“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10;12
From Charles Spurgeon
“O ye presumptuous ones, I speak to you; and I shall do so while next I warn you of your danger.
II. I shall be more brief on the second point—THE DANGER. He who thinks he stands is in danger of a fall. The true Christian cannot possibly suffer a final fall, but he is very much disposed to a foul fall. Though the Christian shall not stumble so as to destroy his life, he may break his limb. Though God has given his angels charge over him, to keep him in all his ways, yet there is no commission to keep him when he goes astray; and when he is astray he may thrust himself through with many sorrows.
1. I must now try and give you the reason why a man who thinks he stands is more exposed to the danger of falling than any other. First, because such a man in the midst of temptation will be sure to be more or less careless. Make a man believe he is very strong, and what will he do? The fight is thickening around him; yet he has his sword in his scabbard. “Oh,” saith he, ” my arm is nimble and strong; I can draw it out and strike home.” So perhaps he lies down in the field, or sloth-fully sleeps in his tent; “for,” saith he, “when I hear enemies approaching, such is my prowess and such my might, that I can mow them down by thousands. Ye sentinels watch the weak; go to the Ready-to-halts and the Fearings, and arouse them. But I am a giant; and let me once get this old Toledo blade in my hand, it will cut through body and soul. Whenever I meet my enemies I shall be more than conqueror.” The man is careless in battle. He lifteth up his helmet, as it is said Goliath did, and then a stone pierceth his forehead; he throws away his shield, and then an arrow penetrateth his flesh; he will put his sword into his scabbard, then the enemy smiteth him, and he is ill prepared to resist. The man who thinks he is strong, is off his guard; he is not ready to parry the stroke of the evil one, and then the poignard entereth his soul.
2. Again, the man who thinks he stands will not be careful to keep out of the way of temptation, but rather will run into it. I remember seeing a man who was going to a place of worldly amusement—he was a professor of religion—and I called to him, “What doest thou there, Elijah?” “Why do you ask me such a question as that?” said he. I said, “What doest thou here, Elijah? Thou art going there.” “Yes,” he replied, with some sort of blush, “but I can do that with impunity.” “I could not,” said I; “if I were there I know I should commit sin. I should not care what people said about it; I always do as I like, so far as I believe it to be right; I leave the saying to anybody who likes to talk about me. But it is a place of danger, and I could not go there with impunity.” “Ah!” said he, “I could; I have been before, and I have had some sweet thoughts there. I find it enlarges the intellect. You are narrow-minded; you do not get these good things. It is a rich treat I assure you. I would go if I were you.” “No,” I said, “it would be dangerous for me: from what I hear, the name of Jesus is profaned there; and there is much said that is altogether contrary to the religion we believe. The persons who attend there are none of the best, and it will surely be said that birds of a feather flock together.” “Ah, well,” he replied, “perhaps you young men had better keep away; I am a strong man, I can go;” and off he went to the place of amusement. That man, sirs, was an apple of Sodom. He was a professor of religion. I guessed there was something rotten at the core from that very fact; and I found it so by experience, for the man was a downright sensualist even then. He wore a mask, he was a hypocrite, and had none of the grace of God in his heart. Presumptuous men will say they can go into sin, they are so full of moral strength; but when a man tells you he is so good, always read his words backwards, and understand him to mean that he is as bad as he can be. The self- confident man is in danger of falling because he will even run into temptation in the confidence that he is strong, and able to make his escape.
3. Another reason is, that these strong men sometimes will not use the means of grace, and therefore they fall. There are some persons here, who never attend a place of worship very likely; they do not profess to be religious; but I am sure they would be astonished if I were to tell them, that I know some professedly religious people who are accepted in some churches as being true children of God, who yet make it a habit of stopping away from the house of God, because they conceive they are so advanced that they do not want it. You smile at such a thing as that. They boast such deep experience within; they have a volume of sweet sermons at home, and they will stop and read them; they need not go to the house of God, for they are fat and flourishing. They conceit themselves that they have received food enough seven years ago to last them the next ten years. They imagine that old food will feed their souls now. These are your presumptuous men. They are not to be found at the Lord’s table, eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ, in the holy emblems of bread and wine. You do not see them in their closets; you do not find them searching the Scriptures with holy curiosity. They think they stand—they shall never be moved; they fancy that means are intended for weaker Christians; and leaving those means, they fall. They will not have the shoe to put upon the foot, and therefore the flint cutteth them; they will not put on the armour, and therefore the enemy wounds them—sometimes well- nigh unto death. In this deep quagmire of neglect of the means, many a haughty professor has been smothered.
4. Once more, the man who is self- confident runs a fearful hazard, because God’s Spirit always leaves the proud. The gracious Spirit delights to dwell in the low places. The holy dove came to Jordan; we read not that it ever rested on Bashan. The man upon the white horse rode among the myrtle trees, not among the cedars. The myrtle trees grew at the foot of the mountains; the cedars on the summit thereof. God loves humility. He who walks with fear and trembling, fearing lest he should go astray, that man the Spirit loves; but when once pride creeps in, and the man declares, “Now I am in no danger,” away goes the dove; it flies to heaven and will have nought to do with him. Proud souls, ye quench the Spirit. Ye arrogant men, ye grieve the Holy Ghost. He leaves every heart where pride dwelleth; that evil spirit of Lucifer he abhors; he will not rest with it; he will not tarry in its company. Here is your greatest danger, ye proud ones— that the Spirit leaves those who deny their entire dependence on him.