|CALLED UNTO HOLINESS - 02. LIKENESS TO CHRIST|
LIKENESS TO CHRIST
The essential thing for holiness of life is to have a standard, and then to live without deviation by that standard. The Lord JESUS CHRIST has set that standard for us.
"I am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).
There is a threefold thing that He shows us here; oneness in CHRIST, likeness to CHRIST, the fullness of CHRIST. We thought together yesterday of oneness in CHRIST through our positional sanctification. The sinner is living in that black, infernal trinity; Satan, the world, and the flesh. The Christian has passed by way of the Cross through faith in the atoning Blood of the Saviour into a totally new position, a totally new sphere, a totally new trinity. He is in CHRIST, in the church, and in the Spirit, and thence he is called by GOD a saint. He has been made one with JESUS CHRIST through the baptism of the HOLY SPIRIT by which he was brought into the body of CHRIST. We said yesterday the most important question that can ever be put to a human being is this: Where are you? You are either in that black, infernal trinity over which Satan presides, or you are in that glory-lighted Trinity over which CHRIST rules. If you are still in Satan's trinity, are you going to remain there? Oh, that this afternoon there might be someone - if there is a single one who is not in CHRIST JESUS - who would put faith in the Blood of the Saviour, for that is all that is necessary, and the moment you do it, you become a part of Him, and He becomes a part of you - oneness in CHRIST through positional sanctification.
Where we are determines what we are. So, that is the question with which we come this afternoon: What are you now that you are in CHRIST?
Likeness to CHRIST through Progressive Sanctification
This thought takes us again to John 15, with which we are all so familiar. Oneness in CHRIST demands likeness to CHRIST; the branch that is in the vine must bear fruit. The branch that bears no fruit is worthless and is taken away.
"Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away" (John 15:2).
What a solemn thought that is for every one of us who is a branch.
The second thought is that no branch can bear fruit of itself. There is absolutely nothing in the branch itself that is productive of fruit, nothing that the branch is, nothing that the branch can do, can make it produce fruit; only the sap of the vine produces fruit. So the branch has nothing to do but to abide in the vine.
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me" (John 15:4).
Third, fruit bearing is progressive. These verses speak of the branch that bears "not fruit," the branch that bears "fruit," the branch that bears "more fruit," and the branch that bears "much fruit."
"Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (John 15:2).
"Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples" (John 15:8).
There is nothing static in spiritual experience; every real Christian is a growing Christian. The purpose of fruit-bearing is to glorify CHRIST. The branch does not bear fruit to glorify itself, it bears fruit to glorify the vine. But only the "much fruit" glorifies the Father. Anything short of that, although it may bring Him joy and please Him, fails to glorify the Father fully.
Now what is fruit? It is CHRIST in His outward manifestation.
"I in you... I in him" (John 15:4-5).
Those words are so simple, you and I could read them over many times yet never sound the depths of their meaning. We could perhaps turn to this chapter and say, "I do not need to read those words, for I know them." So simple, yet the whole of Christian living is in these three words, "I in you." But if you were to underline one of these words, which would it be, the "you" or the "I"?; The trouble is, we mark the "you," and the "you" is nothing and the "I" is everything. Only when that "you" becomes a zero, literally a zero, and the "I," even CHRIST Himself, fills the zero until only the "I" is seen, can we call ourselves real Christians according to the standard set in John 15, "I in you" - you nothing but a house of which the Lord JESUS CHRIST has taken possession, control and use.
CHRIST Himself is our Sanctification.
"But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us . . . sanctification" (I Corinthians 1:30).
CHRIST Himself is our life.
"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory" (Colossians 3:4).
The Christian life is not merely a converted life, it is not merely a consecrated life, it is not a Christian life at all unless it is a Christ-life. It could not be more plainly illustrated than by my little wrist watch. You see it is a very tiny thing, and a very simple watch. It is not studded with jewels, that is not necessary for a watch. There is only one thing that a watch is really for; a watch is not an ornament, a watch is to keep time. That little watch would not be a bit of use to me if it did not keep time, for I have to catch trains and boats and attend meetings. The one thing I require in a watch is that it keeps time, and what makes it keep time? - Its size? What it is made of, gold or silver? Not at all. It is the works that are inside.
What is a Christian for? Is he an ornament? A Christian has only one value in this world - to reveal JESUS CHRIST, to manifest JESUS CHRIST in this dark, sinful world where men do not know Him and do not read the Bible to find Him there. A Christian is an absolutely worthless Christian unless he is revealing JESUS CHRIST. What enables him to reveal CHRIST? Anything in himself? Nothing but the One that lives within him, the Lord JESUS CHRIST - "I in you." It is all that He asks of you and me, to let Him do the living and revealing.
He not only taught likeness through oneness, He prayed for it. Do you recall the last three words of His High-Priestly prayer? "I in them." The last words He wanted that little group, composed mostly of unlettered fishermen, to hear, so they would ring on in their ears and in their hearts and be unforgettable, were, "I in them," And, when He offered that petition, I believe He breathed out the deepest desire of His heart for every Christian all down through the ages. "I in them."
Has that prayer been answered in your life and mine, so that as we move in and out among people we are not seen, but only that living, glorious CHRIST is seen in us? Now, we say that is too high a standard. Yes, it is a high standard, and do you know what we are constantly doing? We are appealing to CHRIST to look on our circumstances, our environment, to look at our weakness and our infirmity, and to bring His standard down to the level of our experience, and, friends, He will never do it. He has brought us to Keswick for the one purpose of bringing our experience up to the level of His standard. Are we going to let Him do it?
The other day I was talking with a man who said to me, "I am not a religious man, I am a pagan." Then he went on to speak of some divinity students he knew who went out to preach in the morning, and then came back and played poker and drank whiskey in the afternoon, and he said, "It does not seem quite right to me; a Christian ought to be Christlike." That man said of himself that he was a pagan; but he had a standard for the Christian that those Christians did not have for themselves. The world looks on at you and me, my friends, and if we profess to be a Christian, it says, "She ought to be Christlike," and she ought to be, or else make no profession of being a Christian, for the honor of His name. Fruit is CHRIST in us manifested in His glory. But there are so many Christians one can only describe as drab, and I do not like drab. Do you? You do not like a drab Christian, either. We all like to see a glory Christian. Are you one?
Fruit is CHRIST in us manifested in the glory of holiness. Now let us bring these two great truths together; Oneness in CHRIST - "Ye in me," and likeness to CHRIST - "I in you." The two are indivisible and inseparable. Oneness in CHRIST demands likeness to CHRIST. Fruit is Christlikeness, and much fruit is the fullest measure of Christlikeness; and Christlikeness is CHRIST in you, and CHRIST in you is manifested glory. Are you in CHRIST? Then what are you? Are you like CHRIST? Are you bearing fruit? Can others see CHRIST in you? To what measure are you bearing fruit? Only fruit, or more fruit, or much fruit? Would the members of your family know you are a Christian if you did not go to church? Would your friends know that you are a Christian if you did not testify or pray? Would any one know it if he just looked into your face?
Friends, it ought to be seen. If CHRIST lives in us, there should be something in the expression of the eye, something in the very lines of the face; we should bear the mark in our faces of the presence of the glorified CHRIST within. Would one know it from our conversation or from watching our daily walk? When you enter a room, do you cast a chill over the atmosphere, or do you flood it with sunshine? A glory-Christian will flood every place he goes with sunshine, the sunshine of the presence of the glorified CHRIST. Is CHRIST the very life of your life? I am sure that we all want to be Christians who are bearing much fruit, who flood every place we go with the sunshine of His presence. Some of us came to Keswick for the very purpose of finding out how to live such a life. How then, may we live it? Likeness to CHRIST through progressive sanctification requires two things of us; first, a right relationship to CHRIST, our Sanctification, and secondly, a right adjustment to the HOLY SPIRIT, our Sanctifier.
A Right Relationship to CHRIST
To be like CHRIST requires that we come into a full relationship to the Lord JESUS CHRIST. It is not enough just to accept Him as Saviour. That is taking simply the first step. We must go on to let CHRIST become the Life of our life, and above all to let Him be Lord of our life. We read in Romans 5 of three things that sin did.
Sin entered, sin abounded, sin reigned. Sin "reigned". Do you get the full force of the word "reigned"? Sin was absolute dictator over your life and mine; sin possessed us, sin controlled us, sin used us. But now CHRIST is our Saviour and we are in Him. Is sin still to reign over us? Are we to continue to live in sin? Inconceivable! Who but One has the right to reign, the One who has been made Head over all things to the Church and to the Christian? CHRIST now has the right to possess us fully, to control us completely and to use us exclusively. In order that He may do so, He must become Lord. But sin, that stubborn old ruler, will contest His claim every step of the way. But did GOD make provision for the dethronement of that old master sin?
"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (Romans 6:6).
What does that word "destroyed" mean? To be rendered inoperative. In modern terms, to be put out of employment, out of a job as ruler over your life. And for what purpose is this dethronement? "That henceforth we should not serve sin." We have a new Master, even the Lord JESUS, and Him only are we to serve now.
A Choice between Sovereigns
You and I are called to make a choice of sovereigns. As a sinner we had to choose between our sins and our Saviour, now as a Christian we must make the choice between the continued sovereignty of that old master, Sin, and that of our new master, CHRIST.
"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof" (Romans 6:12).
Have you made this choice? Has it been a deliberate, final choice of CHRIST as the sole Sovereign over your life? If not, will you do it this afternoon?
CHRIST Yielded to as Lord
Having chosen CHRIST as our Master, then He commands us to yield to Him as Lord.
"Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Romans 6:13).
"Yield yourselves," spirit, soul and body. Yield your whole human personality in toto to CHRIST. Have you done it? Or have you parceled out a little bit and told Him what He could have, and what you intended to reserve for yourself?
"Yield... your members" in order that there may be no loophole, He goes on to say we are to yield every member of the body - the eyes, the ears, the feet, the hands, the lips, the tongue. Have you done it? Perhaps someone here is living in defeat because of one unyielded member of the body. An unyielded tongue, what unlimited harm it can do! Here is our Lord's command, have we obeyed it? Have we yielded ourselves entirely to Him? If not, will you do it now? Then we must yield, everything that has any relationship whatsoever to our life, all our habits, all our practices, all our appetites, our pleasures, our companionships, our home, our possessions, our children, our money.
Last year, after a message on yielding, a gentleman came up to me and said, "Miss Paxson, tonight I have yielded my old pipe." Can you not see that old, pipe? The Lord had asked him for it, perhaps many a time. He thought he had yielded it, but he took it home and put it up on the shelf. What he ought to have done with the old pipe was to have thrown it, with everything that appertained to it, into the fire. That is yielding; but, when he saw the old pipe, perhaps he was tempted to think, "May I not take down the old pipe just once again for one more puff?" Have you yielded your old pipe? It may not be one you put in your mouth, but you may have a blood relation to it, that you do puff away at, which the Lord is asking you to yield. Oh! this is the shame of many even Christian women today! How can you distinguish a woman of the church, the body of CHRIST from a woman of the world, the body of Satan, if she is puffing a cigarette? What is there to mark her off as belonging to the glory-life?
What is your old pipe, my friend? I will tell you what it is. It is that thing the Lord has been asking you for, for weeks and months, maybe for years, and you will not give it up; that little insignificant thing that is not worth more than the puff of a pipe, and you will not give it up for this eternal Son of GOD, that His glory may be manifested more fully in you. That is what He brought you here for, to get rid of that old pipe. I do not know what it is, but He knows, and you know. It is that which is keeping you in defeat and it is that which is hindering Him from manifesting His glory in your life today. Will you yield that old pipe to the Lord JESUS CHRIST. Will you yield yourself, your members, all that you are and have, to the Lord now?
The Right Adjustment to the HOLY SPIRIT
This work of sanctification can be carried on only through the HOLY SPIRIT, the Sanctifier, that second great gift bestowed at the time of conversion. The moment you were brought into union with CHRIST, the wonderful HOLY SPIRIT came to indwell you, and He is there for one purpose, to glorify CHRIST in you. How does He do this?
The Spirit of Truth who Enlightens
As the Spirit of truth He enlightens us that we may know what we possess in CHRIST and what CHRIST possesses in us. Ephesians speaks of a double inheritance, the saint's inheritance in CHRIST and CHRIST's inheritance in the saint.
"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe" (Ephesians 1:17-19).
The Spirit of truth gives us a progressive revelation of CHRIST and of our riches in Him so, that once having seen Him we will want Him and Him only.
The Spirit of Power who Enables
As the Spirit of power He enables us that we may possess what we know to be ours in CHRIST. He is the power that worketh in us to make CHRIST a living reality within and to fill us unto all the fullness of God.
"That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; . . . that ye might be filled unto all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:16, 17, 19).
The Spirit of power works for a progressive realization of CHRIST within us as our Life and our Lord.
The Spirit of Holiness who Separates
As the Spirit of holiness He separates us from the world. He shows us there can be no mixture between darkness and light, no friendship between the world and the church. The Spirit makes us know that whoever is a friend of the world is in the sight of GOD an adulteress for that one has broken the marriage vow to CHRIST, and by so doing has become the enemy of GOD.
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? ...Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord" (II Corinthians 6:14, 17).
"Ye . . .adulteresses (who break your marriage vow to CHRIST), know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with GOD? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of GOD" (James 4:4).
The Spirit of holiness works progressively to separate us from earthly things and from the love of the world and to strip us of everything of which CHRIST is not the source, the center and the goal.
The Spirit of Life who Counteracts
As the Spirit of life He counteracts all the work of the flesh within. While the Christian is no longer in the flesh, the flesh is still in him and remains there through life. The flesh will do everything it can possibly do to regain possession, control and use of the life. But that wonderful SPIRIT of life is within to counteract all the workings of the flesh, and, when we let the HOLY SPIRIT have absolute control, He can keep the flesh from having dominion and power over us.
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2)
"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (Galatians 5:17).
The Spirit of life works progressively to counteract the flesh by taking control and by crowning CHRIST Lord of all in life and work.
The Spirit of Glory who Conforms
As the Spirit of glory He conforms us to the image of the Lord JESUS CHRIST. As He frees us from the earthly, He fashions us into the heavenly.
"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).
What a picture in promise of our progressive sanctification! Today like CHRIST, but tomorrow we may be still more like CHRIST; every day may see some new touch of glory added to the life and some new bit of likeness to Him may be revealed to those with whom we live and work. The Spirit of glory works progressively to conform us to the image of CHRIST from glory to glory so that we may grow up into Him in all things. And what is the result of the work of the HOLY SPIRIT, our Sanctifier?
Realized Holiness of Life
We become the Christian who bears the "much fruit." "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (self-control)" (Galatians 5:22, 23).
A wonderful cluster of fruit that cannot be broken! Nine marvelous, heavenly, spiritual graces that reveal to us the perfection of the moral character of JESUS CHRIST. And they are to be in us as the work of this divine SPIRIT in beautiful symmetry and in ever-growing evidence of the life of CHRIST within. But how often we see a life that has one of these characteristics in a marvelous way but sadly lacks in another and the testimony of the life is marred thereby. At a meeting once in China, a Chinese doctor was translating for me. She was the largest Chinese woman I ever saw and her heart of love was as big as her body. But in the midst of the message which had brought conviction to her own soul, she stopped me and confessed to the nurses, who worked under her supervision, the sin of so often losing her temper. She had love but not self-control.
Sometimes you will see a Christian who truly bears great trial and affliction with long-suffering, but she has a face as long as her long-suffering. There is long-suffering, but no joy. Then again you will meet someone who is the soul of goodness, but her face is a mass of wrinkles, made by fretting and worry. There is goodness but no peace. A while ago after speaking at a meeting a woman came up and introduced herself. She immediately began talking about herself. Within two minutes she made this astounding statement, "I hope you will not think me boastful, but everything I do is a success." Well, I did not want to misjudge her, but it did sound a bit boastful. She continued the conversation about herself and soon had made this same remark again. She was a woman of faith, quite orthodox in fact, but seemed lacking in meekness.
The only memory I have of that Christian woman is that boastful remark. It set me thinking. What do people think of the last remark they heard me make? What memories do I leave behind me? It is a solemn thought. Have we drawn attention to ourselves, or have we fixed the thought of others upon our glorified Lord? Is there anything in you or in me that is worth the slightest thing? Should not our Lord have all the glory in everything?
Are we the much-fruit bearing Christians? Do we manifest His love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control in ever-increasing beauty and symmetry?