"HOLINESS: GOD’S WAY BETTER THAN MAN’S”
By Ethelbert W.
II. Holiness: God’s Way Better Than Man’s. 1999, Invictus for "Truth For Today Bible Fellowship. Lafayette, IN.”
Pp. 7-8, 13-14, 21, 28-31]
Holiness of life and walk is
God’s will for His children; as it is, or should be, their own earnest desire.
God’s will on this matter has
been declared and revealed:
"This is the will of
God, even your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3).
God has not left His will, or the
means for its accomplishment, to chance…
One of God’s methods for securing
holiness of life is by "HOPE.” This hope is set upon a person – Christ (1 John
3:3). It is part of the foundation of true Christian standing to be waiting for
God’s Son from heaven (1 Thess. 1:9,10). Thus, looking for Christ, we are, of
necessity, looking to Christ, and are occupied with Christ, and in this
manner we are "conformed to His image.”
beholding-as-in-a-mirror the glory of the Lord, ARE changed into the same image
from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18).
Here is no restless effort, no
anxious toiling, no spiritual dissipation, no occupation with "the ordinances
of men,” but occupation of heart with a heavenly object, producing a heavenly
character and walk – and this by secret transmutation – without an effort! This
is God’s one, simple, and withal, efficacious method for securing the
accomplishment of His will in those who believe God as described in Rom. 5:12 –
8:39, and are thus counted righteous by Him.
Now, man has always thought that
he can improve on God’s plans; and he has ever sought to do so, or to
substitute his own for them.
As in the matter of justification,
in Genesis 4, so in the matter of sanctification, "the way of Cain” is
contrary to the "way of God.”
This has been so from the first,
and it is seen in all the various
forms of false religion. They all say, "Something in my hand I bring,” though
they quarrel bitterly as to what that "something” is to be. But that it is to
be "something,” they are all at one, and are all agreed. True religion, on the
other hand, says, "Nothing in my hand I bring.”
As it is with justification, so
it is with sanctification. And those who hold that they are "justified by His
grace,” too often act as though they were deceived by the specious delusion
that they are to be sanctified by works. Whereas Christ, of God, is made unto
us sanctification, as well as righteousness (1 Cor. ), and in precisely the same way. God
having made His people righteous in Christ, has not afterwards left them to
seek their sanctification in themselves.
… It has often been well said,
that the work of the Holy Ghost is not to direct our attention to His work in us, but to Christ’s
work for us. This is absolutely true. "HE SHALL GLORIFY ME,” was
Christ’s own definition of that which characterizes the work of the Holy
Spirit… of the Holy Spirit it is declared that His work is known by His abasing
man, and glorifying and exalting Christ (1 Cor. 1:31). When He works in us,
Christ is not a mere helper, or a makeweight, or a puppet, in my hands, but my
all in all, occupying my thoughts, filling my heart, and unconsciously
influencing my life...
…It has been well said, "what is
true is not new, and what is new is not true.”
"A cleansed heart” is one of the
(religious) commonest expressions. But the question is, which heart?
Scripture speaks of two natures –
the "old” and the "new.” Which of these two is meant when such language is
If it be the "old” nature, then nothing can ever cleanse it! God has
declared that it is "desperately wicked,” and impossible of renovation. "Who
can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.” (Job 14:4.) And Christ
declares that all evil, springs from this old heart (Matt. -20.)
And if it be the "new” nature, it
needs no cleansing. The old heart or
nature has been thoroughly judged and condemned by God; and for His people it
has been crucified with Christ. The NEW heart or nature CANNOT sin, for it is born
of God (1 John.)
Their diverse nature is declared
in John 3:8 – "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born
of the Spirit is spirit.” And their hostility is declared in Gal. – "These are contrary the one
to the other.” (See also Rom. 7:23; 8:6,7.) The flesh is never changed into
spirit, and the spirit can never be changed into flesh.
… the words of Gal. 2:20, should
be (and are in the R.V.) rendered, "I HAVE BEEN crucified with Christ.” In the
Epistle to the Romans we have the objective judicial aspect of this wondrous
fact; while in Gal. 2:20 we have the statement of the Apostle’s personal and subjective application of the Christian revelation, and the secret
of his life as a Christian and an
Apostle. It is a glorious summing up of his
faith, the mainspring of this wonderful activity.
… we would fain urge upon the
"A MORE EXCELLENT
… We all desire the same
conformity to Christ, the same separation from the world, the same graces and
gifts which God has treasured up in the glorious Head in heaven, for the supply
of the members of His Body here upon earth.
But it is here that we join issue
with many of our brethren. Not with their end,
but with their means. We would say to
them and to all who are perplexed by their teaching, What you desire is right,
but you go the wrong way to get it. There is a way more honouring to God, more
easy, more simple, more efficacious – in short, "a more excellent way,” simply because it is God’s way.
"Which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit unto his stature?”
This is a very important
question… You are all "taking thought” to add to, to heighten, or deepen your
spiritual "stature.” But the Saviour’s words remind us of the Laws of nature,
and show us that "stature” is not to be added to by such means, for the means
used must correspond with the end to be reached. Given the means of proper
nourishment and pure air, stature must increase unconsciously and
without an effort. Nay, it cannot be repressed! When we use the means of eating
and breathing, the end is not ever
before our minds as an object, but we
enjoy the means which secure the end. So it must be with our spiritual stature.
"Christ is our life” – and the
mission of the Holy Spirit is to take of the things of Christ and minister them
unto us. We feed upon Christ in His death, as in eating and drinking (John -63), and our spiritual stature
is added to without "taking thought.” The Blesser becomes our object, and "all
blessings” are ours in Him (Eph. 1:3.) The Blesser is our object, and not "the
blessing.” The blessing is ensured and secured in Him.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit
to witness in our hearts of Christ… Christ’s work for us, of whom and of which He witnesses…
THE AIM OF THE ENEMY.
And our great enemy is all the
while well content. He knows (if Christians do not) that Christ is the source
of all our strength and blessing. His one aim, therefore, is to keep the heart
from being occupied with Christ. Any means will serve his purpose so long as
this can be accomplished. Hence he will occupy:
The sinner with his
The penitent with his
The believer with his
The servant with his
And The saint with
Anything, so long as to it is not
Christ. This is the great blot on this modern
(religious) movement. And it is certain that many souls are perplexed and
hindered by thus being directed to self-occupation.
The whole system of (religious)
teaching is calculated to centre the thoughts and the attention on self,
however much the Holy Spirit and Christ may be mentioned.
It all begins with self, and the
"conditions” which self must fulfill. It is all summed up in the significant
words "if” and "we.”
The "more excellent way” is laid down for us in 2 Cor. 3:18:
beholding-as-in-a-mirror the glory of the Lord, ARE CHANGED into the same image
from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
The point is this. Moses, when he
went up into the mount, saw the glory of the Lord, and when he came down, his
face shone with the reflection of it.
From 1 John 3:1-3 we learn that
the actual sight of the Lord Jesus
will make us really like Him in body (actions), as well as in soul (inner
thoughts) and spirit (power from on high). Even so now, it is as we behold Him
with the eye of faith, that we are transformed into His likeness. If we are occupied
with Christ we necessarily have a deeper realization of Christ, and hence
cannot but unconsciously reflect His glory. If we are occupied with a heavenly
object, we shall become heavenly, our countenances, our walk, our life, will
shine. We may not see it; we may not
know it; we may be quite unconscious of it. Moses saw not his own countenance,
but the people saw it. So it will be
It is not some standard which we
have got to reach; it is not some emotion which we have got to feel; it is not
some "blessing” which we have got to "claim”; it is not some "act of faith,” or
"act of surrender,” or any "act” of our own, but it is simply the occupation of
the heart with Christ in glory…
The great work of the Holy Spirit
is to glorify Christ, and the best evidence we can possibly have that we are
"filled with the Spirit” is this – that we are occupied with Christ. In other
words, the measure in which we are filled with the Spirit is to be known by
the measure in which our hearts are filled and taken up with Christ;
and the test of this is not the
excitement of any emotional feelings, but a
readiness to receive and to be guided by ALL the teaching of God’s holy Word.
If we be not wholly occupied and
satisfied with Christ, then truly it is "another Jesus” that is being preached;
"another Spirit” which has been received; and "another gospel” which has been
accepted (2 Cor. 11:3,4). It is an awful fact that there are other spirits which may energize the old
nature, and hence the solemn warnings to be on our guard against them, and to
"try” or prove them (1 Tim. 4:1; 1 Cor. ;
1 John 4:1, &c.)
Now, see how the "will of God” is
manifested in securing our sanctification. "Looking off unto Jesus” is the
simple means to this great end, and to ensure that His people shall be looking
TO Christ, God has given us the "blessed hope” of looking FOR Christ. Hence
this has been well called "the purifying hope” (1 John 3:1-3).
If Conferences are to be held at all, then those for the Study of the
Truth connected with the Lord’s Coming, are much more calculated to produce
holiness of life, than those convened especially for that purpose (to produce holiness of life).
We may well apply
WORDS TO ISRAEL
To the whole of this modern
(religious) movement, with all its modern methods and developments, and say:
"Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.
Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way?” (Jer. 2:35,36).
The so-called "act of faith” only tends to glorify man;
but it is a life of hope, and not a "life of faith” which causes the
Christian to forget himself altogether, and to acknowledge that this is
A MORE EXCELLENT WAY,
that God’s way of holiness is better than man’s.
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