260 God does not mean us to take up things lightly, without exercise of soul. When the light of God shines into the conscience, sin is felt, and seen too, where it never was seen before. God shines in, and I find darkness. God cannot have to do with darkness. I find that in me which God cannot accept. How can God accept me?
I am always glad to see a conscience exercised thus. It is all useful to convict of sin. It is good for the light to probe to the bottom of the heart. It is awful to think what the human heart is - I do not mean in the gross forms of evil. There is something in the selfishness, the cold calculating reasoning of man's heart, worse than all the sins one could enumerate - yes, even of the decent man who keeps his character! Is there one single motive which governs your heart, decent and sober as you are, which governed Christ? Is there one feeling in your breast which was in Christ? Not one. What governs men? Selfishness. Not so Christ. There was no selfishness in Christ. In Him all was love. Love it was that brought Him down. Love gave Him energy when hungry and weary at the well. Love carried Him on, one constant unfailing stream of love. Never was He betrayed into anything contrary to it. Deserted, abandoned, betrayed, still there was one unwearying action of love. Selfishness can feel love. It is even lovely to man's mind, though he is the very opposite of it. Yet some are amiable and beautiful characters. But how do they use their amiability? To attract to self! self governs man. Selfishness need not be put into him; it is there. All is sin from beginning to end - all self. Whatever be the form it takes, it is vanity. Is it not true of every one that will read this, that some personal gratification, perhaps some little bit of dress, has more power to occupy the thoughts, than the agony of Christ? Not that He would have us always occupied with that; He would have us occupied with His Person and glory.
261 When I want to prove, then, is that we cannot think badly enough of what our hearts are. It is well that we should know it, for we cannot have the truth without in some measure judging the root and principle of evil within. But then have we any power to remedy the evil? No, none. But when brought to God, happily we get miserable about it. When there are desires after truth, I hope, because I see some goodness in God; but hope is dashed by seeing some evil in myself. That is not simplicity. It is judging God by some sort of knowledge of what I am. It may be true and righteous; but it is law. The principle of law is, that God is towards man according to what man is towards God. It is the principle which conscience always will act on; for according to conscience it is right. The evil is not in this, but in the fact that I am not brought to total despair. The light has not yet broken down the will, so as to make me cry out, "I am vile, and abhor myself in dust and ashes."
Beloved friends, if I take the ground of expecting anything from God, in virtue of what I am towards Him, all is over! there is nothing but condemnation. God is holy, and I am not. God is righteous, and I am a sinner. The end of all these exercises of soul is to make you cry out, "I am vile," and that is all. God is holy, and I am not. He is holy, and must be holy, and ought to be holy. Would you have Him lower Himself down to what you are? No, never. I may tremble before Him when I think of it, but I would not have it otherwise. No person quickened into the divine nature could deliberately wish God to come down from His holiness, to spare one sin; because he has learnt by that same nature to hate sin. My heart has tasted a little of love in God Himself; for He cannot reveal Himself without revealing love. The law shews man what he ought to be, but does not shew what God is. It says, love God, and it shews me that I ought to love, but does not tell me who or what the God is I am to love. Job said, if I could but find Him! However distracted and broken to pieces under the hand of God, he felt that if he could only find Him, he would love Him. "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him!" Flesh is always under the law. Realising by faith the precious truth that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin, then all is easy, all is peace. Flesh comes in and troubles, and the soul is down; and it is up and down; and the evil is that the soul gets habituated to such alternations, and not to walking in communion with God.
262 To think that God is going to condemn me is not fellowship with His thoughts. What is fellowship? Common thoughts together; common feelings, affections, objects; one heart, one mind. Thus we have fellowship with God! How wonderful! Fellowship with the Father and the Son. How so? Why; what have I received, if I have not received God's thoughts? Does not the Father delight in the Son? and do not I delight in that there is all beauty and perfectness in Him? Do not I delight in a soul being converted? Is it not your delight that Christ should be perfectly honoured and glorified? and is it not God's too? If God's thoughts are the spring of our thoughts, can we wonder that our joy should be full? The Holy Ghost gives thoughts, and our hearts are too narrow to take them in in all their fulness and power; but our joy is full, nay so full that it runs over. It is not that we are not inconsistent to the end. The peace and rest that we get is, that there is no modification, no change, in God Himself.
If we say there is this or that inconsistency in me, and how can such as I look to God, and begin questioning, we get back to law - to judging by my own good-for-nothing heart of what God is. Would I have you indifferent to sins? No! but I would you had so settled and constant a judgment of the flesh, as vile and cannot please God, as to give yourself entirely up. Many of us have to learn this by detail - by failing, and failing, and failing. It is better to learn it by a ray of light shot from God's credited word - to believe, from His report that, from the first shoot it puts forth from the earth to the last fruit it bears, it is the old tree, and will never bring forth anything but wild grapes. A hard lesson this, but a true one. Are your hearts brought to say, in God's presence, I know that "I am carnal, sold under sin?" Have you come to this point, to accept the entire judgment of God against yourself? Terrible! But you must get there to know more full blessedness. Have you ever sat down satisfied to know that the self that is sitting there cannot please God? When it comes to that I give up all thoughts of judging God by what I am; for then He could only cast me out of His presence! I am not looking to gain eternal life. I cannot; I have failed. Where then shall I find that which I so desperately want? Why in this was manifested the love of God (v. 2). Himself is manifested.
263 The life you want is come by another. "Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." You are just the opposite to Jesus. How did you find that out? Jesus is manifested, the eternal life which came down from the Father, to you, because you could never have got your heart up to it. If Christ is not my life, where is it? Is Christ my life? Yes! and what a life I have. It makes me see sin in me - true. But if I have the sin, have I an imperfect life? A life which, perhaps, God cannot be pleased with? No; it is given from God, because I am mere sin. God sent His Son that I might live through Him. It is God's free gift. Where is responsibility then? As regards getting, there is none. It is in the using! Do I weaken responsibility? Nay, I give it all its force. If you are under the law, you are either weakening its authority (for if I say God is merciful and will give a reprieve, I destroy the law), or you established the law, proving its utter condemnation, and that you are dead through it - a lost sinner - alive by the life of Christ.
"This 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" (v. 5). God comes in as light. Sin is darkness. Light has no fellowship with darkness. Light being come in, we must so stand in the presence of God that, in the full light of His holiness, no spot at all is seen in us. Do you walk thus in the light? It is a real thing. The walk is what a man really is. Can you stand in the light, as God is in it without a veil between, walking, not according to the light, but in the light? Have you ever walked in such sort, knowing, without an effort in your conscience, that you are in the presence of God? If not, how have you been walking - going on for a few brief years? Whither you know not - in the awful folly of the human heart - in a constant state of moral madness! Have you ever had it all told out in your conscience, alone with God, all that you ever did? A long tale! That is what you have done, that is what you have thought, and I saw it all! Would you like thus to be told out, alone with God, the things that perhaps were not done before men, just proving that you thought more of man than of God? Is it all going to sink into oblivion? Have you thus been manifested to God, as the apostle speaks?
264 Here is a message - mark who brings it! A message by Christ. To bring me to Christ - to God - to judge? No! But to bring me to One who has come to put away all that He has made manifest! I breathe again: what a comfort! I can desire now that everything should be known, everything I have even thought of, because it is to Him who came to put it all away - not to hide, nor excuse, but to put it all away. The Son of God has died for it all. It is God putting my sin away, instead of putting me away. I am in the light, but the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me from all sin. I get the witness of God Himself, God who is light. If He does not shew a spot in me, who will? Do I say, there is no spot in my nature? No. But it does not depend on what I am; it depends on God, in whose light I am. The God who manifests me tells me that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me from all sin! God has loved me perfectly. How do I know that? Because of what I am? No: I know it from what God is, and from what He has done; and my soul rests in constant, perfect, undisturbed peace; for God has revealed Himself to be what He is, and has revealed what He has done, in that Christ died; and what He has done never can change - He never changes. It is in the power of an accomplished salvation that the soul rests, and not on anything that is yet to be done; so that there can be no change. The blood of Christ alone blots out my sin. If Christ did not do it perfectly, when will it be done? But He has done it. "By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." When faith, by divine teaching, has laid hold on this, faith does not change either. "The worshippers once purged have no more conscience of sins."