| | Forget the Memories!
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering,” because “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not see” (Heb 10:23; 11:1). The Christian path is one of faith, and faith sees nothing here. It observes neither the easy thing nor the difficult; neither the famine nor the green fields of Sodom. Abraham gave up his faith (waivered in his faith; Gen 12:10, 13—NC) when he saw the famine, and Lot was outside faith (not walking in faith—NC) when he saw the green fields of Sodom.
Whenever the things around us influence us or govern us, we are not walking in faith; and when faith ceases there is no real spiritual energy. A righteous soul will be vexed by the things around (2Pet 2:7, 8—NC), but there is no actual deliverance from them*. There is always in our course an opportunity for returning to the old*: it is allowed in order to test the faith and to assure the heart, when tested, that the faith which enables one to step forth perhaps years ago, is as fresh in its energy as it was then.
Now this opportunity to return occurs with remembering of calling to mind the country from whence they came out. Faith is really blocked when there is not a looking to the Father to carry one on to His own city, and then thoughts and memories of the land of which Babel is the city come into the mind and pave the way for returning. One reverts to the tastes and habits suited to the Chaldean territory before one accepts the opportunity to return, and once the tastes and habits or the memories of the old country are entertained by the mind, one is morally fit for the place which answers to them; just as a prince who adopts the manners of a clown will find himself at home ere in the haunts of a clown.
With a saint it is either faith, or calling to mind the country from whence he came out; when it is faith, there is always spiritual progress, and the sense of strength overcoming the present things: there are energetic activities even though the obstacles are not visible. I remember hearing of a near-sighted sportsman who could not account for the sudden and continual bounds the horse was making in the hunting field. He did not see the obstruction over which the horse was carrying him, whenever they opposed him of the course. This is just what faith does, it is even more energetic when there are oppositions than when not, and the whole being is made sensible of its strength.
The softest furs grow in the coldest climes; the exterior is indicative of how the inward energy provides a defense against the atmospheric antagonism. If memories of the land of the Chaldeans are awakened, if tastes once repressed or refused are revived, the heart has gone back to the world, and the feet are waiting or ready for the opportunity to follow. The memories may not show themselves much or distinctly at first; the absence of the energy of faith is the first sign of decline.
The external appearance indicates that there is a verging to Babylon, instead of there being a tighter girdle to face the foe, and a firmer step to encounter the roughness of the wilderness. Everyone has a weak point, and all the evil associations and the checks in our course have been occasioned by yielding ourselves to the society where it was fostered; and sooner or later, unless we continue in faith, the memory of the world will be awakened, and, then there is danger, and loss too, until the memory has been refused, and the stern active life of faith which looks for nothing here, is resumed.
- J B Stoney
*“no actual deliverance from them”: no deliverance from guilt in the conscience, though fully delivered from guilt in the spirit and body, of which such redemption the more we understand, the more we are consciously delivered or freed. To be fully convinced of being redeemed (which is of the Spirit—Rom 8:16) incurs an equally significant truth concerning growth in it (Eph 4:15).
*“opportunity for returning to the old”: this opportunity does not represent the testing as to whether or not a believer will return to being a unbeliever, which a believer can never do; but rather is a means of revealing an unbeliever who has never become a believer; and is a means of manifesting the continuing faith of the believer. Same reason for the continued presence of the devil and “his devices” (2Cor 2:11), and of the old man (man’s sinful nature, which is his source of sin).
I believe this is similarly true in God presenting to man the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” in that it was not to test man’s obedience (God already knew what he would do, thus chose this way to teach), but was used to establish assurance that God’s Word is true.
Adam and Eve would not have increased their understanding of God’s holiness without the contrast of good and evil. They learned right and wrong through God’s commands (Gen 2:16, 17); but learned good and evil through their disobedience.
The Christian life is not our living a life like Christ, or our trying to be Christ-like, nor is it Christ giving us the power to live a life like His; but it is Christ Himself living His own life through us; 'no longer I, but Christ.'" -MJS