Practical Devastation of Our Old Humanity (continued)
Men Without Anything Left (continued)
Of course, there is a lot more in this story than that, but this is my point - what a disclosure of the human heart. What an exposure of this other man, how he can be a disciple, how he can go about with the Lord for years, how he can know all that the Lord has said, and seen what the Lord has done and how he can have the teaching in his head and then when it comes to the real test of the man, he cannot stand up to it, he collapses. We had hoped (with our Bible in our hands) we had hoped, and they are in despair.
Another Humanity Altogether
The devastation of that one humanity under every kind of test is essential to the Other Humanity which Christ is. How different He Is - Another humanity altogether, Another kind of Man in Whom there is nothing of this at all, nothing of this. The apostle once said to the believers: "You have not so learned Christ"; in other words, "If you had learned Christ, you would not be doing that, you would not be like that."
Now let us get hold of the issue before we go further. What is it? Oh, it may not all come at once - it could not, this devastation; it is spread over a whole lifetime, but it has a beginning, mark you, a beginning; and this is the course of a truly spiritual life. You will mark spiritual progress and spiritual growth and spiritual maturity by this one thing: how little the individual thinks of themselves, how little they are in the picture, their own picture and other people's picture as themselves. Or shall I put it the other way: how much of Christ do you meet in them and not themselves. That is the test - how much the Cross has devastated them in their own natural life. It is the essential and inevitable way to spiritual fullness, to Christ, and the fullness of Christ, which is something altogether different from what we are.
The Tragedy of the Carry-Over of the Other Humanity
Well, now having said that, we are going further with this this morning. I want to take you over to that part of the New Testament which focuses this whole issue more than any other part; which brings into view on the one side, the exposure of the one kind of humanity and on the other side, the Other Humanity which the Christ is. I have often been asked the question, for example in Romans 7: "Is that the history of a 'born again' man or an unborn again man?" I have had the question asked me since I have been here, and I have proposed to postpone the answer until now.
"The first man is of the earth, earthy ..." and so on. Is that an unconverted man, a man before he is born again, or is that a born again man? That is a born again man, make no mistake about it. Paul is writing to born again people in Corinth. He opens his letter with an address to the saints which are in Christ Jesus - saints by standing through faith in Christ Jesus, and all that is in those letters is addressed to Christians; but it is a horrible exposure of something about Christians. I confess to you I have more than once in my life in reading that First Letter to the Corinthians asked myself: "Were these men, these people, really born again? Can we classify them as Christians?" Yes, the address is "to the saints by standing through faith that are in Corinth."
The tragedy in Corinth was the tragedy of the carry-over of relics and remnants of the other humanity. There is something here in the New Testament, but there has been a carry-over of the old in the Christian life; the result: confusion - confusion in judgment, confusion in behavior, confusion in relationships. And if you think that word is not justified, I want to remind you that they wrote to the Apostle Paul on one occasion asking him ten elementary questions about the Christian life, about what Christianity is. They were in confusion about the elementary things of Christianity.
(continued with # 13)