June 7: Submitted Unto God

How few there are, among the many “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” James 4:7

Submission to the Divine will is a great advance in holiness; and this is mainly and effectually attained through sanctified chastisement. In prosperity, how full are we of self-sufficiency! When the Lord asks our obedience, we give Him our counsel. But when He sends the rod, and by the accompanying grace of His Spirit sanctifies its stroke, we learn in what true obedience consists.

It was in this school our blessed Lord Himself was taught. “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” He learned to obey in suffering- to bring His will in suffering into complete submission to His Father’s will. God has not in His family such obedient children as those who, “passing under the rod,” are “brought into the bond of the covenant.” Oh, what a high Christian attainment is submission to the will of God!

The noblest grace attainable upon earth is it. When our Lord taught His disciples to pray to the Father for the spread of holiness, He embodied the petition, in these words, “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” The universal and complete holiness of heaven springs from the universal and complete perfection in which the will of God is done by angels and glorified spirits.

In proportion as the Divine will prevails upon earth, holiness will reign. And, oh, what a beauteous earth and what a blissful world would this be, were the will of God done by every creature! In the new earth, in which will dwell righteousness, it will be so. The original harmony of this fallen universe will then be restored, its pristine beauty recovered, and God, in the person of His Son, will once more reign over, and walk in the midst of, a people whose will shall be but the reflection of His own.

Thus to approximate to the Divine will is to assimilate with the Divine holiness. What God will, how God will, and when God will, defines the rule which should govern all the conduct and limit all the desires of the child of God. The instant the overwhelmed heart is brought into this state, the afflicted believer has planted his feet upon the Rock that is higher than he. All is peace, all is composure, because all is submission to the will of God.

“The Lord reigns” is the truth whose all-commanding yet gentle whisper has stilled the tempest and calmed the waves. In its intense anxiety that the Divine will might be done, the chastened soul is but breathing after deeper holiness; and every fervent desire for the attainment of holiness is holiness already attained. Blessed chastening of love, that produces in this world, so distant and uncongenial, the buds and blossoms and fruits of heaven! A richer fruit grows not within the Paradise of God than Holiness.

And yet, in the experience of a chastened believer, bleeding under the rod of his heavenly Father, there may be obtained such victories over sin, such purification of heart, such meekness of spirit, such Christ-like conformity, and such a discipline of the will, as to make him a rich “partaker of the Divine holiness.”

April 17: Constrain Me To Obey

“If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15

As King in Zion, our adorable Lord Jesus delights to reign over a loving and an obedient people. Thus He has made their obedience to His commands a test of their love to His person- “If you love me, keep my commandments.” “Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you,” was the last charge given to His disciples.

Now it is this keeping of His commandments, this observance of what He has enjoined, that glorifies Him in His saints. Coming to Him in our ignorance glorifies Him as Prophet; coming to Him with our guilt glorifies Him as Priest; and walking obediently to His precepts glorifies Him as King. It places the crown upon the head of His sovereignty, it recognizes the spiritual nature of His kingdom, and it upholds the purity, majesty, and authority of His laws. It becomes, then, the solemn and imperative duty of every believer to search the will and testament of his dying, risen, and exalted Lord, to ascertain all that He has enjoined upon his obedience in the way of precept and command.

For how can he be a good and an obedient subject, if he does not understand the laws of Christ’s kingdom? Then, when the precept is clearly revealed, and the command is distinctly made known, immediate, self-denying, and cheerful obedience is to follow, as that path which, while it insures the sweetest peace to the soul, brings the highest glory to Christ. Let yours be an obedient walk, dear reader! Let your obedience be the fruit of faith, the dictate of love. Permit no reserve in your obedience; let it be full, honest, and complete.

Search the New Testament Scripture, and examine closely your own walk, and ascertain in what particular your obedience to Christ is deficient. Be upright, honest, and sincere in your inquiry. Let your fervent prayer be, “Lord, what will You have me to do? Is there any precept of Your word slighted, any, command disobeyed, any cross not taken up? Is there any desire to withhold my neck from Your, yoke, or to withdraw my shoulder from Your burden, or to mark out a smoother path than that which You have chosen and bade me walk in? Is there any secret framing of excuse for my disobedience, any temporizing, any carnal feeling, any worldly motive, any fear of man, any shrinking from consequences?

Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You. You are precious to my soul, for You have borne my sins, endured my curse, carried my cross; and in return do only ask, as an evidence of how much I owe, and how much I love, that I should keep Your commandments, and follow Your example. Now, Lord, take my poor heart, and let it be Your, Your wholly, and Your forever. Let Your sweet love constrain me to run in the way of Your commandments, for this will I do, when You shall enlarge my heart.” Then will I follow the precious fruits of obedience, even as the bud expands into the blossom, and the blossom ripens into the fruit.

There will be a growth, a delightful expansion of the life of God in the soul; and with the increase of the divine life, there will be an increase of all the precious “fruits of the Spirit.” See that your Redeemer is glorified in your obedience; that for the happiness of your soul, and for the honor of Christ, you “stand complete in all the will of God.”

March 25: We Are Constrained By Love

“The love of Christ constrains us.” 2 Cor. 5:14.

Love is the great influential principle of the gospel. The religion of Jesus is preeminently a religion of motive: it excludes every compulsory principle; it arrays before the mind certain great and powerful motives with which it leads captive the understanding, the will, the affections, and enlists them all in the active service of Christ. Now the law of Christianity is not the law of coercion, but of love. This is the grand lever, the great influential motive, “the love of Christ constrains us.” This was the apostle’s declaration, and this his governing motive; and the constraining love of Christ is to be the governing motive, the influential principle, of every believer. Apart from the constraining influence of Christ’s love in the heart, there cannot possibly be a willing, prompt, and holy obedience to His commandments.

A conviction of duty and the influence of fear may sometimes urge forward the soul, but love can only prompt to a loving and holy obedience; and all obedience that springs from an inferior motive is not the obedience that the gospel of Jesus inculcates. The relation in which the believer stands to God, under the new covenant dispensation, is not that of a slave to his master, but of a child to its father. “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” “Wherefore you are no more a servant (a slave), but a son.” With this new and spiritual relation, we look for a new and spiritual motive, and we find it in that single but comprehensive word- Love. And thus has our Lord declared it: “If you love me, keep my commandments;” “If a man love me, he will keep my words;” and “he that loves me not, keeps not my sayings.”

It is, then, only where this love is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit that we may expect to find the fruit of obedience. Swayed by this divine principle, the believer labors not for life, but from life; not for acceptance, but from acceptance. A holy, self- denying, cross-bearing life, is not the drudgery of a slave, but the filial, loving obedience of a child; it springs from love to the person, and gratitude for the work of Jesus, and is the blessed effect of the spirit of adoption in the heart.

Under the constraining influence of this principle, how easy becomes every cross for Jesus! how light every burden, and how pleasant every yoke! Duties become privileges, difficulties vanish, fears are quelled, shame is humbled, and delay is rebuked.

 

August 13

“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us how you ought to walk, and to please God, so you would abound more and more.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1

What are some of the footprints of this walk? How may we trace it? Unreserved obedience is an undoubted mark of pleasing God. An obedience that asks no abatement of the precept, but that follows the Lord fully in its observance, not from an enlightened judgment, but from a love-constrained heart- walking, as did the primitive saints, in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly- is indeed well-pleasing to God. Oh! let there be no reserves in our obedience! Let us withhold from Christ no part of His purchased inheritance, but surrender all at His feet, whose heart’s blood was the purchase price of all.

“Lord, however strait be the path, painful the cross, and self-denying the precept, sincerely would I walk uprightly in all Your ways, and fully follow You in all Your commands, leaving the consequences of my simple and implicit obedience to Your control. I can endure the repulsion of the world, the alienation of friends, the coldness of relatives, and can take the spoiling of my earthly goods joyfully, if You, my Lord, sustain me with Your grace, cheer me with Your presence, and solace me with Your love.”

Another footprint may be described in the walk of faith by which the Christian journeys to His heavenly home. As unbelief is most dishonoring, so faith is most honoring to the Lord Jesus. What a revenue of praise accrues from it to His name! To repair to His sufficiency- with our anxiety, the moment it occurs; with our corruptions, the moment they are discovered; to His grace- with our sorrow, the moment it is felt; to His sympathy- with our wound, the moment it is inflicted; to His love- with our guilt, the moment it is detected; to His blood- oh! do you do not think that this walk of faith is most pleasing to the Lord?

Let us beware of that which impairs the simplicity of this our walk, and causes us to stumble or turn aside. We must be cautious, in the varied circumstances of our history, of applying first to a human arm for support, or to a human bosom for sympathy. With this the Lord cannot be well pleased. But let us not hesitate to bear them at once to the one-appointed source of all our supply; disclosing our needs to the full Savior; our wanderings to our heavenly Father; our griefs and burdens to our elder Brother and Friend; and in thus walking by faith, we shall have the divine assurance in our souls, our rejoicing this- the testimony of our conscience that we please the Lord.

Oh, let us seek closely to resemble the two illustrious examples set before us in the word, of this high and holy walk. The minor one- because purely human- of Enoch, who “before he was taken up had this testimony, that he pleased God.” The higher one- because the human was blended with the Divine- of Jesus, who could say, “I always do those things which please Him.”