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Miscellaneous Sermons #2066
Title: The Plague of the Heart
Text: 1 Kings 8:38
Subject: Total Depravity
Date: Sunday Evening — April 14, 2013
Tape # BB-21
Readings: Bob Poncer and Frank Hall
Let’s open our Bibles to 1st Kings 8. We will begin at verse thirty-seven. — 1st Kings 8:37
Sin Exposed (v. 37)
1 Kings 8:37 If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be.
When God the Holy Spirit begins to deal with a sinner in conviction, working repentance in the heart, he exposes the famine, pestilence, barrenness, and disease that plagues the city of Mansoul.
Mercy Sought (v. 38)
1 Kings 8:38 What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house.
Only when a person is made to know the plague of his heart will he spread forth his hands toward the Lord God in repentance and faith, seeking mercy.
Grace Obtained (v. 39)
1 Kings 8:39 Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men.)
Every sinner who calls upon the Lord God with a sincere heart of faith, knowing his need of grace, will obtain grace, forgiveness and salvation in Christ.
Godly Fear (v. 40)
1 Kings 8:40 That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.
Forgiven sinners walk in the fear of the Lord all their days.
The verse that I have selected for my text is a part of Solomon’s prayer, which he offered to the Lord God at the dedication of the temple before all the congregation of the children of Israel. Let me give you the background:
1. The Temple of God had been built.
2. The Priests brought the Ark of God into “the most holy place,” with blood sacrifices too costly and numerous to be counted (vv. 3-9).
1 Kings 8:3-9 3 And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. 4 And they brought up the ark of the LORD, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up. 5 And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude. 6 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims. 7 For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above. 8 And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day. 9 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.
These blood sacrifices and the Ark of God in “the most holy place” represent the accomplishment of redemption for sinners by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Substitute (Hebrews 9:12).
3. When the priests brought the ark of God into “the most holy place,” ...“the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (vv. 10-11).
1 Kings 8:10-11 10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.
This pictures the glory of God revealed in the gospel. Justice satisfied by the blood of Christ is the revelation of God’s glory as “a just God and a Saviour” (Isaiah45:20-22). The very glory of God is the fact that he is both just and the Justifier of all who believe (Romans 3:24-26).
Isaiah 45:20-22 20 Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. 21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. 22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
Romans 3:24-26 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
2 Corinthians 4:4-7 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
The temple had been built at Jerusalem, precisely as God had directed. The furnishings were all in place. The priests were all in order. And the temple was a beautiful structure. But one thing was missing, without which everything else was vain and meaningless. The Ark of the Covenant, the mercy-seat, was not there — Christ was not there! But when the priests brought in the ark, “The glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD!” Oh, may it so come to pass in the house of the Lord this hour! Without Christ’s presence, without Christ in our midst, our gathering here is in vain.
4. Then Solomon, upon the basis of blood atonement, upon the basis of justice satisfied, upon the basis of God’s own glory revealed in redemption, blessed the whole congregation of Israel (v.14).
1 Kings 8:14 And the king turned his face about, and blessed all the congregation of Israel: (and all the congregation of Israel stood.)
Even so, God’s elect, the Israel of God, are blessed of God in Christ upon the basis of his accomplished redemption (Galatians 3:13-14).
Galatians 3:13-14 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
All the blessings of grace flow to sinners through the blood of Christ. Grace comes through the Mediator, only through the Mediator, Christ Jesus!
It is upon the basis of these things that Solomon offered this prayer unto God. Standing “before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel,” Solomon spread forth his hands toward heaven “...and began to pray.”
1st He extolled the attributes of God and his glorious supremacy as God — “Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee” (vv. 23-24).
1 Kings 8:23-24 23 And he said, LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart: 24 Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.
2nd He adored the greatness, grace, and goodness of God which he had seen and experienced (vv. 25-29).
1 Kings 8:25-29 25 Therefore now, LORD God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me. 26 And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father. 27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? 28 Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day: 29 That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.
3rd He made his requests known unto the Lord (vv. 30-53).
Then, speaking for all the people, he said, — “Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise” (v.56). And they concluded that glorious day of worship with this great desire — “That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else” (v. 60). Then, “On the eighth day he sent the people away: and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people” (v.66). What a blessed time of worship they had together! How I pray that it may be repeated in this house tonight! When you leave here tonight, I hope you will all go to your homes “joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord has done.”
I want us, for a few minutes, to look at one specific thing for which Solomon sought the Lord’s mercy. In verse 38 he asked the Lord God to have mercy upon those who, knowing the plague of their own hearts, spread forth their hands to him.
PROPOSITION: I take, from Solomon’s prayer and God’s answer to it that sinners who know the plague of their own hearts when they call upon God may expect to obtain forgiveness.
1. The heart of man is plagued with sin.
2. Blessed is that man who is made to know the plague of his own heart.
3. When a person is made to know the plague of his own heart, he spreads forth his hands to the Lord, looking to him for relief.
4. Every sinner, knowing the plague of his own heart, who looks to Christ in repentance and faith, shall be saved.
First, I want to show you from the Word of God that the heart of man is plagued with sin. Our text plainly suggests that the heart of man is not whole and sound. It is diseased, distempered, and plagued.
The disease and plague of the heart is sin, particularly indwelling sin, the sin of our nature, which is found in and springs from the heart.
“Heart” as it is commonly used in the Word of God does not refer to that physical organ that pumps blood through the body. The heart is the inmost being of a man, the essence of his being, his inner-self. Heart refers to the whole nature of man, intellect, emotion, and will. — The plague of the heart is sin! John Gill wrote,
“Every sin is a disease, as is clear from what the psalmist says, ‘Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases’ (Psalm 103:3). Here diseases and iniquities are represented as the same; and the healing of these diseases is signified by the forgiveness of iniquity.”
The disease — the plague of our heart — is sin, in-dwelling sin, the sin of our nature. We are all sinners in deed, because we are sinners at heart.
Sin is the natural and hereditary plague of all the sons of men. God calls every human being “a transgressor from the womb.” (Isaiah 48:8). We were all conceived in sin, shapen in iniquity, and came forth from the womb sinners (Psalm 51:5; 58:3). We are all the sinful offspring of a sinful father, Adam.
This plague is epidemical and universal. We are all plagued (Romans 3:9-10), men and women, Jew and Gentile, old and young, rich and poor. — “All are under sin!”
Romans 3:9-10 9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
· All are under the power of sin.
· All are under the guilt of sin.
· All are liable to the punishment of sin.
There are no exceptions. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23; Psalm 53:1-3).
Psalm 53:1-3 1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good. 2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. 3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
All the human race has sinned; and all our nature is plagued with sin; the body and its members, the soul and its powers, the mind and its thoughts, the heart and its affects. — “All have sinned!” God says, with regard to all the human race and with regard to every person ––– “The whole head is sick and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores” (Isaiah1:5-6).
“I would disclose my whole complaint,
But where shall I begin?
No words of mine can fully paint
That worst distemper, sin.
It lies not in a single part,
But through my frame is spread;
A burning fever in my heart,
A palsy in my head.”
Sin, this plague of the heart, is a nauseous and loathsome disease. David said, “My loins are filled with a loathsome disease, and there is no soundness in my flesh” (Psalm 38:3-8).
· Sin makes us loathsome in the sight of God (Ezekiel 16:5).
· When it is revealed to us, it makes us loathsome to ourselves (Romans 7:24).
God’s saints are living men and women who carry a dead, rotting corpse with them all the time, and that corpse is sin!
Sin is a mental, deadly plague in our hearts. It is deserving of death, eternal death (Romans 6:23). It is incurable, except by the grace of God and the blood of Christ.
Let the sinner do what he will, use whatever means he may to cure himself of sin, short of Christ himself they are all useless, wasted efforts. Christ is the only Physician that can cure the plague of the heart. His blood is the healing balm. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Yes! The Physician is Christ! The balm is his blood!
Men and women are alarmed when a plague breaks out in a city. Prayer meetings are held in every chapel. But I am talking about a plague that is in the hearts of all men, a plague of eternally fatal consequences. Yet, little or no notice is taken of it!
· Few are warned!
· Fewer still pray!
Perhaps this plague of the heart will be more clearly seen if we think about the state and condition of man’s heart as it is set forth in the Scriptures. The heart of man is so bad and corrupt that God says, “Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [is] only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
The heart of man is deceitful above all things. The Apostle tells us to exhort one another daily, “lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). — “The Plague of the Heart.” Our hearts are so deceitful that none of us knows his own heart; before conversion or afterwards. How deceitful are our hearts? So deceitful that there is nothing in a man’s heart to be trusted. “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool!” (Proverbs 28:26). Some “trust in themselves that they are righteous, and despise others.” Some trust in themselves that they are “rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing,” not knowing that they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked!” But all who trust in their hearts are fools! Nothing is so deceitful as the heart of man! The wisest of men are deceived by their own hearts.
· Man promises himself pleasure in sin; but the pleasures of sin are a temporary delusion.
· Men promise themselves profit in sin; but what profit is there if a man gains the whole world and loses his soul?
· Men promise themselves the gain of friends and honor by sin; but the prodigal found none, only shame and isolation.
· Men promise themselves liberty by sin; but find themselves in bondage, like Samson.
· Men promise themselves peace by sin; but find only turmoil. Nothing is so deceitful as the heart of man!
And nothing is so wicked. The heart of man, your heart and mine, is desperately wicked! The heart of man is wickedness itself (Psalm 5:9). It is enmity against God (Romans 8:7). The heart of man is like Babylon, “and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird” (Revelation 18:2). The heart of man is the cesspool from which sin evolves, the forge where iniquity is hammered out, the dark slime pit from which all transgressions spring (Matthew 15:19-20).
Matthew 15:19-20 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
The thoughts of the heart, the imaginations of the heart, and the affections of the heart are all wicked. Nothing good ever arises from the heart of man. No good thing comes out of this Nazareth, for there is nothing good in it.
So dark is the heart of man that it has no light into spiritual things. It is darkness itself. So perverse is the heart of man that it calls evil good and good evil, it calls light darkness and darkness light. It is perverseness itself. The understanding of the heart is so depraved that its judgment in spiritual matters is always wrong. It is depravity itself.
The plague of the heart is so deep and secret that none can understand his errors. I have, to the best of my ability, shown you that the heart of man is plagued with sin.
Now, secondly, I declare, — Blessed is that man who, by the grace of God, is made to know the plague of his own heart. Our text clearly implies that some know the plague of their hearts and some do not.
Lost, unregenerate, carnal men do not know the plague of their hearts. Oh, they may know something about acts and thoughts of sin. They may know the difference between moral good and evil, by the light of nature and the letter of the law. But they know nothing of the plague of the heart, indwelling sin, the fountain of iniquity within themselves.
The whole, those who think they are whole, know nothing of the plague of the heart, and need not a physician. — The Righteous, those who think they are righteous, know nothing of the plague of the heart. — The Pharisee, who says, “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are,” knows nothing of the plague of his heart. — The Perfectionist, who says, “I do not sin,” knows nothing of the plague of the heart. Only awakened, regenerate sinners, know the plague of their hearts (Job 9:20, 30, 31; 40:3-5; 42:5-6; Isaiah 6:1-7).
Job 9:20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.
Job 9:30-31 30 If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; 31 Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.
Job 40:3-5 3 Then Job answered the LORD, and said, 4 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. 5 Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.
Job 42:5-6 5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. 6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
Isaiah 6:1-7 1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.
The first work of the Holy Spirit in regenerating, converting grace is to show a sinner the plague of his heart (John 16:8). When God commands his light to shine in the heart, he causes us to see two things:
· The Glory of God in the Face of Christ (Zechariah 12:10).
· The Vileness and Corruption of Our Hearts.
When a person is made to know “the plague of his own heart,” his sin becomes “his own sore and his own grief” (2 Chronicles 6:29-30).
2 Chronicles 6:29-30 29 Then what prayer or what supplication soever shall be made of any man, or of all thy people Israel, when every one shall know his own sore and his own grief, and shall spread forth his hands in this house: 30 Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men.)
That which in 1st Kings 8:38 is called “the plague of his own heart,” is here called “his own sore and his own grief.” There is a reason for the change. When a man is made to know the plague of his own heart, sin becomes his own sore and his own grief. Sin causes him pain, discomfort, constant uneasiness, like a sore, and sin causes him grief of heart (Psalm 38:3-8; Lamentation 3:1-20).
Psalm 38:3-8 3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. 4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. 6 I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. 7 For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.
Lamentations 3:1-20 1 I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. 2 He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light. 3 Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day. 4 My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones. 5 He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail. 6 He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old. 7 He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy. 8 Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. 9 He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked. 10 He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. 11 He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate. 12 He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. 13 He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins. 14 I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day. 15 He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood. 16 He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. 17 And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. 18 And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD: 19 Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. 20 My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.
Sin is a grief to the people of God because…
· It is contrary to our Father’s holy nature.
· It dishonors his glorious name.
· It grieves his Holy Spirit.
· It deprives us of communion and fellowship with him whom we most love.
When a person is made to know the plague of his own heart, made to look upon sin as “his own sore and his own grief,” it will be evident by at least these four things.
· He will confess his sin (Psalm 32:5; 1 John 1:9).
· He will struggle against the sin within him.
· He will cease to have any confidence in the flesh — His Own Works!
· He will look to Christ alone for cleansing, atonement, righteousness, and acceptance with God.
Have you been made to know the plague of your own heart? Has your sin become your “own sore” and your “own grief?” If so, “flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” This knowledge of sin is the work of God.
Thirdly, when a Sinner is made to know the plague of his own heart, he Spreads forth his hands in repentance and faith looking to Christ for relief (1 Kings 8:38).
1 Kings 8:38 What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house.
True Holy Spirit conviction always causes sinners to look to Christ. Need known and felt in the heart, causes the beggar to spread forth his hands for mercy!
“Reach out and touch the Lord
As He passes by.
You’ll find He’s not too busy
To hear your heart’s cry.
He’s passing by this moment
Your needs to supply —
Reach out and touch the Lord
As He goes by!”
Knowing the plague of our hearts, God’s people constantly spread forth their hands to him for grace. Faith never quits looking to Christ!
“Physician of my sin sick soul
To Thee I bring my case;
My raging malady control,
And heal me by Thy grace.”
— John Newton
Lastly, this is the promise of God. — Every sinner, knowing the plague of his own heart, who looks to Christ in repentance and faith shall be saved (2 Chronicles 7:14).
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
“Ask God to show you yourself.”
“Ask God to show you himself
· What we have seen in this hour should humble us before the Lord God.
· How we ought to wonder at the grace of God!
· How thankful we ought to be to God who causes us to know the plague of our hearts and causes us to look to Christ for cure.
Has opened our eyes to see our plague, shown us who the Physician is, and led us to him? Let it therefore be our concern “to show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness, into his marvelous light!”