Grace Gems for March, 2022

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Why is it?

(Arthur Pink, "Fearing God in His Sovereign Majesty")

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"An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes!" Psalm 36:1

Why is it that, today, the masses are so utterly unconcerned about spiritual and eternal things, and that they are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God?

Why is it
that defiance of God is becoming more open, more blatant, more daring?

The answer is, because "There is no fear of God before their eyes!" Romans 3:18

Again, why is it that the authority of the Scriptures has been lowered so sadly of late?

Why is it
that even among those who profess to be the Lord's people, that there is so little real subjection to His Word, and that its precepts are so lightly esteemed and so readily set aside?

Ah! what needs to be stressed today, is that God is a God to be feared!
Happy is the person who has been awed by a view of God's majesty, who has had a vision of . . .
  God's unutterable greatness,
  His ineffable holiness,
  His perfect righteousness,
  His irresistible power,
  His sovereign grace!

Time was, when it was the general custom to speak of a believer as "a God-fearing man". That such an appellation has become extinct, only serves to show where we have drifted. Nevertheless, it still stands written, "Like as a father pities His children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him!" Psalm 103:13

When we speak of godly fear, of course, we do not mean a servile fear, such as prevails among the heathen in connection with their gods. No! We mean that spirit which Jehovah is pledged to bless, that spirit to which the prophet referred when he said, "To this man will I look—even to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My Word." Isaiah 66:2

Nothing will foster this godly fear, like a recognition of the sovereign majesty of God!

"I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into Hell. Yes, I tell you—this is the One to fear!" Luke 12:4-5

"Our God is a consuming fire!" Hebrews 12:29

"It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!"
Hebrews 10:31

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Correcting in love—not smiting in wrath!

(Arthur Pink, "Comfort for Christians")

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"Whom the Lord loves, He chastens." Hebrews 12:6

The Father's wise and loving discipline is in view here.

It is of first importance that we learn to draw a sharp distinction between Divine punishment and Divine chastisement. The distinction is very simple, yet is it often lost sight of.

God's people can never by any possibility be punished for their sins, for God has already punished them at the Cross. The Lord Jesus, our Blessed Substitute, suffered the full penalty of all our guilt; hence it is written "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin." Neither the justice nor the love of God, will permit Him to again exact payment of what Christ discharged to the full. The difference between punishment and chastisement lies not in the nature of the sufferings of the afflicted. There is a threefold distinction between the two:

First, the character in which God acts. In the former, God acts as Judge; in the latter, as Father. Sentence of punishment is the act of a judge—a penal sentence passed on those charged with guilt. Punishment can never fall upon the child of God in this judicial sense, because his guilt was all transferred to Christ, "Who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree."

But while the believer's sins cannot be punished, while the Christian cannot be condemned (Romans 8:3)—yet he may be chastised. The Christian occupies an entirely different position from the non-Christian; he is a member of the Family of God. The relationship which now exists between him and God is that of parent and child; and as a son he must be disciplined for wrongdoing. Folly is bound up in the hearts of all God's children, and the rod is necessary to rebuke, to subdue, to humble.

The second distinction between Divine punishment and Divine chastisement lies in the recipients of each.

The objects of the former are His enemies.
The subjects of the latter are His children.

As the Judge of all the earth, God will yet take vengeance on all His foes.
As the Father of His family, God maintains discipline over all His children.

The one is judicial; the other parental.

A third distinction is seen in the design of each.

The one is retributive—the other remedial.

The one flows from His anger—the other from His love.

Divine punishment is never sent for the good of unrepentant sinners—but for the honoring of God's law and the vindicating of His government.
But Divine chastisement is sent for the well-being of His children: "God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness." (Hebrews 12:10)

When the believer is smarting under the rod let him not say, "God is now punishing me for my sins!" That can never be! That is most dishonoring to the blood of Christ. God is correcting you in love—not smiting in wrath!

Chastisement proceeds from God's goodness and faithfulness, and is one of the greatest blessings for which we have to thank Him. Chastisement evidences our Divine sonship. It is designed for our good, to promote our highest interests. Look beyond the rod—to the all-wise hand which wields it!

Some of the saintliest of God's people, some of the most obedient of His children—have been, and are the greatest sufferers.

Oftentimes, God's chastenings are corrective. They are sent to empty us of self-sufficiency and self-righteousness. They are given to discover to us hidden transgressions, and to teach us the plague of our own hearts.

Or again, chastisements are sent to strengthen our faith, to raise us to higher levels of experience, to bring us into a condition of usefulness.

Still again, Divine chastisement is sent as a preventative, to keep under pride, to save us from being unduly elated over success in God's service.

Remember, your afflictions are among the "all things" which work together for good. Learn, then, to look upon trials as proofs of God's love—purging, pruning, and purifying you.

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What is most needed today

(Arthur Pink, "Eternal Punishment")

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It is my deepening conviction that what is most needed today, is a wide proclamation of those truths which are the least acceptable to the flesh.

What is needed today, is a scriptural setting forth of the character of God:
  His absolute sovereignty,
  His ineffable holiness,
  His inflexible justice,
  His unchanging veracity.

What is needed today, is a scriptural setting forth of the condition of the natural man:
  his total depravity,
  his spiritual insensibility,
  his inveterate hostility to God,
  the fact that he is "condemned already" and that
  the wrath of a sin-hating God is even now abiding upon him!

What is needed today, is a scriptural setting forth of the alarming danger which sinners are in; the indescribably awful doom which awaits them; the fact that if they follow their present course only a little further—they shall most certainly suffer the due penalty of their iniquities!

What is needed today
, is a scriptural setting forth of the nature of that dreadful punishment which awaits the lost:
  the awfulness of it,
  the hopelessness of it,
  the unendurableness of it,
  the endlessness of it!
Excepting the Cross of Christ, nothing else so manifests the heinousness of sin—as the doctrine of eternal punishment.

It is just because these truths have been withheld so much from public ministry to the saints—that we now find so many backboneless, sentimental, lop-sided Christians in our assemblies!

A clearer vision of the awe-inspiring attributes of God, would banish much of our levity and irreverence.

A better understanding of our depravity by nature, would humble us and make us see our deep need of using the appointed means of grace.

A facing of the alarming danger of the lost sinner, would cause us to "consider our ways" and make us more diligent to make our "calling and election sure."

A realization of the unspeakable misery which awaits the lost (and which each of us has fully merited) would immeasurably deepen our gratitude, and bring us to thank God more fervently—that we have been snatched as brands from the burning, and delivered from the wrath to come! It would also make us far more earnest in our prayers, as we supplicate God on behalf of the unsaved.

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An unerring chart by which to steer through the dangerous sea of life!

(Arthur Pink, "The Attributes of God")

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God has placed His Word in our hands for an intensely practical purpose; namely, to direct our walk and to regulate our deportment. The primary purpose for which God gave the Scriptures, is to make a practical use of them—ordering the details of our lives by its rules and regulations.

"Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105. The metaphor used here is taken from a man walking along a dangerous road on a dark night, in urgent need of a lantern to show him where to walk safely and comfortably, to avoid injury and destruction.

God, in His infinite condescension and transcendent grace, has given us His Word for this very purpose, so that we need not stumble along blindly, ignorant of what pleases or displeases Him—but that we might know His mind. That divine Word is not given to us simply for information, but . . .
  to regulate our conduct,
  to enlighten our minds,
  and to mold our hearts.

The Word supplies us with an unerring chart by which to steer through the dangerous sea of life. If we sincerely and diligently follow, it will deliver us from disastrous rocks and submerged reefs; and direct us safely to the heavenly harbor. That Word has all the instructions we need for every problem, and every trouble we may be called upon to face. That Word has been given to us "that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:17. How thankful we should be, that God has favored us with such a Word!

This world is a dark place, and it is only as we take heed to the Word, to the light God has given us—that we shall be able to perceive and avoid "the broad road which leads to destruction," and discern the narrow way which alone "leads unto eternal life."

Our first duty, and our first aim, must be to take up the Scriptures to ascertain what is God's revealed will for us—what are the paths He forbids us to walk, what are the ways pleasing in His sight.

The Scriptures are not given us, primarily for our intellectual gratification, nor for emotional admiration, but for life's regulation. Nor are the precepts and commands, the warnings and encouragements contained therein, simply for our information. They are to be reduced to practice; they require unqualified obedience. He who treasures the divine precepts in his heart, and diligently seeks to walk by their rule, will escape those evils which destroy his fellows.

Thus the great business of the Christian is to regulate his life by, and conform his conduct to—the precepts of the written Word, and the example left us by the Incarnate Word. As he does so, and in proportion as he does so, he is . . .
  emancipated from the darkness of his natural mind,
  freed from the follies of his corrupt heart,
  delivered from the mad course of this world,
  and escapes the snares of the devil.

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Toys and playthings of the religious babyhouse!

(J.C. Philpot, "The Good Shepherd and His Work")

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"I will feed My flock." Ezekiel 34:15

The only real food of the soul—must be of God's own appointing, preparing and communicating.

You can never deceive a hungry child. You may give it a plaything to still its cries. It may serve for a few minutes; but the pains of hunger are not to be removed by a doll. A toy horse will not allay the cravings after the mother's milk.

So it is with babes in grace—a hungry soul cannot feed upon playthings.

painted windows,
intoning priests, and
singing men and women—
these dolls and wooden horses—these toys and playthings of the religious babyhouse, cannot feed the soul that, like David, cries out after the living God. (Psalm 42:2)

Christ, the bread of life, the manna that came down from Heaven—is the only food of the believing soul!

"I am the living bread that came down from Heaven.
 If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever."
John 6:51

"Your words were found, and I ate them; and Your Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart!" Jeremiah 15:16

"As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word—that you may grow thereby." 1 Peter 2:2

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Even your own relatives think you are almost insane!

(J.C. Philpot, "The Abiding Comforter" 1858)

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"The Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him." John 14:17

The world—that is, the world dead in sin, and the world dead in profession, men destitute of the life and power of God—must have something that it can see. And, as heavenly things can only be seen by heavenly eyes, they cannot receive the things which are invisible.

Now this explains why a religion that presents itself with a degree of beauty and grandeur to the natural eye, will always be received by the world; while a . . .
  heartfelt and
religion will always be rejected.

The world can receive a religion that consists of . . .
  rites, and
These are things seen.

Beautiful buildings,
painted windows,
pealing organs,
melodious choirs,
the pomp and parade of an earthly priesthood,
and a whole apparatus of 'religious ceremony',
carry with them something that the natural eye can see and admire. The world receives all this 'external religion' because it is suitable to the natural mind and intelligible to their reasoning faculties.

But the . . .
  divine religion,
which presents no attractions to the outward eye, but is wrought in the heart by a divine operation—the world cannot receive this, because it presents nothing that the natural eye can rest upon with pleasure, or is adapted to gratify their general idea of what religion is or should be.

Do not marvel then, that worldly professors despise a religion wrought in the soul by the power of God. Do not be surprised if even your own relatives think you are almost insane, when you speak of the consolations of the Spirit, or of the teachings of God in your soul. They cannot receive these things, for they have no experience of them; and being such as are altogether opposed to the carnal mind, they reject them with enmity and scorn.

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The miserable dregs of self!

(J.C. Philpot, "Meditations on Matters of Christian Faith & Experience")

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"To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He  has made us accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:6

We are ever looking for something in self to make ourselves acceptable to God.
We are often sadly cast down and discouraged when we cannot find in ourselves . . .
  that holiness,
  that obedience,
  that calm submission to the will of God,
  that serenity of soul,
  that spirituality and heavenly-mindedness,
which we believe to be acceptable in His sight.

Our crooked tempers,
our fretful, peevish minds,
our rebellious thoughts,
our coldness and barrenness,
our alienation from good,
our headlong proneness to evil,
with the daily feeling that we get no better, but rather worse,
make us think that God views us just as we view ourselves. And this brings on great darkness of mind and bondage of spirit, and we seem to lose sight of our acceptance in Christ, and get into the miserable dregs of self—almost ready to quarrel with God because we are so vile, and only get worse as we get older.

Now the more we get into these dregs of self, and the more we keep looking at the dreadful scenes of wreck and ruin which our heart presents to daily view—the farther do we get from the grace of the gospel, and the more do we lose sight of the only ground of our acceptance with God. It is "in the Beloved" that we are accepted, and not for any . . .
  good works,
  good words,
  good thoughts,
  good hearts, or
  good intentions of our own.

If our acceptance with God depended on anything in ourselves, we would have to believe we might be children of God today, and children of the devil tomorrow.

What, then, is to keep us from sinking altogether into despair, without hope or help? Why, a knowledge of our acceptance in the Beloved, independent of everything in us, good or bad.

"You are complete in Him!" Colossians 2:10

"Their righteousness is from Me, says the Lord." Isaiah 54:17

"He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of His mercy." Titus 3:5

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Idling life away like an idiot or a madman!

(J.C. Philpot, "The Soul's Growth in Grace" 1837)

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"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation!
 Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

When one is spiritually reborn, he sees at one and the same moment . . .
  God, and self,
  justice, and guilt,
  power, and helplessness,
  a holy law, and a broken commandment,
  eternity, and time,
  the purity of the Creator, and the filthiness of the creature.

And these things he sees, not merely as declared in the Bible, but as revealed in himself as personal realities, involving all his happiness or all his misery, in time and in eternity. Thus it is with him as though a new existence had been communicated, and as if for the first time he had found there was a God!

It is as though all his days he had been asleep, and were now awakened; asleep upon the top of a mast, with the raging waves beneath; as if all his past life were a dream, and the dream were now at an end. He has been . . .
  hunting butterflies,
  blowing soap bubbles,
  angling for minnows,
  picking daisies,
  building houses of cards, and
  idling life away like an idiot or a madman!

He had been perhaps wrapped up in a religious profession, advanced even to the office of a deacon, or mounted in a pulpit. He had learned to talk about Christ, and election, and grace, and fill his mouth with the language of Zion.

But what did he experimentally know of these things? Nothing, absolutely nothing!

Ignorant of his own ignorance (of all kinds of ignorance the worst), he thought himself rich, and increased with goods, and to have need of nothing; and knew not that he was wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

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We get entangled with some idol

(J.C. Philpot)

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Wherever the grace of God is, it constrains its partaker to desire to live to His honor and glory.

But he soon finds the difficulty of so doing. Such is . . .
  the weakness of the flesh,
  the power of sin,
  the subtlety of Satan,
  the strength of temptation, and
  the snares spread on every side for our feet,
that we can neither do what we want, nor be what we want.

Before we are well aware, we get entangled with some idol, or drawn aside into some indulgence of the flesh, which brings darkness into the mind, and may cut us out some bitter work for the rest of our days.

But we thus learn not only the weakness of the flesh, but where and in whom all our strength lies.

And as the grace of the Lord Jesus, in its suitability, in its sufficiency and its super-aboundings, becomes manifested in and by the weakness of the flesh; a sense of His wondrous love and care in so bearing with us, in so pitying our case, and manifesting mercy where we might justly expect wrath—constrains us with a holy obligation to walk in His fear and to live to His praise.

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Poor, miserable, paltry works of a polluted worm!

(J.C. Philpot, "The Loss of All Things for Christ's Sake")

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"We are all infected and impure with sin. When we proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall; and our sins, like the wind, sweep us away!" Isaiah 64:6

We once thought that we could gain heaven by our own righteousness. We strictly attended to our religious duties, and sought by these and various other means to recommend ourselves to the favor of God, and induce Him to reward us with Heaven for our sincere attempts to obey His commandments.

And by these religious performances we thought we would surely be able to make a ladder whereby we could climb up to Heaven. This was our tower of Babel, whose top was to reach unto Heaven, and by mounting which, we thought to scale the stars.

But the same Lord who stopped the further building of the tower of Babel, by confounding their speech and scattering them abroad on the face of the earth; began to confound our speech, so that we could not pray, or talk, or boast as before; and to scatter all our religion like the chaff of the threshing floor. Our mouths were stopped, we became guilty before God, and our bricks and mortar became a pile of confusion!

When, then, the Lord was pleased to discover to our souls by faith, His being, majesty, greatness, holiness, and purity; and thus gave us a corresponding sense of our filthiness and folly—then all our creature religion and natural piety which we once counted as gain, we began to see was but loss. We then saw that our very religious duties, so far from being for us, were actually against us; and instead of pleading for us before God as so many deeds of righteousness, were so polluted and defiled by sin perpetually mixed with them—that our very prayers were enough to sink us into Hell, had we no other iniquities to answer for in heart, lip or life.

But when we had a view by faith of the Person, work, love, and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ—then we began more plainly and clearly to see with what religious toys we had been so long amusing ourselves, and what is far worse, mocking God by them.

We had been secretly despising . . .
  Jesus and His sufferings,
  Jesus and His death,
  Jesus and His righteousness,
and setting up the poor, miserable, paltry works of a polluted worm, in the place of the finished work of the Son of God.

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Saving Faith

(Arthur Pink)

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Perhaps the reader is already a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet that, of itself, is no proof that you have been born again, and is journeying to Heaven. The New Testament tells us that "many believed in His name when they saw the miracles which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them" (John 2:23, 24). "As He spoke these words many believed on Him" (John 8:30), yet verse 59 shows that a little later, these same people sought to stone Him! "Among the chief rulers also many believed (not simply 'about', but) on Him." Ah! but note what immediately follows: "but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:42, 43). What a proof that they were utter strangers to a saving work of God in their souls: yet they were "believers" in the Lord Jesus!

There is a faith in Christ which is saving—and there is a faith in Christ which is not saving. Possibly the reader says, "But I know that mine is the former: I have seen myself as a lost sinner, realize I can do nothing to gain acceptance with God, and have put my trust in the finished work of His Son." Ah! my friend, the heart is terribly deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) and Satan deludes many (Revelation 12:9). So much is at stake that it behooves each of us to make sure. Only a fool is ready to give himself the "benefit of the doubt" in an issue so momentous as this.

Probably many a reader is ready to continue, "But I know that my faith in Christ is a genuine and saving one, for it rests upon the sure Word of God." Dear friends, others who were equally sure as you, are now in Hell! Allow us to inquire, Have you tested your faith by Scripture? Have you taken the trouble to ascertain whether your faith is accompanied by those evidences which are inseparable from a saving faith? A saving faith is a supernatural thing, and brings forth supernatural fruit. Is this true in your case? Do these questions somewhat puzzle? Then let us try to explain.

In Acts 15:9 we read, "purifying their hearts by faith"—compare Matthew 5:8; 1 Peter 1:22. A purified heart is one that has been purged of all impure idols and turned to a pure object (1 Thessalonians 1:9). It loathes all that is sinful, and loves all that is holy. A pure heart is one that has been cleansed from the love of all that is evil.

Another characteristic of saving faith, is that it "works by love" (Galatians 5:6). Faith is a mighty principle of operation by which the Christian lives unto God, by which he treads the path of obedience, by which he resists the Devil and denies the flesh. And this, not from fear, but "by love." Perfectly? In this life—No. But actually and in the main—Yes.

"Whoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4). God has opened the eyes of the Christian to see the hollowness and worthlessness of the best that this poor world has to offer; and has weaned his heart from it by satisfying it with spiritual and heavenly things.

Now, dear reader, is it not evident that as a fountain is known by the waters which issue from it, so the nature of your faith may be ascertained by what it is bringing forth? Have you been saved from a dislike of God's commands and a disrelish for His holiness? Have you been saved from pride, from covetousness, from murmuring? Christ died not to procure the pardon of our sins and the taking us to Heaven—while our hearts still remain clinging to the things of earth! No, He lived and died so that His Spirit might quicken His people into newness of life, making them "new creatures", and causing them to sojourn in this world as those who are not of it, but as those whose hearts are already departed from it.

But do we not read, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31)? Yes, but note the apostles did not tell the jailor to "rest on the finished work of Christ"; instead, they set before him a Person. Nor did they say "Believe on the Savior", but "on the Lord Jesus Christ." Saving faith necessarily involves the renouncing of our own sinful, "lordship", the throwing down of the weapons of our warfare against Him, and the submitting to His yoke and rule. And before any sinful rebel is brought to that place, a miracle of grace has to be wrought within him. Saving faith consists of the complete surrender of my whole being and life, to the lordship of Christ: "they first gave their own selves to the Lord" (2 Corinthians 8:5). Have you? Reader, have you?

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Nothing escapes His notice!

(Arthur Pink, "The Attributes of God")

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What a wondrous Being is the God of Scripture!

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." Hebrews 4:13

God is omniscient. He knows everything:
  everything possible,
  everything actual,
  all events,
  all creatures,
of the past, the present, and the future.

He is perfectly acquainted with every detail in the life of every being in Heaven, in earth, and in Hell. Nothing escapes His notice, nothing can be hidden from Him, nothing is forgotten by Him.

His knowledge is perfect.
He never errs.
He never changes.
He never overlooks anything.

God not only knows whatever has happened in the past in every part of His vast domains; and He is not only thoroughly acquainted with everything that is now transpiring throughout the entire universe—but He is also perfectly cognizant of every event, from the least to the greatest, that will ever happen in the ages to come! God's knowledge of the future is as complete as is His knowledge of the past and the present; and that, because the future depends entirely upon Himself. God has Himself designed whatever shall yet be—and what He has designed, must be effectuated. God's knowledge does not arise from things because they are or will be—but because He has ordained them to be! Yes, such is the God with whom we have to do!

"You know when I sit and when I rise;
 You perceive my thoughts from afar.
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
 You are familiar with all my ways.
 Before a word is on my tongue—You know it completely, O Lord!" Psalm 139:2-4

How solemn is this fact: Nothing can be concealed from God!

"For I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them" (Ezekiel 11:5). Though He is invisible to us—we are not so to Him. Neither the darkness of night, the closest curtains, nor the deepest dungeon—can hide any sinner from the eyes of Omniscience! Men would strip Deity of His omniscience if they could. They wish there might be . . .
  no Witness of their sins,
  no Searcher of their hearts,
  no Judge of their deeds!

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Do not expect a smooth and easy path!

(Arthur Pink, "David's Flight")

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is often a mixed blessing, and adversity is far from being an unmixed calamity!

Alternating spiritual prosperity and adversity, is the lot of God's people on this earth.
All is not unclouded sunshine with them, nor is it unrelieved gloom and storm.
There is a mingling of both:
  joys, and sorrows;
  victories, and defeats;
  assistance from friends, and injuries from foes;
  smiles from the Lord's countenance, and the hidings of His face.

By such changes, opportunities are afforded for the development and exercise of different graces, so that we may, in our measure, "know how to be abased, and how to abound . . . both to be full, and to be empty" (Philippians 4:12). But above all, that we may, amid varying circumstances, prove the unchanging faithfulness of God—and His sufficiency to supply our every need.

Ah, my reader, if you are one of God's elect, do not expect a smooth and easy path through this earthly wilderness—but be prepared for varying circumstances and drastic changes. The Christian's resting place is not in this world, for "here have we no continuing city" (Hebrews 13:14). The Christian is a "pilgrim," on a journey; he is a "soldier," called on to fight the good fight of faith. The more this is realized, the less keen will be the disappointment, when our ease is disturbed and our outward peace harshly broken in upon.

"Many are the afflictions of the righteous," and if 'troubles' do not come to us in one form, they most certainly will in another! If we really appropriate this promise—then we shall not be so staggered when afflictions come upon us. It is written that, "it is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22), and therefore we should make up our minds to expect the same, and to "not to think it strange" (1 Peter 4:12) when we are called upon to pass through "the fiery trial." Affliction, tribulation, and fiery trial—are at times, our portion here on earth.

Changing circumstances afford opportunity for the development and exercise of different graces. Some graces are of the active and aggressive kind—while others are of a passive order, requiring quite another setting for their display. Some of the traits which mark the soldier on a battlefield, would be altogether out of place were he languishing on a bed of sickness. Both spiritual joy and godly sorrow, are equally beautiful in their season.

As there are certain vegetables, fruits, and flowers which cannot be grown in lands which are unvisited by nipping winds and biting frosts—so there are some fruits of the Spirit which are only produced in the soil of severe trials, troubles and tribulations!

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.
 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
 Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace
 for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:10-11

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When they awake in Hell!

(Arthur Pink, "Present Day Evangelism")

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If "modern evangelism" is weighed in the balance of Holy Writ, it will be found lacking; lacking that which is vital to genuine conversion, lacking what is essential if sinners are to be shown their need of a Savior, lacking that which will produce the transformed lives of new creatures in Christ Jesus.

The "evangelism" of the day is not only superficial to the last degree, but it is radically defective. It is utterly lacking a foundation on which to base an appeal for sinners to come to Christ. There is not only a lamentable lack of proportion (the mercy of God being made far more prominent than His holiness; His love than His wrath)—but there is a fatal omission of that which God has given for the purpose of imparting a knowledge of sin. There is not only a reprehensible introducing of humorous witticisms and entertaining anecdotes, but there is a studied omission of the dark background upon which alone the Gospel can effectively shine forth.

In twentieth-century evangelism, there has been a woeful ignoring of the solemn truth of the total depravity of man. There has been a complete underrating of the desperate case and condition of the sinner. Very few indeed have faced the unpalatable fact—that every man is thoroughly corrupt by nature, that he is completely unaware of his own wretchedness, blind and helpless, and dead in trespasses and sins! Because such is his case, because his heart is filled with enmity against God—it follows that no man can be saved without the special and supernatural intervention of God.

The teaching of Holy Writ on this point is unmistakable: man's plight is such that his salvation is impossible, unless God puts forth His almighty power. No stirring of the emotions by anecdotes, no regaling of the senses by music, no oratory of the preacher, no persuasive appeals—are of the slightest avail. None but the Holy Spirit can make him willing in the day of His power (Psalm 110:3). He alone can produce godly sorrow for sin, and saving faith in the Gospel. He alone can make us not love ourselves first and foremost, and bring us into subjection to the Lordship of Christ.

But serious indeed as is the above indictment, worse still is that which is being retailed by the cheap-jack evangelists of the day. The positive content of their message is nothing but a throwing of dust in the eyes of the sinner. His soul is put to sleep by the devil's opiate, ministered in a most unsuspecting form. Those who really receive the "message" which is now being given out from most of the "orthodox" pulpits and platforms today, are being fatally deceived. It is a way which seems right unto a man—but unless God sovereignly intervenes by a miracle of grace, all who follow it will surely find that the ends thereof are the ways of death! Tens of thousands who confidently imagine that they are bound for Heaven, will get a terrible disillusionment when they awake in Hell!

What is the Gospel? Is the Gospel a message of glad tidings from Heaven to make God-defying rebels at ease in their wickedness? Is it given for the purpose of assuring the pleasure-crazy young people that, providing they only "believe," there is nothing for them to fear in the future? One would certainly think so, from the way in which the Gospel is presented—or rather perverted, by most of today's 'evangelists'! And the more so, when we look at the lives of their 'converts'! Surely those with any degree of spiritual discernment, must perceive that to assure such 'converts' that God loves them and His Son died for them, and that a full pardon for all their sins (past, present and future) can be obtained by simply 'accepting Christ as their personal Savior'—is but a casting of pearls before swine! Because the churches are so largely filled with these 'converts', explains why they are so unspiritual and worldly.

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There are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of Fire!

(Arthur Pink, "Present Day Evangelism")

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The nature of Christ's salvation, is woefully misrepresented by the present-day "evangelist." He announces a Savior from Hell—rather than a Savior from sin! And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of Fire—who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness!

The very first thing said of Him in the New Testament is, "You shall call His name Jesus—for He shall save His people [not "from the wrath to come," but] from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). Christ is a Savior for those realizing something of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, who feel the awful burden of it on their conscience, who loathe themselves for it, and who long to be freed from its terrible dominion. He is a Savior for no others. Were He to "save from Hell" those still in love with sin, He would be a minister of sin, condoning their wickedness and siding with them against God. What an unspeakably horrible and blasphemous thing with which to charge the Holy One!

True, as the Christian grows in grace, he has a clearer realization of what sin is—rebellion against God; and a deeper hatred of, and sorrow for it. But to think that one may be saved by Christ, whose conscience has never been smitten by the Spirit, and whose heart has not been made contrite before God—is to imagine something which has no existence in the realm of fact. "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick" (Matthew 9:12). The only ones who really seek relief from the great Physician, are those who are sick of sin—who long to be delivered from its God-dishonoring works, and its soul-defiling pollutions.

As  Christ's salvation is a salvation from sin—from the love of it, from its dominion, from its guilt and penalty; then it necessarily follows, that the first great task and the chief work of the evangelist, is to preach upon SIN: to define what sin (as distinct from crime) really is, to show wherein its infinite enormity consists, to trace out its manifold workings in the heart, to indicate that nothing less than eternal punishment is its desert!

Ah, preaching upon sin will not make him popular nor draw the crowds, will it? No, it will not; and knowing this, those who love the praise of men more than the approbation of God, and who value their salary above immortal souls, trim their sails accordingly!

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Your many defects and corruptions

(Arthur Pink, "Christ our Exemplar")

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"Leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

Sincere believers are often cast down by the realization of how far, far short they come to measuring up to the standard which Christ has set before them. According to the yearnings of the new nature, you have sincerely endeavored to follow Christ's example; but being weak in grace and meeting with much opposition from the flesh and temptations from the Devil—you have been frequently turned aside from the holy purposes and designs of your honest hearts, to the great grief and discouragement of your souls. You can heartily say with David, "O that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes!" (Psalm 119:5), and you have tried hard and long to follow after exact holiness, "if by any means you might attain unto it." But your efforts have been repeatedly thwarted, your aspirations dashed, and you have to cry out, "O wretched man that I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin!" (Romans 7:24)

First, let us assure the genuinely exercised soul, that such defects in obedience do not invalidate your justification, or in any way affect your acceptance with, and standing before God. Your justification is not built upon your obedience, but upon Christ's. However imperfect you are in yourself, you are "complete in Him" (Colossians 2:10). Woe had it been to Abraham, Moses, David, and Paul—if their justification had depended upon their own holiness and good works. Let not, then, your sad failures dampen your joy in Christ—but rather be increasingly thankful for His robe of righteousness, which hides your filthy rags!

Second, your heart-anguish over your unlikeness to Christ evidences that you have a sincere acquaintance with the evil of your heart, a deep loathing of sin, and truly love God. The most eminent saints have made the bitterest lamentation on this account, "My sins have flooded over my head; they are a burden too heavy for me to bear. My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness!" (Psalm 38:4-5)

Third, the Holy Spirit makes an excellent use of your infirmities, and turns your failures unto spiritual advantages. By those very defects—He humbles you, subdues your self-righteousness, causes you to appreciate more deeply the riches of free grace, and to place a higher value upon the precious blood of the Lamb. By your many falls—He makes you to long more ardently for Heaven, and gradually reconciles you to the prospect of death. The more a holy soul is buffeted by sin and Satan—the more sincerely will he cry out, "Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest!" (Psalm 55:6). "O the blessed chemistry of Heaven, to extract such mercies—out of such miseries!" (John Flavel), to make sweet flowers—spring up out of such bitter roots!

Fourth, your bewailed infirmities do not break the bond of the Everlasting Covenant! That holds firm, notwithstanding your many defects and corruptions. "Iniquities prevail against me" said David—yet in the same breath he added, "You shall purge them away!" (Psalm 65:3)

Fifth, though the defects of your obedience are grievous to God, yet your deep sorrows for them are well-pleasing in His sight, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise!" (Psalm 51:17)

Sixth, your very grief is a conformity to Christ—for when here, He was "the Man of sorrows." If He suffered because of our sins, shall we not be made to weep over them?

Seventh, "Though God has left many defects to humble you, yet He has given many things to comfort you. This is a comfort—that your sins are not your delight as once they were, but your shame and sorrow! This is a comfort—that your case is not singular, but more or less the same complaints and sorrows are found in all gracious souls in the world!" (John Flavel)

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It is better to stay at home and read God's Word

(Arthur Pink, "A Call to Separation")

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"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
 For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
 Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
 What harmony is there between Christ and the Devil?
 What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?" 2 Corinthians 6:14-16

This command is so plain, that it requires no interpreter.
  Righteousness—and wickedness;
  light—and darkness;
  Christ—and the Devil;
  God's temple—and idols.
What do they have in common?

This is a call to godly separation. This passage gives utterance to a Divine exhortation for those belonging to Christ, to hold aloof from all intimate associations with the ungodly. It expressly forbids them entering into alliances with the unconverted. It definitely prohibits the children of God walking arm-in-arm with worldlings. It is an admonition applying to every phase and department of our lives: religious, domestic, social, commercial. And never, perhaps, was there a time when it more needed pressing on Christians, than now. The days in which we are living are marked by the spirit of compromise. On every side we behold unholy mixtures, ungodly alliances, and unequal yokes. Many professing Christians appear to be trying how near to the world they may walk, and yet go to Heaven!

To Israel, God said, "So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. You must obey all My regulations and be careful to keep My laws, for I, the Lord, am your God!" (Leviticus 18:3-4) And again, "Do not live by the customs of the people whom I will expel before you. It is because they do these terrible things, that I detest them so much!" (Leviticus 20:23) It was for their disregard of these very prohibitions, that Israel brought down upon themselves such severe chastisements.

God's call to His people in Babylon is, "Come out of her, My people! Do not take part in her sins!" (Revelation 18:4) No one can be a whole-hearted follower of the Lord Jesus who is, in any way, "yoked" to His enemies!

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." This applies first to our religious connections. How many Christians are members of so-called "churches," where much is going on which they know is at direct variance with the Word of God: either the teaching from the pulpit, the worldly attractions used to draw the ungodly, and the worldly methods employed to finance it, or the constant receiving into its membership of those who give no evidence of having been born again. Believers in Christ who remain in such "churches" are dishonoring their Lord.

Should they answer: "Practically all the churches are the same, and were we to resign, what would we do? We must go somewhere on Sundays!" Such language would show they are putting their own interests, before the glory of Christ. It is better to stay at home and read God's Word, than fellowship with that which His Word condemns!

"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord!" 2 Corinthians 6:17

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God's sovereign election

(Arthur Pink, "The God of Jacob")

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"Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works, but by Him who calls, she was told, 'The older will serve the younger.' Just as it is written: 'Jacob I loved—but Esau I hated.'" Romans 9:10-13

Jacob supplies us with the clearest and most unmistakable illustration of God's sovereign election to be met with in all the Bible. The case of Jacob gives the most emphatic refutation to the theory that God's choice is dependent upon something in the creature—something either actual or foreseen; and shows that the eternal election of certain individuals unto salvation, is due to no worthiness in the subjects—but results solely from God's sovereign grace. The case of Jacob proves conclusively, that God's choice is . . .
  entirely sovereign,
  wholly gratuitous, and
  based upon nothing but His own good pleasure.

The God of Scripture then, is the God who chooses one—and passes by another. He is the One who exercises and exhibits His own sovereign will. He is one who shows Himself to be the Most High God, ruling in heaven and earth and disposing of His creatures according to His own eternal purpose. He is the One who singles out the most unlikely and unworthy objects, to be fashioned into vessels of glory. Yet, He is the One who necessarily always acts in harmony with His own divine perfections.

Election is not as some have supposed, harsh and unjust—but is a most merciful provision on the part of God. Had He not from the beginning, chosen SOME to salvation—ALL would have perished! Had he not before the foundation of the world chosen certain ones to be conformed to the image of His Son, the death of Christ would have been in vain, so far as the human race is concerned!

Reduced to its simplest terms, ELECTION means that God chose me—before I chose Him. Our Lord said, "You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you." (John 15:16) We love Him, because He first loved us. Election means that before I was born, yes, before the foundation of the world—I was chosen in Christ and predestined unto a place in God's family! Election means that we believed—because He made us willing in the day of His power. Election then,
  strips the creature of all merit,
  removes all ground of boasting,
  strikes us helpless in the dust,
  and ascribes all the glory to God!

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David's terrible sin!

(Arthur Pink, "David's Terrible Sin")

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"Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love;
 according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." Psalm 51:1-2

Why did God permit David to fall so fearfully, and sin so grievously?

One reason may be that we might have set before our eyes the more clearly, the solemn fact that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." (Jeremiah 17:9). Unmistakably plain as  the meaning of those words is, uttered by Him who cannot lie—yet how very slow we all are to really receive them at their face value, and acknowledge that they accurately describe the natural state of every human heart! But God has done more than make this bare statement: He has placed on record in His Word—illustrations, exemplifications, demonstrations of its verity—notably so in allowing us to see the unspeakable wickedness that still remained in the heart of David!

Also, the fearful fall of David made way for a display of the amazing grace of God, in recovering His fallen people. If we are slow to receive what Scripture teaches concerning the depravity of the human heart and the exceeding sinfulness of sin—we are equally slow to really believe what it reveals about the covenant-faithfulness of God, the efficacy of Christ's blood to cleanse the foulest stain from those for whom it was shed, and the super-abounding grace of Him who is "the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort." Had David never sinned so grievously and sunken so low—he would have never known those infinite depths of mercy which are in the heart of God!

Also, had his terrible sin, his subsequent broken-hearted confession, and his pardon by God, never been placed in the Divine record—many of God's people throughout the centuries would have sunk in abject despair.

Also, thousands, from age to age, have by this solemn example of David's terrible sin, been rendered . . . .
  more suspicious of themselves,
  more watchful,
  more afraid of temptation,
  more dependent on the Lord,
  and more fervent in prayer.

By means of David's fall—they have, themselves, been preserved from falling!

"Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

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Knowledge of the original Hebrew and Greek

(Arthur Pink, "Bible Study")

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"Desire the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby." 1 Peter 2:2

The Bible consists of a series of letters from the Heavenly Father to His dear children. Then let us cherish them as such, and act accordingly. A few verses that are thoughtfully and prayerfully pondered, will advantage us far more than two or three whole chapters merely skimmed through.

That against which we are protesting is the God-dishonoring idea that His Word is merely a piece of literature, which may be "mastered" by a course of "study." We would warn against an undue occupation with the technical aspects of the Bible. God's blessed Word is not for dissection by the knife of cold intellectuality. It is not given for us to display our cleverness and "brilliance" upon, but to be bowed before in true humility. It is not designed for mental entertainment, but for the regulation of our daily lives!

Our motive when approaching the Word, should be to seek that which will subdue pride and bring us as supplicants to the footstool of Mercy—not to acquire that which will puff us up in our own conceit. Of what value is a knowledge of the original Hebrew and Greek, or a thorough acquaintance with the history, geography, and chronology of the Bible—if the heart is left cold and hard toward its Author!

I seriously doubt if God has called or requires us, merely to 'study' His Word. What we need to do, is FEED thereon. How much nourishment would your body derive from a study of the chemical properties of foods, or from seeking to ascertain the various sorts of soil in which they are grown, or the meaning of their Latin names? None whatever! I am persuaded that much of the modern 'study of the Bible' is equally profitless spiritually!

By all means, "search the Scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11); slowly ponder each word in every verse. Pray constantly for the guidance and illumination of the Spirit, that He may open to you its Divine mysteries. Above all, beg God to write His Word more legibly and fully upon the tablets of your heart, that you may put the precepts into practice.

"Nourished up in the Words of Faith" (1 Timothy 4:6). God's Word is the only nutritive food for the soul! This is why the Holy Scriptures are given to us—that we may grow in love and reverence for them, and be more and more regulated by them. It is only by feeding on this Heavenly Manna, that strength is obtained . . .
  for our pilgrim walk,
  for our warfare with sin and Satan, and
  for our service unto God and our fellows.

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Shun them as they would the plague!

(Arthur Pink)

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"Having a form of godliness but denying its power.
 Have nothing to do with them!" 2 Timothy 3:5

There are a multitude of such today!

"Having a form of godliness" This means that they have a religious veneer. They bear the name of Christ, belong to some so-called evangelical church, and seek to create the impression that they are regenerate people. But like the foolish bridesmaids of Matthew 25, they "took their lamps—but took no oil with them." These professors are neither indwelt by the Holy Spirit, nor made partakers of the transforming grace of God.

It is said of them, secondly, "but denying its power." The reality of vital godliness is lacking, the beauties of holiness are not found in them. By their lips, they claim to be godly—but by their lives, they give the lie to it. "They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good!" (Titus 1:16)

"Have nothing to do with them!" With such people, the children of God are to have nothing to do with—but are to shun them as they would the plague!

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You are a filthy pauper!

(Arthur Pink, "Identification of the Godly")

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"For this is what the high and lofty One says—He who lives forever, whose name is holy: I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit." Isaiah 57:15

A humble spirit or heart, is an infallible sign of regeneration; for the unregenerate are proud, self-satisfied, self-righteous.

Yet the very mention of the word "humility" seems to cut off many Christians. As they examine themselves, they discover so much pride at work within, that they are quite unable to persuade themselves that they have a humble heart. It seems to them, that humility is one thing they most evidently lack. Now it will no doubt be a startling statement, but we unhesitatingly affirm that the great majority of God's people are far more humble than they suppose!

FIRST, that the Christian reader possesses a humble heart, is plain from the fact that he confesses himself to be a Hell-deserving sinner. We do not have in mind what you say of yourself when in the company of your fellows, but rather what you feel and say of yourself when alone with God. Whatever pretenses you are guilty of before men, when in the presence of the Omniscient One—you are real, sincere, and genuine.

Now, dear reader, be honest with yourself: When on your knees before the Throne of Grace, do you freely and frankly acknowledge that if you received your lawful due, you would, even now—be suffering the dreadful fires of Hell? If so, a miracle of grace must have been wrought within you. No unregenerate person will or can honestly make such a confession to God, for he does not feel he has done anything deserving of eternal punishment.

SECOND, if you own that "all your righteous acts are like filthy rags," that is proof you possess a humble heart. Of course, we mean much more than your merely uttering those words as a parrot might, or even singing them during some religious service. We mean that when you are in the presence of the Lord, which is always the surest test—you personally realize that you have not a single meritorious deed of your own to commend you to His favorable regard.

We mean that, when bowed in His presence, in the calmness and quietness of your prayer-closet, you own without any qualification, that your best performances are defiled by sin—and that in yourself, you are a filthy pauper!

If that is indeed your language before God, it most certainly issues from a humble heart. The heart of the natural man thinks and feels the very opposite, and can no more loathe himself—than transform himself into a holy angel.

THIRD, if you receive everything in the Scriptures as a little child—that is another proof that a miracle of grace has been wrought within you and that you now possess a humble heart. By nature, all are "wise and prudent" in their own esteem.

The enmity of the proud carnal mind rises up . . .
  against the sovereignty of God—making one vessel to honor and another to dishonor;
  against the spirituality and strictness of the Divine Law—which curses all who deviate the slightest from its holy demands;
  and against the endless punishment of all dying out of Christ.

But the regenerate, though there is much they do not understand, accept without murmur or question—all that is revealed in the Word. If you do, that is proof that your pride has been abased before God.

How thankful we should be that Scripture does not say that God dwells only in those who have complete victory over sin, or those who enjoy unbroken and unclouded communion with Him. Had those been the distinguishing features named, then every one of us might well despair!

But every regenerate person has a humble heart. And if you, my reader, measuring yourself by what has been pointed out above, can discern such fruits and evidences of  humility—then so far from its being presumptuous for you to look upon yourself as one saved and indwelt by God—it would be most wicked presumption for you to do otherwise.

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Overcoming the world!

(Arthur Pink, "Faith as an Overcomer")

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"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.
 This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:4

One of the fruits of the new birth, is a faith which not only enables its possessor to overcome the sensual and sinful customs, and the carnal maxims and policies by which the profane world is regulated—but also the lying delusions and errors by which the professing world is fatally deceived.

The only thing which will or can "overcome the world" is a God-given, but self-exercised faith.

Faith overcomes the world firstly, by receiving into the heart God's infallible testimony of the world. He declares that "the world" is a corrupt, evanescent, hostile thing—which shall soon be destroyed by Him. His Holy Word teaches that the world is "evil" (Galatians 1:4); that "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 John 2:16); that "the whole world lies in wickedness" (1 John 5:19) and shall yet be "burned up" (2 Peter 3:10). As faith accepts God's verdict of the world, the mind is spiritually enlightened; and its possessor views it as a worthless, dangerous, and detestable thing!

Faith overcomes the world secondly, by obeying the Divine commands concerning it. God has bidden us, "Do not be conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2); "Do not love the world, nor the things that are in the world" (1 John 2:15); and warns us that "Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world, becomes an enemy of God." (James 4:4). By heeding the Divine precepts, its magic spell over the heart is broken!

Faith overcomes the world thirdly, by occupying the soul with more glorious, soul-delighting and satisfying objects. The more the substance of spiritual realities engages the heart—the less hold will the shadows of the world have upon it. "For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Hebrews 11:10).

Faith overcomes the world fourthly, by drawing out the heart unto Christ. As it was by fleeing to Him for refuge, that the soul was first delivered from the power and thraldom of this world, so it is throughout the Christian life. The more we cultivate real communion with Christ, the less attraction will the baubles of this world have for us! The strength of temptation lies entirely in the bent of our affections, "for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21). While Christ is beheld as "the chief among ten thousand" (Song of Solomon 5:10) and as "altogether lovely" (Song of Solomon 5:16)—the things which charm the poor worldling, will repel us.

The world gains the victory over the unregenerate by captivating their affections and capturing their wills. But the Christian overcomes the world, because his affections are set upon Christ and his will is yielded to Him.

Here then, we have a sure criterion by which we may determine our Christian progress or spiritual growth. If the things of this world have a decreasing power over me, then my faith is becoming stronger. If I am holding more lightly the things most prized by the ungodly, then I must be increasing in an experimental and soul-satisfying knowledge of Christ. If I am less cast down when some of the riches and comforts of this world are taken from me, then that is evidence they have less hold upon me.

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Christ's presence—and sin's presence!

(Arthur Pink, "Sin's Presence" 1948)

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There are two sides to a Christian's life: a light side, and a dark one; an elevating side, and a depressing one. His experience is neither all joy, nor all grief; but a mingling of both. It was so with the apostle Paul: "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (2 Corinthians 6:10). When a person is regenerated, he is not immediately taken to heaven. Nor is sin then eradicated from his being, though its dominion over him is broken. It is indwelling corruption which casts its dark shadow over his joy!

The varied experiences of the believer, are occasioned by Christ's presence—and sin's presence. If, on the one hand, it is blessedly true that Christ is with him all his days, even unto the end; on the other hand, it is solemnly true that sin indwells him all his days, even unto the end of his earthly history! Said Paul, "evil is present with me"; and that, not only occasionally, but sin "dwells in me" (Romans 7:20-21). Thus, as God's people feed upon the Lamb, it is "with bitter herbs that they eat it" (Exodus 12:8).

The Christian's consciousness of indwelling sin,
his mourning over its defiling influence,
his sincere efforts to strive against its solicitations,
his penitent confessions to God of his failure to master this inveterate foe,
are among the unmistakable evidences that he is a regenerate person. For it is certain that no one who is dead in trespasses and sins, realizes that there is a sea of iniquity within his heart, defiling his very thoughts and imagination; still less does he make conscience of the same and lament it!

It is cause for fervent praise—if your eyes have been opened to see "the sinfulness of sin," and your heart to feel its obnoxiousness. Since it was not always thus, a great change has taken place; you have been made the subject of a miracle of grace!

But the continuance of indwelling sin presents a sore and perplexing problem to the Christian. He is fully assured that nothing is too hard for the Lord.
Why then, is evil allowed to remain present with him?
Why is he not rid of this hideous thing, which he so much loathes and hates?
Why should this horrible depravity be allowed to disturb his peace and mar his joy?
Why does the God of all grace not rid him of this harassing tyrant?

God leaves sin in His people, to promote their humility. There is nothing which He abominates, so much as pride. In Proverbs 6, the Holy Spirit has listed seven things which the Lord hates, and they are headed with "A proud look!" God "gives grace unto the humble, but resists the proud" (James 4:6).

Pride springs from inordinate self-love, which is odious to God for it robs Him of His glory. Since God will be glorious unto His saints, He subdues their pride—by leaving that in them which humbles their hearts.

Divine light exposes the filth within, causing them to cry with the leper, "Unclean, unclean!" They have such painful discoveries of indwelling sin as often makes them lament, "O wretched man that I am!" How thankful we should be if God makes us "abhor ourselves"—and thereby prize Christ all the more!

As God left some of the Canaanites in the land—to prove Israel, so He leaves sin in us—to humble us.

Our consciousness of sin's presence has, first, an emptying influence; it makes way for a pardoning and cleansing Christ, by convicting the soul of its deep need.

Second, it has a continual abasing influence, bringing us to realize more and more our utter insufficiency and complete dependence upon God.

Third, it has an evangelical influence, for it serves to make us more conscious of the perfect suitability of the great Physician for such lepers as we feel ourselves to be.

Fourth, it has a God-honoring influence, for it brings the renewed soul to marvel increasingly at His "longsuffering to us" (2 Peter 3:9).

Fifth, it should promote a spirit of forbearance to our fellows; we ought not to expect less failure in them, than we find in ourselves.

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The secrets of temporal felicity!

(Arthur Pink, "Enjoying Gods Best")

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"Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus!" 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2

It is not sufficiently realized that the Bible has far, very far, more to say about this present life—than it has about the future one; that it makes known the secrets of temporal felicity, as well as everlasting bliss.

In their zeal to tell men how to escape from hell and make sure of heaven—many evangelical preachers have had all too little to say upon our conduct on earth; and consequently many who entertain no doubts whatever that they will inhabit a mansion in the Father's house—are not nearly so much concerned about their present walk and warfare as they should be; and even though they reach their desired haven, such slackness results in great loss to them now!

The teaching of Holy Writ is the very reverse of the plan followed by many an "orthodox pulpit"! It not only gives much prominence to, but in Old and New Testament alike, its main emphasis is on our life in this world—giving instruction how we are to conduct ourselves here and now!

The central thing which we wish to make clear in this article, and to impress upon the reader—is that God has established an inseparable connection between holiness and happiness; between our pleasing of Him and our enjoyment of His richest blessing; that since we are always the losers by sinning—so we are always the gainers by walking in the paths of righteousness; and that there will be an exact ratio between the measure in which we walk therein, and our enjoyment of "the peaceable fruit of righteousness" (Hebrews 12:11).

"I will be careful to lead a blameless life; I will walk in my house with blameless heart!" Psalm 101:2

"Thus you will walk in the ways of good men, and keep to the paths of the righteous." Proverbs 2:20

However distasteful to the flesh, whatever sneers it may produce from carnal professors, the Christian must rigidly and perpetually act by the rule that God has given him to walk by. In so doing, he will be immeasurably the gainer; for the path of obedience, is the path of prosperity!

"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful!" (Joshua 1:8)

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O the preciousness of this truth!

(Arthur Pink, "The Sovereignty of God")

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"God is infinite in power, and therefore it is impossible for any to withstand His will, or resist the outworking of His decrees!"

Such a statement as that is well calculated to fill the lost sinner with alarm; but from the believer, it evokes nothing but praise.

Let us add a word, and see what a difference it makes: "My God is infinite in power, and therefore it is impossible for any to withstand His will, or resist the outworking of His decrees!"

My God is infinite in power! Then "I will not fear what man can do unto me!"

My God is infinite in power!
Then "whenever I am afraid, I will trust in Him!"

My God is infinite in power! Then "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep—for You alone Lord, make me dwell in safety!" Psalm 4:8

"There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you!" Deuteronomy 33:26, 27

O the preciousness of this truth! Here I am—a poor, helpless, senseless 'sheep,' yet I am secure in the hand of Christ! And why am I secure there? None can pluck me thence—because the hand that holds me is that of the Son of God, and all power in heaven and earth is His!

I have no strength of my own—the world, the flesh, and the Devil, are arrayed against me—so I commit myself into the care and keeping of my Lord Jesus. And what is the ground of my confidence? How do I know that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him? I know it because He is God Almighty—the King of kings and Lord of lords!

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Self-elevated little popes!

(Arthur Pink, "Private Judgment" 1950)

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"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers." Matthew 23:8

In every generation there are those of an officious spirit who aspire to leadership, demanding deference from their fellows. Such men insist upon unqualified subjection from their followers. Their interpretation of the Scriptures must not be challenged, their dictates are final. Everyone must believe precisely what they teach, and order all the details of his life by the rules of conduct which they prescribe—or else be branded as a heretic.

There have been, and still are, many such self-elevated little popes in Christendom, who deem themselves to be entitled to implicit credence and obedience, whose decisions must be accepted without question. They are nothing but arrogant usurpers, for Christ alone is the Master of Christians; and since all of His disciples are "brethren," they possess equal rights and privileges.

"Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father—He who is in Heaven." Matthew 23:9. This dehortation has ever been needed by God's people, for they are for the most part simple and unsophisticated, trustful and easily imposed upon. In those verses, the Lord Jesus was enforcing the duty of private judgment, bidding believers to allow none to be the dictators of their faith, or lords of their lives.

No man is to be heeded in spiritual matters, any further than he can produce a plain and decisive, "Thus says the LORD!" as the foundation of his appeal. To be in subjection to any ecclesiastical authority which is not warranted by Holy Writ, or to comply with the whims of men—is to renounce your Christian freedom. Allow none to have dominion over your mind and conscience. Be regulated only by the teaching of God's Word, and firmly refuse to be brought into bondage to "the commandments and doctrines of men." Instead, "Stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made us free," yielding unreservedly to His authority alone.

God does not require the minds and consciences of His children to be enslaved by any ecclesiastical dominion. Each one has the right to exercise his own judgment.

"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care . . . not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." 1 Peter 5:2-3. Instead of lording it over God's heritage, preachers are to be "examples to the flock"—personal patterns of good works, holiness, and self-sacrifice; models of piety, humility, and charity.

Love of power has been as common a sin in the pulpit, as love of money; and many of the worst evils which have befallen Christendom, have issued from a lusting after dominion and ecclesiastical honors. Such is poor human nature, that good men find it hard to keep from being puffed up and misusing any measure of authority when it is committed unto them, and from not doing more harm than good with the same. Pastors are to make self-abnegation, and not self-exaltation, their constant aim.

The right of private judgment does not mean that each Christian may be a law unto himself, and still less lord over himself. We must beware of allowing liberty to degenerate into license! No, it means the right to form our own views from Scriptures, to be in bondage to no ecclesiastical authority, and to be subject unto God alone. Two extremes are to be guarded against:
1. Slavery to human authority and tradition, and
2. The spirit of self-will and pride.

Private judgment does not mean private imagination, but a deliberate conviction based on Holy Writ! Though I must not resign my mind and conscience to others, or deliver my reason and faith over blindfold to any church—yet I ought to be very slow in rejecting the approved judgment of God's true servants. Self-conceit is to be rigidly restrained. Private judgment is to be exercised humbly, soberly, and impartially, with a willingness to receive light from any quarter.

Ponder the Word for yourself; but mortify the spirit of haughty self-sufficiency, and be ready to avail yourself of anything likely to afford you a better understanding of God's truth. Above all, daily beg the Holy Spirit to be your teacher! And always accord your brethren the same right and privilege which you claim for yourself.

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A gracious taste!

(Arthur Pink, "The Attributes of God")

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"Do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."  Ephesians 5:17

How may the Lord's guidance be expected?

In general, God directs His people by affording them, in answer to prayer, the light of His Holy Spirit—which enables them to understand and love the Scriptures. The Word of God furnishes us with just principles, right apprehensions—to govern our judgments and affections, thereby influencing and regulating our conduct. Those who study the Scriptures in humble dependence upon divine teaching, are convinced of their own weakness. They are taught to make a true estimate of everything around them and are gradually formed into a spirit of submission to the will of God. They discover the nature and duties of their situations and relations in life, and the snares and temptations to which they are exposed.
The Word of God dwelling in them is . . .
  a preservative from error,
  a light to their feet, and
  a spring of strength and consolation.

By treasuring up in his mind the doctrines, precepts, promises, exhortations, and warnings of Scripture; and by diligently comparing himself with the rule by which he is to walk—the Christian grows into a habitual frame of spiritual wisdom. He acquires a gracious taste which enables him to judge of right and wrong with a degree of readiness and certainty—as a musical ear judges sounds; so that he is rarely mistaken, because he is influenced by the love of Christ which rules in his heart, and a regard for the glory of God. Moreover, God has promised to show Himself strong on behalf of the one whose heart is perfect toward Him. He does this by regulating His providences, and causing all things to work together for his good.

Our daily walk is to be ordered by God's Word. In proportion as it is so, we will be kept in His will and preserved from folly and sin.

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A life-giving stream for parched pilgrims!

(Arthur Pink, "The Word of Grace")

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The Word and the Spirit are so intimately conjoined, that we are scarcely warranted in thinking of the one without the other. The Word does not operate without the Spirit's agency; and the Spirit does not work apart from the Word.

It was by the Spirit's inspiration that the Word was first given, for "holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21).

It is by the Spirit that we are enlightened (Ephesians 1:17, 18), yet the Word is the means He employs.

It is by the Spirit that we are sanctified (Romans 15:16), yet not apart from the Truth (John 17:17).

It is by the Spirit, that we are strengthened (Ephesians 3:16) as He causes the Word to dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16).

It is by the Spirit, that we are comforted (Acts 9:31) as He applies the Divine promises to our hearts.

How appropriate, then, that the grand instrument employed by the Spirit of grace, should be termed "the Word of His grace."

The "Word of His grace" proclaims . . .
  rest for the weary,
  pardon to the guilty,
  justification to the ungodly,
  adoption to the outcast,
  eternal heavenly treasures for spiritual paupers!

It is "the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind" who are to be called to the feast which free grace has spread! (Luke 14:13)

"The Word of His grace" not only instructs us where grace is to be found, and how further supplies of it are to be obtained—but it is the principal medium through which grace is actually imparted to the soul. It is a life-giving stream for parched pilgrims—as they journey through this "wilderness of sin."

As its sacred pages are reverently perused—
  the mind is instructed,
  the conscience is enlightened,
  the affections are warmed,
  and the will is moved.

As its exceeding great and precious promises are meditated upon and treasured up in the heart—new strength is imparted to the soul.

As its holy precepts are turned into earnest prayer—help is obtained for the discharge of duty.

As its timely warnings and admonitions are heeded—temptations lose their power and the snares of Satan are avoided.

As its cheering revelation of what God has prepared for those who love Him is received by faith—new hope is kindled in the heart, and the trials of life are borne with greater fortitude. And as the end of the journey is neared—death loses its terrors and the call to leave this "valley of tears" becomes more desirable.

Without "the Word of His grace" we would be mariners upon the sea of life—without chart or compass!
"Now I commit you to God and to the Word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified!" Acts 20:32

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Giddily gliding along the broad road that leads to destruction!

(Arthur Pink, "Laughter")

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There is a natural laughter, which is innocent and harmless.

There is a spiritual laughter, which is God-pleasing and beneficial.

There is a carnal laughter, which is sinful and injurious.

"Woe unto you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep!" (Luke 6:25). The laughter which Christ here denounced, was a state of heart which lived only for the present, and had no serious concern for the future. It was His censure of those who are giddily gliding along the broad road that leads to destruction! In the light of the immediate context, the reference is to those who rejoiced in the abundance of their worldly possessions, and found their delight in making gods of their bellies.

"I said of laughter, 'It is madness,' and of pleasure, 'What does it accomplish?'" (Ecclesiastes 2:2). Those were the words of one who was granted the opportunity and afforded the means, of gratifying every carnal desire and of obtaining every object which the natural heart and eye can covet—only to prove from experience, that all were but "vanity and vexation of spirit." There is no real or lasting happiness in anything which money can purchase. The void within the human heart cannot be filled by the objects of time and sense. For one to pursue the shadows, and miss the substance; to devote himself to the things which perish with the using, yet be indifferent to those which are eternal; to seek his delight in gratifying the lusts of the flesh, and neglect the welfare of his soul—is nothing but a species of insanity! "For as the crackling of thorns under a pot [noisy, but of brief duration]—so is the laughter of the fool!" (Ecclesiastes 7:6).

"All who see Me, laugh Me to scorn!" (Psalm 22:7). So far were they from pitying Him, they added to His afflictions with their ribaldry, making jest of His very sufferings! Horrid humanity! Fearful impiety! None should ever doubt the total depravity of man, as they see here to what unspeakable depths of iniquity man sinks, when the restraining hand of God is removed from him! The spectators of the dying Redeemer's agonies, exerted the utmost of the venom of their hearts upon Him! This was a diabolical laughter!

There is also a divine laughter, which is dreadful and disastrous. To such David referred: "He who sits in the heavens shall laugh!" (Psalm 2:4), which is the laughter of derision against those who think to defy Him with impunity.

And again God says, "I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear comes!" (Proverbs 1:26), which is the laughter of divine retribution. He has "called"—by His Word, His providences, His ministers, and their own consciences—but they "refused" to heed Him. They were neither melted by the abundance of His mercies, nor awed by the dreadfulness of His threats. They did not respect His Law, and had no heart for His Gospel. But though He bears the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction with much long-suffering, He has appointed a day when they shall be made to reap as they have sown. As they scorned His messengers when they warned of the wrath to come—so shall He turn a deaf ear then to their cries for mercy, and righteously laugh at their calamity! Oh, that none our readers may ever be the objects of this laugh!

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The memory

(Arthur Pink, "Forgetting" 1950)

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What a wonderful thing is the memory—one of the many precious faculties with which the Creator has endowed us. By it we are enabled . . .
  to live the past over again in our minds,
  to revive the early experiences of childhood,
  to recall the words of those who are no longer with us.
By it, we may review the Lord's dealings with us in grace and in providence, call back to mind His interventions on our behalf, delivering us when in straits—or rejoicing our hearts while He talked with us along the way. By it, we can turn over the pages of our chequered lives, and read what is recorded both for and against us.

Memory is the power of retention, the storehouse in which all our knowledge is preserved. It is not possible to assess its value in silver and gold. How much poorer would we be, if everything were erased from its tablets! One of the greatest tragedies of life, is for a person to lose his mind and memory. It is indeed hard to part with any faculty, but, if compelled to make the choice, probably most of us would rather be deprived of our limbs, our hearing, or even our sight, than our mentality—yet comparatively few cultivate and use it as they should.

The memory is indeed of vast importance, for it is the treasurer of the soul. What the understanding takes in—the memory stores up. Knowledge, intellectual growth, social fellowship, the spiritual life—all have their roots in this faculty of retention. But this invaluable gift, like all others, entails a corresponding obligation. Each talent that God has bestowed upon us is for use—and if it is not employed, it will deteriorate. As unexercised limbs become stiff, and muscles flabby—so an unused memory becomes enfeebled. The memory may be developed and controlled, though time and trouble are required for this, as for everything else of worth.

Memory is largely a matter of volition. Said the Psalmist, "I will not forget your word" (119:16). Definiteness of purpose is required, whether we shall recall a thing or dismiss it from our minds. Remembering is a setting of knowledge to work, reviewing the notions and impressions we have received, by exercising our thoughts about, and meditating upon them.

The seat of the memory is the heart. Of Mary it is said, that she kept all these things "in her heart" (Luke 2:19, 51)—things kept there, are never lost.

This leads us to point out that there is both a notional or speculative remembering—and a practical or influential one. The former is where we barely think of things, and receive no profit or benefit from them. The latter is where the mind is so engaged with the object recalled, that the affections are fired and the will moved by it. Thus the faculty of memory is given us by God as a means unto an end—to be a help in promoting piety.

The Scriptures abound with exhortations to remembrance. At the fore of them, we would place that one where those of tender years are bidden, "Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come" (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Bear in mind that, since He is your Maker, He is therefore your rightful Lord and Owner—so conduct toward Him as such, rendering unto Him the homage and honor that are His due. Meditate much upon His glorious perfections; call Him to mind constantly while your heart is yet impressionable, and habits for good or evil are being formed for life; and thereby you will be fortified against the temptations of youth. All of men's wickedness and misery comes through forgetting God, hence the warning, "Beware that you forget not the LORD your God!" (Deuteronomy 8:11).