by T. Austin-Sparks
Reading: Joshua 3:10; Eph. 1:18,19; Phil. 2:9; Acts 9:3; 2 Cor. 4:4; Heb. 2:9.
We are occupied, as you know, beloved, with the matter of the Recovery of Spiritual Power, and for a little while this morning we are returning to one of the emphases of the previous chapter to seek to carry it a little further, and to open our hearts, by the grace of God, to its fuller impact. That is as to the object of faith which leads to power.
All these passages which we have read bring before us one thing and that is: the Lord Jesus in glory. That is, the Lord Jesus in glory and what is implied and what is involved by His being in glory. And when you and I have a true, a spiritual, and a sufficient apprehension of that one great heavenly reality, we have got the key to everything. There is nothing impossible then. There is no need whatever for weakness, failure, breakdown, disappointment or dishonour. This fact really borne in upon our hearts is the way of complete emancipation, ascendency and triumph.
We are all conscious of the need of spiritual power. We are all conscious of the fact that there is much yet occupying God-given territory, which ought not to occupy it. There is still very much that occupies the place which the Lord ought to be occupying in His people. And by that counter-occupation and possession, the testimony is weakened. The Name of the Lord is not glorified. There circles round the Lord's people the suggestion that they are not what they profess to be, what they claim to be, or what they ought to be. Now, we know that both in spiritual life and in service, and so we want to speak to one another about this situation, not only for ourselves, but because of this being the condition so widespread among the Lord's people; that we may know how to minister in a day of weakness, failure and breakdown. We want to speak to one another to see how this thing can be changed.
What are the secrets of the recovery of spiritual power? We have seen that the great proof of weakness in the Lord's people in the days of the Judges, was the fact that there were forces opposed to God which still remained with impunity in the territory which God intended His people to occupy in His Name; that the enemy still had a lodgement in forces represented, as we said, by these different nations in the land.
Each one of their names represents something quite distinct as a spiritual thing. The Canaanites are those who traffic. It is literally interpreted "the traffickers". And if I understand that rightly, in New Testament language Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light and he traffics in holy things under a guise. And the enemy does traffic in holy things under pretension, under a guise. We would not have any traffic with the beautiful type of Satan, but as an angel of light he does make good business and as an angel of light gives false light and leading to many children of God who are in bondage to something they thought was of God but is not of God at all. It is deception, and the Canaanites represent that in brief. It is not my intention to touch that. In 2 Corinthians chapter 11 we also read about the god of this age who has blinded, lest that specific light of the glory of Christ, and the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, should shine. He gives false light and that is the traffic of the Canaanites.
The Hittites represent a sense of terror. Is it not true that fear is one of the most successful tactics of the enemy over the Lord's people? They are afraid to open their lips in prayer; afraid to do many things the Lord would have them do. Fear is one of the marks of the enemy's possession. His success and triumph is that fear is among the Lord's people. There is nothing more terrible than fear and the Hittites represent "a sense of terror". New Testament language is, "a spirit of fear".
The Amorites were high talkers. Maybe power has been destroyed among the Lord's people because they talk loftily, but do not have the truth in reality. It is so easy to talk about the heavenlies, and know of the heavenlies, but the power of the heavenlies to be absent. The enemy does spoil things by getting us to talk about things, but not live them. It is not good enough. You are there, but you are worsted by some thing and the whole thing proves to be failure. The enemy does not mind us talking if it is not living in the heavenlies.
The Amorites do not mind us being occupied with lofty things so long as we are not in a lofty place. Each nation represents a spiritual force and when these things come in and have a lodgement, a place alongside the Lord's people, and share the territory with the Lord's people, they always work out to weakness and failure. And the proof of the weakness, as we began to say, is that these things get such a lodgement by reason of compromise - an acceptance of them instead of a wholesale destruction of them - they get such a place that you cannot get rid of them. You are powerless in their presence, powerless in the presence of deceiving spirits, false light and leading by the angel of light who traffics among the Lord's people, or the fear which has overcome so many of the Lord's people. We cannot meet it and destroy it because spirits of fear have come upon us and we have failed to recognise that all fear comes from the devil. We admit it, at once rise up in the strength which is not our own but of the Lord, and put away that fear which keeps us in bondage: from doing the will of God, from going on with the Lord and destroy it outright. If we do not, it will destroy us as it is destroying many.
Verbosity about spiritual things without spiritual power is just as insidious. We must be careful not to talk about spiritual things without the truth being in our lives. Some may talk glibly about things and yet their words do not carry weight; they are empty, and do not represent the power of God in their life. We may meet men who can talk about the heavenly things, and have an interest, but there has been an awful feeling that their words are hollow. They are in bondage to fleshly habits and are deceived by their own knowledge of truth. This hallmark of power is not represented by verbosity, or the amount of Divine truth that we know and can give expression to with our lips. Power is that God is coming through, and God is possessing His possessions in and through the saints.
That is the situation. And so the mark of weakness in the book of Judges, as we have seen, was mainly in that the people of God were unable to cast out these paralysing, weakening enemies with whom they had come to a kind of agreement. It is a desperate thing to come to an agreement with anything that is going to weaken us.
Coming back to this all-inclusive, supreme secret of deliverance and victory, we said it is the object in view for the believer And that object is Christ in glory and what His being there implies and involves.
Christ in Glory
Do you notice how the Lord always begins there? Yes, He does not begin with Christ in the Cross for the believer. Not for the believer. No, He begins with Christ in glory. He brings you back to the Cross because Christ, being in glory, implies something tremendous as to what He has done, and involves something tremendous as to what is to be the outcome. The greatest fact for the believer is Christ in glory. It was the sudden breaking upon him of the fact that Jesus was in glory, was glorified, and at the right hand of the Majesty on high, it was that as the greatest objective fact of his whole history, it was that that was basic to what Paul became as a man and as a servant of God. There was the counterpart of the revelation of the Son of God in Him, but the first thing was the revelation of the Lord Jesus in glory. I wonder if we may have lost something or missed something in this connection, if our subjective side may have robbed us of a little, or occupied us so much, to the importance of the great objective fact.
When it comes to the look and direction, it is to the Lord in glory; that is, the eye of God is upon Him. The eye of the Father is upon Him. If that were not so, if for one instant the Father took His eye off the Lord Jesus in glory, it would go ill with us. The Father has to keep His eye on the Son in glory and that is the only hope for us in every matter of our spiritual life. If the Father were to look at us for a moment, instead of at His Son, that would be an end of hope for us. The fact that the Lord Jesus is there in the glory, and the Father sees Him there in the glory, implies that the whole work of our redemption, salvation, sanctification, glorification, and the whole work of the church's vocation has been finished, and in the Person of the Lord Jesus it has reached its glorification.
Go back to a familiar illustration of this in Joshua: "Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you; Behold the ark of the Lord of all the earth goes before you into Jordan". That is the Lord Jesus going on into and through death, and out of death into the heavenlies, into the place of resurrection, victory, power and authority. "Hereby ye shall know..." there is One who has gone right through, who has accomplished the whole thing. It was on the ground of the fact that the ark has gone through, and that their going through was secured. It was on the ground that the ark was through and had overcome that their victory was certain. On the ground, speaking literally not figuratively of what the Lord Jesus has done in the energy of the Holy Spirit reaching the glory through death, that the whole work is secured in Him as an accomplished fact.
There is a tremendous power and significance in simple words, "God has highly exalted Him" not, "is going to". "He set Him at His own right hand", not "is going to". "He set" - it is done. The whole thing is finished, the work is accomplished in the Person of Christ, and now He is in glory, and if you get your eye off that fact for one moment, you have lost the secret of spiritual power. The Father looks on Him and sees there a Man in the glory as representative of all the sons whom He is bringing to glory, and He says that the finishing of the work for the sons is secured in the finished work of the Son, and the perfection, completeness of every son is secured in Him in the glory, beyond the reach of any disputing, or rival power. If that truth were wrought into our very being, we should know something more of power. If you keep your eye on that, these spirits of fear have not a ghost of a chance - you have destroyed them out of hand - the paralysis and weakness that comes through these spirits of fear, these sons of Hittites, and causes us to ask, "Will we be able? How are we going to get through?" All the time, though not in word, we are questioning whether the Lord really can save us, get us through to glory, whether we shall come out in the end, whether this can be done, whether this great vocation with which we are called can become a fact.
Deliverance from the Hittites is along the line of keeping your eye on the Christ in glory because that involves the complete destruction objectively and subjectively. In Christ in glory there is implied the fact that He has destroyed all the powers of evil that are against us. He has destroyed, "That through death He might bring to naught him that had the power of death... and hath delivered all those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage". This is bondage through fear. There are your Hittites, and deliverance is seeing Christ in glory as having destroyed. And then, because He is in glory and your eye is upon Him, that is your hope, your assurance. That is how you destroy the Hittites; without a fight, in a sense. There is a great deal in the Word of God about getting the victory without fighting. We may sing our way into victory.
If we have such an apprehension of the absolute victory that is secured in God, our faith brings us to the place where it is not fighting so much as rejoicing in a great fact! We go through because we have gone through. Faith has gone through and we follow through upon the faith of Christ in glory. How did they go through in the beginning? Stephen got through in the hour of his ordeal, the people stood raging, put their fingers in their ears, rushed upon him, gnashed their teeth; how did he get through without these sons of terror paralysing him? He saw Christ in glory. That got him through. How did Paul get through all the way (and if ever a man was beset by the seven nations he was; every one of them tried by some means or method to destroy his strength and bring him into bondage) how was it that in effect they were wiped out? Because his eye was constantly upon that first vision of Christ in glory. Because Christ was in glory, he was secure in Christ.
It is a great fact that we are in Christ in the heavenlies. I know there is a very real living sense in which every member of my body is in my head. Touch a part of my brain and you affect every member of my body, to the lowest extremity; my head involves all the members. He is the Sovereign Head and every member is in Him there already. We are there. We have got to live in Him. It is seeing the Head in glory securing all the members in Himself and putting our faith upon that, that is the secret of strength: Christ in glory.
Oh, that the Lord would register this in our hearts. It is a small fragment so far as a theme is concerned, but it is everything bound up in all the implications of Christ being in glory. Where was He? Well, see Him in incarnation and taking upon Him the form of a man, being found in fashion as a man, made in the likeness of sinful flesh. He was there. He came into our Adam nature representatively. Though Himself sinless, He accepted a close relationship with us - sinful flesh. We see Him, the very Creator for whom and through whom and unto whom are all things; we see Him cast out of His creation, refused a place in that which He had created; we see Him in all the weakness of His cross submitting Himself to death and submitting Himself to man. He, submitting Himself to the flesh, and submitted Himself for a moment to him that had the power of death, that in the next moment He might destroy him. The Cross and Hades, and now in the glory.
What that "being in glory" implies! What He has done, destroyed, overcome! And that Man in glory upon whom the eye of the Father rests is the implication of all that relates to every son that is going to glory, and it is secured in Him. Oh, the implications of Christ being in glory! "The exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His might which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead", that power is to us-ward who believe. The power that brought Christ to glory is going to bring us to glory, and we look on Christ and say, "That is our end". That is where we are going most surely, going up there; there is no question about it.
Is there such a thing as falling away? We will not if we keep our eyes on Him. There is no need to backslide, go wrong or miss the way if we keep our eyes on Him. This is the way of endurance and victory all the way along if we always remember that Christ has overcome and is exalted as your representative, and the same Spirit as in Him is given to you, and is in you. Romans 8:11: "If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, He that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall also give life also to (quicken) your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." The same thing, the same energy, the same power; but we must keep our eye on Him, the Lord in victory, the Lord in glory. That is the secret of power. Every solution lies there in where He is and what His being there implies for us. The Lord keep us moving on towards Himself.