But My people would not listen to Me, and Israel would not obey Me.
I. THE CONDITION CONTEMPLATED. It meant:
1. No longer held back from sin. "Their own hearts' lust" was to lead them now.
2. No longer urged to goodness.
3. The Spirit no longer striving with them.
4. Divine chastisements abandoned. (Cf. Isaiah 1:5.) See the history of Israel for proof of all this. And it is true still, when a soul is "given up" by God - when even his resources seem exhausted.
II. ITS TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCES,
1. They are often naturally visible. A God-forsaken people, Church, soul, can be readily recognized. Disaster, defeat, shame, weakness, death, - these are some of the outward signs.
2. They are felt within. (See the history of Saul, 1 Samuel 28:6.) Ah! the inward misery of the soul given up of God.
III. THE INVARIABLE CAUSE. (Hosea 4:17; and see text.)
1. They would not hearken to God's voice. Neither by his messengers, nor through conscience, nor in providence.
2. They would have none of God. They cared neither for his favour nor for his frown.
I. IT IS MATTER OF JUST COMPLAINT AND REPROACH FOR ANY PEOPLE OR PERSON NOT TO HEARKEN TO THE VOICE OF GOD.
My people would not hearken to My voice, and Israel would none of me: so I gave them up.
Plain Sermons by Contributors to the, Tracts for the Times. "It is matter of painful observation, that very often when people enter on wrong courses, they think they shall be able to stop when they please. They don't pretend to be very good, and they don't mean to be very bad. Something between both contents them; and this they think is as much as can be expected of them, especially when vice and wickedness prevail in the degree they do. The root of this error, if we examine, seems to be want of love to God the Author of all good. Because if a person really loved God, or at least really desired to love Him, however he might fall short of accomplishing this his wish; yet at least he would not endure to do anything wilfully, which he might think would be displeasing to his heavenly Father, Redeemer, and Guide the supreme object of his affections. There is nothing about which we ought to be so watchful and suspicious of ourselves as of want of love, true and devoted love, to Almighty God. There are two great reasons why we should be thus watchful of ourselves in this respect. The one, because this Divine charity or love is the very life and soul of true religion: the other, because we are so peculiarly ready to deceive ourselves in our views of this; perhaps more than any other of the obligations of the Gospel. Every Christian is by his profession one of God's people — of His chosen Israel. If he labours and prays constantly to live up to this his high profession, then the Holy Spirit-leads him as it were by She hand from grace to grace, till mortality be swallowed up of life. In God's dealings with such an one, the ancient and just rule is eminently fulfilled (Matthew 13:12). If, on the other hand, this same Christian, having it in his power to go wrong, does go wrong — neglects duties which he knows are agreeable to his Lord's will, and allows himself in thoughts, words, and actions which he knows must displease Him; then does the Holy Spirit after long forbearance withdraw His gracious aid, and leave us to go our own way, as we will not go His. There is not, perhaps, in all Scripture a more awful, startling, alarming passage than this; because it warns us so plainly, that our notion of keeping up a tolerable degree of goodness, and staying at a certain point, not intending to be very good, and resolving at the same time not to be very bad: that these kind of notions are vain and presumptuous, and, as we may with reason fear, will prove at last the ruin of many souls for whom Christ died. Can we then venture to stand trifling upon the edge of such a precipice? Are we to wait till the world grows better before we grow better? Are we sure that because we feel comfortable, therefore we are safe? If not, what are we trusting t,o? Our heavenly Father has in mercy warned us of our danger. He has warned us that even if we are His peculiar people, His chosen Israel, yet if we obey not His voice, He will give us up.
(Plain Sermons by Contributors to the "Tracts for the Times. ")
1. What it is not to hearken to the voice of God (Jeremiah 7:23, 28).(1) His instructing and informing voice. That which discovers the nature of God, and our duty.(2) His commanding voice, unto the authority whereof we all owe utmost obedience and subjection.
2. How this appears to be such just matter of complaint from God, and reproach unto us, who are guilty of it.(1) Whose voice it is you refuse to hearken to (Hebrews 1:2).(2) What kind of voice it is. How gentle, obliging, beneficent, condescending.(3) Who they are that are said to refuse to hearken to the voice of God. "My people Israel." Christians succeed in their privileges, not only as domestic servants, but as children, visibly related to God, as our Father by the covenant of baptism. And shall not children receive the instruction of a parent?
II. FOR WILFUL SINNERS TO BE GIVEN UP TO THEIR, OWN HEARTS' LUSTS, AND TO BE LEFT OF GOD TO WALK IN THEIR OWN COUNSELS, IS ONE OF THE MOST TREMENDOUS JUDGMENTS THAT CAN BE THREATENED OR INFLICTED IN THIS WORLD.
1. What it is for God to give up any to their own hearts' lusts.(1) Such persons are cast out of God's special protection and care, and so are exposed to wander and go astray, and so are more easily assaulted and overcome by the devil, who seeketh whom he may destroy.(2) They are left of God under the dominion and power and tyranny of their own lusts.
2. The severity and terror of this judgment (Proverbs 1:23; Hebrews 10:26; Luke 19:41, 42).(1) Take heed not to pass a definitive sentence against yourselves concerning the state of your own souls as to this judgment.(2) Apprehend the danger of approaching to it if you are under any ill symptoms of that kind, and beware of those things that have a tendency to so sad a doom.(3) Diligently improve the means you are yet under by the warnings of the Word, convictions of conscience, and the motions of the Divine Spirit, that you may effectually prevent it. That as it is not your case for the present it never may be so.
3. By what steps or degrees God doth usually proceed in inflicting such a judgment as this.(1) When God forbears to afflict, and to restrain men from sin, by the rod of correction and the rebukes of His providence; or doth not sanctify such rebukes for their reformation.(2) By taking away the external means of knowledge and grace, or otherwise disposing of persons so as they cannot enjoy such seasons (Acts 19:9).(3) God is said to pour upon men a spirit of slumber and deep sleep, to suffer them to harden their hearts, and stupefy their own consciences the more by everything they enjoy; so that though the external means be continued, yet none of the Divine messages will be received, nor the most useful ministry do them any good: nor the providential goodness of God lead them to repentance. Inferences: —
1. How much to be pitied is the ignorance and folly of sinners that are afraid of any other calamity more than this.
2. How unreasonable is the displeasure and anger of men at the sharpest methods of Divine grace that would bring them to repentance.
3. How wretched and dangerous is their mistake who think their case good because their consciences now trouble them no more.
The groundless doubts and mistaken apprehensions of some as to their being finally forsaken and left of God1. To be under very great darkness, doubts, and fears, so as to create much trouble and torment to yourselves, will not of itself conclude your case desperate, and your souls finally forsaken. There are many reasons for soul trouble. Your own doubts and fears will not prove that you are given over, but rather the contrary. For —
2. If you are given up to your own heart's lust, how is it that you thus mourn and grieve at the apprehension and fear of it?
3. Are you not resolved to hold on your fight and warfare against sin? To continue and maintain your conflict, notwithstanding all your doubts and all your complaints? You may sometimes take being tempted for being overcome.
4. You say you cannot weep and mourn and express your repentance as formerly, and as some others you know do; yet consider that it is the hatred of sin, and watchfulness against it, that is the truest sign of repentance and godly sorrow.
5. You may be sure that if you find your hearts penitent, and willing to return to Him, that it doth not reach you: it is not your case.
6. You that thus complain and fear, have you not many of the fruits of the Spirit visible and manifest in you? Therefore the Spirit of Christ hath not left you; God hath not given you over.
7. As to the complaint of a hard heart, remember it is the impenitent and the unpersuadable heart that is the only hard heart you need to fear.
8. That sight of sin, and sense of the burthen of corruption, which you complain of, as the ground of your fear, will argue the direct contrary to what you allege it for.
9. Though you cannot say so much as to present sense of your hatred of sin and loathing of it as you desire, yet examine yourselves as to the sins of others, and what sense you have of the dishonour of God by them.
10. But I do not grow, I rather wax worse, will some say. The promises of growth and faithfulness are not absolute, but depend on the improvement of grace received, and the performance of many duties, with great watchfulness and diligence in our whole Christian course.
11. Moreover, consider there may be much more of blaine and faultiness, of guilt and sin, in your unbelieving objections and despondency than you are aware of. Therefore while you complain of sin, take heed you do not increase and add to your sin by disobeying the command of God to believe and hope.
12. Lay this as a foundation truth and keep it, That you can never be more willing to come to Christ than He is to receive you.
13. As to the doubt concerning the sin against the Holy Ghost, I think such as make that objection do not well understand wherein it lies. Read Matthew 12. throughout, and Mark 3:28, 30. Be sure none who own the Gospel to be true, and Christ to be the Saviour of fallen sinners, are guilty of that sin, though they may make dangerous approaches to it. Much less are they guilty of it who fear the guilt of this sin.
14. I do now tender you the grace and salvation purchased by Christ in His name. If now you are heartily willing to accept it, the case is determined and determined in the best manner that can be.
gave them up unto their own hearts' lust:
and they walked in their own counsels. —
Deliverance to a man's own lust involves the greatest ruin: —
I. MAN ABANDONED BY HIS MAKER.
1. This abandonment must be very painful to the loving Father. Can there be a greater sorrow in the world than that of the human father who feels bound to shut his door against his own son and give him up? But what is a father's love to the love of God?
2. This abandonment must be very terrible to man. If the mother abandons her helpless infant, its condition is sad indeed; but a thousand times indeed sadder is the condition of a man whom God has abandoned. He is in a worse condition than the man in the furious and unabating tempest without a rudder or a chart, destined to sink into the fathomless abyss of ruin.
II. Man abandoned by his Maker TO HIS OWN LUSTS.
1. Such an abandonment man's conscience must approve of. He has always said, Self is everything to me, nearer than the universe or God. Very well, says God, you have yourself; I leave you with yourself.
2. Such an abandonment is inexpressibly terrible. "Unto their own hearts' lust." Let a man be given up to any lust — say avarice, drunkenness, sensuality, revenge, envy — and he is given up to the worst hell you can conceive of.
Homilist.I. It is an abandonment to a life MOST DEGRADING. In it the man sinks into a brute. The brutal appetites govern him; the brutal pleasures engross his power and absorb his time.
II. It is an abandonment to a life MORALLY ABHORRENT. Is there a more loathsome spectacle in the universe to the rational eye of moral purity than that of a being having the moral attributes, relations, and form of a man living the mere life of a brute?
III. It is an abandonment to a life OF RUIN.
1. The law of its enjoyments is decrease. The animal pleasures of men, unlike their intellectual and spiritual, decrease in their power of delectation by repetition. Age deadens the nerves, and "desire faileth," and gradually the once delicious palls on the soul. It gradually brings on the awful, crushing ennui.
2. The continuation of its enjoyments is necessarily short. Disease and death terminate them.
3. The memory of its enjoyments must become morally painful — "Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime," etc.
(Homilist.)1. The first dangerous symptom is security, or a false, ungrounded peace of conscience. This is frequently the prologue and forerunner of judicial hardening. It is often a part of it and an evidence of it.
2. Another symptom of this judgment or dangerous approach unto it, is when the ministry of the Word and Gospel of Christ becomes a tasteless, insipid, ineffectual thing; not attended with any such spiritual impressions as formerly.
3. When the Spirit of Grace gives over striving with the souls of men. This is a most dangerous case: for, except He return, they are irrecoverably lost.
4. Though the Spirit have not done striving; yet when the preaching of the Word, though you cannot resist the light of Divine truth, but somewhat of it shines into the mind and conscience; if yet your hearts stand out and will not yield, this is a dangerous case.
5. There are others, whose case is exceedingly dangerous, who, after some trial in the ways of God, for want of that sensible joy and comfort which they expected, grow weary of them and leave them off.
6. When men continue in sin, and put off their repentance and turning to God, with this thought and intention that they will some time or other repent and turn to God, but not yet. One can hardly tell whether the provoking guilt and danger of such a case be greater than the horrid absurdity of it. And yet this is a delusion that has ruined thousands, and made ample harvests for the devil.
8. When, notwithstanding the profession of religion, and outward attendance on the duties of it, yet sin has the dominion and mastery in the soul; and sensual inclinations are indulged without restraint, even as to gross and notorious sins (Hebrews 6:4, 5). Their ease is next to hopeless and desperate.And what reason have all backsliders to fear lest they sin themselves into such a dismal state? Use —
1. To awaken apostates and backsliders to consider their danger.
2. See that your hopes be of a right kind, grounded on Scripture evidence, purifying the heart, conquering the world, exciting thy desires after Christ and heaven, making thee to sin less, and to please and glorify God more. Such a hope you may hold fast, it will not make you ashamed.
(L. A. Banks, D. D.)
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