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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 42

"Neither Give Place to the devil" (continued)

Sarah seems to have gradually learned this over a period of about five years; from Isaac's birth until he was weaned, she had begun to see the difference between that which was born of the flesh, and that which was born after the Spirit, and she saw this because of the work of the Cross in her lie. Galatians four confirms that Sarah was not just jealous because her son was not Abraham's only heir; no, she had come to realize that the flesh could not be an heir of God. However, this revelation came to Abraham like an ax blow, a blow that cut into the depths of his being; for he had either not been conscious of this, or he had closed his mind to the fact that which was born of the flesh could not be heirs with that which was born of the Spirit. Some of us learn this gradually as we yield to God's dealings; and some of us learn as the ax is applied to the roots of our natural man.

Therefore, when Sarah told Abraham that the bondwoman and her son must go, "the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son" (Genesis 21:11). Hence, a great struggle began to take place in Abraham; for the word "grievous" implies that he felt as if he was breaking in pieces. He felt that he was a victim of his circumstances and that there was no way out. He was deeply afflicted, dejected an distressed; he was depressed and miserable; and the word "grievous" also indicates that he became hateful, contemptible, and despicable. There are just some of the things that are characteristic of our natural man, which is why the natural man cannot be trusted to handle the Holy things of God.

So, on the one side, Abraham was upset because the plans of his natural man, especially the plans and energies of his religious natural man, were being rejected; and on the other side his heart was breaking for he loved Ishmael very much. Abraham struggled throughout the night, and what a night that must have been. In the Bible, night almost always indicates "great difficulty in finding the way." But, God is faithful, for during Abraham's dark night struggle God spoke His word unto Abraham's heart: "Let it not be grievous in thy sight" - which is saying, "Do not let this thing cause you to be dejected, distressed, depressed and miserable. Do not let thing thing cause you to be hateful, contemptible and despicable." The phrase "Lit it not," or "Do not let," indicates that we have control over our natural man; and because of that which Christ is, and of that which He accomplished, we do not have to let our natural man rule in any of these ways, or in any other way.

God did not sympathize with Abraham's natural man. No, God told Abraham, as He tells us, that we must deny our self and take up our cross. Some may say, "How do we allow the cross to work in our lives, how do we deny ourselves?" Well, beloved, God's Word to Abraham is the answer. "Let it not be grievous in thy sight..."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 43)

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