September 6: Temples Of God

“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” 1 Corinthians. 3:17

How holy should the temple of the Spirit be! Reader, are you a temple of God the Holy Spirit? Then dedicate yourself unreservedly to God. You are not your own; your body, your spirit, your family, substance, time, talents, influence, all, all belong to God.

He dwells in you; walks in you, rules in you, and calls you His dwelling-place. “Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you?” Then, what a separation should there be between you and the world that lies in wickedness! How should you guard against every unnecessary entanglement with it! how cautious and prayerful, lest, by contracting an unholy alliance with it in any form or degree, you should defile the temple of God, “which temple you are”!

Oh, what heavenly wisdom, and holy circumspection, and ceaseless prayer, do you need, that you might walk with unspotted garments—that no rival should enter your heart—that no lofty views of self, no spirit of worldly conformity, no temporizing policy, no known sin, no creature idolatry should enter there!—that, like the heavenly temple, nothing that defiles, neither whatever works abomination, should be cherished or entertained in the abode and in the presence of the Holy Spirit! for “what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Reader, whose temple are you? Solemn question! Does God or Satan dwell in you? Christ or Belial? light or darkness? Either the one or the other has, at this moment, entire possession. You cannot serve two contrary masters; you cannot entertain two opposite guests. You are living either for God or for Satan. You are traveling either to heaven or to hell. Which? On your bended knees before God, decide; and may the Lord the Spirit renew you by His grace, and if renewed, make you “a vessel unto honor, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”

Strangers & Pilgrims

Let us keep our eye and our hearts upon our blessed home. Earth is but a stage erected as our passage to the place Jesus has gone to prepare for us. What a place must that be which infinite power and love has engaged to provide! Oh, let us not lose sight of heaven for a moment. How prone are we to allow our minds and hearts (treacherous hearts!) to become entangled with the baubles of a dying world. No wonder Christ exhorted us to watch and pray. Heaven is our home; our happy home. We are but strangers and pilgrims here. Try and realize it. Let us keep ourselves ready to enter with Him to the marriage supper of the Lamb. In a little while, and we shall see Him, not as the ‘Man of sorrows,’ but the ‘King in His beauty.’ Then let us fight against earth and all its false attractions, for it passes away.

 

Thy Rod & Thy Staff: The Rod Of Separation (3 of 7)

Another use of the shepherd’s “Rod” is that of separation. With it he separates the sheep. By passing under the rod, God thereby intimated that His people were especially separated and set apart from all other nations for Himself. Here we have what, to use a logical term, may be called the corollary of election– the certain conclusion to which it conducts us. All the elect of God are the called of God. “Whom He did predestinate, them He also called.” With this calling, then, we have first and chiefly to do- the antecedent act- your election- so to speak, transposed; that coming last in your experience which is the first in God’s mind.

Grasp in faith this the last and lowest link in the mystic chain of your salvation, and it will by-and-by raise you to the first and highest. The people of God, then- the sheep of Christ’s flock- are a separated people. They have passed under the separating, consecrating rod of the Shepherd. “He calls His own sheep by name, and leads them out. And when He puts forth His own sheep, He goes before them.” Sweet and precious truth! Divine and sovereign grace has taken you out of the world, and set you among those who are” called to be saints,” “the called according to His purpose.” “It pleased God,” says the apostle, “who called me by His grace, to reveal, His Son in me.”

Oh, high and holy calling! What are all others- the most imperious and brilliant- in comparison? Oh let the thought never be absent from your mind, that you are called out of, that you should be separate from, this ungodly world- “a holy nation, a peculiar people, a royal priesthood” -separated, set apart from all others to be Christ’s especial treasure. My soul! have you heard the call of Christ? Outwardly, again and again, the gospel call has fallen upon your ear; but has the inward and effectual call of the Spirit penetrated the ear of your soul, bidding and constraining you to arise and come to Jesus?

Rest not short of this!

December 7

“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Romans 7:22—24

REGENERATION does not transform flesh into spirit. It proposes not to eradicate and expel the deep-seated root of our degenerate nature; but it imparts another and a superadded nature—it implants a new and an antagonistic principle. This new nature is divine; this new principle is holy: and thus the believer becomes the subject of two natures, and his soul a battle-field, upon which a perpetual conflict is going on between the law of the members and the law of the mind; often resulting in his temporary captivity to the law of sin which is in his members. Thus every spiritual mind is painfully conscious of the earthly tendency of his evil nature, and that from the flesh he can derive no sympathy or help, but rather everything that discourages, encumbers, and retards his spirit in its breathings and strugglings after holiness. A mournful sense of the seductive power of earthly things enters deeply into this state of mind. As we bear about with us, in every step, an earthly nature, it is not surprising that its affinities and sympathies should be earthly; that earthly objects should possess a magnetic influence, perpetually attracting to themselves whatever is congenial with their own nature in the soul of the renewed man.

Our homeward path lies through a world captivating and ensnaring. The world, chameleon-like, can assume any color, and, Proteus-like, any shape, suitable to its purpose and answerable to its end. There is not a mind, a conscience, or a taste, to which it cannot accommodate itself. For the gross, it has sensual pleasures; for the refined, it has polished enjoyments; for the thoughtful, it has intellectual delights; for the enterprising, it has bold, magnificent schemes. The child of God feels this engrossing power; he is conscious of this seductive influence. Worldly applause—who is entirely proof against its power? Human adulation—who can resist its incense? Creature power—who is free from its captivation? Love of worldly ease and respectability, influence, and position—a liking to glide smoothly along the sunny tide of the world’s good opinion—who is clad in a coat of mail so impervious as to resist these attacks? Have not the mightiest fallen before them?

Such are some only of the many ensnaring influences which weave themselves around the path of the celestial traveler, often extorting from him the humiliating acknowledgment—“My soul cleaves unto the dust.” In this category we may include things which, though they are in themselves of a lawful nature, are yet of an earthly tendency, deteriorative of the life of God in the soul. What heavenly mind is not sadly sensible of this? Our ever-foremost, sleepless, subtle foe stands by and says, “This is lawful, and you may freely and unrestrictedly indulge in it.” But another and a solemn voice is heard issuing from the sacred oracle of truth—“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient.” And yet how often are we forced to learn the lesson, that things lawful may, in their wrong indulgence and influence, become unlawful, through the spiritual leanness which they engender in the soul!

Oh, it is a narrow path which conducts us back to Paradise. But our Lord and Master made it so; He Himself has trodden it, “leaving us an example that we should follow His steps;” and He, too, is sufficient for its straitness. Yes; such is the gravitating tendency to earth of the carnal nature within us, we are ever prone and ever ready, at each bland smile of the world, and at each verdant, sunny spot of the wilderness, to retire into the circle of self-complaisance and self-indulgence, and take up our rest where, from the polluted and unsatisfying nature of all earthly things, real rest can never be found. Thus may even lawful affections and lawful enjoyments, lawful pursuits and pleasures, wring the confession from the lips of a heavenly-minded man—“My soul cleaves unto the dust.”

August 29

“But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and anon with joy receives it; yet has he no root in himself, but endures for awhile: for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. Matthew 13:20-22

“The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But like young plants in such soil, their roots don’t go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word. The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced.” Matthew 13:20-22

A season of prosperity often proves fatal to a profession of godliness. Divine providence smiles, riches increase, and with them the temptations and the snares, the luxury, indulgence, and worldly show which are inseparable from the accumulation of unsanctified and unconsecrated wealth. And what are the results? In most cases, the entire relinquishment of the outward garb of a religious costume. Found to be in the way of the full indulgence of the carnal mind, it is laid aside altogether; and thus freed from all the restraints which consistency imposed, the heart at once plunges deep into the world it all the while secretly loved, sighed for, and worshiped. Oh, what a severe but true test of religious principle is this! How soon it detects the spurious and the false! How soon does the verdure wither away! “The prosperity of fools shall destroy them.”

But if a professing man passes through this trial, and still retains his integrity; still walks closely and humbly with God; still adheres to the lowly cross-bearing path of Jesus; is still found as diligent in waiting upon God in public and private means of grace; is still as meek, condescending, and kind, increasing in devotedness, liberality, and love, with the increase of God’s providential goodness around him, such a man has the “root of the matter in him;” and “he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” His prosperity has not destroyed him.

A time of adversity is often equally as fatal to a profession of religion, founded upon no true Christian principle. If in the smooth path we are apt to slide, in the rough path we may stumble. Periods of great revolution in the history of the Christian Church, when God tries the principles, the conscience, the love, and the faith of His people, are test-periods. What numbers make shipwreck then of their high profession! And when God enters the pleasant garden of a man’s domestic blessings, and blows upon the lovely blossom, or blights the fair flower, or severs the pleasant bough, or scatters the hard-earned wealth of years, or wastes the body’s vigor, or frustrates the fond scheme; how does an unrenewed man behave himself?

Is his carriage humble, submissive, child-like? Does stern Christian principle now exhibit itself, in beautiful contrast with the trial that has called it forth? Does divine grace, like the aromatic flower, now appear the sweeter and more precious for its being crushed? Does not every feeling of the heart rise in maddened rebellion against God and against His government? Ah, yes! how accurately does Christ describe his case: “he has not root in himself, but endures for a while; for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, by and by he is offended.”