We must never refrain from speaking the truth. The question arises, though, what truth? In an age where people call evil what is good and describe that which is good as evil, the stamp of authenticity is simply affirmed to be, “This is my truth.”
Though some may signal a private disagreement with someone’s claims or lifestyle or political beliefs, they otherwise cheer on the confusion by declaring, “I am happy to see them speak their truth.”
This muddies the significance of truth.
And a society of people for whom truth does not extend beyond themselves also is fertile ground for Christians who are called to witness to the truth of Christ crucified for our sins and risen to be crowned Jesus the King.
This was the message Charles Spurgeon preached to his congregation in London in the late 19th century.
According to Spurgeon, we protest evil and its confusion in two ways: We must hold fast to the truth of the cross above all else. And we must be blameless in our conduct, not engaging in any behavior that detracts from our testimony to this precious truth.
Per Spurgeon, there is no rule of conduct we may pursue in good conscience than to follow in the footsteps of Him who endured the cross and is now at the right hand of the throne of God.
What Spurgeon told his congregation:
Sometimes when we notice an evil and protest as boldly and conscientiously as we can against it, we feel that our protest is too obscure to have much influence.
It will then be our very best resource to resolutely abstain from the evil ourselves, and so, at least in one person, to overthrow its power.
If you cannot convert a man from his error by an argument, you can at least prove the sincerity of your reasoning by your own behavior.
And thus, if no fortress is captured, you will at least “hold the fort,” and you may do more, your faithfulness may win more than your zeal.
Vow faithfully within your own heart and say frankly to your neighbor, “You may do what you will, but as for me, God forbid that I should remove the old landmarks, or seek out new paths, however inviting, or turn aside from that which I know to be the good old way.”
A determined resolution of that sort, fully adhered to, will often carry more weight and exert more influence on the mind of an individual, especially of a waverer, than a host of arguments. Your actions will speak more loudly than your words.
The apostle Paul warms with emotion at the thought of anybody presuming to set a carnal ordinance in front of the cross, by wishing to glory in circumcision or any other outward institution.
To Paul the cross meant just what the bronze serpent meant to Moses.
As the bronze serpent in the wilderness was the hope of the sin-bitten, and all that Moses had to do was to bid them look and live, so today the cross of Christ—the atonement of Jesus Christ—is the hope of mankind, and our mission is continually to cry, “Look and live. Look and live.”
It is this doctrine, this gospel of Christ crucified, at which the present age, with all its vaunted culture and all its vain philosophies, sneers so broadly, it is this doctrine wherein we glory. We are not ashamed to put it very definitely.
To Paul, too, all the honors of the age must be crucified in the same manner. Suppose that Paul settled his mind to think of the wretches who were reigning as emperors in his day.
I use the word advisedly, for I would not speak evil of dignitaries, but really, I speak too well of them when I call them wretches. They seem to have been inhuman monsters—“tyrants, whose capricious folly violated every law of nature and decency,” to whom every kind of lust was a daily habit, and who even sought out new inventions of sensuality, calling them new pleasures.
And I doubt not that if the apostle were to come here now, if he knew how often rank and title are apt to sink all true dignity in shameful dissipation and what flagrant degeneracy is to be found in high quarters, he might as justly consider all the pomp and dignity and honor of the world that now is, to be as little worth as a putrid carcass hanging on a tree and rotting in the sun.
He says, “The world is crucified to me—it is hanging on the gallows to me, I think so little of its pleasures and of its pomp.”
Sermon edited with preface by Zach Parker, news editor at The Ouachita Citizen. The excerpt is from Charles Spurgeon’s sermon, “Three crosses,” delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.