SOUL EXERCISE

Outward actions first, inward state of the heart second, No! Our outward actions cannot be correct if our heart remains unchanged.

“When we consider that soul exercise is a term which has almost passed out of our religious vocabulary and that more attention is paid to the outward actions of the Christian life than to the state of the heart, we cannot but come to the conclusion that vital godliness is at a low ebb” John Newton (ref#322, p11).

“He that rightly understands the Lord Jesus, understands how to have his guilt removed, his heart renewed, his conscience calmed, his soul secured. The better Christ is understood, the more the soul that understands Him is at rest” Nathanael Vincent (ref#225, July 23rd).

“The deep things are not discovered; they are received. They are not achieved; they are believed” Samuel Chadwick (ref#195, p108).

“Whereas false teaching results in meaningless speculation, proper apostolic teaching results in practical good behavior rooted in love. And that love must come for internal, Spirit-worked changes that have produced a pure heart (rather than one filled with sinful desires), a good conscience (rather than one laden with guilt), and a sincere faith (rather than pretense and hypocrisy)” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2325).

“It is only when you understand the completeness of your justification (that your penalty has been paid and you have been made eternally right with God by the life and death of Jesus) that you are able to rest in the ongoing discipline of your sanctification. That discipline is not to make you right with God, but an expression of the fact that you have been made right with God, and because you have, you are not the object of his Fatherly love. You can expect his discipline, but you do not have to fear his anger. You will experience his correction, but you will never face his rejection. He disciplines all his children in order to produce a harvest of righteousness, but he will never punish you for your sin” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Nov 1st).

“’My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline then you are illegitimate children and not sons” (Heb 12:5-8 ESV).

VALLEYS AND MOUNTAINTOPS

“[P]ut me to the test, say the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (Mal 3:10 ESV).

“Endeavor to enrich and enlarge your mind with more spiritual understanding of the personal glory, love, and fullness of Christ. All declension of soul arises from things contrary to the nature of indwelling grace gaining admittance to the mind. The world—its pleasures, vanities, cares, and various temptations—enters the mind, often disguised in the shape of lawful undertakings and duties, and draws the mind away from God and the affections away from Christ. It weakens and deadens faith, love, and every grace of the indwelling Spirit. But when the mind is preoccupied by Christ, filled with meditations on His glory, grace, and love, no room is left for the entrance of external allurements; the world, other people, and the fascinations of sin are shut out, and the soul holds a constant and undisturbed fellowship with God” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Jul 22nd).

“Be careful to keep your old receipts which you have had from God for the pardon of your sins. There are some display days, and Jubilee-like festivals, when God comes forth clothed with the robes of His mercy, and holds forth the scepter of His grace more familiarly to His children than ordinary. [T]hen the firmament is clear, not a cloud to be seen to darken the Christian’s comfort. Love and joy are the soul’s repast and pastime, while this feast lasts.

“Now when God withdraws, and this cheer is taken off, Satan’s work is how he may deface and wear off the remembrance of this testimony which is so important for a believer’s spiritual standing. Satan wants to deprive him of this evidence, so that when he accuses him again the believer will have nothing with which to defend himself.

“It will benefit you, therefore, to lay them up safely: such a testimony may serve to non-suit your accuser many years hence. One affirmative from God’s mouth for your pardoned state, carries more weight (though of old date) than a thousand negatives from Satan’s” William Gurnall (ref#225, Dec 14th).

“I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them” (Isa 42:16 ESV).

“God knows His grace in us, and will own it, when we doubt of it or deny it” Richard Baxter (ref#225, Dec 14th).

RIGHT DOING

“There are things in human nature, such as prejudices, which the saint has to destroy by neglect; and other things which have to be destroyed by violence, i.e., by the Divine strength imparted by God’s Spirit. There are some things over which we are not to fight, but to stand still in and see the salvation of God; but every theory or conception which erects itself as a rampart against the knowledge of God is to be determinedly demolished by drawing on God’s power, not fleshly endeavor or compromise” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Sept 8th).

Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure” (Phil 2:12-13 MSG).

“Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it” (Eph 5:8-10 MSG).

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thes 5:12-22 ESV).

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ’Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:9-21 ESV).

THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD

“We cannot conquer the obstacles in our way by our own strength; yet we can give way to them; and if we do, it is our sin, and will be our sorrow. The apostles exhort us, to give all diligence, to resist the devil, to purge ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, to give ourselves to reading, meditation, and prayer; to watch, to put on the whole armour of God, and to abstain from all appearance of evil” John Newton (ref#322, p124).

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Eph 6:11 NIV).

Am I standing firm by allowing my salvation to protect my thought life? “[T]ake the helmet of salvation” (Eph 6:17 AMP).

Am I standing firm by believing the gospel? “[A]s shoes for your feet, put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15 ESV).

Am I standing firm by knowing what the Bible says so I can use it to quiet Satan? “[T]ake the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God” (Eph 6:17 AMP).

Am I standing firm by knowing what the Truth is? “Stand firm having belted your waist with truth” (Eph 6:14 NASB).

Am I standing firm by living righteously so I can deny Satan’s accusations? “[P]ut on the breastplate of righteousness” (Eph 6:14 NASB).

Am I standing firm by walking in faith? “[U]se the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One” (Eph 6:16 NCV).

Am I standing firm by constantly praying? “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion” (Eph 6:18 NLT).

LET US PRESS ON TO KNOW THE LORD

“When have you been the most fruitless? Has it not been when you have lived farthest from the Lord Jesus Christ. Has it not been when your graces have engrossed your attention instead of your Lord, when you have forgotten where your strength dwells” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 13th AM)?

“You cannot, without incurring guilt, neglect private prayer, meditation, and self-examination, or public ordinances such as the ministry of the Word, the services of the Church, the assemblies of the saints. Neglect of these, however slight, entails a severe loss to your soul. It is in the way of diligent, prayerful waiting upon the means that the Christian goes ‘from strength to strength.’ Search, oh search, for this living grace. No man shall wait upon the Lord in vain” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Feb 3rd).

“It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we mistake panic for inspiration. That is why there are so few fellow workers with God and so many workers for Him. We would far rather work for God than believe in Him” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, June 1st).

“We must bend our every effort to this goal: that we should not let ourselves be overwhelmed by careless or faintheartedness. [W]e have to wage war against an infinite number of enemies” Doug Newton (ref#166, p71).

“The Christian should be of a courageous spirit, by enduring trials in a heroic manner. If he is fearful and fainthearted, it will dishonor his God. This disease of doubtfulness and discouragement is an epidemic that soon spreads among the Lord’s flock. One downcast believer makes twenty souls sad. Moreover, unless your courage is kept up, Satan will be too much for you” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, May 11th PM).

“[F]ear of weakness amounts to God-forgetfulness” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, July 6th).

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32 ESV).

“[L]et us know; let us press on to know the LORD, his going out is sure as the dawn, he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth” (Hos 6:3 ESV).

LOOK TO THE LORD ALONE

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight” (Ps 19:14 ESV).

“Blessed is the man whom you discipline” (Ps 94:12 ESV).

“I trust in you, O LORD, I say ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand” (Ps 31:14 ESV).

“Hold me up that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually” (Ps 119:117 ESV)!

“In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear” (Ps 40:6 ESV).

“Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name” (Ps 86:11 ESV).

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart I will be found by you, declares the LORD” (Jer 29:11-14 ESV).

“Remember that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD. With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:5-8 ESV).

“The Christian is independent of man, even in temporal things. For his continued maintenance, he looks to the Lord his God, and to Him alone” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Aug 13th AM).

“To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Pet 4:11 ESV).

EMULATE GOD

“We can serve God freely and boldly, even though our consciences accuse us and we know we are full of sin. God accepts our works, even though much is wrong with them. Picture a child who is seeking to obey his father. When the father asks the child to do something, he will accept what the child does, even though the child may not understand what he is doing. The child may even break something in the process, yet the father will not fret about the broken object when he sees his child’s affection and willingness to obey” John Calvin (ref#164, Dec 9th).

“O LORD, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul” (Isa 26:8 ESV).

“O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works” (Isa 26:12 ESV).

“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that” (Eph 5:1-2 MSG).

“God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next” (Rom 15:3-6 MSG).

“Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually” (Ps 105:4 ESV)!

PUTTING ON THE NEW SELF

“We will take everything that happens as happening to Him, whether it be praise or blame, persecution or commendation” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Feb 4th).

“Do we not become members of the body of the divine person of Christ? Yes, the same blood that flows in the head flows in the hand, and the same life that quickens Christ quickens His people, for ‘Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God’ (Col 3:3). As if this were not enough, we are married to Christ. He has betrothed us unto Himself in righteousness and in faithfulness, and he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Sept 16th AM).

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Pet 1:3-4 ESV).

“To live a holy life is to live a life in conformity to the moral precepts of the Bible and in contrast to the sinful ways of the world. It is to live a life characterized by the ‘[putting] off of your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires and [putting] on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness’ (Ephesians 4:22, 24)” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p16).

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom 12:1 ESV).

By calling it a living sacrifice we are to be continually sacrificed to the Lord so that our former life will be destroyed in us. [O]ur work is pleasing and acceptable to God when we devote ourselves to purity and holiness” John Calvin (ref#164, Aug 6th).

“But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life” (Jude 1:20-21 MSG)!

“[What] pleases him is not our work for him but our need of him” John Piper (ref#220, p215-216).

“The good news of salvation is that as believers in Jesus Christ, and by God’s grace, we are no longer sinners in Adam, we are now righteous in Christ” Denny Johnson (ref#385).

GOD’S LOVE TO ME

“[T]he highest and most ravishing pleasures, the most solid and substantial delights that human nature is capable of, are those which arise from the endearments of a well-placed and successful affection” Henry Scougal (ref#321, p73).

“You are a welcome guest at the table of the promises, Scripture is a never-failing treasury filled with boundless stores of grace. It is a bank of heaven; you may draw from it as much as you please, without permission or hindrance. There is not a promise in the Word that will be withheld. This is your Father’s love-token. You are free to it at all times” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Sept 19th AM).

“His love to us is a free love. It is also sovereign love. It proceeds from Himself alone. It is a love fixed on us. It is a love of complacency and delight. It is an immutable and an everlasting love. It was in God’s heart towards us before the world was. It will never cease being in His heart towards us throughout the ages of eternity, the blessings of which we are to enjoy in communion with Him now and forever” Samuel Eyles Pierce (ref#257, p38).

“[W]e will never have [our] will truly free until it is bound in the golden fetters of His sweet love” Charles Spurgeon (ref#320, p26).

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God” (1 John 3:1 NKJV)!

“[L]et your minds be engaged about the Father’s love to us: on the greatness of it, the eternity of it, the fixation of it, the immensity of it, the blessings contained in it, the continuation of it; on what we shall forever and ever enjoy as the objects and subjects of it, what hath been already bestowed on us, what we have enjoyed and do enjoy out of and from this infinite ocean” Samuel Eyles Pierce (ref#257, p38).

“[L]et us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb 10:22 ESV).

ABIDING IS OUR WORK

“You don’t play a game or color a picture with a child to show your superiority. Rather, you choose to limit yourself so as to facilitate and honor that relationship. You will even lose a competition to accomplish love. It is not about winning and losing [or getting work done], but about love and respect” Wm. Paul Young (ref#384, p106).

This is exactly what JESUS does with me—limits Himself—put Himself on the same level as I—“emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:7 NASB).

He skips down the hallway, sticks His head in my office door and says, [L]et us go out to the countryside” (Song of Songs 7:11 NIV). He takes great delight seeing my reaction in our relationship. Wm. Paul Young (ref#384, p106)

And my reaction would be summed up in the main character’s remarks in Young’s book as he does the dishes with JESUS: “[If I] could just keep listening to [Him], [I] would be thrilled to do dishes the rest of my life” Wm. Paul Young (ref#384, p108).

“Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills” (Song of Songs 2:8 ESV).

 “My beloved speaks and says to me: ‘Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away” (Song of Songs 2:10 ESV).

“As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love” (Song of Songs 2:3-4 ESV).

“Sustain me with raisins; refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me” (Song of Songs 2:5-6 ESV)!