Free To Flourish

You must never expect to be without exercise, but the less you give way to the flesh, the more will it be displaced. There must be the distinct sense that if I turn from Christ, I lose the Spirit’s support, and I am walking in the flesh. When I am seeking to walk as Christ, my eye on Him, I may be assailed by the flesh, but I am entitled to reckon (and this is my safety) that I am free from it, because in Christ I am dead to sin; I am not in the flesh, but in the Spirit (Rom 8:9—NC).

I know the old lion is there, and I know how fierce he is, but I am, through grace, free of him. I must not tamper with him, or give heed in any way to him, but I must not deny that he is there; and therefore I walk in fear (2 Cor 2:11; Eph 5:15, 16—NC), but consciously happy that my real position, through the gift of my Father, in His beloved Son, is clear of him.

All spiritual things are given to us (Eph 1:3; 2 Pet 1:3) but we are responsible to retain them, at least the enjoyment of them (1 Tim 6:17—NC), and this you never can, except in their own proper soil and climate. “He that hath, to him shall be given.” You cannot retain spiritual things in carnal enjoyments; even the best of them are the old wine. You must sow to the Spirit, and then of the Spirit you reap everlasting life, never-ending life of perennial freshness and fruitfulness.

If you should come from a happy meeting or time with the Lord, and give yourself to carnal literature or gossip, you will lose the fragrance and value of the season with the Lord; but if you seek to abide more with Him, because of the blessed time he has vouchsafed to you, you will be brighter and brighter; and as the Lord Jesus gets increasingly His true place in your heart, all that is not of Him will be increasingly displaced.

Hence the true way to develop devotedness is to seek and cultivate closer acquaintance and fellowship with Himself, which leads always to practical separation from that which is unsuited to Him; and this is devotedness. The more you are with the Lord Jesus, the stronger you become in heart and taste to refuse what is contrary to Him, and without making any plan, you find yourself retiring from old and cherished associations, and seeking and loving only those which connect you with Him. It is not then a surrender to obtain a certain gain, but a surrender to preserve the gain in its full value.

When nearness to the Lord Jesus in glory is really known, and the soul is being transformed by it, the conversation of the world becomes intolerable; and in seeking and securing the better things, the surrender of everything which stands in the way, however great, becomes secondary.

If you subject yourself to the society of the world, when there is no positive call of duty, you suppress and blight divine growth in your soul; but if you seek and cherish nearness to the Lord Jesus, you will grow too big for your shell, and you will burst it ere long, and find the surrender a positive relief. It is better that the shell should be broken from the inside, rather than from the outside. As I feed on Him, the inner man is renewed and strengthened, and all that hinders its manifestation is displaced. What a relief it is! What liberty the butterfly exhibits when it bursts from the chrysalis! Surely we ought even now to know that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

-J B Stoney