I should like the two following sentences, written, as they were, by men who have both served the Lord for upwards of forty years, to sink deeply down into the hearts of all who may be kind enough to read this paper. The subject is profoundly serious.
First: “I question if some have bottomed things in their own souls with God, and let His judgment about themselves (not their own judgment from what conscience says) into the very core of their being.”
Second: “The judgment of self by conscience is not enough. To get to the core there must be the judgment pronounced by God at the cross.”
You will notice that in each sentence the “judgment of God”—that is, His revealed mind—and the “core of the being” are mentioned.
The mind of God as to the true state of the heart by nature is the point before each writer.
Now who are the people alluded to by the writers?
Not the unconverted, who, of course, have no sense of their condition before God at all; not even those who may have been awakened to that sense in the throes of a religious movement, but what was in their mind was the fact that, today, many who have heard, and, by grace, received a full and clear gospel, have never permitted the judgment of God, as being far in excess of any work of conscience, to reach and affect what is described as the core of their being!
This fact, for fact it is, goes far to account for the instability, the dissatisfaction, and the worldliness of many true believers, especially amongst the young of our day.
What they have received has cost them little. The conscience has been only scarified, instead of being ploughed by the mighty Word of God. Tears and weeping there may have been, and, no doubt, sorrow for sin; but such souls may have been brought too quickly into peace, and have never really or adequately faced their condition in the presence of God.
It is an awful thing to discover the truth that in the core of your being there is only hatred of God! “They hated Me without a cause,” said the Son of God when here below; and what was true then is also true now. Men hate God!
This, then, is the judgment of God—His appraisement of your heart and mine—as proved only too fully at the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Conscience may tell me that I have done wrongly, perhaps very wrongly; but the judgment of God reaches far deeper than my actions, even to that from which my actions proceed. It descends to that which I am; and the knowledge of what I am, as before God, creates a wretchedness much more terrible than the condition of sins—that is, of actual offences. Yet this is a pre-requisite for settled and abiding peace with God.
Let me draw attention to a scripture in Romans 8:3, which perhaps gives as fully as any other this judgment of God.
We read: “God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.”
“For sin” signifies “a sacrifice for sin,” and this, thank God, was rendered at the cross.
There it was that He “condemned sin in the flesh”—a thing vastly more awful than sins in the life, because it is their source and spring. Here, then, we find the root condemned and utterly set aside in God’s sight. How could conscience, though never so sensitive, do that? Impossible! Nay, but it finds relief whenever the death of Christ is truly apprehended. It is well to be convicted of one’s own conscience, but how far short this must be of God’s condemnation of sin in the flesh!
And the discovery of the fact that “in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing,” though agonizing, is yet the only true steppingstone to deliverance and practical Christian holiness.
Fear not, dear reader, to face this terrible truth. Fear not to go down to the bottom, to touch the low bed-rock of your state as utterly sinful.
It was the lost whom the Son of Man came to seek and to save, so that the two conditions, “lost” and “saved,” stand in relation to one another—as do also death in sins and life in Christ.
Extremes meet. If you refuse the totality of your ruin, you will never enjoy the completeness of God’s salvation. If you complain of doubt, or bondage, or the power of indwelling sin, it only shows too clearly that you have not bottomed your case before God, however true your faith in Him may be.
The lack of this getting to the bottom is a fruitful source of error and of mysticism, and for this reason, that the effort to reform what God has judged and to make “the flesh” aught else than a thing wholly condemned is not Christianity and is counter to the Spirit of God. Scripture has but one description of sin—that it is “exceeding sinful.” How fearfully graphic and how serious!
We can turn, however, to this comforting word: “For God has made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
Here the Sinless One was made sin in order that the sinful ones might become righteous! How marvellous are God’s doings!