“But ye beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the
Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God.” (Jude 20,21).
“Here we have prayer in the Spirit –in the wisdom and power of the Spirit.
In Jude everything is in ruins; apostasy, the history of which he traces
from the fall of the angels to the present, has set in. False professors,
a blot upon the Church, have crept in –the days of Enoch and of Noah
are repeated. In the midst of all this chaos, the saints are to stand firm.
Because of the love of many waxing cold, all the greater need for them
to keep themselves built up and established.
In this steadfastness there are four features—building themselves
up on their most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping
themselves in the love of God [abiding], and looking for the
coming of the Lord. Here prayer is a most important part, but
it is prayer in the Holy Spirit. There is all the reality which the Spirit
gives, as well as the intelligence and discernment which He affords
and there is the persistence. If there is to be stability, it must be in
the power of the Spirit of God. All else will fail—human strength
and human wisdom all falter here. But He who has this living link
with God perseveres unto the end.
In Jude stability was the prominent thought in view of abounding
evil. We reach another stage in Ephesians 6: 17,18: “And the sword
of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer
and supplication in the Spirit.” Here it is conflict. The entire passage
gives the familiar picture of the Christian engaged in conflict with
the hosts of evil. We wrestle not against flesh and blood. It is no
human adversary whom we are called to withstand, but Satan and
wicked spirits in heavenly places. These would rob us of the
enjoyment of our portion, either keeping us from taking possession
of it by faith or snatching it from our grasp after we had laid hold of it.
In this conflict there are various weapons of defense, and one of
offense, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word, or saying of God.
When mention of the word of God is made it is quickly followed by
prayer, for the two go together.
“They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections
and lusts” [Gal. 5:24]. A crucified thing is not to be bettered or
sanctified. We are, on the contrary, to abstain –hold off– from
fleshly lusts that war against the soul [1 Peter 2:11]. To strive against it
is but to repeat the hopeless struggle of the seventh of Romans. The
only remedy is the walk in the Spirit, with the flesh in its true place —
“no confidence in the flesh.”
But through carelessness we fail to “mortify the deeds of the body;”
we give room to the flesh, and even make provision for it to fulfill its
lust. As a result, the Holy Spirit is grieved. Mark, he is not grieved
away—that could never be; but He can no longer occupy us with
our Lord; He must occupy us with our failures. You will notice that
grieving the Spirit is connected particularly [Eph.4:30] with those
forms of fleshly indulgence most common among Christians —
malice, strife, bitterness, an unforgiving spirit. Ah, upon how many
has the sun gone down in this wrath! — their day of communion
exchanged for the night of a grieved Spirit. Other and grosser forms
of fleshly indulgence are specified, but any, even the slightest yielding
to that, grieves the Holy Spirit of God.
And what a mercy it is that this is the case. How many a child of God has
been brought to himself by the consciousness of having grieved the
Spirit. His peace is gone, his communion has ceased, he is miserable
until he judges the evil, confesses and forsakes it. Instead of going
on in carelessness, only to fall deeper and deeper into sin, he is
made to feel the seriousness of that which blocks the intercourse
between the Spirit and himself. We less realize how much we owe to the
patient faithfulness of that Holy One in showing by His grief where we
God keep us all from spiritual hardness. No, dear brethren, a walk in
the Spirit does not mean a grieving of the Spirit. Galatians 5: 16-25:
“This I say, then, walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the
flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the
flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot
[rather, may not] do the things that ye would….” Let the positive
things of Christ fill the heart; let the word of Christ dwell in us
richly, and we will have little room and less inclination for the
lusts of the flesh. May our gracious God lead us into the liberty
and joy of these things.”