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January 19

19 JAN – The True Nature of Christianity

“We… are transformed into the same image” (that is: ‘We pass from one form to another’) 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Well now, what is the point of focus here? “We are transformed…”, and it is the present active tense: ‘We are being transformed’; ‘We are in a process of transformation, passing from one form to another.’ There is a sense in which that fragment, that condensed verse put into those few words, touches the heart of the whole New Testament and explains everything.

The process of transformation talks of a former state and a latter state. Transformation is built around two contrasted words mentioned in this second chapter. Those two contrasted words describe two different types of humanity, two different manhoods, and between the two, firmly and squarely the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is planted.

There is a cleavage cut by the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ between those two which separates them and makes them two different species of mankind. That truth follows right through this Letter. The Apostle here speaks about a foundation and a building. He says: “Let each man take heed how he buildeth thereon. For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ”, and then he drives the wedge of the Cross right into the superstructure and speaks of one kind of work or works, which are the product of one type of man, or Christian, and another kind of work, or works, which are the product of another kind. The first will go up in flames and will never be found in eternity. It has gone forever. The second will abide. It will abide the fire of judgment and the test of time, and be found in the ultimate structure, or building of God. These are not non-Christians. What an immense amount is being built upon Christ that is going up in smoke! Every man’s work will be tried by fire, and its real value and its endurance will be determined by and will depend upon where it comes from, that is, from which of these two types of manhood. The two words which define the two types of manhood are “the natural man… he that is spiritual.” There are the two words: the natural and the spiritual. CHRISTIANS–the natural Christian must be transformed into the spiritual Christian by the Cross of the Lord.

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January 18

18 JAN – The Heavenliness of the Church

In the letter to the Ephesians, the constant repetition is “in the heavenlies in Christ.” We must seek to dismiss our natural, soulical mentality about that. I am not saying that there is no such place as a geographical heaven, but we must rule out that kind of mentality of geography, and realize that “in the heavenlies” is a spiritual principle first of all before it is anything else, and that, while it may mean that Christ is in a certain geographical location, yet spiritually it signifies a realm altogether outside of this world order. You know quite well that two people can be side by side, as close as two can be, and yet they may be in absolutely different realms. That is the principle of heavenliness; it refers to a different spiritual realm altogether. True, it is above, elevated, higher, but that is spiritual first of all before it is anything else. It is a spiritual difference on an altogether higher level of Divine thought not of this order, not, as we say, earthbound; it is heavenly, it is in a spiritual sense in the heavenlies in Christ. You can sit in your chair and be in the heavenlies. I am not talking about the psychic now, but the real spiritual enjoyment of the Lord so that we forget the people around us; we are, to all intents and purposes, somewhere else.

The church is a heavenly thing from God’s standpoint, and it is dynamic when we have really seen it. When really it has come home to us in the power of the Holy Spirit it is dynamic, because it results in tremendous things in us first of all. Oh, what that revelation has done with some of us! When ours was an earthly conception of the Church, how we were engrossed with its ecclesiasticism, its forms and procedure! The whole system of things meant a lot to us. Then God broke in with His conception of the Church as a heavenly thing, and all this fell from us like a mantle; it went, and from that time to this we have felt how futile and petty it all is. But that does not happen until you have seen in your heart; and I beg of you, do not go and do things merely because you hear these things said. Ask the Lord for the revelation. Once you see God’s mind about the Church as a heavenly thing, it is emancipating, it makes tremendous challenges within and without and puts you in a place of being able to minister in a way that meets need, brings in heavenly fullness, and God comes through. In a word, it results in spiritual increase to have really seen the heavenly nature of the Church. (From The Church in the Spiritual Realm)

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January 17

17 JAN – Spirituality is the Law of Life

Spirituality rightly understood is the secret of all that belongs to God. At the very beginning of our life with God, we have to be reconstituted as spiritual beings. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” “He that is spiritual…” “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” But there is a false thing to counterfeit and simulate spirituality, and it is not objective to ourselves; it is made out of ourselves. We make gods after our own likeness, our souls produce their own system, even in religion; and the Spirit produces His system.

Note the difference, then, between what is truly spiritual and what is falsely so. Let me say without any hesitation, the measure of external ritual and formalism and that sort of thing determines the measure of spirituality. The more you have of that, the less you have of true spiritual life, of real spiritual food. A real life with the Lord is something very simple, shorn of all the art of religion; a few children of God gathered together in something which has no ecclesiastical traditions, no religious embellishments, no external forms, but just a simple meeting in the Name of the Lord. There you have life, power, fullness. I am not saying that things must be shoddy in order to have spirituality. I am saying that the law of life is spirituality.

Said the woman to the Master, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” The Lord Jesus said, “Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father… God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:20-24). That is only saying, This Mount Gerizim and its temple and the temple in Jerusalem are purely temporal, earthly, the things of men’s souls. Men must have something to see, to handle, something they can appreciate by their soul faculties, but that is not the realm of things since I, the Lord, have come. That is the natural, it is past. Now, the spiritual comes neither here nor there, not a matter of place or things or anything like that on the earth. It is in spirit with the Father.

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January 16

16 JAN – Counterfeit Spirituality

There is a false and counterfeit spirituality which is purely soulical. It looks like spirituality, and passes for it, it assumes to be spiritual; but it is false, it is counterfeit. We find it in mysticism, and mysticism can go a very long way to simulate what is spiritual. Aestheticism so often looks like spirituality and has been mistaken for it. There is a vast amount of religion that thinks it is spiritual and claims to be, and yet it is purely aesthetic or mystical or soulical; it is not spiritual at all. There is a soulical insight which is the counterfeit of spiritual apprehension. It is purely psychic.

There are people with phraseology and they are not clear, they are involved, and what are they after? They are trying to be spiritual on the basis of revelation, seeing things no one else sees or can see. Be careful! The enemy does simulate every truth in order to destroy the truth. We have to be in a true position, and there is this counterfeit, mystical interpretation. You can drive typology to an extreme, you can force it to a point where it loses its value and becomes almost ridiculous. Spiritual discernment is counterfeited, and shows itself along the line of premonitions and second sight; it is all soulical. Consecration is often counterfeited by asceticism, a false consecration. The monasticism of the Middle Ages and what remains of it is a false interpretation of spirituality, of consecration.

Therefore test things, give them time, take them into another atmosphere and see how they live. It is so easy to get into a false position when there is a hothouse condition; you can get a lot of things springing up rapidly and seeming to be genuine growths. But take them outside and they shrivel up. The things of God do not do that, they survive all atmospheres, they live though death encompasses. His life is not a prey to earthly conditions; it triumphs. Everything can be counterfeited, and there is a counterfeit spirituality along every line.

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January 15

15 JAN – The Answer to Satan through the Spirit

When we speak of spiritual warfare, let us not think in terms of the abstract. “They overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb.” What do you take that to mean? ― that they were a people of a phraseology about the blood and they started hurling their phraseology at the Devil? Well, phraseology, even about the Blood, has no effect on him. “They overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb.” Whom did they overcome? The Accuser of the brethren, who accused them day and night. How do you overcome an accuser? Only by having a better case than he has. You have to have a good case, and the Blood of the Lamb represents that in a mighty way. Our legal standing because of the Blood of the Lamb puts the enemy out of court if only faith will hold to it. And we must not think in geographical terms of Satan being cast down from somewhere high up and coming crashing to the earth. This is spiritual warfare. We have to get this spiritual sense and idea of things. Our soulical mentality is always drawing pictures of places, positions, spaces, but we have to understand that this is a spiritual matter that Satan can, in effect, be cast from the highest heights to the lowest depths without any geographical factor coming in at all.

You may have a person against you who lays a charge at your door, and thinks he has a very strong case. But you happen to have a case which undercuts that and tears it to pieces, and he goes down before you in utter collapse; he comes from a tremendous soul height to a very great depth. That is not a geographical thing but a spiritual. This is spiritual warfare, not geographical. “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood” (Eph. 6:12), it is not in the realm of the physical and geographical at all. It is spiritual; you can call it moral if you like and the Blood represents a legal case, and Satan can be cast down from heaven countless times in one day. You cannot do that literally; it can only be understood spiritually. A million people all over this earth may cast him down in one day at different moments of the day. As they stand by faith on the case that the Blood provides, they have a mighty and triumphant answer. That is how spirituality works out in warfare. Christ works spirit-wise. Soul cannot cast out soul, and the soul cannot cast out the Devil because the Devil has already got it in his hand. Satan has obtained ground in our souls, but in our renewed, born-again spirits he has no place. The evil spirit behind everything can only be overcome by a spirit strengthened with might by the Spirit of God, and that means by a subduing of the soul to the spirit.

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January 14

14 JAN – Spiritual Ascendancy Demands Faith

Now, let me say further and again, things that are seen, things that happen, are not alone, they have spiritual factors behind them. Oh, young people, try to get hold of this. Ask the Lord to help you to get this really registered in your hearts, not as a part of your religious education or information, but really as a working principle in your lives. Your difficult situations, hold-ups, frustrations ― they are not just alone by themselves. If you are a child of God, there is a spiritual factor and a spiritual intelligence behind, and you will never get through until you can get behind the thing and deal with that spiritual factor; until you know how to deal with the enemy, the things will not be loosened. The Lord’s answer to these challenges may not always be in the same way, but always on one certain principle.

Paul said, “I would have you know that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12). That is one way in which the Lord answers the enemy. He sovereignly turns the work of the Devil to His own glory and to the fulfilment of the very thing which the Devil intended to prevent. The Lord’s answer is not always in the direct way of casting out the Devil, nor a direct rebuke that brings the enemy’s work to naught or stops him from working. The Lord very often allows him to work but answers him in many ways, and the ultimate issue is with the Lord, not the Devil. But always the Lord works to one principle, and that is the principle of our faith.

Paul met the situation; he saw and felt the things that were happening. Do you think that in his heart he capitulated to Satan and said, The Devil has things in his own hand, it is of no use our trying to do anything? Not a bit! Paul’s attitude was the Devil sees we are having some success and he is working; he is apparently doing a lot of harm, but the issue of this thing will be with the Lord and not with the Devil. So, because of an attitude taken like that on the part of His servant, the Lord was constantly, in different ways, answering the Devil and getting the issue into His own hands. But the instrument of the Lord in defeating and casting down the Devil was the spirit of the servant of God standing strongly and you do marvel how strongly Paul’s spirit stood. Though Satan often seemed to have things his way, in the end the Lord triumphed every time.

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January 13

13 JAN – God’s Mind about the Church

In the Divine scheme of things it is the Church which is the intermediary, that which stands between and has the ultimate effect in the spiritual realm. I mean that individual Christians, though they may be born again, as individuals will not get very far in touching that outermost realm of spiritual forces. There, a real registration has to be a corporate one. It will be the Church eventually which will be the instrument of Divine government in this universe.

Here spirituality means what the Church is in God’s mind. When we come to contemplate the Church in its wholeness and entirety, of course, we come mainly to the letters to the Ephesians and to the Colossians. There we find God’s mind about the Church. We must realize the necessity for our seeing and apprehending what the Church is in God’s mind, not as we find it in the churches, not as it actually is here; and we must stand on that ground, or we shall be helpless in this matter of spiritual impact. I mean that if we are going to accept what we find in the New Testament as to the churches as being the expression of all there is, we are very soon going to give up the fight, and shall not get very far.

Dr. Campbell Morgan has remarked that there is often heard the word ‘Oh, let us get back to the New Testament church!’ But, he said, ‘God forbid!’ And went on to say that you will look a long way today for a Christian church that will wholly correspond in its defects to the church in Corinth. When you come to think of it, there is some truth in that – a church in which there is incest and all that you find in Corinth! God forbid that we get back to the New Testament church if that is it! God forbid that we should say that we have made no progress from that! If we are going to accept that as the standard, we are going to be crippled, and the measure of our spirituality will be very small indeed, and therefore the measure of our impact likewise. The Apostle who was mainly responsible for these churches coming into being repudiated their condition, would not accept it, was fighting against it. Why? Because he had seen God’s mind; that was his position, his vantage ground, his strength. If he had never seen God’s mind and only saw this, what a disheartened, disappointed, despairing man he would be! He had seen God’s mind about it.

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