Brief Note: I apologize for not getting this posted on Monday. I had some doctors appointments to attend to along with a school party for our youngest daughter and by the time I settled in last night I was just too tired to complete this post. So here she is!
The believer is composed of two natures essentially different, incessantly antagonistic, and eternally irreconcilable. Nothing can be more diametrically opposed in their character and actings than the divine and the human, the renewed and the unrenewed nature that is in the believer. A partaker of the new and divine nature through grace, and thus a child of God and an heir of heaven, he still is imprisoned and fettered by the old and fallen nature from which there is no release until the Master comes and calls for him. Now these two and opposite natures must be in perpetual hostility the one to the other.
Winslow begins the chapter by plainly laying out the well trodden paradox of countless saints before us that has led so many to the deeps of many a gloomy abyss in their earthly pilgrimage. That is to say, the burdensome war within the regenerated soul that is between the new and unrenewed nature. We cry and pant for holiness and conformity to our Lord, yet we find in ourselves the troublesome sins that so often entangle and ensnare us and rob us of our joy. How we wish just to be done with them that we might run harder and faster after Christ!
Reader! thou art spiritually a slave or a freeman—which? A slave to an unregenerate nature, a slave of the world, a slave of Satan, a slave of self, a servant of sin,—or, one whose fetters Christ has wrenched, whose soul Christ has set free.
But the child of God, a freeman though he is, a partaker of the liberty wherewith Christ makes His people free, may have but a contracted and imperfect view of this liberty, may still walk in much bondage of spirit, reforge for himself fetters which Christ had broken, and return to those beggarly elements from which Christ had set him free.
How few look fully into God’s face as their Father? How few pray in the spirit of adoption? How few rejoice in the sense of pardoned sin, and possess the peace which flows from the justified state procured by the blood and righteousness of our Emmanuel?
How often do we “reforge” the shackles of self-righteousness that we may earn God’s acceptance and love! So fickle we are that we would so easily turn a blind eye to the sheer perfection of Calvary’s cross to look upon the broken cisterns of our own encampment that we might be set aright before our God!
What a loosening of our bonds is real conversion!
When the Spirit’s seal of adoption is impressed upon the heart, there is a loosening of the bonds of legality in which so many of God’s children are held.
Why have you not joy and peace and hope in believing? Simply because, unsuspected by yourself, you are putting your own work in the place of Christ’s work. Oh that you may be led to cast yourself more entirely upon the atoning sacrifice of Jesus!—to believe that God looks not at a single work you do as justifying you in His sight, but that He looks only to the divine, sacrificial, flawless, perfect work of His beloved Son! Oh, come and rest where God rests, in the Crucified One!
It can be said and is indeed true that when a soul flees to Christ and takes hold of the fountain of life that pours forth from the blood of the Lamb that the bonds of sin are loosed and the sinner is now justified in the eyes of God, but as I mentioned prior, we are a pitiful and fickle flock. We so easily wander from the streams of living water to gaze at our own righteousness in the pools of our own stagnant pride. We say, “Yes, God has saved me, but…”. We so often want to take away the garment He has provided to put in its place the weakness of the fig leaf of our own choosing for covering. God have mercy on us for such an insidious and manic notion that we should for one moment consider Calvary’s sacrifice is not sufficient to cleanse us from all unrighteousness! May the gospel be burned into our hearts and minds! As Winslow states, “Let your life be a daily exercise of faith in the atoning, sin-pardoning blood of Jesus touching the guilt and power of sin, and with David, you shall gratefully exclaim, “Thou hast loosed my bonds.”
The Lord also looses the bonds of those of His people who are “bound in fetters and are holden in cords of affliction.”
When we take a legal, and not a gospel view of affliction,—view it as the punishment of the slave, and not as the chastening of the child,—as judicial and not parental, we are brought into bondage. Oh, is it not enough that we are bound in fetters and are holden in cords of affliction, that we should add to these bonds those of unfilial submission, secret rebellion, restiveness, and repining? Oh, how we lose the soothing and the comfort, the succour and the liberty in deep and sore trial, by not tracing it all up to a Father’s hand, a Saviour’s love, the arrangement and provision of the covenant of grace.
To view our burdens and trials as that of a Fatherly disgust or frowning is absolutely wrong says Winslow. In Jesus, we stand in Him complete and in complete favor and love. The Father no longer punishes us or has ill feelings toward us as we once did apart from the Savior’s blood, but He now brings these trials that we may grow in maturity and faith to become strong believers who stand on a firm and sure foundation. We are now freed from the fetters of this former bondage and ought now to look upon our sufferings as “loosened bonds” to draw us closer to our Savior. This is indeed mature Christian behavior!
The Lord loosens our bonds when we walk in evangelical obedience. Nothing contributes more to the enlargement of the soul in the ways of the Lord than a profound and practical reverence for the authority and teaching of Christ.
Many are wearily dragging along their pilgrimage the bonds of doubt and fear, simply because of willful disobedience to the Divine precepts and positive commands of their Lord and Master. They walk not in the liberty of the child, because they walk not in the precept of the disciple.
To be the Lord’s servant, is to be the Lord’s freeman; for Christ’s service is perfect freedom. It is a service growing out of freedom, and it is a freedom found in service. O Lord, I am Thy servant! Thou hast freed me from the bonds of sin and Satan, and now my highest honour, and my dearest delight, and my most perfect freedom is, in serving Thee!
Yet again Winslow writes with such refreshing clarity and focus to make often confusing items so plain and lovely! Obedience to Christ ought not be that of a burdensome drudgery or of a slavish, melancholic nature. We have been freed by the Lord of Glory and are now at peace with His wrath in Jesus! We do not have to serve this Lord because He is a mean or unjust tyrant. He is a good, merciful, kind, and long-suffering Father who has given us all things! Ought we now serve Him with a joyful heart and a thankful tongue? Yes! Of course we should! We are loosed from the bonds of our former sin filled selves to serve this King whom we now adore and worship with glad tidings and a praise filled heart. He ought to be no burden to us now. If He is, then you must revisit the gospel once again and stare long and hard at the Lamb on the tree who died in your stead! God forgive us for thinking of you as a burdensome task master!
Are you, beloved, all your lifetime in bondage through the fear of death? Alas! how this impedes your happy, joyful progress heavenward! But Jesus can loosen, and virtually has loosened, these bonds. He reminds you that you are to contemplate not death, but His personal and glorious COMING; but that if your thoughts will wander from this bright and blessed hope to the more gloomy and repulsive object of your departure to Him, you are to remember that He has vanquished death, and has passed through the grave as your Substitute, your Surety, your Head; that He has extracted the venom of the one, and has irradiated the gloom of the other; and that you have no sting to apprehend, and no shadows to dread, because He has passed that way before you. Moreover, He has pledged His most loving and most faithful word that when you tread the valley, solitary and alone as you must be, you shall fear no evil, for that He, your risen, living Lord and Saviour, will be with you. Lo! I am with you always!
Oh blessed thought of not only the oldest of saints but the youngest as well! He has burst the bonds of death over you believer! When you close your eyes and breathe your last breath, death shall have no power over you, for you belong to the One who has power over death and who has passed it’s dark gates before you to now await you by the Father’s side. Let us meditate richly and robustly on this though all our days! Death has no power over our souls for we lay securely in the hands of He who rose again!
You complain of bondage in prayer. Never, perhaps, are you so sensible of the chafing of the fetters as when you retire from the presence of man into the solemn presence of God. Oh, could you but then be free! Could you but pour out an unfettered heart, moved, prompted, and enlarged by God’s free Spirit, how happy would you be! But no. You cannot pray. You have no wants, no desires, no emotions: thoughts seem stifled in their birth, words freeze upon your lips, and you rise from your knees as one whose devotions have been but as the chattering of the swallow. But why are you thus fettered? Are not these bonds your own creating? Are you not endeavouring to excite and rouse your own feelings, rather than seeking the influence of the Holy Spirit? Are you not relying upon your own intellectual efforts, instead of seeking to offer to God the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit? Are you not bending your eye within and upon yourself, rather than looking from off and out of self, simply and only to Jesus? Do you not come with the self-sufficient spirit of the Pharisee, rather than in the self-condemning spirit of the publican!
Who of you does not reside in the chains of this bondage may I ask? I know for sure I do! I am so thankful Winslow touched on this area because it is an area of such weakness and frailty in my own pilgrimage, as I am most certain it is in yours. How often we lay shackles on ourselves of self righteous prayer! We pray to be heard of ourselves so often! We rise after prayer with such a proud heart saying how well we prayed or are impressed with how long we prayed. How foolish and fickle we are indeed! We lay in bondage and know it not. May we be released this instant from such feeble notions and set free into the heavens to soar with the Holy Spirit in prayer before the throne of our Master.
I think Winslow would have us to see in this beautiful chapter that we often place ourselves into bondage when Jesus would have us to be free. I would even argue that the above mentioned areas of bondage that we so often find ourselves slipping into are the exact areas we ought to focus our attention on to receive the most joy and fulfillment in our Christian walk. When we take the attention and gaze off of us and place it on Him, our bondage breaker, we will truly be free indeed!
Please read Chapter 6: Trial, A Help Heavenward that will be due on Monday the 21!