Thursday, March 11, 2010
IT TAKES A CRUCIFIED MAN TO PREACH
A CRUCIFIED SAVIOUR
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Romans 8:13).
Oh to be nothing, nothing,
Just to lie at His feet –
A broken and empty vessel
For the Master’s use made meet.
By George D. Watson.
Throughout the Scriptures we are taught the infinite frailty and weakness of men; and even the best of men are set forth as having no strength of their own. Abraham said he was “but dust and ashes”; Isaiah said, “We all do fade as a leaf”; Job said, “I abhor myself”; Paul said, “I am less than the least of all saints”; and Jesus said, “Without Me ye can do nothing.”
All strength must be imparted to the soul from God. There are some few characters in the Bible against whom no blemish is mentioned; but in those characters it is recorded that all their goodness was imparted. They claim nothing of and from themselves.
It is possible that in six thousand years there have lived a few persons whose hearts never consciously wandered from God. Doubtless there are many who have had many wanderings, without the humility or the fullness of light to perceive or confess it. And the millions of God’s children have been painfully conscious of shortcomings – backslidings of greater or less extent.
Living as we are, in the state of probation, there is no degree of grace which may not be lost, and this is consistent with the doctrine so clearly taught in many Scriptures, that a saint may feel assured of his salvation. In the passage of Corinthians which says, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” the original tells us, “Let him that assuredly standeth take heed”; that is, let the most advanced believer, who has the fullest assurance of faith, take heed lest he fall. “Watch YE therefore, and pray ALWAYS.” Luke 21:36.
PRESS TOWARD THE MARK
Heart wanderings from God are almost imperceptible at first. There are slow degrees of the leakage of grace, almost imperceptible inroads of temptation. The devil insinuates himself in such soft, silent ways, and through unguarded avenues, and in such an assumed celestial raiment – that before the soul is aware, he has well-nigh captured the magazines of the heart.
A little spiritual laziness, and little tonings down of self-sacrifice, are like the coming of gray hairs. The Bible speaks of a certain one who had gray hairs here and there and knew it not. (Hosea 7:9). The loss of property and of health have the same imperceptible beginning as backsliding from God.
FORBIDDEN AND UNLAWFUL
Wanderings from God often begin by looking on forbidden objects. The eye is allowed to rest too long upon an object of temptation. Through the eye the thoughts take hold upon the object. This kindles exaggerated and unlawful desires. This undermines the will, and the outcome is sin in greater or less degree. Such was the case of Eve, who stood looking on the forbidden fruit, when God told her not to touch it. This was the case of David, who was gazing from the top of the palace.
This is the art that Satan tried on Jesus, when he spread before His mental vision all the kingdoms of the earth, and all their glory in one dazzling panorama of worldwide sovereignty and splendour; but Jesus instantly turned His mental eye from the beautiful vision, and fixed it on His coming cross.
This is the best cure for all fascinating and tempting visions – to get in the mind the precious blood of Jesus. The sight of Christ crucified is the panacea for unholy mental pictures.
ACCEPTING UNLAWFUL DELIVERANCE
Another cause of heart wanderings is self-management, and attempting to take our affairs in our own hands; trying to help the Lord in His providences of our case in time of trouble and distress. We must be led through many a soul crisis.
These crises will come on us in social life, in business, in church relations, in health, in lines of duty. Many of them cannot be avoided. They are in the very nature of things in this world, and when they come, our human spirits are so eager for the speedy and premature result they sometimes accept of an unlawful deliverance; and we are so tempted to think that God has forgotten us, or that He is too slow, that we take affairs in our own hands.
This was the case of Rebecca and Jacob, who thought they surely must manufacture a lie and deceive Isaac with the goatskin, in order to secure the fulfilment of an infallible promise from God; but their self-management brought sad separation and years of sorrow.
This was the case with King Saul, who thought that Samuel was so long reaching his appointment that he thought he (Saul) must play the part of the priest, and offer sacrifice; and from that hour he began wandering from God.
This was the case with Uzza, who thought, when the oxen stumbled, he must surely put forth his hand and assist the Lord in caring for the ark.
Officiousness has led many a soul into bondage. It is so easy for even spiritual men to get the impression that they must manage the work of God; that they are responsible in great Revivals for keeping their little fingers on the safety valves, and curbing divine fire within the limit of their prudence.
Spiritual power is lost in the attempt to manipulate spiritual power. The kingdom of God in the soul is often weakened by an attempt to manage the kingdom. Self-management, in some form or other, is the starting point of many a decline in grace.