Beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest ye also being led astray with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
There are two vitally important truths to be learned in our Christian walk today:
1. The utter bankruptcy of self.
2. The total riches of Christ.
God our Father is totally and utterly faithful – come what may: I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever, with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 89:1. This truth needs to be very deeply ingrained in the awakened believer. This truth must be paramount to the one who desires to grow in grace. Through all the failures and distresses of life, God is working victory in you. “Faithful”, I hear you say… “how is God faithful in the midst of all my distresses?” Remember this: faithful are the wounds of a friend – because, a friend loveth at all times. Prov.17:17. You see, God is using your life’s circumstances on the life-path you are treading, to fulfil IN you, His perfect plans and purpose FOR you – as is best for you.
You have been purchased with a price: the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He is working out His perfect plan in you.. to conform you into His likeness. This is for your eternal good, though it causes intense distress in the present time. You see, there are positive and negative aspects to this sanctification process. God has decreed that all circumstances, both the positives and the negatives are used: all things work together for good, to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Rom.8:28
Sometimes the sting of pain comes early in the Christian walk. Faithful study and witness gives way to a declining interest and lowering of standards. Recovery of ground is attempted, with heartbreaking results and a shaken ego. But God is preparing this Christian to understand the power of the self-life. For most, the distressing awakening comes much later. Whether single or married, parent or child, pastor or layman, young or old – each, through the busyness of service and striving, arrive at their own spiritual ‘Waterloo’.
You see it is related to need - deep, deep spiritual need. A parched and gasping soul is God’s prerequisite for the growth in you that God desires. A man or woman must become a pauper.. a spiritual pauper until you can say: not I but Christ lives in me. Gal.2:20. All the dire circumstances of life are controlled by your heavenly Father. He it is that knows what needs we have. He it is that keeps us needy. He alone knows what is needed to cause us to look away from self and to look to Him.
Oh! this desperate, downward path can be caused by both Satan and self. A life out of control can result from the old Adam, which Paul calls, “the old man”. Such a life can result from ‘the old sin nature” as well as wiles of the evil one. Nevertheless, God takes each ensuing failure, so that He alone can satisfy your need. Countless Christians have passed this way before. Countless believers are in this situation now, and countless dear ones never realised that while they are in the midst of their woes.. they are in the middle of God’s pure and perfect purpose in their lives.
During the downward spiral as their world spins out of control, they are blinded to the work of His hand and the truth of His faithfulness. We read in Lamentations that: it is because of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not, they are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.” Lam.3:22. Many foolishly see this as failure instead of God’s great purpose being executed. Many flounder and give up the fight and consequently, their spiritual growth is stunted. But we read in Hebrews: we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul, and we do this – by faith” Heb.10:39. God uses all circumstances to work the sanctifying process in you – if you’ll let Him.
This agonising downward process brings us from spiritual infancy to maturity.. from simply believing on Him at Calvary to living in Him, in heavenly places – now. The Spirit prepares us through spiritual poverty to rely upon Him and not on self: blessed are the poor in spirit. Matt.5:3. When we get to the point when our spiritual life-breath is all but exhausted.. when we arrive at the point where circumstances have broken our self-ego.. when we find that we have nowhere to run to save to the Lord – then we discover that He has been carrying us throughout all life’s difficulties. The apostle Peter reminds us: beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing is happened unto you. 1Pet.4:12.
Stanford reminds us:- “When the Father has us prepared by means of Romans 7, He opens the liberating truths of Romans 8- but not until we first reach the point where we can cry out with Paul:- "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” and then in jubilant cry, "I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” And then we can rejoice with Hosea: "Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and He will heal us; he hath smitten, and He will bind us up". Never forget: "faithful is He that called you, Who also will do it." 1Thess.5:24
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