#258, THE MAINTENANCE OF OUR ASSURANCE OF FAITH, #25
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." PRO 4:23.
We dont understand or realize how the heart is the center of everything we do. Evil, murder, covetousness, these and other diseases of sin proceed from the heart. However, it is also from the heart that the clean desires of a new and enlivened heart proceed. Read again our text; we must set a guard about our hearts. We must not allow it to be unguarded for out of it are the issues of life. Those things that issue from the heart are the issues of life, and they become our life.
We must always be cognizant of Satan's desire to get us into the ditch, whether it is on the right or left side of the strait and narrow way is not important to him. If you become an astute driver, you learn to practice defensive driving. Why? You can avoid potential disasters when you drive defensively. The strait and narrow way is a road, and Satan wants us off that road. He has no particular preference as to whether it is off to the ultra right or the ultra left. Either one will work for his purpose. You can get caught up in a belief called fatalism and be so set on the sovereignty of God or you can be so set on the responsibilities of man that you become a total humanist. Satan wants you to choose one of them.
Satan sits just as comfortable in the heart of those who are destroyed with fatalism as he does of those who are destroyed with self-willed humanism. His goal is to get you off the strait and narrow road. Defensive driving is the aim of our text; keep your heart, be observant of Satans tactics to move you off the road. He may use lasciviousness, licentiousness, carelessness, false security or any other tactic. Our text says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence ," in other words, be a very defensive driver. Be very cognizant of the tricks, snares, and devises of Satan. Dont walk into his traps. We are now talking about those who have come to believe they have the assurance of faith and how Satan loves to take it away. We are considering how to maintain our faith.
Assurance of faith is a Divine gift; we are not saying you can obtain the assurance of faith by human works. It is a Divine gift; nevertheless we have a great responsibility to preserve it after having received it. Our chapter says in PRO 4:3-6, "For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee." He has been brought into his fathers tender care; he has understood and experienced the love of the father. Now, he is cautioned not to lose it. Does this mean we can earn assurance of faith? Can we earn salvation? No, but we can forfeit it. We can bring about a destruction of what we have. We can lose the peace of heart we have.
How do we maintain our assurance of faith? We maintain it by walking with a heart that is tender for the will of God. We are to keep His commandments. Get wisdom. What is that? As previously explained, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom begins with a hatred for sin, which includes pride, arrogance, and every evil way. Wisdom begins where Solomon said in 1KI 3:6-7, "And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in."
In other words, there is humility in coming before the Lord asking to be taught His will, to be taught the way of truth. There is no sign of pride or arrogance. Get wisdom and therein you start getting understanding. When we begin to get wisdom, we start to understand. The word Spirit means a blowing or breathing of a quick understanding. That is receiving the Spirit of God; it is to receive the mind of Christ or the process of thinking like Christ and getting understanding. We just read in Proverbs, "Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee." It is the fear of the Lord, and if we dont desert or forget it, it will preserve us. It will squelch all love for sin. It will squelch all desires to stray from the strait and narrow way.
" love her, and she shall keep thee" is synonymous with, " Keep thy heart with all diligence," i.e., to be constantly analyzing the motives our hearts. Suppose you are visiting with someone, and in the course of the conversation you say something that offends the other person. What is your immediate response? You want to go back and heal the offense. You have a desire not to offend, but in all things we offend, every one of us offend, but when we find we have offended, the first moving force of our heart should be to go and make amends where we have offended. We dont want that offense to become a snake pit, or a place of cockatrice eggs that hatch into vipers. How do we avoid that? " Keep thy heart with all diligence" means that we diligently analyze everything we do. We ask ourselves if we have hurt another person, did I offend? Immediately do something to heal that wound. Dont allow it to fester.
We cannot bring the Balm of Gilead into our own soul, but we can do many things to bring leanness. If we have the love of God in our hearts, but do not keep our heart with all diligence, there are many things we can do to bring leanness into our souls. See this in PSA 106:13-15 which says, "They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul." They had the nearness of Christ, but forgot His works; they didnt wait for His counsel. They didnt diligently keep their hearts and didnt seek His will. They even forsook His counsel, lusting in the wilderness and tempted God in the desert.
What did God do? He gave them their requests. When we have our hearts set on something besides Christ, sometimes the Lord will grant our requests. Why? Along with the granting of the request, He sends leanness to our souls. We are not able to bring the Balm of Gilead into our hearts, but if we are to have peace we must keep our hearts with all diligence. If we start lusting after forbidden things, the Lord may grant our desires, but in granting, He gives leanness as the price of obtaining our desires.
One time the Lord reproved me with that verse. Oh, how my heart shrunk to think that the Lord would grant me a temporal blessing and allow my soul to become lean spiritually. We must be so cognizant of this situation; if we lust or covet things of this life, we may bring leanness to our souls.
Of ourselves we cannot come near to God, but we can wander far from Him. Remember this when we read " Keep thy heart with all diligence." Understand that we cannot become the keepers of our own hearts to the extent we can be our own preserver. That is not what the Lord is telling us here. The Lord is saying we are to be on guard, be diligent about the things that separate us from God. We can wander from Him so terribly. PRO 4:12-15 says so clearly, "When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life. Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away."
We are not to go near the harlots door. Why? It is not good to hear her knocking on the window and see the red light shining on her face. That is getting too close to trouble to be good. I saw this in the cities when I was a young boy. It is a horrible thing to see her beckon. Dont go close to her door.
That admonition does not only pertain to the heart, it is also talking about getting involved in things that you know are not for Gods honor. Covetousness and forbidden things are lurking and laying a trap. Dont go close to them. It is not only not taking part in those things, it is not allowing them to talk to you. Dont get involved in any way. Avoid it; avoid anything that can draw your heart away from the Lord. Turn away from those things; desert their company. You cannot walk with them.
We are talking about maintaining your assurance of faith. We cannot obtain assurance of faith of our own, but we can take steps to maintain it. We cannot obtain the assurance of faith because it is a gift of God. There are many things we can do to maintain that assurance. PRO 4:7-9 says, "Wisdom is the principal thing [It is the first thing to seek if you are going to keep your heart with all diligence. It begins with a fear of the Lord and a hatred for all evil.; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee."
Pride can rear its ugly head in many places. One place is right in the pulpit! A pastor can become so obnoxious that it turns off the whole presentation. Coveting can make a pastor become puffed up. Satan just loves that old leaven of the Pharisees. For the Pharisees it was in their doctrine. Doctrines often pump up and build up pride. It is no different than being proud of wealth or other things. Pride is pride. I saw a man that was so humble that when he got up to pray, he turned on the "faucet" and his eyes just ran with tears. As he bowed, he surveyed the entire audience to make sure everyone was watching. He was so proud of his humility it was offensive to all.
Keep your heart with all diligence. We dont realize how the Lord is looking upon the heart. Pride was the first evil named in PRO 8:13. "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate." Pride is not just a weakness of the hypocrite, the wicked, or the vain. Pride works its way into every soul.
One time the pastor came off the pulpit, and a man took his hand and said, "Pastor, that was a wonderful message." The pastor answered, "Youre not the first one to tell me that;" he began to weep saying, " old Satan told me that before I ever got off the pulpit." There was a humble man. He confessed the pride of his own heart and how Satan tried to pat him on the back. It caused him to weep. Wisdom is the principle thing, and where does it begin? It is to have the fear of the Lord and hate every evil. Keep your own heart. We must begin with a prayer asking the Lord for a humble heart. We must seek the gift of the fear of the Lord and understanding. The Holy Spirit poured upon the soul makes for quick understanding and a proper mind set.
"Exalt her, and she shall promote thee " PRO 4:8. If we can exalt the fear of the Lord and come with a true humility, the Lord will promote us, but if pride exalts us, for any trait, then we have our reward. We must examine our hearts for these things that are unique to the fallen human nature. Verses 8-9 continue, " she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee." Who? Wisdom, understanding, the fear of the Lord are the virtues that bring honor.
The context of our text teaches so blessedly what we can do to maintain the assurance of our faith. Look at PRO 4:20-24, "My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my [wisdom] sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." How do we keep our hearts with all diligence? It is by the washing of the water of the Word.
Our Saviour cautions us of our inability to maintain our graces in our own strength, and that should keep us humble before the Lord. Therefore, we are admonished in MAR 14:38, "Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak." Now, notice that the Lord Jesus was in the Garden of Gethesame with His disciple, approaching the cross and wrestling with the wrath of God upon our sins, and He asked them to watch with Him. They fell asleep. In our own strength we are not able to watch and maintain our own assurance, but He understood their hearts. He said the spirit, or the heart is ready. In their minds and heart they had the right attitude, but the flesh is weak.
We do not have the strength or ability to stay awake; we fall asleep. Now, receive the admonition about our inability. What does that do to us? It exhorts us unto prayer. Notice what Verse 38 says, "Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak." Our text says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." PRO 4:23. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. This admonishes us that one of the greatest ways for the maintenance of the assurance of our faith is prayer. Keep your heart, watch, and pray.
We are to be constantly on our guard against the least evidence of unbelief in our heart to maintain our assurance of faith. Unbelief is rebellion against the will of God. That is different than doubts and fears or concerns that we may have deceived ourselves. Unbelief is a rebellious wandering from the authority of the Word of God. We must always be on guard against unbelief. See this in HEB 3:12-14, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end."
Do you find any sign of rebellion welling up in your heart? Do you see the authority of the Word of God but have a tendency to rebel against it. Be very careful, take heed, brethren. We are to exhort each other daily. To exhort means to help lift him up if you see someone falling into the terrible snares of unbelief. Exhorting means to try to help restore him back into the fellowship of Christ. It is to help get him into the right frame of thinking. Do you see the necessity of maintaining our assurance? If we hold it, which is the beginning of our confidence, weve had it, we felt it, we have assurance, but we must hold it fast until the end.
To maintain the assurance of our faith we must be constantly watching and striving against the deceitfulness of sin as we learn from the context of our text. Lets look at PRO 4:23-27, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee." Do you understand pride? It is the first thing we must guard against, and if you can see it in another person, dont forget that they can see it in you. Then there is the matter of the froward mouth and perverse lips.
In other words, be so careful that what we speak is seasoned with salt. We must not come across as being an authority or being the only one worth their listening and attention. It is our human nature to be puffed up even if we dont see it. It is running ahead of the other person. Instead we must confess our sins. Look out! The devil wants to catch us in that snare. I confess that I have to fight this sin. I am not pointing fingers, Im identifying sins and the matters we need to be concerned about if we are to keep our own hearts.
Verse 25 continues, "Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee." We are not to survey the crowd to be sure everyone is standing in awe of what we are saying. Keep our eyes on the Lord, and do not do those things that exalt the flesh.
In verse 26 we read, "Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established." What does that tell us? We must very carefully ponder our walk of life. It is keeping our hearts, because the issues of life come from the heart. A heart that is tender for the Lord hates sin. Satan would be delighted to get us to where we find some sweetheart sin that we cherish. Then we must remember that as David said in PSA 66:18, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." It closes off our prayers--they dont get above the ceiling--because we cherish or love a certain sin.
David, a man after Gods own heart, struggled with these things. Are we on guard in this matter or do we think we are stronger than King David? We must watch and ponder the path of our feet. If David had pondered the path he was taking, he wouldnt have been wandering around on the housetop in the middle of the day watching a woman taking a bath. It was the path of his feet that led him into sin. Where he was walking in itself was not evil, but it was where he was walking that led him to evil. Ponder and analyze where you are walking. "Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil," Verse 27.
As we must have a well planed repentance, so we must not neglect a wondering eye, nor an offending right hand. We must plan our repentance, ponder and analyze, and we must clean up our act. Each of us must find and identify our weaknesses and stay away from them. We are to avoid those pitfalls. Dont put yourself where Satan has the occasion to tempt you in areas where you are weak. Each of us has our own vulnerable areas; you may be weak in a very different area than I am, but we are all weak somewhere. We must know our own weaknesses.
In areas we know we are weak we must carefully plan how to walk without that weakness being gratified. We must be so careful, and Satan loves to set us up so we will be caught in those weak areas. One of my weaknesses is talking too much; I get in a crowd I have a tendency to hold the audience. I must watch before I get into that crowd that I situate myself in a location that I dont become the center of attention. I must plan that before I ever get there, for if I dont, I find I can make a fool of myself. That is one way we can deal with situations so Satan cant set us up to gratify our particular weaknesses. This is what we mean when we ponder the path of our feet. We need to plan so as not to give Satan an occasion to gratify any of our weaknesses.
Now, lets consider MAT 5:27-30, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." This can include spiritual adultery. If you have a weakness to lust after anything in this life, dont put yourself where Satan can give you the occasion to lust for those things. It isnt only physically to lust after a woman, its to lust after anything that the flesh can offer. If you have a weakness for anything, dont give Satan the occasion; dont come near the harlots door, spiritually as well as literally. Stay far from these places.
MAT 5:29-30 continues, "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." You may have to come to a time where you must sacrifice things that are enjoyable; that very thing may be the one that brings the occasion to gratify your weakness. What do you do? You avoid it, and stay away from it.
I know a man in a rest home who has a great weakness for drinking. If anyone will take him for an outing, he wants to go to the bar. The very occasion of getting out of the rest home makes him covet liquor. Those who take him out must exercise great caution and strength to keep him out of the bar. Do you see the point? I can drive by a bar and it doesnt exert any pull on me. That is not my weakness. However, if I know I have such a weakness, I should not drive by the bar but take streets that do not take me that way. That avoids the impulse to stop. Cut off the occasion and opportunity to sin. Plan, literally, how to keep your heart with all diligence. You plan so you do not put yourself in the position to gratify that weakness.
The Lord is teaching us that it is in the keeping of our hearts we must be honest with ourselves and deal with our weaknesses. Avoid them; make sure we do not give occasion to the devil.
God's Word teaches in our chapter that the assurance of our faith is maintained by the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom. The holy reverence we have for God outweighs everything else. The fear of the Lord is the important principle.
LUK 14:26 says, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." That doesnt mean you literally hate your family; it means to love them less than you love the Lord. If we understand the fear of the Lord, the love we have for God becomes so much greater than any of the things for which we have a weakness. We detest the sins our heart loves by nature. It is the love and fear of God that out-weighs them; we love God so much more that we come to hate those things the Lord hates. If we know the Lord hates a given sin, we hate it because we love Him more.
PRO 4:5-9 says, "Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth." Get the fear of the Lord; ponder the path of your feet. Analyze and pre-plan your footsteps; dont just happen to walk into the wrong situation. You must diligently consider your ways. Go to the ant if you are the sluggard, and consider her ways. The ant prepares her food in the summer. In other words, in this lifetime we prepare during times of calm before we enter the occasion.
Verses 6-9 continue, "Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee."
We must be constantly cultivating those graces that accompany salvation. We must grow in these graces. We see in HEB 6:9-12, "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. [There are things that accompany salvation, and we must cultivate them. They are such as brotherly love, meekness, humility, temperance, godliness--thats where the focus of our hearts should be.] For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name [How?], in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. [In instances where we have sought out ways to assist and help others He will remember.] And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: [that is talking about maintaining our assurance] That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
It is by diligently searching for and cultivating those graces that we come to full assurance of hope. There is nothing which has more of a dampening effect upon our assurance of faith than a painful realization that we have done something that was displeasing to the Lord. It doesnt make any difference what it is. 1JO 3:20-21 says, "For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God." If our own heart witnesses that we have offended the Lord, we know we have offended.
We are looking at maintaining our assurance; it is a matter of setting up a guard against doing things that offend the Lord. When we do anything we know offends the Lord, our heart will condemn us. If our heart doesnt condemn us, we have confidence toward God. Our spirit witnesses with the Spirit of God--that is our mind set, that which our mind hungers and thirsts after--and if that is in perfect harmony with that which pleases God, we know we are the sons of God. It is my spirit witnessing with the Spirit of God and His Spirit witnessing with mine. "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." PRO 4:23.
However prayerfully we may seek to walk humbly before God, all too often we must confess the truth of JAM 3:2, "For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body." Dont we all come before the Lord saying I have sinned, I offended, I was arrogant, but did I hurt that person? Did the leaven of the Pharisee get in and pump me up a little? All of us offend in many things.
Daily we must confess sins of commission and of omission, yet blessed be God for the provision of our Heavenly Father in1JO 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This is referring to our hearts. It is in our hearts that we must confess that we have these indwelling sins and weaknesses. The graces come up as it were "among the grass," but the grass is still there. We must continually come before the Lord with our confessions; there are sins of commission, i.e., doing things we shouldnt, and sins of omission, i.e., things we ought to have done but didnt. However, if we confess our sins, He is faithful. Why? He said He would not only forgive us, but also cleanse us. Remember, He cleanses that guilty stain and give us again that fresh assurance. We can maintain our assurance of faith by constantly coming before the Lord to confess our sins of commission and omission.
Next, we are going to discuss a grievous sin by the bride committing the sin of adultery against her Bridegroom. Our lovely Lord says to His adulterous bride in JER 3:13-14, "Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you..."
We do not realize how important it is that we come before the Lord to confess. Does this mean we can come before the Lord and ask Him to forgive our sins and miseries in a general way? No, we must be specific. We come before the Lord and say, "I offended that person, this way. Lord, I see pride building up in my heart in that matter. Lord, I see this .and this ." I must identify and confess my sins one by one. I must acknowledge my iniquity. Look at the blessed, humble pleading of our heavenly Bridegroom. Read that last verse again. When my heart covets the things of this world, I need to recognize that I have spotted my wedding garments. When my heart has departed from the Lord and is set on the things of this life, then I must come before the Lord and acknowledge it and look to the blessed Bridegroom. Identify each sin that cause the Lord to withdraw His face. "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." As soon as we are conscious of having displeased the Lord, we must come fleeing to Him in repentance. Dont linger; dont put it off.
The Lord is not less merciful than Jesus commands us to be to our fellow Christian! Consider that statement carefully. In MAT 18:21-22 we read, "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." We offend so often that we must constantly come before the Lord, confessing our sins and naming them one by one. Then the Lord is just and faithful to forgive us our sins. This is how we maintain our assurance of faith. If we become hardened in sin, the Lord leaves us to leanness. If we become hardened in sin saying, "Yes, I have sinned, but the Lord knows Im a sinner," slipping into that attitude, then the Lord withdraws.
When we learn to realize how transparent we are before God we will understand ISA 64:6. "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." This gives the sinner to see the beauty there is in God's electing love. In ISA 64:8-9 we read, "But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people." We learn to see the precious electing love of God when we understand what an unclean thing we are. We know we would never come to the Lord unless He first came to us. We are to come pleading that we are the bride of Christ. Yes, we have fallen and are sinful, but we are the bride of Christ.
It is a blessing when we become honest before God and our fellow man to confess our sins instead of trying to cover them up. PRO 28:13, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them [in his heart and purposes] shall have mercy." Jesus uses this very principle as one of the graces that accompany salvation in JOH 3:20-21, "For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." Why come to the Light? If he has sins, they can be identified and reproved. Then he can confess his sins and turn from them.
Our text says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." This is by fellowship, i.e., one mind and one Spirit with Christ. Fellowship means that our heart, mind, and soul are in one accord with the heart, mind, and soul of Christ. 1JO 1:3-4 says, "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." How are you and I ever going to understand the joy of the assurance of our faith except in the fellowship of the Spirit of Christ?
Notice the connection the apostle makes here between the fullness of our joy and our fellowship with the Father and the Son! Remember that word fellowship means, "Oneness of heart and mind, common interests and delights, unity of will and purpose." This fellowship is to be one in love and unity walking together in the light with Christ. It means we must come to the Light, not fleeing from it that our deeds may be manifest. Then we might be able to confess our sins before God.
1JO 1:5-7 tells us, "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." If we have fellowship with the Father, we have fellowship with Light. If we say we have fellowship with Him, but walk in darkness, we are lying. Do you understand that walking in the Light is so important to claiming fellowship with God? Notice that it is our actions that make the difference.
The fellowship between the Lord Jesus Christ and His Father is a perfect example of this fellowship. We see this in PSA 40:8, "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." Those are the prophetic words of the psalmist prophesying the coming of Christ.
Keeping His commandments is a matter we need to consider here. JOH 14:31 "But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence." We are talking about fellowshipping in the mind of Christ. See what the Apostle Paul said about fellowship in PHI 3:8-10. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.~Thanks for Their Gifts. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity."
We will fellowship in keeping His commandments, in always doing those things that are pleasing in His sight. In JOH 8:29 we read, "And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him." Are we having fellowship with the Father? With the Son? It is not accomplished by some positive frame of mind that we can make something happen. It is only by doing the will of the Father.
This very Apostle declares how we are to fellowship with the Father and the Son! In 1JO 2:6 we read, "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." That is fellowshipping in Christ. It is not only being compatible in His frame of mind, but also in His walk of life.
As we grow in grace we become more and more painfully aware how far short we come of walking perfect fellowship with our Saviour, but this must bring us more constantly before the throne of grace. 1TH 5:15-23 says, "See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Those verses beautifully describe the Christians walk of life.
Are we fellowshipping with Christ? Christ was a man of prayer. And as we follow the verses above, we will not try to get by with some small sin, splitting hairs, saying we believe we got by with it. We abstain from even the appearance of evil. The message contained in our text is about the maintenance of our assurance of our faith. "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life," PRO 4:23. Pray without ceasing, rejoice evermore; walk in the fellowship of God the Father, and of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
These on-lines sermons are a ministry of Gospel Chapel located in Conrad, Montana. We also have a daily devotion. For a list of sermons on cassette please visit our on-line tape catalog. See also, our sermon notes.
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