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