Scripture Notes.

"The Flesh and the Spirit."

The flesh degrades a man. Think of the Roman centurion seeing the heads of the Jewish nation turning out to mock a poor criminal dying, as it seemed to be. There was the religion and the learning of the nation thus employed. The two high priests, the elders, the scribes, even to human sight, were degrading themselves. This was the flesh fully blown. Enmity really against God expressed; but to what a depth its manifestation had sunk poor man!

Contrast this with the moral elevation to which the Holy Spirit can raise the same fallen man, as seen, for example, in Stephen. There we see him calmly kneeling down, death in view, the storm of malice, injustice, and violence round him, everything to rouse the flesh; but the flesh held dead. There is no sign of revenge or any feeling that morally could lower a man; but in perfect moral greatness he rises above himself and prays for his murderers. This is the effect of the action of an ungrieved Spirit in a fallen man. No trace is seen practically of anything but Christ, which of course is perfect moral greatness and beauty.

Now it is the same with us. These are exceptional and extreme cases; but it is true in smaller ones too. If a father, for example, loses his temper in correcting his child, he has degraded himself. His conscience knows it, and also the child, who may dread him the more, but respects him less. Could the centurion respect the chief priest after he had seen him mock his victim at the cross? Satan's power no doubt was there, and the effect of his work is always to degrade. What could be worse than with a kiss to betray your friend? But Satan was there too; he had entered into Judas. Now the blessed effect of Christ's work is to elevate the object of His love. Dying in grace for our sins and ourselves, He puts away all that could bring condemnation upon us, and gains by that work in which God was glorified a place for Himself as man in the glory of God, to which glory He is conducting His people; and now grace gives the believer a place in Christ - the best robe of the prodigal. May the Lord give us to know more what mercy has done, and to prove the power of an ungrieved Spirit in our daily lives. C. D. Maynard.


Hebrews 13:9.

There is nothing so hard for our hearts as to abide in the sense of grace. It is by grace that the heart is "established," but there is nothing more difficult for us really to apprehend than the fulness of grace.

Grace supposes all the sin and evil in us, and is the blessed revelation that through Jesus Christ all this sin and evil has been put away. A single sin is more horrible to God than a thousand sins, nay, than all the sins in the world, are to us; and yet with the fullest consciousness of what we are, all that God is pleased to be towards us is LOVE! It is vain to look to any extent of evil; a person may be (speaking after the manner of men) a great sinner or a little sinner; but this is not the question at all. Grace has reference to what God is, and not to what we are, except indeed that the very greatness of our sins does but magnify the extent of the "grace of God." I have got away from grace if I have the slightest doubt or hesitation about God's love - I shall then be saying, "I am unhappy because I am not what I should like to be." But this is not the question; the real question is, whether God is what we should like Him to be - whether Jesus is all we could wish. If the consciousness of what we are - of what we find in ourselves - has any other effect than while it humbles us, to increase our adoration of what God is, we are off the ground of pure grace. The effect of such consciousness surely should be to humble us, but to make our hearts reach out to God, and to His grace as abounding over it all. J. N. Darby.

We read in Nehemiah of one who was "at the king's hand in all matters concerning the people." This is no mean shadow of the present place of our Lord and Saviour, who has gone into heaven to appear in the presence of God for us. He is there at God's right hand, ever living to make intercession for us, having, we might say, undertaken the whole of our cause in all matters which concern us.

Which is happiest, to be like water in a still place never moved, or to be poured from vessel to vessel, finding it all Christ, and Christ, and Christ? The Lord does not let the prospect of glory into the soul when any are settled on their lees, but when they are poured from vessel to vessel. He chooses the time of trial as a time to give the sweetest taste of His love. When in a time of difficulty, faith may break down, but Christ will not. He sees when the storm comes, and makes that the time to come to us; walking on the waters, and at His word the storm subsides in a moment. G. V. Wigram.