None Can Keep Alive His Own Soul

Below are selected quotes from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) on Psalm 22:29: ‘None can keep alive his own soul.’

“It is as hard to get man away from self-trust as it would be to reverse the course of Niagara. He begins by believing that he can make himself alive—and when he is convinced that this is not possible, he then tries to entrench himself behind the idea that he can keep himself alive.

. . .

To be sound in doctrine is one thing, but to have that orthodoxy in the heart is another thing. To believe that I am dependent every day upon the grace of God is easy, but to carry that dependence and the sense of that dependence into all my dealings with God and with man—this is not nature, but is in itself a work of grace!

. . .

I. BREAK UP THIS DOCTRINE A LITTLE.
It is like one of the loaves brought to Christ—it needs breaking and we will break it up thus. The believer’s life must be dependent upon God. He cannot maintain it by his own strength because of its very nature. It is a derived life.

. . .

Furthermore, the life that is in a believer is a very dependent life.

. . .

The fully-developed arm will die if separated from the trunk, just as surely as the infant’s arm—and yonder huge branch of the ancient oak, itself a tree—yet were it sundered from the oak, must wither. It doesn’t matter how great the growth of a Christian, nor how mature his experience, he still owes all he has, and all he is to his union with Christ; he cannot keep his own soul alive!

. . .

[T]he believer’s life is always an endangered life.

. . .

There are perils in your knowledge, you men of reading. There are perils in your ignorance, you who read not at all. There are evils that will pursue you in the street that will follow you to your homes that will even come to your beds! They will not let you find a shelter anywhere from them, for Satan spreads his snares wherever he sees God’s birds of paradise!

. . .

Once more. Remember that all the supplies of our spiritual life are put, not in us, but into Christ. We are not like the camel that can traverse the desert and carry with it, its own supply of water for many days. No, we must drink continually from the flowing well, Christ Jesus, or we die. Everything that any one of us shall need between here and heaven is ready for us, but it is all in Christ—there is not a grain of it in ourselves!

. . .

II. SEE WHAT OUR EXPERIENCE SAYS TO THIS DOCTRINE.
I will speak of some of the experience of God’s servants and I should not wonder but what I shall be, as it were, holding up a mirror in which many here will see themselves! Many of us have verified that we cannot keep our own souls alive in the following way—first, by having our carnal security all shipwrecked.

. . .

[Y]ou cannot keep your own soul alive. Why, you cannot even wake your soul, much more quicken it!

. . .

Another piece of experience is this. You who love the Master may, perhaps, have been sometimes in a position in which you have been fascinated by a temptation. You know the figure I am using now in connection with the word fascination. Some of those large pythons that have to be fed upon living animals will have a rabbit, perhaps, put into their cage for them to feed upon. We are told that the poor little rabbit will sit up on its haunches quietly, calmly and still— because the python has fixed its eyes on the creature and fascinates it—and if it could escape, if the cage door were open so that it could run away, it cannot! It feels itself spellbound and sits there, incapable of that motion by which it might escape—fascinated by the serpent’s eyes. Have you ever been in that position under a sin, and you would have fallen into it, only just then the spell was broken by providence? Something happened that you could not have looked for, and you escaped because you were a child of God! If you had not been a child of God, that fascination would have continued till it would have ended in your destruction! And if you have ever been under that fascination you will dread ever to expose yourselves to it again. You will take care to keep out of harm’s way again, but you will have learned at least this lesson, that you may be cast, even in providence, in such positions that nothing but the supernatural grace of God could deliver you, and you will then have seen that none can keep alive his own soul!

. . .

We have seen others fall into great sin. . .

. . .

III. THE PRACTICAL LESSONS OF THE TEXT.

I have shown you the doctrine and the experience which backs it up. Now what are the practical lessons? They are these. First, never entertain a good opinion of ourselves.

. . .

If you can live a day without feeling the blood of sprinkling, you have lived a dangerous day! If you feel that you can afford to go into any Christian duty without a Mediator, you are in danger!

. . .

Another lesson is never neglect the means of grace.

. . .

But there is a further lesson—never rest on the means of grace, for even by their use you cannot keep alive your soul! . . . Never neglect the means, but never depend upon the means.

. . .

So let me add again, and I will sit down, never run into temptation.

. . .

Go you not into the path of temptation, for even while the devil tempts you, you may expect divine help, yet if you tempt the devil to tempt you, I do not know that there is any promise that God will help you!”

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