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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Four Stages in the Life of the Lord's People # 3

Wandering in the Wilderness (continued)

The Lord has to take this third step with His people, in which He uncovers the depths of the human heart, even of His own. This is not to bring them under condemnation, because they are in Christ, and there is no condemnation, but to bring them to the place where they will recognize what that Red Sea meant. It also brings them to the counterpart of the Red Sea, the Jordan, the whole of the old man. The Red Sea is the judgment side of things. The Jordan represents the resurrection side of things. There is no hope in the Red Sea, but there is hope in Jordan. Jordan is something in which there is a work wrought which represents something more than the judgment of our sins. It represents our coming through to resurrection union with the Lord Jesus. In Israel's case there were forty years between the two, but in spiritual experience these two things are brought right up together, and you recognize that they are only two sides of one thing. One is judgment and death, as having been wrought by God. The other is your faith acceptance of that, to come out into a place of life.

The third stage is a very difficult, and trying, and sometimes seems a very long-drawn-out stage, and we are discovering that, although we are gloriously saved, in ourselves, that is, in our flesh, dwells no good thing. No man had a more glorious conversion than Paul, and perhaps few men, if any, had any more terrible exposure of the worthlessness of themselves after their conversion than Paul.

Do you notice where that third stage ends? It ends with the uplifted serpent in the wilderness. That is very significant when you move to John's Gospel, chapter 3. You remember that Nicodemus - a very religious man, a very upright man, so far as the law of Sinai was concerned - had been living under the regime of Sinai for a long time, perhaps all his life, and then the Lord said to Nicodemus: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness ...", and He was saying, in effect: Nicodemus, you have come to Sinai, but you will have to come to Calvary, to the place where all the curse is wrought out, even in the case of a religious man, for there is no good even in the religious flesh. The third stage of exposing of the flesh, even in a saved people, ended with the serpent lifted up, and that is very significant. A very important part of our Christian life is the coming to know that, in our flesh, even as Christians, as Christian workers, dwells no good thing. We shall never come to Jordan, and never come through to the land, until we have come here.

Do not feel discouraged. Do not feel that everything has gone wrong when the Lord begins to do that. So many, when the Lord begins to expose the worthlessness of their own life, even as children of God, begin to feel, or allow the enemy to suggest, that after all they are not saved at all; everything has gone wrong and the Lord is against them. The Lord is NOT against you, but He is against your flesh all the way through. We have to bring our flesh to the place where, having seen that there is no good in it, it is repudiated. Then we shall come to the place of the fourth stage.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - (Definite, Final Movement Towards the Land)

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