“Follow After . . . Godliness”

Godliness is only produced in the life in so far as the Lord Jesus is known. The introduction to Him personally, which produces a sense of reverence, effects in me that manner and way to which He is entitled; for as I am in the sense of reverence, I yield myself to Him, and necessarily I drop the old man which has been crucified in the judgment of the Cross.

Beholding the Lord Jesus has a conforming effect upon me, not as an exaction or claim (law), but because the new nature (life) which I have answers to Him (2 Cor 3:18). God’s Man, the only Mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus, so rivets and fixes my heart that I distinctly retire from that which is unapproved of in the presence of Him who so peculiarly affects and controls me.

God has not only come into my state, but He has been glorified in it, where I have sinned and failed so grievously. Hence as I am consciously before Him, as I know Him, I consequently abandon (nay, hate) the life for which He suffered and died here. As my soul is filled with this blessed One, my whole being becomes expressive of His influence and claims, and there is about me a subjection and a yielding to Him.

It is not that I am expending any effort to conform myself, but the knowledge of what and who the Lord Jesus is shapes me by the Spirit; for I covet correspondence to Him, and I increasingly have it, not only the form of godliness, but the practical reality of it. A godly man is one truly influenced and controlled by the presence of the Lord Jesus as known by the Holy Spirit, and this of course produces a manner and character as to everything which is the fruit of godliness, for “godliness is profitable in all things” (1 Tim 4:8).

When the Lord Jesus is the Object before the soul, man is shaped by the power of His presence in true subjection to Him; but when man is the object, there is necessarily a maintenance of the old man, whatever restraints, such as the law or ritualism, may be imposed. Actually, the more a man can submit to such imposition, the more the old life is established in its own power, and of course in increased opposition to God, for the natural mind is enmity against God (Rom 8:7).

In the Reformation there was, through grace, a great deliverance. The groundwork of Christianity was recovered; namely, justification by faith. Justification, not by woks, but by the Lord Jesus outside of oneself, was avowed and insisted on, and the maintenance of this is Christianity. But though this was recovered at the Reformation, it was not seen nor maintained that the old man was crucified in the Cross, and hence they only refused the exactions of Popery, but recognized the old man as still before God. Refusing the exaction was right; but the retention of that on which the exaction could be made, the old man, was and still is the crippling weakness of the Reformation.

In not seeing this, the Reformers left the door open for the legal system and ritualism which have grown up since in the church; and hence the simple and only effectual way of dealing with either is, at the start, to refuse any place to the old man except crucifixion (Rom 6:6). When I have sinned, there is no room for any kind of legalism or ritualism, but the presence of the Lord Jesus produces in me that which far exceeds all that any form could produce. Then it is, “Christ liveth in me.”

- J B Stoney

Excerpt from MJS devotional for 11-15: CONTRASTING HEARTS


There are two hearts that we learn in the process of suffering: our own sinful heart, and our Father’s loving heart.

“There is a Divine mystery in suffering, a strange and supernatural power in it, which has never been fathomed by human reason. There never has been known great saintliness of soul which did not pass through great suffering. When the suffering soul reaches a calm sweet carelessness, when it can inwardly smile at its own suffering, and does not even ask the Father to deliver it from suffering, then it has wrought its blessed ministry; then patience has its perfect work; then the crucifixion begins to weave itself into a crown.” -T.W.