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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

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 7

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 7

Humility and Holiness

"Who say, Stand by thyself, do not come near to me; for I am holier than thou" (Isaiah 65:5)

We speak of the Holiness Movement in our times, and praise God for it. We hear a great deal about seekers after holiness and professors of holiness, holiness teaching, and holiness meetings. The blessed truths of holiness in Christ and holiness by faith are being emphasized as never before. The great test of whether the holiness we profess to seek or attain is truth and life, will be whether it produces increasing humility. In the creature, humility is the one thing necessary to allow God's holiness to dwell in him and shine through him. In Jesus, the Holy One of God who makes us holy, divine humility was the secret of His life, death, and exaltation. The one foolproof test of our holiness will be the humility we demonstrate before God and men. Humility is the bloom and beauty of holiness.

The distinguishing feature of counterfeit holiness is its lack of humility. Every seeker of holiness needs to be on his guard, so he doesn't allow pride to creep in against his knowledge, and so that what began in the Spirit attempts to be perfected in the flesh. Two men went up into the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a publican. There was no place or position as sacred as the temple. The fact that the Pharisee can enter there shows that pride can lift its head in the very temple of God and make His worship the scene of its self-exaltation. Since Christ exposed his pride, the Pharisee has put on the nature of the publican. Now the confessor of deep sinfulness and the professor of the highest holiness must be on the watch. When we desire most to have our heart become the temple of God, we will find two men coming up to pray. The publican will find that his danger is not from the Pharisee beside him, who despises him, but from the Pharisee within him who praises and honors himself. In God's temple, when we think we are in the holiest of all, in the presence of His holiness, let us beware of pride. "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and satan came also among them" (Job 1:6).

"The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are: extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican" (Luke 18:11). It might be the very thanksgiving we offer to God, the very confession that God has done it all, that causes complacency. Yes, even when in the temple, when the words of repentance and trust in God's mercy are heard, the Pharisee may praise God with his mouth and inwardly be congratulating himself. Pride can disguise itself in the appearance of praise or repentance. Even though the words, "I am not as other men," are rejected and condemned, their essence is often found in our feelings and words towards our fellow worshipers and fellow man. Would you know if this is really true? Just listen to the way churches and Christians often speak of one another. How little of the meekness and gentleness of Jesus is seen. It is barely remembered that deep humility must be the theme of what the servants of Jesus say about themselves or each other. There are not many churches, conventions, committees, or even foreign missions that are not affected by the influence of pride. Leaders in these ventures exhibit touchiness and impatience when defending themselves. They use sharp judgment, unkind words, and do not consider others as better than themselves. Their holiness contains little of the meekness of Christ. In their spiritual history, men may have had times of great humblings and brokenness. This is a completely different thing than being clothed with humility, from having a humble spirit. It is different from having that lowliness of mind where a man considers himself the servant of others, and in doing this, displays the very mind of Christ.

"Stand by thyself, do not come near to me; for I am holier than thou" (Isaiah 65:5). What a poor copy of holiness! Jesus the Holy One is the humble One. For this reason, the holiest will forever be the humblest. There is none holy but God. We can only have as much holiness as we have of God. Only what we have of God will determine our real humility. Humility is, simply stated, the disappearance of self in the vision and understanding that God is all. The holiest will be the humblest. Unfortunately, even though the shamefully boasting Jew of Isaiah's day is often not found, even our worldly manners have taught us not to speak in this way, and the spirit of the boasting Jew is still often seen in the treatment of fellow saints or the children of the world. How often the attitude in which opinions are given, work is undertaken, and faults are exposed, are made to appear to be like the publican but the voice is that of the Pharisee. "God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are" (Luke 18:11). Is it even possible to find this type of humility, that men would still consider themselves "less than the least of all saints" (Ephesians 3:8), the servants of all? It is. "Charity suffers long and is benign; charity envies not; charity does nothing without due reason, is not puffed up, is not injurious, seeks not her own" (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Where the spirit of love is embraced in the heart, where the divine nature comes to full maturity, where Christ the meek and lowly Lamb of God is truly formed within, there is given the power of a perfect love that forgets itself and finds its reward in blessing others. The one who loves, bears with them and honors them, however feeble may they be. Where this love enters, there God enters. Where God has entered in His power, and reveals Himself as ALL, there the creature becomes nothing. Where the creature becomes nothing before God, it cannot be anything but humble towards the fellow creature. The presence of God is no longer a thing that changes with circumstances, but the shelter where the soul lives forever. The creature's nothingness before God becomes the holy place where all its words and actions come from.

May God teach us that our thoughts, words, and feelings concerning our fellow man are His test of our humility towards Him. Our humility before Him is the only power that enables us to always be humble with our fellow man. Our humility must be the life of Christ, the Lamb of God, within us.

Let all teachers of holiness and all seekers after holiness take warning. There is no pride as dangerous, because it is so subtle and sneaky, as the pride of holiness. It is not that a man ever says, or even thinks, "Stand by thyself, do not come near to me; for I am holier than thou" (Isaiah 65:5). No, the mere thought would be treated with disgust. But unconsciously, there grows a hidden habit of the soul, it feels satisfied in its accomplishments, and it can't help but compare itself to the position of others. It can be recognized simply in the absence of that deep selflessness which can only be the evidence of the soul that has seen the glory of God. It reveals itself, not only in words or thoughts, but also in a tone, a way of speaking of others. Those who have the gift of spiritual discernment can't help but recognize the power of self. Even the world with its watchful eyes notices it, and points to it as proof that the profession of a heavenly life does not necessarily bear any heavenly fruit. Brothers and sisters, let us beware! Unless we make, in the pursuit of holiness, the increase of humility the focus of our study, we may find that we have been delighting in beautiful thoughts and feelings, and the motions of sanctification, while the only evidence of the presence of God - the disappearance of self - remains seriously lacking. Come, let us run to Jesus and hide ourselves in Him until we embrace and receive His humility. This alone is our holiness.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 8 - Humility and Sin

Friday, November 4, 2016

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 6

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 6

Humility In Daily Life

"He that does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? (1 John 4:20).

What a sobering thought, that our love for God is measured by our everyday interaction with men and the love it displays. Our love for God will be found to be an illusion, except where it is proven by the test of daily life with our fellow man. It is the same with our humility. It is easy to think we humble ourselves before God, but humility towards men will be the only sufficient proof that our humility before God is real.  It will be the only proof that humility has taken up its residence in us, and become our very nature, the only proof that we, like Christ, have made ourselves of no reputation. When lowliness of heart has become not a posture we assume for a time, when we think of Him or pray to Him, but the very spirit of our life, then it will become obvious in all our behavior towards our brethren. This lesson is one of critical importance. The only humility that is really ours is not the humility we try to show before God in prayer, but that which we carry with us and actively live in our ordinary conduct. The insignificant matters of daily life are the important tests of eternity because they prove what Spirit truly dwells within us. It is our most unguarded moments that we really show and see what we are. To know the humble man, to know how the humble man behaves, you must follow him in the common course of daily life.

Isn't this what Jesus taught? It was when the disciples disputed who should be greatest; when He saw how the Pharisees loved the chief place at feasts and the chief seats in the synagogues; when He gave them the example of washing their feet, that He taught His lessons of humility. Humility before God is nothing unless it is proven through humility before men.

It is the same way in the teaching of Paul. To the Romans, he writes, "with honor preferring one another (Romans 12:10); "Be unanimous among yourselves, not high minded, but accommodating the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion" (Romans 12:16). To the Corinthians, "Charity suffers long and is benign; charity envies not; charity does nothing without due reason, is not puffed up, is not injurious, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). There is no love without humility as its root. To the Galatians, "Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another" (Galatians 5:26). To the Ephesians, immediately after the three wonderful chapters on the heavenly life, he says, "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation with which ye are called, with all humility and meekness, with tolerance, forbearing one another in love, being diligent to guard the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1-3). To the Philippians, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in humility let each esteem others better than themselves, with each one not looking to their own things, but also to the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross" (Philippians 2:3-8). And to the Colossians, "Clothed, therefore, (as the elect of God, holy and beloved) with bowels of mercies, with kindness, with humility, with meekness, with tolerance, forbearing one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a quarrel against another: even as Christ forgave you,so also do ye" (Colossians 3:12-13). It is in our relationship to one another, in our treatment of one another, that the true lowliness of mind and the heart of humility will be seen. Our humility before God only has value inasmuch as it prepares us to reveal the humility of Jesus to our fellow man. Let us study humility in daily life in the light of these words.

The humble man seeks at all times to act according to the rule: with honor preferring one another; by charity serve one another; esteeming others better than themselves; submitting yourselves one to another." The question is often asked, How we can count others better than ourselves, when we see that they are far below us in wisdom, holiness, natural gifts, or grace received? The question itself proves at once how little we understand what real lowliness of mind is.  True humility comes when, in the light of God, we have seen ourselves to be nothing and have consented to part with and cast away self, to let God be all. The soul that has done this, and can say, I have lost myself in finding Him, no longer compares itself with others. It has given up forever every thought of self in God's presence. It interacts with its fellow man as one who is nothing, and seeks nothing for itself. This soul is a servant of God, and for His sake a servant of all. A faithful servant may be wiser than the master, and still retain the true spirit and attitude of the servant. The humble man looks at even the feeblest and most unworthy child of God, and honors him and prefers him in honor as the son of a King. The spirit of Him who washed the disciples' feet makes it a joy to us to be the least, to be servants one of another.

The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise God when others are favored and rewarded before him. He can bear to hear others praised and himself forgotten, because in God's presence he has learned to say with Paul, "I am nothing." He has received the spirit of Jesus, who didn't please Himself and didn't seek His own honor as the spirit of His life.

When the humble man is tempted to become impatient or offended, to have hard thoughts or use sharp words, because of the failings and sins of fellow Christians, he carries the Scripture in his heart, and shows it in his life, "forbearing one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a quarrel against another: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (Colossians 3:13). He has learned that by putting on the Lord Jesus, he has put on the heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and long-suffering. Jesus has taken the place of self, and it is not an impossibility to forgive as Jesus forgave. His humility does not exist only in thoughts or words, but in a heart of humility. This heart is encompassed by compassion and kindness, meekness and long-suffering, the sweet and lowly gentleness recognized as the mark of the Lamb of God.

In striving after the higher experiences of the Christian life, the believer is often in danger of aiming at and rejoicing in what one might call the more human, manly virtues, such as boldness, joy, contempt of the world, zeal, and self-sacrifice; even the old stoics taught and practiced these. While the deeper and gentler, more heavenly attributes, those which Jesus first taught in His time on earth, those which are more distinctly connected with His Cross and death of self, poverty of spirit, meekness, humility, and lowliness, are scarcely thought of or valued. For this reason, let us put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and long-suffering. Let us prove our Christlikeness, not only in our zeal for saving the lost, but also openly in all our interactions with the brethren, by being tolerant and forgiving one another, "even as the Lord forgave us."

Fellow Christians, let us diligently study the Bible portrait of the humble man. Let us ask other believers and ask the world, whether they recognize in us the likeness to the original. Let us be content with nothing less than taking each of these texts as the promise of what God will work in us. There promises are the revelation in words of what the spirit of Jesus will create and cause to grow within us. Let each failure and shortcoming simply urge us to turn humbly and meekly to the meek and lowly Lamb of God. We have the assurance that where He is enthroned in the heart, His humility and gentleness will be one of the streams of living water that flow from within us.

Once again, I repeat what I have said before, I feel deeply that we have a very poor understanding of what the church suffers because of the lack of divine humility, the nothingness that makes room for God to prove His power. It was not long ago that a Christian missionary friend expressed his deep sorrow that in some cases the spirit of love and tolerance was sadly lacking. The men and women in Europe, of whom he was referring, could each choose their own circle of friends, but when faced with others of incompatible minds, they found it hard to endure, love, and keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Those who should have been fellow helpers of each other's joy became a hindrance and a weariness. All this happened for one reason: the lack of humility which counts itself nothing, which rejoices in becoming and being counted the least, and which only seeks, like Jesus, to be the servant, helper and comforter of others, even the lowest and most unworthy.

From where does it come, that men who have joyfully given up themselves for Christ, find it so hard to give up themselves for their brethren? Isn't the blame with the church? It has barely taught that the humility of Christ is the first of the virtues, the best of all the attributes and powers of the Spirit. It has not proven by its behavior that a Christlike humility is what it, like Christ, places and preaches first, as what is needed and possible. Let us not be discouraged. Let the discovery of the lack of this quality stir us to a greater expectation from God. Let us look at every person who annoys or agitates us, as God's means of grace, God's instrument for our purification, for the working out of the humility Jesus our Life breathes within us. And let us have such faith in the completeness of God, as the nothingness of self, that as nothing in our own eyes, we may, in God's power, only seek to serve one another in love.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 7 - Humility and Holiness