Timeless Truths Free Online Library | books, sheet music, midi, and more
Skip over navigation
Foundation Truth, Number 30 (Summer 2012) | Timeless Truths Publications

How Does the Spirit of God Change Our Conditioning and Natural Way of Thinking?

Part 2

See also: Part 1

The Imperfection of the Most Spiritual and Our Great Need of Continual Divine Guidance

I am experiencing a wave of devout gratitude and thanksgiving as I write these words. I am so thankful that “the kingdom shall not be [and has not been] left to other people.”* (Daniel 2:44) I am not only deeply relieved that it has not been left to me, but I am equally thankful that it has not been left to any people—even the very finest and most spiritual of people. “Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.”* (Psalm 39:5) There is not a single exception to the statement of divine truth. Every man… at his best state.” Surely, “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”* (Jeremiah 10:23)

This gratitude to God does not arrive from a morbid, suspicious skepticism of the motives of the most outstanding men and women. Many have gone far beyond what I have; many excel in many ways. There are brethren who have sacrificed, labored, given up far more than I have ever envisioned. There are smarter men; there are humbler men; there are men with more power with God in prayer, who can preach and teach far better than I. Others more gifted, others who love more—the list goes on and on. But God is so far above all of us together at our very utmost that I rejoice in Him. Praise His name for the marvelous condescension, the unsearchable love and good will, the tender tenderness, kindness, and pitifulness! “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”* (Psalm 103:13-14)

By the help of the Holy Ghost, we want to consider some of the hard questions about Christianity—and we want to profit by the answers to those hard questions. Good brethren—brethren who loved God and served Him in all good conscience, as far as we can understand—are revealed as fallible human beings. They were led of the Holy Ghost, but they were not led in such a way as to strip them of their humanity. It is possible for us to exalt brethren beyond what is appropriate; it is possible to puff them up in our minds to a place that will not stand up to scrutiny. Brother Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.”* (1 Corinthians 4:6) This is a much needed lesson for us all—not to think of men above that which is written. And with that scriptural point, we would repeat the point-blank statement from the Bible: “Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.”* (Psalm 39:5) These words were written by inspiration of the Holy Ghost through the prophet David, and he prefaced them thus, “Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee.”* (Psalm 39:5) That which impresses us deeply does not impress God at all. Experience upon experience, over the years, seems fairly weighty to us—so much has been learned, etc. But God is from everlasting to everlasting; He inhabits eternity. What man even scratches the surface of what God comprehends? It would be fair to say that several lifetimes would make a man of much more understanding than just one lifetime. If there was a child of God who had lived on earth from the beginning up to now, that person would certainly have a deeper depth of experience than anyone else, but, of course, there is no such person. At our very best state, we are still altogether vanity. All that is eternally-valuable about us is mentioned in this scripture: “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”* (2 Corinthians 4:7)

One of the first things that the gift of knowledge imparts to us is that we do not know a lot. We are glad to say that the responsibility of the holding of the truth is not placed entirely in our hands, for we are not big enough to hold it. You may say, “But the Bible says for us to occupy until He comes!” (Luke 19:13). And, “the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.”* (Daniel 7:18) And, “it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”* (Jude 1:3) Yes, we have our part, and that part is to cooperate and obey the One who can hold it. In this, “we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”* (1 Corinthians 3:9)

God allows good evidence of our inability (our humanity) to emerge, as seems best to the wisdom of The Most High. I can see the verification of the truth in Psalm 127:1-2 in the lives of the most spiritual brethren that have ever lived. I can see it and acknowledge it, be humbled by it, or I can deny it and puff someone up beyond what is written—with attendant evil results.

God allowed Peter to make a misjudgment about the very truth that God had revealed to him. This brother was reproved publicly by a brother who had, before he was saved, distinguished himself by persecuting the church of God and blaspheming. The account is given as follows: “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”* (Galatians 2:11-14)

Some have thought that Peter sinned against light by doing as here described, but there is no evidence of impurity of motive. No doubt, Brother Peter thought it wisest to act as he did, and the full consequences of the action came as a surprise to him. Perhaps, he was even feeling uneasy about the wisdom of withdrawing from the Gentiles, when he was reproved. The full effect of what God had revealed to him in his experiences with Brother Cornelius and others was still slowly manifesting itself to Brother Peter and to others, too. But looking beyond the brethren involved, and considering the matter from nearly 2000 years later, we readily see that God is bigger than people and knows what He is doing. As Brother John said, “God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.”* (1 John 3:20) As Brother Paul puts it, “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”* (1 Corinthians 13:9-10) This is not a matter of how spiritual we are. (Who is the greatest?) It is a matter of how much God has revealed to us, and what we have done with it. It is an easy matter to miss the scope of what God is doing, and it is certain that we will miss the full impact of all the truth (for we know in part) unless God helps us grasp all that He wants us to grasp. “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”* (Romans 12:3) It is sober thinking, indeed, to realize how dependent we are on God, and how we cannot add a single cubit of stature to our spiritual height by the most intensive discipline and carefulness. What we have, we have through the grace given unto us. “According as God hath dealt to every man.”

Now, except the Lord help us, we will certainly go astray. And except we get very quiet and still, we will add something in our thinking to what God has really given us, and God will allow us to make a mistake which will result in building with wood, hay, or stubble. This will be consumed by the fire: “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”* (1 Corinthians 3:13-15)

One of the effects of God thus dealing with us, is to keep us prostrate in the dust before Him. We must follow the example of Jesus: “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”* (Philippians 2:8)

Now we would deal with specifics with several dear brethren, who though unquestionably the Lord’s and much used of God, made profound mistakes in certain matters. In speaking and writing of these matters, we would consider our own humanity and our great need of divine help and guidance, too. They were allowed of God to make these mistakes, and we are allowed of God to discover them and to witness the burning of the wood, hay, and stubble from their history. With our examination of their mistakes, we want to consider that the gold, the silver, and the precious stones in their lives are not burning and will never burn. This is both a humbling matter to us and a matter for rejoicing. Our wood, hay, and stubble will burn, too. And our gold, silver, and precious stones will prove what is good, acceptable, and perfect—the will of God.

We would direct the reader to the continuation of two different articles: