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Thursday, October 4, 2012

O God ... Thine Enemies # 2

We believe Edom, and the evil force of bitterness it represents, is placed first on this list of God's enemies because its malignant force lays the evil ground needed for the others to join together in their unholy confederation against God - for bitterness opens the door to a multitude of evils. We must look diligently, we must "exercise foresight and be on the watch [on behalf of one another] ... in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness or hatred) shoot forth and cause trouble and bitter torment, and thereby many be defiled" (Hebrews 12:15). We must allow the chastening of the Lord, we must yield to the discipline of the Cross.

Dear ones, when we are in the midst of tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword, we must look diligently. We must exercise forethought, and be on the watch for ourselves and for others, lest any root of bitterness spring up and defile that which should have eternal results in the Lord. "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord ... for it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it - a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness, [ that is, in conformity to God's will in purpose, thought and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God]" (Hebrews 12:5, 11). Yes, the discipline of the Cross defeats the malignant force of Edom!

O God ... for, lo, Thine enemies make a tumult: They are confederate against Thee" (Psalm 83)

(2) The Ishmaelites: The Ismaelites are the result of Abraham's effort in his natural and carnal man to produce "the seed" that God had promised him (Genesis 12:15). In the Word of God, Abraham is noted for his faith, for his absolute trust in his Lord: "For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" (Romans 4:3). In James 2:23, "he was called the friend of God." And in 2 Chronicles 20:7, "Art not Thou our God, Who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before Thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham Thy friend for ever." And in Isaiah 41:8, with the most intimate of terms, Abraham is called God's friend by God Himself: "Abraham My friend." Thus, in Hebrews eleven, Abraham is found listed among that valiant and faithful throng of saints of whom the Holy Spirit says: "God is not ashamed to be called their God."

Nevertheless, as the Word accurately points out, Abraham was not perfect, only Christ is. Abraham had many faults, and his main problems were caused by his natural and carnal man. Abraham continually tried to help God out with his own natural thinking, energies, and plans Also, when the situation warranted it, Abraham allowed his carnal nature to control him; and his carnal, self-centered reasonings and actions were used by the enemy to try to thwart God's purpose (Genesis 12:16). The natural man and the carnal man are two aspects of our adamic nature, two aspects of our old man. Let us consider these two aspects.

The natural man is the soulish part of our old man, for the natural man is controlled by his own mind, his own will, his own emotions. The natural man is not controlled by the Holy Spirit. The natural man can be well-intentioned and well-meaning in the things of God. The natural man can be easily led into things that seem to be of God, but are not. The natural man usually bears traces of that which seems to be of God, but which are in reality traits of his own nature and character. The natural man may be kind, good, upright, honest, etc., in nature. He may have a strong conviction of what he considers to be good and evil, and of what he considers to be the truth. The natural man may be led by these seemingly good and reasonable things in his effort to please God. If we are going to effectively serve God, we must learn to recognize the workings of our natural man, for in 1 Corinthians 2:14 we are told: "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God ... neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The natural man cannot, the spiritual man can!

Now, let us consider the carnal man. For those who are maturing in the Lord, the carnal nature of man is much easier to discern that the natural man; and this is because self-interest, self-centeredness, self-preeminence is always the underlying factor in the nature of a carnal man. While the natural man may have good intentions, the carnal man's intent and motives always have self at the center. Romans 8:6 and 7 says: "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal (self-centered) mind is enmity against God ..."

The enemy knows exactly how to appeal to our natural man, and he also knows what will stir up our carnal man. When Abraham obeyed God, and by faith went to the land of Canaan, the land promised to the children of the seed, he built an altar and there he worshiped God. Then, in reaction to God's purpose in Abraham, the enemy brought forth a famine designed either to destroy Abraham or to get Abraham to go down into Egypt, the devil's own territory. In the Old and New Testaments, 13 famines are recorded, and behind each one is the enemy's attempt to destroy the Seed, Which is Christ, and his attempt to destroy the fullness of Christ in God's people. In this instance, satan was out to destroy "The Seed," and he was out to destroy "the faith" of Abraham which was Abraham's portion that would be consummated in the fullness that is Christ. Shall "famine' that proceeds out from the depths of satan separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus? NO! Abraham is to learn that in all these things we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ.

So there was a grievous famine, an "exceedingly fierce" famine, in the land; and we are sure that satan used the concern of Abraham's natural man for his family to persuade him to go "down" into Egypt. Now during this perilous famine, we have no doubt that both Abraham's spiritual man and natural man were deeply concerned for his family and for the others with him; but the Word of God indicates that Abraham's natural and carnal men, the nature of the old man, prevailed. And how do we know this? We know this because, some 20 years later, Abraham did the same thing; and both times "The Seed" was endangered by his fleshly actions.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

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