psalm 104:23 ESV). The Jews considered the evening to be the end of their twelve-hour working day. “Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world’” (John 11:9 NASB). The day is the usual time for people to do their work.947 “The Lord would not,” said Musculus, “have people’s labors drawn out so far as to wear out their strength, but sets bounds to it.” Just as the Lord does not want people’s hearts to be captured by the world, so He does not want the world to eat out their time or encroach on those times that should be given to greater concerns. God, nature,948 grace, your own soul, and the spiritual good of others have their claims to this little inch of time just as well as your earthly callings. Oh, do not consume your precious day on things that are temporal to the neglect of your opportunities for eternal things. Do not enslave your body more than your work animals, which have their times of rest. Do not exhaust your strength on an empty, perishing world at the expense of better things. Excessive labors beyond their appropriate time are evidence of either too much desire for earthly things or too little faith in God. Both of these are reproved by the Lord, being the vanity and practice of those who are not His beloved ones (Psalm 127:2).949 It is lamentable to see those who would be thought to be heirs of Heaven so excessively engaged in enlarging their possessions on earth and consuming all their time, early and late, for earthly affairs, leaving nothing but a few unhelpful minutes for God and their souls. Oh, Christian, keep the stream of your earthly affections and labors within the banks of allotted time. Do not rob God of His time of special service, nor rob nature of its time for needed rest and refreshment. Do not rob souls, yours or others’, of time for their spiritual concerns on account of poor perishing things of earth. Show charity to your redeemed body by not making it an oppressed, toiling slave to your earthly lusts. Humans are creatures that are too noble to be enslaved to this world. It is a sad spectacle to see the Nazarites of heaven, like Samson, with their heads shaven and their eyes gouged out as they grind in the world’s mill until they pull down the house about their ears (Judges 16:21, 30).950 How greatly do people weaken their bodies and starve their souls merely for things used only during their journey to the grave. In the meantime, they neglect the work of God and their souls; the service of immortal God gets only the residue of their strength and the refuse of the world. This is not to use earthly things by heavenly rule.


Be Diligent in Using Your Working Time

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Do Earthly Things by Heavenly Rule

Be Diligent in Using Your Working Time}


Be diligent in how you use your time while working. Take heed that you do not waste it on useless things, needless diversions, idleness, or unfaithfulness951 in your work. These are sins against both law and Gospel; Scripture requires diligence and faithfulness in people’s earthly callings. Labor and work at one’s calling were humanity’s duty before the fall. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15 ESV). And after the fall, painful labor was required and inflicted as a punishment of mankind’s sin. “By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19 NASB).952 Scripture positively commands this duty of bodily953 labor in people’s callings just as strongly as the duties of Sabbath keeping and worshiping God. Six days of labor are what set apart [that is, make holy954] the Sabbath. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates” (Exodus 20:8–10 NKJV). Mayer said, “In the original, the command to work six days is given in the same commanding terms as the command to not work on the Sabbath. The same reason is given for both; the one is taken from God’s resting on the seventh day, and the other from His working six days.” Thus, to not labor faithfully in your calling in the six days is as much a breach of the Fourth Commandment as working on the Sabbath day.955 This does not mean that all religious worship of God is excluded on the six days of labor. The Lord may call us to worship in mourning or rejoicing by extraordinary providences, or in ordinary times to means of grace such as weekday sermons or the like. To exclude worship during the six days of labor would contradict His other commands such as preaching in and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2),956 and laboring for the bread that gives eternal life (John 6:51).957 This diligent labor does not exclude private worship every day or public worship on weekdays, so far as it is consistent with faithfulness in one’s calling; we must make the best use of our time (Ephesians 5:16).958 The commandment does require diligent attention to people’s callings on weekdays without sloth or sinful waste of time. Otherwise, God is not fully worshiped on the Sabbath. This same diligence is also required in the New Testament (2 Thessalonians 3:10).959 Idleness in believers is a scandal and it renders idle Christians worthy of rejection by other believers as disobedient to God’s Word and unworthy of eating (2 Thessalonians 3:11–14).960 Such are wicked servants who do not make use of their God-given resources for God and the good of others (Matthew 25:30).961 And, those who do not provide for their own by diligence in their calling are worse than unbelievers (1 Timothy 5:8).962


While You Are Doing Earthly Work, Guard Your Hearts

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Do Earthly Things by Heavenly Rule

Guard Your Hearts during Earthly Work}


While your hands are on the world’s work, set a guard around your hearts. The believer’s heart is Christ’s royal fort; secure that and all is safe. “Do not trust in oppression And do not vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them” (Psalm 62:10 NASB). It is in the nature of earthly things to get to the heart like a malignant disease. Oh, how hard is it to meddle with earthly things without the heart becoming earthly also! When a gracious soul has been with God and gotten his heart warmed, enlivened, and drawn out to things above, then as soon as he returns to the world, all is gone again. This earth sends dangerous and toxic fumes into heavenly hearts. Make your heart secure with God every day. Make a new surrender of it to Him before you get into the snares of your earthly business. Set a vigilant watch on your heart every moment lest the things of the world sneak in and take it captive.963


Attend to Your Earthly Affairs with a Calm and Quiet Spirit

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Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Do Earthly Things by Heavenly Rule

Have a Calm, Quiet Spirit in Earthly Work}


Attend to your earthly affairs with a calm and quiet spirit. Whatever happens to you in the world, keep your spirits composed and fixed on God. Do not wonder at the changes in an unsteady world; it is only constant in inconstancy. “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come” (Hebrews 13:14 NKJV). All things here are moving, ascending or descending. Things below are compared to the moon, which never appears the same, but has its phases, and like the sea, which ebbs and flows every day. Earthly things are as the fountain of the sun of which Pliny writes; the water is extremely cold and sweet at noon, but boiling hot and bitter at midnight.964 The comforts of this world are likewise so mutable; when they seem most likely to remain, they go away. The human condition in this world, at the best, is as the mountain Potosi, over which a cloud always hangs, even on the clearest day. And it is as written of a lake or salt marsh in Scotland called Pochlowland,965 where there are tempestuous waves raging in the absence of wind, even in the greatest calm. Christian, do not be troubled at the tides you see in these waters of Marah (Exodus 15:23).966Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:5 NKJV). Do not let any of these lower things trouble when they are gone; they cannot make you content when you have them, and one moment of time can make them cease to be yours. “There is just one day’s difference,” said Seneca during the burning of Rome, “between a great city and no city.” Likewise, there may be just one day, even just one hour, between a father and no father, between a husband and no husband, between a man of pleasure and a man of sorrows, and between a rich man and a poor man. Do not set that at your heart which should be at your heels. People do not normally sigh, look pale, and cry when servants leave them. Earthly things are no different; they are given to you as handmaids to wait on you, not as a spouse to lie in your bosom. They are as servants that come and go, not as children that abide in the house forever. When you have lost an earthly comfort, say, “A servant is gone from me today.” Keep your mind contented with the portion God gives you here. “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’” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV). Let the things of earth be sufficient for you; the Greek means consider them to be enough. If an Esau can be satisfied with his crumbs (Genesis 25:34),967 how much more should a Jacob be satisfied with the children’s bread (Matthew 15:26).968 “What, this, and Heaven also!” said someone. A little of the world and much of Heaven will well agree with one. “I have enough, and enough, and enough,” said precious Mr. Ball, who was very low in the world. When the Earl of Leicester offered Mr. Cartwright the provostship of Eaton College, saying that it was a hundred pounds more than enough, he answered that the hundred pounds more than enough was enough for him. “A little that a righteous man has Is better than the riches of many wicked” (Psalm 37:16 NKJV). There are two diminutives in the original (a little little of the righteous man’s).969 However small it may be, with righteousness, it weighs down all the abundance of the worldly man’s portion. Whether it is more or less, it is enough. Rutherford said, “Oh, thrice fools are we, as newborn princes weeping in the cradle, not knowing that there is a kingdom coming to them.” I have often thought on that providence for Israel in the wilderness: “But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat” (Exodus 16:18 ESV). Christian, why are you so troubled about your portion of the things of the footstool as if your Heavenly Father did not know what you wanted [or lacked], did not care for you, or could not support you? You will have enough to carry you to your graves, and you can absolutely need no more than that. “Thus shall you say to him, Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, what I have built I am breaking down, and what I have planted I am plucking up—that is, the whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not, for behold, I am bringing disaster upon all flesh, declares the Lord. But I will give you your life as a prize of war in all places to which you may go’” (Jeremiah 45:4–5 ESV). You do not know what God is doing in the world. Do you have only a little now? You may shortly have less. Be content with what you have. A little in Bethel, if it is only a pillow of stones with bread and water (Genesis 28:11),970 is better than the rich plains of Sodom.971 A piece of blessed bread in Immanuel’s Land972 is sweeter and will go further than all the garlic and flesh-pots of Egypt (Numbers 11:4–5),973 and further than a great quantity of unsanctified comforts. A small portion of the world with advantage to the soul is better than a great estate with spiritual losses and temptations. God can multiply a few loaves (John 6:9),974 make the bin of flour and jar of oil to hold out (1 Kings 17:14),975 and your clothes to not wear out (Nehemiah 9:21).976 He will do this rather than not give you enough to sustain you through your wilderness if you will be believing and obedient. Be contented with the talent God gives you with which to trade (Matthew 25:15).977 Do others have more than you? Do not envy them; they have more for which to give an account, and it may be that they need more or that they can [safely] bear more than you. Someone said, “That which would sink a small vessel might be an ordinary burden to a large ship.” Some can better manage a large estate with less trouble and temptation than others. Possibly there is something that would puff up your heart with pride and entangle your feet in snares. But to another, to whom God had given a more stout spirit or made more mortified to the world, that same thing would never stir up undue affection to it. Heartily agree with God’s wisdom and pleasure [will], believe His promises, wonder at His mercy, be thankful for what you have beyond many, know that you have all things in God, hope to be soon with Him, and you cannot be discontented with your allowance in the world.




Follow Your Duty, But Cast Your Anxiety on God

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Do Earthly Things by Heavenly Rule

Do Your Duty, but Cast Anxiety on God}


Steadfastly do your duty, but cast your anxiety on God. Carry on in your callings, but live above them. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6–7 NASB). Do not depend on your wisdom, labor, or success in your employments, but depend on the promises, love, and care of God for you. If the Lord blesses your substance, do not overvalue the actual magnitude of the blessing. See an emptiness in all your abundance and its inadequacy to meet your many needs. God can soon make a hole in your money bags, blow away your increase, turn your prosperity into something contemptible, and make your expectations of comfort as the dream of a night vision. Do not let your life consist in large barns (Luke 12:16–18),978 but on the full breasts of promises for the good of what you do enjoy and for the supply of what you need. The poor Christian’s purse is kept in his Father’s hand; the rich in his own hand. If sight fails, live by faith. Faith assures you of the good outcome of all difficulties in your way and gets good from the worst condition and sweetness to mingle with every bitter providence that you encounter. It may be that you have a large family and little on which to live or you are in debt and have nothing with which to pay it. Or, you had a little the other day, but the caterpillar and the cankerworm979 devoured it, both events wasting that little. In such cases, your duty is to live on God by faith for a sanctified blessing from His hand upon you, and to make up your lack by His abundance. When you can see no way out of your perplexing trouble, let your eye be on God for help (2 Chronicles 20:12; 2 Chronicles 25:8).980 Do not go outside of God’s commandments for relief; He who wounds must be the One to heal, and only He who casts down can raise up (Deuteronomy 32:30).981 Also, do not weaken yourself in the day of adversity or become slack in the way of your duty (Proverbs 24:10; Proverbs 16:3),982 but commit your way to the Lord and He will act (Psalm 37:5; Matthew 6:25; 1 Corinthians 7:32; Philippians 4:6).983 Take heed of corroding anxieties and becoming irritable about annoyances. Being anxious or irritable cannot lessen your trouble, but will make your sin greater. A provident care is your duty, but a distrustful, vexing care is both sin and additional affliction.


In All Your Labors, Pray for Blessing

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Do Earthly Things by Heavenly Rule

In All Your Labors, Pray for Blessing}


If you want to live well, you must beg as well as work. Add holy duty to your diligence, prayer to your provident care, and calling on God to your calling in the world. Every condition and work is made holy by the Word of God and prayer, just as every created thing (1 Timothy 4:4–5).984 In every undertaking, seek God for counsel. “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6 NASB).985 Christians should not engage in the smallest matters without inquiring of God for His will. Do not go to this or that place, buy or sell, or do this or that work without seeking direction from God (James 4:13–15).986 Someone said, “Our journeys must not be undertaken without God’s leave.” Constantly inquiring of God is evidence of a life of dependence on God and brings all your affairs under divine care and blessing. Abraham’s servant began his journey with prayer (Genesis 24:12–14)987 and concluded it with praise (Genesis 24:26–27).988 Jacob did the same (Genesis 32:9–12, 33:20, 35:1).989 Israel’s folly in making a treaty with the Gibeonites contrary to the command of God was blamed on their not asking counsel from God. “So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord” (Joshua 9:14 ESV). Oh, the snares and disadvantages that people are exposed to in their earthly concerns due to not taking counsel from God and [by prayer] engaging His hand and blessing with them. Prayer will further your work, sweeten your pains and difficulties in it, and bring to you the comfort and good of it.990 When you need mercy, seek God for it; when you receive mercy, see God in it and return praise to God for it.


Although You Live in the World, Be Dead to the World


{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Do Earthly Things by Heavenly Rule

You Live in the World, But Be Dead to It}


Although you live in the world, be dead to the world. Heaven-born souls, although they are in the world, are not of the world, but chosen out of it (John 15:19)991 and crucified to it. “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14 ESV). “This state of being crucified to the world,” said Paraus, “signifies the contempt and despising of this world; he here implies that the world, with all its scorn, pride, pomp, and glory are despised by Paul as a nothing, an empty, dead thing.” A soul crucified to the world sees nothing lovely or desirable in this world but God, His Word, and His works. There is nothing in earthly things that can be attractive to spiritual hearts if God is not enjoyed in them. All the glory of the world is no more to them than a dead carcass if the love of God does not breathe on their hearts through what God gives. The very garden of the Lord is a wilderness if He is not in it. A mortified saint wonders that a rational, immortal soul can see such worth in riches, pleasures, honors, and poor perishing things of this life. To him, these things are nothing and he can easily part with all at the Lord’s bidding. And, as to bad things in this world that make people startle at them, the mortified saint feels them much less. Deprivations, losses, reproaches, and torments for Christ lose their frightfulness to those whose heart’s love of the Lord Jesus has reconciled them to the bitterest affliction that can befall them for His sake. “If Christ stands and does not perish,” said Luther, “what matter is it if wife and children perish?” If liberty, estate, life, and all else go away, Christ will stay with you. Such should your heart be in pursuit of worldly things, as one that is dead to the world, is little attracted to all its glory, and above all its threatenings. Be content to have or not to have, to use or lack, to enjoy, or to be denied or deprived of it, as God pleases.


Do All Your Work in View of Death, Judgment, and Eternity


{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Do Earthly Things by Heavenly Rule

Work in View of Death, Judgment, Eternity}


Last, do all your work in view of death, judgment, and eternity. Carry out all your activities of every day as dying people who are leaving this world and liable to be removed from it at any moment. How much would frequent and serious thoughts of a near-approaching end wonderfully check people’s greedy pursuits of this world and help to keep their actions consistent with giving an account for them to God. King Phillip had it proclaimed to him every morning: “Remember that you are mortal.” When falling in the sand, he afterward saw the print of his body and said, “Oh, how little a parcel of earth will hold us when we are dead, we who ambitiously seek after the world while we are living.” When Severus992 was old, he called for an urn or pitcher in which the ashes of a dead person were put, and after looking at it a while, he said, “Will you contain that man whom the whole world cannot contain?” Alas, what will the whole world be to you when it is time for you to die? Let it seem no more to you now, you who are dying every day. Do everything as strangers and pilgrims here (Hebrews 11:9, 13–14),993 and as if you heard a voice every day saying, “Awake and come to judgment.” Jerome thought that whatever he did, he still heard a voice saying, “Arise, you dead, and come to judgment.” When you are traveling to this market and that other bazaar, think, “I am surely journeying to my grave and do not know into what dust I will be shortly shoveled.” When you are at your work, think, “I am hastening to eternity, and these hands must shortly rot in the grave.” When you promise yourselves great things as the fruit of your labor and hope for this gain or that other comfort, say, “Death may come between me and my enjoyment and cut off the hopes of all my labor.” What can be great to a person who deems the world as nothing or long to a person who counts his life as just a span? Mr. Dod said, “When you find your heart going too greedily after this world, and are ready to lie, cheat, oppress, and undermine others to enlarge your portion, think about this: For all these things, God will bring you to judgment and render to you according to your work” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).994


You Do Your Earthly Work in a Heavenly Manner When You Do It with a Heavenly Heart

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Manner Is Heavenly If Done with Heavenly Heart}


You are doing your earthly work in a heavenly manner when you are doing it with a heavenly heart. As is the heart, so is the action in God’s account. The Lord was much pleased that it was in David’s heart to build Him a house, though he never did it (1 Kings 8:18).995 But [there was a time when] God was displeased with all that Israel did in His service. Israel did many good works: “When He killed them, then they sought Him, And returned and searched diligently for God; And they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer” (Psalm 78:34–35 NASB). But all this was nothing in God’s esteem because their heart was not upright in it;996 they had an earthly, carnal, selfish, backsliding heart in all they did: “But they deceived Him with their mouth And lied to Him with their tongue. For their heart was not steadfast toward Him, Nor were they faithful in His covenant” (Psalm 78:36–37 NASB). Even though the work is earthly, if your heart is heavenly, it puts an excellence on your work. And even if your work is heavenly, if your heart is earthly, God rejects and despises your work. The heart is the root of every action and if the root is good, the fruit will be good also (Matthew 12:33; Romans 11:16).997 If the water of a spring is sweet, its streams will be sweet also, and if your heart is heavenly, your work is heavenly. A heavenly heart, like the bee,998 turns all it does to heavenly uses. When the Lord Jesus had put His hand on the spouse’s heart and left some myrrh on her heart, soon her hands dripped myrrh and her fingers sweet-smelling myrrh (Song of Solomon 5:4–5).999 A heavenly heart perfumes your earthly work and makes it wonderfully pleasant to Christ’s heart.


QUESTION: How might I know when my heart is heavenly in my earthly work?


ANSWER: There are seven things that reveal a heavenly heart during earthly work:

  1. A heavenly heart is enlightened to see heavenly things.

  2. A heavenly heart delights in heavenly things.

  3. A heavenly heart desires and longs for heavenly things.

  4. A heavenly heart has heavenly thoughts.

  5. A heavenly heart will be full of heavenly projects.

  6. A heavenly heart is actuated and influenced by heavenly motives.

  7. A heavenly heart lives upon heavenly things.


A Heavenly Heart Is Enlightened to See Heavenly Things

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Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Manner Is Heavenly If Done With Heavenly Heart

A Heavenly Heart Sees Heavenly Things}


A heavenly heart is a heart that is enlightened so it sees heavenly things. It is a heart on which heavenly light shines to enable it to discern invisible things. An earthly heart is a dark heart; it sees nothing in God, His Word or His works that would draw his heart up to Heaven. An earthly heart sees nothing but earth in heavenly things and a heavenly heart sees Heaven in earthly things. The patriarchs saw the heavenly city in their earthly country (Hebrews 11:13–16).1000 They saw the promised things from afar and acknowledged that they were strangers on earth. They sought a homeland, desired a better, heavenly country; this was a result of their heavenly sight for they saw heavenly things in earthly things. Abraham had a heavenly eye to see Christ’s day (John 8:56).1001 Moses had a heavenly eye to see Him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27).1002 A heavenly heart does not merely see heavenly things, but sees an infinite worth and excellence in them and perceives that they are the best things. A heavenly heart, in one glance of the eye, sees a far greater glory and desirability in the things above. One day within His courts (Psalm 84:10)1003 or one hour’s communion with Him is worth more than all the world. Mary saw more advantage in sitting at Christ’s feet than in the many things with which Martha’s heart was bothered (Luke 10:41–42).1004 “Cursed be that man,” said the noble Marquess Galeacius, “that does not account one hour’s communion with Christ above all the world.”


A Heavenly Heart Delights in Heavenly Things

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Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Manner Is Heavenly If Done with Heavenly Heart

Heart Delights in Heavenly Things}


A heavenly heart is a heart that delights in heavenly things (Romans 8:5).1005 Nothing goes down so sweet to a heavenly heart as heavenly things; everything rejoices in that which is like itself. An earthly heart delights in earthly things: the merchant in his trade; the farmer in his field, buildings, farming, and the fruit of the earth; and the voluptuous man in his pleasures. A certain king surrendered his city for a drink of water. When he had finished, he cried out, “Oh, for so short a pleasure, I have gone from king to slave.” The proud man relishes his greatness: “The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’” (Daniel 4:30 NASB). In like manner, the heavenly heart finds the greatest sweetness in heavenly things: “How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103 NKJV). “Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, So is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, And his fruit was sweet to my taste” (Song of Solomon 2:3 NKJV). “His mouth is most sweet, Yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, And this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem!” (Song of Solomon 5:16 NKJV). “May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord” (Psalm 104:34 ESV). “We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng” (Psalm 55:14 NKJV). “We talked of the mysteries of Godliness,” said Ainsworth. “[We talked] of the exercises of Christianity,” said another. I suppose the prophet means, by going into the house of God as companions [in Psalm 55:14], that they consulted with each other how they might prepare themselves for God’s service.


A Heavenly Heart Desires and Longs for Heavenly Things

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work That Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Manner Is Heavenly If Done with Heavenly Heart

Heart Desires, Longs for Heavenly Things}


A heavenly heart is a heart that desires and longs for heavenly things. “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25 ESV). “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:2 NKJV). “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory” (Psalm 63:1–2 ESV). “My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God” (Psalm 84:2 NASB). Desires are natural products of the heart. Reynold said:

Desires are the most accurate reflection of what is in the minds of people. Practices may be overruled by various goals, but desires are always genuine and natural. Hence good people have had the most confidence that they know that they are approved by God by their affections and the inward longings of their souls after Him. This is the purest and most unfeigned result of love. Such people are the farthest from danger from foreign and secular ends.

To set their affections on the things above is an unquestionable evidence that a soul is risen with Christ and is receiving the stamp of Heaven on the heart. Heavenly desires are the natural longing of a gracious heart; it can as well live without these as a man can live without breathing. A cessation of spiritual desires is strong evidence of a soul dropping unconscious or of spiritual death.1006


A Heavenly Heart Has Heavenly Thoughts

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Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Manner Is Heavenly If Done with Heavenly Heart

A Heavenly Heart Has Heavenly Thoughts}


A heavenly heart is known by its heavenly thoughts. One who has a heavenly heart will be frequently thinking about heavenly things. The state of the heart usually directs thoughts. “For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, ‘Eat and drink!’ But his heart is not with you” (Proverbs 23:7 NASB). Thoughts are first born from the heart and then become the driving power of the soul. Thoughts are products of the mind in the same way that sunbeams are natural products of the sun. If the heart is evil, the thoughts will be evil. If the heart is good, the thoughts will ordinarily be good (Matthew 15:19),1007 except where corruptions or temptations hinder the good (Jeremiah 4:14).1008 If your hearts are heavenly, so will your deliberate, habitual, and well-pleasing thoughts be. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5 NKJV). Try your hearts by your ordinary, quiet, and delightful thoughts. Are vain, earthly thoughts your trouble and holy thoughts your delight?


A Heavenly Heart Will Be Full of Heavenly Projects

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Manner Is Heavenly If Done with Heavenly Heart

A Heart Full of Heavenly Projects}


A heavenly heart will be full of heavenly projects. Such a heart will be pursuing plans for heavenly purposes. The person’s discussions, inquiries, and studies will be how to carry on and promote heavenly interests. “This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men” (Titus 3:8 NASB). The word is φροντιζωσιν [root: φροντίζω fron-tid´-zo], meaning to study, devise, and beat their brains how they might do good. That is the temper of earthly hearts also; they will be plotting and contriving ways and means to advance earthly concerns. “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things” (Philippians 3:18–19 NKJV). Their thoughts are in the earth, that is, they are wholly concentrated on earthly things. So it is with a heavenly heart; it concentrates on the things of Heaven. It lays holy plots: how to keep down the world and corruption in the soul, how to make the best use of all it has and does for Heaven, and how to secure its portion and enlarge its possession above. So far as the heart is heavenly, so far it is laying heavenly plans.




A Heavenly Heart Is Actuated and Influenced by Heavenly Motives and Reasoning

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Manner Is Heavenly If Done with Heavenly Heart

Heart Actuated by Heavenly Ideas}


A heavenly heart is actuated and influenced by heavenly motives and reasoning. There is nothing that more persuades a heavenly spirit than reasons drawn from heavenly things, heavenly pleasures, heavenly honors, and heavenly treasures—these will do more to move a heavenly heart than any arguments drawn from the things of this life. The nature of the heart is known mostly by the motives that are most persuasive to it. A carnal heart is persuaded by carnal things. “Who will show us any good?” But a spiritual heart is persuaded by spiritual things. “Lord, lift up the light of your face upon us!” “There are many who say, ‘Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!’” (Psalm 4:6 ESV). Lot chose the plains of Sodom, but Abraham preferred walks with God, even though in a wilderness (Genesis 13:9–10).1009 David values his lot by what it has of God in it and deems that most pleasant and rich that helps him to most of God (Psalm 16:5–6).1010 Tell a heavenly heart how he may be rich, great, and comfortable in the world and it means nothing to him. But tell him how he may pitch his tent nearest the ark of the covenant and enjoy God the most: how he may keep peace and holiness inside himself and arrange his way of life rightly so as to please God, and you will sooner win such a heart than by all the choicest proposals of this life. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word” (Psalm 119:9 NASB). “O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?” (Psalm 15:1 ESV). “Who will stand up for me against evildoers? Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness?” (Psalm 94:16 NASB). What might I do to get a better heart and be more rich toward God (Luke 12:20–21)?1011 Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the waters of the well of Bethlehem (2 Samuel 23:15)!1012 How might I obtain some foretaste of the rivers of pleasure at the right hand of God and eat of the Tree of Life in the midst of the paradise of God (Revelation 2:7)?1013 These are the most attractive things to a heavenly soul. His choice, his delights, and his transcendent concerns lie on the other side of this world, even inside the borders of Immanuel’s Land.


A Heavenly Heart Lives Off Heavenly Things

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Manner Is Heavenly If Done with Heavenly Heart

Heart Lives Off Heavenly Things}


A heavenly heart is a heart that lives off heavenly things, is maintained by provisions fetched from Heaven, and nourished by the words of faith (1 Timothy 4:6).1014As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2 NKJV). “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work’” (John 4:34 ESV). Earthly hearts are maintained by earthly comforts; like crows, they live on carrion. But heavenly hearts live off heavenly things; they feed on the finest wheat, and like the Indian bird, the Ule Malim,1015 that lives on dew and the juice of flowers and roses, heavenly souls prosper best on heavenly beans and water. “Your testimonies are righteous forever; Give me understanding that I may live” (Psalm 119:144 NASB).


A Heavenly Heart Walks by Heavenly Rules

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Manner Is Heavenly If Done with Heavenly Heart

Heavenly Heart Walks by Heavenly Rules}


A heavenly heart walks by heavenly rules; it is led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14).1016 All the threats of people cannot cause him to choose to leave his path of duty (Daniel 6:10).1017 Neither will people’s reasoning or persuasion draw him with full consent into the way of sin (Daniel 3:18).1018 Whatever comes of it, he is determined to keep the commands of God (Psalm 119:106).1019 A heavenly heart chooses to be governed by heavenly laws. “Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3 NKJV). “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15 NASB). Such a soul is easily persuaded by the evidence of truth and will hear what the Spirit says. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6 ESV).1020


Earthly Things Are Done in a Heavenly Manner When Done for Heavenly Goals and Purposes

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Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Carry on Heavenly Work

What Is This Heavenly Work that Christians Must Do?

Heavenly Work: Do Earthly Things in a Heavenly Manner

Manner Is Heavenly If Done For Heavenly Goals}


Earthly things are done in a heavenly manner when they are done for heavenly goals and purposes, to obey, please, and honor God. If a person can demonstrate to God’s all-seeing eye that, whatever he does, his heart is set on obedience to God and His glory, he is doing earthly things in a heavenly manner. The great and chief end for which he takes up this or that calling or works on any task is obedience to God and for His glory. Everything else serves these great goals; it is not to please people, gratify his own lusts, grow great in the world or enjoy pleasure, ease, reputation, or an earthly portion. He does things out of obedience to the Maker, Redeemer, and Governor of this world so that God’s will might be done and God glorified in all things (1 Peter 4:11).1021 This is the ultimate goal of all God’s works, and should be the goal of people also. All employments run outside of their proper channel if they do not flow to this ocean of divine glory. As God is the alpha, so He must be the omega of every action. The first cause must be the last goal. God has made all things for Himself (Proverbs 16:4).1022Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death” (Psalm 68:20 ESV). And, as from death, so of life. Nothing is any more good than the extent to which it serves God’s purposes. Earthly goals spoil heavenly work, and heavenly goals put an excellence on earthly work. Christian, be careful of the purposes behind all you do. It is not enough to do things that are right if you are not upright in them. It is unsanctified work that does not have holy aims and God for its ultimate goal. To follow your callings that you might live honestly in the sight of people, provide for your own [e.g., family], and have the means in the world to carry you comfortably through it is lawful, but only if these purposes are secondary. They are not lawful if they are your chief and last goal. Rather all your actions must be sincerely and supremely directed to pleasing and honoring God as your highest purpose.


770But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God” (John 3:21 ESV).

771Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12 NKJV).

772Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NKJV).

773For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 48:11 ESV).

774Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors” (Proverbs 8:34 ESV). “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:7 NKJV). “And you shall say to them, ‘This is the offering made by fire which you shall offer to the Lord: two male lambs in their first year without blemish, day by day, as a regular burnt offering. The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, the other lamb you shall offer in the evening’” (Numbers 28:3–4 NKJV). “They are to stand every morning to thank and to praise the Lord, and likewise at evening” (1 Chronicles 23:30 NASB). “You shall provide a lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering to the Lord daily; morning by morning you shall provide it. And you shall provide a grain offering with it morning by morning, one sixth of an ephah, and one third of a hin of oil to moisten the flour, as a grain offering to the Lord. This is a perpetual statute. Thus the lamb and the meal offering and the oil shall be provided, morning by morning, for a regular burnt offering” (Ezekiel 46:13–15 ESV). “He left Zadok the priest and his relatives the priests before the tabernacle of the Lord in the high place which was at Gibeon, to offer burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar of burnt offering continually morning and evening, even according to all that is written in the law of the Lord, which He commanded Israel” (1 Chronicles 16:39–40 NASB). “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice” (Psalm 55:17 NKJV).

775Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old day by day regularly. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight” (Exodus 29:38–39 ESV).

776Whether baptismal vows or as part of a personal covenant with Christ, we vow commitment to Christ. Such commitment includes personal daily devotions, called quiet time in some circles.

777So I will sing praise to Your name forever, That I may pay my vows day by day” (Psalm 61:8 NASB).

778Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22–23 NKJV).

779In that day, ‘A vineyard of wine, sing of it! I, the Lord, am its keeper; I water it every moment. So that no one will damage it, I guard it night and day’” (Isaiah 27:2–3 NASB).

780Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1 NASB).

781The emphasis here is not on a supposed need to be continually making oaths and vows. Rather, when done, they are to be made in God’s name, not that of some idol.

782In the Bible, to call on the name of the Lord means to pray to Him in sincerity.

783Seth was Adam and Eve’s next male child after Cain and Abel.

784These types of statements may seem hyperbole to one bogged down in the daily struggles of life. But holy duties bring much real spiritual benefit that is not always immediately visible, and most of the benefit will not be apparent until we are with the Lord in Heaven.

785Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17 NASB). “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10 NASB).

786Surely the righteous will give thanks to Your name; The upright will dwell in Your presence” (Psalm 140:13 NASB).

787The Septuagint (LXX) was a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures made in the second and third centuries BC. Contrary to Ashwood’s comments about other versions, nearly all modern versions agree with Montanus, et al., and render in all the work of your hand.

788Now his master saw that the Lord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand” (Genesis 39:3 NASB).

789To offer burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar of burnt offering continually morning and evening, even according to all that is written in the law of the Lord, which He commanded Israel” (1 Chronicles 16:40 NASB). “Every morning and evening they burn to the Lord burnt offerings and fragrant incense, and the showbread is set on the clean table, and the golden lampstand with its lamps is ready to light every evening; for we keep the charge of the Lord our God, but you have forsaken Him” (2 Chronicles 13:11 NASB). “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice” (Psalm 55:17 NKJV).

790So I will sing praise to Your name forever, That I may pay my vows day by day” (Psalm 61:8 NASB).

791To many readers, imploring God’s protection against the dangers of the night may evoke images of a small child afraid of nighttime monsters. But Ashwood lived in a time of significant danger and persecution.

792This kind of phrasing is common in Hebrew; it indicates great emphasis.

793And put a knife to your throat If you are a man of great appetite” (Proverbs 23.2 NASB). “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17 NKJV). “He taught me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live’” (Proverbs 4:4 ESV).

794The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:1 NKJV).

795They search out injustice, saying, ‘We have accomplished a diligent search.’ For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep” (Psalm 64:6 ESV).

796Other versions translate the Hebrew אָנֻשׁ as desperately sick. The basic meaning of the word is that of sickness or wound, typically incurable. Since the wound of the heart is sinful deceitfulness, the sickness of the heart is wickedness.

797An analogy may help. We have all observed people tap a microphone or ask, “Is this thing on?” This is stimulus-response testing of the sound system. The stimulus is the sound input to the microphone and the response is what you hear from the loudspeaker. Perhaps it works. Perhaps nothing is heard, or there is a howl of feedback. This kind of test gives valuable information even in the absence of knowledge about the sound system itself. Likewise, life events, temptations, annoyances, and the like are stimuli to our hearts. By observing our responses to them, such as sin or obedience, contentment or anger, hatred or charitable thoughts, and so on, we learn what is deep inside us in our hearts and can take, by the power of God’s grace in the Holy Spirit, corrective action. This means to not only repent and strive against the outward sinful thoughts, words, or deeds, but to also repent and strive against the inward sin in the heart that led to the outward sin.

798Suppose a child steals candy from a store. That is bad enough. Now suppose the shopkeeper, out of charity to the family, gives the child’s family groceries each week to help them out. Clearly, stealing from that shopkeeper’s store is a worse sin than stealing from a stranger’s store. In Puritan writings, that worsening circumstance is an aggravation of the sin. And, to aggravate our sins is to recognize before God and confess to Him those things that increase a sin’s heinousness. If nothing else, the fact that Christ endured the equivalent of all Hell’s horrors so the believer would not have to do so is enough to infinitely aggravate any sin. Done well, God can use our aggravating our sins as a means of grace against future sin. Helpful resources include the Westminster Larger Catechism, questions 150–1, and Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers, by John Owen.

799First, a word of caution is in order: “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding” (2 Corinthians 10:12 ESV). The need for this scriptural caution is magnified by the fact that many people are skilled hypocrites, and many others struggle fiercely and valiantly against particular sins in private. But an example may help illustrate how this type of comparison may be used to shame and encourage oneself, by God’s grace, to better obedience. Consider a man who grew up in a Christian home, has been a Christian for a decade, and attends a solid church, but he is still foul-mouthed. But his friend grew up in a home where profanity was routine, but cleaned up his speech a month after coming to Christ while still in the Marine Corps, and the chaplains were not even believers.

800For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter” (2 Corinthians 7:11 ESV). “But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged” (1 Corinthians 11:31 NASB).

801The biblical metaphor of rottenness in the bones is not a reference to any specific medical condition. The bones are the support structure of the body; the metaphor is thus of devastating and fundamental impairment, weakness, and collapse of the person.

802Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’” (Zechariah 4:7 ESV).

803Some species of ivy, such as English Ivy, have rootlets that cling tenaciously, especially to rough or cracked surfaces such as old masonry.

804This is not due to spider venom, but the digestive juices that the spider spits or injects into the prey to liquefy it; these digestive juices can thus be corrosive to tissue.

805When Ephraim saw his sickness, And Judah saw his wound, Then Ephraim went to Assyria And sent to King Jareb; Yet he cannot cure you, Nor heal you of your wound” (Hosea 5:13 NKJV). The context of this verse is that Ephraim is unrepentant, rejects God, and seeks merely human remedies.

806The context of Hosea 5 is that Ephraim continually sins, and God continually punishes them for their sin. Their wounds are inflicted by God, but they seek healing by human means, but in vain. God would have healed them had they repented.

807Unlike crates used for short times by modern owners of housebroken dogs, even today, kennels are sources of filth and foul odors, particularly without proper care.

808As a well keeps its water fresh, so she keeps fresh her evil; violence and destruction are heard within her; sickness and wounds are ever before me” (Jeremiah 6:7 ESV).

809Wash your heart from evil, O Jerusalem, That you may be saved. How long will your wicked thoughts Lodge within you?” (Jeremiah 4:14 NASB).

810Prior to battery-powered timepieces, the whole mechanism was driven by a single main wheel whose rotation speed was accurately controlled.

811Prior to battery-powered timepieces, the mechanism needed some source of mechanically stored energy to operate. On large clocks, this might be a weight that had to be periodically moved up to its starting position. Watches and most other clocks would use energy stored in a coiled mainspring that had to be wound up periodically to tighten it, thus storing energy.

812I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8 NASB).

813But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves” (Malachi 4:2 NKJV). Some other versions render its wings; the difference arising from whether the translator deems Sun of Righteousness as a reference to Jesus Christ (or God) or not.

814The image here is not merely that of an elderly person using a cane, but as any hiker knows, a “third leg” helps greatly with balance and on slippery and irregular surfaces, conditions common back then on any but the best roads.

815Goshen: the dwelling place of the Israelites in Egypt. God spared Goshen from most of the plagues (Exodus 8:22).

816land of vision: an allusion to Israel during periods of active prophets.

817You will reap what you sow. Just as the condition of the heart determines thoughts, words, and deeds, so likewise, what we put into it via our minds and senses determines the condition of the heart to a large degree.

818mortification: the process of putting to death, in this context, sin. The editor retains this antique word due to its commonness in Puritan and even some modern literature. The Christian duty of putting sin to death is of utmost importance.

819Here, body does not refer to the human body. In contrast to fantasy literature and some heathen religions, no material object is, in itself, good or evil. As a careful reading of Colossians 3:5 (in any translation) will reveal, the reference is to the body, that is, the main part, trunk, or structure, of sin.

820Now the Lord was with Judah, and they took possession of the hill country; but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had iron chariots” (Judges 1:19 NASB). “Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly)” (Judges 3:1–2 NASB).

821For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 ESV).

822And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5 NKJV).

823So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed” (Exodus 17:11 NASB).

824For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4 ESV). “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11 ESV).

825So the Lords anger was aroused against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the Lord was gone” (Numbers 32:13 NKJV).

826Now when Abner had returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him privately, and there stabbed him in the stomach, so that he died for the blood of Asahel his brother” (2 Samuel 3:27 NKJV).

827The bodies of executed criminals were often publicly displayed as a warning.

828And he said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people”’” (1 Kings 20:42 ESV).

829Sauls: a reference to King Saul and his relentless, strong, and determined effort to hunt down and kill David.

830So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’” (Acts 1:6 NASB).

831Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!’” (Psalm 116:4 ESV). “Indeed it was for my own peace That I had great bitterness; But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, For You have cast all my sins behind Your back” (Isaiah 38:17 NKJV).

832What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’” (Zechariah 4:7 NASB).

833At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left” (Matthew 27:38 NASB).

834It appears that Leviathan is the crocodile, here symbolic of Pharaoh, his army, or Egypt. Prior to the Babylonian captivity, Scripture frequently looks back to the exodus from Egypt as a comfortable reminder of God’s power and care for His people.

835Babylon carried the Israelites into captivity for seventy years, and the Bible uses Babylon as a symbol of sin and depravity in many places.

836Happy the one who takes and dashes Your little ones against the rock!” (Psalm 137:9 NKJV).

837Having to go barefoot and being without water are here given as examples of God’s judgments. In particular, as seen in Isaiah 20:2–4; the notoriously cruel Assyrians led conquered people to exile from Egypt and Cush naked and barefoot. When Jeremiah wrote, the Assyrians had already carried off most of Israel, and only Judah remained. God, through Jeremiah, is warning Judah of their own pending doom if they did not repent.

838Unbelief (lack of faith in God) leads to a lack of fear and love of God; thus sin appears less evil and dangerous. Also, lack of faith in the Holy Spirit’s help against sin can cause one to give up in the fight against a particular sin.

839Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11 NKJV).

840The image is of a besieged city.

841Both images of the original available to the editor are partly illegible at this point.

842And when he had brought him down, there they were, spread out over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil which they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. Then David attacked them from twilight until the evening of the next day. Not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled” (1 Samuel 30:16–17 NKJV).

843This is a picture of a people who have been at ease, and undisturbed, but did not take advantage of their peace to repent of their sin, so their scent was unchanged; they still stank.

844van: in this context, in warfare, the leading band of soldiers.

845For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy” (2 Timothy 3:2 ESV).

846Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me’” (Matthew 16:24 NASB).

847Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold” (2 Samuel 11:2 NKJV).

848Hezekiah was pleased, and showed them all his treasure house, the silver and the gold and the spices and the precious oil and his whole armory and all that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house nor in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them” (Isaiah 39:2 NASB).

849Then Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains, and his two daughters were with him; for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar. And he and his two daughters dwelt in a cave. Now the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Our father is old, and there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.’ So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. It happened on the next day that the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Indeed I lay with my father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.’ Then they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day” (Genesis 19:30–38 NKJV).

850So he turned aside to her by the road, and said, ‘Here now, let me come in to you’; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, ‘What will you give me, that you may come in to me?’” (Genesis 38:16 NASB).

851Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land. When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force” (Genesis 34:1–2 NASB).

852But Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome” (Matthew 26:58 NASB).

853My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. My son, do not walk in the way with them, Keep your foot from their path” (Proverbs 1:10,15 NKJV). “Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; Turn away from it and pass on” (Proverbs 4:14–15 NKJV).

854While Ashwood uses the term opportunity, many other Puritan writers use occasions of sin. The concept includes avoiding the danger of temptation where possible, similar to a driver who chooses to stay home during a snowstorm rather than go on a minor errand. But it is also good to take positive action where possible. It is common in industry to equip dangerous machines with guards, interlocks, warning signals, and the like so as to help keep even good and careful workers from hurting themselves, the machine, or the product due to error, accident, or momentary inattention or forgetfulness. Sin is a serious matter, and the believer who can design safety measures into his or her life against a sin does well.

855But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:5 ESV).

856For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NASB).

857And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15 NKJV).

858And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen” (Romans 16:20 NKJV). “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37 NASB). “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2 ESV).

859Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me” (Galatians 4:15 NASB). “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3 NASB).

860And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV).

861No eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born” (Ezekiel 16:5 NASB). Only God is able to fully know the filthy sinfulness of a person, and in spite of that filthiness, still pity him or her.

862When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’” (Ezekiel 16:6 NASB).

863And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 1:21–22 ESV).

864For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5–6 NKJV).

865And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5 NKJV).

866I gave My back to those who struck Me, And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6 NKJV).

867But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 ESV).

868Then the disciples came and said to him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ And he answered them, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away’” (Matthew 13:10–12 ESV).

869Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8 ESV).

870The editor begs leave of the reader to make the following observation. All people have been burned by various accidents. For most, the burns are minor and a person is able to quickly yank the affected body part away from the source of the pain. A smaller number have been unable to immediately escape the burning, as for example when molten metal or burning plastic embeds itself in the skin. And some have suffered major burns over much of their body. The pain of burning is like none other. Those in Hell must endure eternal, never-ending burning over their entire bodies. Our Lord Jesus describes Hell in no uncertain terms: “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’” (Mark 9:43–48 ESV). “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15 NASB). “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8 NKJV). The Gospel accounts of the torments that Our Lord Jesus endured from the agony in Gethsemane until His death paint a picture of severe mental and physical torture. However, this horror is less than some people have endured in Communist and other totalitarian countries in prisons and death camps. And, all of these horrors are infinitely less than eternity in Hell. But God is perfectly just (Leviticus 19:36; Deuteronomy 16:20, 22:15, 32:4; 2 Samuel 23:3; Job 8:3, 34:12; Psalm 7:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Peter 3:18). Thus, God could not have accepted Christ’s sacrifice for sinners if that sacrifice were tiny compared to the magnitude of the debt of sinners, any more than a judge would accept a nickel from a father for his son’s $100 traffic ticket. The judge would rightly demand a full $100 or its equivalent. Theologians are not all agreed regarding the particulars, but some of the things that enabled Christ to compress the full horror of eternity in Hell into a short time would be: the majesty and dignity of the God-man Jesus Christ who was still fully God, His capacity as God to bear in a short time the awful weight of human sin, the horror that a sinless being with a divine hatred of sin would experience taking our sin upon Himself, and the mighty wisdom and skill of God to carry out the whole plan perfectly. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV). To summarize and put it simply, Our Lord Jesus Christ effectively went to Hell, with all its attendant pain and horror, so believers would not go to Hell. All praise, thanksgiving, honor, and glory be to Him!

871And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 NASB).

872For sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful” (Romans 7:11–13 NASB).

873But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:21–22 ESV).

874This is true not only because Christ paid a hideous cost to redeem sinners, but because once sin is started into, the conscience is seared and calloused, and bad habits become hard to break.

875Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24 NASB).

876That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:1–3 ESV).

877If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us” (2 Timothy 2:12 NKJV).

878As opposed to repenting of sin and heartily fighting against it.

879Plead with your mother, plead—for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband—that she put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts” (Hosea 2:2 ESV).

880Ephraim shall say,What have I to do anymore with idols?’ I have heard and observed him. I am like a green cypress tree; Your fruit is found in Me” (Hosea 14:8 NKJV). Other translations render this verse as God doing all of the speaking, such as: “O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit” (Hosea 14:8 ESV).

881The opposite of this separation of the heart from sin is to cherish or unrepentantly practice any sin.

882More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8 NASB).

883For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant” (Job 14:7–9 ESV).

884It may perhaps be helpful to think of our original nature and new spiritual natures as being sources of instincts. It is by instinct that, for example, a bird builds a particular kind of nest. By careful consideration we can choose to avoid sin and do that which is right and glorifying to God. But our immediate reactions to life events come more directly from our sinful or spiritual natures, from our hearts. An example of this is what suddenly comes out of our mouths when we painfully stub a toe. The instincts arising from our original sin nature are what make it so hard to tame the tongue. Also, original sin is real sin that must be repented of and fought against; it is sin that has its origin deep in our hearts and is the reason that care of the heart is so important.

885The idea here is that enemy soldiers have set up a fort inside your own country. You want to get rid of them completely.

886Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped” (Luke 8:43–44 NKJV). “And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all” (Luke 6:19 NKJV).

887Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14 NASB).

888Notice that Christ came not merely to deliver believers from the punishment for sin, but from sin itself. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21 NASB).

889But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14 NASB).

890For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14 ESV). “Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:6 NASB).

891Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers” (Romans 15:8 NKJV).

892Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8 ESV).

893The Hebrew does not use the definite article (the) before spirit; it is unclear whether the Holy Spirit is meant. The ESV does not include the definite article and renders a spirit.

894So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17 ESV). “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2 NASB). “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9 NKJV).

895Faith does not here refer to faith in God, but in things of this world or our own mind.

896cockatrice: either a crocodile, or a mythical serpent whose breath or look were fatal.

897Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of you, that the rod that struck you is broken, for from the serpent’s root will come forth an adder, and its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent” (Isaiah 14:29 ESV).

898Now there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David; and David grew steadily stronger, but the house of Saul grew weaker continually” (2 Samuel 3:1 NASB).

899Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).

900For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV).

901“…and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24 ESV). “…and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Colossians 3:10 NASB).

902Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2 NASB).

903But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18 ESV). “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2 NASB). “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–13 NKJV).

904But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:15–16 NASB). “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29 NKJV).

905But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15 NASB).

906The evidence here may be of the visible fruit that leads to assurance of salvation and encourages other believers.

907Ashwood’s metaphor does not quite hold up here, but the reference is to the importance of dew to agriculture in the arid Middle East before the advent of mechanical irrigation.

908Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28 NKJV).

909Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God” (Colossians 2:18–19 NKJV).

910Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2 ESV).

911good digestion: as opposed to nausea, and so on.

9126And his heart took delight in the ways of the Lord; moreover he removed the high places and wooden images from Judah. 12So Jehoshaphat became increasingly powerful, and he built fortresses and storage cities in Judah” (2 Chronicles 17:6, 12 NKJV).

913But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people” (Psalm 22:6 ESV). “He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way” (Psalm 25:9 NASB). “The humble also shall increase their joy in the Lord, And the poor among men shall rejoice In the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 29:19 NKJV). “Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor” (Proverbs 3:34 ESV). “For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isaiah 57:15 NASB).

914Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12 NKJV).

915Unrepentant sin weakens confidence in God, not because God fails in His promises, but because the unrepentant sinner behaves like an enemy to God, Whose enemies have promises of judgment, not blessing.

916Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (2 Peter 1:10 ESV). “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13 NASB). “For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you” (2 Corinthians 1:12 NKJV). “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58 NASB). “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22 ESV). “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25–27 NASB). “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10–11 NKJV).

917Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10 NKJV). “But as for me, when they were sick, My clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; And my prayer would return to my own heart” (Psalm 35:13 NKJV).

918When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it” (Luke 19:41 NASB). “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You” (Psalm 51:13 NKJV). “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder” (2 Peter 3:1 NASB).

919I will give heed to the blameless way. When will You come to me? I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart” (Psalm 101:2 NASB).

920A Christian ought to be just as much a Christian when alone and unobserved or with spouse or family as when out in public.

921There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:1–2 NKJV). “The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray” (Acts 10:9 ESV). “And the Lord drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God” (Joshua 24:18 NKJV). “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies” (Psalm 25:10 NKJV). “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6 NASB).

922All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies” (Psalm 25:10 NKJV). “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NASB). “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die” (Proverbs 23:13 ESV). “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:12–16 NASB). “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14 NKJV). “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him” (Genesis 18:19 ESV).

923Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29 NKJV). “…in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them” (Romans 11:14 ESV).

924This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12 NKJV).

925Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” (Colossians 3:12 NKJV).

926Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Hebrews 13:3 ESV).

927Zion is frequently used in Scripture to represent the visible Church.

928For I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink” (Matthew 25:42 NASB). “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35 ESV). “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17 NASB). “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves” (Romans 15:1 NASB). “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them” (Romans 16:17 ESV). “And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:10 ESV). “For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults” (2 Corinthians 12:20 NKJV). “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6 NKJV). “But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me” (Philippians 2:17–18 NASB). “Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:12 ESV). “Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved” (2 Corinthians 13:7 NASB). “He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart” (Psalm 15:2 NKJV). “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices” (Colossians 3:9 NASB).

929lawful: in compliance God’s law.

930Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved” (2 Corinthians 13:7 NASB). “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8 NKJV). “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Ephesians 4:28 ESV).

931For he is rightly instructed; his God teaches him” (Isaiah 28:26 ESV).

932But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:14 NASB).

933But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36 NKJV).

934The problem is not so much that which is inherited itself, but accepting or continuing in ungodly traditions and practices handed down from parents and others instead of adopting godly things.

935O Lord, my strength and my fortress, My refuge in the day of affliction, The Gentiles shall come to You From the ends of the earth and say, ‘Surely our fathers have inherited lies, Worthlessness and unprofitable things’” (Jeremiah 16:19 NKJV).

936Sport was often used as a synonym for gambling as well as for innocent activity. Whatever Ashwood means by carnal sports, it cannot mean healthful and fair exercise and athletic competition as recreation.

937While some have condemned playing cards or games of chance as sin in themselves, use of these for gambling is definitely sinful; gambling is bad stewardship and puts God’s providence to the test. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah” (Deuteronomy 6:16 NASB). “Jesus said to him, ‘On the other hand, it is written, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test”’” (Matthew 4:7 NASB).

938Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy” (Romans 13:13 NASB). “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8 ESV). “These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted” (Jude 12 NASB). “For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error” (2 Peter 2:18 NASB).

939And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9 ESV).

940It has been observed that during garage poker games, you can lose either your money or your friends.

941The editor wishes to take the liberty of making a few remarks appropriate to the present time concerning recreation. In the developed world, entertainment consumes massive amounts of people’s time. Providers of mass media design even supposedly useful things, such as news, to have a large entertainment component, reducing the usefulness of it and adding to temptations to waste time. The internet and cellular networks provide very many sources of distractions, both useful and useless. Many of these distractions are designed to be addictive and entertaining. A Christian must thus exercise great care to use his or her time well, doing not only what is good at any particular time, but what is best for Christ’s kingdom and God’s glory according to his or her role and calling in life. The purpose of recreation, “re-creation,” is not to make one happy, but to recharge one’s mind, body, soul, and spirit to make one more productive for Christ. Use of recreation is similar to use of food. It is necessary in certain amounts, but can be consumed in excess or for wrong reasons. If the food also tastes good, that also is a gift from God. If the recreation is also pleasant and enjoyable, that is also good for we serve a good God.

942forefoot: a reference to the fact that where an animal places a forefoot determines the direction of the rest of the animal.

943first stroke: a reference to forming or shaping material by hammering. The location of the first hammer blow determines the location of a bend, for example.

944Before the germ theory of disease, people thought that bad air (cf. malaria = mal air ia = bad air) could cause disease. They understood in some sense that a weakened body was more susceptible to sickness (from fasting in this example).

945The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:14 NASB).

946While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very severe plague” (Numbers 11:33 NASB).

947Contrary to what Ashwood seems to be implying, these boundaries are natural and providential boundaries, not necessarily moral boundaries. The point is that God sets many kinds of boundaries in His creation.

948Perhaps by nature, Ashwood refers to things necessary for life, health, and sanity.

949It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep” (Psalm 127:2 NASB).

95021And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison. 30And Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines.’ Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life” (Judges 16:21, 30 ESV).

951In this context, unfaithfulness means to violate trust or someone’s reasonable expectations, especially if breaking a promise, even if implied. A hired worker (as an employee or vendor) is unfaithful when guilty of such things as poor workmanship, avoidable waste, inattention to detail and quality, or inefficient use of paid time. But all of us must work for God at all times, so the same idea applies to all we do.

952Because we all sin against the infinitely holy God, our sin is an infinite offense that rightly and richly deserves infinite punishment in Hell. Hence, the worst toil is far less punishment for our sins than we deserve.

953In Ashwood’s time, even mental labor had a much greater bodily component than today.

954To keep the Sabbath holy means to set it apart for God. The root meaning of Hebrew words whose root is קדשׁ [kaw-dash´, holy] is set apart. God is holy because He transcends, is wholly set apart from, His creation. All that pertains to God must also be set apart from any moral taint because He is pure in infinite perfection. For this reason, no good work can be truly holy unless it is ultimately for God and His glory.

955Sadly, even many Christians in America routinely violate the Fourth Commandment. Shops, sporting events, entertainment, restaurants, and many other things that are not time-critical and necessary (such as some personal and family duties, police protection, hospitals, and utilities) go on just as on the other six days. This ought not to be; God said it and that settles it. But also, while the Sabbath is to be entirely given to God except for necessary and mercy needs, the command to work six days is not like that; necessary recreation and so on is lawful on those six days.

956Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2 NKJV).

957I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh” (John 6:51 NASB).

958“…making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16 ESV).

959For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thessalonians 3:10 NASB).

960For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed” (2 Thessalonians 3:11–14 ESV).

961And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30 ESV).

962But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8 NKJV).

963To this purpose, a habit of asking oneself two questions prior to every intended action may be helpful: Will this tend to glorify God? What in my heart is motivating me to do this?

964This may refer to the Tamaric Fountains in Spain, but the water flow is presently irregular.

965This is probably mythical or at least exaggerated. Possibly a fast-flowing stream that enters below the surface of the water and an underground exit for the stream could produce this effect. An internet search turns up no results for that name.

966When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah” (Exodus 15:23 NASB).

967Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:34 NASB).

968But He answered and said, ‘It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs’” (Matthew 15:26 NKJV).

969The editor cannot find this to be true in any of the Hebrew texts he examined. The text may be fairly translated, “better is the little …”

970He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place” (Genesis 28:11 NASB).

971In Genesis 13:5 to 19:38, we see that Abraham’s nephew, Lot, was very wealthy when he departed from Abraham and went to live near Sodom. The last we read of him in the Old Testament is, after the destruction of Sodom, he lived in a cave with his two daughters, apparently with little means to live elsewhere.

972Immanuel’s Land: a reference from Pilgrim’s Progress, representing either Heaven, or possibly the invisible Church of God’s people.

973Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, ‘Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic’” (Numbers 11:4–5 ESV).

974There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” (John 6:9 NASB).

975For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth’” (1 Kings 17:14 NKJV).

976Indeed, forty years You provided for them in the wilderness and they were not in want; Their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet swell” (Nehemiah 9:21 NASB).

977To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away” (Matthew 25:15 ESV).

978And he told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, “What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?” And he said, “I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods”’” (Luke 12:16–18 ESV).

979These two are crop pests; the cankerworm affects fruit and shade trees.

980O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You” (2 Chronicles 20:12 NASB). “But if you go, be gone! Be strong in battle! Even so, God shall make you fall before the enemy; for God has power to help and to overthrow” (2 Chronicles 25:8 NKJV). The ESV renders: “But go, act, be strong for the battle. Why should you suppose that God will cast you down before the enemy? For God has the power to help or to cast down” (italics added). However, the words in italics are not in the Hebrew. While this editor does not normally presume to adjudicate between Bible translators, in this case it is apparent that the translators of the ESV changed the meaning of the sentence, possibly on the basis of Amaziah’s victory in the immediately following battle. However, the prophecy that Amaziah would fall/stumble before the enemy did come true. In verse 13, we read that Israel became his enemy and killed 3,000 people of Judah and took much spoil. The likely cause of this is found in Amaziah’s idolatry, which is described in verses 14 to 16. Afterward, a greater loss against Israel occurred, as described in verses 17 to 24.

981How could one have chased a thousand, and two have put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had given them up?” (Deuteronomy 32:30 ESV).

982If you are slack in the day of distress, Your strength is limited” (Proverbs 24:10 NASB). “Commit your works to the Lord And your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3 NASB).

983Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act” (Psalm 37:5 ESV). “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25 NKJV). “But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:32 NASB). “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6 ESV).

984For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4–5 ESV).

985Some versions render direct your paths or similar. The Hebrew root ישׁר has a range of meanings that include to make straight or make right. The latter may imply giving direction to.

986Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that’” (James 4:13–15 NASB).

987Then he said, ‘O Lord God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham. Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, “Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink”—let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master’” (Genesis 24:12–14 NKJV).

988Then the man bowed down his head and worshiped the Lord. And he said, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren’” (Genesis 24:26–27 NKJV).

989Jacob said, ‘O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, “Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,” I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children. For You said, “I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered”’” (Genesis 32:9–12 NASB).“Then he erected there an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel” (Genesis 33:20 NASB). “Then God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau’” (Genesis 35:1 NASB).

990If you keep a heavenly perspective, this will be true even for failed endeavors.

991If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19 NKJV).

992There were five Roman emperors of that name.

993By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise” (Hebrews 11:9 NASB). “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland” (Hebrews 11:13–14 NKJV).

994For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14 ESV).

995But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well that it was in your heart’” (1 Kings 8:18 NKJV).

996They grudgingly obeyed out of fear of earthly judgment.

997Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33 ESV).“If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches” (Romans 11:16 ESV). Numbers 15:20 commanded the Israelites to offer a cake/bread of עריסה [ar-ee-saw´], a Hebrew root meaning grind. Thus, different translations will render cake, dough, meal, and so on. This was an offering each year of the firstfruits of bread or the raw material of bread.

998It was once believed that bees converted all they consumed to honey.

999My beloved put his hand By the latch of the door, And my heart yearned for him. I arose to open for my beloved, And my hands dripped with myrrh, My fingers with liquid myrrh, On the handles of the lock” (Song of Solomon 5:4–5 NKJV). The Song of Solomon is difficult to definitively interpret, But it seems that the Spouse’s heart-connection to her Beloved put myrrh on her heart, which myrrh flowed out to her fingers. This illustrates how a heavenly heart affects what we do outwardly, and how God views those things we do with respect to whether or not we do them for Him and His glory.

1000These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13–16 ESV).

1001Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56 NASB).

1002By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27 NKJV).

1003For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10 ESV). The courts and house are symbolic of Heaven.

1004But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:41–42 NASB).

1005For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5 NKJV).

1006The editor wishes to interject a caution here. Human emotions, including desires, can be fickle and driven by many influences, both physical and spiritual, including a person’s natural, God-given disposition and stage of life. The same emotion may also have various causes. Thus, the greatest caution must be exercised when using emotions as a measure of spiritual status. Ashwood describes a fairly mature, strong Christian. Like all graces, a heavenly heart does not pop up full-grown overnight. For some, it is good evidence of a heavenly heart (perhaps in the bud) if there is a desire to, in greater measure, desire God and heavenly things.

1007For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19 NKJV).

1008O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil, that you may be saved. How long shall your wicked thoughts lodge within you?” (Jeremiah 4:14 ESV).

1009“‘Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.’ Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar” (Genesis 13:9–10 NASB).

1010O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance” (Psalm 16:5–6 NKJV).

1011But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20–21 NASB).

1012And David said with longing, ‘Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!’” (2 Samuel 23:15 NKJV).

1013He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7 NKJV).

1014In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following” (1 Timothy 4:6 NASB).

1015Possibly mythical.

1016For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14 KJV). This is quoted in the KJV to emphasize that not only are those who are led by the Spirit of God sons of God, but that all sons of God are led by the Spirit of God.

1017Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (Daniel 6:10 NKJV).

1018But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:18 NASB).

1019I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules” (Psalm 119:106 ESV).

1020At first glance, Ashwood seems to have included an irrelevant verse. But the ideas of peace and of “a little child shall lead them” both illustrate the ease with which a true believer will be persuaded to the truth and be led by the Holy Spirit.

1021Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11 NASB).

1022The Lord has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom” (Proverbs 16:4 NKJV).

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