#262, FRUITS OF ASSURANCE OF FAITH, Part 2 #26
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:" ROM 8:16.
In a previous sermon we considered this same verse setting forth how the witness of the Spirit means that we have harmony in a mental disposition. For the witness of the Spirit in my soul, I must understand that it is speaking of a harmony of purpose with the Spirit of God. When we sing together, we can have a blessed melody as long as we are in harmony even though some sing soprano, alto, tenor or bass. However, if even one gets out of harmony it spoils the whole choir. Now, when we talk about the Spirit itself beareth witness to our spirit, we are speaking of a blessed harmony of voices, of thinking, and mental disposition with the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the witness of the Spirit with our spirit that we are the sons of God. Now we will continue with the fruit of that assurance. I want you to understand the blessed fruits that develop from this harmony between the Holy Spirit and our spirit.
The assurance of faith found in our text is cause for the greatest excitement as we consider it with wonder and reverence. If I may receive the blessed help of the Holy Spirit to unfold what the Lord lays on my heart, we may see the blessed fruits of this assurance of faith. We can learn to hear the echo and voice of the Son of God speaking to us in His Word. It comes through in perfect harmony with what we have in our soul, if we have the Spirit of Christ. If we do not have the Spirit of Christ in us, we are none of His. If our hearts, mental disposition, and our mind set are not in harmony with Spirit of God, we are none of His.
Now, we want to see what the blesssed fruits are in this harmony. 1JO 3:1-3 we see a little indication of the harmony between the Spirit of Christ and the spirit God has put within our souls, and we see the blessedness of how it becomes the witness in our souls. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. [If we can have harmony with the world, we arent in harmony with the Lord.] Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."
How do we know we will be like the Lord? The witness of the blessed Spirit of God that we have in the Word that describes the mind set or mental disposition of Christ. Then we can see the blessed harmony that the Lord has given us to be in tune with those things of the Spirit. When we see Him as He, is we will truly understand the perfection of harmony. Now, we see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see Him as He is, and every person that has this hope in Him is purified even as He is pure. This is the fruit or effect of the harmony.
No longer will love the things of sin; we see the harmony of hating the things we used to love, and loving those things we used to hate. Love for sin is broken when we see how the Father, with His finger of justice, wrote every sin that we ever committed in the bloody sweat on our Saviours back. Then sin becomes so hateful and detestable. Sin becomes truly sinful; we no longer have pleasure in sin. David said if he cherished sin in his heart, then God would not hear him. If there is anything of sin that we still love, then the Lord will withdraw Himself. We can break the harmony if we love that which brought His bloody sweat. Do you see the preciousness of "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."? In other words, we have a desire to see the work of the sanctification of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and have our hearts cleansed from all sin.
FOR OUR FIRST POINT, let's consider the eternal wonder of the privilege of being adopted into God's family, and the reverence it commands. Let us consider ROM 8:14-17, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
FOR OUR SECOND POINT, will look at the double testimony with which we have this assurance.
For now consider our first point, I want to dwell on the eternal wonder of God, that He has adopted us to be His children, then the reverence this commands of us. Seeing our text in context with verse 17, we see the blessed effect of being adopted into God's family. "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Do you know what that means? We will inherit the same eternal glory as the Son of God. Why? We are adopted as sons.
Now, we see why there must be perfect harmony of thinking and spirit; we become joint-heirs of eternal glory with Christ if we fellowship in the suffering of Christ. Do we understand what that means? It means we can suffer in the same spirit as Christ suffered. It must be in the same spirit to say, "Father, thy will be done." Then we are able to see that our suffering is from the hand of the Lord, and accept it in a spirit of total submission. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating blood under the wrath of God upon Him, "Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." LUK 22:42. If you and I are to fellowship in the suffering of Christ, it means that we are able to receive our suffering in the Spirit of Christ. This is the teaching we get in our text; it is the eternal wonder of the privilege of being adopted into God's family, and the reverence it commands.
Now, I want you to stop and think about something. Adoption of children is seldom done by one who has a son of his own. The option of being adopted is rare in a family with children. Think of the eternal wonder that God, the Father of heaven and earth, adopted sinners, enemies, to be co-equal, joint-heirs, with His own beloved Son. Our Heavenly Father not only had a Son, but One in Whom He was well pleased. We are not talking about a situation where the Son was in rebellion, and He wanted to adopt children who would reflect some love. Think of the eternal wonder that God condescended so low that He would adopt sinners and have them cleansed in the blood of His own Son to make them fit in character to be partakers of the inheritance of life!
This Son was Jesus Christ the righteous, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God," PHI 2:6. I want you to understand who that Son of God was. It isnt an ordinary family with an ordinary son. He was Jesus Christ, Gods righteous Son. The Son of God was "the Son of His love," as we see in COL 1:13, in Whom His soul found great delight." God, the Father, was greatly pleased with His Son; think of the eternal wonder that such a God, having a Son of such estate, would condescend to adopt you and me that we would be joint-heirs of eternal glory with His Son.
In PRO 8:30 we read, "Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him." When a parent has a son in whom he has such delight, why would he adopt a stranger, an enemies child? Think of the condescension and the love that He comes so low, that He would send His own Son, His own beloved Son, to appease His wrath against your sin and mine. This is the fruit of that oneness of spirit.
The eternal wonder is found in the next verse, PRO 8:31, "Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men." To attempt to fathom the depths of this eternal wonder we must consider COL 1:21, "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled."
In our minds, by nature, we are enemies of God. We have no pleasure in God; we say He shall not reign as King over us. That is what we are by nature, yet God takes reasons only He knows, and ask, "Adam, where art thou?" He comes to convict us of our foolishness and sins. He gives us a new mind and a new will to bring us to the point where we become reconciled to Him. We read in 2CO 5:17-19 how God was reconciling Himself unto the world in Jesus Christ. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation."
Verse 21 says, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." From Gods side the world is reconciled to Him because in the blood of Christ there isnt one sinner too great to be washed. So from that side, salvation is there for every soul. Now in Verse 20 we read, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." Do you see where the separation from God lays? We were alienated in our minds; we were enemies. Now God comes one step further; He works in us to will and do of His good pleasure as we see in PHI 2:13.
Now read again COL 1:21, "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled." How could our voices ever be employed to the extent to bring forth such worthy praise to such a name, that He has come down, condescending so low, to work the work of salvation in such rebels as we are by nature. Think of the love that this should make us have towards our children, towards those who are outside of Christ by nature. Think of the love in our hearts that should go out to those people, trying to teach them to understand, by teaching them the will of God.
How does it work? This is what has been the most successful for me: I come to a person that is completely outside of the Lord, I dont tell him what a sinner he is because it puts him in a defensive posture where he will only defend himself. However, if I come to that person and confess what a sinner I have been and what God has done for me, he will listen.
I met an 85 year old man in the hospital while visiting someone else. He was taking Gods name in vain. I explained to him, "Friend, if you understood what I understand of the love of God, you would never be able to use His name in vain." I showed him what God had done for me without ever rebuking him. I explained why it hurt me to hear him take my Saviours name in vain. I explained what that Saviour had done for me. You know what, he said, "Well, Ill have to admit that I need a Saviour too, but I believe Ive sinned too long. I dont think there is hope for me anymore." Now, the door was open that I could start explaining to him that there was still hope for him. Jesus came to save the chiefest of sinners. I didnt tell him about all the areas I saw that were wrong in his life. It would have only made him defensive. I explained what a sinner I had been and how God had saved me from my sin. Now he was open to talk without being defensive.
What an eternal wonder that enemies, not only became reconciled, but were adopted as children and made "joint-heirs with Christ." EPH 2:3 says, "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." Not one person who has ever been brought into Christ was brought there because he was good, or was one who deserved it. The Lord came with His Holy Spirit to work in them to will and do of His good pleasure. By nature we all have our conversation in the world and have our priorities mixed up, and our affections set on the things of this life. However, the Lord gives us new desires.
All family relationships pale in the light of being called the sons of God. I want to share with you a Scripture of King David. Notice how David was humbled to be called the kings son-in-law, the son-in-law of an earthly king. We are talking about becoming the sons, not sons-in-law. 1SA 18:22-23 says, "And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the king's son in law. And Saul's servants spake those words in the ears of David. And David said, Seemeth it to you a light thing to be a king's son in law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed?" David didnt know that Saul was doing this out of treachery and hatred, but we are talking about becoming the sons, not sons-in-law of the King of Kings who came and shed His own blood to pay the price of our sins.
What relationship is there to be compared with being called the son of God? See what we read in JOB 38:7, "When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Even the sun and moon, the stares and all the hosts of heaven are His servants, but not His sons." The heavens shall ring with the melody. In REV 5:11-12 we read of millions of angels "Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." The heavens will ring with the blessed harmony. To think God has come so low as to bring us into that harmony that we would be able to join the morning stars and the angels to sing forever. Even the sun, the moon, and the hosts of heaven are His servants, but they are not His sons. I want you to understand what the Lord did when He adopted us to be sons, in other words to be children, sons and daughters, of God. He has set us above the sun and the moon and the stars and all the hosts of heaven! That is a very precious and solemn thought.
In PSA 119:89-91 we read, "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants." Understand, the hosts of heaven are His servants. The angels of heaven are but the servants of God. What has He done for you and I? He has adopted us to be children, bringing us into the family of God and exalted us above the angels and hosts of heaven.
This wonder of God's grace is an eternal wonder; God chose His loved ones from eternity. EPH 1:3-5 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." Do you see that it is from eternity that He has predestined us unto the adoption as children. What a wonder of heaven that He has adopted us to be exalted above the angels of heaven, who have never sinned. It is all in the good pleasure and free choice of God.
Before we can ever have any witness of the Spirit with our spirit that we are the sons of God, we must be delivered from the power of sin through the sanctification of the Spirit of Christ. Do you understand that principle? There is no sin or anything that defiles or makes a lie that can ever enter heaven. Before you or I are proper candidates to be taken into heaven, we must be sanctified by the Spirit of God. Our spirit must come into harmony with the Spirit of Christ. Our hearts desires must come into perfect harmony.
In 2TH 2:13 we read, "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." Notice, it is through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit that God has chosen us to salvation. What is the best witness we can have that we do have salvation? It is that sin is no longer pleasant; we see sin as our worst enemy.
People have asked me if I fear hell. My answer is that in all my life I have never known what it is to fear hell, but have I learned what it is to fear sin? Oh, yes. The thought of the Lord allowing me to fall into sin and cause a separation between me and the Lord makes me tremble. The thought that the Lord would remove His restraining grace and allow me to fall in some open sin and bring reproach upon His Name makes me tremble. I have no fear of hell because I have no desire to go after sin. The Lord has made become exceedingly sinful to me. It is through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit unto salvation that we are brought into the adoption.
The sanctifying gift of the Spirit is given to none but those whom He loved from eternity. That is the gift of God, the Father; He gives His Spirit. We must take notice of this fact. ROM 8:28-29 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow [In Ephesians 5 the church relationship with Christ is illustrated by the relationship between a man and his wife; it is an intimate relationship, a oneness.] he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."
It is the people whom God has loved from eternity that He has called according to His purpose, and all things work together for their good. Sometimes it is very crucifying to the flesh, and sometimes He doesnt spare the flesh, but whatever He does, it is for our spiritual good. He loves us, and He is working all things together for our good.
FOR OUR SECOND POINT, lets consider the double testimony with which we have this assurance. Where do we have the testimony that we are assured that salvation is for us. It is in the conscience.
The conscience is a secret spy which God has placed within every human being that witnesses our every thought, word, and action. Do you realize you cant even think an evil thought without your conscience will speak to you. Have you ever gone to bed at night and your conscience whispers in your ear: you had a wrong attitude here, no, you shouldnt have said that, and reminded you of any other thing which was wrong.
I have mentioned this before, but Ill repeat it here. A lady called about an appointment at 10 oclock in the morning to interview for a job. At one oclock I called and asked her if she forgot the appointment. She said she was sorry, but she had forgotten, but she went on to tell me she wasnt interested in the job. My response was, "Well, did that have a bearing on why you forgot to come or call?" She answered that it might have. By the time I hung up that phone, my heart smote me. I had to come before the Lord asking if I wounded her. What I said was unkind and sarcastic. The secret spy said, "Ralph, you acted foolishly." You could have wounded that poor woman; if she was wrong, that was between her and the Lord, but that doesnt justify you being wrong. I had to plead before the Lord that if I had wounded her, He would take the Balm of Gilead and heal it. My conscience was a secret witness that could have wounded another person.
In ROM 2:15 we read, "Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts [the heathen who have never heard of Christ], their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another." The Lord has put a divine instinct in our being that tells us when we are wrong. Whatever message we receive from our conscience becomes very important. We can have a conscience seared as if with a hot iron. How? It is by overruling it, trample upon it, and the next thing we know it stops speaking to us so loudly. It takes something much more gross to have it speak at all. When we dont adhere to our conscience, it isnt tender for the will of God. If we truly have the work of grace in our hearts, and our conscience is tender; it bears "witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another."
This secret spy, or witness in our bosom is not to be slighted, nor disregarded. It can give us by far the best appraisal of our actions because it is so intimately a part of us. When our conscience tells us we are wrong, we must deal with the issue instantly. Why? If we dont we will forget it. The next thing that happens it takes a bigger jolt before it speaks. We may not slight or disregard our conscience when it speaks because it is one of Gods instruments to instruct us. It is an intimate part of us, and if we slight our conscience when it speaks or disregard it, it becomes callused and hardened.
1CO 2:11 says, "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man [conscience] which is in him?" The word spirit means the mental disposition, the mental attitude of the person. When the inner secret thoughts of the man, the conscience, witnesses with the Spirit of God, we have harmony. Our conscience excuses or accuses us. When we see within the Word of God that our mental disposition is in perfect harmony with the will and Spirit of Christ, it excuses us as well as accuses us when we are wrong.
Who knows more about our attitudes than our conscience? This witness cannot be suspected of partiality, treason or any ill will. If my wife says, "But, Honey, you are wrong." I may say that she doesnt understand my motive, but I cant say that to my conscience. It is totally impartial. If I do not adhere to my conscience accuses me, I cant accuse it of treason, any ill will or wrong attitude or motive. That is so different from times a family member or friend reproves us. They may not understand us, but our conscience understands. Therefore, we read in 1JO 3:20-21, "For if our heart [conscience] 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." In other words, when our heart and conscience witness for us, that we are in the Spirit of Christ, there is consolation. That is the witness of a good conscience.
So now how do we understand our text? "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." The Spirit witnessing with our spirit is speaking about the mental attitude that we see reflected in the Spirit of Christ that is in harmony with the mental attitude that I have toward what Ive heard from the Lord. Perfect harmony bears witness that we are the children of God.
All Scripture is given by the inspiration of the Spirit, therefore the Word of God is our first evidence to examine to determine if we are the children of God. Do we see the evidence of it written in the Word? 1JO 3:10 says, "In this the children of God are manifest [seen as clear as the sun], and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." There is no half way place; we are either the children of God or the children of the devil.
Lets look at the word righteousness. It is a direct reflection from the second table of the law, to love thy brother as thyself. Righteousness means our right attitude towards our brother. Read that verse again. The next verse tells how Cain slew his brother. If we do not right acts toward our brother, we are not of God. If we can harbor hatred, bitterness, or go out to slander or hurt others, according to this Scripture, we are children of the devil; we know this because we are not in harmony with the Spirit of God.
Another powerful evidence we find in the Word is found in ROM 8:14, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Those who are led by the Spirit of Christ have a spirit of love for their fellow man. Take time to carefully and prayerfully read Romans 13; you will find that if we keep the second table of the law, which is loving your neighbor as yourself, we have kept the whole law. That doesnt mean you or I will keep the law perfectly or go to heaven because we kept the law. I am not talking about merit. I am talking about evidence. If you and I can live in deliberate violation of the law of love, we cant say we love God. If we have been saved from sin, if our hearts have been renewed, the evidence is that we love our fellow man.
Scriptures clearly teach that there is no middle ground. The fruit of the tree clearly identifies the tree. We are either of God or the devil. If you walk up to a tree that has apples on it, you know it is not a peach tree. If you walk up to a briar and see a lot of thorns, you know it is not a fig tree. We cannot bear two kinds of fruit; you cannot have a loving spirit and hate your brother. The Lord Jesus tells us in MAT 7:16-20 "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." We must examine the fruit of the tree.
The Spirits witness in the Word witnesses with our conscience whether or not we are the children of God. HEB 4:12-13 says, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." When the Word of God shines into our soul, and comes as a witness, we see how transparent we are before the Lord. He is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of our hearts; He understands the witness of our conscience.
Read those verses again. Are they a consolation to you or are they a terror? If it is a consolation, it means that even in all weaknesses, the Lord knows the intent of your heart. It is your consolation that the Lord knows it is your desire to do His will. Yes, we come short. However, do you shrink knowing that the Lord knows every thought and intent of your heart? The Spirit testifies with our spirit. It is a consolation that the Lord is able to look through us when we come to confess sins. Our consciences tells us we want to do His will.
My grandfather once said, "It was one of my greatest consolations that the Lord does know my heart. If all He could see is what I do, if all He could see is my sin, I would be so distraught. It is such a consolation that the Lord knows my heart, because He knows I desire to do what is right."
The Holy Spirit speaks through the WORD. The Lord speaks to our hearts through the Word of God and gives us this testimony. ACT 28:25 says, "And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers." In other words, it was the Holy Spirit that they were calling to witness. When they couldnt agree, they called upon the Holy Spirit.
In HEB 3:7 the Apostle Paul is cautioning us that if we have areas where we dont understand, or have disagreements, we are to seek the Word of God. What is the testimony and the witness of the Spirit that we have in Gods Word? HEB 3:7-8 says, "Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness." We must bow to the Word of God as our one and only authority. It is the end of all controversy.
So the Holy Spirit witnesses with our spirit in the Word, but this is not all; the verse before our text speaks of an internal influence whereby we are restrained from sin, and inclined to cry out, Abba, Father! We have the internal influence of the Holy Spirit that restrains us from sin. In ROM 8:15 we read, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
This witness of the Spirit of adoption helps to discover the evidences in our souls that seems to be hidden from our eyes of faith by indwelling sin. Sometimes we may see the uprising of sin in our own hearts. The old monster, self, rises up in pride, selfishness, and other sins that wants to sit on the throne of our hearts. Then we may say, "Where is our evidence?" Sometimes we come to a point where we must reexamine our hearts; then the hidden Spirit of adoption witnesses with our spirit whereby we can cry, "Our Father."
I want us to see the reference to Hagar. Hagar didn't see until "God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink," GEN 21:19. She and her son were dying within a stones throw of water, but she eyes were withholden; she didnt see it. Sometimes we are that way.
See how Mary wept over the absence of Christ while she lay at His feet. We can be crying out to the Lord, asking Him where He is while we lay at His feet. He has withheld Himself from our view.
JOH 20:14-16 says, "And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. [Sometimes the Lord is working with us and we do not realize it is He who is there.] Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master." Sometimes when we are in spiritual travail, we might be laying at His very feet and dont know it.
Many times when our sins rise up against us grace seems so weak; then all we can see is our pride, deceitfulness, self-love, and unbelief; then our consciences cannot reflect any evidence until it looks back at the inner desires of the heart. This is what the apostle was speaking of in ROM 7:22-23. "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members," ROM 7:22-23.
If you ever have a time when it seems as if your old nature has recaptured you, you must go back and examine the inner desires of the heart. Then when we see that the desire of our hearts is that it be different, we have our evidence. In other words, our mental disposition longs to be in the flock of Christ.
In 1JO 3:18-19 we read, "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him." How do we know? From the heart we have love for our fellow man, we have love for the Lord, and our attitudes and actions witness thereto that we have love for the things that God desires. Even on the Day of Judgment we will be given to see how pleased God was with things we did not realize were so important at the time. God will bring them to our remembrance. I want to read something to you that shows the blessed revelation the Lord Jesus Christ gives us of the Day of Judgment. It has warmed my heart so often.
MAT 25:34-40 says, "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
We do not realize how pleasing it is to the Lord when our hearts go out to our fellow man, and when we go out to help our brother in adversity, and give that cup of cold water that could be a word in season when a brother is spiritually thirsty.. We dont realize it we did those things that were pleasing. Why? Our hearts were in harmony of thinking and purpose with the Lord Jesus Christ, and in so doing we have done it unto Him. That is where His people will stand in the Day of Judgment; they will have so many surprises of all these things they have done from a heart of love. Why? They acted in conformity to the Spirit of Christ; it is His Spirit witnessing with our spirit. Things we have done in that frame of mind please the Lord.
I will never forget the first time the Lord showed me something I had done that pleased Him. It was more humbling than being told I had committed a gross sin. To think that I, a sinful man, could do something pleasing to the Lord was the most humbling time of my life.
There are also times of great joy in believing as we see in ROM 15:13-14, "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another." I do not believe that any person ever merited anything; if I am going to go to heaven, it is because Christ merited it with His blood. If I am going to heaven, I am going to be conformed to the image of Christ. After God has pardoned me, and after He has worked His grace in me, my evidence is that I am becoming conformed to the thinking of Christ. My spirit will witness with His Spirit. I have a desire to do the things that please Him. Why? He loved His brother, and I love my brother. I have the same attitude; I have been renewed into the new man.
If you were to receive your assurance of faith based on a written warrant that an angel delivered to you out of heaven, there isnt a thing in the world that would stop Satan from telling you that the angel was an angel of light sent out of the pit of hell. Then you would never have confidence to believe 2CO 11:14 which says, "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
Satan would come right in and tear that warrant in half so it actually would not give you the witness in your heart.
The Holy Spirit gives us the witness in our conscience with the Word of God. It is the witness of the Spirit with our spirit in and with our conscience. The assurance of our faith is not based upon a warrant served upon us from heaven; our assurance is not only to, but with the conscience. Our conscience goes on a logical basis of evidence. We can tell the difference between logical and illogical evidence. Our conscience is on logical evidence.
Look at JOH 1:12-13, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." How did it happen that we were born of God? It wasnt because of our ancestry--blood; "nor of the will of the flesh," it wasnt because I made a decision or choice, nor was it because of the will of man. It was the Spirit of God who witnessed in the soul and worked the new birth.
The Holy Spirit witnesses with a penitent spirit as we see in ACT 2:38, "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
The Holy Spirit witnesses with a spirit of submission. ACT 5:31-32 says, "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things [How do we become His witnesses?]; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him."
As long as our hearts are filled with rebellion we have no witness of the Spirit that we are the sons of God. In HEB 5:8-9 we read, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."
The Holy Spirit fortifies the witness of our own conscience that we are the sons of God as in 1CO 4:4 which says, "For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord." ROM 9:1 tells us, "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost."
The context of our text is, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." Amen.
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