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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Christian's Choice - Self or Christ? # 3

Life On The Highest Plane

But we do have a great deal of confidence in the flesh. We divide it into the good and the bad. Certain things in the flesh we are compelled to distrust because they have gotten us into trouble. Certain other things we have gone so far as to acknowledge as weaknesses, faults, possible danger points. But there is another good sized portion of the flesh that we rate rather high and in which we trust without reserve. It may be our refined and cultured tastes; the opinions and judgments which are the product of our educated minds; our generous, noble, philanthropic feelings; our high standard of morality; or, like Paul, our ancestral heritage. So that when we make a cross section of our "flesh," taking good and bad together, it seems in our sight to measure up fairly well; at least we can see no reason for such a wholesale condemnation of it as God makes.

But let us put this best product of the flesh to the test. Let us take it from a home in which love reigned and sweet companionship was its daily portion, where books lined the library shelves, beautiful pictures adorned the walls, snow while linen covered the table, and from a community life which offered everything needful to satisfy the intellectual, social, aesthetic and spiritual desires and needs. Transplant this life to an interior village on the mission field to live within a house with several people of varying temperaments and tastes, with limited household appointments, with untaught, untrained servants, with nothing without upon which to rest the eye but mud walls and dirty narrow streets, surrounded by jarring voices and unpleasant odors, and a furlough seven years off - would this best product of the flesh stand the test and come off more than conqueror? More than one missionary has left the mission field even before furlough was due and for no other reason that that "the flesh" broke down under the test.

Or let us put it to a different kind of a test. Perhaps "the flesh" boasts of that Godlike quality of character called love. So choose the deepest, purest human love we can find and place it alongside of the love of 1 Corinthians 13. Is it a love that in nothing or at no time seeketh its own, that is absolutely free from the slightest taint of jealousy? Does it suffer long and is it always kind or is there sometimes not a feeling of  secret irritability toward the one most deeply loved? Has it unfailingly been so charitable that it has never taken account of evil? Would it not have to blush with shame at its jealousy, envy, snobbishness, intolerance, selfishness, impatience and irritability? Has our "flesh" never broken down under this divine test?

May we make one more analytical test of "the flesh." This time let it be a chemical analysis made in God's laboratory. Here is a man who boasts of his generosity and is considered one the best givers in the city. He lavishes expensive gifts upon his family and gives costly dinners to his friends and subscribes largely to campaigns when the newspapers print the list of donors. But he grinds the most possible labor our of his employees for the least possible pay, he quarrels with his tailor over his bill, and he robs God of even the tithe which is His by right. Here is a woman who rides triumphantly upon the social wave as one of the most gracious and charming women in the community. But she nags her husband, is impatient with her children and scolds her servants. "The flesh" always has its blind side.

But I can almost hear someone rise up in defense of "the flesh" and say, "But is it not natural to resent wrong? to dislike some people? to crave certain things? to stand up for your own rights?" Yes, it is natural and that is just why it is sinful. That is just what "the flesh" is, it is our natural life; including all we call highest and best as well as all we deem worst and weakest. What God asks us to do is to take the cross section of "the flesh" we have made and condemn it all, to believe in its utter impotence to do good and in its mighty power to do evil.

We must consent to the crucifixion of the old man. Having condemned "the old man" as a hideous, hateful, heinous thing we are prepared for the next step God asks us to take. He has declared "the old man" worthy of crucifixion, in fact, he has already accomplished his crucifixion with Christ. Now God asks the believer to give his hearty consent to this transaction and to consider it an accomplished fact in his experience. Again this would seem like an extremely easy thing to do. In theory it is, in practice it is not, for "the old man" will fight like a tiger for his life.

"Self will make any concession if allowed to live. Self will permit the believer to do anything, give anything, sacrifice anything, go anywhere, take any liberties, bear any crosses, afflict soul or body to any degree - anything, if it can only live. It will consent to live in a hovel, in a garret, in the slums, in far away heathendom, if only its life can be spared. It will endure any garb, any fare, any menial service rather than die."

But God says nothing short of the crucifixion of self will do. This was the second step which the Apostle Paul took to life on the highest plane - he gave his whole-souled consent to his co-crucifixion with Christ Jesus and considered it something now past.

Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

"The Cross only severs what you consent to part from. The severing of the Cross is not an actual experience, unless the will of the believer desires and consents to the actual separation in fact and practice."

Have you consented to your crucifixion with Christ? There can be no reservations, no holding back part of the price. The whole "I" must be counted dead. God asks you to put your signature to this statement, "I have been crucified with Christ." If you have never done so, will you do it today?

We must cooperate with the Holy Spirit in keeping the old man crucified. What Christ has made possible for us the Holy Spirit makes real within us but only with our intelligent cooperation. God states very clearly in His Word what our part is and it is the duty of every believer to know and to do his part.

(1) Reckon yourself dead unto sin.

Romans 6:11, "Likewise reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our lord."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 4)

Recognizing Our Humility

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:3

Continuing from yesterday, a fourth principle for determining our humility, which Thomas Watson recognizes, is that we will see the strengths and virtues of others as well as our own weaknesses and sins. As the apostle instructs, we will “regard one another as more important than” ourselves (Phil. 2:3) and will “give preference to one another in honor” (Rom. 12:10).

Fifth, we will spend a lot of time in prayer. As the physical beggar pleads for earthly sustenance, spiritual beggars ask regularly for spiritual food. Just as when Jacob wrestled with an angel (Gen. 32:24–28), we will not quit until we receive the Lord’s blessing.

Sixth, we will accept Christ on His terms, not ours or any other terms. We will not try to have Him while maintaining our sinful habits. We will not crowd Him aside by our own preferences or traditions, not even by familiar church standards. The Bible alone will be our guide.

And finally, when we have true humility we will praise and thank God for His grace to us. We will gratefully realize that the Father’s grace is “more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:14). We will know above all else that every mercy God showers on us is solely from His love and kindness.

Ask Yourself

Remember these seven signposts that point inward to a growing humility. Write them briefly in an appointment calendar or notebook so you can return to them at a later point in time to see how you’re coming along. Humility is worth striving for with that kind of purpose.

~John MacArthur~

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Christian's Choice - Self or Christ? # 2

Life On The Highest Plane

These two natures co-inhabit every believer. This truth is repeatedly brought out in 1 John. John wrote to those believers as though he did not expect them to sin because they had within them this God-inspired, God-begotten nature.

1 John 2:1, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not."

Yet he made full provision for their sinning because they had within them this satan-inspired, devil-begotten nature.

1 John 2:1, "And, if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."

God makes no attempt to change or to improve the old nature because it is unchangeable and unimproveable. Cultivation through education and travel do not change it one iota but simply clothe it in a more refined and respectable costume. God makes no attempt to subject it for it is incorrigible and irreconcilable. Government and laws may keep it partially suppressed but but it is planning and secretly executing a world-revolution against God and His government, and stands ready to break out in vehement action at every favorable opportunity. God makes no attempt to eradicate it because He has a far more wonderful way of conquest over this sinful nature which we shall soon consider.

The Conflict of These two Natures in Every Believer

To admit the co-existence of these two diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive natures is to admit the necessity of fiercest conflict. It is indeed the age-long conflict between satan and Christ with the believer's inner life as the battlefield. It is Self contesting Christ's right to His purchased possession.

This conflict is personalized in the spiritual experience of the Apostle Paul. He has been reborn, he was justified and sanctified in Christ Jesus. The Lord Jesus had come in to possess His possession and to take control. But there was one who contested His right. A conflict ensued between the old Saul and the new Paul. Two antagonists were fighting a deadly battle for a coveted prize. Romans seven pictures a Christian torn to pieces by this awful conflict and baffled and discouraged beyond words by it all. He wonders if there is any possible way into victory and rest.

It is this conflict which staggers many a young Christian and often causes a total eclipse of faith or a gradual backsliding into the world. He took the first step into the Christian life because his conscience was awakened to the evil of his doings. His chief concern was for his sins. He had been convicted of the sinfulness of acts and habits, and felt a sense of guilt because of them. He came to Christ and accepted Him as Saviour that he might be rid of certain sins. In the realization of forgiveness and the assurance of pardon he experiences great joy and gladly witnesses for Christ.

But he soon finds himself doing the old things again; and evil habits persist; the sinful disposition manifests itself in hydra-headed fashion; wicked practices return; worse than all, the joy in fellowship with Christ lessens; the heart grows cold; the spirit is dulled; he grows utterly discouraged. But his love for God has not been altogether quenched and flames up into intense desire under the inspiration of some message from God's Word or by the glimpse into a life which reflects peace and joy. Something in him cries out for God while another something contests every inch of God's claim upon the life. He is wholly nonplussed by this duality within himself.

Something within him will not let him release his hold upon God. Consequently he strives against these sins, agonizes over them, prays for release, makes every effort possible within his own power to get victory. But in spite of all he does his life is a kingdom divided against itself. Then something tells him it is no use trying to live a victorious life and he may as well give up. Over and over again he asks himself the question "Is it all worth while?" He tries even to persuade himself that the man who makes no profession of Christ is much happier than he. But one day when on the very verge of absolute despair he cries out of deep heart desire for deliverance, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

What seems like this utter downfall is really his hour of deliverance for it is the time of abject self-despair to which he had to come before God could step in and open before him the way of deliverance.

Dear friend, are you living in Romans seven today? Are you worn out with the conflict? Do you wish to know the way out? Then just close this article for a moment and tell Him so; then open it and ask Him to show you the way out into conquest and victory.

The Conquest of the Old Nature

God gives to us very clear and definite instruction regarding our part in the dethronement of this usurper Self and the enthronement of Christ as sole Possessor and only Ruler over His inheritance in us.

We must condemn the flesh. God condemns the flesh as altogether sinful (Romans 8:3); He sees in it "no good thing" (Romans 7:18); and no Christian will ever have conquest over it until he accept God's estimate of it and acts accordingly. This may seem like an easy thing to do but on the contrary it is exceedingly difficult. God's standard is very exacting. He says there is "no good thing" in the flesh. God says that "the flesh" both at its center and circumference is sinful; He condemns both its innermost desires and its outermost deeds (Ephesians 2:3, Col. 3:9), and declares that it is unworthy of any confidence on our part. The first step which the Apostle Paul took to the life on the highest plane was this - to condemn as unsafe, unclean and untrustworthy, the flesh which formerly he had so highly regarded.

Phil. 3:3-4, "For we re the circumcision which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.  Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 3

As Christ Loves Us

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Valentine’s Day is celebrated as a day to express love and most notably, romantic love. The history of Valentine's Day, along with the saint for whom it is named, is shrouded in mystery. Both Christian and ancient Roman traditions make up its origins, but the exact details of what happened to St. Valentine are uncertain.  What is certain is that through a series of events dating back to the middle ages, February 14 became the date to commemorate Valentine’s Day. Roses and chocolates will be sold at exorbitant prices and in massive quantities, all in hopes to express our love in that special way. What is the most special way to express our love?

The thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians is known as the love chapter of the Bible. The apostle Paul writes about true love, what it is and what it is not. It “suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;” (verse 4). It “does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;” (verse 5). Paul puts it very simply in verse 8, “Love never fails.” Flowers fade and candies melt, but true love never fades, never dies, never fails. The most special way to express our love is to practice these qualities Paul speaks of as we learn to love beyond ourselves. 

Romantic love is a wonderful feeling and being in love is truly a gift from God. Those feelings of heightened joy and excitement seem to make everything else less significant.  But today, let’s ask the Lord to help us love beyond the feelings of the gifts and the favors. Let’s pray that we can love as Christ loves us and that we can express that love in ways that bless those around us more than anything else we can give. Why not make today a day to take love more seriously than you ever have before? Pray that love becomes the motivation for all that you do. Enjoy the flowers and candies and candlelight dinners, but remember to keep love in your heart, not just in the festivities.

~Daily Disciples~

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Christian's Choice - Self or Christ?

Life On The Highest Plane

There are two kinds of Christians, easily identified and clearly distinguished from each other. "How can there be such a paradox?" is the question that must present itself to every thoughtful mind. The foundation head of the Christian life is the same for all. Then how can thee be two streams from it which flow so widely apart? When every Christian, as we have seen, has been brought through God's grace into the same position and put under the same control how does one become carnal and another spiritual? How can two persons, each of whom is born again, live such differing lives? An answer to this question is essential if one is to choose intelligently to be a spiritual Christian and to carry out that choice steadfastly.

The Co-existence of Two Natures in every Believer

Every Christian is conscious of inward conflict, of a duality within himself which he experiences but perhaps does not understand. Part of him aspires to be well-pleasing unto God, another part of him wants to satisfy every demand of self. Part of him longs for the peace and rest of the promised land, another part of him lusts for the leeks, onions and garlic of Egypt; part of him grasps Christ and part of him grips the world. He has to admit that there seems to be a law of gravitation which tends ever to pull him sinward while at the same time a counteracting law lifts him Christward.

The Scriptural explanation of this duality in Christian experience is found in the co-existence of two natures within the believer: the old, sinful Adamic nature and the new, spiritual Christ nature. Let us turn to the first Epistle of John for its clear unfolding of this very important truth. The Apostle John is a mature Christian and he is writing to those who are at least capable of receiving very deep spiritual truth. In the simplest of language he teaches the co-existence of the two natures in every believer.

1 John 1:8, "If we say that we HAVE no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

If any Christian, no matter how full-grown he is or how many special experiences he has had, says that he is entirely freed from the old sinful nature, he deceives himself. But such a person does not deceive his family, nor his neighbors, nor his fellow Christians, nor does he deceive God. In the next verse God makes provision for the very sins which will come out of the root of sin still existing in this self-deceived Christian (1 John 1:9). These "sins" which are forgiven and the "unrighteousness" which is cleansed, are the sins and the unrighteousness of saints.

But the Apostle John goes further. "If we say we have no sin" the inevitableness of logic compels us to say that we do not sin for if the root of sin is eradicated, then from what source could sins come? Every stream no matter how tiny must have a source. A few days ago looking out upon the Alps in a heavy rain storm I saw ten streams of water flowing down the mountain side. In today's sunshine I look out again and not one of those streams can be seen. If there is "no sin," then the believer "cannot sin." The old apostle uses very drastic language here - it may be that he knew he was writing to some who in the very earnestness and intensity of desire were in danger of believing this unscriptural doctrine.

1 John 1:10, "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him (God) a liar, and his word is not in us."

The gross, vulgar, more open sins may have gone from us but what of the hidden sins of the heart; the pride even in our spiritual attainment, the attitude of self-righteousness toward others who are still on a lower plane, the harshness of judgment of those who do not believer as we do, the secret irritability, sometimes even toward those we love best, the unloving thought toward relative, friend or servant, the intolerance toward the weak or willful, or the countless sins of omission that must be charged against the Christian by the One who said, "To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin." Sin is not merely an act; it is also an attitude and an absence. It is not alone what we do but what we do not do. It is what we are and what we are not in the inmost part of our being as God sees us. Who that has a Scriptural apprehension of sin as it is in man and of holiness as it is in God could ever say he is without sin?

There is in every believer that old nature which can do nothing but sin. John traces this sinful nature back to its original source in satan. Inherent within the old nature is a three fold inability: it cannot know God, it cannot obey God, it cannot please God. By physical birth every person becomes the possessor of this God-ignorant, God-defying and God-displeasing nature and it remains in him as long as he lives on earth.

But there is in every believer that new nature which cannot sin. The old apostle leads us along the trail to its source in God. Inherent within the new nature is a threefold capacity: it can and does know God, obey God and please God. By spiritual birth every person becomes the possessor of this God-knowing, God-obeying, God-pleasing nature.

1 John 3:6-9, "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not; whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.  He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.  Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 2)

No Condemnation

Romans 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation.
Come, my soul, think thou of this. Believing in Jesus, thou art actually and effectually cleared from guilt; thou art led out of thy prison. Thou art no more in fetters as a bond-slave; thou art delivered now from the bondage of the law; thou art freed from sin, and canst walk at large as a freeman, they Saviour's blood has procured thy full discharge. Thou hast a right now to approach thy Father's throne. No flames of vengeance are there to scare thee now; no fiery sword; justice cannot smite the innocent. Thy disabilities are taken away: thou wast once unable to see thy Father's face: thou canst see it now. Thou couldst not speak with Him: but now thou hast access with boldness. Once there was a fear of hell upon thee; but thou hast no fear of it now, for how can there be punishment for the guiltless? He who believeth is not condemned, and cannot be punished. And more than all, the privileges thou mightst have enjoyed, if thou hadst never sinned, are thine now thou art justified. All the blessings which thou wouldst have had if thou hadst kept the law, and more, are thine, because Christ has kept it for thee. All the love and the acceptance which perfect obedience could have obtained of God, belong to thee, because Christ was perfectly obedient on thy behalf, and hath imputed all His merits to thy account, that thou mightst be exceeding rich through Him, who for thy sake became exceeding poor. Oh! How great the debt of love and gratitude thou owest to thy Saviour!

"A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear with Thy righteousness on,
My person and offerings to bring:
The terrors of law and of God,
With me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour's obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view."

~Charles Spurgeon~

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Marks of A Spiritual Christian # 7

Life On The Highest Plane

Carnal or Spiritual

But it is not merely the apprehension of and acquiescence in the will of God that loosens the grip of the world and the flesh upon the believer. It is the deeper appreciation of the gracious love of the Father and the sacrificial love of the Son that woos an wins him into a life of devoted separateness. We consent to be truly separated when once we spiritually discern how for our sakes He sanctified Himself that we might be sanctified. It is the one, who beholding the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world, says, "He loved me and gave Himself for me" who gladly consent to be crucified unto the world and to have the world crucified unto Him.

May the writer bear testimony that it was so in her experience. Life in the flesh and in the world kept her form some years after her conversion and entrance into church fellowship from victory and peace in her inner life and from power in service. Hour upon hour had been spent in argument with a dear friend and a separated Christian upon the harmlessness and rightfulness of her worldly walk. But one day face to face with God the decision of the will was made and the front door of her life was opened and the King of kings and Lord of lords was invited to enter and to take real control. Thereupon the vagabonds and hirelings that had robbed her of her possessions and privileges in Christ sneaked out the back door and desire for and delight in their companionship was gone forever. It was with her in deed and truth "the expulisve power of a new affection" that kept her so occupied with her adorable Lord and so happy in His service that there was no sense of loss but rather of incalculable gain.  It is a life of winsome holiness.

Exodus 15:11, "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?"

1 Peter 1:15-16, "But like as he who called you is holy, be ye yourselves holy in all manner of living; Because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy."

God's holiness is His crown of glory. It is His holiness that measures the awful distance between Himself and the sinner. Yet He calls His own to be holy because He is holy and there is no other way by which he may come to have fellowship with Him for "without holiness no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).

Every Christian is called by his new position in Christ to a life of holiness. But there are many Christians who frankly do not want to be holy. There are others however who truly desire to be spiritual but are nevertheless afraid to be "holy." This may be due to their misunderstanding of what holiness is, either through their own neglect of the study of God's Word or through the false teaching on this subject which makes them shy of it through fear.

If one aspires to life on the highest plane he must be holy according to Scriptural holiness. What, then, is it? First, may we say what it is not. Holiness is NOT sinless perfection, it does NOT place one beyond the possibility of sinning nor remove from him the presence of sin. Scriptural holiness is NOT "faultlessness." That is a condition e will reach only upon the return of the Lord Jesus who takes him beyond all contact with a world of sin. Scriptural holiness is NOT "faultlessness" but it is "blamelessness" in the sight of God. We are to be "preserved blameless" unto His coming and we shall be "presented faultless" at His coming.

1 Thess. 5:23, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly: and I pray God your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Jude 24, "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy."

This truth was unfolded to me with fresh meaning four years ago when I was called upon to dispose of the personal belongings of a dearly loved sister whom God had called Home. Among the things she especially treasured was found a letter written to her when I was seven years of age. She had gone on a visit; I loved her and missed her and that letter was the love of my heart expressed in words. The letter was by no means "faultless" for the penmanship was poor, the grammar was incorrect and the spelling was imperfect, but it was "blameless" in the sight of my sister for it came out of a heart of love and was the best letter I could write. For me, a grown woman, to write the same letter today would not be "blameless" for my experience in penmanship and my knowledge of grammar and of spelling are far greater.

Holiness is a heart of pure love for God expressed in character, conversation and conduct. Holiness is Christ, our Sanctification, enthroned as Life of our life. It is Christ in us, living, speaking, walking. The character of even the greatest saint will have in it some lack, his conversation will often fail in magnifying his Lord and his conduct in some respect will fall short of his calling in Christ Jesus. He will not be sinless but his heart will be pure love for God and he will give Christ the place of supreme preeminence in his mind, heart, strength and soul. There will be nothing static in his holiness but daily by the Holy Spirit's faithful sanctifying work in his inmost life Christ Jesus will be formed more perfectly within him. The result will be a "transformation into His image from glory to glory."

1 Thess. 3:13, "To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints."

Such holiness is winsome for it spells the holy calm of God mirrored in the face, the holy quietness of God manifested in the voice, the holy graciousness of  God expressed in the manner, and the holy fragrance of God emanating from the whole life. It is God so inhabiting His holy temple, which temple ye are, that He reveals Himself through human personality.

A sermon I heard when a student at the Moody Bible Institute thirty years ago brought me the meaning of true holiness. The sermon was not a long one, neither was it preached by a famous preacher. It was a sermon of just six words preached to an audience of one by Amelia, the maid who waited upon the door. Amelia's sermon was occasioned by the call upon me of a very poor woman needing help on a very hot day when I was packing a very big trunk in a very small room. Several times I had gladly gone to this woman's home to help her but on this particular day I did not want to see her. Of course, I did not want Amelia to know that, so smiling sweetly said, "I will be down soon." Amelia turned and went a few steps, then came back and with a pained expression in her face said, "Why, Miss Paxson, you looked cross!" Amelia taught me that day that holiness is an inward possession and not an outward profession and a possession that implies a Presence - that penetrates to the inmost spirit, that permeates the whole being and that purifies it in every part.

The life of the spiritual Christian which has been unfolded is that which every true believer desires but which very few expect to live on earth. To many such a life seems to be the prerogative of only a few rare souls chosen by God for especially high and holy tasks and to be utterly impossible for others. On the contrary, it is not the prerogative of a few but the privilege of all. To some it is a life which they have admired in others but have feared for themselves because of the demand it made for complete surrender. To others there has been utter ignorance either of the possibility of such a life or of how to live it. But I believe there are a very large number of Christians today who are not satisfied with the lives they are living and who desire to know what is the cause and the cure of carnality. Diagnosis precedes cure. We have attempted in this chapter to make a diagnosis. Let us now week to find a cure.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 1 - "The Christian's Choice - Self or Christ?")

No Greater Love

Perhaps the most intense love and protective instinct in the experience of mankind is that of parents toward their children. There is little that most mothers or fathers wouldn't do for a baby. If a truck posed a threat to the little one, it wouldn't surprise us if they jumped in front of the moving vehicle without a second thought.

Wouldn't you like to be cared for with this kind of intensity? You are. In fact, the Lord's love toward you is far deeper and more secure than that of even the most caring, tuned-in human parent. And what God did for us is proof. Romans 5:8 says that while we were living in disobedience, He sent His only Son to die on the cross for us.

Think about a father giving up his child for people who choose to rebel against him. What a tremendous sacrifice and cost! Jesus' death took the place of the punishment that we deserved. If we accept this gift and decide to follow God, He no longer sees us as guilty. Rather, He justifies us, makes us righteous, and changes our ultimate destiny: instead of facing everlasting separation from Him, we will enjoy His presence eternally. What's more, almighty God adopts us as His children forever. Our heavenly Father guides, protects, and counsels us as we walk through life—and promises us that we are secure in Him throughout eternity.

How incredible that the Creator of the universe would love you and me in this way! Do you know and experience the security and sweetness of His care? Gratitude and praise should flow from your heart. In turn, love others deeply out of thankfulness for the love that you have received. 

~Charles Stanley~

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Marks of a Spiritual Christian # 6

Life On The Highest Plane

Carnal or Spiritual

The power to do "the same works and even greater" is not the power which resides in anything human. On the contrary it is the power of God the Holy Spirit which is fully at our disposal when we are fully yielded to Him. Is His supernatural power manifested in your life and works today?  It is a life of  devoted separateness.

1 Thess. 4:3, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification."

Hebrews 7:26, "For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens."

John 14:17, "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."

The spiritual man apprehends the will of the Father, the walk of the Son, and the work of the Spirit, in relation to his sanctification. The Father willed that he should be set apart and separated wholly unto Himself and the spiritual man acquiesces in the Father's purpose and wills to separate himself from everything that he knows would keep him from becoming a vessel fit for the Master's use.

The spiritual man takes Christ as his Example and determines to walk as He walked. Christ lived a life that was "holy, undefiled, separate from sinners." He was in the world but not of it. He had the closest contact with the world but without conformity to it or contagion from it. He lived in a world, evil, corrupt, polluted, yet He remained unspotted, unstained and unsullied. The spiritual man aspires to a similar separateness of walk in this evil world.

The spiritual man lives habitually under the dominating control of the Holy Spirit who indwells him. The Holy Spirit and the world have nothing in common. The world cannot see or know the Holy Spirit for He is unseen and invisible and the world comprehends only the seen and the tangible. The Holy Spirit working within the believer enables the risen Lord to continue from the throne the work of sanctification begun in the believer at the Cross. The spiritual man yields unconditionally to the Spirit's power as He works out God's full purpose in him.

God, the Father, works through His Son, by the Holy Spirit, to carry out His will of complete sanctification.

1 Peter 1:2, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ."

1 Thess. 5:23, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly: and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

The Holy Trinity are at work within the believer to separate him wholly unto the Lord and to set him apart as a vessel fit for the Master's use. God is ever  working to bring the believer into full conformity to the image of His Son.

When there is complete separateness the Christian will bear the same relationship to the world as Christ bore to it and the world will bear the same relationship to him as it bore to Christ. The Christian will regard the pleasures, the pursuits, the principles and the plans of the world exactly as Jesus Christ did. He is not of the world, therefore the world hated, persecuted and crucified Him. Such an experience the spiritual Christian will likewise have.

John 17:16, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

John 15:19-20, "If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.  Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also."

There can be no successful attempt at a compromising admixture of the world and the heavenlies, of the flesh and the Spirit in the life of the one who truly aspires to life on the highest plane. God has separated these two unmixables by the Cross of Christ. Any believer who submits to the perfect work of that Cross both for and in him must choose to leave the world and the flesh behind and be wholly separated unto the pleasures and pursuits of life in Christ in the heavenlies.

God calls the believer to a life of spiritual "isolation" and "insulation" in order that he may be conformed to the image of His Son and filled by His Spirit. The spiritual Christian responds to the call and obeys God's command to come out and live a life of devoted separateness. 

2 Corinthians 6:14-18, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God: as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, touch not the unclean thing: and I will receive you,  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 7

Thou Hast Left Thy First Love

Revelation 2:4
Thou hast left thy first love.
Ever to be remembered is that best and brightest of hours, when first we saw the Lord, lost our burden, received the roll of promise, rejoiced in full salvation, and went on our way in peace. It was spring time in the soul; the winter was past; the mutterings of Sinai's thunders were hushed; the flashings of its lightnings were no more perceived; God was beheld as reconciled; the law threatened no vengeance, justice demanded no punishment. Then the flowers appeared in our heart; hope, love, peace, and patience sprung from the sod; the hyacinth of repentance, the snowdrop of pure holiness, the crocus of golden faith, the daffodil of early love, all decked the garden of the soul. The time of the singing of birds was come, and we rejoiced with thanksgiving; we magnified the holy name of our forgiving God, and our resolve was, "Lord, I am Thine, wholly Thine; all I am, and all I have, I would devote to Thee. Thou hast brought me with Thy blood-let me spend myself and be spent in Thy service. In life and in death let me be consecrated to Thee." How have we kept this resolve? Our espousal love burned with a holy flame of devoutedness to Jesus-is it the same now? Might not Jesus well say to us, "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left they first love"? Alas! it is but little we have done for our Master's glory. Our winter has lasted all too long. We are as cold as ice when we should feel a summer's glow and bloom with sacred flowers. We give to God pence when He deserveth pounds, nay, deserveth our heart's blood to be coined in the service of His church and of His truth. But shall we continue thus? O Lord, after Thou hast so richly blessed us, shall we be ungrateful and become indifferent to Thy good cause and work? O quicken us that we may return to our first love, and do our first works! Send us a genial spring, O Sun of Righteousness.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Marks of a Spiritual Christian # 5

Life On The Highest Plane

Carnal or Spiritual

There is nothing static in true spiritual experience. The upward look and the unveiled face must catch something of the glory of the Lord and reflect it. With a growing knowledge of Him and a deepening communion with Him, there must inevitably be a growing likeness to Him. It is a transformation into His image from glory to glory. The spiritual nature is ever reaching out after and laying hold of that which is spiritual in order that it may become more spiritual. "As the bursting acorns lay hungry hold only on what will produce oaks' so the spiritual man lays hungry hold only on what will produce likeness to Christ Jesus.

John 15:2, 5, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.  I am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."

Surely there is progression in Christ likeness - "not fruit," "fruit," "more fruit," "much fruit."  Do these phrases not unveil before us the possibilities and potentialities for Christ likeness open to every branch in the vine? Do they not also show us the positive progression "from glory to glory" God expects to see in us? These expressions are descriptive. Which one describes you? There is but one branch that fully satisfied the heart of the divine Husbandman.

John 15:8, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples."

God makes very clear what is the fruit which He expects to find on the branch.

Galatians 5:22, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control: against such there is no law."

The "fruit of the Spirit" is the full-orbed, symmetrical character of the Lord Jesus Christ in which there is no lack and no excess. The Apostle Paul did not speak of "the fruits of the Spirit" as he is so often misquoted. It is just once cluster, and all nine graces are essential to reveal the beauty and glory of true Christ-likeness. But how often we see a great heart of love spoiled by a very quick temper - there is "love" but not "self-control." Or we see long-suffering marred by boastfulness - the person being so afraid the long-suffering will not be noted and appreciated that there is a repeated reminder of it. There is "long-suffering" but not "meekness." Occasionally one sees a Christian long on faith but very short on gentleness. He has in his makeup the thunder of Mount Sinai more than the love of Calvary. He believes the doctrine and defends it with better success than he adorns it. He has "faith" but not "kindness." Or often we see one whose life is the embodiment of goodness but the goodness is overshadowed by anxiety, worry, and fretting. The presence of "goodness" is limited in its beneficent working by the absence of "peace." Oh! how the lack or the excess of one of these graces mars the beauty, the completeness, the symmetry of the cluster! In the spiritual Christian all nine of these graces blend in such beautiful and winsome attractiveness and harmony that the world sees Christ living within.

I was traveling upon the Yangtze River in Central China. A heavy rain storm had just cleared away and the sun had come out brightly from behind the banked clouds. I felt an inward impelling to go our upon the deck and the Lord had a precious message awaiting me. The water of the Yangtze River is very muddy. But as I stepped to the railing and looked over I did not see the dirty, yellow water that day but instead the heavenly blue and fleecy white of the heavens above and all so perfectly reflected that I actually could not believe that I was looking down instead of up. Instantly the Holy Spirit flashed 2 Corinthians 3:18 into my mind and said, "In yourself you are as unattractive as the water of the Yangtze River but when your whole being is turned Godward and your life lies all open to Him so that His glory shines upon it and into it then you will be so transformed into His image that others looking at you will see not you but Christ in you." Oh!friends, are you and I "reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord?"  It is a life of supernatural power.

John 14:12, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father."

These words were spoken by Jesus Christ to a little group of unlettered men. One of them was a sunburnt, weather-beaten, rough old fisherman. He would be ill at ease in a modern college crowd and very probably would fail to pass entrance examinations into a present day theological seminary. But he belonged to the company of believers to whom this promise was given and one day it was marvelously fulfilled in his life when through one sermon he won six times as many souls to true discipleship as Jesus did in the three years of His public ministry.

In what did Peter's power consist and does it avail for you and me? Was it the power of personal charm? or gracious manner? of giant intellect? of eloquent speech? of massive scholarship? of dominant will? While there were many lovable qualities in the impulsive, eager, loving old fisherman yet none of them could begin to account for such an overwhelming fulfillment of our Lord's promise in him. God clearly reveals the secret of Peter's power.

Acts 1:8, "But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 6)

Rejoice In the Lord

"Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation" (Hab. 3:17, 18).

Observe, I entreat you, how calamitous a circumstance is here supposed, and how heroic a faith is expressed. It is really as if he said, "Though I should be reduced to so great extremity as not to know where to find my necessary food, though I should look around about me on an empty house and a desolate field, and see the marks of the Divine scourge where I had once seen the fruits of God's bounty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord."

Methinks these words are worthy of being written as with a diamond on a rock forever. Oh, that by Divine grace they might be deeply engraven on each of our hearts! Concise as the form of speaking in the text is, it evidently implies or expresses the following particulars: That in the day of his distress he would fly to God; that he would maintain a holy composure of spirit under this dark dispensation, nay, that in the midst of all he would indulge in a sacred joy in God, and a cheerful expectation from Him. Heroic confidence! Illustrious faith! Unconquerable love!


Last night I heard a robin singing in the rain,
And the raindrop's patter made a sweet refrain,
Making all the sweeter the music of the strain.
So, I thought, when trouble comes, as trouble will,
Why should I stop singing? Just beyond the hill
It may be that sunshine floods the green world still.
He who faces the trouble with a heart of cheer
Makes the burden lighter. If there falls a tear,
Sweeter is the cadence in the song we hear.
I have learned your lesson, bird with dappled wing,
Listening to your music with its lilt of spring
When the storm-cloud darkens, then's the TIME to sing.

--Eben E. Rexford 

~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Marks of a Spiritual Christian # 4

Life On The Highest Plane

Carnal or Spiritual

A spiritual Christian has a life of abiding peace.

John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

John 16:33, "These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall gave tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

The peace of the spiritual Christian is that of Christ's presence. "My peace I give unto you." It does not mean that there is no conflict in the life of the spiritual Christian for it is through conquest in conflict that he grows, but it does mean the peace of conscious victory in Christ. The spiritual Christian does not continue in the practice of known, willful sin so he lives in the unclouded sunshine of the Father's presence and in the unshadowed light of the Father's countenance. His communion with the Father is unmarred by the gnawing consciousness of soiled hands, by the pricking of a wounded conscience, or by the condemnation of an accusing heart. There is abiding peace, deepening joy and satisfying rest.  It is a life of habitual victory.

1 Corinthians 15:57, "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Romans 8:37, "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us."

2 Corinthians 2:14, "Now thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place."

The believer has changed masters and has entered into a new servitude which is perfect freedom. God tells him he has been made "free from sin"; that he is "more than conqueror" through Christ; that "the victory" of the Cross was all inclusive; and that "in Christ" he may walk through life's battlefield "in triumph." The spiritual Christian takes God's word at face value, he dares to believe it and to act accordingly.

The believer's identification with Christ did not secure for him "victories" only but "victory." His victory over sin is all inclusive, the greater has wrapped within it the lesser. He who has given victory over one sin can give victory over all sin; He who has kept from sin for a moment, can with equal ease keep for an hour or a day. Victory over sin is a gift through Christ.

Victory need not be intermittent but may be habitual. God can cause us always in all places, under all circumstances, at all times, in all things, "to triumph in Christ" for "He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them"

Perhaps some reader will say, "I have experienced occasionally this glorious freedom from some besetting sin but it has been only a transient liberty. Is there really such a thing here on earth as habitual victory over all known sin?"

Let us think of the difference between such a transient liberty and a permanent freedom. It was made very clear to me once through an experience in speaking on two Sundays to the women in Cook County jail in Chicago. At the first meeting one hard-faced, rough-looking woman made considerable trouble, nearly breaking up the meeting. She came at the close imploring me to secure her release from jail, making all sorts of lavish promises of good behavior, even to becoming a Christian if I would do her this favor. Twenty-six times she had been behind those bars for the same offense, she said. This confession told me why she was in jail. Liberty she had had twenty-five times: freedom she had never known. She had no desire to break with sin but only to break from jail.

The following Lord's Day I spoke on the difference between liberty and freedom. Knowing that the woman's attention must be held for the sake  of others as well as for herself I had taken some thread and scissors to illustrate the message. During the talk I asked her for the loan of her fingers. I wound the thread lightly around them and then asked her to free herself. With her strong, brawny hands it was an easy matter just to loosen the thread and she did it quickly. Then I wound it around again and again some fifty times until her fingers were truly "bondservants" to that thread, praying that God would drive home the truth of her terrible bondage to sin. All the time her face grew longer and more perplexed. Finally I stopped and asked her again to loosen her fingers and free herself. With real seriousness she looked into my face and said bluntly, "You know I can't!" I said, "Yes, I know you can't and are you not glad that I have brought these scissors along which can cut this thread and set your fingers free?" Then I told her of the Saviour who came from Heaven to die on Calvary's Cross that through the outpouring of His precious blood she might be cut loose from sin and set free forever and ever. "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36).

To make that perfect victory permanent He has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell and control. The carnal man is under the power of the law of sin. It operates in his life bringing him much of the time under its dominion. But there is another and a higher law at work in the believer and as he yields himself to its mighty power the spiritual man is delivered from the law of sin and death. Herein lies his habitual victory over all know sin.

Romans 8:2, "For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."  

It is a life of constant growth into Christ-likeness.

2 Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 5)

Keep Trusting

In the passage we looked at yesterday, Peter encouraged us to see the trials we face as temporary, something that only lasts for a while. I want you to read that passage again today, and then I want to point your attention to another truth that is vital to enduring through whatever trial you may be facing.

It says in 1 Peter 1:5-7,

Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

One of the critical things you and I need to do when faced with trials is continue to trust God in the midst of those trials.

No matter how difficult, do not unplug your faith, even when things get rough.  Keep trusting God and His promises.  Why?  Well, look at what verse 5 says:  We are "kept by the power of God through faith."

When you keep your faith plugged in, you are then kept by God's power.

That word keep means to preserve.  It means to protect, to guard.  It is used elsewhere in Scripture of a garrison of soldiers protecting something.  When you are going through a trial, God will protect you through His power when you trust Him.

That word power is the same word in the Bible translated miracle.  I take it to mean this:  When you or I are in a season of trial, if God has to work a miracle to keep us and protect us, He will do it.

Whatever your trial…keep trusting. 

~Bayless Conley~

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Marks of a Carnal Christian # 3

Life On The Highest Plane

Carnal or Spiritual

The language of James 4:4 is drastic and austere, there is an irrevocable finality about it. Men may hold two opinions about "the world" but not so with God. In James 4:4 he at least leaves no Christian any room whatever for argument regarding his attitude toward and relationship to "the world" but declares in words of transparent clearness that any Christian who maintains friendship with the world is guilty of adulterous infidelity in his relationship to Christ.

To realize the truth of God's pungent statement the reader need only remind himself of what the world is and of its attitude to Christ. "The world" is satan's eyes, ears, hands and feet combined to fashion his most cunning weapon for defeating God by capturing the souls of men. "The world" is satan's lair for the unsaved and his lure to the saved to keep them from God. "The world" is human life and human society with God left out.

What, then, should be the Christian's relationship to the world? The answer is found in the Christian's relationship to Christ. Christ and the Christian are one. They are joined together, as we have seen, in such an intimate union and identification of life that God, the Holy Spirit, does not hesitate to say that the love relationship they bear to each other is one analogous to that of marriage.

Is it any wonder, then, that God says that friendship with the world on the part of a Christian is tantamount to spiritual adultery and the He brands "the friend of the world"  "an enemy of God"? Hobnobbing with the world in its pleasures, entering into partnership with it in its pursuits, fashioning one's life by its principles, working to carry out its program, all make one an accomplice of the evil one against one's own Beloved, against the Saviour, Lord and King of one's life. Such adulterous unfaithfulness in love marks one as a carnal Christian.

But perhaps some reader is still in the dark as to what is worldly. He is not clear as to what he may have, do or enjoy. The acid test of worldliness is given in 1 John 2:16. Under the Holy Spirit's illumination test your life by it and you will quickly discern the mark of the worldly.

Worldliness is "all that is not of the Father. Whatever would not be as appropriate and fitting to Christ's life in the heavenlies as to the Christian life on earth is worldly. Whatever does not come out from God and cannot go back to Him with His blessing is worldliness. Such is the negative aspect of worldliness.

It has a positive aspect as well. Worldliness is "the lust of the flesh," "the lust of the eyes," and "the pride of life." Worldliness may be manifested in one's conversation, in one's style of hair dress, in the clothes one wears, in the company one keeps, in the pleasures one enjoys, in the books one reads, in the appetites one indulges, in the things one buys, in the ambitions by which one is ruled, and in the activities in which one engages.

Anything which feeds or pampers the flesh, the animal part of man, whether it results in gross sensuality, or in taking the bloom from heart purity, or merely in soft self-indulgence and self-ease, is worldliness. Anything that strains the heart, soils the hands, stings the conscience and separates one from the joy and sweetness of communion with Christ, is worldliness. It is "the lust of the flesh."

Anything that caters merely to the fashions of this world, that stimulates desire for possession and property, that aims merely to please men and gain their approval, that keeps the eyes fixed on the lowlands instead of on the heights, on the seen rather than on the unseen, anything that puts a cloud between Christ and the Christian and shuts Him  out from one's vision is "the lust of the eyes."

Anything that exalts self, that fosters pomp and pride, that clips the wings of the soul so that it grovels in the dust of earth instead of soaring heavenward, that sets the affections upon the wealth, the fame, the honors of earth rather than upon the treasures of Heaven, that robs the Christian of his possessions and privileges in Christ, is "the pride of life."

There can be no confluence between these streams. Their admixture in a human life produces the carnal Christian.  It is a life of dishonoring hypocrisy.

Ephesians 5:8, "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light."

1 John 1:5-6, "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all ... If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth."

1 Corinthians 3:3, "Are ye not carnal and walk as men?"

The carnal man says one thing and does another; his walk does not correspond with his witness; he professes what he does not possess. The carnal man walks as those who make no profession of being Christians and presents them with such a caricature of Christ hat he has no power to win them to his Saviour.

Does anything more need to be said to prove that the carnal Christian falls far short of God's best and is not well pleasing unto Him? But there is abundant hope for the believer who, wearied with the conflict, humiliated by the defeat, chagrined by the immaturity, distressed by the fruitlessness, convicted of the infidelity, and pained by the hypocrisy, turns to God and cries out for deliverance from the wretched captivity of carnality into the glorious liberty of spirituality. 

Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 4 - "The Marks of a Spiritual Christian)

I Am With You Always

And, lo, I am with you alway (Matt. 28:20).

Never look ahead to the changes and challenges of this life in fear. Instead, as they arise look at them with the full assurance that God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them. Hasn't He kept you safe up to now? So hold His loving hand tightly, and He will lead you safely through all things. And when you cannot stand, He will carry you in His arms.
Do not look ahead to what may happen tomorrow. The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you His unwavering strength that you may bear it. Be at peace, then, and set aside all anxious thoughts and worries.

--Francis de Sales

The Lord is my shepherd. Psalm 23:1

Not was, not may be, nor will be. "The Lord is my shepherd." He is on Sunday, on Monday, and through every day of the week. He is in January, in December, and every month of the year. He is when I'm at home and in China. He is during peace and war, and in times of abundance or poverty.

--J. Hudson Taylor

He will silently plan for you,
His object of omniscient care;
God Himself undertakes to be
Your Pilot through each subtle snare.
He WILL silently plan for you,
So certainly, He cannot fail!
Rest on the faithfulness of God,
In Him you will surely prevail.
He will SILENTLY plan for you
Some wonderful surprise of love.
No eye has seen, nor ear has heard,
But it is kept for you above.
He will silently PLAN for you,
His purposes will all unfold;
Your tangled life will shine at last,
A masterpiece of skill untold.
He will silently plan FOR YOU,
Happy child of a Father's care,
As if no other claimed His love,
But you alone to Him were dear.

--E. Mary Grimes

Whatever our faith says God is, He will be.

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Marks of A Carnal Christian # 2

Life On The Highest Plane

Carnal or Spiritual

The Corinthian Christians should have been full grown; they had been Christians long enough to have become spiritual adults but they were mere "babes in Christ." They should have been strong, healthy, meat-eating grown-ups; instead they were weak, milk-drinking infants. They did not measure up either in stature or strength to what they should have.

Nothing on earth could be sweeter or more perfect to loving parents than a baby in babyhood but oh! the indescribable heartache endured by the parents if that precious child remains a baby in body or in mind. Nothing on earth sets the joy bells of Heaven ringing as the birth of one into the family of God but oh! what pain it must cause the heavenly Father to see that spiritual babe remain in a state of protracted infancy!

Which are you today, dear believer, a spiritual babe or an mature adult? Are you still in infancy in spiritual things o are you full-grown? To answer the question it may help to ask and answer another. What are the marks of a babe? A baby cannot serve himself but is helplessly dependent upon others. He may give enjoyment to others but he cannot help them. A baby absorbs attention, he expects to be the center of his little world. A baby lives in the realm of his feelings, being entirely governed by them. If all goes well, he is pleased and smiling but  he is exceedingly touchy and if his desire is crossed at any point he quickly lets it be known in lusty remonstrance. God's Word shows that the carnal Christian bears these self-same marks.

Hebrews 5:12-14, "For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that someone teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are such as have need of milk, and not of solid food.  For every one that partaketh of milk is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a babe.  But solid food is for grown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil."

The Christians to whom this epistle to the Hebrews was written were evidently carnal Christians also. They ought to have been teaching others yet they themselves still needed to be taught even the elementary truths of spiritual experience. They, as well as the Corinthians, should have been able to eat meat but they were still content to feed on milk. They were able neither to help themselves nor others. They were incapacitated through their protracted infancy either to receive the deep things of God or to impart them to others.

Perhaps Paul puts his finger upon the reason for the stunted condition of the Corinthians Christians in the first two chapters of 1 Corinthians. He teaches us that the spiritual man knows the deep things of God through the discernment made possible by the Holy Spirit's illumination. The spiritual man is one who, delighting in God's Word, devours and digests it. By feeding upon it he grows in stature and strength.

But the Corinthian Christians were very evidently not of this type. They were following human leaders, esteeming lightly the wisdom of God and exalting highly the wisdom of men. They were substituting fodder for food and attempting to satisfy hunger on husks. Consequently they were still "babes in Christ," - weak, emaciated Christians.

Much the same condition prevails today in the churches of Christendom. The average professing Christian is not going first-hand to the Bible for food expecting the Holy Spirit to give him the strong meat of the Word. He is looking to human teachers for his nourishment and gulps down whatever is given him. He is a spiritual parasite living on predigested food, consequently he is underfed and anaemic. In this weakened state he is open to all forms of spiritual disease. He is  an easy prey for temper, impurity, pride, bitterness and selfishness and because of his close relationship to other members of the body of Christ, the result is often just such an epidemic of sin as existed in the Corinthian Church.  It is a life of barren fruitlessness.

Luke 13:6-7, "He spake also this parable; a certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.  Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I came seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?"

John 15:2, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away, and every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."

The influence of the carnal Christian is always negative. The carnal Christian occupies a pew in church on the Lord's day indicating some love in his heart for the Lord and devotion to Him but he is unable to bring with him any member of his family or associate in business or friend because of the inconsistency of his life before them during the week. He is a branch of the Vine but a fruitless, hence a useless, branch.  It is a life of adulterous infidelity.

James 4:4, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."

1 John 2:15-16, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 3)