Archive | December, 2012

Yield to God

23 Dec

Oh sinner, will you not yield yourself to God? Will you not present yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness, for the Lord Himself to play his sweet tune? Is Christ not worthy of His sufferings? If you will not yield, how will God be glorified? We might esteem the world, but to what end? Only folly and destruction. Come at once to the throne of grace, gladly bow before Him. He can only get glory out of a soul that is yielded, rendered to Him wholly. Take for instance Cain in the presence of God, at once he saw his brothers offering to God, which God esteemed. Cain became covetous of his brothers offering and his countenance fell. Sin lurked at his door, the pride of life, the lust of the flesh, the esteem and glory of self beset him, only for him to submit and yield to its power. His submission to God he despised, and henceforth he murdered his brother, the consequences of which were too burdensome to carry. God made him a vagrant wanderer on the earth and because of Cain’s lack of yielding to God, the earth no longer yielded its strength to him. The authority God had bestowed upon him, he quickly handed over to Satan and therefore he cast him out of the presence of the almighty.

What lessons we must learn from Cain’s example. Lack of yield to the almighty will cause sin to encompass our every move, it will tarry, and it will not retreat. The consequence of which is far too great to bear. Creation once yielded to Cain as he yielded to God, God endeavoured to give man authority under His, however, once coveting, the pride of life and self-glory appears, our submission is no submission at all, we are torn from the alter, wandering outside the camp, wandering through the wilderness with no divine King to be entrusted to. We must yield to Him, we must come to Him in grace and truth through the blood of Christ.

James 4:4-10

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God.Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

Why befriend yourself with the world? Don’t you know its hostility toward your maker? You make yourself an enemy as Cain did if you wish to entwine yourself to the system of the world. God jealously desires you, and you resist him? Resist the Devil at once, resist not the Lords grace, he wishes to bestow on you grace upon grace, a greater grace to those who humble themselves. Yield, therefore brothers and hasten. Come near to him and let not your heart be compromised, he desires of you, no, he demands of you holiness. How may we be holy? Only by his greater grace. The more you humble yourself in His presence, the more grace He will bequeath you to find victory over sin.

Titus 2:11-12

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,

He gives grace to the humble; accept this free gift by the way of humility. Humility is the highway to holiness, and the highway of holiness is the only road to seeing His majesty. Grace is the only way to holiness, it can be no other way. Your own striving won’t do, it has to be Christ and Him only. Grace empowers the spirit which He jealously desires to dwell in you.

Yield therefore, I say again, yield, live not a day unyileded to God, for He is worthy of your lives, worthy of all. Come at once to the alter, be consumed, and be consecrated that the Lord may be magnified in your body. Present yourselves to Him and He will give your souls rest. May it never be that you submit for your own selfish desires, submit wholly to Him for His names sake, submit because He is worthy of His sufferings.

Holiness

22 Dec

Holiness

Holiness is the act of God consecrating a man submitted on the alter, conforming and sanctifying him into His own image. The analogy of the potter and clay is the ideal imagery of God the creator, forming man the creature, into a pot that is His creation and workmanship. God demands of us holiness because He in all His glory is Holy. God cannot contend with corruptible man, and He who started a good work will bring it to completion. God will not save a man and then decide not to sanctify him, what would be the point in saving someone whom He would not then sanctify? It would be mindless and obscene to think God does not want holiness of you.

Charles Spurgeon puts it so eloquently “Dear friend, salvation would be a sadly incomplete affair if it did not deal with this part of our ruined estate. We want to be purified as well as pardoned. Justification without sanctification would not be salvation at all. It would call the leper clean, and leave him to die of his disease; it would forgive the rebellion and allow the rebel to remain an enemy to his king. It would remove the consequences but overlook the cause, and this would leave an endless and hopeless task before us. It would stop the stream for a time, but leave an open fountain of defilement, which would sooner or later break forth with increased power.”

Holiness is not something that can be earned through self-righteousness; it is not something that a person can achieve by their own doing, it must be done by God Himself making us holy. We by nature are sinners, we are crucified with Him, however the presence of sins still lurks beneath, above and to each side of us, longing to grip us once again, urging us to play the old tune through the new instrument God has made us to be. Our own efforts therefore will only lead us again toward sin, self can’t improve self, and it can’t make itself Holy because its origins aren’t of Holiness. There’s only one who originates in Holiness, namely God Himself. If Christ defeated sins power He is the only one who can defeat sins presence. As a snake cannot be reared by a bird, our old tendencies cannot be weaned by our own self. It would be obsured to find a pheasant taming a python, the python at once would ravish the bird and swallow it whole, as with sin, the Christian born again may try to control his selfish nature, but pride swallows his attempt. The Christian is therefore powerless to overcome sins presence as the flesh weak. Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. The only way the Christian can overcome sins presence is to present himself to the one who defeated sins power, that is Christ, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25). Therefore submission to the King is the only way to holiness, humility is the highway. No other way can we come than through the blood of Christ. Our coming to God must be one of presenting to Him, relying on Him to mould us into His holiness. Romans 6:13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. Roy Hession, in his book The Calvary Road puts it simply “All we have to do is present our empty, broken self and let Him fill and keep filled.” 

Only Gods workmanship alone can result in our good deeds pleasing Him. God knows how He must be worshiped and we as believers give ourselves to His profound knowledge, to be shaped by the person of Christ. Ephesians 2 gives us insight into the workmanship of God. Two verses next to each other describe good works centred on man and good works coming from the centre of the Father. Good works are not to be questioned; the subject in question is man’s heart.

Ephesians 2:8-10 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

At once we see Paul clearly condemning man’s attempt to save himself through his own works, that he may not boast before God. Yet, the next verse speaks once again of good works, this time however, it is not the workmanship of man but the workmanship of God.

As C.H. Spurgeon says A faith which works not for purification will work for putrefaction. Unless our faith makes us pine after holiness, it is no better than the faith of devils, and perhaps it is not even so good as that. A holy man is the workmanship of the Holy Spirit.”

Christ work on the cross obliterates our work, it annihilates even our good works done with a courteous spirit. His work was perfect in contrast to our work stained by the Adamic selfish nature. God calls us to holiness through our works, that we would walk in them to be pleasing to Him. However, these works are not ours but Gods, through Christ in us. These works are a sweet aroma to him, pleasant and fresh, bringing Him utter glory. The believer who presents himself as an instrument of righteousness gives himself for Christ to work in and through to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; The apostle Paul and believers of the new testament church seemed to grasp this. Not that it could be grasped in human effort, yet they yielded to His majesty, they knew the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1 7 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Let’s look at these scriptures in further detail. 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1:

For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,

“I willdwell in them andwalk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
17 “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
“And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
18 “And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty.

7 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

We are, in Christ Gods temple, God dwells in us, He does not dwell within sinners. No sinner can enter the temple and no sinner can dwell in Gods courts. Therefore the prophet Ezekiel tells us to be separate from uncleanliness. Holiness is perfected in the reverence and awe of God himself. To find an example of this in the scriptures we might look at the prophet Isaiah. The scriptures tell us that he saw God exalted, sitting on a throne and Gods robe was filling the temple. What a wonderful picture, the awe inspiring God, not able to be contained in a temple, is seen by the prophet who would incur Gods judgements on the people of Israel, not to their detriment but for Gods name sake, that He may make them holy, therefore being glorified by their holiness before Him. The account goes further as Isaiah then sees Seraphim calling to each other “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts”. Immediately, as Isaiah sees God in His glory, he perceives something else, namely his wretched self in all its contempt.

“Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

At once, the seraphim touch his lips with burning coals and his iniquity is taken away and his sins forgiven, Isaiah is made holy. What’s more, Isaiah could only be sent after he had seen God and had been made holy. The only way God can make us holy is by seeing Him, for we then see ourselves as we really are, we are then violently thrown on God’s grace and mercy. God only gives grace to those who humble themselves (James 4:6) and it is only grace that enables us to become holy. Titus 2:11-14:

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Therefore humble yourself that you may receive grace.

One of the marks of holiness is the man who consciously sees his sin and brings it to the cross. Spurgeon once said “The more hoy a man becomes the more conscious he is of his unholiness”. Holiness comes when we are broken before him, we are broken to his will, God then convicts us as He reveals more of His son to us, and we cannot help but see the vices that lay within our hearts. There is nothing we can do, as we have discussed before, to control them or overcome them in and through ourselves. Roy Hession puts it like this “The moment you  are conscious of that touch of envy, criticism, irritability, whatever it is – ask Jesus to cover it over with His precious blood and cleans it away and you will find the reaction gone, your joy and peace restored, and your cup running over. And the more you trust the blood of Jesus in this way, the less will you even have these reactions.”

All we can do is present ourselves to God through Christ’s blood for Him to mould us. This does not mean that we have an excuse to sin, we have now more of a reason to become holy. Christ has saved us, ransomed and redeemed His children. We are no longer slaves of sin, yet we are still slaves, slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18). Therefore let us throw off every encumbrance of sin (Hebrews 12:1-2) and approach the father through the blood of Christ, let us dwell continually in His holy place by humbling ourselves before his throne of grace and mercy (Hebrews 4:6). Let us present ourselves as instruments of righteousness for Him to play His holy tune through (Romans 6:13). Let us become separate from all worldliness and our own lusts to be a people secured for His own possession (1 Peter 2:9), and let us be holy for He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). For without holiness no one shall see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14).

 

The humility of Christ in the Christmas Story

20 Dec

Philippians 2:5-11
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed
in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied
Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being
found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of
death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed
on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL
BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue
will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The birth of Jesus Christ is centred in humility, not only was Christ born in a stable, He
was made in human likeness, being found in appearance as a man. This is humility in its
fullness, the glory of God stooping down to be amongst sinners, identifying with the flesh of
wretches, made in the form of His creatures. Christ is the essence of humility, and one that
we must follow that He may be glorified through us.

What is salient about this King is not simply His physicality of a babe, or the lowly
environment that surrounds Him, but something far more noteworthy, namely The Christ
laying down His title. This glorious Saviour foretold by the ancient prophets to majestically
grace himself upon Israel, to lead her into redemption, descends in the form of man with no
fame, no trumpets to announce His appearance, not even a pin drop to speak of His arrival.
As the famous Christmas Carol describes “silent night, Holy night, all is calm, all is bright”.
Jesus had no want of recognition and no need of reputation.

We read in Philippians 2 of Jesus humbling Himself, even to the point of death. Christ
therefore, is given the name above every name so that each person may confess that He
alone is Lord. He humbles himself, and in due time is exalted to the highest place, to the
glory of God the father.

So what can we learn from our Saviours birth and death? The heart of man by nature longs
for a title, it seeks after recognition, and this the bible describes as idolatrous. Therefore,
we might ask ourselves, “where in my heart have I sought out fame?” Maybe you find
recognition in your workplace, or discover you love being a reputable leader, or even seek
notoriety as good Christian. As we meditate in our hearts upon Jesus’ birth, we must
humble ourselves by coming to the cross, laying before it our want of a title and our longing
to be recognised. We must follow Jesus in His birth by becoming nothing in our attitude
towards our own self glory, knowing that as we humble ourselves before Him daily, we will
one day be exalted together with Him. (Colossians 3:4).

So as we humble ourselves and become obedient to death, as our Saviour gave example,
we align our hearts with the apostle Paul and “eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus
Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of
His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”
(Philippians 3:20-21)