Home at Last
2. Let us now pass on and see that great thing which is revealed in the second part of our text. You have heard of heaven; but all shall not enter it: and who are the persons who shall not enter in?
Brethren, this is a sad and painful inquiry, and yet it is one that must be made. I can do no more than declare to you Scripture truth: it is not my fault if it is cutting and gives offence. I must deliver my Master's message and diminish nothing; the line I have to draw is not mine, but God's: the blame, if you will lay it, falls on the Bible not on me. "There shall in no wise enter into heaven any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie." Verily these are solemn words; they ought to make you think.
"Nothing that defileth." This touches the case of all who are defiled with sins of heart, and yet feel it not, and refuse to be made clean. They may be decent persons outwardly, but they are vile and polluted within. These are the worldly-minded. They live to this world only, and they have no thought of anything beyond it. The care of this world, the money, the politics of this world, the business of this world, the pleasures of this world, these things swallow up their whole attention and as for James' advice to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, they know not what it means.
These are the men who set their affections on earthly things; they have each their idol in the chamber of their imagination, and they worship and serve it more than God. These are the proud and self-righteous, the self-honoring and the self-conceited; they love the praise of men, they like the good opinion of this world, and as for the glorious Lord who made them, His honor, His glory, His house, His word, His service - these are all things which in their judgment must go down, and take second place. These know not what sorrow for sins means. They are strangers to spiritual anxiety; they are self-satisfied and content with their condition, and if you attempt to stir them up to zeal and repentance it is more than probable they are offended. Brethren, you know well there are such people; they are not uncommon; they may be honorable in the eyes of men, they may be wise and knowing in this generation, admirable men of business, they may be first and foremost in their respective callings, but still there is but one account of them; they bring no glory to their Maker, they are lovers of themselves more than of God, and therefore they are counted as defiled in His sight and nothing that is defiled shall enter heaven.
But again: "Nothing that worketh abomination." This touches the case of all who practice those sins of life which God has pronounced abominable, and take pleasure in them, and countenance those who practice them. These are the men who work the works of the flesh, each as his heart inclines him. These are the adulterers, fornicators, and unclean livers; these are the drunkards, and revelers; these are the men who count it no shame to live in hatred, variance, wrath, strife, envyings, quarrellings and the like. They throw the reins on the neck of their lusts; they follow their passions wherever they may lead them; their only object is to please themselves.
Brethren, you know well there are such people. The world may give smooth names to their conduct, the world may talk of them as light and gay, and loose and wild, but it will not do. They are all abominable in the sight of God and except they be converted and born again, they shall in no wise enter heaven.
Once more: "Nothing that maketh a lie." This touches the case of hypocrites. These are the false professors; the lip-servants; they say that they know God, but in works they deny Him; they are like barren fig-trees, all leaves and no fruit; they are like tinkling cymbals, all sound, but hollow, empty and without substance; these have a name to live while they are dead, and a form of godliness without the power. They profess what they do not practice, they speak what they do not think, they say much and do little, their words are most amazing, their actions are most poor. These men can talk most bravely of themselves; no better Christians than they are, if you will take them at their own valuation. They can talk to you of grace, and yet they show none of it in their lives; they can talk to you of saving faith, and yet they possess not that charity which is faith's companion. They can declaim against forms most strongly, and yet their own Christianity is a form and no more; they can cry out loudly against Pharisees, and yet no greater Pharisees than they are themselves.
Oh, no; this religion is of a sort that is public, and not private; plenty abroad, but none at home; plenty without but none within; plenty in the tongue, but none in the heart. They are altogether unprofitable, good for nothing, they bear no fruit.
Brethren, you must know well there are such miserable persons; alas! the world is full of them in these latter days. They may deceive ministers, they my deceive their neighbors, they may even deceive their friends and family, they may even deceive themselves; but they are no better than liars in God's sight, and except they repent, they shall in no wise enter heaven.
~J. C. Ryle~
(continued with # 34)