The New Cruse (continued)
Causes and Precautions
The point is, not that there never was or never will be an absence of this satanic enterprise of smoke to prevent or destroy fellowship, but - what is to be our attitude in such circumstances?
It would be vain to try to deal with all the secondary causes. Sometimes the ground of the adversary's success, either in ourselves or in "them that oppose themselves", is that we may be living in certain respects in some proximity to the "flesh" and the "natural man". Some secret pride may make possible jealousy, criticism, envy, "hurtness', fear of loss, self-pity, comparison, or a wish to be out of the place of difficulty. Sometimes it may be immaturity; sometimes imperfect knowledge or understanding - 'seeing through a glass darkly.' There are worse things than these, too; but there are also such things as are either utterly imaginary, or real only because they seem real to those who register them. That is, the enemy can set up situations which are utterly false in themselves - they have no foundation in fact. They are phantoms - but how terribly real phantoms can be!
How shall we meet all this? It seems hopeless, and would almost drive us to ultra-individualism. Let us not abandon hope until we have been faithful to the exhortations, 'Give diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit' (Ephesians 4:3), and "Prove all things" (1 Thess. 5:21). The final test will, of course, be - Is the Lord present in blessing? If so - and we ought to have spiritual discernment - then up to that point we ought neither to oppose nor to refuse all fellowship.
But before we are so general, perhaps we have a duty which costs a little more.
Seeing how great was the matter involved - no less than the Holy Spirit's presence and ministry - Aquila and Priscilla might easily have labeled Apollos as in error, altogether wrong and wanting, and left him and the assembly of which he was 'pastor'. But they saw the lack and lovingly took him and in a humble spirit helped him to see it (Acts 18:24-28). There is a fine record of the man after this. It could so easily have been a breach and a loss.
We must always be sure that those who seem to us to be wrong are not capable of being helped on those matters of which are absolutely vital to fellowship. What have we done and what do we do in the matter? To come to a conclusion and forthwith to abandon those from whom we differ is a positive violation of scriptural method and instruction. This is often great loss to the Lord when there might have been gain. It would seem from the Word that the grounds of separation, when established, are brought within a small range as to number, thought of course outweighing all others in importance. They are: the denial of the Person of Christ, that He is truly God come in the flesh; the denial of the necessity for and sufficiency of His death for reconciling men to God (Galatians 1:6-9); the practice of moral evil; the defying of the united judgment of the whole assembly in a matter of wrong doing (Matthew 18:17); and, finally, the refusal to accept authority, in the house of God, of the Apostles and their writings (2 Thess. 3:14-15). All else is gathered up in these.
(continued with # 12)