Archive for the ‘Examining the Heart’ Category

Examining the Heart 90

October 29, 2014

Reckon not duties by high expressions, but by low frames, and the beholdings of Christ. Tremble at duties and gifts. It was the saying of a great saying, “He was more afraid of his duties than of his sins”; they often made him proud, the other always made him humble. Treasure up manifestations of Christ’s love; they make the heart low for Christ, too high for sin. Despise not the lowest, meanest evidence of grace; God may put you to make use of the lowest as you think; even that may be worth a thousand worlds to thee (I John 3:14). Thomas Willcox

This selection of writing (above) points to the great need for the soul to be truly humble and that must be a humility that comes from Christ. The true life of the Christian not only comes from beholding Christ and His glory shining in His great work in His incarnation, life, sufferings and death, and His resurrection and ascension, but that it takes a low frame to behold this. It seems as if it is a great curse or judgment of God to have great gifts and even in the religious or “Christian” realm and yet not have true humility. It is far worse to do great things in the moral and even “Christian” realm and to be proud of those than it is to be a lowly and broken-hearted believer that no one pays attention to. It is far worse to be a silver-tongued preacher who does many outwardly great things and yet is full of self and pride than it is to be the poorest believer that cannot utter a word.

Oh how depraved sinners (both believers and non-believers) mistake what God truly loves and is truly pleased with. God hates pride and is opposed to it in all places and at all times. God so hates pride that He gives people over to proud hearts as a severe judgment. When you see a truly proud man, you have seen a man under the judgment of God and that includes well-known and “successful” ministers and leaders in denominations. Oh how proud men are so proud that they don’t want to appear proud to others and so will pretend to be humble, yet God knows the heart. The wrath of God is upon the proud regardless of how much they pretend to be humble.

Willcox advises the people of God to treasure up manifestations of the love of Christ. The reason for this, he says, is that the love of Christ will make the heart low of humble for Christ and yet too high for sin. This is such a beautiful statement that gets at the heart of humility, the love of Christ, and of fleeing sin in a truthful way. It is not just believing facts of history that give the soul a manifestation of the love of Christ, but it is Christ Himself in the soul opening the eyes of the soul by His Spirit to see the love of Christ working in the soul and giving that soul love for Him and working true love in that soul.

When Christ has given a poor sinner a true love for Himself as He is and a love for His spiritual blessings and not just for temporal blessings, that poor sinner should see this as an evidence of true grace which is worth more than all the riches of thousands and thousands of worlds. The soul will have battles and it will struggle to behold Christ and Christ will test the soul with trials and with His withdrawing from it to test it, but the soul that has a true taste of Christ will never be satisfied with anything less than Christ Himself and His grace in the soul giving the soul manifestations of His love to the soul.

The paragraph (by Willcox), taken as a whole, points us to the great truth that God dwells with the humble and contrite of spirit while He opposes and fights against the proud. God opposes the religionists and the “Christian” who can be proud or prouder than any or all. But only the humble receive grace. This points us to our great need, which is not the attempt to do great deeds or great acts of evangelism, but to examine our hearts to see if Christ is in us. Part of that is to examine our hearts to see if we are truly proud or if there is even a mustard seed of humility in us. While God demands us to be humble, He does not demand us to be perfectly humble. He will even work this humility in people by grace alone. As regeneration precedes faith, so grace precedes humility and then more grace is given to those with humility. As a last thought, the life of humility in the soul is really the life of the humble Savior in our soul. We must seek Him to give us this humility because it is His sharing His life with us.

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Examining the Heart 89

October 26, 2014

Reckon not duties by high expressions, but by low frames, and the beholdings of Christ. Tremble at duties and gifts. It was the saying of a great saying, “He was more afraid of his duties than of his sins”; they often made him proud, the other always made him humble. Treasure up manifestations of Christ’s love; they make the heart low for Christ, too high for sin. Despise not the lowest, meanest evidence of grace; God may put you to make use of the lowest as you think; even that may be worth a thousand worlds to thee (I John 3:14). Thomas Willcox

This is a very important experimental teaching that those who have some awareness of the state of their hearts will find as meat and drink to a hungry soul. We must examine our hearts and develop an awareness of how pride rises in our hearts or what truly humbles us. We have to learn to take notice and study the things our hearts respond to and what truly strengthens them in the spiritual realm versus what makes them think that they are doing well. This is a very, very important thing to do. If it is so vital for people to get various examinations each year and others on a more regular basis, how much more vital is it to examine our hearts?

A person can perform a duty and feel really great about it and yet that duty could be nothing but sin and more sin because it was not done out of love for God. It can also be true that a duty can be done out of a desire for the feeling one has for doing it, which is clearly nothing but self-love in the fleshly sense. A duty that is truly done will humble the person as a duty that is truly done comes from grace and the person will see how utterly helpless s/he really is apart from grace and what a depraved person s/he is to have the risings of pride in the heart over doing a duty that could only be done properly when strengthened by grace.

The study of Scripture can do nothing but puff a person up if not done out of true humility and love. I Corinthians 8:1 is so instructive, yet devastatingly powerful to the soul, when it tells us that “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.” A person can be the smartest person in the world concerning the things of Scripture, but the arrogance will kill all spiritual knowledge. A person can be the best and highest in the context of academics and know nothing of spiritual things. A duty that is properly done will be done out of a beholding something of Christ and will be done out of a sense of deep impoverishment of soul, though that too may vary depending on how the Lord is working in the soul.

It is almost beyond belief (if not actually beyond belief) for most modern professing Christians today to even consider the fact that they should be more afraid of their duties than their sins. Humility is far more important than external obedience because only the humble soul will do duties from the strength of grace. The sins of the saints (all true believers) are usually not the more obvious sins that the world drinks in like water, but instead those things have to do with their intents, motives, and desires. If they are watching over their hearts, they will feel dead to spiritual things and alive to the world. While they mourn over their sin they do see God’s hand in working humility and lowliness in them. But when duties are the focus, even what should be spiritual things become things that people are proud of and those things become wicked acts. Even the duties of believers become wicked acts when done out of a sense of pride or strength of self.

The heart is not as easily examined as is commonly thought. A non-spiritual person cannot really examine the heart for spiritual things as that person is in darkness and cannot see what is going on in the spiritual kingdom. Only the spiritual person can examine his or her own heart and note the beginnings or growth of spiritual things. Only the Spirit can show us spiritual things and only the Spirit can open our eyes to see spiritual truths. It is a great spiritual truth that people are blind to that our sins can be of greater use to us if they humble us than our very spiritual duties do when the come from or lead to pride. Spiritual pride is an abomination to God while He loves the humble, contrite, and those who tremble at His Word. How the examination of the heart is so useful as it shows us our sins which He can use to humble us, but also show us our great pride in doing our duties. That seems so backwards to the natural man whether that person is religious or not, yet to the eye that the Spirit has given light to it is seen as a profound truth. We must be about examining our hearts by the Spirit that we may become lower and lower in our own eyes and can do out duties out of love for Christ rather than pride.

Examining the Heart 88

October 8, 2014

A slighting spirit will turn a profane spirit, and will sin and pray too. Slightness is the bane of real religion, if it be not rooted out of the heart, by constant and serious dealings with, and beholdings of Christ in duties; it will grow more strong, and more deadly, by being under church-ordinances. Measure not your graces by others’ attainments, but by scripture trials. Be serious, exact in duty, having the weight of it upon your heart but be as much afraid of taking comfort from duties as from sins. Comfort from any hand but Christ is deadly. Be much in prayer, or you will never keep up much communion with God. As you are in private prayer, so much you will be in all other ordinances.   Thomas Willcox

It is hard to overstate the importance of the statement that “comfort from any hand but Christ is deadly.” He did not say that it was unhealthy or even dangerous, but deadly. This should be taken into account and be dealt with very, very seriously. From speaking with people and hearing people talk (either in person or various forms of communication) it appears that finding comfort in something or even someone other than Christ is rampant. Finding comfort in things other than Christ is not just the majority, but it appears as if it is the vast majority.

It seems as if people find comfort in an orthodox creed, the means of grace rather than grace itself, the doctrine of Christ rather than Christ Himself, the church rather than the Head of the Church, and works and morality. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it is an effort to show how so many conservative and orthodox churches (by profession) can be looking to something other than Christ for comfort. The statement by Willcox also includes those who look to a false Christ and those who look to rigorous orthodoxy in the name of Christ and yet not to Christ Himself. It would appear that so many use so many things, even good things, that makes them think that they are looking to Christ and yet those things are being used to blind them and deceive them.

It is a wonderful thing to be in an orthodox church (by profession), but is it so wonderful if that orthodoxy was used to deceive people? Can it be that orthodoxy can be trusted in rather than Christ Himself? Can it be that orthodoxy can be a means of pride and so people are really trusting in themselves as they proudly think of themselves as orthodox and therefore converted? Here we see that there can be a great distinction or difference between those who hold to a form of orthodox belief. One group sees that the orthodox doctrine teaches them the truth of Christ and so they look to Christ, but the second group (appears to be larger by far than group one) looks to orthodoxy as a sign of faith and so they don’t die to self and their pride and so they look to their creed or orthodoxy rather than Christ Himself.

This can happen that when a person questions his salvation in his heart (despite the external confidence) he will look to his creed or his orthodoxy and think of himself as a believer in the truth. The devil knows what is true (in that sense) and believes it is true as well. Having an orthodox creed is nothing more than the devil has, or at least in one sense. The devil uses orthodoxy and biblical truth to blind people and to deceive them. He even used Scripture in an effort to deceive Christ. An orthodox creed can be as dangerous to a person as open sin if the creed is used to gain comfort by rather than Christ Himself. The orthodox creed is meant to be biblical truth that points to Christ rather than something that points to itself. The orthodox creed is meant to be a way to tell the truth about Christ who is to be trusted in and rested upon, but when it is trusted in and rested upon it becomes a wicked sin of pride and self. Finding comfort in a creed or a statement of orthodoxy is a very, very dangerous thing and when one finds comfort in a creed that creed is being used to blind a person to the Gospel of Christ alone.

It is a necessary thing to examine the heart for its deepest beliefs and its deepest comforts. While it may be widely taught in our day for people to simply profess a creed and live a moral life, the Scripture knows nothing of such a thing. It teaches us that we must have Christ as our life and we must rest in Christ alone. A slighting spirit in a person will keep them from a blood earnestness that is necessary to examine the heart to find its deepest comforts and what it rests upon in fact and reality. If we are not earnest and serious about the things of God and the Gospel, we have yet to understand the reality of eternity and of holiness and grace.

Examining the Heart 87

October 7, 2014

A slighting spirit will turn a profane spirit, and will sin and pray too. Slightness is the bane of real religion, if it be not rooted out of the heart, by constant and serious dealings with, and beholdings of Christ in duties; it will grow more strong, and more deadly, by being under church-ordinances. Measure not your graces by others’ attainments, but by scripture trials. Be serious, exact in duty, having the weight of it upon your heart but be as much afraid of taking comfort from duties as from sins. Comfort from any hand but Christ is deadly. Be much in prayer, or you will never keep up much communion with God. As you are in private prayer, so much you will be in all other ordinances.    Thomas Willcox

The heart is so very deceitful and is willing to stand on any reason for hope rather than do the hard work of examining the heart for grace. It is easy to be religious and go through the external ritual and ordinances, but as with the Jews of old and many other religions and denominations the rituals and ordinances cannot be evidence in and of themselves of grace. Even more, so many want to trust in the attainments of others, whether trusting the minister or others. Grace in the soul cannot be measured by the standards and attainments of others, but instead only by trials in the soul and trials according to Scripture.

Willcox argues that we should be serious and exact in our duties, as opposed to having a slighting spirit which hardens the heart. Instead of treating things lightly, we are to place the weight of these things on our hearts. The things of God should be treated as weighty and not lightly or to treat things with a slighting spirit. While the soul should be serious and exact in duty, it must not take any comfort from the duty. This is so hard for people to grasp and to see the truth of it. There must be no comfort taken in the doing of duties. Even more, we should be as afraid of taking comfort from our duties as we are from taking comfort from our sins. This is an absolutely stunning statement that gets at several things at once: It gets at the legalism in all of our hearts, it gets at our real views of the nature of grace, it gets at our views of the Gospel of Christ alone, and it gets at the real trust we have in ourselves and our duties.

The point of the previous paragraph is that we must never be comforted by anything or anyone (in this sense) but Christ alone. The Lord Jesus Christ saves by grace alone and is not helped by our duties or hindered by our sin. Oh how this rankles the legalist and the formalist. No, this does not teach us to be slack in our duties, but instead it gives us far greater motives for doing them. We are to do what we do out of love for God and do them in and by the strength of grace rather than do them in order to find comfort in our duties or our sanctification. Jesus Christ is our righteousness and not our duties. Jesus Christ is our sanctification and not our duties. This must be preached and taught with great perseverance because without this point we are left with sinners trying to justify themselves or to sanctify themselves. This must be taught so that men and women will be emptied of all hope in their duties that they may see Christ alone and His grace alone as their only hope.

This is such an important point that it should be stressed over and over again to those who long for hearts to be free from all legalism and hope in self that they may love God. Oh how our hearts long to find something of self and the acts of self to trust in rather than to trust in grace alone and Christ alone. The trusting in the doing of a duty is not only no better than sin, it is sin. It is an act of idolatry to trust in self and the acts of self rather than Christ alone. It is simply absurd for a person to say that s/he has free-will to trust in Christ who will save him or her because of his free act of the will and then for that person to say that s/he is saved by grace alone. But it is equally absurd for a person to assert that s/he trusts in Christ and His grace alone and then to rest or trust in duties performed. How wicked an act it is for very religious people to trust in themselves and their doing of religious acts (duties) to save them rather than Christ alone.

There are surely some (if not many) true believers who have a hidden trust in themselves as they do their duties thinking that they are clinging to their creed (which may be true words). But they can be deceived. How we must seek the Lord to open our eyes and hearts to ourselves so that we may see the things He is not pleased with, which in this case is idolatry. How we must seek Him to tear our hearts and our trusts from things and from self so that we may be more and more pure in our trust in Him and His grace.

Examining the Heart 86

October 6, 2014

A slighting spirit will turn a profane spirit, and will sin and pray too. Slightness is the bane of real religion, if it be not rooted out of the heart, by constant and serious dealings with, and beholdings of Christ in duties; it will grow more strong, and more deadly, by being under church-ordinances. Measure not your graces by others’ attainments, but by scripture trials. Be serious, exact in duty, having the weight of it upon your heart but be as much afraid of taking comfort from duties as from sins. Comfort from any hand but Christ is deadly. Be much in prayer, or you will never keep up much communion with God. As you are in private prayer, so much you will be in all other ordinances. Thomas Willcox

Slighting (treating something lightly, indifference, negligently, derogatory, or as of little importance) the things of Scripture and of God is in one sense nothing more than the failure to hallow the name of God (3rd Commandment) and to love Him with all of our being (Great Commandment). It is hard to pursue God without reverence for His name and all that has to do with Him. It is hard to pursue God while in constant disobedience to the command to hallow and love Him and His name. If this slighting spirit remains in the heart and the Lord is not sought to cast it out, then being under church-ordinances does not cast it out. Instead, a slighting spirit will be slight toward church-ordinances (and other things) and will be judicially hardened.

As one thinks about it, the slighting spirit is one that profanes the name of God in all that is done. The Scriptures are the very words of God and are the revelation of God, so treating them slightly is an act of irreverence toward God. A slighting spirit in prayer does not seem to recognize that true prayer is coming into the presence (at least seeking to) of the living and thrice holy God. A slighting spirit does not recognize the true nature of preaching and the true nature of the Supper, so in listening to a sermon (even a good sermon by a man of God) or taking the Supper the person does not recognize the voice of Christ or the body of Christ and as such sins in the very act of participating of church-ordinances.

If it is true (and it is) what Scripture teaches about people being sick and dying because of the way they treated the Lord’s Supper, then slighting the Supper and all other things touching true Christianity must be a worse sin than we have imagined and possibly can imagine. Who gives solemn warnings about this in our day? Perhaps it is not thought to be nice or kind to tell people things that are so serious and perhaps to tell them that they should not take the Supper, but is it nice and kind to allow them to take something which is working death and illness to them? Isn’t the failure to warn people of the dangers of taking the Supper slightly really nothing less than the minister viewing the Supper slightly?

Unless a church is seeking reverence is it is seeking God it is treating God and the worship of God slightly. It is true that so many want to be modern and to connect with all sorts of people in society, but true worship is to meet with God and to seek His presence. This is to say that it is a terrible sin for a church (professing church, perhaps) to value the entertainment of the people over the presence of God. It is a terrible thing for a professing church to get caught up all sorts of ways to make people happy and not focus on the presence of the living God. It is a terrible thing for a minister (and elders) to be caught up with relevance and making people happy over the presence of the living God. When God is not being sought in worship and in the sermon, it is nothing more and nothing less than idolatry in the presence of God.

If a slighting spirit is the opposite of the teaching of Scripture on eternity, the soul, holiness, and glory; then we can see the absolute and utter need of reverence in the worship of God. This is not to say that there should be no joy or gladness, but it must be a reverent joy and gladness if it is to be acceptable to God. The modern professing Church is caught up with all sorts of lightness and indifference as it attempts to draw large crowds, but when it does so it is guilty of idolatry in worship in preferring men to God. We must learn that we are to seek God and then seek men for the glory of God rather than seek men and think we are serving God. Our hearts are given to slighting the things of God, but instead of giving in to what is normal we should seek God to open our hearts to Him that we may worship in reverence and awe.

Examining the Heart 85

October 5, 2014

A slighting spirit will turn a profane spirit, and will sin and pray too. Slightness is the bane of real religion, if it be not rooted out of the heart, by constant and serious dealings with, and beholdings of Christ in duties; it will grow more strong, and more deadly, by being under church-ordinances. Measure not your graces by others’ attainments, but by scripture trials. Be serious, exact in duty, having the weight of it upon your heart but be as much afraid of taking comfort from duties as from sins. Comfort from any hand but Christ is deadly. Be much in prayer, or you will never keep up much communion with God. As you are in private prayer, so much you will be in all other ordinances. Thomas Willcox

The concept or definition of slighting has the idea of treating something lightly, indifference, negligently, derogatory, or as of little importance. It is the opposite of the teaching of Scripture on eternity, the soul, holiness, and then glory. For example, in Matthew 23 Jesus said this to the religious elite of the day: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (v. 23). The scribes and the Pharisees followed their interpretations of the law with much detail and energy, but in their stringent following of the Law they neglected the portions that were of the most weight.

On the one hand this is what a liberal approach will do, but it is also what a legal approach will do as well. The liberal approach and the legal approach have something in common, and that is that they are diligent to focus on things they can do and deny what they cannot do. Both sides and/or views will treat the law lightly or slight it in order to be able to deny the truth of the Word of God and justify the view that they want. The human heart in its self-love and self-sufficiency will “lighten” the gravity and importance of the nature of God, of sin, the Law, and of eternity in order that it may be more comfortable or think it is righteous by what it does.

It is so easy for the heart (perhaps even “natural” for a person to do according to the natural man) to view things and to slight it or diminish it rather than to deal with it according to the gravity and weightiness of it that Scripture sets out. The heart always wants to justify itself in whatever it does or wants to do and when it runs up against Scripture it will diminish the weight of the teaching of Scripture (to itself and its way of thinking) so that it may do what it wants or so that it may justify itself in doing what it wants or having done what it wanted. It is so dangerous for the heart to practice a slighting of Scripture and of God, though indeed this may be hidden far from its own eyes. God judges this by turning a person over to more of it which leads to a profane spirit.

When a person slights (diminishes, treat lightly) something that is holy and weighty, it does not take long in doing this that a person becomes a profane person in his religious life and duties. When a person was said to profane a temple, this meant that they had desecrated, violated, defiled, and treated that temple in a sacrilegious manner. A foreign military commander would slight the temple of God by going in and treating it as a common thing, which was nothing to that commander, but that commander was viewed as profaning the temple by having desecrated and defiled it. This is what happens to religious people if they are not humble and weighty in their approach and treatment of holy things.

As one thinks about these things, it is easy to see how our hearts would begin to slight the things of God and we would profane His temple (ourselves) and begin to treat holy things lightly. This is a great sin of the modern age in which it slights holy things in order to get large numbers of people in the doors of buildings with “church” on the sign. In the modern age the professing Church slights holy things and values light things. It has lost its way because it does not treat holy things as holy and weighty things as weighty. The modern age has lost the ability to discern what is holy and weighty and the things that are not. How churches and individuals need to wake up and examine themselves to see what they are (not might be, but are) slighting. This is a great sin and people need to be awakened and have their eyes opened that they may see what they are doing. If not, we may find that we have many who are like Ananias and his wife Sapphira who were judged severely for slighting holy things.

Examining the Heart 84

September 30, 2014

Judge not Christ’s love by providences, but by promises. Bless God for shaking off false foundations, for any way whereby He keeps the soul awakened and looking after Christ; better sickness and temptations, than security and superficiality.    Thomas Willcox

This is vital to understand for the person with the smallest seed of faith. The natural man wants to judge love by how things are going on in life, which is to say that as long as all things are easy for the natural man s/he will think that Christ loves him or her. But the opposite may be and almost always is true. Those whom God loves He disciplines (trains) and He does this by trials and hard things. This is not to say that providences are to be cast out in all ways at all times, but simply to say that when nothing but good things in the natural realm are happening is not the same thing as things being well spiritually. In fact, when all things are going well it can mean that God is hardening the person’s heart. It is also true that when it seems as if nothing can get worse, it just may be that God is working true good in that person’s soul.

We can look at the life of Christ as a guide. He was afflicted and suffered during His earthly sojourn and ministry. He was hated by the religious and political elite of His day. Yet, Scripture says, He learned obedience by His suffering. Was Christ to judge that He was not loved by the Father when He was being ridiculed? Was Christ to judge that He was not loved by the Father when He was hungry and it appeared that the entire world was against Him? Was Christ to judge that the Father did not love Him when He was sent to the cross? No, we cannot conclude that without being heretics of the worst order. It was the Holy Spirit who led the Son into the wilderness to be tempted (tried) by the Devil. It was the Father who sent trial after trial upon Him and then sent Him to the cross. The Lord Jesus looked to the promises and not to the providences.

During times of great trial God uses hard things and even great trials to keep the soul from settling into a false security and to seek Christ. It is during the hard things and even the things that seem to keep the soul full of mourning and thinking that it can barely go on (if at all) that God is working in that soul a depth that the superficial religionists will never know as they go through life thinking that all is well because they are living an easy life. We can read Job and the Psalms and know that men suffer because of sin, but yet at times they suffer greatly because God decides to bring trials upon them in order to make them grow. The trials are evidences of true love, but the worldly person will never see that at all.

When we look at things through the lenses of Scripture, we see that when God sets His love on a person it is far better to be tried with all sorts of things than it is not go through a life of ease and comfort. We must examine our hearts and take note whether we are looking at things according to the natural man or according to the spiritual sight of things. We should look at our hearts and know that when the heart is learning to some degree to be content in God regardless of the circumstances, that heart is far more blessed by that than by the riches of the whole world.

Examining the Heart 83

September 28, 2014

Search the Scriptures daily as mines of gold in which the heart of Christ is laid open. Watch against sins to which you are prone, see them in their vileness, and they shall never break out into act. Keep always an humble, empty, broken frame of heart, sensitive to any spiritual misconduct, observing all inward workings, fit for the highest communications. Keep not guilt in the conscience, but apply the blood of Christ immediately. God charges sin and guilt upon you to make you look to Christ, the brazen serpent.     Thomas Willcox

The Scriptures should not just be seen as words to be discovered as one reads a book or can be opened by academic study alone. The Scriptures cannot be understood apart from seeing them and seeking an understanding of them in light of Christ and the heart of Christ. The Scriptures and the heart of Christ revealed in them are far greater than mines of gold, yet we know how hard men work to get gold. How eagerly we would search the Scriptures if we understood or believed even a little what riches there are in them when the heart of Christ is set out in them. How diligent we should be to seek Christ in our hearts as we meditate on the Scripture and on Christ Himself. The Scriptures are not set out that we may learn things about them, but that we may learn about Christ and know Christ Himself. Knowing Christ and His precious blood is of far more value than gold.

Part of knowing Christ is to search our own hearts and to watch against sin because they are against Christ Himself. It is hard to claim true love for Christ if we will not watch our hearts and ask Him to teach us those things which are against Him and displease Him. We should ask God and seek to see sin in their vileness so that we would be moved not to sin, but also that we would see the glory of His grace in forgiving us our sin. The vileness of sin will not be seen as an intellectual fact alone, but it will only be seen in the light of His grace and glory.

While we should see humility before Him and an empty, broken frame of heart, we should know that this is a work of grace as well. We should strive for these things, but our striving will never obtain them since these things come from Christ and His life in the souls of the regenerate. Humility is not just some virtue that is the work of the natural man, but instead humility is the life of Christ in the soul of one He indwells. Emptiness of self cannot be obtained by a work of self since a work of self just strengthens self, but instead this emptiness of self can only come from a stronger hand and that can only come by grace. A broken heart is necessary for Christ to dwell in His people, but a heart that is spiritually broken cannot be obtained by the work of natural self. Only Christ, as the inward Teacher, can do this great work.

In observing all inward workings, which alone is fit for the highest communications from the Lord, the soul must be emptied of self and to know that it is the work of Christ by His Spirit to teach us about our hearts. The spiritual sin in our hearts cannot really be understood by the natural man, but instead spiritual eyes must be opened and the inward man must be taught by the Spirit. If we really want to know our hearts and the inward workings of them, we must become those who want to know out hearts and our deep poverty in spiritual things. We must be willing to accept just how helpless we are and the fact that we have no spiritual sufficiency in ourselves. It is in the deep things of this working in the heart that we will come to understand our utter need of grace in all things.

The quote (above) can seem a bit of a puzzle if we are not careful. It tells us that when we have guilt on our conscience, we should apply the blood of Christ immediately. This is not to say that it is in our power to do so, but we are to seek Christ and to look to His blood to take away our guilt rather than turn to trying to earn righteousness to make up for our sin or try to suffer for our sin. We must know that God makes us feel the weight of our sin in a fatherly way and He does his in order to make us look to Christ for healing. In His glorious sovereignty He will turn us over to sin in order to deliver us from religious pride and self-sufficiency so that we will seek Christ and Christ alone. True love seeks the spiritual best for others, and that is what God in His infinite wisdom does. So we should search our hearts for sin that we may know Christ and His grace more and more.

Examining the Heart 82

September 25, 2014

Christ is too high and glorious for nature so much as to touch. There must be a divine nature first put into the soul, to make it lay hold on Him. He lies so infinitely beyond the sight or reach of nature. That Christ which natural free-will can apprehend, is but a natural Christ or a man’s own making, not the Father’s Christ, nor Jesus the Son of the living God, to whom none can come without the Father’s drawing (John 6:44). Thomas Willcox

We live in a world that we think of as nature, but the reality behind it, within it, and upholding it is spiritual. The professing Church has fallen into the devil’s trap and so looks at things from a natural point of view. In evangelism we present the natural men with a message that is focused on the natural man and present a natural Jesus of our own making and try to persuade men to pray and be saved. But the real Lord Jesus Christ cannot be seen or touched by the natural man, and so our evangelistic methods are false and deceitful and many are led astray by that method. When the professing Church gathers, we focus on doing great things of ministry and building buildings for the purpose of ministry and taking offerings and commitments in order to raise money in the name of this natural Jesus. Natural men are suckered into this and think that they are serving Jesus.

Yes, this sounds harsh, but that is precisely what is going on. It appears that a large majority of the professing Church is serving a natural Jesus and this is the Jesus that is being preached. When men and women are “converted” to this natural Jesus, they have not been converted from the natural man but instead they are locked into a religion of the natural man. The religion of the natural man is focused on a natural Jesus and it is always in the power of the natural man to do things for this natural Jesus. But the doctrine of Holy Scripture is far, far different. The true Jesus is not accessible by the natural man or any natural religion. This is one reason that so many denominations and different religions are finding ways to agree, and that is because they all believe in a natural God of some sort and/or a natural Jesus.

Interestingly enough, there is a natural Calvinism in the world today as well. It is very rational and/or intellectual. It is very moral, nice, and hates to be disturbed on any front. It wants all things religious to be very calm and controlled and above all orderly by its own standards. But true Christianity is supernatural. The supernatural will not be controlled by the natural and it is not always orderly or calm by the standards of the natural man. God will do as He pleases and He will not be controlled by the natural realm or the natural man. The living and true God will convict people as He pleases and a convicted person may cry and groan and even sob beyond their own control. The living God can and does change the hearts of natural men and gives them a spiritual sight of His glory in Christ and they don’t always sit there in a nearly catatonic position.

The living God works in souls and at times brings them to deep despair and at other times gives them a joy beyond words. These things are beyond the natural man and the natural man wants to explain these things by saying that they are fanaticism or perhaps emotionalism or enthusiasm. It is true that many times those accusations are true, but let us at least admit that when God comes into the human soul that natural soul is changed into a spiritual soul and that person has new capacities and ones that the natural mind cannot comprehend. God cannot be controlled or defined by the natural man.

The natural will of man which is thought of as the “free-will” has no ability to touch or apprehend Jesus Christ in His supernatural realities. This is not something that should be new, but it is an old truth which must be thought of again. The natural man must be born again in order to be a spiritual man and that is not possible for the natural will of man to carry out. The natural will cannot do one thing in the spiritual realm and so the natural will is not free to operate or function spiritually. The natural will is bound to the natural nature which is a nature of wrath. It takes the living God to put a spiritual nature in the soul by grace alone for a person to be spiritual. Until that happens, the natural man can be very moral (externally), very nice, and very religious. The natural man can build “churches” and buildings and see sinners walk the aisles and pray prayers. But the natural man is doing nothing but earning and treasuring wrath for himself and those who listen. The natural man must be born again and all the niceness and religion of that natural man is nothing by self-love working for self rather than the living God.

Examining the Heart 81

September 15, 2014

The opinion of free-will, (so cried up), will be easily confuted, as it is by scripture, in the heart, which has had any spiritual dealing with Jesus Christ as to the application of His merits, and subjection to His righteousness. Christ is every way too magnificent a person for poor nature to close with or to apprehend. Christ is so infinitely holy, nature never dare look at Him; so infinitely good, nature can never believe Him to be such, when it lies under a full sight of sin. Christ is too high and glorious for nature so much as to touch. There must be a divine nature first put into the soul, to make it lay hold on Him. He lies so infinitely beyond the sight or reach of nature. Thomas Willcox

How the teaching of the so-called free-will had permeated and inundated the modern professing Church. While it is not taught in Scripture, many see it as a necessary teaching to make sense of Scripture. That is nothing but the natural man trying to find an ability or power of the natural man in the Scriptures. The Scripture commands A, so the natural man reasons that he must have the ability to carry out A or God could not morally command him to do A. However, the natural man misses a very key point. God commands A to show us our inability to carry out A in the natural man in order to show us the necessity of our need for Christ to cover our sins, but also our great need of grace in order to keep the command (to some degree). Apart from Christ we can do nothing (spiritual or good), though the natural man will fight with that also.

How is the soul to have the application of the merits of Christ to his or her soul? Can the natural soul do that? Is the grace that is found in Christ there for the taking of any natural soul to apply it to self? Is the soul really free to apply the merits and grace of Christ to itself? That sure appears to be a power way beyond the ability of any natural man. In fact, it is not what the natural man wants to do nor does he have the ability to do so. The natural man also has nothing in his or her heart that wants to be subject to Christ and His righteousness and is opposed to Him in His true and glorious holiness. The natural man does not want true grace, but instead wants a pseudo-grace. The natural man hates true grace and so does not want to apply that, but it is also true that he cannot even behold the glory of Christ and the grace of Christ in truth.

The will that is free is also free of grace and as such cannot touch or apply that which it is free of. It is absurd to imagine that the will that is free, which by definition means that it is free of grace, can handle that grace which is beyond it and apply it to itself. The will that is free (truly free) is also free of the bondage of depravity which is utter nonsense, but Christ comes to sinners in order to free them from the bondage of sin. But as long as sinners think that they are free of depravity, they are under the bondage of depravity. Grace alone can free sinners from their bondage to depravity and sin and give them grace.

Col 1:11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

In the text above (Colossians 1:11-14) we see how sinners are qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. It is God who rescues them from the domain (under the power of, dominion of) of darkness and it is the Father who transfers them to the Kingdom of His beloved Son. Notice that the will is not given any credit and that there are only two places for the soul to be in. The soul is either under the domain of darkness or it is in the kingdom of the beloved Son. There is not other place or power that the soul is under. The soul is never in the kingdom of its own will, but instead it is only under the domain of darkness or it has been transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son which means that the soul in that kingdom is under the reign and rule of Christ. Again, it is not under the reign and rule of self. All the power and all the glory is of Christ and not of the human will. It is idolatrous to ascribe to the human will what only Christ can do. Oh how human beings should examine their hearts to see whether they are followers of their own will or that of Christ. They must see if they have power from Christ or of self. This is utterly vital.