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November 1

1 NOV – Keeping On Going in the Glory Line

I believe that the secret of the apostle Paul’s life, from the very first day of his conversion, right up to the end when, after so many years, and after seeing and knowing so much, was to be still found aspiring, still stretched out. He had seen Jesus of Nazareth glorified, and he said: ‘That is the on-high calling!’ This is so much in keeping with what we have read in the letter to the Hebrews. We read: “We behold… Jesus… crowned with glory and honour” and then we read on: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling…” (Hebrews 3:1). What is this heavenly calling? It is Jesus crowned with glory, as the Man according to God’s eternal intention for man. Christ in a glorified humanity is the model, the pattern, the representation of God’s intention for all who believe in the Lord Jesus.

So then, if we have received that eternal life, if Christ is in us, dwelling in our hearts through faith, this is our destiny. We have the basis of an incorruptible life, which will eventually emerge in the fullness of that glory which He, as our Representative, now knows. Faith not only believes for the forgiveness of sins, not only for pardon, not only for justification and redemption. Faith in Jesus Christ apprehends Him as the very humanity to which we are to be conformed. Faith takes hold of Him as He is now, and says: ‘He is as He is because God wants me to be like that’; and, if we did but know, the Spirit of glory is operating for us on that basis every day, to make us like Him, to transform us that we may be transfigured, to conform us to His image. All the meaning of the activities and methods of the Spirit of God in our lives is to lay a foundation for glory.

May the Lord teach us how to keep clear of this corrupted world, how to keep clear of that wretched, corrupt old man. You remember that magnificent, though so simple, picture that Bunyan has given us of the man with the muck rake who has a crown of glory over his head, who is so occupied with his rake and so obsessed with what is down in the mud, that he does not see the glory but misses it all. That muck is our old man, and we are always turning him over to see if we can find something good in him, some glory. We are seemingly incapable of learning this one lesson, that there is no glory in that realm. We should finish all these investigations and lift up our eyes to the Lord of glory. This is how we will find the way of glory. Let us keep on the glory line.

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October 31

31 OCT – Outward Separation from the World

The inward separation had its outward effect or outworking in separation from the world, and no one will think for a moment that I mean physical separation from the world. No, He was here right in it, in its throng and press, in its affairs, with everything pressing upon Him; never seeking to live the life of a hermit, detached from the world, but right in it and yet while rubbing shoulder to shoulder with the world, having all the contacts of this world in every form, there was a distinctiveness about Him. He was not a part of it, but apart from it, a wonderful outward separation. While being able to talk with the grossest and the most defiled and the people most involved in this world, He was yet by no means a part of their system, their order, their way of life, but outwardly separate from the world.

The most unhappy people in this world are Christians who try to have both worlds. It is my experience that if you want to find a miserable Christian, you must find what is called ‘a worldly Christian’, one in whom a constant civil war goes on between two kingdoms. Yes, a Christian in this world, trying to get something out of this world is a miserable creature. I used to illustrate it by the old border battles between Scotland and England. The people who lived in the border country never had a day’s rest all their lives. One day it would be the overrunning from one side, the next day from the other side, and these poor people on the border line had the most miserable existence possible. It is like that. You try to live on a border-line – or border-land Christian life – and you will be a miserable person, without rest or peace or joy or anything else. You will never know exactly where you are, who is your master, which way you are going, to whom you belong. It is a miserable existence.

The Lord Jesus was not like that. He was on one side and absolutely on one side. The border line was a very wide one for Him. Indeed, there was no border line. He was attached to heaven, and He maintained that attachment. You and I, if we are going to know glory now and glory afterward, will have to be on the same ground as He was in this matter – no compromise with the world; in it, having to do our work here, having to meet people here, having to be friendly in a way, yet not one with their nature, their realm, their way. It is a difficult thing – not as easy to do as to say – it works out in many practical ways. The point is that Christ was wholly for God, and because of that, His Father was the Father of glory, and the Spirit of glory rested upon Him, and the Father could give Him glory.

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October 30

30 OCT – Living On the Ground of Glory

So we have to look again at the One who has set for us the pattern – who indicated the principles of the incorruptible which result in glory; to look at what was true of Him, as this incorruptible One that resulted in God giving Him glory. One or two things I will indicate because they are very important. Firstly, it was His inward separation from sin. There was a great gap between Him and sin. It is said of Him that He “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), that He was “separated from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). That is, that in His nature He was separate from the rest of men; there was an inward separation. Now, we are not constituted as He was, as sinless, but we are told and made to understand in the New Testament that that inward separation, which was so true of Him, can be made true in us.

Paul has a way of putting it. He calls it: “the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11), and he says that it is a thing of the heart, an inward separating between what we are in ourselves and what we are in Christ, the putting of a gap between the two. And then the New Testament says that by the Holy Spirit’s enablement, by the Holy Spirit’s power, you need not live on the ground of what you are in yourself, you can live on the ground of Christ, and living on the ground of Christ you need not be the slave of yourself and your sinfulness, you are delivered. There is something that has separated inside, and if you live on the ground of what Christ is and not on the ground of what you are in yourself, you are on the ground of the incorruptible and you are on the ground of the glory.

We who are Christians know that a cleavage has been made in us, and that we are now two people. There is that side which is our new life, our new relationship, which is our Christ-connection. There is that other side which is still our old relationship with the old Adam. It is there: it is not cauterized, it is not annihilated; and we know now that it is for us to take continually the power of the Holy Spirit, in virtue of that separating cross, to keep on the Christ side, on the new side; and if we do, we know that it is glory.

The enemy, the great enemy of the glory, was ever seeking to contaminate Him, involve Him, pollute Him, corrupt Him. Do not let us think that He never had to resist anything, that He never had to say ‘No’ to another. That matter of how a sinless Man could be tempted is of course an old theological problem, but there is no doubt about it that He fought our battle in all reality.

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October 29

29 OCT – The Recovery of a Fighting Spirit

One of the reasons why Christians who have been active settled down too soon was the spirit of the world getting in amongst them. What is the spirit of the world? It is the spirit of: ‘Have a good time! Let us have a good time! Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’ The people of Israel looked at the world around them and, if I understand it rightly, they said: ‘These people do not have all the hard time that we do. Our life is a life of continual battle. They do not know so much about that, but they believe in having a good time.’ I think that is how it was at this particular time. Instead of fighting the world they made friends with the world. They made the world their friends, and so they did not finish the work. Compromise is a dangerous thing to the inheritance! Trying to be on good terms with the world and having an easy time will result in our losing a large part of the inheritance.

In the history of the Israelites we find that God did not give up the battle against the enemy, and that whenever the people took up the battle and turned again on to the Lord’s side to fight the enemy, they found the Lord waiting for them. So we have the story of Deborah, the story of Gideon – and dare I mention Samson? However, although Samson was a poor sort of man, if only the Lord gets a poor chance, He will take it. You may not think much of Samson, but do you think better of yourself? We are all poor creatures! We have all been discouraged, we have all been tempted to give up, we have all stopped too soon, we have all been weary in well-doing; but take the sword of the Spirit again! Take up the battle again, and you will find the Lord is ready and waiting for you.

Gideon, Deborah, Samson, and all the others – but I think there is one who is better than them all. Do you remember that beautiful little Book of Ruth? Everybody is charmed with that book! What a lovely book of spiritual recovery it is! What a picture of the Lord’s patience, the Lord’s readiness to take advantage of every opportunity! How does that book begin? “And it came to pass in the days when the judges judged…” The Book of Ruth was in the times of the Judges, which until then was the most terrible time in history of Israel, but God was ready to change the whole picture. There are the two different pictures: the Judges and Ruth, but both were in the same period. Do you see what I am trying to say?

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October 28

28 OCT – The Loss of Heavenly Vision

From time to time people who began their Christian life with zeal seem to come to a place of losing steam. This has happened all too often in the past. What was the effect of people stopping too soon in their spiritual tracks? It was the loss of vision. They only saw the things that were near and lost sight of God’s eternal purpose. They lost sight of what Paul calls the “prize of the on-high calling” (Philippians 3:14). Now this sounds like a contradiction, but they lost sight of the things that are not seen! You say: ‘What do you mean by that? That is nonsense! How can you see the things that are not seen?’ Paul says: “The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). They lost sight of the things which are eternal because they were looking too much at the things which are seen. They lost the heavenly vision for they became satisfied too soon. It was all good so far, but the good became the enemy of the best.

The first thing that happened, then, was the loss of the heavenly vision. It works both ways. If we lose the heavenly vision we settle down too soon. If we settle down too soon we lose the heavenly vision. And what do we mean by settling down too soon? We mean: losing the warring spirit. In the Book of Judges the Philistines resorted to a very subtle strategy: they took all the weapons of war away from Israel, and all that they had left was one file to sharpen their agricultural instruments, so that every farmer in Israel had to take a journey to the blacksmith to sharpen his farm instruments. All the sharp instruments had been taken away and the spirit of war was undermined. The Philistines had made it impossible for Israel to fight and you know that there is a very big Philistine about! The strategy of this great enemy of the inheritance is to take the fighting spirit out of us. Oh, what a lot of mischief the Philistines have done to Christians! What about our prayer life? Yes, we ask the Lord for a hundred and one things, but we do not battle through to victory on some situation. There is some life in terrible bondage, there is some servant of the Lord having a hard time, and there are many other calls for battle, but where are the prayer groups who take up these issues and will not give up until they are settled? The warring spirit has gone out from so much of the Church. That is a clever strategy of the devil! Lose the spirit of spiritual battle and you will stop short of finishing the work.

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October 27

27 OCT – Weariness in Battle

There are many Christians who make a wonderful beginning. They see the vision of God’s great purpose, and certain words in the New Testament make a great appeal to them, such as: “Called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). That is a wonderful vision! “…According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:11) Such a thought makes a great appeal to these people and they make a heart response. They go on so far, and then many stop too soon. They lose the vision; they lose the inspiration; they lose the sense of purpose; they lose the energy to go on, and of some we have to say: ‘Something has gone out of their faces. What was there with them once is not there now. They were so positive once, so occupied with the heavenly calling, but something has happened.’ These people may not be altogether conscious of it, and they would not tell you that something has happened, but it is quite evident that something has happened. They have just lost something, and you do not get the response now from them that you once got. They are not so interested now as they were. The heavenly vision has gone out of their lives. That is true of many Christians, and it could be true of all of us.

Why did these people stop short of finishing the job? I think that very likely it was because they became weary in well doing. The battle was long drawn out. It was spread over years and was very exhausting. No sooner had they gained one victory than they had to start fighting again. They did not have much rest between one battle and the next one. It was a long drawn-out warfare; they got weary in battle, and in their weariness they lost the vision, they lost heart, and they lost the initiative.

I am so glad that with all the strong things that the New Testament says, it says some very kind and understanding things about this: “Let us not be weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9); “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, … your labour is not vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58); “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love” (Hebrews 6:10). What a lot of things there are like that! And Jesus said to His disciples, who were being brought into the battle: “Let not your heart be troubled!” (John 14:1), while we can hear the Lord’s words to Joshua: “Be strong and of a good courage; be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed” (Joshua 1:9). Again, the Lord Jesus said to His disciples: “He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

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October 26

26 OCT – The Crisis Point of Committal

Very often the whole mounting avalanche of Divine working in our lives—an avalanche built up as silently and slowly as the added snowflakes in the Alps—just waits to move with power and overwhelming for that final—yet all-inclusive—act of committal. We wait; we think, wrestle, contemplate, analyze, go round-and-round; we reason and argue; we recognize that there is nothing else for it, and even say so; we even come to the point when the matter is settled in our conviction and acceptance, and we think that we are over the hedge, but nothing happens, nothing eventuates. Why is it? The Lord knows more than we do about the deceitfulness of our hearts. A covenant has two sides, and in the Old Testament two sacrifices were connected with a covenant; one representing God, the other the offeror; both were killed and the two parties to the covenant were represented as passing between the two (See Abraham in Gen. 15). There has to be a slaying of something on our side! In other words, God is waiting until we have burned our boats behind us. Though we may have approached the shore of His will and way for us, there will be nothing from God’s side while our boats are just left on the shore so that, if things don’t go quite as we expect, we still can retreat. That boat is an evidence of doubt or reservation. It must be burned, so that—whatever the consequence—we have no alternatives.

The young believer will not grow unless he or she makes a committal in testimony, so letting others know where they stand. The law holds good in every stage of development and progress. If policy governs, or fear, of how such a step will affect our prospects, or any consideration which conflicts with what we know in our deepest hearts is the way indicated for us—for us—those things are boats or bridges representing a false “Safety-first” policy. As when the bleating lambs were preserved by Saul—the finger of God will point to them and say, What mean those boats? God will wait for the full and final capitulation without a reservation, and to defer is only to be involved in confusion, and either becoming a misfit, having missed God’s first best, or losing out altogether.

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October 8

8 OCT – Has the World Been Crucified to You?

“But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Gal. 6:14

The cross again is in the forefront. The apostle is saying here that his glorying is in the cross of the Lord Jesus, and that cross has represented for him his being crucified to the world and the world to him. Of course, that is a very inclusive, comprehensive statement, and embraces a very great deal, but there is a particular application of it, or a particular usage of the statement here. These Judaisers had gone to Galatia, and had sought to make Jewish proselytes of these Christian believers by having them circumcised, so that they might append these Gentile believers to the Jewish church.

As we have noticed, the point of their approach was this: If you do that, a great deal of persecution will cease. You will come into a realm of tolerance; at present you are outside everything that is recognized and accepted, and all the world is against you. Come into the fold. Come into the accepted system of things, and you will have an easy time.

What was behind it? Paul says their object is simply to count heads, to “glory in your flesh”, to say: See how many proselytes we are making! See how many converts we have got! No wonder Paul writes with heat, lest these Judaisers should glory on their side in their success, and then that these Galatians should discover that these people were only glorying on the ground of their having forfeited their high position.

What does Paul mean? It does not matter to me what the world thinks! It does not matter one wit to me the attitude the world takes! Let it persecute! Let it say what it likes! Let the world defame. Let the world misrepresent. Let the world lie. Let the whole accepted religious system say what it likes. I have been crucified to this world! I am dead to all that, and that is dead to me! The cross of the Lord Jesus means the emancipation from the world in that sense.

We shall have to decide, once and for all, as definitely as Calvary was a once and for all thing, that we are not going to be influenced or deterred one little bit in our utterness of abandonment to the Lord by what the world (even the religious world) says and does. When we recognize that, there will be triumph.

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October 7

7 OCT – The False and the True Life

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Gal 2:20

What is the declaration contained within that statement? The essence of the utterance is this: There is a life which is not man’s natural life, which is not original human life, but is a peculiar, particular, unique life; it is the life of God Himself. That very life of God, eternal, incorruptible, indestructible, divine life, is the life which it is the Lord’s will for every one of His children to possess. There the whole of the Christian life has its beginning, its spring. What is the Gospel? What is the Christian life? It is not Judaism taking on the title of Christianity. It is not Christianity taking hold of Judaism. It is the possessing of God’s own divine life. Anything short of that is not the Gospel! Paul here says that this life is the very foundation and basis of a true Christian experience, and it means this: It is no longer I, but Christ living in me.

That is set right over against Judaism, which was all external, outward. This is inward. “Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live…” Well, Paul, how did you become possessed of that life? In what way did you come into that great reality of Christ living in you? “I have been crucified with Christ!” What did that mean, Paul? That meant that Judaism had to go: I was steeped in Judaism, far more than any other of my brethren, the apostles, Jews as they were. I excelled in my zeal for the Jewish faith; but when I saw the Lord Jesus, and when I saw the meaning of Christ crucified, that which had been my very life (Judaism) became as nothing. He became my life, and that other ceased to have any meaning for me! Paul is here setting the life of Judaism, which is no life, over against the life of the indwelling Christ, which is the life.

What is it to be a Christian? It is to receive God’s very life in Christ into the innermost place in our being. “Christ liveth in me, and that life which I now live…” You cannot substitute that. There is nothing which can take the place of that. And yet there are those who think that if they go to meetings, and keep up their religious forms and observances, it is all well. It is not all well! That is the devil’s lie! Any religious system which is a substitute for the indwelling Christ is an accursed thing, by reason of its very effect.

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October 6

6 OCT – Refusing To Compromise with the World

In the very first chapter of the book of Daniel, he and his brethren determined that they would not defile themselves with the king’s dainties, nor with the wine from the king’s table; and that is how they spoke of it when they went to Arioch, the king’s representative, to plead their case. They asked – you would think hardly tactfully or diplomatically! – ‘that they might not defile themselves’. It is hardly complimentary, at any rate, to speak so of food from the king’s table. They pressed this matter of defilement. They had seen the principle that by this means they and their testimony would in some way be compromised. It was a link with this world and with Satan’s kingdom as in this world, and the effect of it would be – oh, how inclusive and comprehensive this is! – that they would be denying in their very persons the all sufficiency of the Lord. If they were to go the way of the world and look like the people of the world, where would be the testimony of the Lord? If they did not go the way of the world and were to refuse to have any kind of compromise with the world, there would be great opportunity for the Lord to prove that He can go one better than the world, and is more than all the world put together.

This is the challenge. On various grounds and by various arguments, young people especially are tempted to compromise on this point. They think they will gain influence with people of the world by coming down to their level and doing as they do, thus getting on an even footing with the world; but they do not recognize that such a course so often involves compromise. More rarely still do they recognize that when God’s people are going to the world for their sustenance and nourishment and pleasure and gratification and so on, it results in a question being cast upon the ability of the Lord to prove how far greater He is than this world. The bad spiritual state of the people in Daniel’s day was wholly due to their being in bondage to the world. Daniel and his brethren would have none of it. They stood apart in complete separation from the world, its standards, its ideas and all its resources, to give God the opportunity of proving that He is better than the world, and His servants, by His grace, better than the men of the world. That is the testimony, and until that is true, we have no authority, no ascendency, no real testimony. Separation therefore, unpleasant and hard as the word may sound, is a very fundamental matter if we mean by it that we are separated unto the Lord, that He may show by means of us that this world is a poor thing compared with what we have in Him.

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