But then you heard and read the testimony concerning God's own Son. The great priest who went into the holy of holies with His own blood and won us an eternal redemption. It was God's message to you, and you received it as such, and found peace for your restless heart.
Then a wonderful thing happened in your life. The old passed away, everything became new.
Justified by faith you had peace with God, your sins were atoned for, your guilt was wiped out. By grace alone you received righteousness and holiness pleasing unto God. Peace of soul and new hope came into your life as a glorious light from above.
A new song was placed in your mouth, a song of praise unto God.
Da Jesus satte sjaelen fri
brot lyset frem paa livets sti,
og da jeg fik ham selv at se,
jeg glemte jordans sorg og ve.
Halleluja, min sjael er fri!
Min traellestand er nu forbi.
Paa land og hav min sak er klar,
hvor Jesus er, jeg himlen har.
Oh, 'tis wonderful to be a Christian--and you had not seen it before!
But from now on you are going to give yourself wholly to Him, to the Lord. You would be through with all kinds of worldliness.
"When Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said: Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war and they return to Egypt, but God led the people about by the way of the wilderness by the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up armed out of the land of Egypt."
Thus we read in Exodus 13:17-18.
The Israelites had been freed from the slavery under a mighty enemy. If war had been the first thing they met, their newfound happiness would not have stood up against such a realization. The memories of their own suffering and their weakness would have been too much for them. They would have lost courage.
God let them then take another route through the desert. He wanted to spare them, for He is faithful and will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but with the temptation He also makes a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it. 1 Cor. 10;13.
The Israelites were to meet war, but first they had to be trained through lesser trials in order to stand the greater. Therefore God let them take another route.
As a happy new convert you experienced that the old had passed away and everything was new.
It was life from death.
As a poor lost sinner you came, and the eternal Father received you and translated you into His Son's kingdom. You received an inner richness and joy which could not be expressed in words.
Yes, you felt that evil thoughts and desires now were dead and gone from your nature, you were not bothered by them and you believed that you were through with them forever. But in this you were mistaken.
It did not take a long time before you discovered that evil in your nature as before. It began to rage within you and to tempt and accuse you worse than when you were ungodly.
You began to doubt if you really were converted, as such a miserable creature could not possibly be a child of God. It must have been an illusion, both with conversion and faith. You had no way to turn.
-- -- -- -- -- --
No, it was not an illusion with your conversion.
Because at that time you were nothing and Christ was everything. You acknowledged your sins, and Christ saved you by grace alone, without merit or worthiness on your side. That was not an illusion. But you are now in danger of deceiving yourself.
Because you do not like to stand in the presence of God as guilty as the first time. You do not like to live by faith and grace alone. Now you are trying to become something yourself, something which would give you comfort and encouragement, something pleasing to God: a firmer faith, a greater progress in sanctification, and a more fervent prayer life.
But you do not see that right here, the old Adam is making his appearance in a very subtle way to grapple with you and to choke the new spiritual life in your soul.
But it can not be wrong to try to become better in one's Christian life? you ask. No, that is not wrong. Christian life is always growing, but there is something in you which is turning you away from the grace in God and to seek comfort also in the fruits of grace in your heart. This is what is wrong.
The law of life in the Kingdom of God is such that he who grows the most is not conscious of his own growth.
So is the Kingdom of God, "as if a man should cast seed into the ground and he should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how." Mark 4:26, 27.
He knoweth not how.
The Christian who has the most of this holy ignorance concerning himself, he has most of the unction of the Holy Spirit and of grace in his heart.
An honest Christian has received a remarkable God given suspicion concerning himself: He is afraid that he may find comfort and deceive himself in a false hope and a dead faith.
The realization of his own unworthiness drives him to the cross in prayer and to trust in Jesus alone as the only ground for his salvation.
In such a broken and humble spirit, Christ can live His life. As the vine sends its sap and its strength out among the branches and makes them bud and blossom and bear fruit.
At the cross is found the most fertile soil for the finest fruit of sanctification.
But our old nature does not like this soil. It is the last place where it cares to be. Therefore the old nature tries to draw the Christian away both from the holy ignorance and the God-given suspicion concerning himself.
The old nature seeks to persuade the honest soul to trust in his own conversion and spiritual progress. From that point there is but a short step to a secret joy and admiration over one's own sanctification. Thus a Christian may slip away from the blessed poverty which owns heaven, without knowing it. Then the old nature grows and flourishes. You thought that your spiritual experiences would mean the death of old Adam. It may be that he will thrive in these very experiences.
Bliver du fornoiet
i dig velv ei boiet
du paa avvei er;
kun de arme, svage
naadens trost mottage
og den soker her.
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desparately wicked: who can know it." Jer. 17:9.
It is only when God's grace can keep a Christian down in humility and self-examination, that he can be saved from the deceitfulness of the old Adam-nature.
A young Christian entered into great darkness for the first time after her conversion. God did not lead her along an easy route. She met the enemy and had to fight. She was very much distressed at the discovery of the great corruption in her own breast, but then she went to God in confession and prayer, and victory was won and a sweet light flooded her soul. When asked how this happened, she answered: "I had to read it over again."
This is a lesson for you who are worried concerning yourself .
"I had to read it over again."
It was this which the man of God, Rev. T. J. Oppedahl, had been taught in the school of life. He died at Elliott, Illinois, September 11, 1931. He said to his wife before he died:
''Josephine, I cannot see God; I cannot feel God, but I have His promises, and that is enough.''
He had learned to read it over again--clear to the end.
Loftene kan ikke svigte,
nei de staar evig fast.
When our restless heart is filled with doubt and fear, let us read over again God's promises and cling to them. Then will be renewed our joy and peace, because we realize that in the realm of grace nothing counts but the blood of Jesus, not only the first time, but the whole way home.
Copyright 2023 Hauge Lutheran Innermission Federation. All Rights Reserved.