2 Cor. x. 5, 6
One Hundred Points of Obedience.
From Shorthand Notes of an Address by the late PETER HYND of Troon.
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ: and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled" (2 Cor. x. 5, 6)
ONE of the most solemn truths in the whole Bible is the truth contained in verse 6. It means that I am to begin and occupy myself about my brother's disobedience when I can stand in the light of God and say to Him my own obedience is fulfilled. To get the measure of true obedience, look at verse 5. It is not a question here merely of action or deed; it is not some outward thing that man can see or take knowledge of, but I am called upon even to bring my thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and if my thoughts are to be obedient as well as my deeds, then there is something about obedience we have never yet grappled with or fully known. We all know that beautiful scripture in Isaiah lv. 8: "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are My ways your ways." Note the order, first thoughts, and then ways. We will never walk in God's ways until we have learned God's thoughts.
I desire that we test ourselves a little on this question of obedience. It is easy talking about obedience to the will of God and acknowledging the Headship of Christ, but words are froth if they remain nothing but words. Obedience in Christ's case meant Gethsemane and the Cross; obedience in our case will mean that we have to pass through our Gethsemane, and we shall have to bear our cross.
Instead of going over the New Testament in detail, supposing we were to assume there are one hundred precepts and commandments bearing upon every phase of life and circumstance in which we would find ourselves; we sit down by the Word of God and allow it to test us. First of all, we learn very early in the history of the children of God that they were baptized (Acts ii. 41). "All right—I have obeyed that command." As we go on, we see the practice of the saints of old was to gather simply and only in the Name of the Lord (Matt, xviii. 20). Blessed position; I have been enjoying it for over thirty years now, and I thank God more and more for it. In that I am obedient to the Lord. Then we have no creeds or confessions. "God and the Word of His grace" (Acts xx. 32) We claim to be all-sufficient for us in all circumstances and at all times, and I say in this also I am in the place of obedience. Well, that is three out of the hundred. What about the other ninety-seven?
Suppose we take this little one, "Love one another with a pure heart fervently" (1 Peter i. 22). Is not that one of the Lord's commands? Now let the Word search us. Do we at all times and in all circumstances love all our brethren, not merely some of them? Not only those that we are in the habit of always being associated with, but every one that belongs to Christ—do we love them fervently?
Take another in Philippians ii. 3: "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem the other better than themselves." If ever there was a commandment given by the Lord, this is one. Each child of God is to esteem every other child of God better than himself. What about that command? Can we stand up in the sight of High Heaven and say, I have day by day fulfilled that commandment? Not merely the brethren that I am associated with, that belong to the same meeting, but it is everyone that belongs to Christ that I am to esteem better than I esteem myself. If we are in the Spirit of Christ, and the love of Christ constrains us, and the Holy Spirit has His way with us, there will not be the slightest difficulty at any moment in esteeming the most crooked and perverse brother better than myself.
In that last and most blessed of all meetings the Lord had with His disciples before going to His death, so fully recorded by John, you remember how He opens the 14th chapter: "Let not your heart be troubled." That was Jesus' word—a commandment. It is not, Let not your head be troubled, but Let not your heart be troubled—the heart, the place He should occupy, the inner shrine. Can you look up and say, Yes, Lord, I have always fulfilled that commandment. There has never been a circumstance, trial, or difficulty in my life but I have risen above it because of the grace and strength supplied.
The children of Israel were just six weeks past the Red Sea when they began to complain. You know what that meant. Whenever a child of God murmurs or complains, or is swallowed up of some trouble, it means that you say in effect to the Lord: "You might have done better for me than you are doing. You are not doing the best for me." We are finding fault with Him; we are breaking His commandment; we are sinning against our blessed Lord. Oh, if we allow the Word of God to search us, the result will be that instead of finding fault with some Christian because he has not obeyed certain commands, we will be humbled and overwhelmed with shame at our own disobedience.
Suppose you take that Christian who lives in the same street with you. He is not baptized, he does not meet to break bread, he does not acknowledge the Headship of Christ. Suppose he were to be tested by the Word of God. Perhaps on that Day when we all stand at the Judgment-Seat of Christ, when things will be seen in their true relative proportions, with all our advantages, we will see we are not worthy to loose the shoes of that brother. There was more of personal, vital godliness and loyalty to Christ and subjection to His will in all His commandments than there was in us.
You ask why I speak thus. To under-rate the keeping of the ordinances as delivered? By no means. Let us cleave to them and to all the Word of God more and more as the days darken. But we will never "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" if occupied with our brother. The greatest service we can do is to get right ourselves before God, and when right, to keep right. The other way fosters and develops a spirit of pride. We boast oftentimes of our position, like those recorded in Jeremiah vii. 1-4. The people were flocking into the Temple of the Lord, saying, "The Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord are these." We are the people, we are the holy people, for the temple is always associated with holiness. The 8th verse tells us it was "lying words," and the practical manifestation of true goodness was entirely awanting.
May our God save us from having such a spirit, and may He give us more and more grace to cast down every high thing, to bring into captivity every thought, and to have a readiness to desire obedience in all things, so that we may live lives to the praise of the glory of His grace, and at last be classed among those "whom the Lord commendeth."
"The Witness" 1904