We have to be poor in spirit before we can be filled with the Holy Spirit. Negative, before positive. And here again is another example of exactly the same thing – conviction must of necessity precede conversion, a real sense of sin must come before there can be a true joy of salvation. Now that is the whole essence of the gospel. So many people spend all their lives in trying to find this Christian joy. They say they would give the whole world if they could only find it, or could be like some other person who has it. Well, I suggest that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred this is the explanation. They have failed to see that they must be convicted of sin before they can ever experience joy. They do not like the doctrine of sin. They dislike it intensely and they object to its being preached. They want joy apart from the conviction of sin. But that is impossible; it can never be obtained. Those who are going to be converted and who wish to be truly happy and blessed are those who first of all mourn. Conviction is an essential preliminary to true conversion.
– Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p. 45.
The second test with respect to the wrong way of testing the false prophets is the fallacy of always assuming that if the teaching is popular it must be right. ‘Many shall follow their pernicious ways,’ says Peter. False teachers are going to arise amongst you, he says, and they will attract a crowd…Surely this fallacy hardly merits any prolonged attention, but I have to refer to it because one still hears the glib phrases, “Everybody believes it’, or to put it negatively, ‘No one any longer believes the Bible; no cultured, educated person believers; look at the masses outside the church.’…What is the lesson of the New Testament and of the Bible on this matter? Go back to the Flood for an answer – you will find the whole world was wrong and only eight people right. The many were against God at the time of the flood; only eight people were saved. Is a thing true because everybody says and believes it? Then go on to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah – what do you find? Exactly the same thing; the many, the mass, were all on the wrong side. Lot and his family alone were rescued. That is the teaching of the Bible. It has always taught the doctrine of the remnant – the many, the popular, the crowd all going in the wrong direction and just the small remnant remaining true. To me one of the saddest features , even of modern religious life, is the tendency to estimate truth in terms of results, popularity, crowds, movements. It is an utter denial of the biblical teaching. You cannot estimate spiritual truth by polls; the counting of heads is not a biblical way of discovering whether teaching is right or wrong. You do not take a census and ask people to fill in certain details. ‘To the law and the testimony’! Popularity and numbers are a very false test of truth.
– Lloyd-Jones, Expository Sermons on 2 Peter, pp. 127-128 (emphasis added).
The tendency today is to minimize truth in favor of organization, and men are telling us with unwearied reiteration that the greatest tragedy of the world is the disunited church. But the tragedy, the greatest tragedy, as I understand the New Testament, is not the disunity of the church, is not the fact that the church is divided into groups and denominations, is not that we are not all in one organization, but that all the sections are preaching a false message and there has been a departure from the truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus. If we were all brought together and formed into one organization, that is no guarantee that the message preached would be true.
– Lloyd-Jones, Expository Sermons on 2 Peter, p. 128.
This New Testament picture of life is that it is the scene of a mighty, terrible, spiritual struggle and conflict. Read anywhere in this Book, read the words of our Lord as recorded, read the sermons of the first preachers as you find them in the Acts of the Apostles, read any one of these Epistles you may choose, staring with the Epistle to the Romans, and going right on through to the Book of Revelation; everywhere you are given a sense of crisis, a sense of judgment. Life in this world, according to this Book (and the same thing is equally true of the Old Testament) is the scene of a mighty, terrible conflict between two vast powers. And they are both spiritual powers – God and all His forces on the one hand, and Satan, the Devil, and all his forces on the other. And, according to this Book, what happens in this life and in this world is that these two mighty powers and forces are both engaged in trying to win the suffrage of man, trying to attract man, trying to win man to their respective sides. This terrible, mighty conflict is going on. The result is that there is never any easy optimism to be found in the New Testament; there is no vague general superficiality. All along, its message is one of preparing us for this conflict, of enabling us to realize the nature of the conflict. It will not allow us to escape; indeed, its great theme is that the one great danger is that we allow the world in various ways to make us forget it.
– Martin Lloyd-Jones, Expository Sermons on 2 Peter, p. 124.
The first statement of the Gospel is not an exhortation to action or to conduct and behaviour. Before man is called upon to do anything, he must have received something. Before God calls upon a man to put anything into practice, He has made it possible for man to put it into practice.
– D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Expository Sermons on 2 Peter, pp. 23-24.
“…having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
– 2 Peter 1:4
As a result of sin and the fall, man no longer lives the life that he have been living before; he has become alienated from God and the godly way of life, and the world in which he lives is likewise in a state of corruption. In other words, the world in which we live is a world that is inimical to our best and truest and highest interests; the world is for ever trying to come between us and God. If we listen to the world, as we all do by nature, it makes us not only think less and less of God, but even makes us feel that God is against us. It may even create an enmity against God, and a hatred of God within us. It gives us a positive liking and longing for the things that are hurtful to us, the things that debase us, the things that lower us, the things that drag us further and further away from God. Such is the corruption that is in the world through lust. The characteristic of man’s natural life is that its is a life lived according to desire. Man by nature does not ask, ‘Is it good, is this god-like, is this pure, is this clean, is this elevating, is this spiritual?’ He asks, ‘Do I like it?’ He is governed by his desires, by that which pleases him, and by that which panders to his lower nature. That is what Peter means by corruption – it is the corruption that results from lust or inordinate desire.
– D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Expository Sermons on 2 Peter, pp. 16-17.
Our home group is working our way through the Sermon on the Mount currently and of the resources I’ve used in preparation, I have to say that Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ is the most helpful. Here is the first part of his commentary on v 11:
It does not say, ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted because they are objectionable.’ It does not say, ‘Blessed are those who are having a hard time in their Christian life because they are being difficult.’ It does not say, ‘Blessed are those who are being persecuted as Christians because they are seriously lacking in wisdom and are really foolish and unwise in what they regard as being their testimony.’ It is not that. There is no need for one to elaborate thsi, but so often one has known Christian people who are suffering mild persecution entirely because of their own folly, because of something either in themselves or in what they are doing. But the promise does not apply to such people. It is for righteousness’ sake. Let us be very clear about that. We can bring endless suffering upon ourselves, we can create difficulties for ourselves which are quite unnecessary, because we have some rather foolish notion of witnessing and testifying, or because, in a spirit of self-righteousness, we really do call it down on our own heads. We are often so foolish in these matters. We are slow to realize the difference between prejudice and principle; and we are so slow to understand the difference between being offensive, in a natural sense, because o four particular makeup and temperament, and causing offense because we are righteous.
– Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p. 112.