A Constant War

Posted by Jerry White on Jul 30, 2012

“There never can be absolute peace in the bosom of a believer, so long as we dwell on earth. There certainly is peace with God, but constant war with sin. This law in the members has an army of lusts under him, and he wages war against the law of God. Sometimes, indeed, an army is lying in ambush, and the enemies lie quiet until a favorable moment comes. Likewise, in the heart, lusts often lie quiet until the hour of temptation, and they war against the soul. The heart is like a volcano. Sometimes it slumbers and sends up nothing but a little smoke, but the fire is slumbering all the while below and will soon break out again.

There are two great combatants in the believer’s soul. There is Satan on the one side, with the flesh and all its lusts at his command. Then, on the other side, there is the Holy Spirit, with the new creature at His command. And so ‘the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish’ (Gal. 5:17).

Is Satan ever successful? In the deep wisdom of God the law in the members sometimes brings the soul into captivity. Noah was a perfect man who walked with God, and yet he was led captive. “[Noah] drank of the wine and was drunk’ (Gen. 9:21). Abraham was the friend of God (see Isa. 41:8), yet he told a lie, saying of Sarah his wife, ‘She is my sister’ (Gen. 20:2). Job, a perfect man who feared God and hated evil, was provoked to curse the day he was born (see Job 3:1). We could give similar examples of Moses, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Peter, and the apostles.

Have you experienced this warfare? It is a clear mark of God’s children. We must ever strive for God’s perfection, but accept His grace when we inevitably fall short.”

The Best of Robert Murray McCheyne, 40-41

Edited and Compiled by Stephen W. Sorenson

~~~

Learn to know your weaknesses and where your enemy usually attacks. Be on guard at your weak points. Believe the truth that Christ broke sin’s power at the cross by His death in your behalf (Romans 6:6, 14). Trust Him to make His victory real in your life. Even if you stumble again, continue trusting Him. Some battles are not won easily and immediately. Resolutions never win the battle, only trust in the Lord Jesus does.




Posted in Inward Conflict

If Love Be Wanting

Posted by Jerry White on Jul 26, 2012

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

Luke 24:32 (ESV)

~~~

“Of what value to Christ is outward service, if love be wanting? Of what value to the Bridegroom would the rigid observance of her duties be, if the bride were cold in her heart toward him? A church without heart, is a church without Christ.

Beloved, let us see well to this. Let nothing satisfy us short of the living realized presence of Christ within us. No ministry, however excellent, can supply the lack of this; neither will truth itself nourish the soul, unless the power of Him who is the Truth be present to minister it.

We need to exhort one another respecting this, for these are days when the itching ear is more common than the glowing heart, and the teacher is often more sought than the Lord. Thus Christ is, as it were, often supplanted in His own house.

It is not difficult to discern the power of the Lord’s presence in our meetings; the unlettered believer is as competent to ascertain this as the most instructed.

The two disciples on their way to Emmaus were very ignorant, but their hearts were occupied with the right object. Christ was the subject of their mutual intercourse as they journeyed on together. They loved Him, they had lost Him, and were sad. Soon He joined Himself to their company, because He knew that they were occupied with Him. His presence was felt, though they knew but little; and their hearts burned within them by the way. So shall we also find it to be the case, if our hearts are occupied with Christ and Him crucified; the presence of the Lord with us will be realized, and our souls will be filled rather with the blessedness of having been with Him, than with questions as to the ministry we may have heard.”

“Crumbs For The Lord’s Little Ones”

His Victorious Indwelling, 273-274

Nick Harrison, Editor

~~~

The Lord’s presence becomes graciously real when we desire Him with our whole heart.




Posted in Love for God

What Gracious Souls Discover

Posted by Jerry White on Jul 22, 2012

When we grow in grace we discover the futility of our self-life. Self can put forth great effort to accomplish good things. The problem is that self is doing it. There is wicked flesh and there is good (religious) flesh. Regardless, that which is born of flesh is flesh, and both wicked and good flesh is unacceptable to God.

As we grow in grace the Lord reveals through circumstances, failures and Biblical revelations how our self-life hinders the working of His Spirit. With all sincerity we want to do our best to please God in all things, but we must learn the way to fruitfulness is not according to our abilities or our diligent striving but rather the way of faith. The way that pleases God is by dependence on His life within us and not by dependence on our self-life. He teaches us through experience that it must be, “not I but Christ” (Galatians 2:20).

Sometimes these are painful lessons as he exposes our confidence in ourselves that has its root in pride. He chastens (child trains) those whom He loves as a father chastens his son (Hebrews 12:6).

William R. Newell wrote in his commentary, Romans, Verse by Verse, 247, about “Things Which Gracious Souls Discover.”

“1. To ‘hope to be better’ is to fail to see yourself in Christ only.

2. To be disappointed with yourself, is to have believed in yourself.

3. To be discouraged is unbelief,—as to God’s purpose and plan of blessing for you.

4. To be proud, is to be blind! For we have no standing before God, in ourselves.

5. The lack of Divine blessing, therefore, comes from unbelief, and not from failure of devotion.

6. Real devotion to God arises, not from man’s will to show it; but from the discovery that blessing has been received from God while we were yet unworthy and undevoted.

7. To preach devotion first, and blessing second, is to reverse God’s order, and preach law, not grace. The Law made man’s blessing depend on devotion; Grace confers undeserved, unconditional blessing: our devotion may follow, but does not always do so,—in proper measure.”

…Much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17). We trust to receive.




Posted in Grace

Under Grace

Posted by Jerry White on Jul 19, 2012

Grace is completely contrary to our natural way of thinking. Ever since sin entered the human race through Adam (Romans 5:12), human nature has been dominated and controlled by sin. Only in Christ is this slavery to sin broken and the captive set free.

Salvation comes by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). The three tenses of salvation—past justification, present sanctification, and future glorification—are all by grace through faith. It all begins and continues through grace. Therefore it is imperative to understand grace and receive it with joy and thankfulness.

William R. Newell wrote about “The Proper Attitude of Man under Grace” in his commentary on Romans, Verse by Verse, 246-247 (1938):

1. To believe, and to consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret.

2. To refuse to make ‘resolutions’ and ‘vows’; for that is to trust in the flesh.

3. To expect to be blessed, though realizing more and more lack of worth.

4. To testify of God’s goodness, at all times.

5. To be certain of God’s future favor; yet to be ever more tender in

conscience toward Him.

6. To rely on God’s chastening hand as a mark of His kindness.

7. A man under grace, if like Paul, has no burdens regarding himself; but

many about others.

Romans 5:2 gives great assurance, “Through him [Jesus Christ] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” A believer stands steadfastly in God’s infinite and eternal ocean of unchanging grace. Ah! What a precious place to be! Beloved by Almighty God, a loving Father, and know it does not depend on me, and my behavior.




Posted in Grace

Understanding Grace

Posted by Jerry White on Jul 16, 2012

God’s grace is liberating truth.

Our world operates by fleshly effort. Our thinking is that reward comes to those who earn it. If anything comes beyond what we think we deserve, we feel we must live up to some unspoken standard in order to be worthy of what we have received. Ever since the fall of Adam, woven into the fabric of our souls is the motivation to earn what we want or need. Grace is contrary to everything we encounter in this world. From earliest childhood we learn to be good so we get good things. This is reinforced as we grow up and becomes deeply engrained in our souls, even in adulthood, by the world’s system. Satan is the prince of this world and with glee he enforces this attitude.

For this reason we are very slow to accept what God’s grace does. Even in our Christian life we are affected by these inbred and experienced thought patterns. It is very difficult for us to think that we deserve nothing from God, except His judgment. Or, with pride we think He owes us something because we feel we are fairly good. However, the Bible tells us in Romans 5 that when we were ungodly, helpless, sinners, and enemies of God, Christ died for us. He did it freely while our flesh was steadfastly set against Him. Amazing!

The truth is: In our flesh is no good thing (Romans 7:18). (Flesh is human nature enslaved to indwelling sin.) Flesh never gets better; it never improves; it never changes; and it is capable of the most heinous sins. We each have been born with this gross sinful and wicked human nature. We are not prepared to understand the true meaning of grace until we see this soul-shaking and putrid truth about ourselves. Only God can cause us to deeply know this humiliating truth about what we are really like inside. When we finally do see it by His revelation and conviction, we are then ready to receive His wondrous grace and live amazed that He loves us in spite of what we really are in His sight. Our mourning for our wretchedness is turned into laughter for the joy that He loves us without any reason on our part. We finally understand that all that He is to us, and all that He has done for us, is without explanation, and we are awed to lowest humility by His lavished love. We are melted to tears that Holy God would love us so purely in our total unworthiness.

JRW




Posted in Grace

Abide Now

Posted by Jerry White on Jul 12, 2012

“It has been well said that in that little word now lies one of the deepest secrets of the life of faith. At the close of a conference on the spiritual life a minister of experience rose and spoke. He did not know that he had learned any truth he did not know before, but he had learned that it was his privilege at each moment, whatever surrounding circumstances might be, to say, ‘Jesus saves me now.’ This is indeed the secret of rest and victory. If I can say, ‘Jesus is to me at this moment all that God gave Him to be—life, and strength, and peace,’ I have but as I say it to hold still, and rest, and realize it, and for that moment I have what I need. As my faith sees how of God I am in Christ, and takes the place in Him my Father has provided, my soul can peacefully settle down. Now I abide in Christ.

Believer! When striving to find the way to abide in Christ from moment to moment, remember that the gateway is: Abide in Him at this present moment. Instead of wasting effort in trying to get into a state that will last, just remember that it is Christ Himself, the living, loving Lord, who alone can keep you, and is waiting to do so. Begin at once and act faith in Him for the present moment; this is the only way to be kept the next. To attain the life of permanent and perfect abiding is not ordinarily given at once as a possession for the future; it comes mostly step by step. Avail yourself, therefore, of every opportunity of exercising the trust of the present moment. Each time you bow in prayer, let there first be an act of simple devotion: ‘Father, I am in Christ; abiding in Him now.’ Even when overtaken by sin, and the heart within is all disturbed and excited, O let your first look upwards be with the word, ‘Father, I have sinned; and yet I come—though I blush to say it—as one who is in Christ. Father! Here I am; I can take no other place; of God I am in Christ; I now abide in Christ.’ Yes, Christian, in every possible circumstance, every moment of the day, the voice is calling, ‘Abide in me. Do it now.’”

Andrew Murray

Abide In Christ, 110-112 (Grosset & Dunlap, 1965. I updated the pronouns)

~~~

This comes from the copy of one of the first books I read in my middle twenties that caused me to know there is a deeper way in the Christian life than I had known. It is a classic on abiding in Christ.




The Good Part

Posted by Jerry White on Jul 8, 2012

Your life is busy with daily responsibilities. Family needs, work schedule, church assignments, household chores, social interaction by internet, phone, texting and other attention grabbing encounters soak up your mind and time like a thirsty sponge. Too soon the day is gone and you are too weary to concentrate in order to pray or to be in God’s Word. You know you should because you need it, and you may feel guilty because you let other things distract you. Resolutions haven’t helped except for a short time. What is the secret for those who have discovered joyous communion with the Lord in the midst of a demanding life? How can it be different for you?

The Lord Jesus called it thirst. It is a thirst of soul. It is a profound awareness of need coupled with a craving for what will satisfy. It comes from a sharp consciousness that you must have what will sustain a healthy life—drinking water for your body and spiritual water for your soul.

Distractions of daily life can so rule us that spiritual thirst is dulled, oppressed and pushed aside. However, there is hope. Spiritual thirst can dominate your life so that you are compelled to seek the Lord Jesus above all else, both in time alone with Him and through all your daily responsibilities. Jesus did not rebuke Martha for her serving, but rather because her serving distracted her from the one important issue (Luke 10:38-42). Her serving responsibilities ruled her mind and therefore overruled her heart-need. This caused her display of irritation with her sister Mary who was sitting at her Master’s feet drinking in His words to satisfy her thirsty soul (Luke 10:39-40). She even told the Lord Jesus what He should do. Can you imagine that?

Your heart desire can reign regardless of how busy your days are. If it does, then your spiritual thirst will demand time alone with the Lord Jesus on a regular basis, and also you will inwardly commune with Him in the sanctuary of your soul throughout the busyness of your day.

Who has ever had more demanding circumstances than the Lord Jesus? And yet He often withdrew to lonely places to pray (Luke 5:16). In Luke 10:42 Jesus said to Martha, “but one thing is necessary.” Interestingly, in the next verse (Luke 11:1) Jesus was doing the one thing He told Martha was necessary—“praying in a certain place.”

If you will ask the Lord to give you deeper thirst, He will surely answer because it is His will (1 John 5:14-15). You CAN grow until your heart-thirst rules your life throughout the demands of your days. This is the way your family, co-workers, fellow-believers and others may touch the Lord Jesus through your ordinary life. You will remain spiritually fresh like a tree planted by streams of water (Psalm 1:3) because you are perpetually drinking from His living water.

Mary chose the good part, and you can also—if you thirst.

JRW




Time To Grow

Posted by Jerry White on Jul 5, 2012

“It seems that most believers have difficulty in realizing and facing up to the inexorable fact that God does not hurry in His development of our Christian life. He is working from and for eternity! So many feel they are not making progress unless they are swiftly and constantly forging ahead. Now it is true that the new convert often begins and continues for some time at a fast rate. But this will not continue if there is to be healthy growth and ultimate maturity. God himself will modify the pace. This is important to see, since in most instances when seeming declension begins to set in, it is not, as so many think, a matter of backsliding.

John Darby makes it plain that ‘it is God’s way to set people aside after their first start, that self-confidence may die down. Thus Moses was forty years. On his first start he had to run away. Paul was three years also, after his first testimony. Not that God did not approve the first earnest testimony. We must get to know ourselves and that we have no strength. Thus we must learn, and then leaning on the Lord we can with more maturity, and more experientially, deal with souls.’

Since the Christian life matures and becomes fruitful by the principle of growth (II Pet. 3:18), rather than by struggle and ‘experiences,’ much time is involved. Unless we see and acquiesce to this there is bound to be constant frustration, to say nothing of resistance to our Father’s development processes for us. Dr. A. H. Strong illustrates for us: ‘A student asked the President of his school whether he could not take a shorter course than the one prescribed. “Oh yes,” replied the President, “but then it depends upon what you want to be. When God wants to make an oak, He takes an hundred years, but when He wants to make a squash, He takes six months.”’ Strong also wisely points out to us that ‘growth is not a uniform thing in the tree or in the Christian. In some single months there is more growth than in all the year besides. During the rest of the year, however, there is solidification, without which the green timber would be useless. The period of rapid growth, when woody fibre is actually deposited between the bark and the trunk, occupies but four to six weeks in May, June and July.’

Let’s settle it once and for all—there are no shortcuts to reality!”

Miles J. Stanford

Principles of Spiritual Growth, 11-12 (1968) Also known as The Green Letters




Like Him

Posted by Jerry White on Jul 1, 2012

“In the end, the Scriptures tell us, we who belong to Christ will be like him:

‘Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.’ (1 John 3:2)

We who have lived our lives here in frustration and weakness will one day become like the Lord Jesus himself. This is a miracle of God’s loving grace: He made us in his image in the beginning, and we through sin disfigured that image until it was all but unrecognizable. But God, who is rich in mercy, will through Christ undo our undoing and recreate us in the image of his Son.

Think about it. We’ll be with him. We’ll be like him. Is there anyone cooler to be with? Is there anyone you’d rather be like? Is there anything better you could dream of?

But did you notice how it is that we’ll become like Christ? Read the end of 1 John 3:2 again;

…we shall be like, for we shall see him as he is.

In that day God will remove the blinders of weakness and sin from our eyes so that we can see Christ in all his loveliness and majesty. Because we’ll see him clearly, we’ll love him completely, for there’s nothing unlovely in him. To the limit of our recreated capacity, we’ll see the fullness of his nobility, excellence, holiness, righteousness, kindness, mercy, goodness—every beauty that could make us cherish him. And that fundamental principle in us, that we imitate what we admire and become what we worship, will be fulfilled. Adoring him with all our hearts, with nothing to hinder us, we will be like him.”

Kris Lundgaard

Through the Looking Glass, 4-5

~~~

Our capacity grows on earth now as we gaze upon the Lord Jesus in private worship and communion day by day. Little gazing means small capacity. Much gazing means larger capacity. In that day we will realize how important it would have been not to neglect private communion with the Lord by being so distracted by temporary worldly matters.