The Work of God and of Satan within the Heart

I have taken some notes of the use in the New Testament of the word from which our English term "energy" is derived. I find conveyed by that term a declaration of the sovereign and supreme grace of our God on the one hand, and on the other, of the marvellous power and malice of Satan, which is of the deepest interest, and will repay the study of the spiritual, who may quietly and at leisure digest and assimilate through grace this precious food, to the glory of Him from whom every good giving and every perfect gift alone descends. The notes are put down in simple consecutive order.

Matt. 14:2 and Mark 6:14. "Works of power are displaying their force (are inworking) in him.* This was said by Herod Antipas with reference to miracles wrought by the Lord Jesus, whom he supposed to be John the Baptist risen from the dead. Herod evidently ascribed them to a power residing and operating in the person of Him who wrought them.

*The reader will perceive that another translation is used in this paper. - ED.

Rom. 7:5. "The passions of sins which were by the law wrought (inwrought) in our members to bring forth fruit unto death." The law by its prohibitions roused into activity those passions of the heart which had otherwise lain dormant.

1 Cor. 12:6. "There are distinctions of operations (of powers inwrought), but it is the same God who works (inworks) all in all." The word "operations" is equivalent to inner workings in the spirit of those in whom the Holy Spirit dwells - workings which are all in all cases set in motion and controlled by the active will of God Himself alone.

1 Cor. 12:10. By the Spirit there are given "operations of powers" (miracles). Here the "operations" are, I think, not the inner workings of God of which miracles are the result externally, but the thought is the miracles themselves given to the man to set forth in expression.

1 Cor. 12:11. Whatever be the distinctive gifts bestowed upon this or that servant of Christ, it is "the one and the same Spirit" who operates (inworks them), dividing to each in particular as He pleases. It has ever been so. In the days of His flesh the words and works of the Son of God were alike always those of Him who sent Him. So Paul and Apollos, and all their fellow-labourers then and now, are only ministering servants through whom the Lord Jesus works, according to the ministry and gift allotted severally to each.

1 Cor. 16:9. "A great door and an effectual is opened unto me," says Paul. The door now opened by God for His servant at Ephesus filled the apostle with energy proportioned to the greatness of his opportunity; his spirit was stirred within him. How God wrought also among the Ephesians by the same inworking we read in Acts 19.

2 Cor. 1:6. If Paul is in tribulation, it is "for the encouragement and salvation of the saints at Corinth wrought (inwrought in them, the sense and comfort of it effectuated within them) in the endurance of (enabling them to endure) the same sufferings." As it needs tribulation to work out patience as a permanent result, so neither can divine encouragement and preservation be made good to us except as we are experimentally passing through the trials which call for the supply.

2 Cor. 4:12. "Death works (is in working, at work, showing its power) in us, but life in you." The apostles were always facing death. But they had been through all continually preserved, and the abundant thanksgiving of the saints thus elicited was accompanied in the latter by an increase of spiritual vitality, even as by the apostles it was realized as abundant grace.

Gal. 2:8. "He that wrought in (energized) Peter for the apostleship of the circumcision, wrought also in me (energized me) towards the Gentiles." Both Peter and Paul were endued with divine power and impelled by divine fervour to execute the commissions entrusted to them.

Gal. 3:5. "He that works (inworks) powers among you." God had been making Galatian believers the subjects of His power, which had been realized by them in their souls with an accompanying outcome of miraculous results.

Gal. 5:6. "Faith working (inworking) through love." The love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit draws out that faith in Christ Jesus which is alone of avail for the apprehension and enjoyment of life in Christ, or rather of Christ, who is our Life.

Eph. 1:11. "We have obtained an inheritance in the Christ, being marked out beforehand according to the purpose of Him who works (inworks) all things according to the counsel of His will." The mystery of the will of God to head up all things in the Christ, as well as the inheritance of the saints in Him - our union to Him, whereof the indwelling Holy Spirit is the present earnest to us - these are matters of our present knowledge, and that experimental, for if not, neither have we the doctrine aright.

Eph. 1:19-20. "The surpassing greatness of God's power towards us who believe, according to the working (inworking) of the might of His strength, which He wrought in the Christ, in raising Him from among the dead; and He set Him down at His right hand in the heavenlies." Of this the apostle prays that we, as those who are in the blessing of it, may have the conscious knowledge.

Eph. 2:2. Satan, "the ruler of the authority of the air," is the spirit who now works in (energizes) the sons of disobedience. This agrees with the words of the Lord Jesus, John 8:44, "Ye are of the devil as your father, and the lusts of your father ye desire to do." Satan works this desire in those who, by their wilful wickedness, have earned the name of "sons of disobedience."

Eph. 3:7. The apostle Paul had "become a ministering servant of the gospel, according to the free gift of the grace of God given to him according to the working (inworking) of God's power." God had revealed His Son in Paul, that Paul might preach among the Gentiles Jesus the Son of God. God, who put Christ on his lips, was He who had first put Christ into his heart.

Eph. 3:20. "According to the power that works in us (is inworking in us), God is able to do exceedingly above all that we ask or think." God works in us in order that we may be filled unto all the fulness of God. If we are straitened, if we are, so to speak, hampered or shackled, this cramping of spiritual life and energy is in ourselves, not in God. We cannot exhaust the stores of His grace or power.

Eph. 4:16. From Christ, the Head, "the whole body, fitted together and connected by every joint of supply according to the working (the inworking, energy) in its measure of every part, works for itself the growth of the body to its self-building up in love." We are filled full in Him. He is the unfailing source of ceaseless supply - the inworking is always going on - and He is the alone agent, whether in the body as a whole, or, severally, in each and every member thereof.

Phil. 2:12-13. "Work out (work out into result) your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in (is inworking in, at work in) you the willing and the working (the inworking) according to His good pleasure." Both the "willing and the working" are internal operations, the one the formation, the other the completion, of the good works which God our Father has prepared for us to walk in, and which become expressed externally through the obedience of faith in overt actions. These actions, being the works of God, are from their first inception in our hearts accomplished facts, although it may never on earth be given to us to witness the consummation.

Col. 1:29. Paul speaks of himself as "combating (agonizing) according to His working (inworking) which works in me (is working in me) in power." This is the good fight of faith, which, as a good soldier and servant of Jesus Christ, Paul sustains on behalf of God's saints - the care of all the assemblies came upon him daily - in wrestling with the wicked spirits in heavenly places, who by their wiles or open antagonism strive to dwarf the Christian growth and thwart the Christian energy.

Col. 2:12. "Faith of the working (inworking) of God who raised Christ from among the dead." This faith, having been divinely inwrought in the saints at Colosse, put them in actual vital association with Christ in resurrection life, as they had been formerly identified with Him in burial through Christian baptism.

1 Thess. 2:13. "God's word, which also works (inworks) in you that believe." The word of God is good seed, which, having in itself quickening and germinating power, lays hold of hearts, brings faith into exercise, and works on and on with ever-increasing and expanding life and energy which cannot be hid.

2 Thess. 2:7. "The mystery of lawlessness is already working (inworking, at work, rising, developing)." As it was in Paul's day, so much more is it now. As the days of the Judges, when "every man did that which was right in his own eyes," were the days leading up to those of Saul, the wilful king, who did that which was right in his eyes, so is the evil day in which we live rapidly heading up to the times of the lawless one, the Antichrist.

2 Thess. 2:9. The coming of the Antichrist is "according to the working (the inworking, the working in the power) of Satan." (Read Rev. 13.)

2 Thess. 2:11. "Because men received not the truth in the love of it, God sends to them a working (an inworking) of error, that they should believe the lie." As faith in Christ is the free gift of God in grace, so will belief in Antichrist be His work in judgment. They who resist the one must be subjected to the other. They may resist God now, but they will not be suffered to resist Him then. He has said, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man."

Philemon 6. "So that thy participation in the faith should become operative (inworking, fraught with energy) in the acknowledgment of every good thing that is in us towards Christ." Paul prayed that his friend Philemon might find a response wrought in his heart with power in correspondence and unison with the grace working in Paul in his behalf. Both had obtained like precious faith. The chord struck by the Spirit in the heart of Paul must reverberate in that of his friend and fellow-believer.

Heb. 4:12. "The word of God is living and operative." It works down within the spirit and soul of a man, penetrates his inmost being, and affects all the inclinations, dispositions, thoughts, and purposes of his heart and will.

James 5:16. "The fervent prayer (prayer that is at work within a man, stirring him up, absorbing his whole energy) of a righteous man has much power." The fervency with which such a one prays - and none other can pray thus - is power wrought in him by God Himself, to whom alone belong the answering consequences of blessing.

"Prayer was appointed to convey
The blessings God designs to give."

In the above collection of passages from the Scripture one sees how one thought, one term - energeia, inworking - runs like the keynote in music, the thread in a woven garment, the vein of precious ore, the essence of a fluid, through the whole. It is not only that the will of God is the cause of all things, but that that same will is also ever in operation to bring out the designed result, the glory of His Christ. He is the glory of God. In Him God is glorified. In Him God is seen as He is. That is what "glory" is - God manifested. That is what Christ was - God manifested in flesh. This glory the assembly has been called to share. We have now "Christ in us, the hope of glory." When He presently shall be manifested, then shall we also be manifested with Him in glory, His glory.

God, who wills, works also. It is not only "of Him," but "through Him," as well as "to Him," that all things are, that to Him may be glory for ever and ever. He who in the beginning said, "Let light be," and light was, is light essential. Light then shone forth. The eternal power and Godhead of the Creator were then set forth before created intelligences through the things that were made. That order of creation still remains, though it is destined to pass away as soon as it has served its purpose. Another creation has already been put forth, of which the former, however glorious, was but the shadow. That was the true, archetypal light which, coming into the world, is light to every man, namely, Jesus Christ, who, being altogether that which He spoke, said of Himself, "I am the light of the world."

The words, the works, and the ways of Jesus Christ were the manifestation of His essential Godhead. He was the tabernacle; His person, the expression of God Himself. God wrought within Him. He did nothing of or from Himself. He knew and was conscious of the power in which He lived and wrought. Although the mystery of Christ is a theme too high and holy for any but the words of the Holy Spirit to declare, yet those who have the Spirit cannot but see in Jesus Christ the perfect correspondence of the life with the Being; so that we have to say, "Truly this is the Son of God," for no other being could have been that which by the Spirit we perceive Him to have been. In Christ was seen the life and operation of God Himself. "This is the true God and eternal life."

Now, what is true of Him when on earth before the cross is, because of the cross, blessedly true now in resurrection life, in a new condition and extension. The truth is now not in Christ alone, but in us also who are in that life with Him, because "the darkness is passing away and the true light is now shining." What God wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from among the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies, He wrought and is now working in us. As He was, so are we, the vessels of grace. God was in Christ; Christ is in us, is being formed in us. Whatever the purposes of God were in the Christ He, the Head, has fulfilled them, and now from Him those counsels are being fulfilled in us - members of His body. The will and the word of God are now in activity not only for us through Christ, but in us by Christ.

Is there heart-searching, correction, recovery, reinstatement, response? It is the work of God within us. Is it prayer? All real prayer is in the Holy Ghost, and comes from God as truly as it reaches and moves God; prayer not in the Spirit is not prayer at all; real prayer is the prayer of God. (Luke 6:12.) Is there the faith that comes by hearing, and is obedience the consequence? Both are alike the product of the inworking of God, according to the word of Isaiah 26:12, "Thou also hast wrought all our works in us," which is the heart's response to that other word in Hosea 14:8, "From Me is thy fruit found." Whatever food nourishes us, whatever growth we gain, it is of the fulness of Christ that we receive it; His grace produces grace, we become strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and we grow in grace. It is He that satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with His goodness. It is not we who satisfy or fill ourselves, He is the alone doer of it all. Do we need sustainment and encouragement by the way? It is God who comforteth them that are cast down. He sends the trials that we may therein prove what else we could not know - His tender grace - and be admitted into the highest of all privileges on earth: to tread the path that Christ has trodden, to know Him, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings. He uses us Himself in service and ministry for His own glory - it is "not I, but the grace of God which is with me." It is He who prepares the work and qualifies the workmen, dividing to each one severally as He wills. All gifts are in His hand, their exercise and manifestation alike. There are no miracles now, for we have the complete Word of God. We require nothing more than has been provided: He will give no more. But, still as ever, "all things are possible to him that believeth," and "I have strength for all things through Christ, who endues me with power."

The other side of the case - that of Satan's inworking in the sons of disobedience - is no less true, but it is too awfully real to dwell upon. The texts have been adduced simply to draw attention to the reality as awful as the operation of God in grace is blessed. Let it be noted, however, that Satan is no independent agent. What he does he does only by the permission of Him who made man a responsible being, a being against whom Satan has no power save as a man yields himself to him, a servant to obey his wicked will, and has, therefore, to bear the consequences of his own sin. W. C. C.-B.-C.