By G.V. Wigram
How often one has had a powerful consciousness in the soul that prayer has been heard, when no word, or half a word, has been uttered: one has suddenly felt that the Lord has come in to answer.
None can overcome the world and self, save by something divine and unworldly being shown them. Christ always puts some personal glory to draw hearts out of the world. If He looks at you, wanting to remove all that hinders your soul, He never tells you to look inside, but puts something outside as a lever to raise you out of it. If I want to get out of Laodicea, what is my lever? Why, that I have got to share the throne of Christ. Is He not on the Father's throne now? And does He not tell me to lay hold of that thought? If I am in deep miry clay, He says, "Why be cast down? I can give you power to overcome and to sit down with me on my throne." And I know He will rise up from His seat to take me up to Himself; that thought gives the heart present power over all circumstances.
If I am a saved soul walking round the wilderness, that heavenly man on the throne of God is with me, His eye watching me. If I am out of my place He sees it in an instant. When one thinks of Christ looking at us down here to see if we are in our proper place, the heart goes forth at once in praise to God, saying, "It is His work from first to last." He brought us out of death into life, translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son, because He wanted us there. If God takes me up to glory, I shall say, All is of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Not a fragment of nature remains in the place you are in, in Christ. All your connections are new with God. There is a walk that becomes this place. If I know the heart of God toward me, am I walking as a child with Him?
Are you ready to go at once straight into heaven, if the gates were thrown open? What manner of persons ought we to be to say it! Are we walking in a way perfectly consistent with stepping tonight at once into the glory, to be at home in the Father's house?
Paul said, "I cannot take a step without the sentence of death rolling through everything."
It was a strange thing, the only-begotten Son of God coming into the world as a babe. All in heaven would be saying, "Why, what palace can be good enough for Him?" And man saying, "Turn a crib in which the oxen have been feeding upside down and that will be good enough for Him."
After He had risen, His love shone out individually; it shone out to poor Mary weeping over His dead body, as she thought, and to others also: but when He left them and went up into heaven, what was the expression of love that came out? That Christ, looking down, saying, "Those poor things could not go through the wilderness, they have no power save in my death. I want them to know that I am up here for them, all the living water flowing from above; they are not to be turning aside a stone in the wilderness to find water, but finding it all in me up here." And what does He give us to do? "show forth my death, till I come." If faith in that Christ has brought you into the light of heaven, and you know a Man on the throne, and that that One has sent a letter to you through Paul, a letter in which He specifically tells you that He wants you to carry in your heart and to show out in your life down here, His death, what answer are you giving? Do you count this death as that which is cutting you off entirely from the world and the things of the flesh? Could the world tell by the character of the things that occupy you, the state of your heart and mind as to Christ? In this place between the cross and the glory, are you telling out what Christ's people have to do until He comes? We have not got the glory yet, but we have Him in whom it is secured to us. And till He comes, it is dying daily carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that His life also may be made manifest in us. I repeat, that is all we have to do down here. How blessed! everything finished, and He, at leisure in the Father's presence, occupied about poor feeble things in the fog down here; and they being made to know that all through the time between His death and His coming again, He has not once forgotten them; telling them to show out His death until He comes a second time, for the full manifestation of His love, and to take them up to the Father's house.
He comes to take those who honour the Father's counsel up to Him. He will come out in light -- light streaming forth -- and the first effect will be His changing their bodies, and with a steady hand moving them up into the Father's house. It might be when we are sitting round His table, that the Father, on whose word He counts, might say, "Rise up," and He would come forth to take us up, saying, "Behold! I and the children whom Thou gavest me."
Are our souls individually feeding on the thought that that risen Man at God's right hand has not forgotten that He is coming forth for us? And are we remembering His death till He come?
We shall find it very solemn if we are not pilgrims, if the door be not shut to everything of the first Adam, if not walking as citizens of heaven, and as children of the Father; we shall not be able to dwell in spirit above; not be enabled, like Paul, to pass through all forms of death, dying daily to everything because he had got life in Christ and power to carry it out and make it manifest "through deaths oft."
The secret of all power in the people of God to show forth Christ's death and make manifest His life, is to find themselves shut out from the world below, where their feet tread; and shut up to another world above, where their life is hid with Christ in God, hid in Him who is coming; and who asks where my heart is whilst He is absent.
Paul was a blessed man, he had put down all selfishness, he would live only to Christ. Yes, come what might, he would live to the One who had been the giver of eternal life to him. Oh, if you could say, "To me to live is Christ," would you not in everything be more than conquerors? Paul was a man of the strongest character of any man who ever lived on earth, but he mastered that and brought everything in him into subjection to Christ. In everything he did, he dropped into the mind of Christ.
You will find immense strength, if you know what it is to get before your soul the reality of a Person, a living man, in a body of glory, being up there as the prize to attain to. You may have to go through a dark passage, but saying, "Never mind, there is that One in the glory, and I am pressing on till I reach Him." It was not merely a doctrine with Paul, but the working of his heart's affections about a distinct person, and the certainty of attaining to and of being made like that person's own glorious body. Not merely was bright light shining into Paul's soul, but the love of Christ was telling its own tale in the heart of Paul.
I have felt much lately about the want of power in saints to be the exhibitors of Christ. I feel we want exceedingly to have our hearts more occupied with Him up there. What would give such brightness of heart as the being able to say, "To me to live is Christ"? Are our eyes fixed on the risen Christ, and our hearts set on, being with Him in the glory? Are we holding fast what He has given, keeping His works unto the end?
Not a glance of my eye, nor a thing that occupies me, but Christ notes. Why? Because He loves me, and He wants all and everything in connection with me to be according to His mind.
Two very simple things are telling the state of any soul: are they saying, "To me to live is Christ, and to die gain?"
When Stephen was being stoned, what was the Lord thinking? That Saul, the bitterest of all persecutors, should step in and fill up the ranks.
On which ground would you rather be -- that of an upright man, or that of a poor sinner, saying, "Christ came and died for me, and I am justified, by faith in His blood?" Justification means that there is no claim of God not met by Christ. But am I saved altogether? No, not yet. When Christ comes at the end, He will come as a Saviour who has to save those who are His, out of this world. He has property down here, the bodies of saints, and when He comes, it will be to take them up.
Revelation 5: 8. Where is this song of redemption-praise sung? On earth, or in heaven? Although now in a place where you feel more and more what the worth is of that blood on your crimson sins, (so that, as David said, Give me the sword of Goliath, for there is none like that, so you say, Give me the blood of Christ, and nothing else), yet there is no place where, in connection with that blood, its worth is more intrinsically appreciated than the throne of God. That song is sung, and has been sung, down here since the Lord took His seat on high; but when the time comes for shifting the scene, the twenty-four elders (that is, the church) will sing before the throne, "Worthy is the Lamb!" What so precious as the thought that this lip of mine will never be weary of singing, "To him who has loved me and washed me from my sins in his own blood, be glory and dominion for ever and ever?" Not one of the angels, nor any other creature can touch that note with regard to His blood.
Next we see in Revelation 7: 9, a company arrayed in white robes -- robes made white in the blood of the Lamb. That is something which we want. Our consciences are purged, butt' we want our robes washed too. That company is fit outwardly as well as inwardly. One might have a cleansed conscience, but a soiled robe. A believer ought not to allow a spot. Your robes are to be spotlessly white as you go along -- fit to walk with the Lord. The conscience may be clean before the robes are.
Do I walk as a heavenly man -- my ways, my conversation, the ways and conversation of a man whom Christ has stooped to wash in His blood?
Walk is an immense thing to us -- it is everything to have a walk which tells that the feet are washed by Christ day by day, because we have been washed in His blood. Are we exercised about it? Exercised as to whether outward walk has a voice that tells out we are a peculiar people, not only washed from the guilt of our sins, but our robes white, everything about us in harmony with it.
Next turn to Revelation 12: 11. "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb . . . . and they loved not their lives unto the death." We find there what every one of us requires to have, that is, a screw put on us. "You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." That is what I call putting on the screw. The calling of a redeemed people is to be overcomers, not to shrink from suffering. We find something like it in Hebrews 10: 32. In Revelation 12: 11, we see a company who, when the whole energy and activity of Satan in every form was put forth against them on earth, overcame him by the blood of the Lamb. That was their power to worst him.
Shall I say, "I cannot overcome," to that Christ who resisted unto blood, and shed His blood for me: He now crowned with glory at God's right hand, because He overcame, putting that blood forward here, as that which tells of Satan being a worsted foe?
Ah, as we go on we shall find, and do find more and more, no one thing so precious to us as that blood. The blood of Him who was God manifest in flesh, and who came down here to shed it for us.
Never was there any character down here like that of the Eternal Son of God as Man -- a character that has a depth and height in it that could be found in none but in God Himself, and could have been sketched only by the Holy Ghost. Satan would have done all in heaven and earth to have dimmed its perfectness, but he could not touch that holy undefiled One. It was God drawing near to man according to His own character: the whole thing, from the manger to the cross, was divine.
It is a very real thing to have to do with Christ; when you receive Christ, you meet all the moral glory of God in the face of that Christ; not merely His glory shining there, but all the tender affections of the Father's heart of love displayed in Him who took our form and dwelt among us as Man.
Why was He to leave heaven and come down here -- this perfect, matchless, peerless God-man? What was this world to Him? people might say. Ah! God had all His plans centred in that One. From the foundation of the world it was ordained that He should take up the question of sin; and whatsoever the ruin and the misery brought in by it, Christ was perfectly equal to turning all the ruin to His own glory.
No one but the Son of God Himself could look up in God's face and say, "I can settle the question of sin." None save He could look down into the heart and mind of a sinner, whether Jew or Gentile, and say," I know exactly what you are, and I can do a work of which God can say that He has found His rest, and through which He is perfectly free to deal in grace with the most wretched sinner.
There is no part of the life of the blessed Lord in which He stands forth so conspicuously as God able to meet the whole volume as when on the cross, of God's wrath for sin; bearing in His own body sins heaped up without number, and by the sacrifice of Himself making clear God's right to be just in justifying the sinner. The character of God as Love displayed too, in giving His Son to be the accepted sacrifice for sin. God had never before been revealed after this fashion.
The doctrine of the gospel as in the person of Christ is a lost thing in the present day, because it is always presented on the side that meets man, and not God's side.
When one gets to see the beauty of Christ, how the heart owns it as something altogether matchless. Now on God's throne in human form, He could not but be set forth in heaven and earth as the most divinely beautiful of all beautiful objects.
When the high priest went into the holy place he took a quantity of sweet-smelling incense which was burnt to go up as a cloud to cover the mercy-seat. Is there nothing like a cloud of incense in God's presence for us? Yes. Christ is up there for us, with such a sweet smelling savour, that its fragrance is filling heaven.
As the whole mind of Christ, when down here, was set on showing His delight in the Father, so now in heaven it is the whole pleasure of God's mind to show out His delight in that Christ, seated at His own right hand, as the accepted sacrifice. He wants our hearts to be filled with nothing else, and when occupied with that, no question can come in as to our perfect acceptance.
No one who has got Christ in the light as his pattern could deny that the eternal life flows out from us in the proportion that it flows in. If it flows in, it sets my whole heart praising. Why does it not flow out in rivers of blessing? Ah! the water from the Rock of Ages is pure, but not so the channel through which it is to flow out. Just when going to praise, some foolish thought, something of self comes in. Blessed it is that none knows this save God, and that the more the light comes in, the more one knows what is of God, and what is not: while in that which comes out it discovers to me how unlike all my ways and habits of thoughts are to those of Christ. But the very light that tells me this, comes in with blessed healing; not only telling me what He is, and that I am not like Him, but ah! how sweet! as the light shines in, it tells me too that I shall not always be what I am. I see by faith Christ in His glorious body, and I know that I shall be like Him when I see Him as He is. Not only is Christ revealed to me in the light, but a whole chapter of glory yet to come is revealed as the light shines.
I know a dear believer who is afraid of death not of what comes after, but of the pain; but what is the pain of any one if he is in the light? Is it the same thing if there? Certainly not. Ah, when till these questions come out in the light, we see the answer to everything there; see how magnificently Christ has done everything. I had rather not settle any little detail; He settles everything; why should I be occupied by any question about pain? Whether I shall go by death into His presence, or whether I shall be down here when He comes, I am in the light, and He has settled everything about me. All these questions just catch us, like thorns that wound us as we go along. Let them make you ask whether you are looking at everything in the light. If you are in the light, and soon to be in the glory, will He, think you, let you be in want of a scrap of bread, by the way? The waves may come in, rolling against you, but when it breaks you will see it came to show you some particular thing the Father had to do in you, something He wants to bring into the light, because He would have it to shine out just there.
What keeps people nestling down in a little dark valley, when the eternal light is given by God to shine down in order to make their hearts rejoice?
God, in every dealing with His people, finds a way to make love and light shine down on their wilderness path, so that the soul goes on finding fresh joy unto the end.
No sin the believer brings to God, but when it comes to be weighed, is not outweighed by the blood. Broken down as Peter was, which was greatest, the divine love in Christ, or the sin in Peter? Ah! did He not give him a piercing glance? Is He changed? I am very vile; but that love is infinite: my sin has been very bad against that love -- but it is infinite.
I can be before God just as I am: take care not to pass that by: it is a wondrous part of the glory of Christ, that a person with sin in him can be in the presence of God in perfect favour. Sin could not be there, but it was all borne by Him, who is the accepted sacrifice in His own body on the cross, and put away for ever. By faith in Him I am brought into the light with nothing to hide -- and I do not want to hide anything. There is sin and mortality about me, but all that I am cannot separate me from Christ. God says, "He is the accepted sacrifice, and I have nothing to say against you as to all you are in self; in Him you are perfectly accepted, the blood cleanses from all sin." But I have need to be in the light to keep up a walk that becomes such a place. If I turn aside, I shall forget that I am purged from my old sins, and God must come in with a rod. You must keep your walk up by having your eye fixed on Christ.
If any turn aside -- the heart hankering after the leeks and cucumbers of Egypt, and the eye looking for the well-watered plains -- they will forget that the blood has purged them. It must be ever on my mind and soul, and I am to walk in communion with God to keep it fresh.
There can be no selfishness allowed if walking in the light. Look at Christ if you want to know what to do with selfishness. See what sort of God your God is, look into heaven and see that Son of. His love, all that He is, and all that He has given you -- your portion is there. In the place where Christ's light shines, all selfishness is detected and judged, and then we can have fellowship. Christ enables the believer to know the place where He is, and to have all his pleasure in walking separated unto Himself whilst down here. It is only as the soul is in communion with God, that it gets a taste of the glory, and brighter and brighter it beams as the night is darker here.
Can I say "I know the cross of Christ?" A person may know the cross as his salvation, but not know the value of it practically. I got all my blessing by the cross; but to enjoy my blessing I must view everything in the light of the cross, so as to have God's thoughts about it; and I have to walk as a witness that no one is worth thinking of but the crucified One.
What God first raises in the mind of a sinner the awful thought of his own existence, world without end, for ever and ever -- disappearing from all here, but not from the sight of God; when He puts before him a continuity of existence in that place where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched -- ah! what a contrast to put before him life eternal in Christ!
What a thought that God has found me, a poor sinner, and given me that eternal life which is in His Son!
I believe all the glories of Christ are connected with the rivers of living waters; every one who believes can say in one light, "God has made us as the lign aloes and cedar trees beside the waters." (Num. 24: 6.) Every stone might be heated, and not a drop of water to cool them; but there is one place in the wilderness where there was not only a drop, but rivers of living waters.
Christ is the smitten Rock, from which eternal waters flow to the soul; the water from that Rock rises up and flows in the heart of a believer. The water of life is flowing through my soul, witnessing of heavenly things; it is flowing down from Christ to me, leading me on in the bonds of life in the Spirit.
By grace ye are saved, not of works. All human power and energy is at an end; man excluded and God put into the place of supremacy. Amazingly different the clay on the potter's wheel from the potter who can mould and fashion it according to his own will. He knew how to take up Saul, the stiffest-necked sinner, saying, "I can take you up and wash you in the blood of my Son." Ah! God know how to do it, so that the Son of His love, having gone down to the death of the cross, and being raised up to the highest glory, should not be there without the poor people saved by grace, to show out in the ages to come the exceeding riches of that grace. And what can you and I say, except, "Oh! the depths of the riches of it," having so saved us that we can call Him Father, in Christ God our Father and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?
That I am "created unto good works" could not be put more clearly than it is; but it sweeps work clean out as a foundation. What are these "works?" We see them plainly shown out in the Apostle Paul. Before the light shone down he had been entirely occupied with things down here; when the light shone into his heart, he found that he was to be occupied with the interests of Christ up there, and the whole thought of his heart was what he could do to show out down here the character and ways of Christ; and could he seek occupation in Judaism, or seek anything for himself? He had made manifest the Satanic power working in him, before, but when light shone into his heart he thoroughly and whole-heartedly gave himself up to it, and found some of the very sweetest tastes of the grace of God, and of the sympathy of Christ: every minutest thing fell under the eye of Christ.
All is bondage if work is set before me as a fallen creature; what a contrast when, because He has called me to that glory where He is, He calls upon me to bring forth works meet for it!
No! not a single spot in nature where anything can grow for God. Everything that comes out of you as work for God, if mixed with what is of the flesh, bears nothing but the curse of sin with it, as does all religious work done by the world.
The last Adam is the fountain of life; not, like the first Adam, a vessel made to contain it. the "I am", the One who could communicate a new nature, as a life-giving Spirit. There was a glory in the first, standing in innocence in Eden; but what was that compared with the glory of the second -- the life-giving Spirit, standing at the grave of Lazarus with the word, "I am the resurrection and the life?" When does the glory of the "I AM" begin? When He created the world? No! it never had a beginning. One cannot have a correct thought about Him, save as Lord; cannot begin with Him, save as in Philippians 2, the object of all God's delight, and of the worship of heaven.
Is there one single unwrecked thing of Eden to be found? No! it was the entire failure and wreck of everything, all having fallen under the power of Satan leading man where he would.
If, as a creature, I had not been found in ruin, God's gospel would not have suited me at all; it is all about the grace of God, and nothing in the creature but ruin. To the mind of God, "Dead in trespasses and sins" is the state of the whole human family. If the rolling stone rolls on in its course without God's intervention, it rolls on till it rolls into hell. When everything was in the most direct opposition to God, then He showed Himself rich in mercy. Satan's specimens dead in sin, whether Gentiles or Saul of Tarsus -- such specimens, Satan's dark black crown, only setting forth more brightly what the riches of God's mercy. Ruin in self, ruin everywhere -- and God's rich mercy.
When one thinks what God has done, and what the grace that has brought us into such a place that there is no blessing He could give us in Christ, which He has not made ours, what are the results as to our walk? If we look at it practically, have we the same blessed comfort as the apostle Paul? Are we a people who have such thoughts flowing through our hearts as those that flowed through his? Not that he was blest a bit more than we are; he took his place as a member of the body; but what a contrast the thoughts that came flowing through the heart of Paul, from the state of Christians now -- in the besetment of things down here! Let us compare ourselves as Christians with the apostle, so as to see how far we understand the spring of what he had, and whether we have his full flow of joy through our hearts. God wants you to have joy as the result of understanding the place you are brought into. Paul had to turn to what was wrong in the state of other Christians, but his own joy was not disturbed by the state of other people. How do we find the Spirit of God acting on souls now? Is that river of refreshment flowing through their hearts? Can we recognise them as a people of God's delight, practically walking before Him in love?
There is something very sweet when we can connect that which leads to suffering with the Lord Jesus. If more testimony were borne by us as to all power being connected with Christ, there would be more mockery from the world. The individuality of our place before God, in connection with Christ, gives liberty to leave everything that is not connected with Him; and pressing this raises the world's answer, just as it did when they thought that that Nazarene whom they rejected had the thought of a kingdom.
One sees not only beautiful light and glory for the comfort of one's heart under all sorrows and difficulties, but looking at the person of that blessed Lord, I find in Him everything I want as a poor sinner passing through the wilderness.
Not only many sons brought to glory, but He in their midst to lead their praises. He had tried to lead their prayer down here, but the flesh was, weak, and they fell asleep: but here He identifies Himself with the most blessed thing man has, that is, praise.
One has one's own experiences of the wilderness, the light from above searching Everything round about us; and in a scene connected with Satan, all searches us; but all joy and hope is founded on the fact of a Man being at God's right hand, Himself the title-deed for glory to all who believe.
This Christ is nearer to us than all the circumstances Satan brings against us. We find in Him the perfect answer to every trial and sorrow. Faith sees ever at God's right hand that risen Son of man waiting to lead the praise of His people.
Do not leave it to God to press home things in you that are unlike Christ; go to Him and condemn it in yourself, and go on doing so if it comes up again and again. It is uncommonly sweet to a soul that is walking with God in the light, to say to Him, "Ah! there was a time when I brought this thing or that to Thee, and Thou didst help me against it, and that again and again, as often as I brought it; and now I bring another to condemn and judge myself for." What a sweet time for the soul when one thinks of those things which one has thus brought to God, which He has met, and given one power to go on warring against. Someone said, "Do you think we are all soldiers? What! any one not belonging to the church militant? I may be an inconsistent one, but I must take the word broadly."
Could any one say, "I do not want to be like Christ?" If God comes in and says, "You are not like Christ, my son; there is evil, and you are passing it by." The very value God has for the eternal life in you, will not let Him suffer you to go on in it. If He does not come in, the life of a saint becomes unbearably wretched. You say that you are a son, a daughter of God -- does God see you walking as such? Does He say of you, "There is one of my children judging himself, and walking in the light?" What you need to have more vividly before you is, the reality of God seeing you on earth; let it be as one seeking to purge himself to walk with God in the light.
Should I like to be marked off as a "man of God?" That word is not more for Timothy than for me; Christ, having set me in the light, and I seeing everything in myself that is inconsistent with Him, and saying, "these things will not do, I mean to be a man of God, judging them."
What a subject to be occupied with is the eternal life that Christ has given me! Is it eternal life tomorrow? No! it is eternal life to me today. It has come down to my own soul from Christ, and ought to flow in streams of blessing. It will show out the weakness of the vessel, and show out that the power is of God. Do you and do I begin every action down here with the thought, "I have to act in this as one who has eternal life; I have to, show it out?" If so, it will give you to see the excessive weakness of what you are; but there is blessedness; and the secret of all joy down here is the walking in the power of eternal life, in the consciousness of all the delight of God in Christ, saying, "There He is at the right hand of God as the expression of His delight, and He is mine, and I am His." If living in the power of that life which is hid with Him in God, you will have nothing but joy all the way. What then can disappoint you, what difficulties can daunt you? All earthly things drop off. If you have got Him and eternal life -- God having given you the pledge of eternal life now -- your soul can be happy under all circumstances. Paul lived in a dark day, all was gone to the bad; but he could ask Timothy not to be ashamed; the promise of eternal life was given, and he could make up his mind to go through all difficulties and trials, having God's pledge.
One thing is often overlooked by persons in trial, and that is the peculiar privilege of speaking for God. See Daniel, and Jeremiah who was peculiarly a man of sorrows, and Elijah who stood alone in the place of testimony for the God of Israel. And to be in the position of Jeremiah and the prophet when a stand for God is connected with peculiar trial, is what God would have us count as a peculiar privilege; to be saying, "If all are seeking their own, I have got Christ and I will seek Him." God would have us to cultivate, to count it a peculiar privilege to be whole-hearted for the Son of His love.
There is a great difference between the coming and the kingdom. The appearing of the Lord Jesus to the church, is the expression of peculiar love to His people; the kingdom is the expression of His power. He knows His people as one with Himself; He will come and fetch His bride first. He went to take the kingdom without her. Looking at the Lord's love to us in that way, it is quite distinctive, and separate from all other grace He ever will or can show He will not show forth the kingdom till He has come to get a heavenly people. Are my sorrows greater than Israel's? They are to have an earthly kingdom; but external power would not do for a Christian. I am part of the bride; the Lord has given Himself to her; He Himself is what I wait for.
The sway of the Lord Jesus in that day will extend to, and take in, the range of every thing. The people now associated with Him in sorrow, will reign with Him. The thought of being a king and a priest is beautiful for glory and dominion, but ah! it does not touch that blessed thought of relationship, the Lord Jesus being the First-born among many brethren, or the thought of the affections of my heart as bride.
The Christ who looked down on Stephen is the Christ to whom we say, "Come!" Suppose we should ask Him to come tonight: are you ready? You cannot be, without a personal love to Him. No desire could exist to enjoy the presence of any one without this, and I, as part of the bride, a pilgrim and stranger down here, having neither rest nor home, may I say, "Come!"
There is an immense difference between saying, "I am set, with eternal life, battling with circumstances down here, because I have to overcome the world," and the realising in my heart that I have got the eternal life, unfolding itself in communion with God, and tasting the sweetness of being a partaker of the divine life, the new nature rising up and finding itself in fellowship with the Father and the Son.
People often say, "Let us not do so and so, because if you do, we shall be sorry for it afterwards." But if they said, "This is not worthy of the coming, not worthy of the kingdom," there would not be the finding of sorrow but the strength of joy in giving things up, saying, "That is of the flesh, and not something. that will shine in the glory."
Looking at it as a fight, how few in this day could say with Paul, "I have fought a good fight." it had been a hard struggle, but Paul's course was just finished, and he was going home. Believers now have not that abounding spring of joy at the thought of departing, saying, "Oh! I am going home joyfully, I have had nothing but fighting, and the thorough struggle makes the thought of going home a matter of rejoicing." If there is not joy, it is because we have not found the wilderness a place for the faithful fight that Paul found it.
My power to judge the flesh proves my association with God. The flesh is not my Rock, there is no stability in it -- it can have nothing to do with God. I pass it by and condemn it. Part of our state of warfare is to separate the flesh from the Spirit in all within and about us: our skill turns upon dividing between the flesh and the Spirit. If surprised by the flesh, we are to bring the sentence of death on it. Circumcision in the flesh, marked a man in covenant with God: circumcision in the Spirit, marks one who has faith in Christ, so that God can unfold all in Him to that one. The Jew bears the mark in his flesh; the Christian in himself, it is a mark in the mind. The question is not how the flesh must walk through the world, but that in the glory there is the One we are to seek, the One with whom -- if practically heavenly-minded -- we must be occupied.
He had a cross all through His course, and you have to take up the cross and follow Him. You will always find sweetness in the thought of you doing Christ's will, and suffering for it you will find none elsewhere. The only thing in connection with the body in the experience of Christ, was the being a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: if carrying that out as our experience, we shall find inexpressible sweetness in the thought of having fellowship with His sufferings.
Faith sees Christ where He is now before God for us, as the alone foundation of all our blessing. The One coming again, the One in whom all the round of God's thoughts centre: and there it is that worship comes in. With my eye on that Christ, I know that God is for me, because I know what God's thoughts are about that Christ; and I can lift up my head and rejoice in Him. Paul could glory even in infirmities; there was something in Christ up there that enabled him to do so. If any are not holding this position as to the flesh, what will they do at the table of the Lord? Have you your bodies of sin and death, or have you left them behind? How could any have no confidence in the flesh, if all is not set right for them in Christ before God? Only as you know it, can you get your place as sons worshipping in the Spirit, and finding that the only One whom God delights to know is the One who is the joy and delight of your heart.
Christ does not love people according to the flesh. Those only who do the will of the Father are the blessed beloved people, of whom He says, "Such are my mother and sisters and brothers; these are my nearest, dearest relations, they are the Father's children, they are those who receive my word; and they are the fruit bearers dear to my heart."
Have you counted on God as an opened fountain in which your empty bucket can be let down to be filled? In the midst of the wreck and ruin of the creature, can you say, notwithstanding it all, "I have found a spring in Thee, O God! and can count on Thee to give me all blessing in Christ; not to fill me once, and then all gone, but filling again and again?" I would have you judge yourselves about the sort of faith you have. Is it a living faith? It is the living God upon whom His people hang, drawing daily supplies from the fulness of the living springs in Him. Ah! if you have found that God, no depths can be too deep for the heart of that living God, who meets us according to the circumstances in which we are.
Once we were in nature, and in the flesh, and now we are in Christ. Well! one of the things that become me in such a place, is to mortify the flesh, counting myself dead to everything which I cannot connect with Christ: drawing, as it were, the stroke of my pen through everything that is not of the Father, saying, "I am against it all." I do not speak of things necessary for the body, we have the name of the Father in connection with all things needful, and everything is sanctified by the blood to the children, and freely given and received with thankfulness. But what hundreds of things there are which are not needful! whims of the flesh, things not connected with Christ, something that minds for want of proper occupation are taken up with. Do those who have ways of their own apart from Christ, ever test themselves by saying, "If Christ were to come and find me doing this, would He like it?" I say, "Are you not practically hindering yourself if occupied with things connected with the pit whence you were taken, rather than with Christ?"
There can be no dying to sin if not walking in the way of eternal life. It will only be a teasing and vexing of the flesh till we get to the cross, and there see that having died with Christ, and being quickened and raised up with Him, we have cot power to count the flesh a dead thing. There is a Romanism which only torments self in order to sanction itself. We are to keep under the body, and have it in subjection; directly we dare to cease mortifying the flesh, we cease to enjoy Christ.
Am I occupied with the life that will unfold itself in the presence of Him whom the Father delights to honour? Ah! if we get to the sphere when that eternal life is to be displayed, we find a range of glory beyond what the heart can take in. It includes the whole range of the Father's delight in the Son, and ministers to joy as nothing else does. Eternal life is yours now, as a thing to be rejoiced in. When trouble comes, oh, lot your hearts be in communion with that One in whom your eternal life is, and you will find that you have a portion, a fulness of joy that no circumstances down here can interfere with. You have a life above in Christ, soon to be made manifest in the day of His appearing.
People talk of eternity as the beginning of eternal life, but it will not begin with me there, it began with me nearly forty years ago, and is to go on in God's eternity; manifested then outwardly -- revealed within now in blessing.
How the light discovers the position of any one who is under law! Once I laboured hard under it, thinking that when I had done so much, God would do so much. When light shone on me, how could I carry out that thought, saying, "I will do," when God said, "I have done it all, have given Christ, and the true light now shines down?"