Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 30 May 19:
More great comments on our reading from Oswald Chambers today:
2 Corinthians 5:7 – “We walk by faith, not by sight.”
“Having you been asking God to reveal Himself to you in a ‘real and powerful way?’ He wants you to walk by faith. Throughout the Bible we have many accounts of God revealing Himself to His people miraculously. Reading quickly through the Bible might give you the impression that this is the norm. However, God rarely revealed Himself miraculously through the Bible but commanded His people to obey Him without need for of ‘signs and wonders.’ In fact, Jesus pointed out that generally it is the weak in faith that need special revelation in order to trust and obey – “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign.” (Matthew 16:4) “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 20:29) What does it take for you to trust and obey Jesus?
Without special revelation from God, some seek the approval of others for validation. This too is a sign of weakness. Faith is willing to walk faithfully on the hard, sacrificial road though unnoticed and unsung. Still others require some clear indicators of success in order to continue their journey. But they are then no longer walking by faith – it doesn’t take faith to do what you know you can do or to do what is obvious. Faith is willing to step out beyond your own abilities to rely on God’s abilities, trusting God with the results, regardless of how hopeless things might see from the human perspective. And others, in a world of doubt, proclaim the merits of self-confidence, but God’s people are confident in God, not self.
We are becoming obsessed with the moments when God did come and speak with us, and we are insisting that He do it again. But what God wants us to do is to ‘walk by faith.’ How many of us have set ourselves aside as if to say, ‘I cannot do anything else until God appears to me’? He will never do it. We will have to get up on our own, without any inspiration and without any sudden touch from God. Then comes our surprise and we find ourselves exclaiming, ‘Why, He was there all the time, and I never knew it!’ Never live for those exceptional moments— they are surprises. God will give us His touches of inspiration only when He sees that we are not in danger of being led away by them. We must never consider our moments of inspiration as the standard way of life— our work is our standard.”
2 Corinthians 5:9 — “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.”
“’We make it our aim….’ It requires a conscious decision and effort to keep our primary goal constantly in front of us. It means holding ourselves to the highest priority year in and year out; not making our first priority to win souls, or to establish churches, or to have revivals, but seeking only “to be well pleasing to Him.” It is not a lack of spiritual experience that leads to failure, but a lack of working to keep our eyes focused and on the right goal. At least once a week examine yourself before God to see if your life is measuring up to the standard He has for you. Paul was like a musician who gives no thought to audience approval, if he can only catch a look of approval from his Conductor.
Any goal we have that diverts us even to the slightest degree from the central goal of being “approved to God” (2 Timothy 2:15) may result in our rejection from further service for Him. When you discern where the goal leads, you will understand why it is so necessary to keep “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). Paul spoke of the importance of controlling his own body so that it would not take him in the wrong direction. He said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest…I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
I must learn to relate everything to the primary goal, maintaining it without interruption. My worth to God publicly is measured by what I really am in my private life. Is my primary goal in life to please Him and to be acceptable to Him, or is it something less, no matter how lofty it may sound?”
2 Corinthians 5:10 — “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
“Paul says that we must all, preachers and other people alike, ‘appear before the judgment seat of Christ.’ But if you will learn here and now to live under the scrutiny of Christ’s pure light, your final judgment will bring you only delight in seeing the work God has done in you. Live constantly reminding yourself of the judgment seat of Christ, and walk in the knowledge of the holiness He has given you. Tolerating a wrong attitude toward another person causes you to follow the spirit of the devil, no matter how saintly you are. One carnal judgment of another person only serves the purposes of hell in you. Bring it immediately into the light and confess, ‘Oh, Lord, I have been guilty there.’ If you don’t, your heart will become hardened through and through. One of the penalties of sin is our acceptance of it. It is not only God who punishes for sin, but sin establishes itself in the sinner and takes its toll. No struggling or praying will enable you to stop doing certain things, and the penalty of sin is that you gradually get used to it, until you finally come to the place where you no longer even realize that it is sin. No power, except the power that comes from being filled with the Holy Spirit, can change or prevent the inherent consequences of sin.
‘If we walk in the light as He is in the light…’ (1 John 1:7). For many of us, walking in the light means walking according to the standard we have set up for another person. The deadliest attitude of the Pharisees that we exhibit today is not hypocrisy but that which comes from unconsciously living a lie.”
2 Corinthians 5:14-16 — “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.”
“Paul said that he was overpowered, subdued, and held as in a vise by ‘the love of Christ.’ Very few of us really know what it means to be held in the grip of the love of God. We tend so often to be controlled simply by our own experience. The one thing that gripped and held Paul, to the exclusion of everything else, was the love of God. ‘The love of Christ compels us….’ When you hear that coming from the life of a man or woman it is unmistakable. You will know that the Spirit of God is completely unhindered in that person’s life.
When we are born again by the Spirit of God, our testimony is based solely on what God has done for us, and rightly so. But that will change and be removed forever once you ‘receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…’ (Acts 1:8). Only then will you begin to realize what Jesus meant when He went on to say, ‘…you shall be witnesses to Me….’ Not witnesses to what Jesus can do— that is basic and understood— but “witnesses to Me….’ We will accept everything that happens as if it were happening to Him, whether we receive praise or blame, persecution or reward. No one is able to take this stand for Jesus Christ who is not totally compelled by the majesty of His power. It is the only thing that matters, and yet it is strange that it’s the last thing we as Christian workers realize. Paul said that he was gripped by the love of God and that is why he acted as he did. People could perceive him as mad or sane— he did not care. There was only one thing he lived for— to persuade people of the coming judgment of God and to tell them of ‘the love of Christ.’ This total surrender to ‘the love of Christ’ is the only thing that will bear fruit in your life. And it will always leave the mark of God’s holiness and His power, never drawing attention to your personal holiness.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
“What understanding do you have of the salvation of your soul? The work of salvation means that in your real life, things are dramatically changed. You no longer look at things in the same way. Your desires are new and the old things have lost their power to attract you. One of the tests for determining if the work of salvation in your life is genuine is— has God changed the things that really matter to you? If you still yearn for the old things, it is absurd to talk about being born from above— you are deceiving yourself. If you are born again, the Spirit of God makes the change very evident in your real life and thought. And when a crisis comes, you are the most amazed person on earth at the wonderful difference there is in you. There is no possibility of imagining that you did it. It is this complete and amazing change that is the very evidence that you are saved.
What difference has my salvation and sanctification made? For instance, can I stand in the light of 1 Corinthians 13, or do I squirm and evade the issue? True salvation, worked out in me by the Holy Spirit, frees me completely. And as long as I ‘walk in the light as He is in the light’ (1 John 1:7), God sees nothing to rebuke because His life is working itself into every detailed part of my being, not on the conscious level, but even deeper than my consciousness.
Our Lord never tolerates our prejudices— He is directly opposed to them and puts them to death. We tend to think that God has some special interest in our particular prejudices, and are very sure that He will never deal with us as He has to deal with others. We even say to ourselves, ‘God has to deal with other people in a very strict way, but of course He knows that my prejudices are all right.’ But we must learn that God accepts nothing of the old life! Instead of being on the side of our prejudices, He is deliberately removing them from us. It is part of our moral education to see our prejudices put to death by His providence, and to watch how He does it. God pays no respect to anything we bring to Him. There is only one thing God wants of us, and that is our unconditional surrender.
When we are born again, the Holy Spirit begins to work His new creation in us, and there will come a time when there is nothing remaining of the old life. Our old gloomy outlook disappears, as does our old attitude toward things, and ‘all things are of God’ (2 Corinthians 5:18). How are we going to get a life that has no lust, no self-interest, and is not sensitive to the ridicule of others? How will we have the type of love that ‘is kind…is not provoked, [and] thinks no evil’? (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). The only way is by allowing nothing of the old life to remain, and by having only simple, perfect trust in God— such a trust that we no longer want God’s blessings, but only want God Himself. Have we come to the point where God can withdraw His blessings from us without our trust in Him being affected? Once we truly see God at work, we will never be concerned again about the things that happen, because we are actually trusting in our Father in heaven, whom the world cannot see.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 – “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
“Sin is a fundamental relationship— it is not wrong doing, but wrong being— it is deliberate and determined independence from God. The Christian faith bases everything on the extreme, self-confident nature of sin. Other faiths deal with sins— the Bible alone deals with sin. The first thing Jesus Christ confronted in people was the heredity of sin, and it is because we have ignored this in our presentation of the gospel that the message of the gospel has lost its sting and its explosive power. The revealed truth of the Bible is not that Jesus Christ took on Himself our fleshly sins, but that He took on Himself the heredity of sin that no man can even touch. God made His own Son ‘to be sin’ that He might make the sinner into a saint. It is revealed throughout the Bible that our Lord took on Himself the sin of the world through identification with us, not through sympathy for us. He deliberately took on His own shoulders, and endured in His own body, the complete, cumulative sin of the human race. ‘He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us…’ and by so doing He placed salvation for the entire human race solely on the basis of redemption. Jesus Christ reconciled the human race, putting it back to where God designed it to be. And now anyone can experience that reconciliation, being brought into oneness with God, on the basis of what our Lord has done on the cross. A man cannot redeem himself— redemption is the work of God, and is absolutely finished and complete. And its application to individual people is a matter of their own individual action or response to it. A distinction must always be made between the revealed truth of redemption and the actual conscious experience of salvation in a person’s life.
The modern view of the death of Jesus is that He died for our sins out of sympathy for us. Yet the New Testament view is that He took our sin on Himself not because of sympathy, but because of His identification with us. He was ‘made…to be sin….’ Our sins are removed because of the death of Jesus, and the only explanation for His death is His obedience to His Father, not His sympathy for us. We are acceptable to God not because we have obeyed, nor because we have promised to give up things, but because of the death of Christ, and for no other reason. We say that Jesus Christ came to reveal the fatherhood and the lovingkindness of God, but the New Testament says that He came to take ‘away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29). And the revealing of the fatherhood of God is only to those to whom Jesus has been introduced as Savior. In speaking to the world, Jesus Christ never referred to Himself as One who revealed the Father, but He spoke instead of being a stumbling block (see John 15:22-24). John 14:9, where Jesus said, ‘He who has seen Me has seen the Father,’ was spoken to His disciples.
That Christ died for me, and therefore I am completely free from penalty, is never taught in the New Testament. What is taught in the New Testament is that ‘He died for all’ (2 Corinthians 5:15)— not, ‘He died my death’— and that through identification with His death I can be freed from sin, and have His very righteousness imparted as a gift to me. The substitution which is taught in the New Testament is twofold— ‘For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.’ The teaching is not Christ for me unless I am determined to have Christ formed in me (see Galatians 4:19).”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 May 19: Walk in faith today, without need of ‘special revelation.’ Make pleasing God your primary goal today. Judge all your actions from God’s standards, not your standards or the world’s standards. Be controlled by the love of Christ, and regard no one or any situation from the human perspective but rather from Christ’s perspective. Surrender to the love of Christ and proclaim Him through the fruit of your life in Him.