Conditions on which God's keeping depends
All God's promises are linked with certain attitudes on our part. It is the willing mind and the surrendered heart that are assured of God's protection and grace. "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning" (1 John 3};6). That which is committed to Him is able to keep.
The principle of spiritual perseverance has never been better stated than in Samuel's language to Saul 3,000 years ago: "If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God - good" (1 Samuel 12:14).
More particularly is that true if we would be preserved blameless.
Let us expect to be preserved. If we go out anticipating failure we will have it. At the least, we shall never know certainly but that the next temptation we meet is the one in which we are to fall. As the chain is never stronger than its weakest link, we will be sure to fall.
It is the prestige of an army that secures its victory. It is the quickening assurance that it has never been defeated that carries it irresistibly against the foe.
Let us also expect to be tempted. Most persons, after a step of faith, are looking for sunny skies and unruffled seas. When they meet a storm and tempest they are filled with astonishment and perplexity. But this is just what we must expect to meet if we have received anything of the Lord.
The best token of His presence is the adversary's defiance, and the more real our blessing, the more certainly will it be challenged. It is a good thing to go out looking for the worst, and if it comes we are not surprised. But if our path is smooth and our way is unopposed, it is all the more delightful, because it comes as a glad surprise.
Let us, however, completely understand what we mean by temptation. You, especially, who have stepped out with the assurance that you have died to self and sin, may be greatly amazed to find yourself assailed with a tempest of thoughts and feelings that seem to come wholly from within. These will cause you to say, "Why, I thought I was dead, but I seem to be alive."
This is the time to remember that temptation has power to penetrate our inmost being with thoughts and feelings that seem to be our own, but are really the instigations of the evil one. We wrestle with principalities and powers. That is to say, they twine themselves around us as wrestlers do about the limbs of their opponents, until they seem to be a part of ourselves. This is the essence of temptation. We are almost constrained to conclude that the evil is within ourselves, and that we are not cleansed and sanctified as we had believed. Do not wonder if you are assailed with temptation that comes to you in the most subtle forms, the most insinuating feelings, the most plausible insinuations, and apparently through your inmost being and nature.
Temptation alone is not sin
Temptation is not sin unless it be accompanied with the consent of your will. There may seem to be even the inclination, and yet the real choice of your spirit is fixed immovably against it. God regards it simply as a solicitation, and credits you with an obedience all the more pleasing to Him because the temptation was so strong.
We little know how evil can find access to a pure nature. It seems to incorporate itself with our thoughts and feelings, while at the same time we resist and overcome it. We remain as pure as the sea fowl that emerges from the water without a single drop remaining upon its burnished wing, or as the harp string, which may be struck by a rude and clumsy hand and gives forth a discordant sound, not from any defect of the harp, but because of the hand that touches it. But let the master's hand play upon it and it is a fountain of melody and a chord of exquisite delight.
The truth is that these inner thoughts and suggestions of evil do not spring from our own spirits at all if truly sanctified, but are the voices of the tempter. We must learn to discriminate between his suggestions and our choices, and declare: "I do not accept! I do not consent! I am not responsible! I will not sin! I reckon myself still dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God through Jesus Christ.
~A. B. Simpson~
(continued with # 18)