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The HARMONIOUS TRIO
Victory, Rest and Sanctification
HOLINESS REALLY IS BEAUTIFUL
News 275, Guardian Unlimited, June 10, 2003
News Radio June 13, 2003
CONFUSION, CONTRAST AND CLARITY
When the Prime Minister of the Palestinian territories, Mahmoud Abbas, described Israel's pursuit, however skilfully or to the contrary it had acted, as 'terrorism', there is a certain difficulty.
If now in South Australia, someone were to point out that there was an organisation concerned to obliterate Sydney, and the SA Premier announced that although he personally, and indeed his government were not really in favour of this particular action, it simply was not in his heart to use force to compel the would-be murderers and insurrectionists to STOP, what would follow ? We would know that this was a criminal act on the part of his government, that he was allying himself, however supinely, and with whatever lack of thrust, with the forces it was his BUSINESS to control in the interests of that nation of which his State formed a part!
Analogy ? Of course, but as in all analogy, it has a point. Does it survive enunciation in terms of principles directly ? Yes, for the Palestinians are on land duly constituted, as is France, England, the USA and others, with whatever efforts to have it overthrown or extended on this side or that, and Israel's very existence on this earth depends on its accommodation of the often substantially murderous ways of these insurrectionists, in the hope of their leaving this vile violation of humanity for something more peaceable. If this were the way in ANY other nation, it would suppressed by the national government with all the force it can command. Let us not be mistaken in this, for Israel DOES have the force to impose martial rule, as it sometimes shows, and could do a Dresden as Britain did on Germany, or a Coventry as Germany did on Britain.
Abbas does not favour force on HIS OWN CRIMINAL CONSTITUENTS in his own place, and so becomes involved in their using his land as a lair - his land ? his territory held on sufferance.
Now it might be said that IF Israel did that (and it is not being recommended nor is, at this point, any other plan in this situation), then the Islamic world would manifest the violence with which its religion was instituted in Mecca, and which it has shown with such famous thrust against so many for so long in such varied circumstances, and which is indubitably part of the Koran (More Marvels ... Ch. 4): so that Israel is not really free. This is nonsense, in principle. Similarly, it could be argued that Britain, facing the well-equipped and well-prepared forces of Nazism in 1940 COULD have waged war with vigour at any cost, to overthrow it, but that the disparity in preparedness was so vast that this was not REALLY a logical option.
It is not logic, in such a case, which is in view, but courage; it is not impossibility, but challenge. It CAN be done, and in the event, ultimately, it depends on what the LORD does.
In this case, He has PREDICTED just such arrays and such frays against Jerusalem as this ROAD MAP seems to incorporate, as the UN has for so long forwarded, favoured and displayed, and as the Intefadeh so grossly seeks to EXTEND. There is nothing to fear there; nor from justice, as we have seen in the preceding chapters. Humanity might intervene to prevent a full-scale parallel to the British or German actions in World War II, which came after an obliterative effort on the part of Hitler in the one case, and in efforts to prevent such designs from being executed, on the other; but then there is the question of the Jewish lives, unless they are, for some reason fast in the history of Europe and USSR, deemed not to count...
The point is simply this: that terrorism is being executed against Israel continually, and the sale of land for the cessation of terrorism equation is not even acceptable to some who in outrageous fashion, seek to reduce little Israel by EVEN MORE FORCE following the errors both of Hitler, and the UN, and so proceed to make the situation even more ludicrous when anything remotely resembling justice is brought to mind.
Now firstly we note that currently, it is reported that the PM of the body tolerated, using the name Palestinian - though in fact Israel, having been granted that land by the League of Nations long ago, might claim that name for themselves - is unwilling to curb the murderous terrorists. It is declared further that the Road Map does not prohibit the use of force against the terrorists, that Israel is not bound in this.
If then Israel so acts when the legitimate 'ruler' or co-ruler of the land where they operate is unwilling to do so, it is not only fitting IN PRINCIPLE for Israel to reduce the strength of the hidden army at war with it, lurking in the Palestinian territories, but obligatory as for any country at war, to protect its citizens from such ruthless unruliness. The case is that this is PART of its land, where a religion notorious for its forcible imposition of its ways on populaces (in MANY cases) is at work, and is cited as a ground for this violence now.
It is heard, again and again, and it is made very clear by spokesman of this and that sort, that a personage to be found in the lines of the Koran, called Allah is to be in some way made glad by such carnage and territorial grabs. Many do not agree; but then those who cite the book have passages enough.
This then begins to bear more and more parallel to the threatening assaults on Britain, by Hitler with his racist religion. Racist ? Yes, in that case this was an outcome of his philosophical religion; but it is so no less here, for 'Allah' is not to be found in great state in Israel, and this appears to concern Moslems who, within it, and bearing this religious badge, or at least a large section of them, appear to wish that this situation should be changed.
In what way should it by such persons, be deemed ready for change ? In this, that the ways of this 'Allah' should be enforced, governments favourable to his claims instituted; and by many further, that Israel should cease to exist, or certainly to do so freely.
Liberty ? Justice ? Or are there symptoms of greed ? Is there lack of other lands where they could and doubtless should go, such as Jordan, where MOST of Palestine was 'illegally' ? accorded, so that this is from the League of Nations standpoint, OCCUPIED ISRAELI territory. Does history then not matter ? as well as justice ? as well as liberty. One does not notice such an approach in the USA, or Britain ? Does the Middle East in some way annul it ?
As far as Christianity is concerned VIOLENCE in favour of the religion is FORBIDDEN (John 18:36), Christ having expressly rebuked Peter for using it even in his own defence. What nations do to protect their people is one thing; but the Church of Jesus Christ has NO VIOLENT MANDATE AT ALL. Christ's kingdom is not of this world, unlike that of Romanism, Communism and Islam. This is not to say that all such believers in such religions desire the use of violence in favour of their religions, but that the BOOKS and works they have, often do so (cf. SMR pp. 1032-1088H, More Marvels... Ch. 4, and the Communist Manifesto). It matters little what EXCUSE is used for this; it is so.
Nazis in England preparing to kill the English would not be very welcome in 1940. Leaders of insurrection in Israel are not much more so. The actual divinely described situation has been outlined frequently on this site (cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4, SMR Ch. 9, Appendix A); but our point here essentially is nothing whatever to do with what Israel should do, but whether the term 'terrorism' should be applied to its actions to proceed on a war footing with those leaders who, rejecting the outrageously invasive Road Map, wish to go yet further and eliminate Israel, those whom Abbas REFUSES to discipline, detain or disrupt in their sanguinary thrust.
Disregarding in the interests of clarity, the question of whether Israel has acted with sufficient care or precision (and many in war do not do so, under the stress of the emergency, unfortunately), the case is clear that it is COMBATING TERRORISM, DECLARED and EXPLICIT, at war with itself, even within its territories. Moreover, this is undisciplined by force, by those who have the favour of being permitted to exist in them, and rendered some measure of self-government. Even if it were not its own territories, it is war, it is declared, it is merciless, it is so directed against the population as to constitute direct assault on them. It is not so much power and strategy for the overthrow of a nation, but rather a populace thrust, indifferent to children, moving domestically as its MILIEU!
It needs eradication if Israel is to be secure. Its moral loathsomeness needs attention as fulfilment of the divine prediction of Revelation, in which the jihad movement seems to wallow. Its terrorism is explicit, well-exampled, more frequent than that reported of al-Qaeda, an affliction to humanity, and the efforts to prevent its flow of blood are bitterly condemned in amazing self-contradiction by some who do far more than Israel is doing, for the extirpation of this depraved threat.
Ask George Bush about Afghanistan, where he went to attack the terrorism which DARED to attack New York: only ask him IN PRINCIPLE concerning why he did it, and then work out whether Israel should IN ITS OWN TERRITORY or even in adjoining territory respond to a parallel declaration of war. If he went many thousands of miles and overthrew another country, is this to mean reciprocally that Israel cannot go a few score miles into the land of its forefathers, or even a close--by land which EXPLICITLY REFUSES to discipline this war group ?
Are we dreaming ? Is it to lie down and die at the hand of murderers of women and children, who continually kill busloads of Israelis indiscriminately, and yet call itself a protective agency against religious, racist and rampaging murder ? IS this less or more obvious when we consider that this is not merely to harass or punish Israel, but to EXTERMINATE IT! This, today, has been a focus of the ABC Radio News presentation concerning Hamas; and it is not, in terms of this world, surprising that Israel has this day announced itself as being at war with Hamas, seeking its extirpation, with labour to that end proceeding with more obvious vigour. Its armed forces have been authorised to proceed to such a plan.
What then do we find ? That the Islamic situation in this Palestinian territory is such that there is a PRINCIPLE of peace which is not implemented, where FORCE is not used to discipline corruption.
Others, it would seem, have to do it for them.
In this case, those others seem more inclined to criticise than to help; marvellous to see! However it is so.
Such however is the sway of passion with explicitly religiously motivated assault, and defence against it. So has Jerusalem become a BURDENSOME STONE to those who seek to arrogate it, spit in the face of the God of the Bible, arrest its Jewishness and dispense with that nation. Hitler tried it; and failed. Pogroms tried in this direction, for centuries, the Romanist Inquisition attacked the Jew; and those who followed this murderously manipulative course are abhorrent. So have they acted; and so has the Lord in His goodness and faithfulness acted just as He said, despite the failure as yet of Israel to return to Him. He has done all that He has said from Leviticus to Ezekiel (cf. 36:22ff.).
He has brought them back as He declared, to signify His faithfulness. He is keeping them. The Jewish State now continues, according to plan, strictly according to divine plan. HE has disciplined them sorely in His own way, as He told them thousands of years before it ever reached this crescendo, which He also foretold (Jeremiah 30:5ff.). While all parties are grossly at religious fault, principals in this conflict, yet Israel has a specific role to play... so too have those who assault it (Zechariah 12); for their discomfort comes BEFORE the Lord acts more decisively (as in Ezekiel 38ff., Joel 3, Micah 7, Deuteronomy 32).
This brash flash of power to exterminate the Jew meets its come-uppance. It has nothing to do with the truth, but rather attacks it, as have so many for so many centuries in so many ways. And alas, for Israel, it must be realised to the full, that it has yet to make its OWN PEACE with Him who IS the Prince of Peace! As noted in preceding chapters, this predicted and blessed event waits in the wings of history to come.
Meanwhile, murder does not adorn 'peace'.
In the religion of Jesus Christ, however, there is not this bifurcation, this dilemma, this division, this force-faith collision.
Quite to the contrary, it is harmonious. Let us not be confused: we are not discussing nations who may, sometimes, call themselves Christian (for there is no such nation on earth at this time, which has even the slightest ground for such a name, as distinct from having some degree of heritage), but what the Bible declares. If people choose, if nations choose to violate it, so be it. It does not change.
It is unlike the Koran in this, that force is not its mandate to any man, in the interests of this faith, the belief in it, the countenancing of it for its extension or the obtaining of disciples.
In particular, in the Bible, in that cognate area of VICTORY, we find there is by contrast with the three faiths historically deploying violence within faith's domain: for here in its words is a marvellous alliance with REST and SANCTIFICATION.
Rest is not
obtained by ruining your neighbour,
That ? it did
There is that
little difference of DOING IT TO OTHERS
HE did not make carnage of children
in offensive acts, such as those which Israel has to COMBAT as a nation.
blessed them. The contrast is clear and complete. The harmony, moreover, between
victory, rest and sanctification for the Christian is intense. It is one of the
witnesses to the truth of Christ, that all the components of this faith are
mutually embracive, intimately self-reinforcing and gloriously fulfilled in its
leader at the outset, who used no force at all to gain His people, and suffered
force when it sought to remove Him for convenience (John 11), and the betrayal
of priestly fear. The Christian faith does not
embrace villainy as sanctity, terrestrial power as glory, or domination as godly
(cf. I Peter 5, Matthew 23:8-10, 16).
Indeed let us hear it:
"But Jesus called them to Himself and said,
'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.
'Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.
'And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give His life a ransom for many.' "
THE HARMONIOUS SISTERS
We have been considering Victory, Rest and Sanctification in the Christian life and way, their harmony and beauty.
Let us start with Sanctification. This lady is not vain, lifted up or arrogant. She needs no rouge from the blood of children.
This term, found in verbal form in I Thessalonians 5:23-24, is near to the love of God.
Listen to I Thessalonians 5:14-23:
"Now we exhort you brothers, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted,
uphold the weak, be patient with all.
See that no one gives back evil for evil to anyone,
but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
Pray without ceasing.
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophecies.
Test all things; hold fast to what is good.
Abstain from every form of evil.
Now may the God pf peace Himself SANCTIFY you completely;
and my your whole spirit, soul, and body
be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it."
There is not merely no incitation to violence, but in the very way of Christ, there is exhortation NOT even to repay evil with evil, the very essence of this world's dramas and drives, apart from the greed which so often starts them, the arrogance, the self-assertion and the delusion.
This SANCTIFICATION, or being made holy
in the sense of
consecrated and kept in the way of Christ through His power and grace,
continually more moulded to His likeness in peace (II Corinthians 3:18),
surrounded with His words of peace
which provide power for performance in the heart where He is enshrined as the
very living presence of the eternal God (Colossians 1:27):
it is not barbarous, and has no spiny barbs on its skin.
Its only sword is unlike that of the sword-fish with its incredible seeming lacerating work of several FEET in length, for it is the sword of the SPIRIT which is the word of God (Ephesians 6), which points to the atonement in Christ and the reconciliation with God, with suffering not slicing, for the demonstration of the love of God as His pardon is paraded through the world, in His name.
This is that sense of commitment and entire dedication, consecration and yieldedness to the living God so that you yearn, turn and burn to do His will. Indeed, in the Psalms (104:5), God says: "Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire" ('ministers' means 'servants'). In sanctity, holiness and wholeness before God, you quite naturally sacrifice your personal wishes with pleasure (Romans 12:1 - though the struggle may cost you something on the way), your whole being filled with the gracious Spirit of holiness, which is none other than the blessed Holy Spirit Himself (Ephesians 5:18, Titus 3:5-6, Colossians 1:9-13, Mark 13:11, John 15:26, Acts 2:38, Romans 8:13-14, 14:17, II Corinthians 3:18 and I Peter 1:2,16 with II Corinthians 7:11). "The kingdom of heaven," says Paul, "is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
What is 'eaten' is the bread representing the sacrifice of Christ, the sin-offering for sinners, and what is drunk is the grape juice, symbolising the blood which emptied out the life which paid for sin, life for life (Romans 5:9-10, Leviticus 17:10, Matthew 20:28, John 25). It is not violent to flesh, but worships Him who suffered it that man might be whole and holy and wholesome in peace, with God.
There is sanctification (cf. Hebrews 10:10,14, 9:12).
Slippage ? This may include sluggishness (Jonah!), spiritual slowness because of pre-occupation (if not occupation) with sin, guilt and unpleasantness with the brethren, the heart sickened. Here is the path for paternal discipline (Hebrews 12).
What then to the Christian ? Holiness however is God's will for you. This is precisely what I Thessalonians 5:23 is declaring. There is no hidden agenda. It is manifest, in the light. Never adjust to ANY sin. Never accept any personal evil or wrong in yourself or in your actions. Do NOT attribute to your culture or position or situation or testings any real NEED to sin. Look by faith for a solution in SANCTITY! Is it not so with children in general, that they may look, spoilt or indulgent, for a ready and easy way, without finding and seeking the right way ? Has not God shown us these things with the young and do we not benefit by this observation before the eternal Father!
Triumph in believing prayer (Romans 8:26-28, Mark 11:23-24, II Peter 1) to remove - through the Spirit and by virtue of Christ's death to sin and His life in triumph - anything from our way or ways which is contrary to truth, virtue, love, faith, and the loving fear of God. The wonderful thing is this: like the answers in a mathematics text at the back, the problem does possess a solution. It is for you to find it IN THE LORD. He is not aloof, but 'humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth' (Psalm 113:6), and gives wisdom freely to faith in those who know the Lord and so have their faith in the right object (James 1:5-8): in this case, the right SUBJECT, yet an objective subject, for the Lord, HE is God !(James 1:5-8). Faith in a wheel-barrow does not transport goods. You actually need the wheel-barrow in order rightly to relate to it. You need the LORD as the One livingly present in whom and with whom and for whom you are operating!
Further, the LORD is Himself not only alive, alert and concerned, but humble, deliciously, delightfully and magnificently humble, not that horror of horrors, specious humility, but lustrous love that humbles itself naturally.
"THOUGH THE LORD IS ON HIGH, YET HE REGARDS THE LOWLY" (Ps. 138:6).
The extent of that regard is shown in this, that He, though He was rich, yet He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich ( 11 Corinthians 8:9). Ponder also ' Philippians 2 !
Psalm 34:4-8 invites us to TASTE and SEE that the Lord is good, declaring to us that
"this poor man cried out and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them."
1 Corinthians 7:1 tells us to be'PERFECTING HOLINESS IN THE FEAR OF THE LORD' ...
Don't, then, ever think that you are good; but rather strive ceaselessly to be like Christ, and to LABOUR TO ENTER INTO YOUR REST, as Hebrews 4:11 puts it. Indeed, says Hebrews 4:9-10:
"THERE REMAINS THEREFORE A REST FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD.
FOR HE WHO HAS ENTERED HIS REST
HAS CEASED FROM HIS OWN WORKS,
AS GOD DID FROM HIS"
Seek therefore to rest in Christ's completed work for you and present power for you, by faith, so that His Holy Spirit so fills you that holiness is like a scent from you, a scent of Jesus ... people take note of you that you have"been with Jesus" ( Acts 4:13). Indeed this helps convey a
"fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved
and among those who are perishing.
To the one, we are the aroma of death, to death,
and to the other, the aroma of life to life"
You cannot manufacture holiness by any sort of organic (psychological) chemistry or work of your own: it is a fruit of the Lord, and will be seen as you abide in Him.
Be ready to grow in understanding (and consider Daniel 10 with John 15:21-23! and also the commencement of Daniel 9). Be a good tree when young, and when old. When old, you'll be a bigger tree, but there is no NEED for you to be a LESS HOLY tree when young. It is just that you will be less developed! Whatever stage or age: be holy! (Matthew 5:48).
Consider young David before Saul ... (I Samuel 16:14ff.).
At whatever age, seek purity in God: to the 'pure He shows Himself pure' (Psalm 18:26). Little trees can be lovely; old ones, gracious and of great development ... each tree counts!
Abide deeply in the Lord ( John 15:5,7) and in His word; and to help do the latter, study it! Calvin did some of his greatest work at 26. Wait on and work in the Lord. Remember what He said: "IF THEN YOUR WHOLE BODY BE FULL OF LIGHT , HAVING NO PART DARK : THE WHOLE BODY WILL BE FULL OF LIGHT AS WHEN THE BRIGHT SHINING OF A LAMP GIVES YOU LIGHT" ( Luke 11:36).
Waiting on the Lord, know that it is He who actually does the spiritual works: you hand the instruments, as it were, but HE does the surgery. Never hate people; hate sin; never 'get your own back' (Romans 12:17) .... Rather squash and expose evil practices than joining in them ( Ephesians 5:11-17). Be open, be clear; be sure in the Lord, knowing this promise:
" ( Proverbs 3:4-5).
"TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART,
LEAN NOT TO YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING.
ACKNOWLEDGE HIM IN ALL YOUR WAYS, AND HE SHALL
DIRECT YOUR STEPS
Be loving to those still caught in what you are delivered from, without once agreeing that the evil THINGS are right or good or wise. Try to help those who foolishly have fallen, without worrying about their foolishness, except perhaps at the point where there is danger of re-entry! Show the love of Christ. If a Christian slips,'restore such a one in a spirit of humility' or meekness. Such is the love of Christ, denouncing the sin, delivering the sinner. "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" John 3:17. The REAL condemnation is the rejection of that light which is Christ ( John 3:18). Meanwhile, as you seek to deliver others, don't be caught in their sins, as you do it: and this care needs to be used in the church as well as in the world ( 1 Peter 4:17-18, Jude 23).
Look at what the good Lord does with yielded servants (Jude 24).He will certainly keep you who believe; but why fool with sin ? Sin can no more be your boss; if you slip, be quit of it fast ( 1 John 2:1,Romans 6:11, 1 John 3:8). It is a lovely thing, in the grace of God, to be so filled with the Lord that the spiritual leeches which would seek to destroy or weaken, you, drop off in disgust! Remember how they could find NOTHING to attack in Daniel, except his obedience to the Lord!
Aim at holiness
with humility; obedience with activity; resting in confidence while labouring in
We read of 'longsuffering with joy' - Colossians 1:1, and it would be helpful to study Colossians 1:9-13 in J.B. Phillips paraphrase as well. Note that v.10 means to 'please Him in all respects' - NOT to please everybody in all respects ! Friendship with the world means being God's enemy ( James 4:4)!
Christ, if you are a believer, has died not only for but also WITH YOUR SINS (Galatians 2:20, 5:24, Romans 6:1-6); and your FORMER UNSAVED PERSONALITY also, has He died for, so that you are CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST ( Galatians 2:20) and 'the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me'. The sinful syndromes, the orientation to sin is dismissed and a new functionality reorganises, newly dynamises and seizes the imagination and spirit with joy. Finally, note the wholeness, the wholesomeness and the pervasive reality of sanctification, expressed in 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
This brings us to the theme of VICTORY. Read Romans 7:8-17, and on one occasion, try J.B.Phillips' paraphrase.
Note then these features.
A)in Paul's 'flesh' is no good thing (v.18). 'Flesh' here is used to mean 'the potential for independence from God, exercised amiss, that is, mere flesh, mere self-assertion on the part of people made not bare spirits, but these cast into the format of flesh, their immediate instrumentality. Thus when Romans 8:9, speaking to those who obey the Lord says, 'You are not in the flesh' ! it does not mean they are skeletons*1A.
Thus 'flesh' refers to works of the body, mind and heart, the misled spirit indeed of men. You get the same sort of feeling when you read Genesis 6 where God says that the end of all 'flesh' is before Him, noting that their imaginations were perpetually activated toward evil (Gen.6:13,5).
Romans 7:13 shows us that the 'flesh' sin Paul fell into was ... covetousness of his spirit!
We resume, then: In Paul's 'flesh' (7:18) 'dwells no good thing', he says,' so that neither the power nor the virtue is found there. ( This is the way with snipped off branches!) He reviews his scene of defeat. There had been a certain lack of vitality ...
B) In his wish, there had been many a fine thing. But these things did not manage to come to life as in his mind, in actual fact ( 7:22-23). There had been a short-circuit between the idea, the ideal and the performance!
"THE GOOD THAT I WILL TO DO, I DO NOT DO:
BUT THE EVIL I WILL NOT TO DO, THAT I DO"
He has in such a time felt utterly shut in to a life without either the purity or the power,
the presence or the blessing of God:
While it is a moral life in some respects ( Philippians 3:4-5,8),
he yet finds it to have been merely a spiritually muddled slum
before the immense purities and incalculable perfections of God.
In fact, in his independent pride and place, in the 'flesh',
he CANNOT please God (Romans 8:8): nor can any.
Jettisoning this dangerous dynamic –
"WHO," he cries, "WILL DELIVER ME FROM THE BODY OF THIS DEATH ?" –
He finds in Christ, whom he thanks, the solution (v.25).
IN HIM, sins confined to the cross, salvation visited, regeneration operative
... he finds an ability to walk IN THE SPIRIT ( Romans 8:1).
Indeed, in the fleshly mind (the adjective 'carnal' is just our word for it),
there is a NATURAL HOSTILITY
to the things of God; but those who are in Christ, he declares
That is: CHRIST'S PREVAILING AND FILLING AND OVERPOWERING PRESENCE
ENABLES HIM TO LIVE IN THE SPIRIT.
Now THIS IS VICTORY! 1 John 5:4 tells us:
Now, says Paul, of the victory over the flesh (of which the whole world system is simply a collective unit):
"WHAT THE LAW COULD NOT DO,
( Romans 8:3 - bold added).
The victory is obtainable on application, to the One who has it.
Remember, now, that if you are Christ's, then the Spirit of Christ lives in you ( Romans 8:8-9). If then Christ (by His Spirit) IS in you,"THE BODY IS DEAD BECAUSE OF SIN, BUT THE SPIRIT IS LIFE BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS" (v.10).
To be a Christian implies having Him, by His Spirit, in you; for this disenables the flesh to be courier, carrier and king: Christ's very presence deals it a death blow, so that though it seek you out, it cannot control you.
"THE FLESH WARS WITH THE SPIRIT AND THE SPIRIT WITH THE FLESH", or lusts, so angry is the assault (Galatians 5:17) and so effectual the response; but it is IN CHRIST by faith that you gain the victory in such warfare!
In fact, you can dredge your harbour – Psalm 139:23-24.
Search me! exclaims the Psalmist,
and try me and SEE if there is any wicked way in
He is not at all content with satisfying himself that all is well; he wants the flight engineer to give a report on the internal aspects of things, and to secure everything, make it sound, put it right, and he wants, thus cleared and secured, made pure and ready for flight, to be LED in the way everlasting. It is not an arithmetic sum; it is a psychic exploration. It is not an academic exercise; it is a spiritual refurbishing, cleansing, correction, to change the image, as for astigmatism or myopia!
Some mistakenly confuse zest for holiness with perfection of life. Far is this from the truth (Psalm 40:12 and I John 1:7 give striking words to the contrary, in practice and in principle!). Proverbs 20:9: “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin ?’ ” Delusion! says John. Others, on the other side of the track, seem to imagine that a due sense of the glory of Christ’s perfection, the grandeur of God, means that sin swirls around us like irresistible flood.
Again, this is anti-biblical defeat. Does “Sin shall not have dominion over you!” equal by some theological sleight of hand, “Sin shall have dominion over you” ! (Romans 6:14), or does the grace which reigns, mean that it abdicates! THIS is why sin cannot have dominion, that you are under grace. This does not eviscerate it, but apply it. HIS grace is sufficient, not for failure, but for its due and true replenishment, encouragement, enduement and enlivening, so that one’s members are yielded to righteousness, neither the opposite as if this is the role of grace, to deny itself, nor in perfection, as if imaginations were the fruit of righteousness and not reality.
The truth is not perfection, nor yet inundation, but victory in a war, where some mini-battles may be lost, only to be redeemed and deliverance wrought as you see in the Psalms so often ((Psalm 66:18-19, 84:5-7, 116:4-7, 119:;165, 143:9-10. It is not peace with his iniquities that David seeks, but with assurance, DELIVERANCE (Psalm 40:12-13), so that he can say,
“I was also
upright before him,
and I kept myself from mine iniquity.
“Therefore hath the
LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of
my hands in his eyesight.
“With the merciful
You wilt show thyself merciful;
with an upright man You wilt show Yourself upright.
With the pure You wilt show thyself pure;
and with the devious You wilt show Yourself astute.
v “For You wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks. For You wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.”
As so often in theology, two opposite extremes, neither true to all scripture, arise and contend. Each is to be zealously avoided, like holding up traffic by ‘crawling’ or hitting other cars by speeding.
Let us look at one side.
To be sure, taking one’s whole life in one scoop, in contrast with the measure of perfection in Christ, that God-as-man eminence which is far beyond mere pre-eminence: then there is in Him a tower in beauty and lustre, so that in the light of that, the cumulative deficit in one’s own life, of its failures in tone, spirit, atmosphere, light, faith, lustre, action, is indeed massive, the last alone deserving of death (cf. Psalm 40:12), while the whole lot is a resource of error, and the deficits can try to march on the city of the soul. Nevertheless, from the time one becomes a Christian, there is a radical change, not to be sure, in anything resembling perfection, but in the tone, tenor, spirit, quality, victory and perception of life (Titus 3:5ff., II Corinthians 3:18ff., John 14:21-23).
This change, involving transformation of status and evacuation of sin’s sovereignty categorically, is so great that Christ could even say, IF ANYONE LOVE ME YOU WILL KEEP MY WORDS! This is a characterisable state of affairs, signifying victory: not as a ground for anything but the good pleasure of God, and neither the basis of faith, nor the object of faith, Jesus Christ, Himself prior and absolute in salvation! Yet it is a category of dynamic that lives!
Now there is to be found, in the child of light, indeed a very CHILD OF GOD (I John 3), a new form to be moulded, regenerate and enlivened, which meets such power from the Spirit of God, such a loathing for sin (Psalm 40:13, Romans 6:14), with such awareness of what it cost Christ, and what is fit for His friendliness as a sail of life (John 15:14, Psalm 50:22, 55:22, 66:14-19, Galatians 5:24), that he or she may indeed have this said: “Crucified with Christ”…
Is it not indeed written that “those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its lusts and affections”! (Gal. 5:24, cf. 2:20), for now there is such desire to have each spot cleansed, blemish processed, weakness disciplined, that it cannot compare with the life that went before. While, to be sure, crucifixion is only of that which is passé, the former mode of thought or life or action or atmosphere or misdirection, the former personality, yet what replaces it is the new man, the restoration, the restitution, the institution of what is the fitting base and original equipment now redeemed and far more closely attached to the Spiritual Surgeon than at the first creation, by virtue of the cost and the application required.
The loss is gain, and though the gain be loss, its excision is welcome, in view of the new entrant, fresh from the creative relish of the redeeming Lord.
In such a setting, except where some sickness of soul swoops like an eagle on a Lamb, no known sin can long be tolerated. Like bur in the sock, then, boot-clad, one tramps the hills, it does not cease to challenge. IT MUST GO. Even if the eagle swoops, the Shepherd is there, and where faith is in Him, His rod and staff prove sufficient: though fierce the conflict may be, the result is secure, the action deft and swift. Challenge may come in waves, or seem to depart altogether, only to try again (cf. Luke 4:14), at some opportune time; yet the challenger meets the Victor who has already overthrown him, and in His presence, the flesh is “dead because of righteousness”, as when an infection meets effectual antiseptic.
The fact is that self-confidence (as in II Corinthians 1:8ff.) can inadvertently enter into the life of a Christian, so that temptation must then be allowed, like some raider, to flex its wings and swoop, so that in the exposure of one’s weakness in such domains, without Him, one’s trust is restored to more vigorous life, so that it is alive both to and in the Lord, and not another! In HIM ALONE is the victory to be found, and not at all in oneself.
Victory in jumping over a piece of paper may be found; but this is not the milieu of Christian living!
Sin then, is addressed and removed, known sin, in a way only God can achieve, and many may be lessons for this; but since His is the victory already, not only OVER death, but FOR life in its abundance, just as He bore off the garbage and dumped it in death, so He effectually works, and never fails to answer the prayer of faith (Psalm 145:18-19), in His children.
As Paul puts it, SIN SHALL NOT HAVE DOMINION OVER YOU! The thought of Christians sitting in sin, as if the Dead Sea were to be their perennial health-resort, in the depths, is so far removed from actuality, from life which sings with His presence and is empowered with His victorious feats and features, the freshening atmosphere surging down from above, that it is argument by opposites. When you consider the ardour of David seeking even a DREDGING of the harbour of his life, in case something wrong might be living there, as the proper fealty involved, to clear any mess remaining: then this zeal speaks to it witheringly! Not even theology can turn victory into defeat; or, on the other hand, the contrast with the magnificence of Christ, into the peacock dance of self-adulation!
Exposing and enveloping unknown sin (and there may be much in atmosphere, questions of faith’s vigour and ardour, spiritually asthenic musculature, apart from any temporary and blatant invasions which the Divine Dentist quashes quickly), Christ makes His children to be led in His victory (I Corinthians 2:14), as part of His retinue, not sunk in servitude as they accompany Him on His victory march (Romans 8:10,13,9). They come with Him, not as aliens, but as friends of the Commander!( cf. Isaiah 55:4).
Is not the fruit of the Spirit love, joy and peace, and is not the carnal control the messenger rather of death! LIFE has won, and it inspires the Christian, inspirited by His presence and delivered by His own power.
Indeed, the carnal sort of mind IS DEATH: but 'to be spiritually minded is life and peace' - Romans 8:6. THIS is your heritage: use it, by faith. Remember Gethsemane, and realise that though there be storms, the victory is available, and there remains a rest, for the people of God, as we saw. It is not found by sitting like puss in a bandage, but dwelling in the perennially guarded and often worked gardens of growth.
As God's friend, yours is a living, indefinable peace ( Philippians 4:7). The person however who is his enemy (i.e. 'in the Flesh' - cf. Ephesians 4:18-19, Romans 5:8-10), is in a strange (odd and persistent) spiritual death. By relying on, resting in, claiming the promises of God and praying with assured persistence and faith to the good Lord, you find the gift of victory of which John speaks, to be guarded with zeal, received with praise, sustained by His mercy, from the superabundance of the Divine Deliverer.
Indeed, the carnal sort of mind IS DEATH: but 'to be spiritually minded is life and peace' - Romans 8:6. THIS is your heritage: use it, by faith. Remember Gethsemane, and realise that though there be storms, the victory is available, and there remains a rest, for the people of God, as we saw.
As God's friend, yours is a living, indefinable peace ( Philippians 4:7). The person however who is his enemy (i.e. 'in the. Flesh' - cf. Ephesians 4:18-19,Romans 5:8-10), is in a strange (odd and persistent) spiritual death. By relying on, resting in, claiming the promises of God and praying with assured persistence and faith to the good Lord, you find the gift of victory of which John speaks.
In all this godliness, wrought into holiness, found in victory, there is rest.
It is PRECISELY as you are abiding in Christ (cf. Questions and Answers 6), and finding in Him the victory that needs no grabbing from man, but seeks deliverance for others from the initial grabbings of Satan, the closed fists of sin and the knuckle dusters of arrogance, that rest occurs.
If you labour hard in a good task
with a clear conscience, your spirit clothed with His friendliness, your heart
purged by His blood, your ways consolidated with His wishes, there is simply
nowhere else to go. Rest is what it is. There is no surging for the forbidden,
there is no lying for the prohibited, there is no aspiration for the impossible,
since after all, with God NOTHING SHALL BE CALLED IMPOSSIBLE
Not merely so, but there is a special tenderness in the solicitous sympathy of the Shepherd (Hebrews 4) who grants rest as a dynamic reality from His own hand: as a man looks at his good dog and pats him, and the dog stretches forth contentedly at his feet; or as a sheep pleasantly roves (the intelligent variety, not the merely herded, but one of the sheep in numbers of a dozen or two that some have, or many used to have). It looks, bliss in its eyes, as things pass and unfold by the pleasant streams in the good pastures, as it is led to some spot or other, or comes seeking from its shepherd's hand.
If this may seem idyllic, it is not so. This is the SPIRIT of the thing; but the body may at the same time have to endure rigours as a good sheep dog's may; and the heart may be assailed by tests, while the spirit may be burdened for the souls it seeks, and saddened at times by their prolific rebelliousness or at some passing error into which one may carelessly fall. Does one not remember Christian's fault in Pilgrim's Progress, when he followed a path that seemed parallel with the straight and narrow one, but which was in a different domain ? How easily does misadventure befall, or does the foot slip!
Yet in Him there is rest; for no one by HE is the Saviour, and it is kept in His hands. If He must act, He will act, but His gentleness is marvellous; and if at times He must deal more decisively, what is that: better that the car catapult off a cliff! It is the spirit of a teacher which counts, and He is gentle.
When therefore He called, "Come unto me.... and I will give you rest,"*1 it was as specific as giving healing to a broken head! It is a gift which flourishes like season's flowers in the fertiliser, the sun and the moisture. In Him, all is provided, even the pruning to make a better 'show'!
Thus do sanctification, victory and rest meet as one. It is not like those whose only rest is in being restless for weird and wild imperial or religious aspirations, for this prophet or that king. It is not like those who ever want to excel in emulation and consternation. The efforts of holiness in Christ are more vigorous, and not less; nor is there any disdaining of mere competition. It is the strife of selfishness, the urging for godless ambitions, graceless triumphs, evil and scheming ways, which produces lack of rest.
There IS no rest in the Middle East,
almost entirely, since the only conceivable and actual ingredients of that rest
are missing at least in the multitudes of contesting, crying, contending people
in their competing groups of religious error and those unpleasant spiritual
'friends' which lurk with such errors! First lacking
is Christ as Saviour and Lord
so that through Him only is their trust in the living and all-powerful God,
while abiding in His word,
given from the first, even from Moses,
and so gaining the victory, the sanctification and the peace.
It is He who is needed in this diligent defence of Israel's shores, not simply because they are Israel's, but because HE has appointed this people to this land for His own vast plans and purposes (cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4, SMR pp. 502ff., Ch. 9, Appendix A, The Biblical Workman Ch. 1, *3 and Ch. 3, *1), as Paul summarises in no small scope, in Romans 11, and Micah reveals in vast overview, in Micah 7.
It is He who is needed in seeing lawlessness off the territories, and bravado replaced by truth in the heart, on the part of all. It is against Him ultimately, that all the restlessness is directed, and because of failure in trust in Him, that Israel still collects its ancient heritage of hatred from seething surrounds.
Then also, startlingly hard to find in this brouhaha, one not only laden with this lamentable lust for land but burdened with fallacious grounds for it, is that continual obedience to His will, as to a master captain in an Army of real men, not usurpers and callous; and since the call is to love and mercy in the midst of peace, there is mere angry tumult. It is God Himself who is needed, not these endless humanly contrived variants.
When Christ is sought in sanctity and faith, the only thing to be 'counted' is the suffering and loss to be sustained (Philippians 3:7-8) for His sake. This, however, this does not destroy rest, but evidences the more powerfully its dynamic!
This harmony of the elements in this faith, this concurrence of the aims and purposes, the provisions and the power, this contentment with godliness is great gain. It needs no rapacity against its neighbours, people or nations; it has no vast empires in its mind. It seeks to bring people to the only God there is, while there is time, and to awaken them from the restless hypnotism with their designs outside their Maker, so that they might find the rest, and the victory and the love of Christ: which is the aim. There is no loss to any, but only gain. There is no compulsion, only truth in the Spirit, the Spirit of truth, according to His word.
These harmonies in the word of God, with one aim and another, and in the heart of man, with the execution of these aims, and with the Lord as He inhabits and blesses His people, they are not found in mere grand violences, or indeed any force, for faith excludes it; nor in stealing and squandering. What is given is limitless, and He who gives it proves reliable, so that the end of the matter is where it began: in the peace of God.
Truth is like that: it has no collisions. If war has to be made, it is with spiritual forces.
Whatever duties one may be called upon for one's country, those for the Lord are NEVER those of violence: for the faith excludes it in all its ways and calls. If you have to drag off a wild dog from an old lady, or a wild philosophy from a deluded soul, who is willing to listen, so be it. But one does, oneself, not attack people but evils. One seeks merely to deliver, and in doing so, it is spiritual forces which must be exposed, if by any means any may, being awakened, freely walk with the Lord.
Bunyan put it in this way:
"God did not play in convincing of me; the Devil did not play in tempting of me; neither did I play when I sank as into a bottomless pit ... Wherefore I may not play in my relating of them...",elsewhere declaring: "I have determined, the Almighty God being my help and shield, yet to suffer, if frail life might continue so long, even till the moss shall grow upon mine eyebrows, rather than thus to violate my faith and principles."
Christ's requirements, this particular servant of His was made to see clearly (in prison, offered release, then put back again, impenitent of his piety). They were absolute! With GOD, there are no half measures; and there is no such thing as half-faith in His Son.
Faith in Christ is faith in Him as He is - Colossians 1:19-23, 2:3,8-9, 3:1-4.
Just so there is no half rest.
These sisters, they are not half-bred from sin and sanctity: but their race is godly only. As in all disease, when there is such affliction, there is difficulty; but when it is put right (as in Psalm 51, we see), then rest resumes like a Summer Breeze, even if the external conditions be Arctic in all its ferocity. With God, in His sanctification, victory and presence as Saviour and Lord, there is rest. The rest beckons to sanctity, the sanctity to victory, like three sisters, in continual conversation.
Similarly, when we find in Galatians
5:16ff., we learn that the flesh has intense desire
fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions,
Of these the first two are attributable to 'flesh' in the more specialised meaning, to be sure, but the third as used in I Cor. 7:1 includes spirit in this, that there is to be a cleansing from "filthiness of the flesh and spirit." Hence the third term can refer to either 'flesh' or spiritual things. The fourth is fleshly, the fifth intensively spiritual, as is the sixth and the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth, while the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth are composite, leaning towards the narrower 'flesh' concept.
What then is 'flesh' when it is exemplifed in such cases ? In this list, the most numerous exemplars are in the spiritual realm, deplorable in spirit to be sure, but still there, not chiefly in the physical at all! Further the perspective and conspectus in 9 of the 17, over one half, is flagrantly in the realm of spiritual pathology.
'Flesh' is simply a derogatory formula, at such times, and often in Paul, for a degraded phenomenon to be found in man, as one whole, specifying life without God, in quasi-independence from His will, word and commands, as when the "end of all flesh" came before the Lord, noted in Genesis 6, at the time of the flood. The reason for this was that the IMAGINATION OF HIS HEART was continually evil!
The actual text as the ... indicate, is rather longer, and it is highly to the point, to consider what it says.
This coming is like that of cattle to its stall. It has a procedure, not like that of a metronome or a space craft. It is natural, normal and to be expected IF THE BEAST is really coming in peace.
Thus Christ says this: "Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am meet and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
Thus do we find in Matthew 11.
First, the one who is invited is LABOURING and has a HEAVY BURDEN. There is no dilettante coming to inspect the novel quarters in Christ, or any Don Quixote coming to inspect in a rush of clatter. What is in view is someone who, whether psychologically, socially, financially or politically, but in any case personally is in stress. This in turn results from a weight. There is available a relief, and a new Master. No more will the old ways become a burden in themselves, or the response to them. In the knowledge of God is safety, meaning and purpose. There is rest in the midst of a hurricane, since it is merely a vicissitude in the midst of service.
HIS yoke, His perspective, His direction, His purpose is to become the lot of the yielded life, back to the hand of its Creator. It is opportune now to learn from Him, the new spirit at work in the heart, the new light spanning the roads, the incisive wisdom which is His, available, the cleansing which keeps the beast from disease (here metaphorical, since God may use this as a process of purging, testing and the like, for a time - see Job!). But from whom is the one who comes to Christ to learn, but from Him who is the architect of His body, spirit and mind, the first born of creation, because HE MADE IT (Colossians 1:15-16), yes God, for God created it and NO OTHER (Isaiah 44:24, 45:12,18).
In finding Him, however, one finds that this Shepherd is MEEK. There is a certain gentility about Him, a real consideration, a quiet, meditative mellowness: He does not shove, pressurise and propel, but moves freely in a quiet and patient manner, making allowance for the special conditions to be found in His flock, this one with young, that one recovering from shock. He knows them, as does a Shepherd, that this one is rather readily frightened, that one inclined to be brash; and He knows how to make the edges of the yoke smooth, and the load proportionate to the power.
In Him, there is rest, for in the Godhead who made man, there is reality, realisation, refreshment and responsibility, not at all limited by relative ignorance, but made beautiful because of knowledge there is no more lack than of love.
In these things is the rest which makes for restfulness, the reality which makes for composure and the power which portends peace. All things then work together for good, for its source is personal and present in power. This is a felicity attested by logic, but found in life.