‘Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water? Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb. So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite’s hope shall perish.’ Job 8:11–13
You have cleansed the house, you have swept it, you have decorated it, and the evil spirit is gone; but if the Holy Spirit has not driven him out, if this has not been a work of power on the part of God, that evil spirit will come back, and he will take unto himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they shall enter in and dwell there, and your last end will be worse than the first. Better not to have known the way of righteousness than, having known it, to be turned back again. I believe in the doctrine of the final perseverance of every true child of God; but there are in all our churches certain spurious pretenders who will not hold on their way, who will blaze and sparkle for a season, and then they will go out in darkness. They are ‘wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.’ Far better to make no pretension of having come to Christ, and of having been born again, unless through divine grace you shall hold fast until the end. Remember the back door to hell. There is a public entrance for the open sinner; but there is a back door for the professed saint; there is a back door for the hoary-headed professor, who has lived many years in apparent sincerity, but who has been a liar before God. There is a back door for the preacher who can talk fast and loudly, but who does not in his own heart know the truth he is preaching: there is a back door to hell for church members, who are amiable and excellent in many respects, but who have not really looked unto the Lord Jesus Christ and found true salvation in him.
For meditation: Sometimes those pretending to be Christians are exposed by their present behaviour (1 John 3:10) or by steps they take later (1 John 2:19); at other times the pretence can be maintained (Matthew 7:21–23). But God is not mocked (Galatians 6:7); he knows who his people are (2 Timothy 2:19).
Sermon no. 651
24 September (1865)