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- How to Live a Holy Life - 6/22 -
If you are holy, then live just what you are. We should never strive to be what we are not. The only way whereby the Bible may be read in the life is to get it in the heart. People will never read the Word of God in your life simply because you have a neat little Testament in your pocket or a large family Bible on your center table. The Bible can get into the life only by beginning at the heart. There is power in the Word of God, but it works from within. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." It will transform the life so that the life will read just like the Holy Scriptures.
The Word of God is a lamp to light us into a holy life. If we follow its instructions in righteousness, it will make us perfect. It reveals our imperfections and thus gives us an opportunity to make improvements. To discover an imperfection in the life is not a bad thing, and we need not think we are any the worse for the discovery. It is only when we let the imperfection remain after it is revealed to us, that we become worse.
The heart that comes under the influence of the Bible will bear the image of Jesus, but of this I shall have more to say elsewhere. So I conclude here by saying, live upon the Word of God, desire the sincere milk of the Word, and you will be an epistle of Christ. We should feel the responsibility that is upon us, remembering that all the Bible some will ever read is what they read in your life and mine. Oh! let us see that it reads in our life as it does in the book, lest those who follow us will not walk in the footprints of Jesus.
HOW WE MAY LIVE AS THE BIBLE READS.
It is just as natural and easy for a Christian to live the Christian life as it is for a sinner to live a sinful life. The sinner needs make no effort to live a sinful life; he lives it naturally and easily. Life proceeds from the heart. The heart is the fountain, and the life is the stream. As the fountain is, so the stream will be. It is not difficult to live a Christian life when our hearts are pure. This is the secret of purity of life.
The important question, then, is, "How can I have a pure heart?" Hearts are made pure by the blood of Jesus. Then comes the command, "Keep thyself pure." That the heart may be kept pure, it must be kept filled with that which is pure. To keep darkness out of a room, we need only to keep it filled with light. Carefully closing up every crevice will not suffice if the light goes out. Darkness will be present. But simply keep the room filled with light, and no effort is required to keep darkness out. In like manner no effort need be made to keep impurity out of the heart and keep the heart filled with that which is pure.
But what is pure? "The word of God is pure, as silver tried in a furnace of fire, purified seven times." "Thy word is very pure; therefore thy servant loveth it." "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly," and your heart will be kept pure. The Psalm-writer said, "Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I may not sin against thee." Here is the only way to a sinless life. Keep the heart filled with the Word of God. It is the way to live as the Bible reads. To have a nicely bound volume of the Scriptures lying on the center table will not keep the life sinless. We must have the Word in our heart. One night while I was waiting for a train in one of our large Eastern cities, I went into a mission. A man arose and said he had read the Bible through forty-two times and could quote whole books of it from memory. Later in his talk he said he committed sin more or less every day. The Word of God did not keep him from sinning, for he had it in his head instead of in his heart.
To live a Bible life is the only true and right way to live, and in order to live such a life, we need to have the Word written in the heart. "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts." Heb. 8: 10. Let us illustrate this by taking a single text: "Having food and raiment let us be therewith content." When we have these words in the heart, they will be true in the life. All fret and worry and murmurings will be banished out of the life when the heart is full of the truth.
HOW TO KEEP THE WORD OF GOD IN THE HEART.
Since keeping the Word of God in the heart is the only way to successful Christian living, you will at once want to know how to keep it in the heart. The Word is kept in the heart the same as food is kept in the body. The food is eaten, and then by the process of assimilation it becomes a part of the body. This is something of a mystery; nevertheless we all know it to be true. We feel weak in body, but soon after we partake of food, we feel stronger. Somehow that food gets into the life and makes us stronger. Now, "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." We can eat the Word of God, and we must eat it in order to get it into our heart and life. By eating and the process of assimilation the Word becomes a part of our inner being. We eat it by faith, and the Spirit assimilates it into our hearts.
Let us take a text: "In honor preferring one another." It is blessed to have an experience like this. To feel happy when others are honored and we are not is certainly a desirable experience. We can have it. As you read the above text, love it, admire it, desire it, ask for it, believe you receive it,--and you have it. It will be a truth of beauty and of power in your soul and life. But remember, you must have an eagerness for it. You must lay hold upon it as the infant does upon the mother's breast. The same is true with every text in the Bible. Eat the entire book, and thus you will have it as a glorious source of power and purity in your life.
MAN THE VEHICLE FOR EXHIBITING GOD'S PERFECTIONS.
Man was created for a purpose, and that purpose was to glorify his Creator (Isa. 43:7). But man sinned and came short of the glory of God. The Lord, that he may yet be glorified in the man, provides a way of redemption. Through the redemption we have in Christ we can live to the glory of God. This is God's purpose. The whole of life should be such as will glorify the Creator, and all that we do should be done with that end in view. God help us. Living for God, honoring his Word, magnifying his name--this is the duty of man. Awful responsibility! Oh, what carefulness it should work in us. What vehement desire! what earnest seeking after God! that we may live such a life.
Jesus was here in the world and was the light of the world. He had a human body and in that body lived a life that glorified God. That was an exemplary life. Such a life, and such a life only, is to the glory of God. We must fashion our life after his if we would spend life as we should. To know how Jesus lived is to know how we should live. Every life that is in the likeness of Christ's life is accepted of God. No other life can be. While Christ was here in the body, he was in the express image of the Father. The true, holy character of God was revealed through Jesus' human life to a lost and sinning world. God had done all he could to reveal his true character to man by laws, ceremonies, and ordinances; but these were only the shadow of the true life that was to be the light of the world. Christ was both God and man. Having a physical form, which is visible, he could set the holiness of God in plain view before the world. If you would know the true life, look to Jesus.
But his life could be perfect only as it was given in sacrifice for man. His life was holy because it was a life sacrificed to God. No life can be possessed by God and used to his glory, that is not sacrificed to him. Jesus gave himself as an offering and sacrifice to God for us (Eph. 5:2). This left him without a body or human life through which to demonstrate moral principle to the world. But now comes the command to man, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Rom. 12:1. God would have this human life of ours offered up in sacrifice, so that we are no more ours but his. When we do so, there will be a change, a great and wonderful change. That life will no longer be worldly or in the course of ordinary earthly-minded men. It will be a transformed life, a life in which God can live and do his will. Through the sacrifice of Christ, God will take the sacrificed life of man and possess it by his Spirit and again demonstrate moral principle to the world. O man, that is your calling in life. You are the vehicle to convey the perfections of God to an unbelieving world. Only an empty vessel for God to fill with himself and use to his glory.
O man, consider thyself, and know thyself, the purpose for which thou wert created, and the place which thou dost occupy in creation. Thou art no mean creature. Thou art highest of all. God condescends to walk and talk with thee. He upholds thee in his hand. Angels minister to thee. When thou passest through the waters, God himself will be with thee so that they shall not overflow thee, and when thou walkest through the fire, he will walk with thee so that the flame shall not kindle upon thee; because thou art precious in his sight and honorable, and he has set his love upon thee. Thou art so precious to him that he gave his only begotten Son to die to ransom thee.
In the vast created universe, what place does man occupy? He stands out as a creature that bears the stamp of the divine image, a creature that is endowed with eternity. The heavens shall pass away, but man shall be forever. He was made capable of holding communion with the Creator. He occupies the relationship with God as child with parent. Being made in the likeness of God, he steps out upon the stage of the mighty universe to play the highest and noblest part in the entire drama of created existences. The songs of the morning stars as they sing together, pouring their anthems into the ears of God, are not such sweet music as is the voice of praise and adoration from the holy soul of man.
Man was created for the very highest purpose in the mind of God. He is chosen to represent the divine character. On the stage men and women represent certain characters. Man upon the great stage of life is selected to represent the holy character of God. Oh, that he might play his part well! He who occupies the highest and most responsible part in this wonderful play of the universe will sink to the lowest shame and disgrace if he fails. The eyes of earth, heaven, and hell were turned upon man as he stepped out to play his part. A garden eastward in Eden was selected as the ground of exhibition. It was whispered throughout the corridors of the universe, "Will he succeed? Will he play his part well?" Ah, the sad story! He failed and he fell, bringing a world into shame and disgrace, causing angels to weep and God to repent that he had ever made him.
But heaven's love was set upon him, and God sought a way whereby the fallen man could be lifted from his low, degraded plane to the high position he once occupied. After searching heaven through, God found but one way for man's redemption, but one price to pay. Would he pay it? He called his Son, his only Son, and pointed out to him the fallen condition of man, and how He was robbed of glory and devils were rejoicing. The Father said to his Son, "Only thy entering into that lower world in the likeness of sinful flesh and suffering and dying can redeem man." The Son replied, "I will go. I will suffer. I will lay down my life that man may be restored to his former position, so that he can again take up the part he was to play." The price was paid; the plan of man's redemption was effected; the divine image was again stamped upon the man, so that in
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