“He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as
he walked.” 1 John 2:6
“What is it “to abide” in Him. Many earnest souls have known much distress
just here. They have been told that “to abide” in Him means to be always
occupied with Him. Now I make bold to say, this is an unattainable
counsel of perfection.
We are in the world, and however [ diligent & dedicated]
we may be to keep the world out of us, we are charged with engrossing
duties calling for the utmost concentration of mind, heart and hand.
We cannot be in conscious constant occupation with Him. I do not so
understand that great word [“abiding”]..
For a moment think of that other phrase—“in Him.” What does that mean?
Ephesians explains it. “In Christ Jesus” is the sphere of the Christian life.
That is where grace has put him. We have not to concern ourselves about
getting that place: we are there. Now, what is “abiding in Him?” Why,
simply having nothing apart from Him, living in the sphere of the things which
interest Christ; bringing Him into the sphere of all our necessary occupations,
joys and innocent pleasures down here; having no business in which He is
not senior Partner; no wedding feast or other feast at which He is not chief
Guest, no failures which are not brought to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing.
What is John’s test of such a life? In degree, though not as perfectly, it
will be a walk even as He walked. It will lead along the same road; it will
encounter the same trials, enlist the same sympathies. “
“Knowing about God is one thing: knowing God is quite another. Job’s
confession illustrates this:
“I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear:” Job 42:5
and upon the hearing there had come to Job a true faith, a faith which
had withstood tremendous shocks. Well, we all begin there. Our saving
faith is based on testimony. But Job goes on:
“but now mine eye seeth thee.” Job 42:5
A very different matter. Are we then content to remain with a hearsay
knowledge of God? By no means. In the 17th chapter of John, our Lord
tells us that the ultimate end of the gift of eternal life is that we may know
Him. He is our Father, and can our hearts rest with anything short of that
personal knowledge of Him of which John speaks? At this point, John’s
test of spirituality is not to discourage a true knowledge of God, but to
expose a false assumption of such knowledge. What is the test?
“He that saith, I know him, and kept not his commandments, is a liar,”
1 John 2:4
It is not sinless obedience, but it is a heart set to live in the known will
of God. Such a one will have many a failure, but, though often stumbling,
he will keep on. The needle in the compass is often deflected by influences
about it— it trembles and is unquiet, but it resumes its steady alignment with
the object of its devotion. Now a life aligned to the will of God, is in the way
to know God. It is not an arbitrary requirement. In no other way, to
no other man, can God reveal Himself. Paul’s prayer for the Colossians
runs along that road:
“That ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and
spiritual understanding; ….increasing in the knowledge of God; “ Col. 1:9-10
God has spoken and His voice reaches the heart. It makes itself heard above the din and confusion of this world, and the strife and controversy of professing Christians. It gives rest and peace, strength and fixedness to the believing heart and mind. The opinions of men may perplex and confound — we may not be able to thread our way through the labyrinths of human systems of theology: but God’s voice speaks in Holy Scripture — speaks to the heart — speaks to me. This is life and peace. It is all I want. Human writings may go now for what they are worth, seeing I have all I want in the ever-flowing fountain of inspiration — the peerless, precious volume of my God.
The word “transformation” occurs twice in Scripture with reference to Christians (Rom. 12:2, and 2 Cor. 3:18). Every believer tries to be reformed, but very few apprehend the great moral difference between reformation and transformation. As a rule believers rejoice that they are saved, and aim to be up to the language of Micah 6:8, “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”
There are increasing numbers who have accepted the truth that by the grace of God they have been transferred from Adam to Christ, and that they are clear of the old man in God’s sight; yet they have no true understanding of what it is to be “transformed.” Reformation is improvement, and refers to what already exists; but transformation means a change of being. This, it is feared, is little known.
In Romans 12:2, we are exhorted not to be “conformed to this world,” but to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This means a new mind, something altogether new; so that you are not to walk before men according to this world, but according to the mind of Christ, your life. Hence, at the end of this exhortation, the Apostle says, “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:14).
It is not a question as to whether the order of this world is good or not, but you are not to be conformed to it any more: you are to be “transformed” according to a new mind, and thus be able to “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” Everyone who knows anything of his own heart must know that he has tastes and desires connected with this earthly scene, and the more they are gratified the stronger they become. But as he walks in the Spirit he finds that what he likes most in the natural order of things is the very thing he must avoid: “No man . . . having drunk old wine straightway desireth new; for he saith, The old is better.” Very slowly do we learn to be altogether non-conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our mind.
As to the transforming of 2 Corinthians 3:18, the blessedness of it is that it is by beholding the Lord Jesus’ glory with unveiled face that we are transformed into the same image; that is, we are brought into moral correspondence with Himself. It is not merely a new course outside and apart from the world as in Romans, but here we are in conscious union with the risen Lord Jesus Christ in glory.
It is true that every convert does not enjoy the light of His glory, because many are dwelling more upon the work than upon the Person who did the work. The fact is, the nearer you are to Him in glory the more assured you are of being in the righteousness of God, and that you are there without a cloud; and it is as you behold the Lord Jesus there, you are gradually transformed into moral correspondence to Himself. Many have been misled by thinking that by reading the Bible you become like Christ—transformed; but you will find diligent students of the Word, who may never say anything incorrect in doctrine, yet who never seem to grow in grace and walk in spiritual reality.
When we learn that we are united to Him who is in glory, we can come forth in the new man to manifest His beauty and grace here on earth. This transformation is of the highest order. The Lord lead our hearts to apprehend the great contrast between the old man, however reformed by law, and the new man growing by grace into the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In seeking to avoid being a man-pleaser, some fall into the opposite evil of becoming exceedingly displeasing. The apostle sought to “please all men in all things” in view of their profit . Nevertheless, when the truth was in question, he wrote, “Do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ”. On the one hand he sought in his walk and ways to commend himself “to every man’s conscience” , and on the other he laboured “to be agreeable” to God; on the right hand and on the left he was therefore well equipped for the fight of faith. He became all things to all men that he might save some, yet he upheld the truth of the gospel “not as pleasing men, but God, who trieth our hearts”. That is what will preserve us from falling on the one side or the other—being pleasing to God! We are exhorted “not to please ourselves,” but that every one please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not Himself ; nay, blessed be His Holy Name, “I do always those things that please” the Father, He could say; and the Father said, “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased.” Enoch walked with God and was taken away before the flood; so the saints will be translated from the earth to be with the Lord before the flood of worldwide judgment—“the wrath to come.” But meanwhile may we so walk that Enoch’s testimony may be ours also, “for before his translation he had this testimony, that HE PLEASED GOD”.