[Warning: This series is not seeker friendly; it is believer costly!]
THE ABIDING indwelling of Jesus Christ in the heart of the believer is an experience more to be coveted than any other. It constitutes the crown and climax of the Christian life. God not only pardons our guilt and saves us from its consequences; He not only forgives, saying: “Go in peace and sin no more”; He not only gives us a new nature, one that loves to do right and hates to do wrong; He not only comes to our aid in temptation and trial, and interposes His strength and succor; but, above all this, He comes to live His own wonderful life in us in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ, and says to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, “for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13 R.V.).
Our union with our risen Lord is of such a character that we become partakers of His very nature; drawing our spiritual life from His Spirit; our mental vigor from His mind; our physical strength from His risen body; and our power for service from His omnipotence. He is already in us, the dawn of the coming day. We are in vital contact with our destiny, that marvelous destiny of companionship with God throughout the ages. We have in this experience the hope of it. Christ is in us the hope of the glory yet to be revealed.
Blessed are the sons of God,
They are bought with Christ’s own blood;
One with God, with Jesus one;
Glory is in them begun.
Dr. A. B. Simpson said that the two prominent advantages of this secret are its simplicity and its universality. It is not a complicated mass of petty rites, ceremonies or enactments but one simple and comprehensive prescription, covering everything, and needing only to be habitually applied; namely, Christ for everything. And as it is so simple, so it is universal in its application. There is no side of human nature to which it does not apply, whether the inner life of the soul, the needs of the body, the circumstances of life, or the exigencies of duty and work.
But this life has its conditions, and these we will now consider.
1. DETACHMENT (Phil. 3:12-14)
“I do not say that I have already won the race or have already reached perfection; but I am pressing on, striving to lay hold of the prize for which also Christ has laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not imagine that I have yet laid hold of it; but this one thing I do – forgetting everything which is past and stretching forward to what lies in front of me, with my eyes fixed on the goal I push on to secure the prize of God’s heavenward call in Christ Jesus” (Weymouth).
The Bishop of Durham’s comment on this passage is so wise and luminous that I venture to reproduce it:
“The Apostle’s complete repose in Christ as the righteousness of God for him, and then his deep nearness to his Lord as the power of God in him, alike seem not so much to banish as utterly to preclude any thought about himself but that of his own imperfection. He writes as one whose very last feeling is that of complacency in his spiritual condition. His spiritual position, in Christ, as he is ‘found in Him,’ fills him with much more than complacency; it is his glory and his boast. But when he comes to speak of his spiritual condition, the possessing thought is that all is imperfect and progressive. He has a perfect blessing; but he is an imperfect recipient of it; he has ‘not attained.’ He is deeply happy, but he is thoroughly humble. He has had a vision of absolute holiness which has completely guarded him from the delusion of thinking that he is himself absolutely holy, even in the fullest state of grace.”
Unless we are prepared to detach ourselves, not only from things sinful, but also from things inexpedient, we shall never know this experience in all its fullness and glory. I have read of a clever oculist who was also a clever cricketer. He was passionately fond of cricket, but a few days of cricket always unfitted him for his delicate professional work. His hand was not as steady as before the excitement of the cricket match. He had, at last, to make his choice between being a great oculist or a great cricketer. He decided on the former, and detached himself from cricket that he might the more perfectly exercise his ministry of healing.
We must, like Paul, forget everything that is behind us, refusing to allow the dead hand of the past to be laid upon our present or future, and turn a deaf ear to the Satanic suggestion that the past, with its failures, and imperfectly realized ideals, is only the prophecy of the future. Detached from everything that would hinder our progress, we must continually stretch forth to what lies in front of us, remembering that in this life there is no such thing as finality. “There is no commoner cause of declension in Church life,” says one, “than the settling down upon second bests.”
What a picture there is here, not only of detachment but of intensity. Who that has ever seen the racer stretching forward” toward the goal,” that he may not lose the slightest advantage, can fail to see the force of the Apostle’s figure. “Is our life characterized by any such intensity?”
Part 1 of 5. From Beyond Humiliation: The Way of the Cross, by John Gregory Mantle. Washington, D.C: Testimony Book Ministry, 1974. 8th edition, Chapter 16.
1. Biblical allusions – John 8:11; Rom. 7:22; Heb. 4:16
2. Biblical allusions – 2 Pet. 1:4; John 15:1-5; Phil 4;13; Eph. 4:7; Col. 1:27
3. Biblical allusions – 1 Pet. 1:15,16
4. “Oculist,” from the from Latin oculus: ophthalmologist, or optometrist