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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Battle for the Mind # 1

The Battle for the Mind # 1

"I fear lest, by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3).

There is a great battle today over the use and control of the mind, not only in the world, but among the children of God. The Apostle Paul, writing in 2 Corinthians 3:5, says, "For though living in the flesh, my warfare is not waged according to the flesh. For the weapons which I wield are not of fleshly weakness but mighty in the strength of God to overthrow the strongholds of the adversaries. Thereby can I overthrow the reasonings of the disputer and pull down all lofty bulworks that raise themselves against the knowledge of God, and bring every rebellious thought into captivity and subjection to Christ".

1. The fact of a "war" declared by Paul

First note the fact that the Apostle declares that there is a war in which he is engaged. "My warfare", he says, "is not waged according to the flesh." This is in accord with his statement in other parts of his writings, notably Ephesians 6:10-18 and in his letters to Timothy (1 Timothy 1:18, 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:4, 4:7).

2. The battle for the mind described

We see there is an aspect of the war described in this passage which has to do with the mind. "Thereby can I overthrow the reasonings of the disputer." In verse 4 we read of a "pulling down of strongholds." The Apostle seems to infer that the mind is a stronghold "which has to be pulled down, and every rebel thought in it made captive. A stronghold is generally held by an enemy, and truly there is an enemy holding the stronghold of the mind, according to 2 Corinthians 4:4, where it says that the "god of this world" has "blinded the minds of them which believe not."

3. The condition of the mind by nature

In various parts of the Pauline epistles we can gather very clearly the state of mind, when held by the enemy as a stronghold. It is described in some cases as a "reprobate mind" (Romans 1:28), a "blinded mind" (2 Corinthians 3:14), a "darkened mind", causing men to walk in the "vanity of their minds" (Ephesians 4:17-19), intruding into things which the mind cannot fathom, "vainly puffed up" by a "fleshly mind" (Colossians 2:18). In Romans 8:7, the Apostle says, "The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." This is confirmed in Colossians 1:21, where those who are unregenerate are described as "enemies" in the "mind", and therefore alienated from God. We therefore clearly see how, in the natural man, the mind is "darkened", "puffed up" by the flesh, empty and vain in its thoughts, carnal because governed by the flesh, and in all its activities whether apparently "good" or visibly "bad" at enmity with God.

4. The Unregenerate Mind the Stronghold of satan

The strategic center of the mind of man is therefore strategic center of the "war" with the "god of this age", because it is primarily through the mind that he holds captive in his power, and through the mind of those captives transmits his poison into the minds of others, and his plans and schemes for arousing those souls to active rebellion against God.

The mind of the Christian is also the strategic center of the "war on the saints" which satan wages with ceaseless and fiendish skill. And for this reason the mind is the vehicle for the Spirit of God, dwelling in the spirit of the believer, to transmit to others the truth of God, which alone can remove the deceptions of satan which fill the minds of all who are in the darkness of nature. If the Holy Spirit is dwelling in the regenerate spirit have you considered the question of His outlet? If it were only by speech you would be an oracle! But there are no "oracles" on earth now. The oracles of God are the Scriptures. The Word of God is being displaced not only by the Higher Critics, but by many of God's own people by their taking supernatural "revelations" as being of equal authority with the written Scriptures. There are wrecked lives because they have turned from the Word of God to what they call direct revelation. There is a direct revelation by God the Holy Spirit illuminating the Word of God, and putting it into the spirit, but not apart from the Scriptures.

5. The Holy Spirit and the Mind of the Believer

If the mind is the vehicle of the Spirit it is absolutely necessary that the Spirit of God should have full possession of it, with every "rebellious thought" brought into captivity to Christ. The Holy Spirit, dwelling in the spirit, needs the mind as a channel for expression, but it may be so blocked up, and filled with other things that He is unable to transmit all He desires to do. A blocked mind means the spirit unexpressed, and a spirit unexpressed is a stoppage of he outflow of the Spirit of God to others.

~Jessie Penn-Lewis~

(continued with # 2)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Our Sufficiency Is of God

Our Sufficiency Is of God

The sweetest graces by a slight perversion may bear the bitterest fruit. The sun gives life, but sunstrokes are death. Preaching  is to give life; it may kill. The preacher holds the keys; he may lock as well as unlock. Preaching is God's great institution for the planting and maturing of spiritual life. When properly executed, its benefits are untold; when wrongly executed, no evil can exceed its damaging results. It is an easy matter to destroy the flock if the shepherd be unwary or the pasture be destroyed, easy to capture the citadel if the watchman be asleep or the food and water be poisoned. Invested with such gracious prerogatives, exposed to so great evils, involving so many grave responsibilities, it would be a parody on the shrewdness of the devil and a libel on his character and reputation if he did not bring his master influences to adulterate the preacher and the preaching. In face of all this, the exclamatory interrogatory of Paul, "Who is sufficient for these things?" is never out of order.

Paul says: "Our sufficiency is of God, who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." The true ministry is God-touched, God-enabled, and God-made. The Spirit of God is on the preacher in anointing power, the fruit of the Spirit is in his heart, the Spirit of God has vitalized the man and the word; his preaching gives life, gives life as the spring gives life; gives life as the resurrection gives life; gives ardent life as the summer gives ardent life; gives fruitful life as the autumn gives fruitful life. The life-giving preacher is a man of God, whose heart is ever athirst for God, whose soul is ever following hard after God, whose eye is single to God, and in whom by the power of God's Spirit the flesh and the world have been crucified and his ministry is like the generous flood of a life-giving river.

The preaching that kills is non-spiritual preaching. The ability of the preaching is not from God. Lower sources than God have given to it energy and stimulant. The Spirit is not evident in the preacher nor his preaching. Many kinds of forces may be projected and stimulated by preaching that kills, but they are not spiritual forces. They may resemble spiritual forces, but are only the shadow, the counterfeit; life they may seem to have, but the life is magnetized. The preaching that kills is the letter; shapely and orderly it may be, but it is the letter still, the dry, husky letter, the empty, bald shell. The letter may have the germ of life in it, but it has no breath of spring to evoke it; winter seeds they are, as hard as the winter's soil, as icy as the winter's air, no thawing nor germinating by them. This letter-preaching has the truth. But even divine truth has no life-giving energy alone; it must be energized by the Spirit, with all God's forces at its back. Truth unquickened by God's Spirit deadens as much as, or more than, error. It may be the truth without admixture; but without the Spirit its shade and touch are deadly, its truth error, its light darkness. The letter-preaching is unctionless, neither mellowed nor oiled by the Spirit. There may be tears, but tears cannot run God's machinery; tears may be but summer's breath on a snow-covered iceberg, nothing but surface slush. Feelings and earnestness there may be, but it is emotion of the actor and the earnestness of the attorney. The preacher may feel from the kindling of his own sparks, be eloquent over his own exegesis, earnest in delivering the product of his own brain; the professor may usurp the place and imitate the fire of the apostle; brains and nerves may serve the place and feign the work of God's Spirit, and by these forces the letter may glow and sparkle like an illumined text, but the glow and sparkle will be as barren of life as the field sown with pearls. The death-dealing element lies back of the words, back of the sermon, back of the occasion, back of the manner, back of the action. The great hindrance is in the preacher himself. He has not in himself the mighty life-creating forces. There may be no discount of his orthodoxy, honest, cleanness, or earnestness; but somehow the man, the inner man, in its secret places has never broken down and surrendered to God, his inner life is not a great highway for the transmission of God's message, God's power. Somehow self and not God rules in the holy of holiest. Somewhere, all unconscious to himself, some spiritual nonconductor has touched his inner being, and the divine current has been arrested. His inner being has never felt its thorough spiritual bankruptcy, its utter powerlessness; he has never learned to cry out with an ineffable cry of self-despair and self-helplessness till God's power and God's fire comes in and fills, purifies, empowers. Self-esteem, self-ability in some pernicious shape has defamed and violated the temple which should be held sacred for God. Life-giving preaching costs the preacher much - death to self, crucifixion to the world, the travail of his own soul. Crucified preaching only can give life. Crucified preaching can come only from a crucified man.

~E. M. Bounds~

(The End)

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Glorious Secret

The Glorious Secret

"It was the good pleasure of the Father that in Him should all the fullness dwell" (Colossians 1:19)

"The riches of the glory of this mystery ... which is Christ in you" (Colossians 1:27)

The word "mystery" as used in the New Testament is "as sacred secret, long kept hidden, and while so hidden, absolutely impenetrable by man." What is this secret that the Apostle Paul writes about in his letter to the Colossians? A secret that he seems to have no words to describe, but full of "riches of glory" beyond human conception.

This secret, he tells us, had been hidden from the "ages" preceding the days in which he wrote, but the fullness of time had come, and it was then God's good pleasure to make it known to His saints - those redeemed by the blood of Christ, and separated unto Him.

The secret so long kept hidden could only be revealed by God Himself, but the Holy Spirit was given that the children of God should know the things freely given to them by God. The Blessed Holy Spirit is sent to reveal the secret, and He is ready to reveal it to all those who truly desire to know it (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

The blood-bought children of God need to know the glorious secret. It is in truth an open secret to all who are taught of God, yet it is veiled to so many who are true believers, and go on living a sad up and down life of 'sinning and repenting', day after day, when the knowledge of the 'secret' would admit them into constant victory, unbroken peace, deep satisfaction and rest!

But what is the secret? It is summed up in two brief sentences - "In Him all the fullness" "Christ in you ... glory!" (Colossians 1:19, 27). 

It simply means that the Father has placed in His Beloved Son all the supply for our need. All light; all love; all power; all patience; all joy; all peace - all we need for "life and god-likeness" (2 Peter 1:3), now in this present time (Colossians 2:3, 9, 10).

In Him is the Fullness of God. In us - nothing! We have nothing to offer God, but our wills. The willingness to receive His Son as our Saviour, and then as our King, enthroned upon the throne of our hearts, is all that the Father desires, and asks of us.

The Secret Revealed

"It was the good pleasure of God, Who separated me ...and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me" (Galatians 1:15-16).

The Apostle Paul did not learn the secret at the feet of Gamaliel. It was wholly sealed to him until God Himself revealed it to him, and then his eyes were opened to see how the Lord had been watching over him from his birth, and had chosen him for His service.

The glorious secret can only be known by us in the same way. The Holy Spirit must reveal the living Christ as dwelling in us, just as he first of all revealed Him to us as our Saviour.

Moreover we shall never know the secret by trying to grasp it with our minds, nor by puzzling over it  as to how it can be! The Lord Jesus Himself said of the Holy Spirit, "He shall take of Mine, and shall declare it unto you." But the eternal Spirit can only reveal when our minds are at rest, and we have given up "trying to see", and when we even give up our anxious seeking to know Him, as well as all self-introspection, for many are disposed to look within for an experience, instead of only to the risen Lord.

When we cease from our struggles, and efforts, and tell the Lord we are willing to let Him take His own time, and reveal to us His Son in His own way, then suddenly, as by a brightness above the sun, or perhaps imperceptibly, and possibly wholly apart from our consciousness, Christ is revealed in us - a living bright reality.

We may not be able to tell how, or when, but we know by the witness of the Holy Spirit, that the Lord Jesus reigns within, even as He said to His disciples, "In that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and I in you" (John 14:20).

The Secret Manifested

"It was the good pleasure of God ... to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him ... and they glorified God in me" (Galatians 1:15, 16, 24).

When the churches in Judea heard what had happened to the Apostle Paul, and how he preached the faith of which he once made havoc, he says, "they glorified God in me". This is always the result of Christ's indwelling! When He is revealed in us, others glorify God, and not the earthen vessel He makes His temple. They do not say "what a wonderful Christian", but "what a wonderful God!"

Moreover, when Christ is revealed in us, we cannot help preaching Him by word and life. It used to be 'I know what I have believed', but not it is 'Whom I have believed.' When Christ is revealed in us, and we have learned the glorious secret, we may be sure that the "secret will out!" There is not much need to question, "Shall I confess it?' For others will see Him working through us and come and ask us how they may learn the secret too.

After the revelation of Christ in the Apostle Paul, and the manifestation to others, we read of the energizing power of this wondrous secret. The Apostle writes "He that wrought effectually in Peter the same was MIGHTY IN ME" (Galatians 2:8).

The Lord wrought in Paul as effectually as He wrought in Peter on the day of Pentecost, when Peter was changed from being the coward he was in the judgment hall, and became a bold, fearless witness to the crucified and risen Lord. Even so the risen Christ dwelling in the Apostle Paul wrought through him mightily, doing 'mighty signs and wonders" by him, working in him both to 'will and to work, for His good pleasure."

"He that wrought effectually in Peter was mighty in me," said the Apostle. Paul had proved that God could energize him as well as Peter, although he was not one of those filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Oh, that each child of God might be shown by the Holy Spirit that the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all them that call upon Him. It is possible for each blood-bought child of God today to say likewise, "He that wrought effectually in Paul, is mighty in me."

The Secret and Its Conditions

"I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live ... I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20).

This verse contains the secret of knowing the secret! Let us notice that the words "crucified with Christ", precede "Christ liveth in me."

Our eyes are opened to see the fullness in Christ, and then He shows us that the secret of being conformed to His image, and walking as He walked in this present evil world, lies not in our trying to be like Him, but Jesus Himself coming to dwell in us as His temples, and Himself living His own life through us.

It is a great step forward when, as Children of God, we see that we have absolutely failed to like like Christ, and give up the trying! The patient Lord has to let us try, that we may find out that it is impossible for human beings to copy the life of the Holy Son of God.

Just as we attempted to save ourselves, or make ourselves fit to approach God, and then found after all our striving, that we were "nothing bettered, but rather grew worse", so, after the matter of our salvation is settled, we again seek to do the very same thing, and think that now our sins have been forgiven, with His help we can succeed in pleasing Him, and working for Him. Again we are allowed to try, and fail, just that we may realize our helplessness.

How many of us also have a dim idea that we have "gifts" to offer God, and expect Him to sanctify the old life, and make something better of us! Someone once said it was a long road to the end of ourselves, and it does seem such a long time before we really honestly are willing to say "In me ... dwelleth no good thing" (Romans 7:18). Like king Saul we use our own judgment, and are willing to destroy what we consider vile and refuse, but spare what we call "good" to offer to God in service.

The Holy Spirit has to teach us, sometimes very painfully that we have no best to retain, and that our very comeliness is corruption, for all that is of the old life is under the curse of sin.

The Divine plan is not to improve the old life, but that we should commit it to death - the death of the Cross for it really was crucified with Christ in the sight of God when He died on Calvary. It must not be "I" - even apparently good "I" - trying to please, and work for Christ. We must recognize and accept God's sentence of death upon "I" in every form, and yield all to the Cross of Calvary.

When our eyes are opened to see our place as crucified with Christ; nailed together with Him to His Cross; and agree to live the crucified life of true self effacement, then the Spirit of God will bear witness by revealing Christ within, no longer a dim and distant Lord, but, as one has said, "an inside Saviour!" Then He is able to manifest Himself through the earthly house of our bodily frame, and glorify His Father. Then He is able to work through the yielded body, not feebly and intermittently, but with effectual power; no longer hindered by us, but blessedly moving through us as He wills, and we obey Him fully.

"It is no longer I that live, but Christ" - this is the secret of which glory and riches too feebly express the fullness.

We need to remember however that Christ dwelling in the believer will not destroy his individuality. The Apostle writes "Christ liveth in me".

We see the capital "I" crucified, the "I" that dethrones and dishonors the Lord, but a "me" that still lives! A "me" that must yield quick and implicit obedience to the tender gracious King dwelling within the heart. Christ, not self on the throne of the heart, the new spring of life at the center of our being.

The "Secret" For Others

"My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you" (Galatians 4:19).

"Oh that Christ might be revealed in them, and fully formed in them", was the Apostle Paul's yearning desire for his converts, and to this end he travailed on their behalf. How he watched and prayed, nursed and cared, encouraged and warned them, as he watched the Holy Spirit patiently and tenderly detaching them from the old earth-life. Paul labored among them according to the "working" which was working in him mightily (Colossians 1:29), with one great end ever before Him, that Christ might be formed in them, and that he might present every one of them full-grown in Christ in the day of His appearing. (Colossians 1:28, 29).

This is the glorious secret now open to all who consent to the conditions of its unveiling. The redeemed on but an earthen vessel, a fragile body of clay, with the old "I" nailed to the Cross of Christ, and the Living Christ dwelling within. A vessel of clay manifestly not sufficient to think anything as of itself, that all may glorify God in it. A vessel of clay so yielded to God that He can work through it in unhindered power, whilst it is simply living, moment by moment, in faith upon the Son of God Who reigns within.

Thus walking hour by hour under the power of the cleansing blood, the God-possessed soul is ever being brought into fuller conformity to the death of Christ. "Always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested. Always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Corinthians 4:10-11).

And the key to it all is faith - faith in the working of God. "For this cause", wrote Paul to the Ephesians, "I bow my knees unto the Father ... that ye may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that ye may be filled unto all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:14-19).

"God in Heaven hath a treasure,
Riches none may count or tell,
Hath a deep, eternal pleasure,
Christ the Son He loveth well.
God hath here on earth a treasure
None but He its price may know,
Deep unfathomable pleasure;
Christ revealed in saints below."

~Jessie Penn-Lewis~

(The End)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 13

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 13

Notes - 

Note A

All this to make it known through the region of eternity that pride can degrade the highest angels into devils, and humility raise fallen flesh and blood to the thrones of angels. Thus, this is the great end of God raising a new creation out of a fallen kingdom of angels. For this end, it stands in its state of war between the fire and pride of fallen angels, and the humility of the Lamb of God. That the last trumpet may sound the great truth through the depths of eternity, that evil can have no beginning but from pride, and no end but from humility. The truth is this: Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you. Under the banner of the truth, give yourself up to the meek and humble Spirit of the holy Jesus. Humility must sow the seed, or there can be no reaping in heaven. Don't look at pride only as an unbecoming temper, nor at humility only as a decent virtue. The one is death, and the other is life. One is all hell, and the other is all heaven. As much as you have pride within you, you have the fallen angel alive in you. As much as you have true humility, you have of the Lamb of God within you. If you could see what every stirring of pride does to your soul, you would beg of everything you touch to tear the viper from you, even if it required the loss of a hand, or an eye. If you could see what a sweet, divine, transforming power that is in humility, how it expels the poison of your nature, and makes room for the Spirit of God to live in you, you would rather wish to be the footstool of all the world than lack the smallest degree of it. 

Note B

We need to know two things. 1. That our salvation consists wholly in being saved from ourselves, or that which we are by nature. 2. That in the whole nature of things, nothing could be this salvation or savior to us but the humility of God, which is beyond all expression. Hence, the first unalterable term of the Saviour to fallen man is: Except a man denies himself, he cannot be My disciple. Self is the root, the branches, and the tree, of all evil of our fallen state. All the evils of fallen angels and men have their birth in the pride of "self". On the other hand, all the virtues of the heavenly life are the virtues of humility. It is humility alone that makes the unpassable gulf between heaven and hell. What is then, or in what lies, the great struggle for eternal life? It all lies in the strife between pride and humility. Pride and humility are the two master powers, and the two kingdoms in strife for the eternal possession of man. There never was, nor ever will be, more than one humility, and that is the one humility of Christ. Pride and "self" have the entirety of man, until man has his entirety from Christ. He therefore only fights the good fight whose strife is that the self-idolatrous nature, which he hath from Adam, may be brought to death by the supernatural humility of Christ brought to life in him.

Note C

To die to "self", or to come from under its power, is not, cannot be done, by any active resistance we can make to it by the powers of nature. The one true way of dying to self is the way of patience, meekness, humility, and resignation to God. This is the truth and perfection of dying to self. For if I ask you what the Lamb of God means, must you not tell me that it is and means the perfection of patience, meekness, humility, and resignation to God? Must you not therefore say that a desire and faith of these virtues is an application to Christ, a giving up of yourself to Him, and the perfection of faith in Him? And then, because this inclination of your heart to sink down in patience, meekness, humility and resignation to God is truly giving up all that you are and all that you have from fallen Adam, it is perfectly leaving all you have to follow Christ. It is your highest act of faith in Him. Christ is nowhere but in these virtues. When they are there, He is in His own kingdom. Let this be the Christ you follow.

The spirit of divine love can have no birth in any fallen creature until that creature wills and chooses to be dead to self in patient, humble resignation to the power and mercy of God.

I seek for completeness in my  salvation through the merits and meditation of the meek, humble, patient, and suffering Lamb of God, who alone has power to bring forth the blessed birth of these heavenly virtues in my soul. There is no possibility of salvation except in and by the birth of the meek, humble, patient, and resigned Lamb of God in our souls. When the Lamb of God has brought forth a real birth of His own meekness, humility, and full resignation to God in our souls, then it is the birthday of the spirit of love in our souls, which, whenever we attain it, will feast our souls with such peace and joy in God that it will blot out the remembrance of everything that we called peace or joy before.

This way to God is infallible. This infallibility is grounded in the twofold character of our Saviour. 1. He is the Lamb of God, a principle of all meekness and humility in the soul. 2. He is the Light of heaven, and He blesses eternal nature, and turns it into a kingdom of heaven. When we are willing to get rest to our souls in meek, humble resignation to God, it is then that He, as the Light of God and heaven, joyfully breaks in upon us, turns our darkness into light, and begins that kingdom of God and of love within us, which will never have an end.

Note D

Until the spirit of the heart is renewed, until it is emptied of all earthly desires, and stands in habitual hunger and thirst after God, which is the true spirit of prayers; until then, all our prayer will be, more or less, only too much like lessons given to scholars, and we shall mostly say them only because we dare not neglect them. But don't be discouraged. Take the following advice, and then you may go to church without any danger of mere lip-labor or hypocrisy, although there should be a hymn or a prayer, whose language is higher than that of your heart. Do this: go to the church as the publican went to the temple; stand inwardly in the spirit of your mind in that form which he outwardly expressed, when he cast down his eyes, and could only say, "God be merciful to me, a sinner." Stand unchangeably, at least in your desire, in this form or state of heart. It will sanctify every petition that comes out of your mouth. When anything is read or sung or prayed that is more exalted than your heart is, if you make this an occasion of further sinking down in the spirit of the publican, you will then be helped, and highly blessed, by those prayers and praises which seem to belong to a heart better than yours.

This, my friend, is a secret of secrets. It will help you reap where you have not sown, and be a continual source of grace to your soul. Everything that inwardly stirs in you, or outwardly happens to you, becomes a real good to you, if it finds or excites in you this humble state of mind. Nothing is in vain, or without profit to the humble soul. It stands always in a state of divine growth; everything that falls on it is like a dew of heaven to it. Shut up yourself, therefore, in this form of humility. All good is enclosed in it. It is a water of heaven, that turns the fire of the fallen soul into the meekness of the divine life, and creates oil, out of which the love for God and man gets its flame. Be enclosed, therefore, always in it. Let it be as a garment wherewith you are always covered, and  a girdle with which you are encompassed. Breathe nothing but in and from its spirit, see nothing but with its eyes; hear nothing but with its ears. Then, whether you are in the church or out of the church, hearing the praises of God or receiving wrongs from men and the world, all will be edification, and everything will help forward your growth in the life of God. 

A Prayer for Humility

I will give you an infallible guide. You can perform this experiment to verify the truth. It is this: retire from the world and all conversation, only for one month; neither write, nor read, nor debate anything with yourself. Stop all the former workings of your heart and mind, and with all the strength of your heart, stand all this month, as continually as you can, in the following form of prayer to God. Offer it frequently on your knees; but whether sitting, walking, or standing, be always inwardly longing and earnestly praying this one prayer to God: "That of His great goodness He would make known to you, and take from your heart, every kind and form and degree of pride, whether it be from evil spirits, or your own corrupt nature; and that He would awaken in you the deepest depth and truth of that humility, which can make you capable of His light and Holy Spirit." Reject every thought, but that of waiting and praying in this matter from the bottom of your heart, with such truth and earnestness, as people in torment wish to pray and be delivered from it. If you can, and will give yourself up in truth and sincerity to this spirit of prayer, I will venture to declare that, if you had twice as many evil spirits in you as Mary Magdalene had, they will all be cast out of you, and you will be forced with her to weep tears of love at the feet of the holy Jesus.

~Andrew Murray~

(The End)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 12

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 12

Humility and Exaltation

"He that humbles himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:11)

"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up" (James 4:10)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time (1 Peter 5:6). Just yesterday, I was asked the question, "How can I conquer this pride?" The answer was simple. Two things are needed: Do what God says your work is, and humble yourself. Trust Him to do what He says His work is, and He will exalt you.

The command is clear: Humble yourself. That does not mean it is your work to conquer and cast out the pride of your nature, and form within yourself the lowliness of the holy Jesus. No, this is God's work; He is the one that lifts you up into the real likeness of the beloved Son.

What the command does mean is that you take every opportunity to humble yourself before God and man. Humble yourself in the faith of the grace that is already working in you, and in the assurance of more grace that is coming. Humble yourself in the light that awareness flashes on the pride of the heart and its workings. Even though there may be much failure and falling, stand firm under the unchanging command: Humble yourself. Accept with gratitude everything that God allows from within or without, from friend or enemy, in nature or in grace, to remind you of your need of humbling, and to help you to it. Consider humility to be the mother-virtue, your very first duty before God, the one constant safeguard of the soul, and set your heart on it as the source of all blessing. The promise is divine and sure. He that humbles himself will be exalted. Be sure you do the one thing God asks, and humble yourself. God will be faithful to do the one thing He promised. He will give more grace, and He will exalt you in due time.

All God's dealings with man are characterized by two stages. There is the time of preparation, when command and promise, mingled with the experience of effort, weakness, failure,and partial success, produce the expectance of something better. These prod, train, and discipline men for a higher stage. Then comes the time of fulfillment, when faith inherits the promise, and enjoys what it so often struggled for in vain. These stages hold true in every part of the Christian life, and in the pursuit of every separate virtue. It is grounded in the very nature of things. In all that concerns our redemption, God must take the initiative. When that has been done, man's turn comes. In the effort to pursue obedience and fulfillment, he must learn to know his weakness, in self-despair to die to himself. In this way, he is equipped voluntarily and intelligently to receive from God the completion of that which he accepted in the beginning in ignorance. So God, before man correctly knew Him or fully understood what His purpose was, is longed for and welcomed as the All in All.

It is the same in the pursuit of humility. To every Christian the command comes from the throne of God Himself to humble yourself. The enthusiastic attempt to listen and obey will be rewarded with the painful discovery of two things. The one, being the depth of pride that is unwilling to count oneself and be counted as nothing, and to submit absolutely to God. The other, what absolute weakness thee is in all our efforts, and all our prayers for God's help to destroy the hideous monster. Blessed is the man who learns to put his hope in God, and persevere in spite of all the power of pride within him, with acts of humiliation before God and men. We know the law of human nature: acts produce habits, habits breed temperament, temperament forms the will, and the rightly formed will is character. It is no different in the work of grace. Acts repeated create habits and temperament, and these strengthen the will. He who works both to will and to do comes with His mighty power and Spirit. Ultimately, the humbling of the proud heart is rewarded with more grace, in which the Spirit of Jesus has conquered and brought the new nature to its maturity, where the meek and lowly One now dwells forever.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will exalt you. In what way does the exaltation exist? The highest glory of the creature is in being only a vessel, to receive and enjoy and show forth the glory of God. It can do this only as it is willing to be nothing in itself, that God may be all. Water always fills first the lowest places. The lower and the emptier a man lays himself before God, the speedier and the fuller will be the inflow of divine glory. The exaltation God promises is not - cannot be - any external thing apart from Himself. All that He has to give or can give is only more of Himself, to take more complete possession. The exaltation is not, like an earthly prize, something frivolous, in no connection with the conduct to be rewarded. No, but it is in its very nature the effect and result of the humbling of ourselves. It is nothing but the gift of such a divine indwelling humility,such a conformity to and possession of the humility of the Lamb of God, as allows us to receive fully the indwelling of God.

He that humbles himself will be exalted. Jesus Himself is the proof, verifying the truth of these words. The certainty of their fulfillment to us is made more sure in the fact that He is the pledge. Let us take His yoke upon us and learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly of heart. If we are willing to stoop to Him, as He has stooped to us, He will stoop to each one of us again, and we will not be unequally yoked with Him. As we enter deeper into the fellowship of His humiliation, and either humble ourselves or endure the humbling of men, we can count on the fact that the Spirit of God and of glory will rest upon us. The presence and the power of the glorified Christ will come to them that are of a humble spirit. When God can again have His rightful place in us, He will lift us up. Make His glory your consideration in humbling yourself. He will make your glory His thoughtfulness in perfecting your humility, and breathing into you, as you indwelling life, the very Spirit of His Son. As the all-pervading life of God possesses you, there will be nothing so natural and sweet  as to be nothing, without a thought or wish for self, because all is occupied with Him who supplies all. "Most gladly, therefore, I will rather glory in my weakness that the power of Christ may dwell in me" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Friend, don't we have here the reason that our sanctification and our faith have produced so little in the pursuit of holiness? It was by self and its strength that the work was done under the name of faith. It was for self and its happiness that God was searched for. It was, unconsciously, but in self and its holiness that the soul rejoiced. We never knew that humility, penetrating and marking our whole life with God and man, was the most essential element of the life of the holiness we searched for.

It is only in the possession of God that I loose myself. As it is in the height, width, and glory of the sunshine that the speck of dust playing in its beams is seen. Even so, humility is taking our place in God's presence to be nothing but a bit of dust dwelling in the sunlight of His love.

How great is God! How small am I!
Lost, swallowed up in Love's immensity!
God only there, not I.

May God teach us to believe that to be humble, to be nothing in His presence, is the highest attainment, and the fullest blessing of the Christian life. "I dwell in the high place and in holiness and with Him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit" (Isaiah 57:15). Be this our portion!

Oh, to be emptier, lowlier,
Mean, unnoticed, and unknown,
And to God a vessel holier,
Filled with Christ, and Christ alone.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued  with # 13 - "with notes")

Monday, November 28, 2016

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 11

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 11

Humility and Happiness

"Most gladly therefore, I will rather glory in my weaknesses that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am content in weaknesses, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake, for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

So that Paul would not glorify himself, which would be easy to do due to his revelation in the Spirit, he was given a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble. Paul's first desire was to have it removed, and he pleaded with the Lord three times that it would be removed. The answer came that the trial was a blessing. Through the weakness and humiliation it brought, the grace and strength of the Lord could be better manifested. Paul instantly entered a new stage in his relationship to the trial. Instead of simply enduring it, he most gladly gloried in it. Instead of asking for deliverance, he took pleasure in it. He had learned that the place of humiliation is the place of blessing, power, and joy.

Every Christian passes through these two stages in his pursuit of humility. In the first stage, he fears, flees, and seeks deliverance from all that can humble him. He has not yet learned to seek humility at any cost. He has accepted the command to be humble, and seeks to obey it, only to find how completely he fails. He prays for humility, at times very sincerely; but in his secret heart, he prays more, if not in word, then in wish, to be kept from the very things that will make him humble. He is not yet so in love with humility, as the beauty of the Lamb of God and the joy of heaven, that he would sell everything to obtain it. In his pursuit of it, and his prayer for it, there is still a sense of burden and bondage. To humble himself has not yet become the spontaneous expression of a life and nature that is genuinely humble. It has not yet become his joy and only pleasure. He cannot yet say, "I glory in weakness with joy and take pleasure in whatever humbles me."

Can we hope to reach the stage in which this will be the case? Undoubtedly. What will it be that brings us there? That which brought Paul there: a new revelation of the Lord Jesus. Nothing but the presence of God can reveal and drive out "self". A clearer insight was given to Paul into the deep truth that the presence of Jesus will banish every desire to seek anything in ourselves, and will make us delight in every humiliation that prepares us for His fuller manifestation. Our humiliations lead us, in the experience of the presence and power of Jesus, to choose humility as our highest blessing. Let us try and learn the lessons Paul teaches.

We may have advanced believers, famous teachers, and men of heavenly experiences who have not yet fully learned the lesson of perfect humility, gladly glorying in weakness. We see this in Paul. The danger of praising himself was coming very near. He didn't know yet what it meant to be nothing, to die so that Christ alone might live in him, to take pleasure in all that brought him low. It appears that this was the highest lesson he had to learn, full conformity to his Lord in weakness, that God might be all.

The topmost lesson a believer has to learn is humility. Oh, that every Christian who seeks to advance in holiness may remember this well! There may be intense sanctification, heartfelt enthusiasm, and heavenly experiences, and yet if it is not prevented by very special dealings of the Lord, there may be an unconscious self-exaltation with it all. Let us learn the lesson: the highest holiness is the deepest humility. Let us remember that it comes not of itself, but only as it is made a matter of special dealing on the part of our faithful Lord to those who faithfully serve Him.

Let us look at our lives in the light of this experience, and see if we gladly glory in weakness, and take pleasure in injury, need, and distress. Yes, let us ask if we have learned to consider a reprimand, just or unjust, a criticism from friend or enemy, an injury, trouble, or difficulty into which others bring us, as above all an opportunity to prove how Jesus is all to us. Have we learned that our own pleasure or honor is nothing, and humiliation is in very truth what we take pleasure in? It is the deep happiness of heaven to be so free from self that whatever is said of us or done to us is lost and swallowed up in the thought that Jesus is all.

Let us trust Him who took charge of Paul to take charge of us too. Paul needed special discipline and, with it, special instruction to learn what was more precious than even the unspeakable things he heard in heaven. He needed to learn what it is to glory in weakness and lowliness. We need it too, of so much. He who cared for him will care for us too. The school in which Jesus taught Paul is our school too. He watches over us with a jealous, loving care, lest we exalt ourselves. When we are doing so, He seeks to reveal the evil to us, and deliver us from it. In trial, weakness, and trouble, He seeks to bring us low until we learn that His grace is all, and to take pleasure in the very thing that humbles us. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. His presence filling and satisfying our emptiness becomes the secret of a humility that will never fail. It can work in us and through us as it did in Paul, and say, "I am like Paul, though I am nothing." His humiliation led him to true humility, with its wonderful gladness, glory, and pleasure, in all that humbles.

"Most gladly, therefore, I will rather glory in my weakness that the power of Christ may dwell in me" (2 Corinthians 12:9). The humble man has learned the secret of lasting gladness. The weaker he feels, the lower he sinks, and the greater his humiliation appear, the more the power and the presence of Christ are his portion. When he acknowledges that he is nothing, the Word of his Lord brings ever-deeper joy, and he understands the words: "My grace is sufficient for thee."

I feel as if I must sum up the two lessons. The danger of pride is greater and nearer than we think, and the grace for humility too.

The danger of pride is greater and nearer than we think, and especially at the time of our highest spiritual experiences. The preacher of spiritual truth with an admiring congregation, the gifted speaker on a holiness platform, the Christian giving testimony of a blessed experience, and the evangelist moving on in victory - no man knows the hidden danger to which there are exposed. Paul was in danger without knowing it. What Jesus did for him is written for our caution, that we may know our danger and know our only safety. If ever it has been said of a teacher or professor of holiness that he is so full of self, or he does not practise what he preaches, let it be said no more. Jesus, in whom we trust, can make us humble.

Yes, the grace for humility is greater and nearer than we think. The humility of Jesus is our salvation. Jesus Himself is our humility. Our humility is His care and His work. His grace is sufficient for us to meet the temptation of pride too. His strength will be perfected in our weakness. Let us choose to be weak, to be low, to be nothing. Let humility be to us joy and gladness. Let us glory and take pleasure in weakness, in all that can humble us and keep us low. The power of Christ will rest on us. Christ humbled Himself, and as a result, God exalted Him. Christ will humble us and keep us humble. Let us heartily consent and, with trust and joy, accept all that humbles, and as a result, the power of Christ will rest on us. We will find that the deepest humility is the secret of the truest happiness, and of a joy that nothing can destroy.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 12 - Humility and Exaltation

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 10

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 10

Humility and Death to Self

"He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross" (Philippians 2:8)

Humility is the path to death, because in death it gives the most evident proof of its perfection. Humility is the blossom of which death to "self" is the perfect fruit. Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death, and revealed the path we too must walk. As there was no way for Him to prove the completeness of His surrender to God, or leave His human nature behind but through death, so it is with us too. Humility must lead us to die to self. In this way, we prove how completely we have given ourselves up to it and to God. We are freed from the fallen nature, and find the path that leads to life in God. Humility is the breath and joy of that new nature.

We spoke of what Jesus did for His disciples when He communicated His resurrection life to them. How through sending the Holy Spirit, He, the glorified and enthroned Meekness, actually came from heaven Himself to dwell in them. He won the power to do this through His death. In its inmost nature, the life He offered was a life out of death, a life that had been surrendered to death, and had been won through death. He who came to dwell in them was Himself One who had been dead and now lives forevermore. His life, His person, His presence, bears the evidence of death, of being a life born out of death. That life in His disciples bears the evidence of death too. It is only as the spirit of the death, of the dying One, dwells and works in the soul, that the power of His life can be known. The first and most prominent of the marks of the dying of the Lord Jesus, of the evidence that shows the true followers of Jesus, is humility, for these two reasons: Only humility leads to perfect death, and only death perfects humility. Humility and death are in their very nature one. Humility is the bud, and in death, the fruit is ripened to perfection.

Humility leads to perfect death. Humility means the giving up of self, and taking the place of perfect nothingness before God.

Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient unto death. In death, He gave the highest, the perfect proof of having given up His will to the will of God. In death, He gave up His "self", with its natural reluctance to drink the cup. He gave up the life He had in common with our human nature. He died to self and the sin that tempted Him. So, as man, He entered into the perfect life of God. If it had not been for His endless humility, counting Himself as nothing except as a servant to do and suffer the will of God, He never would have died.

This gives us the answer to the question that is so often asked, but which is so seldom understood: How can I die to self? The death to self is not your work, it is God's work.  In Christ, you are dead to sin. The life in you has gone through the process of death and resurrection. You can be sure you are dead to sin. The full manifestation of the power of this death in your character and conduct depends on how fully the Holy Spirit gives the power of the death of Christ. Here is where teaching is needed. If you desire to enter into full fellowship with Christ in His death and know the full deliverance from self, humble yourself. This is your one duty. Place yourself before God in your utter helplessness. Agree with the fact that you are helpless to slay or make yourself alive. Sink down into your own nothingness, in the spirit of meek, patient, and trustful surrender to God. Accept every humiliation; look at every fellow man who annoys or offends you, as a way for grace to humble you. Use every opportunity of humbling yourself before your fellow man as a steppingstone to live a  humble life before God. God will accept the humbling of yourself as proof that your whole heart desires it. Humbling yourself is your preparation for His mighty work of grace as He reveals Christ fully in you. It is the path of humility that leads to perfect death, the full and perfect understanding that we are dead in Christ.

Only this death leads to perfect humility. Oh, beware of the mistake so many make, who are eager to be humble, but are afraid to be too humble. They have so many qualifications and limitations, so many reasons and questions, as to what true humility is to be and to do, that they never unreservedly yield themselves to it. Beware of this. Humble yourself unto death. It is in death to self that humility is perfected. You can be confident that at the core of all real experience of increasing grace, of all true growth in sanctification, of all increasing conformity to the likeness of Jesus, there must be a deadness to self that proves itself to God and men in our character and actions. Sadly, it is possible to speak of the death-life and the Spirit-walk, while being unable to see how much there is of self. Death to self has no surer death-mark than a humility which makes itself of no reputation, which empties out itself, and takes the form of a servant. It is possible to speak often and honestly of fellowship with a despised and rejected Jesus, and of bearing His cross, while the humility of the Lamb of God is not seen and is barely thought of. The Lamb of God means two things: meekness and death. Let us seek to receive Him in both forms. In Him, they are inseparable. They must be in us too.

What a hopeless task if we had to do the work! Nature can never overcome nature, not even in the new man. Praise God, the work has been done, finished, and perfected forever! The death of Jesus, once and forever, is our death to self. The ascension of Jesus, His entering once and forever into the holiest place, has given us the Holy Spirit to communicate to us in power, and make the power of the death-life ours. As the soul, in the pursuit  and practise of humility, follows in the steps of Jesus, its awareness of the need of something more is awakened. Its desire and hope is invigorated. It faith is strengthened, and it learns look up, claim, and receive the fullness of the Spirit of Jesus. This faith can daily maintain His death to self and sin in its full power, and make humility the penetrating spirit of our life.

"Know ye not that all of us that are baptized into Jesus the Christ are baptized into his death? (Romans 6:3). "Likewise also reckon yourselves to be truly dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus, our Lord" (Romans 6:11). "Present yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead" (Romans 6:13). The whole self-consciousness of the Christian is to be saturated and characterized by the spirit that brought about the death of Christ. His entire existence is to present himself to God as one who has died in Christ, and in Christ is alive from the dead, exhibiting in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus. His life ever bears witness to the death to sin and death, and new life resurrected in power where Jesus dwells.

Believer, claim in faith the death and the life of Jesus as your own. Enter His grave, into the rest from self and its work, the rest of God. With Christ, who committed His spirit into the Father's hands, humble yourself and descend each day into that perfect, helpless dependence on God. God will raise you up and exalt you. Sink every morning in deep, deep nothingness into the grave of Jesus; every day the life of Jesus will be manifest in thee. Let a willing, loving, restful, happy humility be the evidence that you have claimed your birthright: the baptism into the death of Christ. "For by one offering he has perfected for ever those that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14). The souls that enter into His humiliation will find in Him the power to see and count self as dead. As those who have learned and received  of Him, they will walk with all lowliness and meekness, forbearing one another in love. The death-life is seen in meekness and lowliness like that of Christ.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 11 - Humility and Happiness

Friday, November 18, 2016

Reflections on Revival!

Reflections on Revival!

If I have been able to feel the spirit that has moved the efforts of Christians, pastors, and missionaries in these later years; if I have been able to perceive the concern of our work, I would say: "The supreme passion of many hearts, the deepest yearning of many brethren is that a great revival similar to those in the days of Wesley, Fox, Finney and Moody, would sweep over the whole country overthrowing the citadels of darkness and transporting thousands into the kingdom. Many have been praying, crying out in the Spirit and shedding tears before the Almighty, waiting for such an event.

From the beginning of my missionary career I had been praying for revival. I together with other pastors and missionaries joined in prayer every morning for two years, lifting our hearts to God in a common petition, that He would bless us with a great outpouring of His Spirit in revival. Nothing happened.

It was one of the greatest disappointments of my life. My feet almost slipped. What was wrong? Why did God not answer us? Why did He not want to visit us with a great revival similar to those He has brought to other countries in other times? Those early years passed and I came to realize that there were many brothers and sisters in other parts of the country that had the same passion that consumed me. This consoled me, but did not resolve my problem. In a sense it made it more difficult. Why doesn't God visit us with a great outpouring of His Spirit?

Finally, with the suffering and experience of the years, things began to clarify and I now see things differently. I now see that the problem is not with God. My eyes have been opened to see that the obstacles exist in us. The conviction has taken root in my soul that the greatest impediment to revival is the condition of the Evangelical Churches in our country and this is the primary reason why no revival has come.

Why talk of evangelizing the masses when there are enormous blocks of paganism in my own being that need to be exposed? Should I give to others what I have not given to parts of my own soul still in darkness? I had to go through the greatest trial of my life, equivalent to a thousand deaths, to discover my own condition. This frightened me. The result was that I undertook a great crusade to implant the Cross of Christ in all of the areas of my being that were still under the sway of the world and darkness (and even paganism). The struggle took two years, with Christ inspiring and guiding me. I had never imagined that there was so much garbage, that I had so many unchristian things. How much flesh! Flesh everywhere; sermons inspired by the flesh; prayers that sprang from the flesh; evangelistic and missionary work originating in nothing but the flesh.  And Jesus said, "the flesh profiteth nothing." What should I do? The answer came, "You have been crucified with My Son. You have to die taking advantage of the death of the Saviour. That great mountain of self-centeredness and carnality, you have to get rid of it! Go to Calvary with everything! To Calvary with your life and your flesh! To Calvary with everything that is not inspired by the Holy Spirit: sermons, prayers, struggles, whatever may seem saintly, to Calvary with it all, so that it is no longer you but Christ who works in you."

Finally the Cross of Christ worked in me, and after the Cross a glorious resurrection. Oh, what glory! What an abundant life! A great revival, rivers of the water of life; a life of victory, fullness of life in Christ Jesus!

We can not talk of revivals, of evangelism, we can not even mention the problem of how to reach the masses with the Gospel, while we, the very messengers of Christ, do not submit to being crucified, placing our own carnal life in the tomb with Christ, so that we may receive life from on high, as those who have been raised up with Christ.

Sectarianism is again invading our churches like a great monster. What have we done to get rid of it? Is it not true my brothers that instead of facing the beast and casting it out of our churches, we have approved of our brothers and sisters holding on to it tightly and embracing it, even if it will sink us in hell? Yes, we have wanted this because it supports our vanity and selfishness. I declare, brothers, that the greatest need in regards to evangelism is the evangelism of those in our own churches. For my part, I see little difference between churches filled with formal ritual and an evangelicalism that rests on dead forms even though they may be Biblical. Jesus says, "The flesh profiteth nothing." I say that Methodist flesh, Presbyterian flesh, Baptist flesh or any kind of evangelical flesh is not any better than dead formalism. We say there is a great difference between evangelicals and mainline churches. It does not interest me. What concerns me today and that keeps me crying out, is the marked difference between the Christianity of Christ and our carnal Protestantism.

In the end, my brothers and sisters, I would say that once we remove the blocks so that the Almighty can work His power in our midst, nothing in the world can resist our Protestant movement. The Church in our country will be the spark of God that will ignite the whole country with the purifying fire of the Gospel.

Once we evangelize those areas of our lives that are still dominated by the world or even paganism, the vast fields that have not been subjected to the Cross of Christ, there will be a great period of evangelization here in our country. The very angels of heaven trembling with unspeakable joy will raise their voices in a new song, and our Saviour will see the travail of His soul satisfied.

~F. J. Huegel~

(The End)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 9

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 9

Humility and Faith

"How can ye believe, who take glory one from another, and seek not the glory that comes only from God?" (John 5:44)

In a sermon I heard recently, the speaker said that the blessings of the higher Christian life were often like the objects displayed in a shop window: one could see them clearly and yet could not reach them. If a man was told to stretch out his hand and take an item, he would recognize the thick pane of plate glass separating him from them. In a similar way, Christians may see clearly the promises of perfect peace and rest, overflowing love and joy, and abiding fellowship and fruitfulness, and yet feel there is something between, hindering the true possession. And what might that be? Nothing but pride. The promises made to us through faith are so free and sure that it can only be something that hinders faith, which hinders the blessing from being ours. In our text, Jesus reveals to us that it is indeed pride that makes faith impossible. "How can ye believe, who take glory one from another?" In their very nature, pride and faith are incompatible. We will learn that faith and humility are at root one, and we can never have more true faith than we have true humility. It is possible to have strong intellectual conviction and assurance of the truth while pride is kept in the heart, but it makes living faith, which has power with God, an impossibility.

We only need to pause for a moment to discover what faith is. It is the confession of nothingness and helplessness, the surrender and the waiting to let God work! Isn't it the most humbling thing there can be, the acceptance of our place as dependents who can claim, receive, or accomplish nothing apart from grace? Humility is simply the habit which prepares the soul for living on trust. Every breath of pride, in self-seeking, self-will, self-confidence, or self-exaltation, is just the strengthening of that self which cannot enter the kingdom. It cannot possess the things of the kingdom, because it refuses to allow God to be the All in All.

Faith is the sensory organ used to understand and take hold of the heavenly world and its blessings. Faith seeks the glory that comes from God, that only comes where God is all. As long as we take glory from one another, or seek, love, and jealously guard the glory of this life and the honor and reputation that comes from men, we do not seek and cannot receive the glory that comes from God. Pride renders a faith impossible. Salvation comes through a cross and a crucified Christ. Salvation is the fellowship with the crucified Christ in the meaning of His Cross. Salvation is partnership with, delight in, and participation in the humility of Jesus. Is it difficult to believe that our faith is so feeble when pride still reigns so much? We have barely learned to long or pray for humility as the most needed and beautiful part of salvation.

Humility and faith are more closely tied together in Scripture than many realize. This concept is visible in the life of Christ. There are two specific cases where He spoke of great faith. Jesus marveled at the faith of the centurion, saying, "Verily I say unto you that not even in Israel have I found such faith" (Matthew 8:10). Jesus' reaction was in response to the centurion saying, "Lord, I am not worthy that thou should come under my roof" (Matthew 8:8). Again, He recognized the mother's great faith when she accepted the name of a dog, and said, "Yes, Lord, yet the little dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table" (Matthew 15:27). It is humility that brings a soul to be nothing before God and removes every hindrance to faith. Humility makes the soul desire to please Him by trusting in Him fully.

Friend, don't we have here the cause of failure in the pursuit of holiness? Isn't it this, even though we didn't know it, that made our sanctification and faith so superficial and short-lived? We had no idea to what extent pride and self were still secretly working within us, and how only God, by His entering in and His mighty power, could cast them out. We didn't understand how nothing but the new and divine nature, completely taking the place of the old self, could make us really humble. We didn't know that absolute humility must be the origin of every prayer and every approach to God as well as of every dealing with man. We might as well attempt to see without eyes or live without breath if we think we can believe, draw near to God, or dwell in His love, without an all-encompassing humility and lowliness of heart.

Friend, haven't we made a mistake taking so much trouble to believe, while at the same time the old self, in its pride, attempted to possess God's blessing and riches? No wonder we could not believe. Let us change our course. Let us seek first of all to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. He will exalt us. The Cross, the death, and the grave, into which Jesus humbled Himself, were His path to the glory of God. And they are our path. Let our one desire and our fervent prayer be, to be humbled with Him and like Him. Let us accept gladly whatever can humble us before God or men. This alone is the path to the glory of God.

You might feel inclined to ask a question. I have spoken of some who have experienced blessing, or are the means of bringing blessing to others, and yet are lacking in humility. You might ask if these prove that they have true, even strong, faith, though they show very clearly that they still seek the honor that comes from men. There is more than one answer to this question. The primary answer is that they have a "measure" of faith, in proportion to the gifts they have been given and the blessing they bring to others. However, even in their blessing, the work of their faith is hindered through lack of humility. The blessing is often superficial or temporary, just because they are not the nothing that opens the way for God to be all. A deeper humility would without doubt bring the deeper and fuller blessing of the Holy Spirit, not only working in them as a Spirit of power, but also dwelling in them in the fullness of His grace and especially that of humility. This life of power, holiness, and steadfastness is all too seldom seen.

"How can ye believe, who take glory one from another?" Friend, the only thing that can cure you of the desire for man's praise or the hurt feelings and anger which come when it is not given, is by only seeking the glory that comes from God. Let the glory of the all-glorious God be everything to you. You will be freed from the glory of men and of self, and be content and glad to be nothing. Out of this nothingness, you will grow strong in faith, giving glory to God. You will find that the deeper you sink in humility before Him, the nearer He is to fulfill every desire of your faith.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 10 - Humility and Death to Self

Friday, November 11, 2016

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 8

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 8

Humility and Sin

"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first (1 Timothy 1:15)

Humility is often identified with repentance and remorse. As a consequence, there appears to be no way of nurturing humility except by keeping the soul focused on its sin. We have learned that humility is something else and something more. We saw in the teaching of our Lord Jesus and in the Epistles how often humility is taught without any reference to sin. In the whole relationship of the creature to the Creator, in the life of Jesus as He lived it and communicated it to us, humility is the very essence of holiness, the fullness that is in Christ. It is the displacement of "self" by the enthronement of God. Where God is all, self is nothing.

Man's sin and God's grace bring a whole new layer and dimension to the topic of humility. We only have to look at a man like the apostle Paul to see how, through his life as a holy man, the total awareness of having been a sinner remains at the forefront of his mind. We all know the passage where he refers to his life as a persecutor and blasphemer. "For I am the least of the apostles, for I am not worthy to be called an apostle because I persecuted the congregation of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am; and his grace towards me was not in vain, for I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me (1 Corinthians 15:9-10). Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of the Christ (Ephesians 3:8). [I was] before a blasphemer and a persecutor and injurious, but I was received unto mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first (1 Timothy 1:13, 15). God's grace had saved him. God remembered his sins no more forever, but he could never forget how terribly he had sinned. The more he rejoiced in God's salvation and his experience of God's grace filled him with joy unspeakable, the more he was aware that he was a saved sinner. Salvation had no meaning or sweetness except when it was looked at through the lens of being a sinner. This made it precious and real to him. Never, for a moment, could he forget that it was a sinner God had taken up in His arms and crowned with His love.

The texts we have just quoted are often looked at as Paul's confession of daily sinning. They only have to be read carefully in their context to see that this is not the case. This recognition of sinfulness functioning in humility causes the ransomed to bow before the throne, as those who have been washed from their sins in the blood of the Lamb. They can never be anything but ransomed sinners, but the understanding of grace allows them to see their sin, and salvation from it, as a demonstration of God's love. The humility that accompanies his admission as a sinner takes on a new meaning when he learns how it enhances him as a creature. Humility produces adoration and praise in the context of God's wondrous redeeming love.

The true importance of what these words of the apostle Paul teach us comes through strongly when we notice the remarkable fact that, through his whole Christian life, we never find from his pen anything like confession of sin. Nowhere is there any mention of shortcoming or defect, or any suggestion to his readers that he failed in his duty or sinned against the law of perfect love. On the contrary, there are several passages where he defends himself in language that means nothing if it were not for the faultless life he lived. "Ye are witnesses, and God also, of how holy and just and irreprehensible our behavior was among you that believe (1 Thessalonians 2:10). For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with carnal wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world and more abundantly towards you (2 Corinthians 1:12). This is not an ideal or an aspiration; it is a statement of what his actual life had been. However we account for this absence of any confession of sin, everyone will admit that it points to a life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Such a life is seldom experienced or expected these days. 

The point I wish to emphasize is that our only place of joy and our constant position before God must be to confess that we are sinners saved by grace. Daily sinning is not where the secret of deeper humility will be found, but in our constant position of abundant grace.

With Paul's deep remembrance of having sinned so terribly in the past, before grace met him, and the awareness of being kept from present sinning, he always remembered the dark, hidden power of sin only kept out by the presence and power of the indwelling Christ. "And I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing; for I have the desire, but I am not able to perform that which is good (Romans 7:18). This describes the flesh as it remains until the end. "For the law of Spirit of life in Christ, Jesus, has made me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). The glorious deliverance is neither the destruction nor the sanctification of the flesh, but a continuous victory given by the Spirit as He puts to death the deeds of the body. As health expels disease, light swallows up darkness, and life conquers death, the indwelling of Christ through the Spirit is the health, light, and life of soul. With this, the conviction of helplessness and danger continuously transform faith, in the temporary action of the Holy Spirit, creating a sense of dependence in the one who is disciplined by it. In this way, faith, joy, and humility work together in the grace of God.

The three passages quoted above all show that it was the wonderful grace given to Paul, of which he felt the need every moment, that humbled him so deeply. The grace of God was with him, and enabled him to labor more abundantly than all the rest. This grace allowed him to preach to the heathen the unsearchable riches of Christ. It was this grace which kept his consciousness aware of having once sinned, and being bound to sin, so intensely alive. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). This reveals how the very essence of grace is to deal with and take away sin. It will always be that the more generous the experience of grace, the more intense the awareness of being a sinner. It is not sin, but God's grace that shows a man and reminds him of what a sinner he was and keeps him truly humble. It is not sin but grace that will make me know myself as a sinner, and make the sinner's place of deepest humility the place I never leave.

I fear that there are many who desire to humble themselves, and have to confess with sorrow that a humble spirit with its accompaniments of kindness, compassion, submission, and perseverance is still as out of reach as ever. Being occupied with self, even to the point of hating yourself, can never free us from self. It is only by the revelation of God, not by the law condemning sin but by His grace delivering from it, that will make us humble. The law may break the heart with fear, but it is only by grace that sweet humility becomes a joy to the soul and its second nature. It was as God revealed Himself in holiness, as He drew near to make Himself known in His grace, that Abraham, Jacob, Job, and Isaiah bowed so low. It is the soul where God the Creator becomes the "all" of the creature in its nothingness. God the Redeemer, in His grace, becomes the "all" of the sinner in his sinfulness. It is in this place where the soul of the creature will find itself so filled with His presence that there will be no place for "self". The promise will be fulfilled: "The haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day" (Isaiah 2:17).

It is the sinner dwelling in the full light of God's holy, redeeming love, in the experience of the full indwelling of divine love, which comes through Christ and the Holy Spirit, who can be humble. Not to be occupied with your sin, but to be occupied with God, brings deliverance from self.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 9 - Humility and Faith