J. N. Darby
30 November 1971
When this was written the law had been departure from the truth, the effect of which is to throw the apostles back onto the whole mind and thought of God from the beginning. Nowhere does the Spirit of God go so far back into the mind and purpose of God as in the position when decline is treated of. He turns back to what life is as the most essential thing. There was the thought of life before the world was, and it was expressed in a Person, and when He came into the world life itself (not future life) was manifested - and this it is which is the light of men, not of angels, mark, but of men: the divine expression of God's light as to men, and this is manifested in our mortal bodies and is connected with what is the true character of godliness. This light tells us what we are as saints, and what the word is. It tells how men had utterly departed from God and that the world is a thing sprung up since the fall; while what we get in the cross was before creation.
Godliness is marked, stamped by a man living with God - to God and from God. What a man could do before God as investigated by God. What he could not do if he saw God present - that is not [Godly?]. This goes much further than conscience, which may make a man do right. One who is godly is not governed by the world nor by the motives of the world around. He has Christ's mind how to conduct himself through the world he is in … the divine life is suited in all its thoughts to the heaven itself.
When paradise ended the world began, man having departed from God and being given up to his own lust. Yet to the believer this world is but a thing by the bye - he is in a world and passing through a world which is, and will be to the end, alienated from God, which has its end in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to judgment. A world which, when eternal life came into it in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, spit on Him and cast Him out. Oh, what is this flesh - this life I have from Adam, but sin? It is a condemned thing. “Let no man eat fruit of thee again.” Eternal life was displayed in the world. The world shrank from it because it was too good for it, and God placed it on His throne as the only place good enough for it. It is difficult to have the heart so full of love that the things of the world cannot narrow it. The world constantly [??] up the heart - that is all it can do. What a narrow thing is selfishness! If only we could put our hearts into deep consciousness of what this life is (what Christ is) and then what the world is (what a poor little wretched thing it is). How glad should we be to go on as strangers and pilgrims declaring plainly that we seek a country - this life is not of this world, and can have no affinity with it.