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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Keep Watch Until The End

Quoting John Owen:

Let us never reckon that our work in fighting against sin — in crucifying, mortifying, and subduing it — is at an end. … We may think that we have thoroughly won the field, but there is still some reserve remaining that we did not see or know. Many conquerors have been ruined by carelessness after a victory, and many have been spiritually wounded after great successes. David’s great fall into sin followed a long profession, many experiences of God, and watchfulness in keeping himself from his iniquity. And this is part of the reason why the profession of many has declined in their old age or riper years. They have given up the work of mortifying sin before the work was finished. … It is as necessary to watch towards the end of the race as at the beginning. ‘Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth’ (Col 3:5).

When Evil Is Left On The Field Of Victory

According to John Henry Jowett (1863-1923), faith is a force. Faith is a deep, unshaken confidence in the righteousness of God’s cause. Faith has entire and absolute assurance. When a man speaks with faith that has a solid core of definite confidence burning in his soul, then he will become a flaming fire as he speaks the Word of God. See the article below for more thoughts on this subject:

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:19-20 ESV)

Nothing succeeds like success”; it is easy to be an optimist, and optimistic counsel is congenial, when one has the “open sesame,” when the iron gate swings back at one’s approach, and the obstructive mountains sink into a plain. In such conditions it is easy to engage in the winning shout. But is there anything more pathetic and depressing than the spectacle of men baffled in a noble enterprise and retiring beaten from the field? What can be more pathetic than to have watched some chivalrous knight, riding forth in the promising dawn, with waving plume and glittering lance, returning, in the melancholy evening, torn, bespattered, and ashamed, leaving the flippant enemy triumphant on the field? And the tragedy of the home-coming is all the deeper and darker when the way winds through ranks of contemptuous crowds, who assail the beaten knight with ribaldry and jeers. Such was the pitiable condition of this little company of the first knights of the Lord’s Kingdom. They had gone forth with flying banners, gazed at by sullen and silent crowds: they crept back with drooping banners, to the laughing accompaniment of the crowd’s contempt. They had met the enemy, and they had been overwhelmed in the fight. They had gone forth to battle, and they had been driven from the field. “I brought him to Thy disciples, and they could not cure him!”

Let us get the scene into the imagination. Here is a man devil-possessed, writhing in the torment of his awful bondage. And here are the expulsive knights of the Kingdom. And around them is a great crowd, the majority of them hostile, many of them cynical, and all of them curious, watching this mysterious encounter with devouring interest. And the knights of the Kingdom get to work. They command, but they are not obeyed! One after another tries his power, but his power is proved to be weakness. The knights become more vehement, their imperative rises to a scream, but the devil remains enthroned! Time after time is the attempt repeated amid the muttered comments of the suspicious crowed, and time after time are they repulsed, until at last these much-claiming knights have to confess their failure, and, to the accompaniment of laughter, they retire angrily or silently from the field, leaving the devil in possession. “I brought him to Thy disciples, and they could not cure him.”

The victim was possessed of a devil. I will only pause to say I accept the explanation of his bondage. Some malign presence was making this man’s life chaotic, and was driving him according to its own malicious whim. There are phenomena in human life which cannot be otherwise explained. I cannot explain mysterious emergencies in my own mind and soul except on the theory of subtle and active presences, who seek by illicit snare and fascination to entice me into degrading bondage. The glamour of the world does not account for them. The gravitation of the flesh is an insufficient explanation. They are only interpreted in the Scriptural suggestion that “our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” But it is not necessary for my present purpose to win your assent to any particular theory: it is sufficient to insist that here was an evil in possession, exercising horrible control, paralyzing its pitiable victim, and the knights of the Lord’s Kingdom were incompetent to its expulsion. The evil was left on the field!

Now, our modern experiences very readily lead us to place ourselves in the depressed ranks of the defeated knights. Who is there who has not set out to evict an established evil, and who has not encountered bitter and ultimate defeat? It may be the evil possession was in your own body, or in your mind, or soul, or, maybe, it was housed in the life of your child, or in the life of your friend, or perhaps it was lodged in the corporate body in the shape of some social tyranny, some industrial disease, some national vice, whatever it be, and wherever its home, you have faced the intruder with the purpose of expulsion, and you have signally and utterly failed.

And now it is high time we hear our Master’s explanation of the failure. “Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast it out? And He said unto them. Because of your unbelief!” There is no uncertainty in the diagnosis. The cause is not complicated. It is single and simple. “Unbelief!” There had been a want of confidence. There was doubt at the very heart of the disciple’s effort. There was a cold fear at the very core of his enterprise. He went out with a waving banner, but the flag in his heart was drooping! “Because of your unbelief!” (“The Energy of Faith”)

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