So long as you struggle under law, that is by your own effort, sin shall have dominion over you: but the moment you step from under the shadow of Sinai, throw yourself upon the simple grace of Christ and His free and absolute gift of righteousness, and take Him to be to you what He has pledged Himself to be, your righteousness of thought and feeling, and to keep you in spite of everything, that ever can be against you, in His perfect will and peace, the struggle is practically over. Beloved, do you really know and believe that this is the very promise of the Gospel, the very essence of the new covenant, that Christ pledges Himself to put His law in your heart, and to cause you to walk in His statutes, and to keep His judgments and do them? Do you know that this is the oath which He sware unto Abraham, that He would grant unto us. That we being delivered from the hands of our enemies, and from all that hate us, might serve Him without fear, in righteousness and holiness before Him all the days of our life. He has sworn to do this for you, and He is faithful, that promised. Trust Him ever.
Lean not unto thine own understanding
~ Prov 3:5
Faith is hindered by reliance upon human wisdom, whether our own or the wisdom of others. The devil’s first bait to Eve was an offer of wisdom, and for this she sold her faith. Ye shall be as gods, he said, knowing good and evil, and from the hour she began to know she ceased to trust. It was the spies that lost the Land of Promise to Israel of old. It was their foolish proposition to search out the land, and find out by investigation whether God had told the truth or not, that led to the awful outbreak of unbelief that shut the doors of Canaan to a whole generation. It is very significant that the names of these spies are nearly all suggestive of human wisdom, greatness and fame.
So in the days of Christ, it was the bondage of the Jews to the traditions of their fathers and the opinions of men, that kept them back from receiving Him. How can ye believe, He asked, which receive honor from men, and seek not that which cometh from God only?
Let us trust Him with all our heart and lean not to our own understanding.
Be not dismayed, for I am thy God
~ Isa 41:10
How tenderly God is always comforting our fears! How sweetly He says in Isaiah xli. 10, Fear not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness. And yet again with still tenderer thoughtfulness, I, the Lord thy God, will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not, I will help thee. Not only does He say it once, but He keeps holding our right hand and repeating such promises.
The blessed Lord has condensed it all into one sweet monogram of eternal comfort in His message to the disciples on the sea of Galilee, It is I; be not afraid. He does not say, It is over, or It is morning, or It is fine weather, or It is smooth water, but He says, It is I, be not afraid. He is the antidote to fear; He is the remedy for trouble; He is the substance and the sum of deliverance. Therefore, we should rise above fear. Let us keep our eyes fastened upon Him; let us abide continually in Him; let us be content with Him; let us cling closely to Him and cry, We will not fear though the earth be removed, though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.
Hold fast that which is good
~ 1 Thess 5:21
It is a great thing to be able to receive new truth and blessing without sacrificing the truths already proved, and abandoning foundations already laid.
Some persons are always laying the foundations, and they present at last, the appearance of a lot of abandoned sites and half constructed buildings, and nothing is ever brought to completion.
The fact that you are abandoning today for some new truth the things that a year ago you counted most precious and believed to be divinely true, should be sufficient evidence that you will probably a year from today abandon your present convictions for the next new light that comes to you.
God is ever wanting to add to us, to develop us, to enlarge us, to teach us more and more, but it is ever in the line of things which He has already taught us, and in which we have been established.
While we are to prove all things, let us hold fast that which is good, and whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
Charity doth not behave itself unseemly
~ 1 Cor 13:5
In the dress of a Hindu woman, her graceful robe is fastened upon her person entirely by means of a single knot. The long strip of cloth is wound around her person so as to fall in graceful folds like a made garment, and the end is fastened by a little knot, and the whole thing hangs by that single fastening. If that were loosed the robe would fall. And so in the spiritual life, our habits of grace are likened unto garments; and it is also true that the garment of love, which is the beautiful adorning of the child of God, is entirely fastened by little knots.
If you will read with care the thirteenth chapter of 1st Corinthians, you will find that most of the qualities of love are purely negative. Love envieth not, love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave herself rudely, seeketh not her own, is not provoked, thinketh no evil. Here are nots enough to hold on our spiritual wardrobe. Here are reasons enough to explain the failure of so many, and the reason why they walk naked, or with rent garments, and others see their shame. Let us look after the nots.
I will cause you to walk in My statutes
~ Ezek 36:27
The highest spiritual condition is one where life is spontaneous and flows without effort, like the deep floods of Ezekiel’s river, where the struggles of the swimmer ceased, and he was borne by the current’s resistless force.
So God leads us into spiritual conditions and habits which become the spontaneous impulses of our being, and we live and move in the fulness of the divine life.
But these spiritual habits are not the outcome of some transitory impulse, but are often slowly acquired and established. They begin, like every true habit, in a definite act of will, and they are confirmed by the repetition of that act until it becomes a habit. The first stages always involve effort and choice. We have to take a stand and hold it steadily, and after we have done so a certain time, it becomes second nature, and carries us by its own force.
The Holy Spirit is willing to form such habits in every direction of our Christian life, and if we will but obey Him in the first steppings of faith, we will soon become established in the attitude of obedience, and duty will be delight.
He sent forth the dove which returned not again unto him
~ Gen 8:12
First, we have the dove going forth from the ark, and finding no rest upon the wild and drifting waste of sin and judgment. This represents the Old Testament period, perhaps, when the Holy Ghost visited this sinful world, but could find no resting–place, and went back to the bosom of God.
Next, we have the dove going forth and returning with the olive leaf in her mouth, the symbol and the pledge of peace and reconciliation, the sign that judgment was passed and peace was returning. Surely this may beautifully represent the next stage of the Holy Spirit’s manifestation, as going forth in the ministry and death of Jesus Christ, to proclaim reconciliation to a sinful world.
There is a third stage, when, at length, the dove goes forth from the ark and returns no more; but it makes the world its home, and builds its nest amid the habitations of men. This is the third and present stage of the Holy Spirit’s blessed work. Let us welcome the Dove to a nest in our hearts.