The Crowning (continued)
The Crown of Righteousness (continued)
And that fight was very often an inward one with Paul as well as an outward one. He could speak of fighting with wild beasts at Ephesus; he knew about the objective aspect of that fight. But oh, how much he tells about his own fight, about what is going on inside! And it was for Paul no easy thing to maintain that position of utter self-denial, self-refusal, and maintain a course with and for God. "That," he would say in effect, "is the way in which answer is given to this challenge to God's place in this universe. It is centered, it is fought out, on this battlefield of righteousness, and that is a personal and inward matter." And he is so personal. You remember these words written to the Philippians - "That I may ... be found in Him, not having a righteousness of mine own ... but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings" (3:8-10). He is thinking of the battle on this matter of righteousness, which in the end is the dethroning of the enemy.
So far as we are concerned, the first aspect of this thing comes right home to us as a challenge; how far are we going to let go our personal interests - all that is personal in our lives here in this world - that God should have His place? That is very simple in words, but a tremendous thing in experience; it is a real battle. It comes to this; is the Lord, at all costs, really going to have His place? Paul said, "...for Whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse ..." and that is how it must be. In so far as we have any selfward direction, any personal interests to serve, and are not utterly abandoned to the Lord's having His way, to that extent the kingdom of satan is upheld, is intact. It has always been by means of the people who had no interest in life or in death but that the Lord should have His place and His end, that the kingdom of satan has been broken into and overthrown. And that is righteousness; there is the battleground. That is the thing which draws us out and is the test of our real interest in life.
The Apostle says there is a crown of righteousness at the end of that course. He is not saying that it is the crown called righteousness. It is the battle of righteousness fought through, the course of righteousness completed, the deposit of righteousness preserved intact, and God crowns that at the end; He gives the seal and the mark of approval, the crown of righteousness.
(continued with # 63 - (The Crown of Life)