Answers to Correspondents.: "Our"; "The Flesh"; Prayer; What We Read

1 John 1:3-7
L.—1 John 1:3-73That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 5This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:3‑7).—The "our" of this verse is said to be apostolic, and we believe it is. But does this exclude us from the fellowship of which the apostle speaks? On the contrary, what the apostles hid seen and heard is now declared unto us, that we might enjoy with them fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, and thus have fullness of joy. "For what can we have more than the Father and the Son? What more perfect happiness than community of thoughts, feelings, joys, and communion with the Father and the Son, all our joy being derived from themselves? And if it seems difficult to believe, let us remember that, in truth, it cannot be otherwise; for in the life of Christ the Holy Ghost is the source of my thoughts, feelings, communion, and He cannot give thoughts different from those of the Father and the Son. They must be in their nature the same.”
"Fellowship one with another" in verse 7 refers entirely to those whose walk is in the light—that is, to all believers. For carefully remark that the point here is not how, but where do we walk? Either in the light or in darkness, surely. In former days we walked in darkness, but now it is in the light that we walk. Alas! our practical life is not always according to the light; but that is another thing. As those, then, whom grace has brought into the light, we have fellowship one with another.
In regard to your third question, speaking carefully, we should hardly like to say the Lord Jesus "became" the Son of God when born into this world, though if another said it, we would not make him an offender for a word, or be so lacking in charity as to suspect evil where no evil was intended. "That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" is what the angel said to Mary. As born here, He was, to be known as such. Of course, He was ever "the Son," before Incarnation and after it, and in John 5 the Lord speaks of Himself both as "the Son" and "Son of God" (see also Heb. 1:88But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. (Hebrews 1:8)). But in treating of the Person of the Son, let us not forget what is written in Matt. 11:2727All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)—a word which should never be out of mind, no, not for a moment, when so holy and profound a subject is before us.
As to the difference between "standing" and "state," by the former is meant what we are when viewed as in the place and relationship into which we have been brought through grace, and in which there is no change or decay. By the latter, the everyday state of the believer's heart, which is so variable, and dependent on his walk and his communion with God. It is of great moment to distinguish these two things.
M. L.—It is a very great mercy that your conscience plagued you for sailing so near that seductive whirlpool of sin in which so many have been caught and hopelessly wrecked. "The flesh" is in us all, and its works are manifest. Gal. 5:19-2119Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19‑21) tells us what these are, and we are capable of doing any of them if not walking in the Spirit. Be then on your guard against the first movements of "the flesh," and remember that the divine way of keeping it in check is not by human effort. "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Such is the simple but sure secret of victory over it. Now the Spirit must not be looked upon as mere power, like steam to the engine, or wind to the sails of the ship. There is power, of course, but the way of the Spirit's power is in the heart being engaged with Christ, who, in ways beyond number, is revealed in the Scriptures in His endless beauties and glories—the Center of a new system in which all the glory of God is displayed in infinite variety. Into those heavenly pastures the Holy Spirit would lead the heart that yields itself to Him. It is thus that we sow to the Spirit, and of the Spirit reap—daily, hourly—life everlasting. May our God give you to know this way of peace and love. Write whenever disposed. It will give us great pleasure to hear from you.
J. D. L.—Your word of "entreaty" can hardly be inserted in our pages. It is too incisive, and its points are sharper than needles. As a rule, we believe in going straight to the mark and saying what we have to say as plainly as possible. But there are occasions when it is advisable to go a longer way round. When Nathan was sent to David to arouse the slumbering conscience of the king to the baseness and enormity of his sin, he spake in a parable first of all, and afterward in thundering accents, saying, "Thou art the man!" It is wise sometimes to speak in parables. But we heartily go with you in deprecating "long, sentimental prayers and exhortations with numerous repetitions, which weary the listeners and are anything but helpful." We share, too, in your grief over a brother who prays definitely for something to which we can all heartily add Amen! and then goes wandering off into a labyrinth of generalities where our thoughts refuse to follow. All true!—all true I and much to be deplored. The remarkable thing is that the good brother who suffers most from this infirmity will read these lines and join with you in loudly bewailing such wearisome habits without suspecting that he himself is the guilty party. Then we need a Nathan to cry aloud in his ear, "Thou art the man!" But where shall he be found?
A. M. B.—We thank you for your letter on the importance of care as to what we should read. Many young Christians, and perhaps older ones too, devour much of the trashy literature of the day to the injury of themselves, both spiritually and intellectually. There is but little of the fear of God before their eyes in doing this, for if some spiritually minded friend were to enter their room while thus engaged, the book or novelette would be hurriedly thrust under a pillow or hid in some corner out of sight. This shows that they care more for the esteem of a fellow-creature than for the conscious approval of Him who sees and knows everything. The cure is found in communion with God, in the enjoyment of His presence, in the prayerful reading of His Word, in the ceasing to grieve the indwelling Spirit who is patiently waiting to lead the willing heart into the growing knowledge of Christ. Thus new and endless vistas of delight would open to the soul, and the reading of frothy and pernicious books would drop off like leaves when summer wanes.