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Monday, October 18, 2010

The Whole World?

Reading the Scripture is a spiritual exercise.  When we come to it in the flesh and read it with a carnal mind we lower it's demands, question it's assessments, and gloss over it's precepts.

1 John 5:19 is a place where it is easy to do that.  And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

The carnal minds reasons, well not the "whole" world.  The carnal mind refuses to consider the connection between two opposing realities.  1.  We are of God.  2.  The whole world lieth in wickedness.  The carnal mind goes right past the truth here thinking it is irrelevant for my life.

On the other hand the spiritual mind is caused to stop and ponder.  It sees the footprint of a timeless truth left upon this verse.  There is good and evil and they stand eternally opposed to each other.  The spiritual mind is left uneasy and uncomfortable by the truth it sees here because it knows it is still bound in a body that is characterized by fleshly desires.  It is the anguish expressed in Romans 7, For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

As believers we are of God and therefore delight in the law of God after the inward man.  On the other hand the whole word lieth in wickedness and our presence in this wicked world continually provides an environment in which we can be drawn away of our own lusts and enticed.

So what practical lesson do we glean from these sobering realities.  It can be summed up in one word.  Separation!  I know it is not a popular word and a word over which there has been much debate, but personal separation is an essential aspect of the Christian experience.  Because we are of God and have been made partakers of the divine nature there should be a desire to separate ourselves from a world of which the scripture declares the "whole" lies in wickedness.

I find it interesting that I often hear the brethren justifying present compromises on the basis of the compromises of previous generations.  It is a sophisticated form of the childish argument, "Well, they did it."  Well, so they did.  There is something commonly human about wanting to turn the attention toward the failures of others (even in previous generations) rather than addressing the more pressing needs of our own lives, families and churches.

Let us embrace the truth and lesson of 1 John 5:19

We are of God.
The whole world lieth in wickedness.
Being of God we should separate ourselves from this world.

Choose ye this day whom you will serve!

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Labor Of Self Love

"The Labor of self-love is a heavy one indeed.  Think for yourself whether much of your sorrow has not arisen from someone speaking slightingly of you.  As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal there will be those who will delight to offer affront to your idol.  How then can you hope to have inward peace?  The heart's fierce effort to protect itself from every slight, to shield its touchy honor from the bad opinion of friend and enemy, will never let the mind have rest.  Continue this fight through the years and the burden will become intolerable.  Yet the sons of earth are carrying this burden continually, challenging every word spoken against them, cringing under every criticism, smarting under each fancied slight, tossing sleepless if another is preferred before them.

Such a burden as this is not necessary to bear.  Jesus calls us to His rest, and meekness is His method.  The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth  the effort.  He develops toward himself a kindly sense of humor and learns to say, ' Oh, so you have been overlooked?  They had placed someone else before you?  They have whispered that you are pretty small stuff after all?  And now you feel hurt because the world is saying about you the very things you have been saying about yourself?  Only yesterday you were telling God that you were nothing, a mere worm of the dust.  Where is your consistency?  Come on, humble yourself and cease to care what men think.'

The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority.  Rather, he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson, but he has stopped being fooled about himself.  He has accepted God's estimate of his own life.  He knows he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is, in the sight of God, more important than angels.  In himself nothing; in God, everything.  That is his motto.  He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring.  He rests perfectly content to allow God to place His own values.  He will be patient to wait for the day when everything will get its own price tag and real worth will come into its own.  Then the righteous shall shine forth in the kingdom of their Father.  He is willing to wait for that day."

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit Of God