YE SHALL BE FREE INDEED
St. John viii. 36
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
They answered Him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.—St. John viii. 31-6.
1. Heb. xiii. 8 (R.V.).
It is true we have a will; but what is its nature and tendency? The clearest light was thrown on our will by the Coming of Jesus. Infinite love and tenderness found the will of man, even of enlightened and religious Israel, opposed and resisting continually. 'Ye will not come unto Me that ye might have life.' The will of man is invariably opposed to his own salvation and to God. If we remain in our natural will we reject Jesus and ruin our souls. God only can touch the will. . . . He does not annihilate or force the will: He gently draws. We yield, and in yielding, we are for the first time gaining the power of activity; we are constrained, but the will is not paralysed; on the contrary, it is set free from the strange tyranny that held it captive. We are conquered, and yet we feel that we have wrestled with God, and overcome. Love is begotten in the heart—love which is of all things the most spontaneous and free, and yet, in its liberty, possesses the strongest and most irresistible necessity.
Now we discover that we who chose God are chosen of Him ere time began. We feel that the two Arms with which the Father embraces us with never-changing love and safety are Christ the Saviour and the Spirit. God's will is now done on earth. Omnipotent love and wisdom are now influencing us, and that not merely from without, but from within. The Spirit of God is now within us, in depths which we cannot fathom, praying in us, enlightening our thoughts, enkindling our affections, moulding our character, directing our will.
Narrow is the way, great is the conflict, and the daily putting off of the old man is not easy, as the laying aside of a garment; it implies often the plucking out of a right eye and cutting off a right hand. God works in us this great and true will, which manifests itself in life.
Before grace works in us, we admire humility, but we do not become humble; we admit that faith is the hand which grasps salvation, but we do not trust in Jesus. Nay, we are apt to make our hearing about faith, and our approving of the doctrine, a substitute for the exercise of faith. When God works in us both to will and to do, we actually become poor in spirit, humble and contrite, trusting in the Saviour, and setting our affections on things above. We know it is the Lord Who works in us; from Him is our fruit found.
Thus we learn to do God's will, and our hearts are at peace.— Dr. Adolf Saphir.
YE SHALL BE FREE INDEED
St. John viii. 36
In this work of the revival of the ministry of spiritual healing, one has to speak again and again of the way in which this subject should be approached, so that it may always be kept on the spiritual plane where Christ kept it. Spiritual healing is sacramental; it is healing through the Person of Jesus Christ. We must always keep before us this great truth that in seeking healing we are coming to our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that He is present with us here. We believe that He has the desire to help us: to make us every whit whole. Jesus came to bring complete redemption to the whole being of man. He came to forgive us our sins and to free us from the consequences of sin as we see it manifesting in the soul and body in all forms of corruption. There are diseases of the body, and there are soul-diseases too, such as envy, hatred, malice, jealousy, an unforgiving spirit, uncharitableness. In all these diseases of soul and body we see the enemy working: there is a manifestation of something corrupt. He is assailing and hurting God's children and marring His creation. We turn to God for the remedy, and, looking up, we see Jesus, the Saviour and Redeemer of mankind. Jesus wants to make our bodies clean and pure. He came to free us from this evil that is at work in the world, and to liberate us from every form of bondage. People do not like the thought of being in bondage; at the same time they do not always realize that if they are giving way to an evil temper, or a spirit of unforgiveness, or any such habit, they are in bondage, and can only be set free by our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ.
'If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.' We must come to Jesus in the spirit of humility, desiring a pure heart and soul so that we may have a closer touch with Him. He wants to help us, and therefore we
must have this closer touch with Him. How is it to be attained? First we must desire to be free from everything that is evil, everything that would keep us back from Him and hinder His work in and through us. As we get closer to Him, we get the realization of His Presence; we long for this union with Christ, and He manifests Himself to us;1 we feel the great warmth of His love. Then the desire is kindled in our hearts to love Him; love is the link. We do not love Jesus as we should; we do not always hear His Name spoken with all the love and loyalty with which disciples should bear witness to their Master. There is so often silence and reserve when others are hungering to know more of Him and to have a closer touch with Him. We must love Him more; then His Spirit can help our infirmities. When this link of love is established, then a burning desire is created in the soul after His purity and His goodness; there is a longing to be more like Him. We begin to hate the sins that are dragging us down, and to long to be set free from our besetting sins. While these sins are harboured, the devil has a foothold in us, and when we are tempted, and give way, we realize that there is something in us which is not the Spirit of Christ. Jesus rebuked the two disciples who would have called down fire from heaven to consume the Samaritans, and said, 'You know not what manner of spirit ye are of, for the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives but to save them.'2 WTe need deliverance from every spirit that is not the Spirit of Christ: then He will express Himself through us, and His Spirit will touch other lives through us. We must bring everything to the test of His Spirit, remembering the words, 'If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.'3 When the Spirit of Christ reigns, and the soul is
1. With milk He nourisheth thee, that He may feed thee with bread. Our milk is Christ in His humility: our meat the selfsame Christ equal with the Father. . . . The touch of Him cleanseth all flesh. The spiritual touch takes place from a pure heart. That person does of a pure heart reach Christ with his touch who understands Him co-equal with the Father. . . . That is a great thing, to understand the Word of God with God, in the beginning, by Whom all things were made. In such sort He would have Himself known, as He said, 'Am I so long time with you, and have ye not known Me? He that seeth Me, seeth the Father.'— St. Augustine.
2. St. Luke ix. 55, 56.
3. Rom. viii. 9.
cleansed, the bodily healing will follow. Jesus will undertake for us if we will let Him.
Some people come seeking relief from their ailments, and there is very little spiritual preparation or desire for a better life. Unless the deeper desire is awakened, these go empty away. There are no 'short cuts' for those who seek the Good Physician to help them.1 Jesus loves us; He will heal our bodies, for He feels for us and knows we must live in our bodies during this earthly life; but He sees our deepest needs, and desires to help us there. He is always thinking of eternity, though we may be thinking only of this present life. We have only a short time on earth to tabernacle in this body; there is eternity beyond. The complete healing of soul and body can only be done by Him with our co-operation, and so He bids us, 'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.'2
We must co-operate with Christ. There is a warfare to be accomplished. Day after day our Lord's life was a running fight against the powers of darkness. The enemy is ever near, and always tries to discourage us. Why is this? It is because, if Christ is to be crowned King of our lives, the devil is going to be cast out.3 The devil would not oppose us
1. We ought to understand that God, though He give not to our wish, doth give to our weal. . . . Then set your mind at rest; your prayer is granted, only, ye know it not. . . . Learn to beseech God that ye may commit your request to the Physician to do what He knows best. Do thou confess the disease, let Him apply the means of healing. Do thou only hold fast charity. For He will needs cut, will needs burn; what if thou criest out, and art not spared for thy crying under the cutting, under the burning and the tribulation, - yet He knows how far the rottenness reaches. Thou wouldest have Him even now take off His Hands, and He minds only the deepness of the sore; He knows how far to go. He does not attend to thee for thy will, but He does attend to thee for thy healing.— St. Augustine.
2. St. Matt. vii. 7, 8.
3. He that created and redeemed and called you, He dwelling in you by faith and the Spirit, must speak to you within; else vain is all our noise of words. Now they to whom He speaks within are those who give place to Him: and those give place to God who give not place to the devil. For the devil wishes to inhabit the hearts of men, and speak there the things which make for seduction. But what saith the Lord Jesus? 'The prince of this world is cast out.' Whence cast? Out of heaven and earth? out of the fabric of the world? Nay, but out of the hearts of the believing. The invader being cast out, let the Redeemer dwell within: because the Same redeemed Who created. And the devil now assaults from without, not conquers Him that hath possession
so much if we were seeking healing for the body alone, forgetful of the deeper need of the soul; but the soul of man is that precious thing for which heaven and hell contend and for which Christ died. The enemy knows that if a man received healing of soul and body, it would not end there; he would go forward, in the liberty wherewith Christ had made him free,1 and use that freedom in the service of others. Where a man is freed from bondage, a greater work is wrought by God than we know, for our Lord said, 'If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God is come unto you.'2 We pray, 'Thy Kingdom come', and it means the coming of the Kingdom inwardly to every one of us as well as outwardly. The Kingdom of Christ in our hearts must extend to the utmost bounds of our being; He must reign in our hearts till He has put all things under His Feet.3 We must think more of His Indwelling Presence, and let Him cast out everything that is not of His Spirit. When the Kingdom of Christ has come, then the spirit of pride and of other sins having been cast out,4 the prison doors will be open and man will be set free, in perfect freedom of spirit, soul and body. This is Christ's ideal for man; so let us keep these thoughts and desires in our hearts. Let us long to be what Christ wants us to be; and desire healing, not for the body alone, but also for the soul and spirit.5
within. And he assaults from without by casting in various temptations: but that person consents not thereto, to whom God speaks within, and the unction of the Holy One.— St. Augustine.
1 Gal. v. i. 2 St. Matt. xii. 28.
3 Within us is the will of Christ. If I could obey in all things, yet that would not satisfy me, unless I felt obedience flow from the birth of His life in me. 'My Father doeth all things in Me,' saith Christ. This was Christ's comfort, and to feel Christ do all in the soul is the comfort of every one that truly believeth on Him.— Isaac Pennington.
4 The Kingdom which was not of this world overcame the proud world, not with fierceness of fighting, but with lowliness of suffering: thus was that Corn of Wheat which was to be multiplied. (St. John xii. 24) sown in horrible disgrace, to sprout forth in marvellous glory. . . . The coming of Christ was hoped, for by the people of the Jews, but because He came in lowliness, He was not acknowledged. . . . Ye that, stumble not at the Lowly shall not dread the Lofty when He shall come.— St. Augustine.
5 He that is not contrary to Christ holds fast in His Body, and is counted therewith as a member. The members are never contrary to one another. The entireness of the Body consists of all the members. 'If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it.' . . . The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ is yet under cure, and the soundness will not be perfect save in the resurrection of the dead.— St. Augustine.
Many of us forget that Christ only is the Overcomer. Those who have tried to fight these battles alone, in their own strength, fail. We cannot get the victory by ourselves. God knew this; that is why He sent His Son to save and redeem us. It is only through Christ that we can get this perfect freedom. We must come back to Jesus: it is the only Way, the highest and the simplest. Jesus is our Redeemer, our Healer and Overcomer. He will overcome in us if we will make the surrender to Him.1 Yield yourself to Him, and pray, 'Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.' Do not look down in despair when you pray this prayer; always look up, as you say the words, and see what the will of Christ is; it is the will for healing, for full redemption. It is a thing of glory, not of despair: if the will of Christ were done, we should have heaven on earth. The day will come when it will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Do not fear to yield yourself to Him, for His will for you is health, wholeness, salvation. He has revealed this in His life and teaching; there is no uncertainty about it. Jesus never said to any one, 'It is good for you to have this disease.' He called disease one of the works of the devil, and He was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil.2 He is working to bring us all 'Unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ'.3 As we come to Him in faith He will receive us and heal us. He will blot out all our transgressions and give us faith—His faith. So we shall indeed receive from Him, with the healing of the body, the deeper, richer blessing for the soul.
If we could get some glimpse of what is in the Heart of God for us in this manifestation of Jesus to-day as the Healing Saviour, we should see that His healing is part of His great work of redemption. We cannot separate the two, nor rightly apprehend His healing, apart from His 'Eternal
1. At present we are still fighting. That man conquers who, even when he smites, presumes not on his own strength but relies upon God that cheers him on. The devil is alone when he fights against us. If we are with God, we overcome the devil: if thou fight alone with the devil thou wilt be overcome. Let Him dwell in thee Who cannot be overcome, and thou shalt surely overcome him who is wont to overcome those in whom God dwelleth not.— St. Augustine.
2. 1 St. John iii. 8.
3. Eph. iv. 13.
redemption for us'.1 He desires both for us: we must desire both from Him. We are His children, members of His Body. He wants to set His children free from all evil, from everything that is now causing Him shame and suffering. He is working ceaselessly towards this appointed end:
'When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory.'2
1. Heb. ix. 12.
2. Col. iii. 4 (R.V.). 'We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.' If a man find brotherly love in his heart, let him set his mind at rest because he is passed from death unto life. Let him not regard that at present his glory is hidden: when the Lord shall come, then shall he appear in glory. For he has life in him, but as yet in winter; the root is alive, but the branches, so to say, are dry: within is the substance that has life in it, within are the leaves of trees, within is the fruit, but they wait for the summer.— St. Augustine.