God does not force His redeemed children to walk with Him; the choice is left to us. He tells us what the consequences will be if we live for His glory, and what they will be if we do not. He tells us plainly that “we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live,” and, on the other hand, He tells us to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” We may “fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth,” remembering His words that “if any man serve Me, him will My Father honor,” and also remembering that “if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” So, “as ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.”
We may walk with the Lord each day, Or follow the leadings of self; We may know His own peace and joy, Or of them we may be bereft.
Every blood-washed sinner is a priest, “having … boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,” and is invited to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” As believer-priests, we “also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” And what are these “spiritual sacrifices” which we are “to offer up”? First of all, we are to offer ourselves, to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” Then, having offered ourselves, “by Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Such is to Him “an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.”
We offer ourselves to our God, As sacrifices living; We are transformed, our lives are changed; Our lives now taste of heaven.
The believer in Christ needs ever to remember that we are on earth as “strangers and pilgrims” and that “our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” and “here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” We are not only “strangers”—for our Lord said that “they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world”—we are also “pilgrims,” for we are journeying toward heaven and glory. How very much we need the Lord’s help to “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” Like David, we need to cry, “Hear my prayer, O Lord … for I am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner.” Truly, “I am a stranger in the earth: hide not Thy commandments from me.” Remembering our pilgrim character and that “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world,” then “lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
I am a stranger here on earth, Journeying to heaven so fair; Lord, keep me from loving the world So that it may not be a snare.
There is no such thing as a standstill in the life of a Christian. While the eternal salvation of the true believer is forever secured by the finished work of Christ, our fellowship with the Lord and our fruitfulness for Him depend largely upon our own application of the truth to our lives. So we are to “beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” This needed growth comes by the Word of God as it exercises our hearts, so, “as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby,” so “that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection,” to that spiritual maturity which will bring honor to our Lord and blessing to us, “being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
“But grow in grace” is God’s command To all who know and trust in Him; Thus shall “we follow on to know,” And thus shall things of earth grow dim.
“Goodness and mercy shall follow” us always because the Lord Himself is with us, and He tells us to “let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Many of us are creatures of moods. Sometimes we feel like the Lord is near; at other times we feel that He is afar off. But our feelings have nothing to do with the facts of God’s Word. “The Lord, He it is that doth go before thee; He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” These are the words of Him who is called “faithful and true,” for “God, that cannot lie,” has vouchsafed His presence always with His own. “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” To be sure, there are times when we are more than ordinarily conscious of His presence, but that does not make His abiding presence any more certain. It depends, not upon our consciousness of it, but upon His own Word. “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God.”
Our Lord never leaves His own; He stands close by them, always; Though burdens press and trials come, He is with us all our days.
“The God of peace shall bruise Satan under [our] feet” when the Lord Jesus comes again. Until that time, we are exhorted to “put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil,” watching “lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” Chief among “his devices” is his effort to cast doubt upon the Word of God and the Son of God. His first recorded utterance in the Old Testament was to question the Word of God: “Yea, hath God said?” His first recorded utterance in the New Testament was to question the Son of God: “If Thou be the Son of God.” Satan’s methods have not changed. He still denies the veracity of God’s Word. He still raises questions about the deity of God’s Son. And he is a master of deception. He is “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world,” yea, “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” May we, like the church at Philadelphia, be those to whom our Lord can say that thou “hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name.” “Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.” “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Satan hates the Word of God, For the Bible spells his doom; His power was broken by Christ, Who died and rose from the tomb.
There will be a special reward at the judgment seat of Christ for “all them … that love His appearing.” It is dear to the heart of the Lord when His people “love His appearing.” He wants us to understand “what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” He wants us to understand what it will mean when His prayer is answered “that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me.” This special reward for “all them … that love His appearing” is called “a crown of righteousness,” for the hope of the Lord’s coming, held in the heart, produces righteousness in the believer’s life. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”
How will it be when He cometh, And we look on His shining face? Will we be eagerly waiting For Him who has saved us by grace?
It is clear from our text that “the fruits of righteousness … are by Jesus Christ,” and by Him alone. He said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing.” There must be continued fellowship with Him, if we bear “the fruit of the Spirit [which] is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” And this delight in the Lord which brings fruitfulness in our lives comes from our delight in His Word. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” For “blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh … neither shall cease from yielding fruit.”
I would bear fruit for His glory; I would walk with Him day by day; I would always show forth His praise, To those whom the Lord sends my way.
Many times when we pray, God does not give us an immediate answer, but exercises and enlarges our own hearts while we are “praying in the Holy Ghost” before He gives us that which we have prayed for. There are other times when our prayers are not answered because of unjudged sin in our lives, for “if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Surely “the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.” Disobedience to God’s Word cuts off our fellowship with God, for “he that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination,” while “the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Could it be true of us that “ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts”? So, “when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive; neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
We are to pray in the Spirit, With hearts freshly cleansed by the Word; We may then expect His answer, While deep heart peace prayer affords.
The Bible often calls the Christian’s daily pilgrimage a “walk,” and we are told to “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God,” and “if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” When we walk, we take one step at a time. Our days are made up of “steps,” one by one, and “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” He delights to guide our steps, as we look to Him. And He does so by His Word. “Order my steps in Thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me,” and “hold up my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.” It is written that when “the law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” Thus “righteousness shall go before Him; and shall set us in the way of His steps.” Let us walk each step in humble dependence upon the Lord, praying Him to “show me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths,” knowing that “all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies” and that “Thou wilt show me the path of life.” By His Word He shows us the right paths and steps for us, for “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
The Lord leads us a step at a time, As we look to Him through the Word; Step by step, day by day, He guideth, Until we are home with the Lord.