From observation of the maladies which come upon the people
of God and bring arrest to His work through them, we have been much impressed
with the fact that the violation of a Divine order is the cause of much
trouble. If it is true that what God is doing in this age is not just saving
individuals as such but in constituting a "Body" and building a "House" by the
addition of each saved one, then the right position in each is vital to its
perfect functioning and its heavenly order. There is an order, and
there is a position for each member. It is not given to us - let us say
it with emphasis - it is not given to us to appoint the place or to manipulate
into position. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. What we do say is that
each member has his or her place and God knows what it is. Under the
sovereignty of the Holy Spirit each member should come into that place. If
they fail to do so or get into a wrong place, they fail in their essential
ministry and upset the effectiveness of the Body.
"God hath set." Articulation is essential to life. "Unto
each is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Eph.
"Having therefore, gifts differing according to grace"
There are not a few illustrations of dislocation and
irregularity in the Scriptures:-
Dathan and Abiram and their company (Numbers 6).
Aaron and Miriam (Numbers 12).
Saul going over the head of Samuel (1 Sam. 13:9).
Uzziah presuming into the priest's office (2 Chron. 26).
Paul has very much to say on matters of order in the
Church, and it is not merely the individual position which is of importance,
but the relative factor and element. Independent action is as dangerous as
dislocation, it robs of covering and protection and exposes to enemy forces.
There is a heavenly order, a spiritual system, and the relationships and
ministries of believers are to be upon those spiritual principles and a
reflection of that heavenly order.
What Paul says about woman's place in ministry and the
domestic relationships of the saints can only be understood and appreciated in
When one called of God to do the work of an evangelist
assumes the role of a teacher, or vice-versa, or anyone marked out for this
particular functioning attempts to do that, or when one goes beyond their
scope and assumes any prerogative which is not theirs by Divine ordering, they
are in the way of an arrested ministry, and more, they will be landed into
serious confusion. People and things - otherwise occupying a vital position in
the Divine plan - put into their wrong places have the Divine unction
withdrawn from them. This becomes manifest and the spiritually undiscerning
conclude that the thing or the person is outside of the Divine purpose and
accordingly they rule them out. Thus much confusion and loss ensues.
Undoubtedly in New Testament times the recognition of the
corporate nature of the Church and the definite prayer which followed the
baptism of everyone who thereby testified to their identification with Christ
was the initial establishing of this relative position and this truth of
articulation, adjustment, and function. The Holy Ghost came in and took up the
superintendence from that time, and any disorder thenceforth was against Him.
In these few lines we have encircled a very wide and important field of truth
and would plead for a prayerful retracing step by step with the Word. The Holy
Spirit's method is to set His seal upon us as we move according to His
leading; not according to our fancy, choice, aptitude, predilection or
(We have not yet covered all the ground concerning
spiritual paralysis, but we feel led to move to another subject just now.
Doubtless we shall come back to finish the aforesaid.)
Probably a larger place is given in the Scriptures to the
subject of spiritual sight and spiritual blindness than to any other matter
relating to life in union with God. One has only to call to mind such common
words as: light, darkness; sight, eyes, revelation, vision; knowledge,
ignorance; understanding, wisdom, foolishness, error, lies; day, night, etc,
to realise how true this is, for all these are related to the inner perception
and the organ of spiritual discernment as quickened by the Holy Spirit.
Spiritual enlightenment and vision is clearly and definitely shown in the
Word of God to be basic to-
2. Growth in holiness and power.
3. Vocation and service.
4. The Oneness and effectiveness of the "Body of Christ."
Hence all these designations of the Adversary, e.g.,
"Darkness," "Deceiver," "Liar," "Blinder," reveal that to prevent salvation,
hinder spiritual growth, destroy ministry, and bring about a weakening schism
in the corporate testimony he will by any conceivable means interfere with
spiritual enlightenment, to prevent, confuse, injure, or deceive. Let us make
a sweep of this field by saying right at the outset that the entire matter of
life - growth, cohesiveness, holiness, fellowship, concerted action, effectual
fulfillment of the Divine purpose rests upon a true spiritual and heavenly
vision. While on the other hand death, paralysis, stagnation, barrenness,
disintegration, schism, conflict, divisions, bitterness, wrath, hatred,
malice, evil-speaking, personal engrossment; susceptibility,
hyper-sensitiveness; criticism, jealousies, offences; defeat, contradiction,
chaos, defilement, deadlock, are fruits of-
(a) A loss or absence of a true or adequate heavenly
(b) A false - or merely mental - as differing from a vital -
THE vision - not the mental concept - but THE vision which
is living is that of Christ Crucified as the All-inclusive,
All-pre-eminent, All-pervading, All-sufficient, All-mighty Sovereign Head;
"the Lamb in the midst of the Throne." This vision will lead to everything
else mentioned, and only as it grows will there be an adequate motive for all
included in salvation, sanctification, vocation, oneness.
This vision is essentially and inseparably bound up with
the Cross. For it the Cross is demanded. The Cross alone makes it possible.
All that hinders and limits it is dealt with in and by the Cross. It is only
given on the ground of Calvary, and it for evermore makes the Cross an abiding
necessity as a working force.
Seeing then that spiritual vision is the basis and axis of
all, it is no wonder that against it the enemy uses all his devices which are
as many as his legions. His methods vary with the people with whom he has to
deal. They cannot be tabulated and listed, but we hope ere we are through with
this subject, to state the principle by which they may all be detected. Our
method we feel will be, in following out this theme, to deal with the spheres,
the nature, the causes of defective spiritual sight; the nature, the basis,
and the need of spiritual vision, initial and progressive. The spheres relate
to the realm out of Christ and in Christ, and deal with-
(a) The natural man.
(b) The carnal mind.
(c) The place of spiritual progress.
(d) The realm of service and ministry.
(e) The corporate life of "the Church - the Body of Christ."
The nature of defective sight will cover the various forms
which are illustrated in the physical realm.
All these have their causes, to understand which is to
discover the remedy.
We shall find it impossible to be too emphatic in our
declaration that one of the most vital organs and faculties of the spiritual
life, upon which hangs greater and more issues than any other is that
spiritual perception - the eye of the heart or spirit. Without this, progress
must be slow, hesitating, blundering, and fraught with many calamities.
For special ministry in the Body of Christ a special gift
of spiritual discernment is imparted by the "One Spirit," but discernment is
surely intended to be a normal condition in a live member of that Body; yet
how few give evidence of possessing it in any measure sufficient to safeguard
themselves from error, or even provide for them a ground of certitude and
But we have anticipated our subject a little, let us return
to the first sphere which is that of
Nature's Darkness; Sightless Eyes
In this realm all the children of Adam; who are yet such,
are gathered and over the portal of this domain many inscriptions may be read,
each one telling of their condition as in darkness, but the one which seems
to make their condition so hopeless is this "Neither can they know"
(1 Corinthians 2:14).
This, of course, does not mean that the saving truth is withheld from
without, but that in them there is no organ capable of taking hold of that
truth. The faculty has been destroyed and even though they would see and
perceive it is not in themselves to do so. Unless with the presentation
of the light and the truth there is also given a capacity to perceive and
apprehend, then their condition is indeed hopeless. But let us look in
and see who these are and what they are. We may be surprised and astonished,
for surely such a condition seems to speak of gross wickedness and deep depths
of flagrant iniquity. Well, that depends upon your standpoint; from God's,
yes, but from man's - not necessarily and not always. Here truly will be found
such as are sinners manifest to all; here heathens who are often referred to
by the "civilised" (?) as "sitting in darkness" (what a false comparison!),
but here also are included the most enlightened by the light of
civilisation as such. Here are some of the greatest brains the world has
known. Here are multitudes of the most scholarly and learned. Here are even
many whose researches have led them far into the realms of theology and
theosophy. Yes, they include many who have held place in ministry and office
in what is called "The Church." Many of these live lives which from man's
point of view are morally almost flawless. And yet, and yet, with all they do
not know in that realm and in that vital way which is "life," eternal life,
because Divine and not human life.
Look again! What is their description? "The natural man receiveth not...
neither can he know the things of the Spirit of God." It should be well
known by now that that word "natural" in the Greek is psychical. Perhaps the
faulty translation is not altogether unfortunate for the natural man is the
psychical man, and the psychical man is the natural man. He is a different
species - so to speak - from the spiritual man. As the word implies the
psychical man is entirely governed and bound by reason, feeling, volition,
within a world of sense. But the things of the Spirit of God are not in that
realm in the first instance. True, spiritual forces can and do register
themselves upon psychical apparatus, but the psychical apparatus does not
know them (hence the delusion and deception of spiritism), and this is
true to the absolute in the matter of the things of God. Not only the delusion
of spiritism has its ground in the psychical as a registering apparatus, but
the entire counterfeit of the truly spiritual or divinely spiritual is in this
realm. Evangelism, "Apostolic" teaching and practice (?), "Pentecostal"
experience (?), prayer force, and even exorcism can all be merely
psychical. Signs, sensations, impacts, can be psychically produced by the use
of the most orthodox New Testament language and doctrine, even the Name and
the Blood of Jesus may be employed in terms and language.
There is only one sure safeguard against the colossal
delusion by which multitudes will be carried away in the latter days,
and that is a clear apprehension of the teaching of the Holy Spirit concerning
soul and spirit and the continual operation of the Cross in the realm of the
No, the natural man CANNOT! He may be full of
religious knowledge, emotions or feelings, and activities, but if the Bible
thunders more than speaks on any matter, it is this: that such can be the most
mistaken and deceived.
The highest reach of genius comes far short of the lowest
degree of Divine inspiration and revelation.
Christianity is not a system of philosophy but a revelation
to faith. The Bible does not argue this truth, it simply affirms it as fact
and in its own language describes its nature.
Man cannot by searching find out God. There is nothing that
man can do which will be in itself a basis of that knowledge which to
possess is "life eternal."
"Thus," you will say, "what is the use of preaching, why
call upon men in the name of the Lord to listen to and obey the gospel?" The
answer has two sides. As to those preached to, they can adopt an attitude.
They can manifest a desire or willingness. They can face one way or the other.
There is a double blindness of which we yet have to speak which comes upon
those who being among the "can-nots" of nature, place themselves among the
"will nots" by deliberate choice. The attitude which recognises the fact of
"cannot" and faces toward the light in willingness to see provides God with
the needed opportunity for working His work.
On the other hand all preaching which is of any avail to
salvation must be in faith and in the Holy Ghost. Faith, because there is
no ground of apprehension in man apart from the action of God, and in the
Holy Ghost because He alone can impart the "faith unto salvation" and the
ability to apprehend on the part of the unsaved. Hence, man cannot be saved
when he likes and chooses. It is not given to man to fix the time when he
shall "accept Christ," any more than it is in the power of the blind to decide
when they shall have eyes. The Lord Jesus alone can "open the eyes of the
blind." He came to do it and is still willing to do it, but there is
constantly coming for many the time when
"Jesus of Nazareth has passed by."