"Neither Give Place to the devil" (continued)
In the circumstances of life we will all encounter the "grievous thing," probably more than once; and many times we feel that we are a victim of our circumstances and there seems to be no way out. We may even feel that we are breaking into pieces. We feel that we are afflicted, we feel dejected and distressed, for it seems that nothing that we have desired or hoped for is taking place. And as a result, we become depressed and miserable. Many times we will also allow our situation to cause us to become hateful, contemptible, and despicable, and we usually pour out the hatefulness of our natural man upon those who are closest to us. We do this because we must blame someone besides ourselves for our problem and for the actions of our natural man; or we pour out our hatefulness upon those closest to us because we know they will not desert us even when we are being hateful and contemptible. The words "grievous thing" indicate that Abraham allowed all of these things to take over his life during his great struggle with God's way for his life. But as we have learned, God did not sympathize with Abraham's natural man. No, God told Abraham, as He tells us, "Do not let this be grievous to you"; in other words, the Lord tells Abraham, and us, that we must deny our self and take up the Cross. We must deny our self, we must deny the natural man and its characteristics, and we must take up the Cross - we must live in the reality of all that Christ is and of all that He accomplished.
In order to see how this works, let us choose two of the most common characteristics of the natural man, depression and hatefulness. When we allow either one of these "grievous' things to take control of our lives we must do as God says, for He never tells us to do that which is impossible; so He tells us: "Do not let yourself become depressed or hateful because of your situation, do not allow your natural man to control your life." We must learn to say no to the natural man, and move in the good of all that Christ is and of all that Christ accomplished upon His Cross. Denying ourselves and taking up the cross means this: "I will not allow this depression, I will not allow this hatefulness, or any other characteristic of the natural man to control my life. I will take up the cross, I will live in the good of all that Christ is and all that He accomplished."
The Lord also told Abraham that he must trust Ishmael unto Him for He had promised to take care of Ishmael (Genesis 17:20). Beloved, if we are going to become overcomers throughout our lives, we must also come to the place that we believe, no matter how bad it looks, that God is working "all things," even the "grievous things," after the counsel of His Own Will.
So after the greatest struggle of his life, Abraham willingly submitted to the will of God; for early the next morning he cast out the bondwoman and her son, he cast out that which was born after the flesh, he cast out that which was produced by his natural man. Abraham had finally realized that only that which is born of the Spirit can be the heir of that which God has promised: "The Spirit Itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ..."
(continued with # 44)