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“Be Not Deceived”

I believe some Christians think they have nearness to the Lord and spiritual rest who very little understand either the one or the other. It is quite possible for a soul to rest satisfied with a certain quietude, and to be in a certain degree devoted and devotional, who is not near the Lord in glory. It is quite possible for a believer to go on in great darkness with a good conscience, their good works and good reputation stand them in good stead, and they go on without exercise, save now and again they are distressed when thy have fallen below their own standard.

The conscience is no criterion unless it is daily enlightened by the Word of God. The power and wonders of God never touch you like the “still small voice” of the Word. Your feet are washed by His words to your soul, and the soul that trembles at His Word is the one that is really near Him, walking in “the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom.”

You will always find that there is more reverence and fear of the Lord in a soul that is walking near Him than in one who feels less the evil within and without, and therefore assumes to be happy and in a place of nearness and rest which in truth he is not.* Reverence and value for the Word of God is an external test as to whether one is walking close to Him. The Word is regarded not merely as a marvelous revelation, but in relation to himself individually. Not a word does he quote of it that does not send its ring to his soul of its quality and metal—if he is nigh to the Lord.

There is also an internal test, if I may say so. If you tell me what your soul is occupied with I can tell you where you are, and I believe every person is often very well satisfied with himself for a good long prayer (don’t smile, we have hearts often deceitful); again for visiting a needy one; and again, because we have acquitted ourselves to the approbation of others. A still more insidious condition is that of occupation with our own failures. How often does one think of his state because he has raked up its evil (and even that is only the kind he feels most)! True, most true, you must see the evil when entering into the light; but you cannot enjoy the Lord until the clouds have been removed by His Word declaring His grace to the owning soul.

I have mentioned what would prove that the soul was not near the Lord. I must just add that the one great expressive mark that a soul is nigh the Lord is that he is receiving light and instruction from Him. You may find Christians very good and proper who are really thinking more of themselves than of the Lord Jesus, who is their Life, exacting love and consideration instead of truly being in the fear of the Lord laboring to confer it. Whenever a soul makes itself the object, the Lord is distant from it.

- J B Stoney

Poster’s Opinion:

* “which in truth he is not”: Not that there isn’t a desire for nearness, but that nearness to the Lord cannot be well known until the awareness of the sinful nature in us is sufficiently realized. I believe the more aware the saints are of the ongoing presence and the decadent levels of the “old man” within, the more we will understand the holiness of God; and the more we will come to understand our forgiveness in the dependence on Christ’s expiation—and the “acceptance” of our Father (Eph 1:6).

Excerpt from MJS devotional for March 14:

“The true value of anything is known only when it is wanted. For this reason bright days must be succeeded by dark ones. In the dreary and desolate hour to nature, we begin to know the value of the truth communicated to us in the bright day. The learning is at one time, and the proving at another. In fact, we ought to be prepared for the dark hour; so that, though it be dark, there is something so blessed, so suited, pouring its comfort and sustenance on our souls, that, after all, the dark and dreary hour becomes a more really festive time to the heart, because of the virtues of the truth now made known, than the time of its reception, which was so happy and exhilarating.” -J.B.S.
None But The Hungry Heart

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