Take Up the Challenge – Pt.2

Take Up the Challenge – Pt.2

A Help Sought

So, secondly, note the help sought.

The Psalmist is like a man standing on the edge of some precipice, and peeping over the brink to the profound beneath, and feeling his head beginning to swim. He clutches at the strong, steady hand of his guide, knowing that, unless he is restrained, over he will go. “Keep Thou back Thy servant from presumptuous sins.” So, then, the first lesson we have to take is, to cherish a lowly consciousness of our own tendency to light-headedness and giddiness. “Blessed is the man that feareth always.” That fear has nothing cowardly about it. It will not abate in the least the buoyancy and bravery of our work. It will not tend to make us shirk duty because there is temptation in it, but it will make us go into all circumstances realizing that without that Divine help we cannot stand, and that with it we cannot fall. “Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe.” The same Peter that said, “Though all should forsake Thee, yet will not I,” was wiser and braver when he said, in later days, being taught by former presumption, “Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.”

Let me remind you, too, that the attitude which we ought to cherish is that of a confident belief in the reality of a Divine support. The prayer of my text has no meaning at all, unless the actual supernatural communication by God’s own Holy Spirit breathed into men’s hearts be a simple truth. “Hold Thou me up,” “keep Thou me back,” means, if it means anything, Give me in my heart a mightier strength than mine own, which shall curb all this evil nature of mine, and bring it into conformity with Thy holy will.

How is that restraining influence to be exercised ? There are many ways by which God, in His providence, can fulfil the prayer. But the way above all others is by the actual operation upon heart and will and desires of a Divine Spirit, which uses for its weapon the Word of God, revealed by Jesus Christ, and in the Scriptures. “The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God” and God’s answer to the prayer of my text is the gift to every man who seeks it of that indwelling power to sustain and to restrain.

That will keep our passions down. The bubbling water is lowered in its temperature, and ceases to bubble, when cold is added to it. When God’s Spirit comes into a man’s heart, that will deaden his desires after earth and forbidden ways. It will bring blessed higher objects for all our affections. He who has been fed on “the hidden manna” will not be likely to hanker after the leeks and onions, however strong their smell and pungent their taste, that grew in the Nile mud in Egypt. He who has tasted the higher sweetnesses of God will have his heart’s desires after lower delights strangely deadened and cooled. Get near God, and open your hearts for the entrance of that Divine Spirit, and then it will not seem foolish to empty your hands of the trash that they carry in order to grasp the precious things that He gives. A bit of scrap iron magnetized aligns itself with a magnetic field. My heart, touched by the Spirit of God dwelling in me, will turn to Him, and I shall find little sweetness in the else tempting delicacies that earth can supply. “Keep Thy servant back from,” by depriving him of the taste for, “presumptuous sins.”

That Spirit will strengthen our wills. For, when God comes into a heart, He restores the due subordination which has been broken into discord and anarchy by sin. He dismounts the servant riding on horseback, and carrying the horse to the devil, according to the proverb, and gives the reins into the right hands. Now, if the gift of God’s Spirit, working through the Word of God, and the principles and the motives therein unfolded, and therefrom deducible, be the great means by which we are to be kept from open and conscious transgression, it follows very plainly that our task is twofold. One part of it is to see that we cultivate that spirit of lowly dependence, of self-conscious weakness, of triumphant confidence, which will issue in the perpetual prayer for God’s restraint. When we enter upon tasks which may be dangerous, and into regions of temptation which cannot but be so, though they be duty, we should ever have the desire in our hearts and upon our lips that God would keep us from, and in, the evil.

The other part of our duty is to make it a matter of conscience and careful cultivation, to use honestly and faithfully the power which, in response to our desires, has been granted to us. All of you, Christian men and women, have access to an absolute security against every transgression; and the cause lies wholly at your own doors in each case of failure, deficiency, or transgression, for at every moment it was open to you to clasp the hand that holds you up, and at every moment, if you failed, it was because your careless fingers had relaxed their grasp.

Be continued tomorrow

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