“We are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (for we walk by faith, not by sight).” “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed,” for “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Moses “endured, as seeing Him who is invisible,” and we likewise, for “we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” And “though now ye see Him not,” except by the eye of faith, one day faith will be changed to sight, “for now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” “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,” for “they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads.”
“We walk by faith,” and “not by sight”; We do not yet see our Lord, “But we know … when He shall appear,” “We shall see Him,” says the Word.
Ever since “as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” this world has been “the valley of the shadow of death.” Even “the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope.” Now, apart from the saving work and grace of Christ, all men are “dead in trespasses and sins.” And for us who know the Lord, even “if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin.” Death is stamped on everything in this life, and every true believer can truthfully say that “I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” But I need “fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” His word to us is, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.” Meanwhile, “Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me,” “for,” He tells us, “as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” “We went through fire and through water: but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.”
He keeps me safely every day, And He guides me by His grace; I need fear no evil ever, Since I shall see His face.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is not only identified in the New Testament as “the good shepherd [who] giveth His life for the sheep,” but also as “our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep,” who was “brought again from the dead … [to] make you perfect in every good work to do His will,” and as “the chief Shepherd [who] shall appear” to give to His faithful servants “a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” In the past, He is the Good Shepherd, dying for us; in the present, He is the Great Shepherd, living for us; in the future, He is the Chief Shepherd, coming for us. “Ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” And how gracious and tender is His shepherd care for those for whom He died. “He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice.” “And ye, My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God,” and “I will feed My flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God.” Every true believer in Christ can say with all confidence, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
The Good Shepherd laid down His life That we from sin might be free; The Great Shepherd arose from death; The Chief Shepherd will come for me.
It is sometimes hard for us to realize that “the old man” in the Christian “is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,” and to “know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” “The old man” or “the flesh” in a Christian is no different than the flesh in an unsaved person. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” and can never be made otherwise. And while it is blessedly true that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away: behold, all things are become new,” along with that new nature there is still in us “the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” But that “old man” has been dealt with in the cross of Christ. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him,” so that now we are told to “reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh,” and “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.”
The flesh and the Spirit battle To control my life each day; When all is yielded to Jesus, The Spirit leads in His way.
The believer in Christ is to be God-fearing, standing in reverence and awe before the Almighty, acknowledging His holiness and power, yet conscious of our own sinfulness and weakness. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endureth forever.” “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear,” for “in the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and His children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death,” and “the fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” So “better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and trouble therewith.” Moreover, “the fear of the Lord tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil,” and “by humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life.” “Let not thine heart envy sinners; but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long.”
Walk before Him in godly fear, And your life He’ll surely bless; He’ll guard your life from Satan’s harm, And fill it with joy and rest.
The Book of Proverbs has much to say about wisdom. This is not self-wisdom, but rather godly wisdom, centered in “Christ … the wisdom of God.” “A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.” We are told to “be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil,” “for the Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding,” and He admonishes us to “get wisdom, get understanding … neither decline from the words of My mouth.” “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding,” not forgetting that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding,” for “the fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility,” because “when pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” “A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.” So “buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding,” for “how much better is it to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver.” The Lord assures us that “My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and My revenue than choice silver.”
Wisdom is better than fine gold; With silver it can’t compare; It keeps our feet in right pathways, Makes us of evil beware.
Just as silver and gold ores are refined by fire in order to remove the impurities, so “the Lord trieth the hearts” of His redeemed people by the fires of trials and testings. “Thou, O God, hast proved us: Thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; Thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.” Yes, “the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins,” and “He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver,” “and refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried.” So, “beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy,” “that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”
The fires of trials and afflictions Roll o’er the heads of His saints; He tenderly watches each one; But for His grace we would faint.
“But now”! Now that Christ has died and has risen from the dead, now that the gospel of a finished redemption is proclaimed, now that God’s righteousness has been upheld and maintained, “now in Christ Jesus ye … are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” “In time past … ye were without Christ … having no hope, and without God in the world.” “But now,” how different it is. “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested … even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.” “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept,” and we have “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest,” and this “according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began; but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ.” “Ye were sometime darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.” “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”
Then I was lost and doomed in my sin, “But now” I have been “made free,” For Christ has died and risen again; I’m saved for eternity.
We often hear Christians say that we should crucify ourselves, but God’s Word never tells us to do that. All four references to the believer’s crucifixion are in the past tense, indicating that this crucifixion has already taken place, once for all, when we died with Christ on the cross. “I am crucified with Christ,” “and they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Moreover, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world,” and “knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” God never tells us to crucify ourselves, but He does tell us to keep the flesh in that place of death to which He assigned it on the cross. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.”
I died with my Lord on the cross, When Christ my Savior there died; Now sin shall not reign over me; With Him I was crucified.
There are those who would limit the “whosoever” of John 3:16 and tell us that it means only the elect. They say that Christ did not die for all, but for certain chosen people. What a strange and Christ-dishonoring teaching this is, for God’s Word tells us that “He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” and that “we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Further, “the man Christ Jesus … gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” If Christ did not die for all, then we must conclude also that all men did not become sinners by Adam’s sin. “As by the offense of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Christ] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Thank God that, without exception, “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” “And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
Christ died for all men everywhere; Whosoever will may come; His blood will cleanse you from your sins, And His grace will take you home.