Celebrated Christ – The New Man


The celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ is a proof that He is not an ordinary person.

I tell you, not only was He born into this world but there is something special about Him. His birth was the coming of someone who delivered us from sin and reconciled us back to God so that we can be who God purposed us to be.

God said that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. This is the demonstration of God’s love towards us (mankind). The birth of Jesus Christ was the birth of the only Saviour sent by God Himself to deliver us from sin and eternal destruction. It was also the birth of the Him who alone can deliver us from the present problems of this present world.

The terrible state of this world is caused by the sinful nature of man and this sinful nature is a nature inherited from the first created man called Adam. If you sin it is because of your nature, and you can only stop sinning by changing your nature. But nature cannot be changed, it can only be stopped through death. This is why Jesus Christ died in your place. Every man dies because of disobedience to God but Jesus died because of obedience to God who sent Him to save us and because of His love for us.

Do you know that nobody learns your nature ? NO. Your nature is WHO YOU ARE. For example, Dogs bark because it is their nature. Also man sins and is corrupt because it is his nature but not because God created him like that but because the first man called Adam sinned thereby corrupting the good nature God gave him and since then, man has been reproducing and populating the world with men according to himself through birth.

Sinful man can only reproduce sinful children. Just as a child born into a family looks like a member of that family.

To solve this problem, God sent Jesus Christ, the Son of God, a Man who cannot sin because He was born of a virgin woman by the supernatural power of the Almighty God so that the sinful nature of man would not be transferred into Him. Therefore we know that He was born of a righteous and Holy nature without sin.

This was why He lived in this same world and did not sin. He became qualified to represent us all. His death was your death, I mean the death of your sinful nature and His resurrection was your resurrection, I mean being raised up as a new kind of man which is righteous before God. This is the only way out of this world’s problems. Sickness, Poverty, Nightmares, Diseases, Famine, Earthquakes, Natural disasters, Wars, Killings, Murder etc are all consequences of having the sinful nature.

But once the sin nature is dealt with, all the above stated problems in this world and others not mention will have no ground to stand any more. And I am telling you now that Jesus Christ has already dealt with the sin nature. But to enjoy what He has done, you have to believe in Him and invite Him into your life. This is called PERSONAL DECISION. You know God is Love. And love is not forceful, and is not controlling neither is it intimidating. But love gives chances to personal decision but with personal decisions comes responsibilities for decisions made.

This is only a plead to you from a fellow man who has the same weaknesses and sinful nature as you but I have experienced the grace of God and what Jesus Christ did has totally transformed my life and many others all over the world. I can tell you, this message of Jesus Christ is true and it works.

If sin was inherited through one man, then righteousness and holiness which is the nature of God can also be inherited if there is a man who has it. That Man is Jesus Christ , the Son of God.

When He was crucified on the cross and died, it was because of all our sins. Please dear friends, all your sins has already being paid for through the suffering of Jesus Christ and His resurrection is also your resurrection into a new kind of life of peace, righteousness, and complete reconciliation to God.

Remember through the first man, you became a sinner by nature and now another Man Jesus Christ the righteous has paid the price for your sins and through Him you can also inherit the righteous nature of God and become a new person in Christ, if you will only believe in Him and give Him your life by acknowledging before God that you are a sinner and ask Jesus Christ the only Saviour to be your Lord.

Shalom

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The Way Of Spiritual Growth


Rembrandt - Apostle Paul - WGA19120

Rembrandt – Apostle Paul – WGA19120 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before we can or will consider the laws of spiritual growth, we need to have a real concern for that growth. There must be in us a strong sense of its importance and necessity. We must realize in a living way that:

1. The measure of our ultimate satisfaction to the Lord will be the measure of the fulness of Christ.

2. The measure of our value to others will depend entirely upon our own spiritual measure: not merely upon what we believe, or think, or say.

3. The measure of our own joy and satisfaction will be according to what fulness of Christ we know and live in.

Because these three things constitute the whole nature of, and reason for, our being called “into the fellowship of His (God’s) Son”, the New Testament is ninety percent occupied with the growth and maturity of believers.

As there are definite laws of growth in the physical and mental man, so there are in that of the “inward man”. Some of these are quite obvious, such as proper and suitable food, pure air, regular exercise, and systematic self-discipline. To violate or neglect any of these laws of body and mind is to arrest development, limit capacity, and open the door to adverse and destructive elements.

There are corresponding laws, the counterpart of the above in the spiritual life, with similar effects for good or ill in observance or neglect. We are not taking up these particular factors here, but are specifying three other although related laws of spiritual growth. The first of these is
That Unattractive thing — Obedience.

No one naturally likes that word. It is unpleasant from infancy onward. It’s very essence seems to imply the presence of at least a peril of disobedience, and the universal natural dislike of it, more than implies, it proves the presence of a wish to be free from any obligation or law.

Yes, that primeval revolt, and break from God which was the beginning of actual sin has entered as the Serpent’s poison into the very blood stream of the entire creation, and the very mention of obedience stirs a secret dislike, if not resentment.

It would take too much space to show how, through all time, the one thing which has been God’s supreme obstacle to man’s relationship with Himself has been this inherent disobedience as the active expression of unbelief. On the other hand, it would take volumes to show fully how every movement into fellowship with God in His great purposes has been based upon a demanded obedience of faith; a test, a challenge and a conflict issuing in a willing capitulation to the Divine will in some general or particular direction.

Here, our only intention is to point out and emphasize the fact that there is no possibility of the slightest true and genuine spiritual progress and growth beyond the point where light received, the Lord showing His mind, has not had a definite response in practical obedience. Time does not change this, and no matter how long we go on or imagine that the matter is passed over, when at length the real question of approval for particular usefulness arises, we shall be brought right back to the hindrance of that reserved obedience. It is like the presence and secret working of some injury in the physical system which flares up when a particular demand is made years after. God does not live in time. All past and future is present with Him.

But there is a realm of obedience which is not law but love, and love transforms the unlovely to delight.

Hence the Apostle Paul, in calling for an obedience which would make possible a spiritual enlargement, puts the matter on the basis of love, and then gives the supreme example of the obedience of love.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ, Who… became obedient” (Phil. 2:5).
It is those whose love for the Lord leads to swift actions in relation to light received, who make swift progress, and are seen to grow up in beauty before the Lord. On the other hand, those who are careless or rebellious when the Lord has spoken, and tardy in response, that is practical response, are marked by repeated defeats, recurrent bouts of spiritual cloudiness, and inability to meet an emergency demand when it arises. Too often this lack of obedience, or positive disobedience, is due to its origin in Satan’s Pride .

The second thing to be mentioned here is

That Unrecognized Thing — Adjusting.

One of the most common causes of spiritual stratification is fixedness (fixed mindset). It is peculiarly common in the realm where Christian truth has been reduced to a fixed form, particular order, system of things, greed and creed. The doctrines of Christianity are such and such; so many says.

The accepted and established ideas of Christian service and methods are so-and-so. Peter had his fixed position as to Jews and Gentiles, and, because of it, came perilously near missing the larger purpose of God, and presented the Lord with a real battleground in his Christianity. It has so very largely resolved itself into a finality of position, which results in a closed-door to fuller revelation as to what God means by His Word.

The fact is, that God only gives us enough light to get us to take the next step, but when that step has been taken, we are in the way of being shown that much more was meant by the Lord than He showed then (this is clearly shown in His dealings and relationship with all listed Heroes of Faith). The first expectations of many servants of the Lord in the Bible, expectations resultant from something said by the Lord to them, were later seen to have been not all that He really meant, but there was something more, and perhaps other than they thought.

Can anyone really dispute that full light very often means a shedding of things and ideas that we thought were of God? Is it not true that, as we go on, we find that certain leading of the Lord were tactical, intended to get us to a certain place where alone we could learn of a greater necessity? There is very much of this kind of thing in relation to both doctrine, practice, and service its nature and ways, and while Divine principles will never change to all eternity, the clothing of those principles may vary and change with both dispensations and generations and stages of our own lives.

In all this, while Truth remains unalterable the only way to grow is to be adjustable and not static and fixed.

Do your religious traditions bind you in such a way that you are not free to move with God? If He sees this to be so, He may not give you the light necessary for enlargement. But if He sees that, although you may be in a comparatively false position, your heart is really set on His fulness at any cost, He may present you with light which will test your comitment severely.

See the case of the disciples of John the Baptist transferring their discipleship to Christ. See the case of Peter and what happened in the home of Cornelius. See also the case of Apollos in Acts 18:24–28; as also the disciples mentioned earlier in that chapter.

Our third principle of growth is: That Critical Point Of Committal.

Very often the whole mounting avalanche of Divine working in our lives, an avalanche built up as silently and slowly as the added snowflakes in the Alps, just waits to move with power and overwhelming for that final yet all-inclusive act of committal. We wait; we think, wrestle, contemplate, analyze, go round and round; we reason and argue; we recognize that there is nothing else for it, and even say so; we even come to the point when the matter is settled in our conviction and acceptance, and we think that we are over the hedge, but nothing happens, nothing eventuate. Why is it?

The Lord knows more than we do about the deceitfulness of our hearts.

A covenant has two sides, and in the Old Testament two sacrifices were connected with a covenant; one representing God, the other the offerer; both were killed and the two parties to the covenant were represented as passing between the two (See Abraham in Gen. 15).

There has to be a slaying of something on our side! In other words, God is waiting until we have burned our boats behind us. Though we may have approached the shore of His will and way for us, there will be nothing from God’s side while our boats are just left on the shore so that, if things don’t go quite as we expect, we still can retreat. That boat is an evidence of doubt or reservation. It must be burned, so that whatever the consequences we have no alternatives.

The young believer will not grow unless he or she makes a committal in testimony, so letting others know where they stand. The law holds good in every stage of development and progress. If policy governs, or fear, or how such a step will affect our prospects, or any consideration which conflicts with what we know in our deepest hearts is the way indicated for us, for us, those things are boats or bridges representing a false “Safety first” policy. As when the bleating lambs were preserved by Saul the finger of God will point to them and say, What is the meaning of those boats?

God will wait for the full and final capitulation without a reservation, and to defer is only to be involved in confusion, and either becoming a misfit, having missed God’s first best, or losing out altogether.

I leave you at this stage with the revelation in Ephesians 1: 15 – 19.
Shalom
Rebecca

Reference: T Sparks

That I May Know Him and The Power Of His Ressurection


That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 1:17-20).

From time to time, right through the ages, those who have stood in quite a definite relationship to the things of God have either been seduced, or have drifted, or have for some reason come to be in a fixed and systematized positions as to the ways, works, and purposes of God, and these fixed ideas have come to limit Him, bind them, and result in going round in a circle instead of on a direct course of ever-enlarging and clarifying spiritual fulness and newness.

This propensity for fixedness and finality in conceptions has threatened the people of God many times with a fatal impasse. Indeed, Israel’s captivity and eventual disintegration among the nations, with all the agony of centuries, very largely rests upon their fixed idea of being so right as God’s elect. This same peril threatened to frustrate the real spiritual way and purpose of God with Christ’s own disciples. Because of Jewish ideas interpreted by their natural minds, they had prejudices and preconceptions which menaced their spiritual lives and constantly came into conflict with Christ’s mind and way. Paul’s life and ministry was continually opposed by this element, and he himself in his pre-conversion days, is a supreme example of its danger.

So it has been through the ages since, and is one of the greatest hindrances to the quicker realisation of the thought and purpose of the Lord in our own times. The fact is that God must not move or do anything which does not conform to the accepted and recognised order of traditional evangelical Christianity.

Anything that is outside of a prescribed circle of what has been done and how it has been done for generations is unfortunately suspect and boycotted.

The official bodies of organised evangelical Christianity are the final court of appeal. One of the strong factors in the ministry that this paper has sought to fulfil through these many years has been that, while there are those foundational facts which are in their essence unalterable and unchanging, there is always, in everything that comes from God, a wealth and fulness of meaning and value which is commensurate with its infinite Source and Fountainhead, and that the Spirit of Truth can continually make us know that God’s meaning infinitely transcends our apprehension.

We must therefore never box the compass of truth or interpretation, and fix our methods and framework of doctrine or work in a way that makes it impossible for the Lord to show us that, although a certain way of out working was all right for the time being, it was only relatively so, and fuller light means further adjustments. All this, not because the Lord is developing or changing, but because we can only move and change by life, organically, as we grow in understanding. That this is so is proved by much Scripture, and Ephesians 1:17-20 is the great stand-by in this matter; a word written to believers of no immature degree.

We venture to say that a time has begun when the old and fixed positions of traditional Christianity are losing their hold on—not only the Christian public in general—but many sincere seekers for reality, and that great numbers of young people are looking for something not to be found in many of the churches, and what they are looking for is the real and true life of God.

The question which confronts us all is this:

Can the Lord lead us on into His fulness in Christ without continually bumping up against something in our own carry-over of—not fixed truth, but—our fixed limit of its meaning; or something in our fixedness of position in any direction or connection?

Steadfastness, unmovableness, faithfulness, etc. are to be to the Lord, and to the foundation realities of the faith, and also in the purpose for which and to which He has called us in life and service; but adjusting is an essential to growth and increase in light and fulness. At the same time, we cannot change and move on only as there is a basic work of the Cross by which the strength of nature; even as it impinges upon Divine things is set aside.

May the Lord find us such all to have only one object, and that truly at any cost, “That I may know Him”,..that We all may Know Him and the power of His Resurrection, Amen.

Shalom
Rebecca.
Reference: T Sparks

The Inner Man of the Heart


English: The map of First Epistle to the Thess...

English: The map of First Epistle to the Thessalonians Polski: Mapa miejsc związanych z 1 Listem do Tesaloniczan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is no subject more vital in relation to fulness of life and effectiveness of service in Christ than this that we are now to consider. It embraces all the practical meanings and outworkings of the redemptive purposes of God in and through the Cross of Christ.

The phrase “The inner man” is not infrequently used in the Word of God, and, as we shall see, is but one expression used in connection with a theme of extensive range. But here at once let it be seen as that which first of all discriminates between the “inner” and the “outward” man. This discrimination in the scriptures, however, is not that made by the psychologists or philosophers as such, whether they be ancient or modern, pagan or “Christian.” These recognise but mind and matter: for them the “inner man” is the soul, and the “outward man” the body. Not so in the Word of God. There the “inner man” is the spirit, and the “outward man” the soul and the body, either or both. These two terms or designations are respectively synonymous with “natural man” and “spiritual man,” and these two are put asunder by the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12). It is just as dangerous to yoke together what God puts asunder as it is to put asunder “what God hath joined together,” and in this particular matter more chaos, paralysis, and defeat are due to the confusing of these two than ever we shall be able to measure in this life.

The only oneness of the three, spirit, soul, and body, is in that they compose or comprise one man. The literal translation of 1 Thessalonians 5:23, is “Your whole person,” or “Your whole man,” or “The whole of you, spirit, soul, and body”; and three distinct Greek words are used, as elsewhere. The Word of God does not use words at random, just for variety’s sake. Basic spiritual laws are involved in its words. The very word “natural” as applied to man, as we know, is the Greek word psuckekos, the Anglicised form of which is psychical. “Spiritual” is the adjective of “spirit,” and “soulish” is the adjective of “soul.” In James 3:15, “sensual” is used, but “soulish” is more accurate, and it is interesting and significant to note in passing that these two descriptions are given to wisdom.

That which makes man unique in the whole realm of creation is not that he is or has a soul, but that he has a spirit, and it may be that the union in one personality of soul and spirit makes him unique beyond this creation, in the whole universe. Soul is never spoken of in relation to God as God. Angels are spirits. Christ did not pour out His spirit, but His soul unto death; His Spirit He handed back to the Father of spirits. It is hardly necessary to describe the soul here, although we want to help from the very foundations.

What a great – and in most people – almost complete place and dominance is held by feelings and emotions. On the one hand, fear, grief, pity, curiosity, pleasure, pride, admiration, shame, surprise, love, regret, remorse, excitement, etc. Or in another direction; imagination, apprehensiveness, fancy, doubt, introspection, superstition, analysis, reasonings, investigation, etc. Or in a third direction, desires; for possession, knowledge, power, influence, position, praise, society, liberty, etc. And still in another direction; determination, reliance, courage, independence, endurance, impulse, caprice, indecision, obstinacy etc. These all in their respective directions representing the emotional, the intellectual, the volitional, are the components of the soul. Now consider how much of this has its place in Christian life and service, from the first step in relation to the gospel through all the course of Christian activity. It is here that we ask for patience in pursuing the subject when we make the tremendous affirmation that all this – the sum total of human feeling, reasoning, and willing may be placed to the account of the matter of salvation, either for ourselves or for others, and yet be utterly unprofitable and of NO account.

We recognise that if the full impact of this declaration, with all its implications, was to come by revelation to the “inner man” of Christian people and workers, it would be nothing short of revolutionary in all methods, means, and motives. Surely, for instance, we know by now that remorse and regret for sin, leading to tears and resolutions, does not mean salvation. Decisions, confessions, and religious feelings, are no criteria, any more than are reasoned conclusions, intellectual convictions, mental acceptances, aspirations after the sublime, the beautiful, the “good.” Does someone enquire then “do you rule out the intellect, the reason, the emotions, the human will or resolution?” and our answer is emphatically, we do rule all this out as an initial and basic factor in the matter of salvation; it is secondary, later, and even then only a bond-slave and not a master.

Let us ask some questions which will clarify the matter. What was it or where was it that death took place when “death passed upon all,” and it came true that was said, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”? Was it the body? Obviously not. Was it the soul? If our foregoing description truly represents the soul, then, again, obviously not. Repudiating the suggestion that the words were but a sentence of death to be carried out at some future time, there remains but the third part of man’s “whole,” namely his spirit. That was the topstone of God’s creative work. The organ in man of all the Divine activity; the sphere and instrument of all the operations of God. God is a spirit, and only spirit can have access to or fellowship with spirit.

Only spirit can know spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:9-11.

Only spirit can serve spirit. Romans 1:9, 7:6, 12:11.

Only spirit can worship God Who is Spirit. John 4:23,24. Philippians 3:3.

Only spirit can receive revelation from God Who is spirit. Revelation 1:10, 1 Corinthians 2:10. We shall return to this later.

Let it be clearly recognised that God determined to have all His dealings with man and to fulfil all His purposes through man by means of that in man which was “after His own likeness,” that is, his spirit; but this spirit of man for all such Divine intentions must be kept in living union with Himself, and never for one instant infringe the laws of its Divine union by crossing over to the outer circle of the soul at the call of any emotion, suggestion, argument or desire coming from without. When this took place death entered, and the nature of death, as the word is used in the scriptures, is severance in the Divine union of spirit. This does not mean that man no longer had a spirit, but that the ascendancy of the spirit was surrendered to the soul, and this at a time when the soul had accepted from without by desire, and reason, that which was intended to draw away from fellowship with God.

“Drawn away by his own lusts (desires).”

This is where the “fall” begins, all else follows. From that time the inclusive designation of man in a state of separation from spirit union and life with God is “flesh.”

When Paul speaks of the “flesh” he does not refer to flesh and blood in the natural body, but thus denotes the principle of human life which takes the place of the spirit in its primary state and purpose; and this “flesh” principle or state – variably called “the old man,” “the body of sin,” “the body of flesh,” “the body of death,” “the natural man,” is the centre of the residence of the enmity against God. This enmity is there, even in such as sing hymns, say prayers, delight in God after an outward manner, go to church, have a passion or genius for religion, and it only requires the true spiritual meaning of the cross of Christ to be applied in order to make it manifest. Death then, in scriptural meaning, is loss of correspondence with God in spirit, and the spirit of man falling out of that union ceases to be for man the vehicle of God’s revelation, the sphere of God’s life in man, and the instrument of God’s activities through man: and there is no other. This leads to another question: What is the nature of the spirit? There are three main departments or faculties of the spirit: conscience, intuition, communion; but there are numerous other capacities, as we may see later.

It is here that we find the scriptural description of man runs entirely counter to the conclusions of “scientific” psychology. We have observed that the psychologist will not allow the threefold description of man as spirit, soul and body, but only soul – or mind – and body. And yet now he has to confess to the existence of a third element. He recognises it, finds his chief fascination and interest in it, builds up a whole system of philosophy around it, and often borders on calling it by its right name. He, however, recoils and calls it “the subconcious mind,” “the subjective mind,” “the subliminal self,” “the secondary personality,” etc. Listen to some of the things which indicate the length to which such teachers go: “The soul consists of two parts, the one being addicted to the truth, and loving honesty and reason, the other brutish, deceitful, sensuous.”

“There is a schism in the soul.” “The existence of a schism in the soul is not a mere dogma of theology, but a fact of science.” “Man is endowed with two minds, each of which is capable of independent action, and they are also capable of simultaneous action; but, in the main, they possess independent powers and perform independent functions. The distinctive faculties of one pertain to this life, those of the other are specially adapted to a higher plane of existence. I distinguish them by designating one as the Objective Mind, and the other as the Subjective Mind.”

“Whatever faculties are found to exist in the subjective mind of any sentient being, necessarily existed potentially in the ancestry of that being, near or remote. It is a corollary of this proposition that whatever faculties we may find to exist in the SUBJECTIVE MIND of man must necessarily exist, in its possibility, potentially, in the mind of God the Father Almighty.”

When one reads things like this, two things press for expression: first the exclamation “O why don’t you name it aright and call it ‘the spirit’?” The other, “What a tragedy that such men should have gone to pagan philosophers such as Plato, who never heard the men of the Bible or read them, for the basis of their system, instead of going to the Bible itself.” What a peril it is for “Christian” men to preach the results of human research and learning and bring the Bible to these instead of bringing them to the Bible!

For us here the Bible name and nature of this third reality is held to. It may be thought to be immaterial what it is called if the result is the same, but we hold that it is vital to recognise that we are dealing with two things absolutely distinct and separate and not with two sides of one thing. This will be seen as we go on.

There is a peril in speaking of “Divine union in the upper reaches of the soul,” for there is no such thing. Divine union is with spirit, “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit,” and however highly developed soul life is, there is no “Divine union” until the spirit has been brought back to life.

This then opens a further question: “What is it that is ‘born again'”: when that essential and indispensable experience takes place? (John 3:3,5, etc.).

Nicodemus stumbles on the physical question but is soon told that “that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is SPIRIT.”

It is not the body then, neither is it the soul. “The sinful body of the old man was destroyed” Romans 6:6, and “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with the affections thereof.” The passages on this are too many to quote, but look up “Flesh,” “Old man,” “Natural man,” etc.

The answer to the question is emphatically that new birth is the impartation of Divine life to the spirit of man. That spirit, because of atonement made for the sin of the soul, and the carrying away of the dominant flesh principle by Christ into His death, is begotten again of God in the resurrection of Christ from the dead to share His resurrection – deathless-life. Only on the ground of Christ’s resurrection and our incorporation into it as the superlative act of Almighty power is there union with God, and this act initially takes place in our spirit. From that time it is “in the newness of the spirit,” “walking in the spirit”; in fact, as the Word makes clear, everything is to be in the spirit for those that are now “spiritual.”

So far we have done little more than emphasise the fact that the supreme concern of the Lord is with the spirit of His children, for it is there that the fact and nature of sonship has its beginning, its growth, and its expression. We shall see more about this later, but for the moment it will be as well if we dwell a little longer upon the nature of the spirit. The body, we know, has its own threefold components. The soul also is a trinity, i.e., reason, emotion, and volition. We have also shown that the spirit is tripartite. Its main departments or faculties being conscience, worship (or communion with that which is Spirit) and intuition.

Let us re-emphasise that while all men have these in a greater or less degree of consciousness, this does not set aside the fact that all are “dead” in trespasses and sins apart from the new birth. There is no salvation in the New Testament sense of the word in having a conscience very much alive, or in being keenly attuned to the spiritual; and it is no argument that Divine revelation has been imparted because intuitions have eventually proved true. All this only shows that all men have a spirit which acts independently of the rest of their being. For the spirit in its different faculties to be the instrument of Divine purposes it has, as we have said, to be joined to the Lord, and the uniting factors are

1. The indwelling life of God as a gift at new birth.

2. The indwelling Spirit of God as the intelligent, executive member of the Godhead.

There are many passages in the scriptures which indicate the difference between the outer “I” of the soul and the inner “I” of the spirit. For instance Paul says “my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.” 1 Corinthians 14:14.

Then in 1 Corinthians 2 the Apostle says that “The psychical (soul) man receiveth not, neither can he know the things of the Spirit of God, but God reveals them to the spiritual (or spirit) ones, and only the spirit ones discern them!”

This distinction is very marked in Paul’s recounting of the reception of his special revelation. “I will come to revelations of the Lord. I (the outer man) knew a man (the inner man) in Christ above fourteen years ago; whether in the body I (the outer man) cannot tell; or whether out of the body I (the outer man) cannot tell; God knoweth; such an one (the inner man) caught up to the third heaven. And I (the outer man) knew such a man (the inner man) whether in the body or out of the body, I (the outer man) cannot tell: God knoweth. How that he (the inner man) was caught up to Paradise, and heard unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man (the outer man) to utter. Of such an one (the inner man) I (the outer man) will glory; yet of myself (the outer man) I (the outer man) will not glory.”

Here we see, amongst other things, that, unless the Lord gives the gift of utterance the things revealed to the spirit cannot be expressed by the outer man. In another place the Apostle asked the prayers of the Lord’s people that he might have “utterance.”

Many other instances might be given, such as “I delight in the law of God after the inward man,” and Romans 7 as a whole, but this is sufficient to lead such as desire to do so to follow this truth through. Here are one or two references: 1 Cor. 16:17,18; 1 Cor. 6:20; Rom. 8:16; 1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Cor. 7:34; Heb. 12:23.

Now we proceed to speak of the Lord’s special concern with the inner man. Firstly we must realise that His supreme quest is for sons of His Spirit. The underlying and all inclusive truth of what has come to be called the “parable of the Prodigal Son,” is the transition from one kind of sonship, e.g., on the ground of law, to another, e.g., that on the ground of grace. From the flesh to the Spirit. There is a sonship of God by creation on the basis of law. In this sense “we are all the offspring of God.” But by “the fall,” the “going astray” or “deviating” (Genesis 6:3), all the Divine purposes and possibilities of that relationship have broken down, and that relationship is no longer of value. “He has become flesh,” hence is separated “from God,” in “a far country,” and “dead,” as well as “lost.” Here grace enters and the Spirit through grace. The Spirit begins operations in that realm of death and distance, convicting of sin “against heaven” (the only adequate conviction), compassing the end of the works of the flesh in despair and destruction, constraining, assuring, producing penitence and confession, and at length bringing to the place of forgiveness and acceptance. From death unto life, but not the same life as before; there is no “again” in the original of the last clause of Luke 15, it is a life which never was before. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

This man is the product of the travail and energising of the Spirit, and everything in the relationship afterward is new. A “new robe,” the robe of Divine righteousness. “New Shoes,” a walk and a way in the Spirit. Rom. 8:2,4. A ring, the symbol of authority, the jurisdiction of sons, John 1:12,13. The fatted calf; food such as never was before, the best of the Father’s house. Each of these points has in the scriptures a whole system of teaching.

The spirit of man being then the place of the new birth and the seat of this only true sonship (Galatians 4:5,6), it also therefore being “The new man” – for it is “in the newness of the Spirit” that we are to live (Romans 7:6, etc.) – here it is that all the operations of God in our education, fellowship, and co-operation have their base.

The only knowledge of God which is of spiritual value for ourselves or for others is that which we have by revelation of the Holy Spirit within our own spirit. God never explains Himself in the first instance to man’s reason. Man can never know God in the first instance by his reason. Christianity is a revelation or it is nothing, and it has to come by revelation to every new child of God, or their faith rests upon a foundation which will not stand in the day of the ordeal.

“The Christian Faith” embraced as a philosophy or a system of truth, or as a system of moral or ethical doctrine may carry the stimulus of a great ideal, but it will not result in the regeneration of the life, and the new birth of the spirit. There are multitudes of such “Christians” (?) in the world today, but their spiritual effectiveness is nil.

The apostle Paul makes it very clear that the secret of everything in his life and service was the fact that he received his Gospel “by revelation.” We may even know the Bible most perfectly as a book, and be spiritually dead and ineffective. When the scriptures say so much about the knowledge of God and the Truth as the basis of Eternal life, being set free, doing exploits, etc., they also affirm that “man cannot by searching find out God,” and they make it abundantly clear that it is knowledge in the spirit, not in the natural mind.

Now it is just here that we come to recognise the nature of spiritual knowledge. How does God know things, by what means does He come to His decisions, on what basis of knowledge does He run the universe? Is it by reasoning inductively, deductively, philosophically, logically, comparatively? Does He think things out? Has Omniscience a brain? Surely not! All this laboriousness is unknown to God. His knowledge and conclusions are intuitive. Intuition is that faculty of spiritual intelligence by which all spiritual beings work. Angels serve the will of God by intuitive discernment of that will, not by argued and reasoned conviction. The difference between these two is witnessed to by the whole monument of spiritual achievement. If human reason, the natural judgment, and “common sense” had been the ruling law, most, if not all, of the great pieces of work inspired of God would never have been undertaken. Men who had a close walk with God and a keen spirit union with Him received intuitively a revelation or leading to such purposes, and their vindication came, not by the approval of worldly human reason, but usually with all such positively opposed. “Madness” was usually the verdict of the wise. Whenever, like Abraham, they allowed themselves to drop out of the spirit into their own natural mind and reasoning, they became bewildered, paralysed, and looked round for some Egypt of the senses to which to go down for help. In all this we are “justified in the spirit” not in the flesh. The spirit and the soul act independently and, until the spiritual mind has established the ascendancy and absolute dominion, they are constantly in conflict and contradiction.

In all the things which are out from God and therefore spiritual “the mind of the flesh is death,” “but the mind of the spirit is life, and PEACE.” This then is the nature of spiritual knowledge, which is the only saving knowledge. We said at the commencement that this recognition of the difference between the “inner man” and the “outward man” would be absolutely revolutionary. Perhaps we can see this a little more clearly now. A rich knowledge of the scriptures, an accurate technical grasp of Christian doctrine, a doing of Christian work by all the resources of “worldly wisdom” or natural ability, a clever manipulation and interesting presentation of Bible content and themes, may get not one whit beyond the natural life of men and still remain within the realm of spiritual death. Men cannot be argued, reasoned, fascinated, interested, ’emotioned,’ willed, enthused, impassioned, into the Kingdom of the heavens; they can only be born, and that is by spiritual quickening. This new birth brings with it new capacities of every kind, and amongst the most vital is a new and different faculty of Divine knowledge, understanding, and apprehension. But some may ask, where does our brain come in? Do we understand you to mean that our human intellectual faculties are ruled out? No, not at all! But we do affirm again that this is not primary but secondary. The human intellect is not the first instrument of our apprehension of spiritual things, the things of God, but its function is that of giving them intelligent form to ourselves and to others.

Paul’s intellectual power was not that which gave him his knowledge of truth, but it was joined to the spirit for passing that truth on to others. Someone has said that the brain may act as a prism and give a spectrum of the Eternal light, but it is not the first organ of spiritual knowledge.

The spirit of man is that by which he reaches out into the Eternal and unseen. Intuition, then, is the mental organ of the spirit. It is in this sense, that is, the deadness of the spirit Godward, and the going on with religion in its manifold forms of expression merely from the human mind, that God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” and the measure of the difference is the heaven from the earth; the heavenly and the earthly. One of the chief lessons that we have to learn, and which God takes pains to teach us is that spiritual ends demand spiritual means. The breaking down of our natural life, its mind, its resources, its energies, in the bitterness of disappointment through futility, failure, ineffectiveness, and deadlock in real spiritual achievement, is a life work; but the truth mentioned above is the explanation and key to the whole thing. What is true of spiritual knowledge is true in every other connection and direction as we shall see.

Reverting to our illustration in that transition which is the underlying truth of the parable of ‘The Prodigal Son,’ namely the transition from a relationship on the ground of law, in the flesh, to that on the ground of grace, in the spirit, we have come to see that his knowledge of the Father in the spirit was such as he had never possessed before. He never knew his Father before grace was revealed and the gift and operation of the Father’s Spirit was manifested as he knew Him afterward. His spirit had been brought from death, darkness, distance, desolation, and now he had not merely an objective knowledge of one whom he had termed Father, but a subjective understanding and appreciation of the Father because the spirit of sonship had now been put within him whereby he cried “Father.” There is no saving relationship to, or knowledge of God, only through grace and by new birth. Such knowledge is spiritual not “natural.”

So, then, those who by being born again have become “little children,” Matthew 18:3, or “babes” in spiritual things, 1 Corinthians 3:1 (not wrong if we do not unduly remain so) have to learn everything afresh because “all things are new,” and – now – “all things are of God,” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18. Such have to learn a new kind of knowledge, as we have shown. But before this, and ever and always, such have to learn to live by a new life – “to walk in newness of life.” This life is always related to the resurrection of Christ, and is “the life whereby Jesus conquered death.” This subject is treated more fully elsewhere, especially in booklet No. 2 of ‘Incorporation into Christ,’* and we shall do no more than mention it here. The Apostle Paul says that our conduct is to be “as those who are alive from the dead,” and so saying he means that the manifestation in and by us is to be that of the shared power and triumph of the mighty resurrection life of Christ. Again, in order that we may learn how to live by this life, which is a superlative purpose of God concerning us, He is bound to bring our natural life to an end in all its effectiveness and value in the sphere of spiritual achievement, both in life and service. WE cannot be or do what God requires: His life alone can produce after its kind. But while this is a law and a test, it is also a blessed truth that Christ came that we might have this life and have it abundantly. Read through your New Testament with the object of seeing how the Divine life is manifested by and in the enforced insufficiency of natural life, and you will see it to be the secret of the romance of New Testament accomplishments.

An element of offence in this teaching is that it demands a recognised and acknowledged weakness; it requires that we have to confess that in ourselves, for all Divine purposes, we are powerless and worthless, and of ourselves we can do nothing. The natural man’s worship of strength, efficiency, fitness, ability, meets with a terrible rebuff when it is confronted with the declaration that the universal triumph of Christ over hierarchies more mighty than those of flesh and blood was because “He was crucified through weakness” – God reduced to a certain impotence! – and “God hath chosen the weak things to confound the mighty,” 2 Corinthians 13:4; 1 Corinthians 1:25-27.

To “glory in infirmity that His power may be the more manifest” is a far cry from the original Saul of Tarsus, but what an extraordinary change in mentality. God has, however, always drawn a very broad line between natural “might and power” on the one hand, and “My Spirit” on the other, and for evermore the law abides that He that hateth his life (psuche, natural life) shall find it unto life eternal (aionian-zoe, Divine life of the ages), John 12:25. This is said, of course, in relation to the interests of Christ.

There are two other lessons that we might mention as being set the “new man,” which are a part of the education and training of the spirit or “inner man of the heart.” He has to learn a new walk. Many slips and, perhaps, tumbles may be his experience here, but such are honourable if they are marks of a stepping out at the behest of God, rather than to sit still in fleshly disobedience or fear. The “Prodigal’s” new relationship meant new shoes, and in later significance this meant “walking after the spirit and not after the flesh,” Romans 8:4. We have shown that the nature of this walk is that reason, feeling, and natural choice are no longer the directive laws or criteria of the spiritual man. For, such an one there are frequent experiences of a collision and contradiction between soul and spirit. The reason would dictate a certain course, the affections would urge in a certain direction, the will would seek to fulfil these judgments and desires, but there is a catch somewhere within, a dull, leaden, lifeless, numbed something at the centre of us which spoils everything, contradicts us, and all the time in effect, says no! Or it may be the other way round. An inward urge and constraint, finds no encouragement from our natural judgment or reason, and is flatly contrary to our natural desires, likings, inclinations, preferences, or affections; while in that same natural realm we are not at all willing for such a course. In this case it is not the judgment against the desire as is frequently the case in everybody’s life, but judgment, desire, and volition all joined against intuition. Now is the crisis. Now is to be seen who is to rule the life, or which road is to be chosen. Now the natural man or the outer man of sense and the spiritual or inner man have to settle affairs. To learn to walk after the spirit is a life lesson of the new man, and as he is vindicated – as he always will be in the long run – he will come to take the absolute ascendancy over the “natural” man and his mind, and so by the energising of the Holy Spirit in the spirit of the new man the Cross will be wrought out to the nullifying of the mind of the flesh – which in spiritual things always ends in death, and in the enthroning of the spiritual mind which is life and peace, Romans 8:6.

This, then, is the nature of the walk after the spirit, and its application is many-sided. But we must remember the law of this walk, which is faith. We “walk in the spirit,” but “we walk by faith.”

To walk by faith there must, in the very nature of the case, be a stripping off of all that the outer man of the senses clings to, demands, craves for, as a security and an assurance. When the spiritual life of God’s people is in the ascendant, they are not troubled by either the absence of human resources on the one hand, or by the presence of humanly overwhelming odds against them on the other.

This is patent in their history as recorded in the Scriptures. But it is also true that when the spiritual life is weak, undeveloped, or at the ebb, they look round for some tangible, seen resource, upon which to fasten. Egypt is the alternative to God whenever and wherever spiritual life is low. To believe in and trust to the intuitive leadings of the Holy Spirit in our spirit, even though all is so different from the ways of men, and even though such bring us to a Canaan which for the time being is full of idolatry and where a mighty famine reigns; where Satan seems to be lord, and no fruit is found; where all is so contrary to what our outer man had decided must be in keeping with a leading and a promise of God; to leave our old sphere of life in the “world,” to break with our kindred, our father’s house, for this – this! and then have to wait through much continuous stripping off of those means, and methods, and habits, and judgments, which are the very constitution of the natural man – this is the law of the spiritual walk, but this is God’s chosen and appointed way of the mightiest vindication. Spiritual children and riches, and fruitfulness, and service, permanence, and the friendship of God are for such Abrahams of faith or such children of Abraham in the spirit. God has laid a faith basis for His superstructure of spiritual glory, and only that which is built upon such a foundation can serve spiritual ends. Let this be the test of our walk in all personal, domestic, business, and church affairs. Here, again, we have a principle which if applied would be revolutionary, and would call for the abandonment of a tremendous amount of carnal “natural,” worldly stuff in our resources and methods.

“Faith without works is dead,” true, but the works of faith – of the spirit – are not those of the flesh, the difference is incomparable. The walk of the flesh is one thing but the walk in the spirit is quite another. The things of the Spirit are foolishness to the flesh. Men of faith see what others do not and act accordingly. This also being true of men who have lost their reason, the two are often confused and the children of the flesh think the children of the spirit mad or insane. They are unable to discriminate between even the insanity of men and “the foolishness of God which is wiser than men.”

Abraham was fortified by his faith, but his walk in faith was intensely practical, though so different from the walk in the flesh. A writer has said that faith brings us into difficulties which are unknown to men who walk in the flesh, or who never go out in faith, but such difficulties, placing us beyond the power of the flesh to help make special Divine revelations necessary, and God always takes advantage of such times to give such needed education of the spirit. It is thus that the men of the spirit are taught and come to know God as no others know Him. Thus faith is the law of the walk of the new man – the inner man – which brings him by successive stages into the very heart of God, Who crowns this progress with the matchless designation “My friend!” One other thing in general has to be mentioned. The new man of the spirit has to learn a new speech. There is the language of the spirit, and he will have to realise increasingly that “speech in the enticing words of man’s wisdom,” or what man calls “excellency of speech” (1 Cor. 2:1) will avail nothing in spiritual service. If all the religious speech and preaching and talking about the Gospel which goes on in one week was the utterance of the Holy Spirit, what tremendous impact of God upon the world would be registered. But it is obviously not so and this impact is not felt. It is impossible to speak in and by the Holy Spirit without something happening which is related to Eternity. But this capacity belongs only to the “born of the Spirit” ones, whose spirit has been joined to the Lord, and even they have to learn how to cease from their own words and “speak as they are moved by the Spirit.” It is a part of the education of the inner man to have his outer man slain in the matter of speech, and to be brought to the state to which Jeremiah was brought, “I am but a child, I cannot speak.” Not only as sinners have we to be crucified with Christ, but as preachers, or speakers, or talkers. The circumcision of Christ, which Paul says is the cutting off of the whole body of the flesh, has to be applied to our lips, and our spirit has to be so much in dominion that on all matters where God cannot be glorified we “cannot speak.” A natural facility of speech is no strength in itself to spiritual ministry, it may be a positive menace. It is a stage of real spiritual development when there is a genuine fear of speaking unless it is in “words which the Holy Ghost teacheth.” On the other hand a natural inability to speak need be no handicap. To be present “in weakness and in fear, and in much trembling” (1 Cor. 1:3) may be a mood which becomes an apostolic, nay rather, a Holy Spirit ministry. The utterance of God is a very different thing in every way from that of men. How much is said in the Scriptures about “conversation,” “the tongue,” “words,” &c., and ever with the emphasis that these are to be in charge of the spirit and not merely expressions of the soul in any of its departments.

If it is true that only the quickened spirit can receive Divine revelation, it is equally true that such revelation requires a Divine gift of utterance in order to realise its spiritual end.

Many there are who preach or teach the truth as out from a mental apprehension with the natural ability, but the vital potentialities of that truth are not being manifest either in their own lives or in the lives of those who hear. The spiritual results are hardly worth the effort and expenditure. The virtue of speech resulting in abiding fruit to the glory of God, whether that speech be preaching, teaching, conversation, prayer, is not in its lucidity, eloquence, subtlety, cleverness, wit, thoughtfulness, passion, earnestness, forcefulness, pathos, &c., but only in that it is an utterance of the Holy Ghost.

“Thy speech betrayeth thee” may be applied in many ways, for whether one lives in the flesh or in the spirit, in the natural man or in the spiritual man, will always be made manifest by how we speak and the spiritual effect of the fruit of our lips.

O, for crucified lips amongst God’s people, and O for lips among God’s prophets touched with the blood-soaked fire-charged coal from that one great altar of Calvary.

Having at some length dealt with the difference, nature, and characteristics of the inner and the outer man, we must now come to some specific emphases. The first of these is all inclusive, and relates to

The Ascendancy of the Spiritual Man Over the Natural Man

There is marked the creation of man in his tripartite being, with his spirit as the sphere of his union with God for all Divine purposes. The nature of this union is set forth below, and is fivefold. In the fall the soul was allowed to take the ascendancy over the spirit; the spirit with conscience, communion, and intuition being subjected to the soul with its reason, desire, and volition. This ascendancy of the soul made man what he is afterward called; the “natural” i.e., soulish (Gk. psukikos) man, and inasmuch as it was the reasoning and desiring and choosing that were inspired and prompted by the devil, and the capitulation was to him, and the spirit union with God was rejected and violated in all its claims, the result is that man is not only separated from God but in his natural state is horizoned by a lower life than was intended. But more, he is then called “flesh”; this is the active law of his fallen condition. It is not something in him, it is himself, the real principle of his being, and it is always set over against “spirit” which is the real principle of life re-united with God by re-generation.

Further, as he capitulated, not only to the soul life, but to the devil, he is ever after, until delivered by Christ, actuated and influenced by “the god of this age,” whose methods are not always manifestly against God, but are always in the place of God, even to the extent of projecting a counterfeit religion, with similar phraseology and means. The result of all this, as we have seen, is spirit, or spiritual, death; and the nature of death in the Bible is primarily the separation of the spirit from God. All else that is called death results from this. Lost likeness, fellowship, knowledge, co-operation, dominion, with all that God meant and intended by them – this is the foundation of death. So thus “in Adam all died” “death passed upon all.” This may be represented by lines which narrow down as they move towards the Cross. This movement indicates how through the Old Testament age God by types and figures is ever preaching the fact that death is His sentence and must be carried out. There may be seen also lines which widen out from the point of the fall and death. These represent the natural man’s mind about himself. He refuses the Divine verdict, and believing and preaching a gospel of the inherent goodness of human nature, seeks to develop a system of improvement by all manner of means. For him, salvation is in himself, and civilisation, education, social reconstruction, mutual improvement, &c., will at length bring in a golden age. He refutes the word of God which demands new birth. He makes sin and evil a negative thing, and so on. Thus man’s estimate of himself is ever growing, and the opposite of the mind of God.

In the centre of history God places the Cross and in the representative Person of Christ gathers the whole race under His own sentence and takes it into the full outworking thereof in death. Down through the centre of the Cross is a black zero line. This marks in God’s settled judgment the end of the natural man. From that point God has nothing to do with man only on the ground of that life which is begotten from the dead (Rev. 1:5). He demands that there shall be both an acceptance of and a witness born to the fact that when Christ died we died, that we were “crucified with Christ,” (Rom. 6:3-6; Col. 2:12, &c.). This has been dealt with at length in “Incorporation into Christ,” No. 1*. Then we come to this side of the Cross and the lines cross once again. First there is the beginning of the new man – the inner man – the spiritual man. He is “begotten again by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead,” 1 Peter 1:3. Here begins that spiritual life, walk, knowledge, &c., of which we have spoken, and here therefore begins that life process by which the new or spiritual man takes the ascendancy over the old or natural man by the power of the Cross.

As we “walk in the spirit” we cease to “fulfil the lusts of the flesh.” Thus in the spirit by the indwelling of God’s Spirit there is, through Calvary, a restoration, and more than a restoration, of the lost likeness, fellowship, knowledge, co-operation, and spiritual dominion.

As the spiritual and inner man is renewed, strengthened, educated, the natural and outer man is brought into subjection and robbed of his dominance, until slowly the soul is made the servant of the renewed spirit, and the body is harnessed as the instrument for doing what the soul has come to understand as the will of the spirit, which in its turn has been “joined to the Lord One Spirit.”

There is no time limit to this process or progress. Some have more to unlearn than others. The spirits of many are not as pure as some because they have been muffled and beclouded by much mental and emotional apprehension. One often sees people in a meeting to whose spirit very little gets through because they are judging with their heads according to some accepted tenets, or they are prejudiced, suspicious, biased, or the slaves of a system and not at liberty in the spirit. It is a joy to meet a pure and open spirit. In this sense we have to “turn and become as little children.” How pure the spirit of a child is! Therefore how true its intuitions or discernment. Some of us remember now the judgment we passed upon certain people when we were quite young. Our conclusions were quite clear and definite, although we could never have stated them, but looking back with the larger understanding, how perfectly right we were, and time has only corroborated our “feelings.” We did not arrive at these by reasoning, or knowledge, or even studied observation, we could never have given our reasons or explained ourselves in the matter. These were the pure intuitions of an unbeclouded spirit. Such is to be our state, not in the natural but in the Divine realm. Lord, make us in this matter to have the spirit of a child, for of such is the realm of the heavenlies!

We now see why it is that the Lord is primarily concerned with our spirit. It is here that the new life resides; it is here that the Holy Spirit operates: it is here that our true education takes place: it is here that we have fellowship with God: it is here that we are to be made strong: it is here that resistance of the enemy is to be established: it is here that authority over malignant spiritual forces is to function. It is this spirit possessed of the resurrection life of Christ which is the germ of the resurrection body; it is here that we are saved in trial: it is here that that sinless, inviolate, life of God is (1 John 3:9, 5:18) not in our “outer” or “old man.” It is only as we come to the outer man that the enemy has power over us.

May we just strike a note of warning here. There is a peril that we might live too much in our own human spirit as a thing by itself. For the born again child of God, the Holy Spirit is the Divine indweller of the human spirit, and it is not our spirit but His presence in our spirit that has to be our direction and government. A larger reason for this warning will be mentioned later, but as one very vital principle for safety in this matter let us here emphasise the corporate nature of the Holy Spirit’s work. He is essentially the gift to the Body of Christ as a whole, and only indwells individual members relatively. It is Christ corporate Who is anointed in this age to fulfil the eternal purpose, and the Holy Spirit resting in and upon the “Body” (1 Cor. 12:12) energises and endows each member in relation to the whole and to the “Head” (Eph. 1:22). Hence spiritual guidance should be corporate, and the complement, corroboration, and confirmation should be sought in the spirits of “two or three” members. This “discerning of the Body” (1 Cor. 10:16,17; 11:29) is important in the matter of service as in fellowship. God is jealous of proper order in the Body of Christ, and failure to note this is the traceable cause of very much error, chaos, and disruption; as also of failure, suffering, and shame. There are also “joints of supply” in the “Body,” and while they do not compose a priestly or ecclesiastical class or order, they are in – by the appointment of God and the seal of the Spirit – a representative position and capacity. God will not have these set aside, but requires that those who are within the sphere of their oversight (1 Peter 5:2, &c.) shall consult with them, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” in the matter of service and conduct, as in matters of truth and doctrine. Where this is possible God locks up His direction to this law, and only trouble can follow sooner or later if the law is ignored. We must not overlook the Divine appointments within the “Body” (Eph. 4:11-14). These appointments were made and these personal gifts were given for the “perfecting of the saints unto the work of ministry, for the building up of the Body of Christ till” – till when, the end of the Apostolic age? – “till we attain… unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” and that has not taken place yet.

HAVING been so definite in pointing out that all the Divine operations in the “New Man” are directed toward the complete ascendancy of the spirit over the soul and body, and that the anointing of God rests within and upon the “Inner Man,” we can only stress two things. One is that whatever may appear to the contrary in emotion, pleasure, gratification, enjoyment, activity, resolve, etc., only that which comes out from the Holy-Spirit-indwelt-spirit is spiritual and effects spiritual ends. The natural – soulish-man can make an oil which is an imitation of “The Holy Anointing Oil,” or fire which is “False Fire,” which seems to serve the same purpose and produce similar results. Thus in the same meeting one may speak by revelation under the anointing of the Spirit of God, bringing those present face to face with issues of tremendous significance, and another may launch out on to a churning sea of beautiful ideas and strong emotional currents, and capture the meeting, but for any spiritually discerning people present. The pressure and strenuousness of life lay many open to the peril of such emotional, mental, and volitional stimulants, but it may only be in the religious realm what alcohol or drugs are in the physical realm. The pernicious results are that people must have more and more, and they select such as can produce them, and gather round a man. This is clearly shown by Paul to be “carnal.” It is the opposite of “The anointing which ye have received abiding within you, and ye have no need that any should teach you.” This makes necessary the second thing, namely, spiritual discernment. We must seek more and more from the Lord a quickening and purifying of spirit, and we must walk after the spirit in whatever discernment we have so that we are saved from the imitation “oil” which deceives and at length lands us either into error or gets us into a spiritual cul-de-sac. Such are they that are “carried about by every wind of teaching.” Spiritual discernment is one of the most vital needs of God’s people today. Nothing can take its place, not even the wisest and best teaching or counsel. Only those who have it will be saved from the distraction and despair of the bewildering mass of conflicting teaching, “manifestations,” and movements of these and the coming days.

There is another thing that Christian workers should remember. It is always a dangerous and paralysing thing to allow soulish human feelings to come in and take precedence over the spirit in relationships, where spiritual help is needed. Compassion, love, sympathy, concern, interest, desire to help, etc., must be absolutely under the control and direction of the spirit. Failure to observe this law has resulted in some of the most ghastly moral and spiritual tragedies in the lives of Christian workers. If we allow either natural attraction or human desire on the one hand, or natural repulsion and human distaste on the other to have any ruling place the consequences may be disastrous, and the result will certainly be spiritual failure. Very often even in the case of a loved relative the human interest has to be made quite secondary – sometimes ruled out altogether – before a spiritual issue can be effected. OUR will and wish has to be surrendered to God’s.

Before closing there are just two things which one feels should be mentioned. Having seen that the basis of all fellowship and co-operation with God is spiritual, in and through the born-again spirit, we must realise that this at once defines the real nature of our service. The background of all cosmic conditions is spiritual. Behind the things seen are the things unseen. The things which do appeal are not the ultimate things.

“The whole world lieth in the wicked one.” There is a spiritual hierarchy which, before this world was, revolted against the equality of the Son with the Father in the Throne, and in spite of the hurling out of heaven and the eternal doom which followed, has been in active revolt and antagonism to that “eternal purpose” right through the ages. A certain judicial hold upon this earth and the race in Adam was gained by Satan through the consent of that first Adam, through whom the purpose of God should have been realised on this earth.

Thus we have Paul telling the members of the Body of Christ – The Last Adam – that their “warfare is not with mere flesh and blood, but with principalities, and powers, the world-rulers of this darkness, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies.”

What a lot is gathered up into that inclusive phrase “This darkness.” How much is said about it in the scriptures. The need for having eyes opened is ever basic to emancipation (see Acts 26:18). The cause of all “this darkness” is said to be “Spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies.” Literally translated the words are “the spiritualities” or “the spirituals,” meaning, spiritual beings. “Wickedness” here does not just mean merely inherent wickedness or evil, but malignance; destructive, harmful.

“In the heavenlies” simply means inhabiting a realm beyond the earthly, not limited to earthly geographical localities; moving in the realm surrounding the earth and human habitation.

“World rulers” means that these malignant spiritual hosts are directing and governing the world wherever the government of Christ has not been superimposed through His Body – the spiritual Church.

“Principalities and Powers” (authorities) represent order, rank, method, system. Satan is not omnipresent, hence he must work through an organised dividing of the world under these principalities and authorities, and he himself “goes to and fro in the earth,” and has seats here and there (Job 2:2, Rev. 2:13, etc.).

The Apostle declares that the explanation of situations is to be looked for in the unseen, behind the actual appearance.

What looks like the natural has its rise too often in the supernatural. Man is always trying to give a natural explanation and therefore to put things right by natural means. But when he comes up against a situation in which interests of the Christ of God are involved, he is floored and beaten. Such situations are become the commonplaces – nay more – the overwhelming order of the day amongst “Christian workers” in these days, both abroad and at home. We have no intention of dealing with the subject at length here, but state the fact, and remind the Lord’s people especially that in more realms than that of Divine activity, “What is seen hath not been made out of the things which do appear,” but that multitudes of the things in daily life which are inimical to spiritual interests must have their explanation from behind. Let us emphasise that this spiritual union with God in the super Cosmic significance of the Cross of Christ means that our supreme effectiveness is in the spiritual realm. We who are the Divine “spirituals” are to be energised by the Holy Spirit to take ascendancy in Christ over the Satanic “spirituals,” and thus know something more than mere earthly dominion but “seated together with Him in the heavenlies” (as to our spirit) we are to learn to reign in that greater “kingdom of the heavens” of which the earthly millennial kingdom is only an earthly coun­terpart.

Again, let us affirm, that all the energies of God in our spirit are toward a corporate spiritual union with Christ whereby the impact of His victory and sovereignty shall be registered among and upon the “principalities and powers,” etc., and their domina­tion paralysed, and ultimately destroyed.

The last word is to point out that it is because man has, and centrally is, a spirit that he can have inter­course with fallen spirits, We believe that this explains the whole system of spiritism (spiritualism) and that the supposed departed with whom spiritualists communicate are none other than these “spiritual hosts” impersonating the departed, whom they knew in lifetime. Leaving the many phases of this thing in its outworkings and issues at the end of the age, let us note the terrible nemesis in wrecked minds and bodies; haunted, driven, distraught, reason-bereft souls; crowded asylums, prisons; suicides, moral and spiritual wrecks, etc., is because that which was given to man specifically for union, communion and co-operation with God, namely the spirit of man, has been used as the medium and instrument for this demon invasion and control of his life. The tremendous warnings and terrible judgments associated with all kinds of spiritism; necromancy, witches, “familiar spirits,” etc., are because of the spirit complicity, dalliance, consorting, with fallen spirits whose purpose is always to capture men and women through their spirits. This they will do even by adopting the guise of an angel of light, and talking religion. Strange, isn’t it, that fifty years ago men threw off the belief in the supernatural in the scriptures, and today they and their school so strongly embrace spiritism? Surely this is “the working of error” sent that they who received not the truth for the love of it “might believe A LIE” “in order that they might be condemned” (2 Thess. 2:11).

It was the spiritual background of their life which led to the destruction of the Egyptians, Canaanites, etc., and this was spiritism in different forms; but it was their being joined to demons that involved them.

The most spiritual people apart from new birth union with God are in the greatest peril here, and even the Lord’s own people by reason of their very spirituality need to constantly abide in the Cross of Christ that they shall not become exposed to “The wiles of the devil.”

Rooted and Grounded


Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island (Photo credit: Robert Whyte http://www.arachne.org.au)

The Lord’s Object with the Overcomer

“And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.” (Is. 37:31).

Reading: Isaiah 36:1-22.

“And even now the axe lieth at the root of the trees: every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Matt. 3:10.

“Then came the disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, when they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” Matt. 15:12-14.

“…and when the sun was risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.” Matt. 13:6.

You will have noticed that in all these passages there is reference to roots, and roots are very important things. A very great deal depends upon roots; for a tree almost everything depends upon the roots. And in the same way, beloved, our roots and our rooting are very important things in the matter of our eternal destiny.

I want to say a little in a general way at the outset before we come to something more specific in this connection. You will notice that the passages which we read (and others could be added to them on the same subject) are divided. Some refer to the sound rooting which will take the strain, which will prove adequate. The others refer to rootings which are not adequate and which will not abide. We might just say a word or two about that second class to begin with.

Through the Word of the Lord there are various kinds and classes of those whose roots and whose rooting is not adequate. Some have been mentioned. The one in Matthew 3:10: “And even now is the axe laid unto the root of the trees”; a word in the ministry of John the Baptist, representing a time of crises when a long period of probation and opportunity had been given by the Lord, and there had been every provision made by Him to secure a sound and abiding rooting on the part of Israel, but now the testing time had come when roots were going to be subjected to a severe trial and testing. The result of that testing, as we know, was that once again Israel was rooted up. Not so many years after this they were rooted up from their land and were carried away in the great hurricane of Divine judgment through the Roman Legions and scattered to various parts of the earth, and they have never since been planted again. The axe was laid to the roots of the tree.

Then two others came in in that class. In Matthew 13 the sower had sowed his seed and some had fallen in rocky places. It had sprung up; when the sun was up it withered, died, having no root. And that, we are given to understand, illustrates those people who hear the Word of the Lord superficially; hear it and in a way receive it, on the face of things respond to it, but in whom it is found eventually there is not the root of the matter. Their kind of receiving, their kind of responding, their kind of association with the Word of the Lord cannot bear the heat, the blaze of the sun, it is something which lies on the outside, it is not that which reaches down into the very depths of their being.

The third, Matthew 15, was a word concerning the Pharisees. The disciples reported that the Pharisees took a certain attitude toward things. The Lord’s Word was: “Every planting (literally) which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind.”

The Danger of Living on the Past

Now these three cases of roots which do not stand, bring different aspects before us. In the first case, in Matthew 3, you have an historical and traditional thing which has occupied the place of that which claims to represent the Lord and has had much in its history which was of the Lord, in blessing and in use and service; with which much of the Lord has been associated, and which has been associated with much of the Lord in His purpose and His ways; but which has come to a time when it is no more than a past history, a reputation without present life; something that belongs to a by-gone day; whose life, whose vitality and energy and spiritual progress is not up-to-date and abreast of its present claims.

A time of testing comes in the sovereign ordering of God for all such, and it is found by reason of its present root-dryness, lack of vitality, of energy, of up-to-dateness of life that it cannot go through the testing, it is rooted out. A simple word that, and yet a challenging word which shows us two things: that God, in His sovereignty, does most definitely appoint a time in which He will test the state of everything and everyone which makes a claim to be related to Him. He will do that, and then no amount of past history, good history, Divine history, will stand that thing in stead for the day of His testing. Or to put it another way, God tests to find out just exactly how up-to-date spiritual life and spiritual experience is.

There are quite a lot of people who have had a very sound, thoroughly genuine conversion, but who live back on their conversion of ten, twenty, or forty years ago; and while it is true the history was quite sound, it is something of the past. Its vitality has not been continuous, it is not up-to-date, and such people will find that when the winds of God begin to blow they are lacking, they are wanting, and they will be carried away, not necessarily to be eternally lost, any more than Israel is, but to very great loss.

The Danger of an Assumed Relationship to God

And then the Lord also tests most definitely, every kind of profession, every kind of response, every kind of attitude or relationship, to discover whether that is a thing which is on the surface, on the face, superficial; or whether it is a thing which has gone right down deeply into the life, burying its roots in the very sub-soil of experience. Here, again, a simple word, but it may be that there is someone here who is attaching themselves to something, attaching themselves to a place, to a company of people; attaching themselves in an outward way to that which represents the Lord, in hymns and addresses and prayers and services and such like; associating themselves, and, in a way, making some kind of answer or response to the things of the Lord.

Have you seen a self-grown forest in a mountain district after a gale? We have a good deal of that sort of thing in Scotland where the seeds have been carried by the wind and have sown themselves in the very thin soil of a mountain slope, a rocky district. They have grown very tall, lanky thin trees, firs or pines; their roots have spread out and covered a great area, and then – a gale – and as you go along after a gale there are those lanky, thin, gaunt trees lying with their roots right up in the air. You wonder how in all the earth they have managed to cling to the shallow soil. There they are everywhere, rooted up because self-grown, and that is Matthew 13. Something which has made its own kind of response, given its own response, answer, with reservations perhaps, not going too far, not going to be “extreme,” not going to be “singular,” not going to be “fanatical,” just going to be “perfectly balanced” and “sane” and make their own response to the Lord.

All right, God has appointed the hour for a gale. Yes, there will be a blazing sun, it will be discovered whether God did that planting, whether that was a work of God in the heart or whether it was just something of human attachment or association. It may just be that here there may be one or more attaching themselves from the outside to that which is of the Lord, but they are not right in, buried, rooted, grounded, not in the thing in the Lord. Are you attaching yourself to something religious, or are your buried with your roots in Christ? Rooted in Him?

The Danger of Position without Possession

The third word in Matthew 15 relating to the Pharisees of course has to do with those who assumed the role of teachers, spiritual leaders. The Pharisees were those who took upon themselves to guide others in matters of religion. The Lord said of them: “Every planting (literally) which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” In other words it was just this: Everyone who dares to take the responsibility of giving guidance to others, who has not been commissioned of the Lord, with the Lord’s message, will be rooted up. They are self-planted teachers and leaders.

Now, while within the compass of this gathering that may have a very limited application, it is something for us to remember in these days. The absolute necessity that those who lead us in spiritual things should themselves be men who have a mandate from God, men with a message, men with a revelation, men in whom the root of the matter is and not just teachers. I am saying all this in the light of the end-time because I believe we are entering more and more into that phase of things when everything is going to be subjected to testing in the sovereignty of God. Everything of tradition, everything of profession, of vocation; all are going to be tested by the winds of God.

Oh, such winds! Yes, winds of deception. God may not send deception but God will not prevent it. False teachers, false doctrine; severe trial and testing; deep, deep searching experiences, we are all coming into it and it is going to be discovered under the sovereign direction of God just how deep our roots are. Beloved, testing will do one of two things, it will either carry us away or drive us deeper. There is going to be in the end nothing that will not stand the test. The Lord make us those who have our roots downward and our fruit upward.

Now just a little more specific word especially in connection with Isaiah 37. Isaiah has much to say about the remnant, and there is a remnant of Israel, and as we know quite well, there is a remnant of Christianity. The remnant of Christianity is found in the first three chapters of Revelation. It is represented by the oft-repeated words “To him that overcometh”; that is the remnant. You see quite clearly that it is but a remnant in those churches in Asia. The main thing has gone wrong, a remnant of overcomers is seen there and that remnant of Christianity is very much in view in the Word of the Lord.

Now, a remnant feature is roots downward. A feature of a remnant is that it takes root downward. And the Lord does it, the Lord causes it to be so. The Lord so acts in His sovereignty and in His providence to see to it that a remnant is marked by roots which have got such a grip that nothing in hell or on earth can pluck it out. The Lord must, for His own glory, have something like that which can stand all the challenges of the circumstances of life.

The Lord must have something which cannot be carried away, which cannot be removed, cannot be shaken, and certainly something which cannot be rooted up. That is His remnant. That, He must have for His own glory, and, that being so, He will take every measure with His remnant to have them after that kind, with roots downward. Of course, unto fruit upward. We speak much about the upward side of things, life in the heavenlies, sitting in the heavenlies, and our warfare and work – the fruitfulness of our life in union with the Lord. That is only possible as our roots are downward. In order that that might be so, we have to get into a place of unshakeableness where the roots have got such a grip that nothing can overthrow. And I believe that explains a very great deal of what the Lord is doing with His own spiritual people in these days.

It is true that the true children of God are going through a time of intense trial and testing spiritually in these days; everywhere it is so. Why? Because the Lord must have something against which hell is impotent and by which He demonstrates to the universe that strength of His might which causes to stand and withstand and having done all to stand. If one were asked what the last issue for the Church in this age is, I would say that it stands, and that is saying a tremendous thing. Oh, you say, that is surely limiting things, are you not expecting much more than that? Progress, advance, sweeping movements? The Church will have all its work cut out in the end to stand, but its standing will be its victory. Just to be able, through testing, trial, when everything is blowing round you like a blizzard; when everything is dark, mysterious, and even God seems far away and unreal, and faith is tested and you are being assailed on the right hand and on the left, and there is every reason outwardly for your moving, giving up, falling down, surrendering, lowering your standard, just to stand and not be moved in your faith is the greatest possible victory.

The Remnant a Testimony to the Lord’s Power

Now I come to Isaiah 36 and 37. You notice that that passage about the remnant taking root is an issue. Chapter 36 we have heard read this evening, about Rabshakeh and Sennacherib with his boasting, flaunting, high-faluting utterances, challenging not just Hezekiah and the Jews, but their God. Vaunting himself against Jehovah, saying that there has been no god of any of the peoples of the earth who has been able to stand before his master, and certainly the God of the Jews will not be able to stand; and there they are outside the gates of Jerusalem with all this. Why did the Lord allow it? The Lord saw the first movement in far away Assyria, toward Jerusalem; why didn’t He stop them, intervene for the sake of His own, and circumvent? Why did He not raise up circumstances that would hinder? Why did He allow them actually to encamp round and lay siege to Jerusalem, and then allow them to say these things?

It is all in the sovereignty of God. God has allowed this. God has permitted this thing to come right up to this present point. Hezekiah received the letter and rent his clothes, put on sackcloth, and went and spread the letter before the Lord. They were surely in straits. The Lord has allowed, we might even say drawn out, Sennacherib and the mighty hosts of the Assyrians, drawn them out literally, drawn them out materially, drawn them out mentally, drawn them out verbally, extended them, allowed them to inflate themselves to bursting point: they are exalted to the very heavens in their own eyes.

All right, the Lord has drawn them out. A remnant comes into view and the remnant shall take root. When the Assyrian and Sennacherib have gone just as far as it is possible for them to go, have become as inflated as it is possible for them to be, when they have swelled to the very heavens, the Lord for His remnant’s sake sent one angel! Surely, the Lord wants a mighty host to deal with this situation – “And the angel of the Lord went forth.”

Do you see, beloved, a New Testament factor in this? The adversary would impress the weak saints of the Lord with his importance, with his greatness. There is one thing the enemy is always trying to do as a strategic thing and that is to put fear in the heart of a child of God. Fear. There is nothing so weakening, so devastating as fear. If the enemy can get fear into our hearts he has got the city and he will make a great display and vaunt himself and try to impress upon us how mighty he is.

It is never for us to under-estimate the power of the enemy, but we have always got to keep the balance of comparison between our God and the enemy. The Lord’s weakness is more than a match for all the power of Satan. And it comes to this, the remnant puts its faith in the Lord over against all the fury of the oppressor, all the vaunting of the oppressor, and then the Lord proves He only allowed the oppressor to come out in that extreme way to show that the remnant cannot be destroyed, for the remnant takes root in the presence of Sennacherib, in the presence of the Assyrians. “And the remnant… shall again take root.” You see that is the ultimate issue. This was looking on to a coming day, it is true, but it is remarkable that these two things come together, that the Assyrians come into view with all their power and they are only allowed eventually to destroy that which is not counting for God, but God gets, in spite of everything, a remnant with roots.

Rooted in the Cross and Immovable

Now note, you who know the conflict, you who know the fury of the oppressor, the bitterness of the animus of the devil, remember that the Lord allows him to go a long way in order that there might be this double issue. Firstly, an entering into the knowledge of the exceeding greatness of God’s power – but how exceeding great must be God’s power if against the mighty host of Assyria one angel alone is all that is necessary! To discover the exceeding greatness of God’s power on the one hand, and on the other hand, through the work of the enemy himself, to drive the roots down. The Lord uses the adversary in his own hatred and bitterness to get our roots in, and to make us impervious to the Devil. He uses the adversary against himself in our trials. Roots downward, fruit upward. I am sure that is what the Lord is doing.

We are passing through deep experiences, the enemy is doing it and the Lord is not preventing him, but we are coming to a fuller knowledge of the power of our God and a deeper rooting beyond all previous shakeableness. And the Lord is seeking to have a people who cannot be shaken, against whom hell with all its demonstration of arrogance and pride, is impotent. “And the remnant… shall again take root downward.” That is what the Lord needs.

May I remind you that the nature of this planting is just that with which we are so familiar. “Planted together in the likeness of his death.” That is the word of the Apostle, “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” The enemy is the instrument so often, of planting us more deeply into the death of Christ. His assaults, his attacks, his accusations, everything – yes. The Lord is not the source of evil but the Lord allows it.

So often our hearts cry out: “Why did the Lord ever allow that in our lives?” That thing which has meant such a deep, dark passage. Why did the Lord allow it? He could have prevented it. Well, we were planted by it into the death of the Lord Jesus. We were brought more than ever to an end of ourselves. Yes, and therefore, to know the Lord in a larger measure than we have ever known Him, and to be brought to a place where it will not be so easy for the Devil to shake us next time.

That is the sovereign way of God in deeper death experiences. “Planted together in the likeness of his death.” Have you been planted there initially? Have you been planted in Christ crucified? Or are you one of those attachments to something? Are you planted? And when a deeper planting comes, remember it is the roots being driven downwards, and the issue is going to be most surely endurance, stability, ability to stand; but, oh, there is going to be greater fruitfulness.

We are in the Lord’s hands, not in the Devil’s hands. We are in the Lord’s hands, and being in His hands we are in the hands of a Potter Who knows what He is after. We were saying this afternoon that first of all, the vessel is in the potter, and then eventually the potter is in the vessel. What we mean is this. That before ever the potter starts, the vessel is in his mind, in his heart very clearly. The pattern is not something objective, the vessel is already a complete thing in him; and then he gets to work upon it and when he is finished, he is in the vessel he has wrought. What was in Him has come out in it.

We say of people’s work: “I can see who made that, it is just like them.” “That is just like So-and-so to make a thing like that.” Yes, He is in His work, He is in the vessel that He makes, and that is just what He is doing. Sometimes that clay has to be pressed down to a shapeless mass, broken. It is not showing all that He intended it to show, there are defects and flaws, and so He crushes it down to shapelessness. A mass without shape. But it is to start again to get something more perfect than has been before, in which He Himself is.

May He give us grace to endure whatever the trial may be, along whatever line of metaphor, the wind, the blaze, supreme heat, or pressure of His hand, all of which is to get us into a place where we cannot be moved, where hell cannot shake us, where His power is made manifest as triumphant over all the power of the enemy.

Reference: T. Austin Sparks

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