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Friday, May 31, 2013

Man Now Another Species Than God Created # 20

World Domination or Dominion?

In the course of our lifetime we have beheld a new phenomenon, or the return of an old one. It is the meteoric rise of dictators. We say truly when we say that this has been phenomenal. In a few short months , from nowhere and nothing, from ostracism, ridicule, and almost general suspicion, such have risen to a place where not only their own nations are at their feet, but all nations are holding their breath while these dictators speak. How is it explained? What is the principle basic to it?

It dates back to the eternal counsels of God. In those counsels God determined to gather up the dominion of this world under the Headship of His Son. Adam was "a figure of Him that was to come" (Romans 5:14).

"He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness in a man whom He hath ordained ..." (Acts 17:31).

"And He charged us to preach unto the people, and to testify that this is He Who is ordained of God to be the judge of the living and the dead" (Acts. 10:42).

"For there is one God, one Mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5).

(See also Ephesians 1:9, 10; 4:10; Colossians 1:16-19; Hebrews 1:8; 2:6-10).

Thus it has been made known that the dominion of this world and of all which, being beyond it, relates to it is eternally vested in a MAN: the One Who is known to be the Son of God, Who became Son of man. He is the "heir of all things." The inheritance is the "inhabited earth to come" (Hebrews 2:5). But there is another who has assumed the role of rival to God's Son, and whose ambition has ever been world-dominion. The background of this world's history, that is, the spiritual and unseen background of the cosmos, can be summed up in a few quotations from Scripture.

"Cain was of the evil one, and slew his brother" (1 John 3:12).

"Ye are of your father the devil ... he was a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44).

"Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? and they killed them which shewed before of the coming of the righteous One; of Whom ye have now become betrayers and murderers" (Acts 7:52).

"A man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge about it, and digged a pit for the wine press, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into another country. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruits of the vineyard. And they took him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and him they wounded in the head, and handled shamefully. And he sent another; and him they killed: and many others; beating some and killing some. He had yet one, a beloved son: he sent him last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him forth" (Mark 12:1-8).

The governing matter is that of the inheritance vested in God's Son. The next thing is a long history of jealousy working out in murder wherever that Son is in view in type, prophecy, or reality.

We next come to satan's means, or instrument, of domination. It is also in man. As God's Son is the Man according to His mind and after His heart (using human language of God) so, as we have sought to point out, satan sought to adapt, and succeeded in adapting, man to his thought for his purpose. The history of man is a long-drawn-out effort to reach to heaven independently of God, the course of Cain: power, rule, domination, worldly glory, reputation, etc. It is the story of man coming to the fore and occupying the place of honor. It is the pride of satan working through the poor, worthless, ruined human race (as viewed from God's standpoint). Oh, what an indictment of so much that is brought into Christian work to make a success of it, even by those who mean to be so consecrated! Think of the value that is attached to degrees, titles, and orders in the propaganda work of the Christian organizations. To carry weight, have influence, attract interest, make an impression, we find a feverish quest for people of degree, title, of standing as among men, and when we see these letters and qualifications on the announcements, advertisements and programs of Christian effort, we may well ask, 'But what has that to do with the work of God? What place does that have in Holy Spirit activity?' Degrees, titles and honors may be all right in their own realm, if they are really earned and the result of genuine qualification as before the best standard of honorable men; but it is of the essence of antichrist to make them currency for profit in the things of God! These are strong words, but we will prove a point. It would be well for all Godly men to suppress and hide their degrees when they come into the presence of holy things, and so holy a God. Here, only spiritual values are recognized. But let us proceed.

satan has ever in his mind world-domination through man, and the full-grown expression of this mind will be antichrist. Now let us see several things which are said about antichrist.

"Little children, it is the last hour: and as ye heard that antichrist cometh, even now have there arisen many antichrists" (1 John 2:18).

"Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist" (1 John 2:22).

"Every spirit that confesseth not Jesus is not of God: and this is the spirit of the anitchrist" (1 John 4:3).

"Let no man beguile you in any wise: for it will not be, except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshiped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God" (2 Thess. 2:3, 4).

"Whose coming is according to the working of satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" (2 Thess. 2:9).

From these passages we learn four things:

1. antichrist is firstly a spirit.
2. antichrist is the expression of a principle.
3. antichrist is a type of man.
4. antichrist has a kingdom or world-domination in view.

No. 1 relates antichrist directly to the evil powers, "not of God." No. 2 means that the glory of man is ever the factor which governs.
No. 3 means that this spirit and principle operate by way of dominant "ego", and intense soul-force. 
No. 4 indicates what it is antichrist is after.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 21)

Through Faith

"Pressed out of measure" (2 Cor. 1:8).
"That the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Cor. 12:9).
God allowed the crisis to close around Jacob on the night when he bowed at Peniel in supplication, to bring him to the place where he could take hold of God as he never would have done; and from that narrow pass of peril, Jacob became enlarged in his faith and knowledge of God, and in the power of a new and victorious life.
God had to compel David, by a long and painful discipline of years, to learn the almighty power and faithfulness of his God, and grow up into the established principles of faith and godliness, which were indispensable for his glorious career as the king of Israel.
Nothing but the extremities in which Paul was constantly placed could ever have taught him, and taught the Church through him, the full meaning of the great promise he so learned to claim, "My grace is sufficient for thee."
And nothing but our trials and perils would ever have led some of us to know Him as we do, to trust Him as we have, and to draw from Him the measures of grace which our very extremities made indispensable.
Difficulties and obstacles are God's challenges to faith. When hindrances confront us in the path of duty, we are to recognize them as vessels for faith to fill with the fullness and all-sufficiency of Jesus; and as we go forward, simply and fully trusting Him, we may be tested, we may have to wait and let patience have her perfect work; but we shall surely find at last the stone rolled away, and the Lord waiting to render unto us double for our time of testing. --A. B. Simpson

~L. B. Cowman~

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Man Now Another Species Than God Created # 19

The Soul and Deception

What we have said has been mainly on the positive side. The soul can be passive; but this is only another form of soulishness. There is the weak passivity of soul which makes it easy for satan to just play with those concerned; or which means that, being altogether negative, they count for nothing, and it may be that, sooner or later, he will crush them out of simple trust by producing an inferiority complex. On the other hand, there is that more positive passivity - if we may put those two words together. This is that deliberate rendering of the mind and will negative, so that a mediumistc state is produced. It is not necessary to say what the results of this are in the direction of deception.

When all has been said about the peril of soul-life as such, we have to recognize that the end is death. Injury is done in the mind, in the nerves,  in the spiritual life, in the work of God. How necessary, then, it is that the Cross should have done its work in relation to ourselves as well as our past sins! How tremendous a principle is embodied in Paul's words, "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I .." (Galatians 2:20)!

Strong-mindedness may be thought to be a praiseworthy or excellent thing, but let it be recognized as an infinitely dangerous thing if the one who has it is not a crushed man or woman so far as self is concerned. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt" (Jeremiah 17:9).

Many movements have swept over this earth with the name of Christ attached to them. They claim to be for Him, and multitudes are swept into their nets. There are 'conversions' and experiences. There are supernatural features connected with them. But they are psychical in their foundation. Physical persons with psychical experiences and powers, abnormal and uncanny personal influence, are behind them; and a cult is developed by certain methods being standardized. These methods or soul-tactics are employed to draw out soul-expression in certain forms. It may be a religious form of psychotherapy or psychoanalysis, and it has remarkable effects upon those who respond to it.

The infallible test of all such things is as to what place they give to that fundamental aspect of the Cross of Christ which sets man by nature wholly aside and gives him no place at all - that is, the death of the man, not only the remission of his sins. Try this truth in such movements and they will collapse, and be popular no longer.

It is a matter of great importance to be able to  discriminate between what we have just mentioned and spiritual understanding.

Spiritual Understanding 

Paul prayed for saints that they might "be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Colossians 1:9).

Understanding implies a sense or apprehension of the fuller meaning of what is known, with the ability to apply that knowledge to adequate value. It is a matter of intuitive recognition or perception of the hidden nature and trend of things, and differs from the merely outward impression made upon the senses which calls for thought and reasoning. There may be something of this, as we have seen, in people of good and quick intelligence naturally, but spiritual understanding is something more. It is that faculty of the renewed spirit - an insight, perception, sense, appreciation in relation to Divine matters - which is the work of the of the Holy Spirit. It is the faculty which makes its possessor assured in an inward way of what is of God and what is not so, when very fine questions are at issue and when things are not by any means obvious. This 'discernment' or 'judgment' cannot always at first be explained or given a reason; it is just there, and very real to those who have it. Spiritual understanding is one of the most important things in the equipment of any Christian for responsibility. To put anyone into a position of responsibility in the things of God, or for anyone to take such a position, without this qualification will be to jeopardize the work of God and to put all related thereto into a false and dangerous situation. Something much more than just good 'common sense' and natural judgment is required in things eternal and spiritual. The one preeminent object and goal of this spiritual faculty is the knowledge of God, and it does not matter how great and complete may be a man's knowledge otherwise, the one indispensable requirement for responsibility in spiritual work is that he knows God in a measure beyond all natural capability or possibility. No efficiency can substitute for spiritual understanding!

It must be possible for all who are affected by what is said and done to find in the one who speaks and works a personal, living and true knowledge of God, a deep spiritual understanding. It is significant how much people themselves are brought into the limelight by some forms of Christian work; but it is not the Christianity of Romans 6!

Any movement which would make for self-consciousness is missing the way. Self-consciousness, whether it be bad self or good self, big self or little self, is weakness and evil. While all that we write here is necessary, we believe, to enlighten as to a great fact, it is not to turn people in on themselves for self-analysis, introspective occupation. This would be fatal! Christ is our only safe and healthy occupation; and He is the deliverer from ourselves. A basic and crisic thing must have taken place, so that we know by an established law and an inward government when we cross the line from Christ to self in our own souls. A simple, humble and selfless way is safe; so let us not refrain from stepping out on the Lord in conscious weakness, for fear of moving in the soul and not in the spirit.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 20 - "World Domination or Dominion?")

Only Through Death

"Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it remains a single grain, but if it dies away in the ground, the grain is freed to spring up in a plant bearing many grains" (John 12:24).
Go to the old burying ground of Northampton, Mass., and look upon the early grave of David Brainerd, beside that of the fair Jerusha Edwards, whom he loved but did not live to wed.
What hopes, what expectations for Christ's cause went down to the grave with the wasted form of that young missionary of whose work nothing now remained but the dear memory, and a few score of swarthy Indian converts! But that majestic old Puritan saint, Jonathan Edwards, who had hoped to call him his son, gathered up the memorials of his life in a little book, and the little book took wings and flew beyond the sea, and alighted on the table of a Cambridge student, Henry Martyn.
Poor Martyn! Why should he throw himself away, with all his scholarship, his genius, his opportunities! What had he accomplished when he turned homeward from "India's coral strand," broken in health, and dragged himself northward as far as that dreary khan at Tocat by the Black Sea, where he crouched under the piled-up saddles, to cool his burning fever against the earth, and there died alone?
To what purpose was this waste? Out of that early grave of Brainerd, and the lonely grave of Martyn far away by the splashing of the Euxine Sea, has sprung the noble army of modern missionaries. --Leonard Woolsey Bacon
"Is there some desert, or some boundless sea,
Where Thou, great God of angels, wilt send me?
Some oak for me to rend, Some sod for me to break,
Some handful of Thy corn to take
And scatter far afield,
Till it in turn shall yield
Its hundredfold
Of grains of gold
To feed the happy children of my God?
"Show me the desert, Father, or the sea; Is it Thine enterprise? Great God, send me! And though this body lies where ocean rolls, Father, count me among all faithful souls."

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Man Now Another Species Than God Created # 18

The Soul and Deception

The point is this. satan, as the deceiver, could not bring all that upon man from the outside. Man must first be constituted so that satan can find in him that which responds to his deception. There must be, for all that, something in man which is the organ to be used. The play of satan upon the soul of Adam drew that soul out as the ground procedure. It stretched itself beyond its legitimate measure, and satan impinged upon it. Thus an alliance came about between man's "psyche" (soul) and the powers of evil, "deceiving spirits." The object was gained - the ability to know good and evil - and God admitted this. "The man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil" (Genesis 3:22). But at what a cost! Knowledge in itself is not evil, although it would be well for man if he did not know some things. It is knowledge apart from God that has rendered man a prisoner, a slave, and has cost him that knowledge which is eternal life. "This is life eternal, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Him Whom Thou didest send, Jesus Christ' (John 17:3). The cost was a "darkened understanding" (Ephesians 4:18). The Apostle Paul, who said that "it pleased God ... to reveal His Son in me" (Galatians 1:15, 16), also placed on record that that revelation was intended by the Lord to constitute him an instrument "to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of satan unto God" (Acts 26:18). As to this, he further said: "God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness ... shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Whenever God in Christ is revealed in the inner man, deception and satan's power are destroyed, and the man is set free. Against this inshining, satan works by every conceivable means, ranging from open assault to destroy the messengers, to beautiful substitutes for the truth. But let us return to the principle.

To extend and consolidate his work of deception, and to build his rival and false kingdom, the deceiver must have "ego" - soul or self-life. Herein lies the greatness of the peril of believers leaning toward their own self-life, for his occasion against God is greatest in their case. Herein, also, lies the explanation of many other things, as that called 'spiritualism' or 'spiritism' and dictatorship, etc.

Children of God who lean to the soul on any or all of its sides - reason (intellect), emotion (feelings) or will (volition) - will be a ready prey for deception. First of all, such people are already a contradiction of their essential nature as now - by new birth - spiritual. It becomes clear at the outset that they are locked up and a law unto themselves. Their way is the way, and they see no other. As to further light, they are largely unteachable; as to further experience, they are content; as to another course, they cannot conceive of it.

Christians who live in their own mind will often be found occupied with a question. They cannot live without a question or a problem. If one is shattered, they will soon have another. Thus they go ever around in a circle, and come back to their starting point, making no real spiritual progress. Like a horse in the ring, they are whipped and driven, and there is no expanse of life or vision. Or they lash others with their ideas and seek to subject other minds to their own. It may eventuate in some very weird, unsound and untrue conclusions. At length somewhere in this occult position - for it is nothing less - a deception will be found, and satan's hand will be seen.

The same thing is true with regard to Christians living on the emotional side of the soul. This side demands experiences, evidences, manifestations. Indeed the whole realm of sense-life governs here. If we intensify and project our emotional side sufficiently, we can have any experience that is possible. The whole body and mind can be involved. Vocal cods or solar plexus may be affected. There may be facial distortions, rigidity, 'second sight', visions, extra capabilities, prodigious strength, mirth, ecstasy, etc. All these, from simple beginnings, may come through the psychical or soul-life as extended and strained along the line of intense desire.

If this is true in these two directions, how true it is on the side of the will. A forceful, dominating, assertive soul, not under the government of the Holy Spirit, is a terrible menace to the interests of God. Decisions will be made, courses adopted, objectives secured, positions occupied, in the name of devotion to God, which will be Towers of Babel, Pyramids of Egypt, Ishmaels of Abram (not Abraham). There will be a good deal of remorse bound up with these achievements eventually, and a wish that they had never been. The result will be something false, and many may be involved in the tragedy.

If there is a combination of a strong soul-life with an acute and needle-like brain the supreme peril is that of grasping the deeper implications and meanings of Divine truth, so that it seems to be revelation. Thus, through the soul there is an imitation revelation, which is really only keen natural insight. Usually, when the soul is strong along one line, we shall find it strong in other directions, and so the craving for a sense of power will not be far away. This keen insight, this quick or acute grasp of things, will demand as its complement an opportunity to exhibit itself, and this in its outworking will be to bring others under its influence. The test of genuine revelation is as to whether the one concerned is manifestly well crucified to a desire for power, position, influence. Can that one be resisted, assailed, thwarted, rejected, without in some form seeking to come out even or on top? An element of personal domination or self-vindication will destroy the ministry and discredit the 'revelation' of such a one. Oh, the peril of getting hold of Divine truth in order to use it!

God has laid down every safeguard against this kind of thing in what is truly of Himself. Fellowship, relatedness, interdependence, in the Church which is His Body, are not only privileges or extra factors in a Christian life; they are basic laws for safeguarding Divine interests from the dangers of independence and personal dominance. This is why one who is  in a doubtful position is called upon to "hear the church" (Mark 18:17). That means ultimately the surrendering of their own judgment and way to the spiritual judgment of a spiritual church. This in turn - provided the church is walking in the light - is coming under the headship of Christ as head over all things to the church, which is His body (Ephesians 1:22, 23). "Subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ" (Ephesians 5:21) is something which cuts the ground from under satan's feet. In keeping with this principle, the Holy Spirit never made an individual the sole overseer of a church. God will not have anyone lording it over His heritage. This opens up the whole subject of Divine order which would require too extensive a deviation for our present intention. But let us emphasize that the law of mutual subjection is but the outworking of that subjection of Christ to His Father which led to the complete nullification and discomfiture of satan in his own case. All of satan's temptations of Christ were intended to seduce Him by deception, even to quoting Scripture. If Christ had asserted Himself, instead of referring and deferring to the Father, satan would have triumphed. What a great deal there is in letting go to God!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 19)

A Mother's Prayers

We do not realize what the daily home-life means in the future of the children. A consistent and godly example is most important.

A Christian man tells of what happened in his own childhood home over and over again. As he lay quietly at night in his little room before sleep came on, there would be gentle footsteps on the stairs, the door would open noiselessly, and in a moment the well-known form, softly gliding through the darkness, would appear at his bedside. 

First, there would be a few gentle and affectionate inquiries, gradually deepening into words of counsel. Then kneeling, her head touching his, the mother would begin in gentle words to pray for her boy, pouring forth her whole soul in desires and supplications. Mothers will know how her pleadings would run, and how the tears would mingle with the words. "I seem to feel the tears still," he writes in advanced years, "where sometimes they fell on my face. 

Rising, then, with a good-night kiss, she was gone. The prayers often passed out of thought in slumber, and did not come to mind again for years--but they were not lost. They were safely kept in some most sacred place of memory, for they reappear now with a beauty brighter than ever. I truly believe that my mother's prayers secretly preserved me while I moved carelessly amid numberless temptations, and walked on the brink of vice and crime."

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Another says of his mother: "My mother's habit was, every day, immediately after breakfast, to withdraw for an hour to her own room, and to spend that hour in reading the Bible, in meditation and in prayer. From that hour, as from a pure fountain, she drew the strength and the sweetness which enabled her to fulfill all her duties, and to remain unruffled by all the worries and pettinesses which are so often an intolerable trial in a home with many children. As I think of her life, and of all that it had to bear, I see the absolute triumph of Christian grace in the lovely ideal of a Christian mother. I never saw her temper disturbed; I never heard her speak one word of anger, or of complaint, or of idle gossip. I never observed in her any sign of a single sentiment unfitting to a soul which had drank of the river of the water of life, and which had fed upon manna in the barren wilderness."

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A Christian man said that the evening family worship had saved his home and its affection. The days were full of little frictions and irritations. He was a man of quick temper and hasty speech, and often was the home musicjangled and unhappy. But the evening prayer set all things right again. The father and mother knelt, side by side, with their little children, and as they prayed, "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us," they were drawn close together again in love. The little strifes were healed, and their domestic joy was saved. The sun was not allowed to go down upon their differences. This is one of the blessings of family prayer. Christ comes to us beside the sacred home altar, diffuses His love, and speaks His word of peace.

~J. R. Miller~

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Man Now Another Species Than God Created # 17

The Soul and Deception

One matter upon which the Bible is unmistakably clear throughout is that of man's deception. All God's methods with man have had this fact behind them. With and ever since the Fall the race is regarded as being a deceived race. Not only was the race initially deceived in Adam, but it is ever led on in its deception to deeper depths. Rather than escape from this deception by what is called 'enlightenment,' i.e. civilization, education, culture, etc., these are only making the deception stronger. This is sen in the fact that the most 'enlightened' and 'advanced' nations are, at this late hour of the world's history, locked in the grip of a force which compels them to use all their enlightenment for producing the means of mutual destruction on such a scale and by such devilish and barbarous ways as have never been known before. Let us here introduce one or two passages of Scripture.

"Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field ... And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said ..." (Genesis 3:1).

"But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away ... giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons." ( 1 Timothy 4:1).

"This wisdom is not a wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, sensual (soulical), devilish" (James 3:15).

"And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent, he that is called she devil and satan, the deceiver of the whole world, he was cast down ... and his angels ... with him." (Revelation 12:9).

"And cast him into the abyss ... that he should deceive the nations no more." (Revelation 20:3).

"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire ..." (Revelation 20:10).

In these passages, satan is seen to be the deceiver, first of the woman and finally of the whole inhabited earth. Deception was his first method, and deception was the very heart of the Fall.

Man is by nature now a deceived creature. Deception is deception, and the deceived never know it until they are enlightened or delivered. It is like a disease. There are forms of mental sickness which cause those who are so suffering to believe certain things which to the healthy mind are ridiculous and impossible. It is useless to argue with them, and futile to try to convince them of the untruth of their beliefs. Indeed, it is cruel at times to oppose them. If you are to live with them in any measure of peace and be at all helpful you have to take the attitude of agreeing with them and deal with the situation along some other line. Otherwise it is going to be continual clash. The only way to change their convictions is to heal their sickness.

So it is with man. He believes many things as to himself, his ability, potentialities, destiny, about God and about the world, which are not true. He mistakes certain things for other things, but he cannot see that he is deceived. It is useless to hold objects before a blind man, and to tell him to see them; and it is foolish to be surprised or annoyed that he does not do so. So the Scriptures say, "The natural (soulical) man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them... " (1 Cor. 2:14). And again, "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving" (2 Cor. 4:4).

Now, when we go to the source of this deceived condition, we find that it originated in the soul. The deceiver assailed the soul - desires, reason, will - and drew this out as a basis of life apart from and independent of God. The motive was to have things in the "ego", the self, instead of in God by dependence. Having succeeded in getting man to so exalt the ego to independence and superiority, he captured man as now a suited instrument for his purposes. Man ceased to be suited to the purposes of God, for his very nature was changed. This man, changed by complicity with satan, is a false man, not a true man according to God's mind; and is now suited to satan's false kingdom. The history of man in his natural state is the history of a lie, a false nature, a false expectation, a false hope, a false faith and a false world. The end of that man and that world is sorry, tragic disillusionment. By the aid of a spirit which, while still existing, is no longer in the pace of living fellowship with God, this man faintly glimpses or senses something more of intention and purpose in his being that he can grasp. It eludes him, he cannot come into real touch with it; and so life mocks him, and he seeks satisfaction in other and further deceptions and illusions. Thus he is a part of the creation which the Word of God says is "subjected to vanity" (Romans 8:20). Conscience still is more or less active, but always accusing or excusing, never approving.

As we have said, not only was deception an initial work of the enemy in the soul of man; he presses this advantage, or works on this vantage ground; and whenever he has this ground of nature he seeks to advance his own government and power thereby. As we shall see, the stronger the soul-lie in a person, the greater the peril to that one, and the greater the advantage to satan and the evil powers. The pursuit of this course is by a multitude of ways, always adapted to the people with whom he has to do. With the ungodly he employs one method; with the religious, who recognize God, another. With the spiritual he resorts to yet other ways, and for them his whole system of deception is by counterfeiting God's system of truth.

He counterfeits God Himself. He "fashioneth himself into an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14). He counterfeits the Church of God with his "synagogue of satan" (Revelation 2:9). He counterfeits the works of God with his "signs and lying wonders" (2 Thess. 2:9). There is a counterfeit life, and there are counterfeit "gifts" (as of the Holy Spirit). There is counterfeit Divine (?) power. There are counterfeit conversions, spiritual (?) experiences, guidance. He uses Scriptures in a false way to counter God's meaning by them. There is counterfeit worship of God, counterfeit teaching, "doctrines of demons." There is a counterfeit baptism of the Holy Spirit with "tongues,' etc. To those who know the Word of God, all these things are not strange, but are exposed therein.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 18)

The Comfortable Church

I think it’s fairly evident that the society we live in is very self-centered, and this same characteristic can be present in a church. Whenever a local body of believers develops an inward focus, its fruitfulness in ministry begins to decrease, and each member’s Christian walk is hindered.

Many believers want their church to be cozy and comfortable. They come to listen to a nice sermon, fellowship with friends, and have their needs met. But Godnever intended for the gathering of His people to be like a country club; He calls us to join an army that will bring the gospel into enemy territory.

An effective church—one that poses a real threat to the Enemy—is a body of discipled people who have been taught the truth of Scripture, trained for service, and helped to mature spiritually. But all this is accomplished for the purpose of going out into the world, not for becoming a self-contained sanctuary of Christian comfort.

The urgency of the Lord’s command and the desperate condition of humanity should motivate us to leave the safety of our Christian fellowships and deliver the message of salvation through Jesus. To avoid this responsibility is to miss the Father’s plan for your life and the opportunity to help build His kingdom.

None of us want to waste time or energy on trivial things and thereby miss the exciting fulfillment of God’s will. He has called us, not to a life of comfortable tradition, but to an adventure of obedience. Answer His call—you’ll help fill His kingdom with people from every tribe and nation. 

~Charles Stanley~

Monday, May 27, 2013

Man Now Another Species Than God Created # 16

Where Christendom is Deceived

To learn to walk in the Spirit is a life-lesson of the new man, and as he is vindicated - as he always will be in the long run - he will come to take the absolute ascendancy over the "natural" man and is mind; and so by the energizing of the Holy Spirit in the spirit of the new man, the Cross will be wrought out to the nullifying of the mind of the flesh (which in spiritual things, always ends in death) and in the enthronement of the spiritual mind which is "life and peace" (Romans 8:6).

This, then, is the nature of the walk in the Spirit, and its application is many-sided. But we must remember the law of this walk, which is faith. We walk in the Spirit but "we walk by faith" (2 Corinthians 5:7).

To walk by faith there must, in the very nature of the case, be a stripping off of all that the outer man of the senses clings to, demands, craves as a security and an assurance.

When the spiritual life of God's people is in the ascendant, they are not overwhelmed by either the absence of human resources on the one hand, or by the presence of humanly overwhelming odds against them on the other hand.

This is patent in their history as recorded in the Scriptures. But it is also true that when the spiritual life is weak undeveloped, or at an ebb, they look around for some tangible, seen resource upon which to fasten. Egypt is the alternative to God whenever and wherever spiritual life is low. To believe in and trust to the intuitive leadings of the Holy Spirit in our spirit, even though all is so different from the ways of men, and even though such brings us to a Canaan which for the time being is full of idolatry and where a mighty famine reigns: where all is so contrary to what our outer man has decided must be in keeping with a leading and a promise of God; to leave our old, sphere of life in the "world," to break with our kindred, our father's house, for this - this! and then to have to wait through much continuous stripping off of those means, and methods, and habits, and judgments, which are the very constitution of the natural man - this is the law of the spiritual walk, but this is God's chosen and appointed way of the mightiest vindication. Spiritual children and riches, and fruitfulness, and service, permanence, and the friendship of God, are for such Abrahams of faith or such children of Abraham in the spirit. God has laid a faith-basis for His superstructure of spiritual glory, and only that which is built upon such a foundation can serve spiritual ends. Let this be the test of our walk in all personal, domestic, business and Church affairs. Here, again, we have a principle which, if applied, would be revolutionary, and would call for the abandonment of a tremendous amount of carnal, natural, worldly stuff in our resources and methods. "Faith apart from works is dead" (James 2:26). True, but the works of faith - of the spirit - are not those of the flesh; the two realms are not comparable. The walk in the flesh is one thing, but the walk in the Spirit is quite another. The things of the Spirit are foolishness to the flesh. Men of faith see what others do not, and act accordingly. This also being true of men who have lost their reason, the two are often confused, and the children of the flesh think the children of the spirit mad or insane. They are unable to discriminate between even the insanity of men and "the foolishness of God," which is "wiser than men" (1 Cor. 1:25).

Abraham was fortified by his faith, but his walk by faith was intensely practical, though so different from the walk in the flesh. A writer has said that faith brings us into difficulties which are unknown to men who walk in the flesh, or who never go out in faith. But such difficulties place us beyond the power of the flesh to help, and make special Divine revelations necessary, and God always takes advantage of such times to give such needed education of the spirit. It is thus that the men of the spirit are taught and come to know God as no others know Him. Thus, faith is the law of the walk of the new man - the inner man - which brings him by successive stages into the very heart of God, Who crowns this progress  with the matchless designation, "My friend!" (Isaiah 41:8).

One other thing in general has to be mentioned. The new man of the spirit has to learn a new speech. There is the language of the spirit, and he will have to realize increasingly that speech with "enticing words of man's wisdom," or what man calls "excellency of speech" (1 Cor. 2:1, 4), will avail nothing in spiritual service. If all the religious speech and preaching and talking about the gospel which goes on in one week were the utterance of the Holy Spirit, what a tremendous impact of God upon the world would be registered! Bu it is obviously not so and this impact is not felt. It is impossible to speak in and by the Holy Spirit without something happening which is related to eternity. But this capacity belongs only to the "born of the Spirit" ones, whose spirits have been joined to the Lord, and even they have to learn how cease from their own words and speak as they are moved by the Holy Spirit. It is a part of the education of the inner man to have his outer man slain in the matte of speech, and to be brought to the state to which Jeremiah was brought - "I cannot speak; for I am a child" (Jeremiah 1:6) Not only as sinners have we to be crucified with Christ, but as preachers, or speakers, or talkers. The circumcision of Christ, which Paul says is the cutting off of the whole body of the flesh, has to be applied to our lips, and our spirit has to be so much in dominion that, on all matters where God cannot be glorified, we "cannot speak." A natural facility of speech is not strength in itself to spiritual ministry; it may be a positive menace. It is a stage of real spiritual development when there is a genuine fear of speaking, unless it is in words "which the Holy Spirit teacheth" (1 Cor. 2:13). On the other hand a natural inability to speak need be no handicap. To be present "in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling" (1 Cor. 2:3), may be a state which befits an apostolic, nay, rather, a Holy Spirit ministry. The utterance of God is a very different thing in every way from that of man. How much is said in the Scriptures about "conversation," "the tongue," "words" etc., and ever with the emphasis that these are to be in charge of the spirit, and not merely expressions of the soul in any of its departments!

If it is true that only the quickened spirit can receive Divine revelation, it is equally true that such revelation requires a Divine gift of utterance in order to realize its spiritual end. It is possible to preach truth without the preacher having any spiritual apprehension of it; that is, from a merely mental apprehension. The preaching may be just natural ability; but the grievous fact may be that neither the one who preaches nor those to whom he preaches will be in the good of the living and working values of the truth. The spiritual results are hardly worth the effort and expenditure. The virtue of speech resulting in abiding fruit to the glory of God, whether that speech be preaching, teaching, conversation, prayer, is not in its lucidity, eloquence, subtlety, cleverness, wit, thoughtfulness, passion, earnestness, forcefulness, pathos, etc., but in that it is an utterance of the Holy Spirit.

"Thy speech betrayeth thee" may be applied in many ways, for whether we live in the flesh or in the spirit, in the natural man or in the spiritual man, will always be made manifest by how we speak and the spiritual effect of the fruit of our lips.

Oh, for crucified lips among God's people, and oh,for lips among God's prophets, touched with the blood-soaked, fire-charged coal from that one great altar of Calvary!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 17 - "The Soul and Deception")

Rich Fulfillment

Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard, Who keeps our soul among the living, And does not allow our feet to be moved. For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined.  You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water; But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.  Psalm 66:8-12

Sometimes we have the misconception that being a Christian should be all about riches, fulfillment and abundance. As Christians, we know the Lord personally and have been given everything we need for life and godliness. We are the children of the King. What else could we possibly need that He has not already given to us? But why do we face such hard trials in life?
The Psalmist explains the real life version of receiving fulfillment. "For You, O God, have tested us," God tests the hearts and intents of His people. He allows trying circumstances to squeeze us: As if we are “in a net”; we carry affliction “on our backs”, often while submitting to others whose motives and intentions are wrong. God brings us through terribly trying situations to test and grow our faith in Him.

These trials are confusing and difficult. But we can we see God's love and care through them because when we have come through the fires of this life, and walked through the tests and trials, the crown of eternal life awaits us. Fulfillment and abundance have to do with the victory in overcoming the most terrible trials. That satisfaction comes when we know that we are still with the Lord regardless of the circumstances. There is a place of rich fulfillment and abundance on the other side of the tests. All the riches of the world cannot be compared with the love, joy and peace we get from God. Read through Psalm 66 and really praise the Lord for the trials of life. Praise and worship brings the greatest fulfillment and abundance of them all.

~Daily Disciples~

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Man Now Another Species than God Created # 15

God's Special Concern

This will help us to see that God's special concern is with the spirit in the believer.

Firstly, we must realize that His quest is for sons of His Spirit. The underlying and all-inclusive truth of what has come to be called the parable of the Prodigal Son is the transition from one kind of sonship, i.e. on the ground of law, to another i.e. on the ground of grace; from the flesh to the spirit. There is a sonship of God by creation on the basis of law. In this sense, all men are the offspring of God, and Paul used this phrase in quite a general way to the Athenians (Acts 17:28, 29). But by the Fall  the "going astray," or "deviating" (Genesis 6:3) - all the Divine purposes and possibilities of that relationship is no longer of value. "He is flesh," hence he is separated from God - "alienated" (Ephesians 4:18), in a "far country," "lost," and "dead." Here grace enters and the Spirit through grace. The Spirit begins operations in that realm of death and distance, convicting of sin "against heaven" (Luke 15:21) (the only adequate conviction), compassing the end of the works of the flesh in despair and destruction, constraining, assuring, producing penitence and confession, and at length bringing to the place of forgiveness and acceptance: from death unto life, but not the same life as before. "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). This man is the product of the travail and energizing of the Spirit, and everything in the relationship afterward is new; a "robe," the robe of Divine righteousness; "shoes," a walk and a way in the Spirit (Romans 8:2, 4); "a ring," the symbol of authority, the right or jurisdiction of a son (John 1:12, 13); "the fatted calf," food such as was not his before, the best of the father's house. Each of these points in the Scriptures has a whole system of teaching.

The spirit of man, being the place of the new birth and the seat of this only true sonship (Galatians 4:5, 6), is also therefore "the new man," for it is "in newness of the spirit" that we are  to live (Romans 7:6). Here it is that all the operations of God in our education, fellowship and cooperation have their base.

The 'prodigal's' knowledge of the father after his 'new birth' was such as he had never possessed before. He really did not know his father until grace came in. His spirit had been brought from death, darkness, distance, desolation, chaos, and he then had not just an objective knowledge of one whom he had termed 'father,' but a subjective and experimental understanding and appreciation of him, because the spirit of sonship had been born within him or given to him whereby he cried "Abba, Father." There is no saving relationship to, or knowledge of, God except through grace and by new birth.

So, then, those who by being born anew have become "little children" (Matthew 18:3) or "babes" in spiritual things (1 Corinthians 3:1) - not wrong if we do not remain such - have to learn every thing afresh, because "all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17, 18). Such have to learn a new kind of knowledge, to live by a new kind of live, "newness of life" (Romans 6:4). Paul says that we are to act as those who are "alive from the dead" (Romans 6:13). We have to learn that our life, our natural life, cannot do God's will, live as God requires, or do God's work. Only by His risen life is this possible. An element of offence in this truth is that it demands a recognized and acknowledged weakness; it requires that we have to confess that, in ourselves, for all Divine purposes, we are powerless and worthless, and that of ourselves we can do nothing. The natural man's worship of strength, efficiency, fitness, ability, meets with a terrible rebuff when it is confronted with the declaration that the universal triumph of Christ, over hierarchies more mighty than those of flesh and blood, was because "he was crucified through weakness" (2 Corinthians 13:4); God reduced to a certain impotency! And "God chose the weak things ... to confound the things that are mighty" (1 Corinthians 1:25-27). To glory in infirmity, that Christ's power may rest upon him, is a far cry from the original Saul of Tarsus; but what an extraordinary change in mentality! God has, however,always drawn a very broad line between natural 'might' and 'power' on the one hand, and "My Spirit" on the other (Zech. 4:6), and for evermore that distinction abides.

This 'new-born babe' has to learn a new walk, now in the Spirit as different from nature. There may be many slips and perhaps tumbles, but such are not altogether evil if they are marks of a stepping out in faith rather than sitting still in fleshly disobedience or fear. We have shown that the nature of this walk is that reason, feeling, and natural choice are no longer the directive laws or criteria of the spiritual man. For such an one there are frequent experiences of a collision and contradiction between soul and spirit. The reason would dictate a certain course, the affections would urge in a certain direction, the will would seek to fulfill these judgments and desires; but there is a catch somewhere within - a dull, leaden, lifeless, numbed something at the center of us which upsets everything, contradicts us, and all the time in effect says No! Or it may be the other way around. An inward urge and constraint finds no encouragement from our natural judgment or reason, and if flatly contrary to our natural desires, inclinations, preferences or affections: while in the same natural realm we are not at all willing for such a course. In this case it is not the judgment against the desire, as is frequently the case in everybody's life, but judgment, desire and will are all joined against intuition. Now is the crisis! Now is to be seen who is to rule the life! Now the "natural" man, or the outer man of sense, and the "inner" man have to settle affairs.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16)

Faith Triumphs

"Under hopeless circumstances he hopefully believed" (Rom. 4:18). (Weymouth)
Abraham's faith seemed to be in a thorough correspondence with the power and constant faithfulness of Jehovah. In the outward circumstances in which he was placed, he had not the greatest cause to expect the fulfillment of the promise. Yet he believed the Word of the Lord, and looked forward to the time when his seed should be as the stars of heaven for multitude.
O my soul, thou hast not one single promise only, like Abraham, but a thousand promises, and many patterns of faithful believers before thee: it behooves thee, therefore, to rely with confidence upon the Word of God. And though He delayeth His help, and the evil seemeth to grow worse and worse, be not weak, but rather strong, and rejoice, since the most glorious promises of God are generally fulfilled in such a wondrous manner that He steps forth to save us at a time when there is the least appearance of it.
He commonly brings His help in our greatest extremity, that His finger may plainly appear in our deliverance. And this method He chooses that we may not trust upon anything that we see or feel, as we are always apt to do, but only upon His bare Word, which we may depend upon in every state.
--C. H. Von Bogatzky
Remember it is the very time for faith to work when sight ceases. The greater the difficulties, the easier for faith; as long as there remain certain natural prospects, faith does not get on even as easily as where natural prospects fail.
--George Mueller
~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Man Now Another Species Than God Created # 14

The Attributes of the Human Spirit

Having already spoken of worship in spirit and in truth, we can pass on to see the function of spirit by intuition. Here the difference between soul and spirit is very clear and definite. The spirit is the organ of spiritual knowledge, and spiritual knowledge is very different from natural or soul knowledge. How does God know things, and by what means does God come to His conclusions, decisions? On what basis of knowledge does He run the universe? Is it by reasoning inductively, deductively, philosophically, logically, comparatively? Surely all this laboriousness of brain is unknown to God. His knowledge and conclusions are intuitive. Intuition is that faculty of spiritual intelligence by which all spiritual beings work. Angels serve the will of God by intuitive discernment of that will, not by argued and reasoned conviction. The difference between these two is witnessed to by the whole monument of spiritual achievement. If human reasoning, the natural judgment and 'common sense' had been the ruling law, most, if not all, of the giant pieces of work inspired by God would never have been undertaken. Men who had a close walk with God and a living spirit-fellowship with Him, received intuitively a leading to such purposes, and their vindication came, not by the approval of natural reason, but usually with all such reason in opposition. 'Madness was usually the verdict of this world's wisdom.' Whenever they, like Abraham, allowed the natural mind to take precedence over the spiritual mind, they became bewildered, paralyzed, and looked around for some 'Egypt' way of the senses, along which to go for help. In all this we are "justified in the spirit," not in the flesh. The spirit and the soul act independently, and  until the spiritual mind has established complete ascendency over the natural mind, they are constantly in conflict and contradiction. In all the things which are out from God and therefore spiritual, "the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the spirit is life and peace" (Romans 8:6). This, then, is the nature of spiritual knowledge.

The only knowledge of God which is of spiritual value for ourselves, or for others by our ministry, is that which we have be revelation of the Holy Spirit within our own spirits. God never - in the first instance - explains Himself to man's reason, and man can never know God - in the first instance - by reason. Christianity is a revelation or it is nothing, and it has to be that in the case of every new child of God; otherwise faith will be resting upon a foundation which will not stand in the day of the ordeal.

'The Christian Faith' embraced as a religion, a philosophy, or as a system of truth, a moral or ethical doctrine, may carry the temporary stimulus of a great ideal; but this will not result in the regeneration of the life, or the new birth of the spirit. There are multitudes of such 'Christians' in the world today, but their spiritual effectiveness is nil.

The Apostle Paul makes it very clear that the secret of everything in his life and service was the fact that he received his gospel "by revelation." We may even know the Bible perfectly as a book, and yet be spiritually dead and ineffective. When the Scriptures say so much bout the knowledge of God and of the truth as the basis of eternal life, resulting in being set free, doing exploits, etc., they also affirm that man cannot be searching find out God, and they make it abundantly clear that it is knowledge in the spirit, not in the natural mind.

Thus, a rich knowledge of the Scriptures, an accurate technical grasp of Christian doctrine, a doing of Christian work by all the resources of men's natural wisdom or ability, a clever manipulation and interesting presentation of Bible content and themes, may get not one whit beyond the natural life of men, and still remain within the realm of spiritual death. Men cannot be argued, reasoned, fascinated, interested, 'emotioned,' willed, enthused, impassioned, into the kingdom of the heavens; they can only be born; and that is by spiritual quickening. The new birth brings with it new capacities of every kind; and among these, the most vital is a new and different faculty of Divine knowledge, understanding and apprehension. As we have said earlier, the human brain is not ruled out, but is secondary, not primary. The function of the human intellect is to give spiritual things intelligent form for ourselves and for others.

Paul's intellectual power was not that which gave him his knowledge of truth; but it was taken up by the spirit for passing that truth on to others. He may have used his intellect well, as he certainly did, to study and acquire knowledge of the Scriptures; but his spiritual understanding did not come that way. It was the extra thing, apart from which even his Bible (Old Testament) knowledge had not kept him from a most mistaken course. The spirit of man is that by which he reaches out into the eternal and unseen. Intuition, then, is the mental organ of the spirit. It is in this sense - that is, the deadness of the spirit in the matter of Divine union and the going on with religion in its manifold forms of expression merely from the natural mind - that God says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways" (Isaiah 55:8); and the measure of the difference is as the height of the heavens from the earth, of the heavenly from the earthly.

One of the chief lessons that we have to learn, and which God takes pains to teach us, is that spiritual ends demand spiritual means. The breaking down of the natural life, its mind, its energies, so far as the things of God are concerned, in the bitterness of disappointment through futility, failure ineffectiveness and deadlock in real spiritual fruitfulness, is a life work: but the truth mentioned above is the explanation and key to the matter.

How important it is that every fresh undertaking in work for God should come by revelation to those chosen for it. Because God has so spoken and given revelation to some chosen instrument and a truly spiritual work has been done, others have taken it as a model and have sought to imitate it in other places. The result has been, and is, that they are called upon to take responsibility for it - find the resources of workers, funds and general support. This, in turn, issues in many sad and pathetic, if not evil and worldly,methods and means being employed, and those concerned find themselves in a false position. Conception, not imitation, is the Divine law of reproduction. Anointing, not human selection, is the Divine law of succession. The fact is, that the work of God has become a sphere for so many natural elements to find expression and gratification. Man must do something, see something, have something. Ambition, acquisition, achievement, etc., have found their way over to Christian enterprise, and so, very often (let us be quite frank) things have become 'ours' - 'our work,' 'our mission,' 'our field,' 'our clientele'; and jealousies, rivalries, bitterness and many other things of the flesh abound.

It is a very difficult thing, a crucifixion indeed, for the natural man to do nothing and have nothing, and especially to know nothing. But in the case of His most greatly used instruments, God has made this a very real part of their training and preparation. The utter emptying of all self-resource is the only way to have "all things of (out from) God" (2 Corinthians 5;18). On this basis, even Christ elected to live. We need not remind you of Moses' "I am not eloquent", and Jeremiah's "I am a child", and Paul's "that we should not trust in ourselves". These were of a school in which the great lesson of the difference between natural and spiritual was taught experimentally.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 15 - "God's Special Concern")

Seek Communion

"They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn and grow as the vine" (Hosea 14:7).
The day closed with heavy showers. The plants in my garden were beaten down before the pelting storm, and I saw one flower that I had admired for its beauty and loved for its fragrance exposed to the pitiless storm. The flower fell, shut up its petals, dropped its head; and I saw that all its glory was gone. "I must wait till next year," I said, "before I see that beautiful thing again."
That night passed, and morning came; the sun shone again, and the morning brought strength to the flower. The light looked at it, and the flower looked at the light. There was contact and communion, and power passed into the flower. It held up its head, opened its petals, regained its glory, and seemed fairer than before. I wonder how it took place--this feeble thing coming into contact with the strong thing, and gaining strength!
I cannot tell how it is that I should be able to receive into my being a power to do and to bear by communion with God, but I know It is a fact.
Are you in peril through some crushing, heavy trial? Seek this communion with Christ, and you will receive strength and be able to conquer. "I will strengthen thee."
The rain that fell a-yesterday is ruby on the roses,
Silver on the poplar leaf, and gold on willow stem;
The grief that chanced a-yesterday is silence that incloses
Holy loves when time and change shall never trouble them.
The rain that fell a-yesterday makes all the hillsides glisten,
Coral on the laurel and beryl on the grass;
The grief that chanced a-yesterday has taught the soul to listen
For whispers of eternity in all the winds that pass.
O faint-of-heart, storm-beaten, this rain will gleam tomorrow,
Flame within the columbine and jewels on the thorn,
Heaven in the forget-me-not; though sorrow now be sorrow,
Yet sorrow shall be, beauty in the magic of the morn.
--Katherine Lee Bates
~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, May 24, 2013

Man Now Another Species Than God Created # 13

The Attributes of the Human Spirit

As the soul is a trinity of reason, affection, and volition, so is the spirit a trinity. Its attributes are conscience, communion (worship) and intuition.

"The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord" (Proverbs 20:27).

"Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing." (Romans 2:14, 15).

When Adam sinned, he did so as the result of what seemed to him a sound and right argument and reason, and a judgment of what was good and desirable. But immediately when he had so acted he became aware of a faculty within, which rose up and condemned his judgment, reason and "good (?) motive.' Henceforth he lived under a sense of condemnation. The conscience which accused him and caused him to excuse, could not restore him to God's favor, but for ever kept God in his consciousness. Thus it is that to live in and to be governed entirely by our souls is not to have rest and real life. It is possible to put our wills so strongly behind our reason and thought and desire, or so to surrender our wills to our emotions and affections, as to muffle the voice of conscience so that we have little or no conflict within. But should God come into "the garden in the cool of the day," or, in other words, should we at any time seek a living knowledge of God, we are in for a very bad time with regard to this former mentality, these former reasonings, and this former affectional life. But we are not saying that the human conscience is infallible and always right. Most certainly it is not. We can have a sense of right and wrong which is altogether misinformed and false, and satan can play tricks with conscience. We are only pointing out what conscience is as an attribute of the spirit. For conscience to fulfill all of its Divinely intended purpose in relation to God - not merely to keep man aware of something beyond his own way - conscience must (as with the whole spirit) be renewed in God and united with the Holy Spirit. Christ is God's perfect standard for conscience, and union with Christ is the only ground of life in the spirit. "Christ ... was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30), and when Christ is received by faith, so that our standing before God rests upon what He is and not what we are, then we "find rest unto our souls" in this "yoke" (Matthew 11:29), for we have our "hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience" (Hebrews 10:22). With the whole human spirit, conscience must be quickened from above, raised, enlightened, adjusted and related.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 14)

Spiritual Metamorphosis

Romans 12:1-2 says this,

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

First, notice that it is your responsibility to present your body to God. God will not do it for you.  You have to do it.  But Scripture doesn't leave us there.  We are shown how we are to do that in verse 2 above.

First, when it says, Do not be conformed, that word conform means to be pressed into a mold by outward pressures.  Instead of being conformed we are told to be transformed. That is actually the Greek word from which we get our English word metamorphosis. It means to let what is on the inside come to the outside.

One day many years ago, my kids came home from school with some silk worms. We were supposed to put them in a box and feed them mulberry leaves. I couldn't believe how many leaves these worms ate! They ate leaves until they turned a translucent green!

Then they wove cocoons and went through a metamorphosis. They went from being these ugly ol' fat green transparent worms, to the most beautiful fuzzy huge white moths. It was amazing to see!

My friend, you renew your mind by feeding on God's Word, the same way that those silk worms fed on the mulberry leaves.  As you are filled with His truth, it causes a metamorphosis to take place. It brings what is on the inside—God's nature—to the outside. 
So feed on God's Word and watch your life be transformed.

~Bayless Conley~