“If you are a Praying Christian, You can Trust that your Christian Faith will carry you in your walk with God. But if you are Not a Praying Christian you can be sure that You will have to carry your Christianity, and in the process, get very weary, tired and exhausted!
(An excerpt from The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer, Chapter 2:)
Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and “things” were allowed to enter. Within the human heart “things” have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne.
This is not a mere metaphor, but an accurate analysis of our real spiritual trouble. There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets “things” with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns “my” and “mine” look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution.
Our Lord referred to this tyranny of things when He said to His disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
Breaking this truth into fragments for our better understanding, it would seem that there is within each of us an enemy which we tolerate at our peril. Jesus called it “life” and “self,” or as we would say, the selflife. Its chief characteristic is its possessiveness: the words “gain” and “profit” suggest this. To allow this enemy to live is in the end to lose everything. To repudiate it and give up all for Christ’s sake is to lose nothing at last, but to preserve everything unto life eternal. And possibly also a hint is given here as to the only effective way to destroy this foe: it is by the Cross. “Let him take up his cross and follow me.”
The way to deeper knowledge of God is through the lonely valleys of soul poverty and abnegation of all things. The blessed ones who possess the Kingdom are they who have repudiated every external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing. These are the “poor in spirit.” They have reached an inward state paralleling the outward circumstances of the common beggar in the streets of Jerusalem; that is what the word “poor” as Christ used it actually means. These blessed poor are no longer slaves to the tyranny of things. They have broken the yoke of the oppressor; and this they have done not by fighting but by surrendering. Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things. “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I don’t know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be; if God and his Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; if the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will; if the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness, will reign without mitigation or end” (Daniel Webster, 1823).
I have heard many pastors and Bible teachers talk about the fear of the Lord being not a dreadful fear, but one of reverence and respect. I know that for those who have an agenda to get what they want, they know how to give proper respect to those in authority only in leaning towards the act of deception, in order to fulfill their evil desire. And they know how to do this with a smile.
Is this not true of those who accept this false notion of the fear of the Lord? They believe that God is not looking for you to fear the possibility of being wiped off the face of the earth if we sin, be it deliberately or unintentionally. They believe that when God’s Word says, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), that God does not really mean death, but something else. Is it not safer to believe that when we sin against God, he only sees it as a soft touch instead of a severe blow? Because if we saw God as one who is wrathful, furious, and judgmental towards his people, he would be unlikable, unapproachable, and undesirable.
What God are we talking about here? I tell you that this god is an illusion and a figment of your imagination. That god could not last one minute on this planet if he tried, because his own creation would eat him up alive, and spit him back out with the snicker of mockery and conquering.
Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” It is in the proper fear and trembling of God that you revere and respect him.
We are always being tempted to take God lightly so that we won’t have to see the seriousness of the violation of sin against God. We are tempted to look at sin as if it is something that God really can’t get offended at. Did God really say that you cannot do this, or say that, or take of this forbidden fruit?
We must fear not fearing God! It was Moses who said to God’s people, “God has come to test you so that the fear of God will be in you to keep you from sinning” (Exodus 20:20). God knows that it was the lack of the fear of him that caused his people to take him lightly, and eventually sin against him.
We must be a people who not only fear God, but fear losing the fear of God in our lives. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom – when you speak, when you look, when you listen, when you act. It will keep you from sinning in all these areas of your soul.
By A.W. Tozer
The test by which all conduct must finally be judged is motive. As water cannot rise higher than its source, so the moral quality in an act can never be higher than the motive that inspires it. For this reason no act that arises from an evil motive can be good, even though some good may appear to come out of it. Every deed done out of anger or spite, for instance, will be found at last to have been done for the enemy and against the Kingdom of God.
Unfortunately the nature of religious activity is such that much of it can be carried on for reasons that are not good, such as anger, jealousy, ambition, vanity and avarice. All such activity is essentially evil and will be counted as such at the judgment. In this matter of motive, as in so many other things, the Pharisees afford us clear examples. They remain the world’s most dismal religious failures, not because of doctrinal error nor because they were careless or lukewarm, nor because they were outwardly persons of dissolute life. Their whole trouble lay in the quality of their religious motives. They prayed, but they prayed to be heard of men, and thus their motive ruined their prayers and rendered them not only useless but actually evil. They gave generously to the service of the temple, but they sometimes did it to escape their duty toward their parents, and this was an evil. They judged sin and stood against it when they found it in others, but this they did from self-righteousness and hardness of heart. So with almost everything they did. Their activities had about them an outward appearance of holiness, and those same activities if carried on out of pure motives would have been good and praiseworthy. The whole weakness of the Pharisees lay in the quality of their motives.
That this is not a small matter may be gathered from the fact that those orthodox and proper religionists went on in their blindness till they at last crucified the Lord of glory with no inkling of the gravity of their crime. Religious acts done out of low motives are twice evil, evil in themselves and evil because they are done in the name of God. This is equivalent to sinning in the name of the sinless One, lying in the name of the One who cannot lie and hating in the name of the One whose nature is love. Christians, and especially very active ones, should take time out frequently to search their souls to be sure of their motives. Many a solo is sung to show off; many a sermon is preached as an exhibition of talent; many a church is founded as a slap at some other church. Even missionary activity may become competitive, and soul winning may degenerate into a sort of brush-salesman project to satisfy the flesh. Do not forget, the Pharisees were great missionaries and would compass sea and land to make a convert.
A good way to avoid the snare of empty religious activity is to appear before God every once in a while with our Bibles open to the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. This passage, though rated one of the most beautiful in the Bible, is also one of the severest to be found in Sacred Writ. The apostle makes the highest religious service and consigns it to futility unless it is motivated by love. Lacking love, prophets, teachers, orators, philanthropists and martyrs are sent away without reward. To sum it up, we may say simply that in the sight of God we are judged not so much by what we do as by our reasons for doing it. Not what but why will be the important question when we Christians appear at the judgment seat to give account of the deeds done in the body.
(From The Root of the Righteous)
(Photo: Christ in the House of the Pharisee by Tintoretto)