The only power God recognizes in His Church, is the power of His Spirit. Whereas the only power actually recognized today by the majority of evangelicals, is the power of man. God does His work by the operation of the Spirit–while Christian leaders attempt to do theirs by the power of trained intellect. Bright personality, has taken the place of the divine influence. But only what is done through the Eternal Spirit, will abide eternally.
For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was:
a device for wasting time,
a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience,
a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability.
But of late she appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god entertainment–she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his power.
Christianity is so entangled with the world, that millions never guess how radically they have missed the New Testament pattern. Compromise is everywhere!
Evangelical Christianity is now tragically below the New Testament standard.
Worldliness is an accepted part of our way of life.
Our religious mood is social, instead of spiritual.
We have lost the art of worship.
We are not producing saints.
Our models are successful business men, celebrated athletes and theatrical personalities.
We carry on our religious activities after the methods of the modern advertiser.
Our homes have been turned into theaters.
Our literature is shallow, and our hymnody borders on sacrilege.
And scarcely anyone appears to care!
Pride cannot live beneath the cross!
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling–fix your thoughts on Jesus!”Hebrews 3:1
“Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
What we think about when we are free to think about what we will–that is what we are, or will soon become.
Anyone who wishes to check on his true spiritual condition may do so by noting what his voluntary thoughts have been over the last hours or days. What has he thought about, when free to think of what he pleased? Toward what has his inner heart turned, when it was free to turn where it would?
When the bird of thought was let go, did it fly out like the raven to settle upon floating carcasses–or did it like the dove circle and return again to the ark of God? Such a test is easy to run, and if we are honest with ourselves we can discover not only what we are–but what we are going to become. We will soon be the sum of our voluntary thoughts!
Long practice in the art of mental prayer (that is, talking to God inwardly as we work or travel) will help to form the habit of holy thoughts.
“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7
“Oh, Lord, You know the constant struggle which we have with our thought life. You know how often our thoughts settle on rotten carcasses. Take control of my thoughts today, and move me along in the development of the habit of holy thought. Amen.”
(William Nicholson, “God’s Word, a Preservative Prom Sin” 1862)
“Your Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11
The Psalmist deposited the precepts and promises of God in his heart, and proved their value and efficiency . . .
to preserve him from sin,
to comfort him in trouble, and
to cheer him in a dying hour.
Just so, Christians must “let the word of Christ dwell in them richly, in all wisdom”–which will preserve them from sin, and make them wise unto salvation.
The Word must be deposited in our hearts, woven into our natures–by carefully reading and meditating upon it. “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.” Joshua 1:8
The Word is the perpetual standard of all moral excellence. All its precepts tend to purity.
Its doctrines present the most powerful motives against sin.
When the Christian looks at the sufferings and death of the Redeemer . . .
in His intense agony,
in His bloody sweat,
in His transfixing on the cross,
in the desertion of His Father,
in the endurance of the penalty of sin–
he sees in all these complicated and unparalleled sorrows, “the exceeding sinfulness of sin!”
Why is he redeemed? “Christ gave Himself for us–to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good!” Titus 2:14
Why is he regenerated? “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Why is he adopted into God’s family? But to bear the image of Him who adopts.
What is the tendency of all the doctrines of grace which he has received? “For the grace of God . . . teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age!” Titus 2:11-12
Why is he preserved? “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ!” 1 Thessalonians 5:23. “But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation!” Colossians 1:22
Above all, when he contemplates the character of his Savior . . .
His ardent love,
His ineffable meekness,
His profound humility, and
His unexampled obedience–
he perceives such a bright constellation of virtues, that he is dazzled by their splendor, and longs and prays to be impressed with His image and likeness.
Thus the Word of God is hidden in his heart . . .
as his counselor,
as his guide,
as his pattern!
The Word of God is the Christian’s compass and chart, by which he is steered safely over the tempestuous ocean of life!
Brethren, is not this the very cream of Heaven!
“We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!” 1 John 3:2
Here we have seen Jesus by faith in such a way that we have beheld our burdens laid on Him, and our iniquities carried by Him into the wilderness–where, if they are sought for, they shall not be found. We have seen enough of Jesus to know that “He is altogether lovely.” We can say of Him, that He “is all my salvation, and all my desire.” Sometimes, when He opens the lattice, and shows Himself through those windows of agate, at the Lord’s Supper–the King’s beauty has entranced us even to our heart’s ravishment. Yet all that we have ever seen of Him, is somewhat like the report which the Queen of Sheba had of Solomon’s wisdom. When we once get to the court of the Great King, we shall declare that the half has not been told to us! “I myself will see Him with my own eyes–I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job19:27
Brethren, is not this the very cream of Heaven!
There have been many suggestions of what we shall do in Heaven, and what we shall enjoy, but they all seem to me to be wide of the mark compared with this one–that we shall be with Jesus, be like Him, and shall behold His glory!
Oh, to see the feet that were nailed, and to touch the hands that were pierced, and to look upon the head that wore the thorns–and to bow before Him who is ineffable love, unspeakable condescension, infinite tenderness! Oh, to bow before Him, and to kiss that blessed face! Jesus, what better do we want than to see You, and be with You forever!
The streets of gold will have small attraction to us, and the harps of angels will but slightly enchant us–compared with the King in the midst of the throne! He it is who shall . . .
rivet our gaze,
absorb our thoughts,
enchain our affections, and
move all our sacred passions to their highest pitch of celestial ardor.
We shall see Jesus!
Let your hope of heaven master your fear of death.
True sanctification is a daily mortification of the root of sin in the heart–the continual destruction of the principle.
What is your predominant sin? Lay the axe at its root!
Seek its death and destruction–or it will be death and destruction to you, as long as it prevails.
One sight of a crucified Savior imparted by the Holy Spirit, will effectually weaken the power of indwelling sin–more than all other means combined.
O the might of the Cross!
O the virtue of the blood!
O the power of the grace of Jesus–to crucify, cleanse, and subdue our iniquities!
While the Cross is a comforting truth–it is also a sanctifying truth.
Why the Cross?
To evince the exceeding hatefulness of sin, and to show that nothing short of such a stupendous sacrifice could remove sin consistently with the glory of the Divine nature, and the honor of the Divine government.
When the mind is diverted from the Cross–sin appears to be a trifle. It can be . . .
looked at without indignation,
tampered with without fear,
committed without hesitation,
persisted in without remorse,
gloried in without shame,
confessed without sorrow.
But when Divine justice is seen drinking the very heart’s blood of God’s only Son, in order to quench its infinite thirst for satisfaction; when Jesus is seen in His humiliation, suffering, and death–all with the design of pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin–then how fearful a thing does it seem to sin against this holy Lord God! How base, how ungrateful, does our sin appear–in view of love so amazing, of grace so rich, and of glory so great!
Cultivate a constant, an ardent thirst for holiness. Do not be discouraged if the more intensely the desire for sanctification rises–the deeper and darker is the revelation of the heart’s hidden evil. The one is often a consequence of the other. The struggle may be painful, the battle may be strong–but the result is certain, and will be a glorious victory–victory through the blood of the Lamb!