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- Godliness - 20/23 -
told, over and over again, that God wants His people to be pure, and THAT PURITY IN THEIR HEARTS IS THE VERY CENTRAL IDEA AND END AND PURPOSE OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST; if it is not so, I give up the whole question--I am utterly deceived.
In justification of this, I have selected two or three texts which seem to put it all in one; summing-up texts, so to speak. I will take first, as a specimen, what my husband has been trying to enforce--"The will of God is your sanctification." There is, however, a sense, and an important sense, in which sanctification must be the will of man. It must be _my_ will, too, and if it is not my will, the Divine will can never be accomplished in me. I must _will_ to be sanctified, as God is willing that I should be sanctified. There are as many, and more, exhortations in the Bible to sanctify yourselves than there are promises of God to sanctify you.
The next text is James iv. 8: "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse _your_ hands, _ye_ sinners; and purify _your_ hearts _ye_ double-minded." This was to backsliders, to people who had been professing to believe, but who had gone back under the dominion of their fleshly appetites and passions. There are two or three other texts where we seem to get the whole matter summed up, as, for instance, "He gave Himself for us (that is, for us Christians, the whole Church of God) that He might redeem us from _all iniquity_, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."--That is, purify _us_. And then 1 Timothy i. 5 shows God's purpose and aim in the whole method of redemption. "Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a _pure heart_, and of a _good conscience_, and of faith unfeigned"--cleansed and kept clean, for if it had been cleaned and become dirty again, it would not be a good but a bad conscience. And again, in I John iii. 3: "And every man that hath this hope in Him, purifieth himself, even as He is pure." Now, I say, these are summing-up texts, and there are numbers of others to the same effect, to show that the whole end and purpose of redemption is this--that He will restore us to purity; that He will bring us back to righteousness; that He will purge your consciences from dead works to serve the living God--not only purge you from the past, but keep you purged to serve the LIVING GOD; that it shall be done by the application of the blood to the conscience, and then it shall be maintained by the power of the Holy Ghost keeping us in a state of purity and obedience to righteousness.
Now, I say, if this be not the central idea of Christianity, I do not understand it. If God cannot do this for me--if Jesus Christ cannot do this for me, what is my advantage at all by His coming?
There is a great deal more in these epistles directed to the individual Christian to _be_ this, that, and the other, and to _do_ this, that, and the other, than there is about what God will do for him after all! This is not an objective Christianity--this is not sitting down and sentimentalizing and thinking of Christ in the Heavens, in these epistles; it brings Him down, to all intents and purposes, INTO OUR HEARTS AND LIVES HERE, and it is one of the continual exhortations, _be_ ye this, and _do_ ye this and the other.
These epistles represent a real, practical transformation to be accomplished IN US, and this is the only thing that will do to die with. If it is not accomplished in you, I tell you, you will not be able to die in peace. You will want to be cleansed, as my dear husband told you, before you can venture into the presence of the King of kings. You will want a sense of beautiful, moral rectitude and righteousness spreading over your whole nature, which will enable you to look up into the face of God and say, "Yes, I love Thee, I know Thee, and Thou knowest me, and lovest me, and we are one. I love the things Thou lovest, and desire the things Thou desirest. We are of one spirit, 'joined in one spirit unto the Lord.'" You will want that, and nothing less will do to die with. And why not have it? Will you have it? Why not let God work it in us? Will you try it? People are constantly saying, "They long for it, and they wish they could get it." Will you let God do it? Will you put away the depths of unbelief which are at the bottom of all your difficulty? People really do not believe that God _can_ do it for them, and that is at the bottom of their difficulties. But He can do it, and He promises to do it. Will you go down, and say, "Be it unto me according to Thy word"?
"BORN--A SAVIOUR." Luke ii. 11.
Jesus a Saviour born, Without: Without the inn, refused with scorn. Cast out: Cast out for me, my Saviour, King, Cast out to bring this lost one in.
Jesus a Saviour born, A man: A man of sorrows, smitten, torn by stripes: By stripes, O Lord, my soul is healed, By stripes, Thy stripes, my pardon sealed.
Jesus a Saviour born, The Lamb: The Lamb of God hath bled and borne My sins: My sins the Sacrifice did slay, My sins the Lamb doth take away.
Jesus a Saviour born To save: To save at night, at noon, at morn. To keep: To keep from sin, from doubt, from fear; To keep, for lo! the Keeper's here.
Jesus a Saviour born, A King: A King! exalt His glorious horn, And sing: O sing, ye heavens! He burst His grave, And sing, O earth! He lives to save!
I beseech yon therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.--ROM. xii. 1,2.
I have been thinking about the word in the text, "_that_"--"that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect will of God." This advance in the Divine life, as well as every other, right to the end, till we advance into glory, has its _conditions_. The condition of the advance from an absolutely unawakened worldly condition, to that of a convinced sinner, _is the reception of the light_. God awakens and enlightens tens of thousands, and thousands reject the light--instantly put it away--shut their eyes --will not have the light. These go back into greater darkness, and sin with more alacrity than ever they did before;--those who receive the light advance into the condition of awakened, enlightened souls.
The next condition of advance from the state of a struggling sinner, willing to part with his sins and to follow Christ, _is faith_, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that he may receive the forgiveness of sins. And at every advance onwards, if the believer is ever to get beyond the first principles, if he is ever to grow a single inch, so to speak, there is a condition involved in that advance! For instance, if, after conversion, the Holy Spirit reveals to him something which is inconsistent--which he did not before see-- the condition of his advance another step is the _renunciation_ of that thing!--the reception of the light, and _obedience to it;_ and, if he shrinks from and does not receive and obey the light, he will never advance _any more_ until he does. There are thousands of Christians, who, instead of advancing, have gone back since their conversion, because they would not comply with the condition, "THAT" they might prove the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.
There was a condition. They would have proved the will of God if there had been no condition; but there was a condition they would not comply with; so there they stick, just where they were--or, rather, they have gone backward.
Well, now, then, here is a condition to _this_ grand and glorious advance from the state of justification, where, while the believer is given power over sin, so that it does not rule over him, yet he sometimes, through its inward workings, falls under its power--the advance from this comparatively sinning and repenting condition on to that platform where the believer so abides in Christ that he sins not, that he loves God with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength--so united to Christ that, walking in the power of the Holy Ghost, he fulfils the law of love under which he is placed--the advance, I say, from that up and down, in and out, falling and rising state, to this higher platform, also has its _conditions_.
You would go up to it to-day if it were not for the conditions; most of you would go up in a body, as the Israelites would have gone into Canaan, if there had been no condition. I never knew anyone so foolish as not to want to be in the good land; they want to be in, of course, and they would go in and get the honey and the milk, but there are the _conditions!_ Now then, here you have it plain, and you have it in numbers of other passages equally plain.
There is nothing upon which the Holy Ghost has been more particular than in laying down the conditions. And what are they? "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice"--the living man--you, all of you; not _it_--not something in you.
The latter term is never used by the Holy Ghost when speaking to Christians, but always _you, ye, your_ bodies, _your_ souls, _your_ mind, the whole man--YOU, "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, _which is_ your reasonable service." And is it not? Is it too much? Is it more than He bargained for when He bought you? Is it more than He paid for? It is "your reasonable service."
And now, then, comes the conditions: "And be _not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed_ by the renewing of your mind, _that_ ye may prove."
Oh! if you could be transformed to Him and conformed to this world
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