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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")