When you reflect for a minute, probably one of the big differences between ourselves and many of our friends, we live very organized lives and you can organize God right into the right place couldn’t you? And it’s something to think about, it’s very easy to get the QTs organized, the quiet times and get it all fitted in nicely, and get him in his place and so much so you know, that he really becomes almost part of us. Whereas, he is the one that is the great mover and our job is really to wait upon him to see what he is after, but I mean, you don’t need me to tell you how it goes, we all know how it goes.
Even those of us who probably are most faithful with the QT and get up at five, or whatever, four or six, it’s so easy to get him lined up with everything else. And I suppose as long as we do that, that’s exactly what we’ll get. That’s the kind of life we would get, quite a satisfactory one, quite successful and quite exemplary but whether it will be a life that releases his spirit into people like Willie in our situation in Thailand, or in our situations in the stores to people that we’ve never seen any awakening to spiritual things at all. It does seem it comes right in line with Jesus’ words, “This can come about by naught but by prayer and fasting.”
And it’s easy to – I want to avoid fanaticism and to keep things very balanced and don’t let it get too mystical or too introspective, but on the other hand we all are aware that even though there must have been a lot of big talk, or unreal talk about praying a lot and all that kind of thing, yet we do know the lives of people like Brainerd or Mueller obviously have had the same effect as what we said the Masada had, you know, it’s something that is a – a staff set up that people looked to, a rock in the desert. And so it’s very important that we are – that we do give time each day for the real work of the Lord, which is prayer. And so it’s just – in Galatians, you remember, Paul is talking about the difference between us and the children of this world or as he calls them the Gentiles and he outlines of course, the kind of life that the Gentiles live and talks about them stealing, and lying, and all that kind of thing. Then he says, “You haven’t learned Christ that way and you are to behave differently.” And then he talks about – well the fact, if you look at the – you see the kind of life he mentions there.
It’s Galatians – in Ephesians, I’m sorry, I’m talking about Ephesians. Ephesians 4:22, you remember, Ephesians 4:22, “Put off your old nature which belong to you former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.” And of course, it’s all concerned with the things that we often talk about, anybody born of God doesn’t commit sin. You know, that’s an obvious difference between us and the children of this world, we don’t commit sin. That is commit sin, we do not do sin, or we do not say sin.
So we’re all very aware, I think, that what God has brought to us is the possibility of living
without doing the things that we know are wrong. And that you remember, is James definition of sin, “Whosoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” So we know that that is what God has called us to. We’ll have no other gods before him, we will not steal, we will not murder, we will not bear false witness against our neighbor, we will remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, and those things that we know to do we are able, by what God has done for us and in us in Jesus, we are able to do that. And that distinguishes us from a great many of the children of this world or of the Gentiles. But, I’d remind you it is true that it’s no higher a level than probably Plato and Aristotle lived at. The devote pagans in the Roman and Greek worlds emphasized a life that was free from faults that you knew were faults and the emphasis there is on you know, “Whosoever knows what is right and fails to do it, for him that is sin.”
So one difference is we’re free from conscience sin. We make mistakes, we have some wrong ideas about things, but conscience, anything that we’re conscience of, we’re able to avoid it. And it is good of course, from time-to-time to look at our own lives and see, “Now, am I doing that?” Because of course, if you’re not doing that that’s where a lot of the vagueness comes into our lives and a lot of the vagueness about God comes in. And I don’t think any of us are so foolish as to think we have never been deceived into that. I think we do know that it is possible to get deceived into some habit, or some activity, or some way of speaking, or some words that you speak, or some carelessness about how you speak about another person, bear false witness to them without apparently bearing false witness, we know how easy it is to slip back into a life that is actually lower than the pagans rather than higher than them.
But still, that is at least what we are, we are people who do not commit sin. We do not do anything that we know we shouldn’t do and we don’t speak things we know we shouldn’t speak. And though we will make mistakes at times, forget things, and we may say things that hurt other people, but we didn’t know we were hurting them and God graciously covers that sin. So it’s conscious known disobedience to God’s will. That is what sin is and that’s what God enables us to live above. And I’d just remind you that it’s a 10th of the iceberg. It’s a 10th of the iceberg of this giant independence of God and this giant self. That’s what sin is.
It’s independence of God. It’s just a little 10th of that huge iceberg. And that’s what Paul was referring to now in this next verse. Or, Wesley put it, he said, “I knew that I was freed from the power of outward sin in act and word. I knew that God had given me the grace to live free from conscious disobedience to his will in act and word in my behavior and in my speaking. So I knew I was free from that sin, but I still felt sin within. I still felt there was inward sin. There was an independent attitude in my own heart that still gave me trouble.” And that’s the realm that God speaks about in this next verse.
It’s in Ephesians 4:30, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Do not grieve, that’s make sorry, bring sorrow and grief to the Holy Spirit. And I’d remind you of course, of the verse in the Bible that says, “The Lord is the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is Jesus within us, within each of us and so the verse runs, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of Jesus, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” The day of redemption is when our spirits will be united with our bodies and we’ll begin the wonderful life with God. And we’re assured of that by the sealing of the Holy Spirit upon us. And the Holy Spirit comes upon us and wants to dwell within us, but if we grieve him then his Spirit within us is intermittent and we sense that.
We sense there’s something not absolutely at peace and at rest deep down. And it’s because of this
inward sin, really it’s the lack of holiness of heart. It’s the lack of a clean heart. It’s thoughts, thoughts and feelings, and responses, those are responses of – are the symptom, give you a clue everything isn’t pure in here. It’s thoughts, and feelings, and responses, and attitudes, a certain attitude. And it’s motives, the motives for doing what you’re doing. And it seems to me that those are five factors that we get used giving a free pass to.
We do it by saying, well, there’s a difference between an evil thought and a thought of evil. And I just had a moment ago, a critical thought about this person, but – but that was just a passing thing. I, like the old illustration says, I can’t help birds passing over my head but I can stop them building a nest in my hair and so every time this thought comes I stop it. But, I wonder why it keeps coming? I wonder why it keeps flying over our head. And it’s that vague area, between a thought of evil and an evil thought. And of course any of you have experienced this life that is generally free from outward sin but still has trouble with inward sin, will testify this is by far the hardest way to walk. By far the hardest way to walk. It is killing, always dealing with this thought and that thought, that you know is just a thought of evil, or a thought of criticism, or a thought of anger, or a thought of uncleanness, or a thought of self-pity. It’s just a passing thought. Fortunately I struggle against it and I choke it to death. Except that I am aware I haven’t choked it completely because I deal with it a week later or two weeks later and yet it’s so easy to get deceived into the idea that as long as every time I knock it down every time it comes up, I’m okay.
It’s a pathetic shadow of what a clean heart is and that’s why when we read the description of the life of victory that a clean heart implies, when we read a person who describes it as making your heart a garden of fragrant spices, that’s why we feel a bit of an overstatement there, a little poetic exaggeration. I don’t think I could testify to a garden of fragrant spices within, but that’s what it is. That’s what a clean heart is. In other words, it’s a heart that is not shooting those things out.
That’s why it is so often testified that it’s not a struggle. But, the life that is generally free from outward sin, but just has momentary troubles with thoughts of evil, or attitudes that are not quite right, that’s a struggling life because you’re struggling to keep up your testimony to the inward victory, but actually your inward victory is suppression or repression it is not cleansing. It’s not being delivered from the thing, it’s just overcoming it by dint of will power and self-discipline. That’s not what a clean heart is.
A clean heart is a miracle of God that he works within you through the Holy Spirit and implants in you the heart of Jesus so that it is the heart of Jesus that comes up from within. And if you had to be angry, you’d have to make yourself angry for some other purpose because you don’t feel it. And if you had to be irritable, you’d have to make yourself irritable for the sake of the effect, because you don’t feel it. It’s a heart that is cleansed by the Holy Spirit so it’s a miracle of God.
So it’s in the realm of thoughts, and feelings, and attitude, and responses, and motives. It’s in that realm. That shadowy area where you get used to accepting and allowing to dwell in you, things that aren’t exactly what Christ is. And that’s why we get under it when we find ourselves preoccupied with anxiety about things be it the money, or the car, or the sales, or our own life. That’s why it’s so strained and such an ugly life, because we don’t immediately reject the anxious thought in a millisecond. I think we get caught out because we say, “Oh, well we do stop it, you know, and that’s why it’s just not anxiety, it’s just an anxious thought comes into my mind.” Yes,
but an anxious thought doesn’t come into Jesus’ mind and we have the mind of Christ and he is in us and when we engage in an anxious thought we grieve his Spirit. And his Spirit actually has to ease back a bit, otherwise he would be encouraging us to live independent of God and think we weren’t independent of him. So the Holy Spirit eases back and that’s why we feel something of desolation and something of loneliness, and coldness, and dryness, because it’s him witnessing that he is grieving and this is not what he has for us.
I think we get used to that, “Well, it’s just a momentary, it’s just a momentary,” – yes, but often it can get into the realm where you actually have some of those thoughts that you can enjoy a little before you let go of them, and it gives you a little comfort. Whereas, the heart that is with the Savior, is dead to what you used to be. That heart has no trouble, it just rejects the thing as an alien thing in a millisecond and so does God. And it’s the same with the whole realm of attitudes, at times you can find yourself kind of causing an attitude, an attitude of being alone, or an attitude of a little antagonism between you and a person, or an attitude of a little self-righteousness, or a little bit of self’s right to this whereas the heart that the Holy Spirit has for us is a heart that immediately spews the thing out in a millisecond. It will not touch the unclean thing and so it’s a clean life and out of that clean life comes joy and comes ministry.
But it is real, it’s something deeper than just a strong discipline in regard to inward thoughts and feelings that our momentarily there in our hearts. It’s cleanness from those things and a freedom from them so that your heart is clean. You have somebody within that is on your side. You haven’t someone that is making life difficult. You have the Savior inside, his Spirit inside that is happy to be there and always has been.