I have gained much from reading Spurgeon over the years. I read this this morning, and I could hear the Holy Spirit speaking into my soul. I need more of this “peaceful perseverance” working in me.
From CH Spurgeon’s “Faith’s Checkbook” Wait for the Finals
“Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.”
Genesis 49:19, KJV
Some of us have been like the tribe of Gad. Our adversaries for a while were too many for us; they came upon us like a troop. Yes, and for the moment they overcame us; and they exulted greatly because of their temporary victory. Thus they only proved the first part of the family heritage to be really ours, for Christ’s people, like Dan, shall have a troop overcoming them.
This being overcome is very painful, and we should have despaired if we had not by faith believed the second line of our father’s benediction, “He shall overcome at the last.”“All’s well that ends well,” said the world’s poet; and he spoke the truth.
A war is to be judged, not by first success or defeats, but by that which happens “at the last.” The Lord will give to truth and righteousness victory “at the last”; and, as Mr. Bunyan says, that means forever, for nothing can come after the last.
What we need is patient perseverance in well-doing, calm confidence in our glorious Captain. Christ, our Lord Jesus, would teach us His holy art of setting the face like a flint to go through with work or suffering till we can say, “It is finished.” Hallelujah. Victory! Victory! We believe the promise.“He shall overcome at the last.”
Young David stood and looked at Goliath face-to-face. Physically there was hardly a comparison. Goliath was almost 10 feet tall, a warrior since birth, we read of his armor–he was like a human tank. But David was nothing, a pesky boy, nothing more. Goliath preened and strutted into the field of battle, and simple David was stepping up for his first try at hand-to-hand combat.
Goliath begins to blaspheme. He boasts and mocks. In his mind he is superior. His arrogance knows no bounds. The center of the universe is the Philistine army, and he is their champion. He is contemptuous of everything else–physical or spiritual.
Goliath essentially is a ‘human’ wood chipper. Everyone who has faced him has been destroyed. There have been no survivors to speak of. But I find David to be powerfully exceptional. His reaction to the ‘human mountain’ of Goliath was to run directly at him. This is an astonishing faith.
“As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground”.
1 Sam. 17:48
Many of us face a giant called “despair”.
He has marched out on the field of battle, confident of his ultimate triumph over us. We’ve been rightly tutored that there are enemies that can destroy us. And we’ve also been indoctrinated to accept their control and the inevitable slavery with a spirit of meekness.
The ‘monster’ of despair is real and brutal. Our destruction is inevitable in his mind. Satan does expect to win over your soul, but Jesus stands as our advocate shielding us. We are saved because He wants us saved.
Yet so many believers, cowed and intimidated, surrender to the boastings of the giant Despair. Hope, and faith are drained out of our being, and we become an empty spiritual shell. The “warfare” dimension gets nullified, and soon irrelevant. Despair reaches us and has the full intention of taking total control. It’s never satisfied with just a little bit.
David ran to the battle. He passed through the dark intimidation and influence to approach Goliath. There was no passiveness or doubt to cloud his mind. David took a spiritually aggressive position, he took on the fear, and then ran directly at the giant Goliath. His spirit was untouchable.
As believers, we might struggle and pout. We can turn our hearts over to despair. We become available to the enemies workings. And the confidence we might have through faith is dissipated into doubt and confusion. But the victory we have in Christ allows us the liberty, through the Blood of Him who defeats our own goliath of despair.
“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”
Romans 7:18-20, NLT
I hesitate to tell you this, but I have not found any hidden secrets to becoming a holy person.
To be sure, I wish I had figured this out sooner. I would very much like to come to you with the secret formula. I would easily latch on to this idea of a “magic wand” for every hurt. I think it would be good; and then again, maybe not. I’m certain it would be too much power for me to wield.
But the authentic Christian life is hardly formulaic. It seems to defy any attempt to explain, and then guide anyone else into that special place of true obedience or holiness. I’m supposing that you are just like me. I truly want to be right. I would love to be holy. But it ain’t happening. I always seem to end up back in the place I started from. Always, defeat and failure. (Rats!) Romans 7 is not an excuse to sin, but it seems to be an observation of our present condition.
I’ve always been mystified by the conundrum that is Romans 7. You see, I really want chapter 8, but I’ll settle for 6, and 5 would be good. But poor Romans 7 never gets considered. It’s been in limbo, I don’t really know what to do with it. (I honestly avoid it, after all chapter 8 is so good!) But way deep down, I have a strong sense I’m missing something vital and important.
I suppose it might be compared to making a really good ‘discipleship smoothie.’ Of course we must add to our blender Rom. 8. (Bananas.) And I suppose many would add Romans. 6. (Strawberries.) However, a lot of us would hesitate to include Rom. 7, we’re not really sure why. (Cauliflower?) Quite a few commentaries also hesitate.
Many good teachers and preachers regard chapter 7 as parenthetical. They suggest that Paul is describing his life before coming to Christ, and certainly not in a ‘present-tense’ discipleship. (Definitely a brain-twister.)
When I look at the Gospels, I see, across the board that those– the healed, forgiven, cleansed and made whole were always the most desperate. They have nothing, they bring nothing– they meet no requirement, but stepping out into pure poverty. They are the “zeroes.” (What about their smoothies, or don’t they get one?)
I don’t believe, at this point anyway, that there is a singular doctrine of sanctification. Perhaps we can truly do nothing in precise alignment. There is no such thing as a microwavable discipleship, and no instant breakfasts to be had. We truly come with a desperate faith– and we will end up with just a desperate faith.
This should be incredibly humbling to us all. It seems it takes some real repetitive lessons to learn humility as we meander (tra-la-la-la) down the way of God’s road of discipleship.
“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am!”
Romans 7:21-24, NLT
Please (someone?– anyone?!) challenge me on this. I tell you, chapter 7 chafes, and then disrupts my comfortable life. Will I always be so misaligned? Or am I just a lousy excuse for a Christian disciple? If I’m out of line and screwed up– please let me know. “Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” (John 6:68.) This happens to be my cry at this present moment.
“The power of the Church is not a parade of flawless people, but of a flawless Christ who embraces our flaws. The Church is not made up of whole people, rather of the broken people who find wholeness in a Christ who was broken for us.”