The Cross of Calvary # 12
In times of transition also the believer is apt to turn from the way of faith to "works of law" - or self-effort. The turning back to "works of the law" was the danger of the Galatian Christians. Possibly the first joyous experience of the Holy Spirit's work in them had passed away, and not understanding clearly the full purpose of Christ's death, and the way of faith in the crucified and risen Lord, they were in a condition to fall an easy prey to those who sought to draw them back to the old life of reliance upon self, and its doings.
The Apostle's appeal to them shows clearly that the turning away of their vision from Calvary was the cause of their peril, and, through his words, we see also that the work of Christ on the Cross, must be the anchor of the soul along the whole course of the Christian life.
"I placarded Christ crucified before your eyes!" "O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?" exclaims the Apostle, as he thinks of the way in which Jesus Christ was "openly set forth crucified" among them, for he could not have proclaimed to them less than the full Gospel he had preached to the Corinthians, and the Romans. How they could forget such an unveiling of Christ's death, and turn back upon themselves, he did not know.
Who drew your eyes away from Calvary, and all that it means? Who "fascinated you?" Some subtle influence has come upon you. "Are you foolish?" the Apostle cries. With their vision turned toward Him Who died, they had received the Spirit by simply believing the "meaning of faith", and they had proved the word of the Cross to be the energy of God, for God had supplied the Spirit bountifully to them, and worked "miracles in" them, in response to their "hearing of faith."
As Jesus Christ had thus been "painted large upon His Cross to their very eyes, had they not learned the meaning of His death? Before the way of faith was revealed, they were "shut up in prison... under the law", because they could not fulfill the law, but on the Cross, Christ redeemed them, and became accursed for their sakes, so that in response to faith alone, they might receive the Holy Spirit to work in them continually. Did they not know that they became children of God "through faith in Jesus Christ", and as many as had been "baptized into Christ" did "put on Christ, and had clothed" themselves with Christ.
Were all their past sufferings in vain? Were they going back to be prison-bound souls under the whip of the law, instead of entering in to all the privileges of sons of God? "I am again bearing the pangs of travail for you, till Christ be fully formed within you." Paul cries in the anguish of his soul. How senseless to go back from the simplicity of reliance upon Christ, to reliance upon self and its doings. I can only attribute this to some evil power which has ensnared you, some specious influence which has drawn you away from Calvary.
Alas, such a subtle influence is at work today among the people of God, turning away their vision from Christ crucified!
The adversary of souls knows how to "fascinate", and, insensibly to ourselves, to draw us away from the Cross of Calvary. His devices are innumerable, and every stage of growth in the spiritual life is attacked by him with this particular snare; for every distortion of truth, and working of error, may be traced to the failure to keep Calvary, and its two-fold message, as the central fact of the believer's life, and as the central truth from which every other aspect of the truth of God radiates. All lines of truth must never be allowed to their extreme limit, but kept within the radius of the Cross.
A continuous looking off to Jesus Christ crucified, and a steadfast dependence upon the Spirit of God to work in us the separating power of His death, and to minister to us the quickening of His life, is the "way of faith", in which Christ can be "fully formed within", and the believer grow up unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
O soul, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, if the word of the Cross has come to thee in the power of God, and thou hast consented to be crucified together with the Crucified One, and truly united to Him as the Risen Lord, take heed that thou dost, day by day, turn thy heart's vision toward the Cross, praising the Triune God that thou art there with the One Who died, and then -
1. By faith in the working of God, commit to the death of the Cross, without delay, aught of the old life revealed to thee, counting upon the Holy Spirit to bear witness to the death of Christ, by severing thee from the accursed thing. Let this be thy prompt dealing with aught that is shown to thee as not of God, during the whole course of thy spiritual life, for the light will shine upon thy ways, and thou wilt see even thy "comeliness" to be corruption, as thou dost walk in the light of God.
2. By faith in the faithfulness of God, live thou in the present moment alone, and counting upon the Holy Spirit to communicate to thee the life of Jesus, do thou cast thyself upon His strength, and do the next thing that lies in thy path of duty, believing that it is God Who worketh in thee to will, and to do, of His good pleasure. If thou dost miss step with thy Lord, trust Him, by the skillfulness of His hands, to put thee in step again, and do not whip thyself with vain regrets, but continue in His love, and leave thyself entirely in His keeping.
3. By faith in the Risen Christ walk on with Him, refusing all temptation to look within, or turn back upon thyself at all. Let His word dwell in thee richly, teaching thee His will for thy manner of life, and pour out thy heart's longing to Him, that He will show Himself through thee to all around.
4. By faith thou dost stand. Be not high-minded, but fear. No past experience of His grace will avail thee, if thou dost turn from simple dependence upon thy Lord. Thou hast nought but what thou dost receive from Him hour by hour. Thou hast a watchful foe ready to ensnare thee if thou wilt but give him a chance. Keep thou hidden safely in thy Lord, Who intercedes for thee before the throne of God, and if thou wilt walk in the light, bringing to the light thy doings - that it may be shown thee whether they are wrought in God - the blood of Jesus Christ His Son will keep cleansing thee from all sin, and thou shalt walk in blessed fellowship with Him.
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not,for He is faithful that promised." (Hebrews 10:23). "If we are faithless, He abideth faithful; for He cannot deny Himself." (2 Timothy 2:13).
(continued with # 13 - "The Cross and the Holy Spirit"