"The Image of His Son" (continued)
Having said that much, I just want to say perhaps in closing this which is a preliminary of what we have before us in the coming days, that this great dominating objective of God, to have all the sons coming to glory conformed to the image of his Son, is the explanation of all the Lord's dealings with us here; all the conditions of our lives which He has allowed to remain; all the strange experiences through which we go; all the deep trials which form part of out life; everything in the providence and in the sovereignty of God where we are concerned has its explanation in the light of the thing which God has in view, and unless you recognize that, beloved, you have not got a sufficient motive for going on. Take the matter of service, ministry, the work of the Lord unto which we are called. Anyone who is really in spiritual ministry, really in spiritual work for the Lord, knows how difficult it is, how hard, intensely hard, growingly hard it is. It is fraught with difficulties of almost every kind and one thing so real in this is the activity of the enemy apart from and beyond what men do themselves of themselves (if ever men do anything of themselves. I am not quite sure that they do.)
Apart from what you might call the ordinary difficulties of life, and the work of the Lord, there are those extra difficulties where the enemy seems to have so much hold, and this whole situation of service would seem so often to say that the enemy is so strong, that the Lord has great difficulty in getting His work done. Do you believe that the Lord has great difficulty in getting His work done because of the enemy? This is something to face. There it is - the devil has a lot of liberty and seems to have a lot of power, and he makes great difficulties which constitute for the Lord's servant a very hard and strenuous time. That is true, isn't it? It seems that the Lord is up against something that He can hardly cope with, that the Lord is face to face with a situation that is full of almost insuperable difficulties. That is NOT the argument at all. Why has the Lord left the enemy here and given him such liberty, such a degree of power? Why does He allow our steps all the time to be met by these difficulties? Why is it that in the way of the Lord's will you meet something which brings you to a standstill? Why, if God is God on the throne, and the Holy Spirit is infinitely strong and mighty? This is the problem for so many people. The explanation is this. Not on the side of the enemy at all, not on the side of the Lord; the explanation is in us. The Lord is seeking a conformity to the image of His Son, and every difficulty and trial and obstruction and activity of the devil, is to draw us out to God and develop the features of the Lord Jesus in us: spiritual ascendency, faith, the mighty faith of the Son of God, the features of Jesus Christ and the love of the Spirit. All these features of Christ have got to be fully developed in us. So the Lord thinks it worthwhile to let the enemy carry on and allow us to have difficulties, sorrows, and sufferings, even while we are living in an absolutely sovereign mighty Lord.
It is to bring out the features of Christ, and until you have got that you have not got the power to go through. If you begin to say the Lord is not with us, not able to meet this, or the power of God is not manifested, yo have a lesser object and you begin to circle round yourself, not Christ in the Glory to Whom the Holy Spirit is trying to bring you into conformity. It is necessary to get your objective and see what the Lord is seeking to do with His children and how He does it. You cannot conform anyone literally to the image of another in any other way than by bringing them through experimentally. The thing is not done by teaching, doctrine, or by being preached at; you have got to go through it, and the whole fabric of our being has got to be reconstructed according to Christ. On the one side there has to be a breaking down of all that is otherwise in order, that there might be a constituting of that which is of the Lord Jesus. The Lord gives us our object; that is what I am after this morning; to see the Lord Jesus. Don't you become spiritually introspective and get yourself as the object in view. No! Don't you have your spirit always before your eyes and analyzing it. We have been saying lately that if we become occupied with ourselves, that is self-conscious, and self-consciousness is weakness. Self-consciousness in every form is weakness. We want to be occupied with the Lord Jesus.
O that there might be for us a vision of the man in the glory. Christ glorified - and that we could see that because God has got Him there, having taken Him through hell, through death and the grave, and through all the judgment of God - God has got Him there - that is a triumph, and He is the first of a large number who are going to be there with Him. He is going to get us there. We are in Christ in the heavenlies, but we have to approximate to where we already are! He has got His Son in the glory and that is His supreme and His all-inclusive triumph. it includes our triumph, His triumph for us. So may the Lord lead us on from place to place in the train of His triumph to celebrate His victory over the enemies of Christ.
(continued with # 6 - (The Heavens Do Rule)