Christianity – Process of Transformation (2)


Broad Overview of Geography Relevant to Paul o...

Broad Overview of Geography Relevant to Paul of Tarsus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

INTELLECTUALISM

Now what is this natural category, this natural species? Look at the Letter again. First of all, the dominance, ascendancy, control of intellectualism, the wisdom of this world. That is the thing that is being marked and underscored as a part of the trouble in Corinth; the control of intellectualism, the natural reason, the natural mind, the idea that you are going to solve the problems of life along intellectual lines. Will you tell me that that is not a peril of Christianity today? Why, it is everywhere! It shouts at you from the religious press. You may not read so much of it, but it is my business to be familiar with what is happening in the Christian theological world, and I tell you, friends, that as I read certain theological magazines I find DEATH. They are wearisome to the spirit. All this terrific effort to solve the problems of Christianity by the human intellect; the research, argument, discussion and debate, theses, etc.; philosophical Christianity trying to solve spiritual problems; what a weariness it is! I have to put these papers down sometimes! I cannot finish them, for they are so dead, so utterly lifeless. And that sort of thing is everywhere. It is thought that if you go to our seats and seminaries of learning with a clever brain, able to put out a convincing argument, you are going to save souls. There never was a greater fallacy!
This Letter to the Corinthians says that. Read this second chapter again and you will find that Paul is saying that. Paul was an educated man, so much so that for two thousand years the best scholars have found him defeating them, and they have not mastered him yet! Come to the religious bookshops and look at the shelves on the exposition of the New Testament, and you will find that Paul predominates. I got a book by one of our leading professors of theology in the universities and it was called A Portrait of Peter. This man, with all his learning, set out to give us a portrait of Peter. I opened the book and found that the first few pages were wholly occupied with Paul! He could not get to Peter because Paul was in the way, and the issue of his attempt was: ‘Well, Peter was a great man, but Paul was very much greater!’ Yes, this man Paul was an educated man, an intellectual man, a learned man. You cannot discredit Paul along that line at all, for he will beat you every time in that realm – but listen! ‘You Corinthians, when I came to you I came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, but in fear and in much trembling. I had determined that I would know nothing amongst you intellectual Corinthians save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.’ What was Paul’s conclusion? ‘It is no use, however much I may have of the schools, whatever I may know, however I might be able to argue with the Corinthians or the Athenians on Mars Hill, I will get nowhere along that line with a spiritual situation like this. I have made up my mind about that.’ It is part of the natural man to think that you are going to be able to build up something by intellectual, scholastic, academic acumen. The fact is that what intellect can build up, intellect can pull down!

POWERISM

Then look at this prominent word: power. It is there in the chapter: wisdom… power; and at Corinth there was a worshipping of natural power, ability to conquer by natural strength. You can call it ‘powerism’, for it was an ‘ism’ there. Crush by your superior strength, impose something forceful, mighty, upon people, and you will win. Only be strong enough and you can solve all the problems and change all the situations. ‘Powerism’ is the natural man’s idea of how it is going to be done.

EMOTIONALISM

Then emotionalism has a large place with these Corinthians. Going to capture, captivate and master, and gain your end by force of emotion stirring up people’s feelings, playing upon them, working upon them until they make an almost hysterical response. If you do that well and thoroughly you will get some Christians! The Apostle says: ‘Not at all!’ It is evident that these Corinthians were very emotional people.

FOOLISHNESS

What does the Apostle put over against these three aspects of the natural man? Over against wisdom he puts ‘foolishness’. In the first chapter he speaks of “the foolishness of the preaching”. You find that ‘foolishness’ was a great thing with the Apostle Paul! “We are fools for Christ’s sake” (1 Corinthians 4:10). What did he mean? Well, he did not mean: ‘Be simpletons!’, which is what we immediately take to be the meaning of being foolish. What Paul meant by foolishness was the denial that intellectualism could find out God. ‘The princes of this world, and the wisdom of this world did not find out God’, said Paul, ‘and they could not find Him out. They could not find out anything to do with God.’ “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: and he cannot know them.” Foolishness is the denial that all the wisdom and all the philosophy of the Greeks there in Corinth, where they boasted of this thing so much, could get through the barrier to find God; and that all this power of mind and will projected and asserted in any way whatever will come up against the barrier and not get through, will not find God, nor the things of God. It is all written off as foolishness when the quest for God is pursued along that line. How foolish it is! And Paul gives a wonderful, almost startling, example of this: “God’s wisdom… which none of the rulers of this world knoweth: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” There is not much sense in that wisdom, is there? Not much logic or philosophy in that!
So Paul puts what he calls ‘foolishness’ over against their wisdom, meaning a positive denial registered by the Cross of the Lord Jesus that mere intellectualism can find God and the things of God. It cannot, for the natural man cannot!

WEAKNESS

Over against the powerism of this mentality of the natural man, the Apostle almost glories in using the word ‘weakness’. He says even that Christ was crucified through weakness, and he is always speaking about, and glorying in, his own weakness. What does he mean? The denial that this kind of human force, assertiveness, can achieve anything in the spiritual world. What a building we are tearing down!
You know, that has been the test of man right from the beginning. Was it not the test of Abraham to let go even of what God had given him in Isaac? The test of this man’s real spirituality was the ability to let go. Was it true of Jacob? Was he not a man of tenacity, of determination, a man who would get what he wanted at any price, at the cost of anyone else’s convenience and wellbeing? Was that not the issue of Peniel, or Jabbok? “I will not let thee go!” That is Jacob! He had been like that all his life, holding on tenaciously to what he wanted, what he had or what he wanted to have. But the finger of God touched the hollow of his thigh, and after that you can see that he is a cringing man! See how he meets his brother Esau!
You are not, whether you are Abraham or Jacob or any of the others whom we might mention, going to get through with God fully and finally by your own natural determination and tenacity. One of the great lessons of the Christian life is to learn how to let go to God. Oh, all the exhortation to be strong in the Lord, to endure, to acquit you like men and be strong, does not mean with this natural strength. It is another kind of strength, and a very different kind, a strength which is only seen by our ability to let other people sometimes have their way, to get what they are after and set us at nought. They hold, grip, maintain things in their hands to our disadvantage, and our real strength is in our weakness. The Apostle Paul put this into words. Read the second chapter of the Letter to the Philippians: “Christ Jesus, who, being in the form or God, counted it not a prize to be on equality with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a bondservant… becoming obedient, even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.” Well, has it proved to be the right thing? ‘We are being changed…’ Do you see the point now?

(..to be continued..)

Reference T A Spark

Article Reference:

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.”

What are some good guidelines on dressing fashionably yet modestly?


Let’s turn to God’s Word for His counsel in the area of purity of appearance. Because we are His, we should dress to please Him regardless of whether we are single, widowed, divorced or married. God has called us to be beautiful and fearless daughters of promise. To remain free, we choose to live by the Spirit. Let’s gather some New Testament Scriptures that address the issue of clothing. The first is found in Paul’s instruction to Timothy:

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God (1 Timothy 2:9,10, NIV).

First and foremost, a woman’s dress is to be modest; this means void of pride and without the intent of drawing attention to itself. Second, it is to be decent, which means pure, moral and virtuous. Sometimes I question the clothing I see on young girls and single women at church. I remember looking out of step when I first got saved, because I only had a “heathen” wardrobe, but this is not what I am talking about. There is an alarming lack of modesty in daughters who have been raised in the church. I often have mothers of young boys plead with me, “Tell the young girls that how they dress is really affecting the young men!” The third description of dress in this passage is the word propriety. This is best defined as being appropriate and respectful of its setting.

Paul goes from there to the contrast between outer accessories and the adornment of good deeds. He advises women to not spend their time and resources on earthly treasures. Instead, they are to lay up for themselves treasures in heaven by adorning themselves with charitable acts.

We find another group of instructions for a Christian woman’s wardrobe in 1 Peter:

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves (1 Peter 3:3–5, NKJV).

Peter says to not let your adornment be merely external, especially to the neglect of your internal beauty. Then he lets us in on the beauty secret of the holy woman—that is, to cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit. A major factor in this adornment is learning to trust God. Paul encourages women to adorn themselves with good works, and Peter instructs them to focus on unseen treasure. If we develop our spirits like the holy women of old, we will put on garments of grace and praise.

Abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22, KJV).

Our clothing should not even appear to be suggestive. Showing cleavage, navels or excessive leg is not appropriate for church services, youth groups or retreats. Neither are overly tight tops, pants or dresses that leave nothing to the imagination. Such clothing is not appropriate anywhere because it is not modest, and its whole intention is to call attention to breasts, navels, legs or bottoms. It is not polite because it can make others uncomfortable—especially hormone-driven, sight-oriented males. It is simply not appropriate for those who profess to belong to God.

Take a good hard look at your wardrobe and ask the Holy Spirit to be your fashion consultant. As you dress, ask yourself:

Is this modest?
Is it decent?
Is it appropriate for where I’m going?
Does it honor whose I am?
How am I affecting the males around me with my clothing?
Am I honoring them and encouraging them in their pursuit of purity?

The enemy of your soul wants to strip you, make sport of you, and merchandise your body, but your heavenly Father wants to clothe you with beauty, strength, dignity, and honor that will endure.

The Servant of God


First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pi...

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak, a Medieval Armenian scribe and miniaturist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In choosing a model of a servant of Christ, we instinctively turn to St. Paul. He seems to us to be the most outstanding in every way, and from the greatness of his achievements, the success of his methods, the amazement of his endurance, and his dominating objective, we must get back to his own conception of himself as a worker.

He has given us that conception in many significant and suggestive phrases, some of which we select at once. Not once only, but frequently, he refers to himself as “the servant of Jesus Christ.”

Now I venture to say that a right understanding and apprehension of that word “servant” – as Paul used it – is calculated, without other designations, to revolutionize all of our work for the Master.
The actual word used by Paul was “bondslave,” and by it we are thrown back into the social conditions of the world in those days. Slavery was a part of the social life of that time, and the readers of Paul’s letters were all quite well acquainted with the ideas and customs connected with that system; indeed, some of those readers were slaves themselves. Paul looked upon himself as having been bought by Christ. He gloried in that ownership, and whenever opportunity presented itself he boasted that he was Christ’s. To him that ownership was permanent. The slave was bound for life, and there could be no termination of the relationship or obligations.

The transaction was permanently marked by branding (“I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus”). Professor Mahaffy says:
“In the numerous records of manumissions found at Delphi and at other shrines in Greece, we have learned the legal process by which a slave gained his liberty. He did not bring his master his earnings and obtain his freedom with his receipt for the money, but went to the temple of the god and there paid in his money to the priests; who then with the money bought the slave from his master on the part of the god, and he became for the rest of his life a slave of the god. If at any future time his master or his master’s heirs reclaimed him, he had the record of the transaction in the temple…. If he travelled from home and were seized as a runaway slave, what security could he have? Paul gives us the answer. When liberated at the temple, the priest branded him with the ‘stigmata’ of his new master, Apollo. Now Paul’s words acquire a new and striking application. He had been the slave of sin; but he had been purchased by Christ, and his new liberty consisted in his being the slave of Christ. Henceforth, he says, let no man attempt to reclaim me; I have been marked with the brand of my new master, Jesus Christ.”

On the one hand, this Pauline conception of the absolute and indelible proprietorship of Christ throws much of our modern “service” into striking contrast. Rather than being in willing, full, and free servitude, vassalage, and slavery to Christ, we often regard our service as a kind of religious holiday affair. We may be interested, we may be philanthropic, we may be condescending, or we may be dutiful, but we are certainly not under any compulsion. We can do pretty much as we like about it, and if things do not suit us, we can either “throw up” our work altogether or go where we shall be more appreciated or where things are smoother sailing.

So today, the “worker” too often makes the cause serve him or her instead of being the servant of the cause. Paul took his directions as to sphere, time, and kind of work from his Master, Christ, and relegated every concern to Him. He was not his own, and he could not use either his powers or his time as directed by the flesh.

But on the other hand, he was fully aware and convinced that this “slavery” to Christ was for him the greatest thing in the world. He had caught the true significance of the Master’s invitation to “Take my yoke… and you shall find rest unto your souls.” That, to Paul, meant control and direction for the most serviceable life.

The stream rushes aimlessly, frivolously, and noisily on until it is yoked by a water-wheel, and then – by its arrest – it grinds the grain to feed mankind. The wind blows wildly to no purpose on the sea until the mariner yokes it with his sail, and thus it is harnessed to bear the enriching cargoes from shore to shore. To capture the electricity which would otherwise be lost, we suspend our telegraph wires and direct it intelligently along them, bringing the whole world into an intimate association. And so, as in these and many other ways, the yoke is the symbol of useful control and serviceable direction. Paul knew that the yoke of Christ’s service and association would make his life more fruitful than his own independence. There is a liberty which leads to havoc, ruin, uselessness, and remorse.

But the supreme element in Paul’s abandonment to Christ was a strong, clear sense of what Christ had done for him… and a perpetual consciousness of what Christ was to him. There is nothing which makes slaves of us more than love, and it is an ecstatic and sublime slavery which never wants release, and only dreads that a breach might at some time come. In the captivity of Christ’s love, Paul would ever be found doing everything which would preserve it from suffering hunger in his life, and he would ever be found praying that the “marks” might be burnt more and more deeply into his soul.
“Who that one moment has the least descried Him, Dimly and faintly, hidden and afar, Doth not despise all excellence beside Him, Pleasures and powers that are not and that are.

“I am persuaded that nothing shall sunder Us from the love that saveth us from sin, Lift it or lose hereover or hereunder, Pluck it hereout or strangle it herein.”

For effectual Christian service and the more powerful corporate testimony of the Church, it must be realized that the Divine calling and equipment for the prophetic, or pastoral, or teaching, or evangelistic, or apostolic work is not centered in one man in any given community, but that these personal gifts are distributed over the whole Church. Every true disciple of Christ is called to be a “servant of the Lord,” and he should prayerfully seek to know in what specific capacity He calls him to serve – not taking up work at random, but having sought His guidance he should give himself earnestly, devotedly, and vigorously to his special ministry… and regard his calling as from God.

The “marks” of Christ must be seen upon His servants whether in the place where the Lord’s people assemble, the business, the home, or the social circle; and he must ever be proud to say of Him: “Whose I am, and Whom I serve.”
A vital relationship with Christ born of a deep personal appreciation of what He has done for… and daily is to… our souls, and a clear understanding with a profound conviction of what He wishes to do through our instrumentality – these, covered by a complete and utter abandonment to Him, are the only legitimate grounds for His service. Of such servants the world and the Church stand in tragic and pathetic need, and by such all problems of ineffectiveness and failure are solved. Such never take up the work lightly, and therefore never give it up easily – if at all.
Every Christian must conceive of himself or herself as being definitely called by God into the “fellowship of His Son,” and as “workers together with Him.” He must know that this calling is a solemn and irrevocable ordination to “the work of the ministry.”

To be Christ’s own purchased possession… and to be Christ’s own controlled, directed, and equipped servant… is to have the strength of a great assurance that nothing can separate you from Him; that you work under supreme authority; that all the resources of Christ are at your disposal; and that while doing His work there can be no ultimate failure – unless He is ultimately to fail, an eventuality which is impossible.

This is a service which is eternal and supreme; yet it is only the probation for “higher service” where and when “His servants shall serve Him… and they shall see His face.”

“Christ! I am Christ’s! And let the name suffice you; Ay, for me, too, He greatly hath sufficed. Lo, with no winning words I would entice you, Paul has no honor and no friend but Christ.

“Yea, through life, death, through sorrow and through sinning, He shall suffice me, for He hath sufficed: Christ is the end, for Christ is the beginning, Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ.”

It is so important, beloved, that we should be clear on this matter of service, and it will save us so much sorrow and heartbreak if we have this right as early as possible. We do not want to spend time in pointing out the tremendous mistakenness which prevails far and wide in this respect. “Christian service” has come to be a realm in which all the acquisitive, ambitious, obtrusive, assertive, self-seeking, and numerous other elements of the natural man have been vented and taken hold. It has created a system in which human distinctions are the order of the day. Yes, and much more which it is too painful to mention.

We need an adjustment of our minds by a true spiritual perception of the real nature of service, and it will be well for us ever to remember that all work for Christ is not service to Christ. A child may be very well-meaning and industrious in its “helping mother” (?), but poor mother may find rather more work created than done.

Now let us say right away… with emphasis… that the indispensable and basic thing to real service is THE SERVANT-SPIRIT AND THE SERVANT-MIND. The matter of service is infinitely more than busy-ness in religious causes, earthly activities in Christian interests; it is the accomplishment of a heavenly will and Divine purpose which registers its impact in the breaking of another, foreign will and destroying the works of the devil. This is the force of “obedience” and the “not my will” …and this is the servant-mind and servant-spirit.

When a slave in Israel had fulfilled his time and could claim his liberty but preferred to remain with his master, he was taken on to the threshold and his ear was bored with an awl. The blood fell on the threshold, and he and his master stepped across that blood; by so doing, a covenant of service – now the service of love – was entered upon. To have stepped UPON the blood and “trodden it under foot” would have been to have “counted it an unholy thing,” but passing over (“passover”) it hand in hand was a covenant too sacred ever to be broken. So we are reminded that “we are not our own; we are bought with a price, even the precious blood.”

The basic vision of all true service is that of “the Lord high and lifted up,” His train filling “the Temple,” resulting in ourselves being smitten to the ground with a realization of our own worthlessness. Such a vision makes us forever not masters but slaves… and necessitates an abiding application of blood-soaked, fire-impregnated coal from the altar if we are to be sent-ones – His servants.

Might it not be laid to our charge that our vision of service held ourselves high and lifted up and filling the frame as the goal… until we saw the Lord, and then – in that light – saw ourselves as worthless?
The Lord’s need is to have bond-servants – such as… even though the extreme pressure at some time might make them say that they would “no more speak in this Name” …find that they cannot forbear for long; but cost what it may, they must be in it and at it – the fire is in their bones and zeal of His House eats them up. May we be such, and may the true ground and motive of this fellowship in service be:
“I love, I love my Master, I will not go out free! For He is my Redeemer, He paid the price for me. I would not leave His service, It is so sweet and blest; And in the weariest moments He gives the truest rest.
“My Master shed His life-blood My vassal life to win, And save me from the bondage Of tyrant self and sin. He chose me for His service, And gave me power to choose That blessed, perfect freedom Which I shall never lose.
“I would not halve my service, His only it must be! His only, Who so loved me And gave Himself for me. Rejoicing and adoring, Henceforth my song shall be ‘I love, I love my Master, I will not go out free!'”

For the work of God a wisdom and a skill different from… and far transcending… that of man at his best is essential. A wisdom which is the gift of God. A wisdom, however, which is very often foolishness to men, and yet which – when the work is done – makes the wisdom of men look like foolishness.

Many things are being constructed to which the Name of the Lord is being affixed – things which appear fine and great and like “the Church,” but which are destined to collapse when God’s hurricane and fire test every man’s work. Good works – philanthropy, hospitality, reform, education, religion, relief, etc. – may be the products, or byproducts, of what is called “Christian civilization” …and things for which to be profoundly grateful… but let us not confuse these with “a new creation,” regeneration, a being “born from above.”

The Church is nothing which man can build by any resource in himself personally or collectively. The Church is an organism, not an organization: “Behold, I show you a mystery – we are members of His flesh and of His bones.” Build that, if you can! Launch that; organize that; “run” that! It cannot be done. It is the spontaneous outworking of spiritual forces released… in the acceptance by faith of tremendous facts concerning Christ – facts which are proclaimed out of experience in the power of the Holy Ghost. Not the theological Christ; not the doctrinal Christ; not the Christ of the letter; much less the Jesus of history; but the Christ of Eternity in all the meaning of His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into the Throne of God revealed in the heart by the Holy Spirit – this alone is authority to preach, to serve, to occupy position, to “build” in relation to the House of God. It is folly to spend time and strength otherwise. It is wisdom to labor on this foundation.

Many inquiries have been set up as to the unsatisfactory situation which exists for so great an area in relation to the gospel and Christian life – questions concerning widespread indifference, gospel-hardening, wholesale backsliding, disappointing “converts,” ineffective Christians, low level of spiritual life, worldliness in the “Church,” the misleading of believers by false doctrine and deceiving spirits, spiritual immaturity, etc., etc.

To some extent such conditions existed from the beginning, even in the great apostolic days, but it was then much more the exception than now. It was then something in the midst of the greater and better conditions which made the apostolic Church so mighty in the world. Now it would seem to be the other way round. The genuine thing is the smaller company in the midst of the more general failure.

Far be it from us to join in the tirade against that which bears “His” name, but we are so constantly confronted with the heartbreaking story of the difficulties of service, the disappointment of workers, the despair of Christians, that we must enter the inquiry and seek to help.

Now without pressing it as our conviction – which it certainly is – we would present it as a question:
May not this state be largely due to an inadequate gospel?
Is the means used such as is calculated to achieve the tremendous end in view?
Have we an adequate conception of what that end is?
May it not be that such an inadequate conception has resulted in the eliminating or neglecting of essentials on the one hand, and the laboring of certain unworthy factors on the other?

With regard to the latter: Is fear of hell and gain of heaven really worthy of the “so great salvation”? Is the horror of being doomed to eternal punishment – giving rise to all the sensational means and methods by which fear is meant to be produced – really a sufficient motive? Is the personal going to heaven, with all the personal gains and pleasures associated therewith – producing all the sentimental appeals intended to capture by pathos, emotion, excitement, pleasure, etc. – really mighty enough to bring through the eternal purpose? The gospel of “escape from hell and going to heaven,” with all the cheap elements of its proclamation which has nauseated so many and turned them away in disgust – may it not be this gospel which prejudices the true and has become played out in the emotions of many who can no longer be appealed to along these lines, setting up a gospel deadlock?

It is absolutely essential that if all the great purpose of God with its vast inclusions is to be entered into, and if there is to be an adequate impact upon men, there must be the sufficient background of the New Testament evangel. It would be very salutary if every “Christian worker” were to sit down… or kneel down… and prayerfully consider the background of New Testament preaching, exhortation, admonition, entreaty, appeal, instruction.

It will be discovered that that background begins in eternity past, before times eternal, in the eternal counsels of God. It will reveal a conception and design with which every movement and gesture of God throughout the ages is related. It will explain the existence of the universe and the purpose of the whole creation. It will set the sovereignty of the Son at the center and make it also the circumference. It will reveal that each soul saved is a vindication of the wisdom of God in plan and creation… and the justification of the existence of the world.

Salvation – conversion – is never something in itself. An ultra-individualism in being saved or in seeking the salvation of others is contrary to the Scriptures… and is baneful. The “therefores” and the “wherefores” of the New Testament are pegs upon which hang vast ranges and mighty weights of spiritual significance and reason.

Why should men be saved? Why should I be utterly abandoned to Christ? Why should I accept the Cross of Christ in its total application to all the elements of my natural life? Why should I leave all for the Gospel’s sake? These and many other such questions must be answered in the light of that infinite background of “the eternal purpose” in the first place.
True it is that conversions take place from the preaching of the immediate issues of sin and hell… and salvation from these. But so often such remains for a long time with but the personal salvation and the immediate issue and a single note. Why should maturity be so long delayed – the nursery so long occupied? Why not the full compass of Divine Meaning from the beginning? Again we ask, may not the widespread failure of a certain evangelism be due to an inadequate motive?
Then in the next place there must be an ADEQUATE DYNAMIC. There is no subject which concerns the servants of the Lord more than that of spiritual power and effectiveness. We have prayed about this until we despaired. We have read books upon it until we were sick. Yes, we have spoken about it ourselves until shame has silenced us.

We see the apostolic example and demonstration. We know the Master’s promise. We know the doctrine and teaching basic to power. But what of the power itself?

Far be it from us to think that we can improve upon, or profitably add to, all that has been written. But if the Lord has taken us through an experience which has made possible an unfolding of His secrets, it will not be conceit on our part if we humbly place such at the service of His children.
It is not sufficient that we recognize the need for power and pray for it. Indeed, it might be very unsafe for the gospel and for the Name of the Lord if it were given. It is of primary importance that we should know the nature and the basis of power. It is equally important that we should recognize that it is that power which has as its object the building of the “House” – the “Temple” of God.

From Genesis to Revelation, resurrection is invariably the basis upon which the direct purpose of God is carried forward. Every instrument which is used in that direct purpose has to be wrought on to a basis of resurrection. The experimental spiritual ground upon which the Church stood at Pentecost was the Resurrection. Paul’s whole life and work rested upon his own experience of the Resurrection. The basis of power is Resurrection union with Christ. The principle of “the eternal purpose” is Resurrection Life in Christ. The Holy Spirit comes only upon Resurrection ground. Power is to “know Him and the power of His Resurrection….” By that Life the Holy Spirit constitutes the believer a personal demonstration of the Resurrection, and the word of testimony thereto is only a consequence… but it is a consequence.

In the meantime, “the eternal purpose” proceeds, but it proceeds only in those and through those who have firstly recognized the death of Jesus as their death… and then accepted it in one all-inclusive reckoning of faith, trusting God to make it actual. They have claimed and apprehended by faith their inheritance in the Risen Lord, even Resurrection Life. It becomes the exclusive basis of all the activities of God within and through His children relative to the eternal purpose. But it is Resurrection Life – mighty, unconquerable, indestructible, deathless. The Holy Spirit is the seal of the Resurrection, and the Holy Spirit’s law of operation is Divine Life.

The Revelation of Duty


Conversion of St Paul on the Road to Damascus

Conversion of St Paul on the Road to Damascus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.— Act_9:6

Sudden Conversion but Gradual Revelation

The first thing we learn in these words is how duty is gradually revealed. Our blessed Lord, in His knowledge of our hearts, never overloads His revelations. It is characteristic of the great apostle that he should instantly react on his experience. Vitality is measured by reaction— when we fail to react, then we are growing old—and Paul, vital to his fingertips, instantly reacted to the Lord— “Lord, what wouldst Thou have me to do? Tell me now. Make my future plain. Show me the service I can render Thee, and I shall do it even to the death.” And it was then that Jesus answered him, “Arise and go into the city, and it shall be told thee there what thou must do.” Suddenly was Paul converted. Gradually he learned what that involved. Paul found that illumination of the soul is different from illumination of the future. Step by step, duty after duty, each faithfully taken and performed, was the road to his service and his victory.

Obey As to Your Next Duty

That lesson which the apostle learned is one secret of victorious living still. The next duty is the key to everything. When the future is dark to us as it was dark to him, when we cannot discern the larger will of God, when we want to be used and cannot find the road, when we are dubious of our capacities, always for us as for this great apostle there is a present and commanded duty on the doing of which everything shall hinge. Often it is a very lowly duty, and that is where so many people fail. Dreams may be spun upon the looms of God, but remember that dreams may be our traitors. We dream of voices, heavenly voices, crying to us, “Arise, do big things worthy of your powers”; and the voice on the Damascus road is crying, “Arise and go into the city.” Had Paul not gone, he would never have learned his mission. He learned it by obedience. He learned it by unquestioning acceptance of the first dull thing that was demanded. And whatever the particular service be that God has in store for anyone of us, we learn it just as the apostle did. Service is gradually given. Duty is gradually shown. Do the thing that is demanded now, and out of that the vision shall emerge. It was a poor, dull thing for that illumined soul to go tramping on another mile or two, but it led him to the service of his life.

New Vision for the Old Environment

The other profound lesson of the words is that new vision is for old environment. Converted, changed in his whole being, Paul has to step out on the old road. To Damascus the apostle had been journeying when he set out to persecute the Church. Then came the flood of new life within him and the overwhelming experience of conversion. And the beautiful and Christlike thing is this, that Paul was not swept into any new surroundings but bidden to hold on the old road. Wert thou making for Damascus, Paul? To Damascus thou art still to go. There is no new path for thee across the hills. There is nothing but the old familiar highway. Resume it. Set thy face to it again. Take up and prosecute thy interrupted journey. The new vision is for the old environment.

Shining in the Familiar Environment

Now that is a lesson we do well to learn if we want to handle life aright. For the old roads never seem so dusty as after some great stirring of the heart. There are long periods when we are content. We are happy in the daily round. We are satisfied with our nutshell, unlike Hamlet, because we have no dreams. But then some day to us there comes the vision— the light that never was on sea or land— and there is born the passion to escape. It may come when the glow of youth is burning, or when the beauty of the world has caught us, or when love has wakened with its divine unsettlement, or when the chair is empty and the grave is full. Who has not felt in seasons such as that the longing that arises in the heart to have done with the road that is leading to Damascus? It is not easy to go quietly on then. It is not easy to get back to duty. We hate the drudgery— it is intolerable— we crave a more congenial environment. And it is then that to our restless hearts Christ comes as He came that noonday to St. Paul, saying, “Arise and go into the city.” He does not offer us a new environment. Vision is not given for new environment. It is given that we may take the glory of it and shine it on the old and the familiar. It is given that the common round, the irksome and unceasing drudgery, may be illuminated and transfigured.

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