“The thing we kick against the most is the question of pain and suffering. We have naturally the idea that if we are happy and peaceful we are all right…Happiness is not a sign that we are right with God; happiness is a sign of satisfaction, that is all, and the majority of us can be satisfied on too low a level. Jesus Christ disturbs every kind of satisfaction that is less than delight in God. Every strand of sentimental satisfaction is an indication of how much farther we have to go before we understand the life of God, it is the satisfaction of a smug self-interest which God by circumstances and pain shocks us out of as we go in the discipline of life.”
“Anything that partakes of the nature of swamping our personality out of our control is never of God. Do we ever find a time in the life of our Lord when He was carried beyond His control? Never once. Do we ever find Him in a spiritual panic, crediting God with it? Never once; and the one great marvel of the work of the Holy Ghost is that the sanity of Jesus Christ is stamped on every bit of it.”
“Nowadays, people seem to have an idea that these ecstatic, visionary, excitable, lunatic moments glorify God; they do not, they give an opportunity to the devil. The one thing Jesus Christ did when He came in contact with lunacy was to heal it, and the greatest work of the devil is that he is producing lunacy in the name of God all over the world in the spiritual realm, making people who knew God go off on tangents…Beware of being carried off into any kind of spiritual ecstasy either in private or in public. There is nothing about ecstasy in these verses: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart.'”
“The whole strength of the personal life, the personal spirit, is to be so gripped by the Spirit of God that we begin to comprehend His meaning. It is always risky to use a phrase with a fringe, a phrase that has a kernel of definite meaning but a fringe of something that is not definite. The way we get off on the fringe is by ecstasy, and ecstasies may mean anything from the devil to God. An ecstasy is something that takes us clear beyond our own control and we do not know what we are doing, whether we are being inspired by God or the devil, whether we are jabbering with angels’ tongues or demons’.
When you come to the words of Our Lord or of the apostle Paul the one great safeguard is the absolute sanity of the whole thing. “…that ye may be able to comprehend…and to know”–there is no ecstasy there, no being carried out of yourself into a swoon, no danger of what the mystics of the Middle Ages called ‘Quietism’, no dangers of losing the conditions of morality.”
“As long as we use the image of our experience, of our feelings, of our answers to prayer, we shall never begin to understand what the apostle Paul means when he says, “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me.”
The whole exercise of humanity’s essential reason is drawing on God as the source of life. The hindrance comes when we begin to keep sensuous images spiritually in our minds. Those of us who have never had visions or ecstasies ought to be very thankful. Visions, and any emotions at all, are the greatest snare to a spiritual life, because when we get them we are apt to build them round our reasoning, and our reasoning round them, and go no further.”
“If we are in Christ the whole basis of our goings is God, not conceptions of God, not ideas of God, but God Himself. We do not need any more ideas about God, the world is full of ideas about God, they are all worthless, because the ideas of God in anyone’s head are of no more use than our own ideas. What we need is a real God, not more ideas about Him.”
“There are hidden perils in our life with God whenever we disobey Him. If we are not obeying God physically we experience a craving for drugs, not only physical drugs out of a bottle, but drugs in certain types of meetings and certain types of company—anything that keeps away the realisation that the habits of the bodily life are not in accordance with what is God’s will.
If in the providence of God, obedience to God takes me into contact with people and surroundings that are wrong and bad, I may be perfectly certain that God will guard me; but if I go there out of curiosity, God does not guard me, and the tendency is to “drug” it over—“I went with a good idea to try and find out about these things.” Well, you plainly had no business to go, and you know you had no business to go because the Spirit of God is absolutely honest.
The whole thing starts from disobedience on a little point. We wanted to utilise God’s grace for our own purposes, to use God’s gifts for our own reasoning out of things in a particular way.”
“Paul does not say, [in Philippians 2:12–Ed.] ‘Work out something that will tell for your salvation’; he says, ‘Work out in the expression of your life the salvation God has worked in.’ If we think for a moment we shall soon know how much we are saved—What does our tongue say? what kind of things do our ears like to listen to? what kind of bodily associates do we like to be with? These things will always tell not only other people but ourselves what kind of salvation God has worked in. In regeneration God works us into relation with Himself that by our bodily expression we may prove Whose we are.
If you are trying to be a Christian it is a sure sign you are not one. Fancy trying to be the daughter of your mother! you cannot help being her daughter. But try and be the daughter of someone else’s mother! Unless God has worked in us we shall hinder Him all the time by trying to be His children; we cannot, we have to be born from above by the will of God first, be regenerated; then our working is not working to help God, it is working to let God express through us what He has done in us so that we may prove we are the children of our Father in heaven (see Matthew 5:43-48).
So many of us put prayer and work and consecration in place of the working of God; we make ourselves the workers. God is the Worker, we work out what He works in. Spirituality is what God is after, not religiosity. The great snare in religion without genuine spirituality is that people ape being good when they are absolutely mean [not ‘mean’ as in ‘angry, &c.’ But rather, ‘mean’ as in ‘useless to God’–Ed.]. There is no value whatever in religious externals, the only thing that is of value is spiritual reality, and this is spiritual reality—that I allow God to work in me to will and to do of His good pleasure, and then work out what He has worked in, being carefully careless about everything saving my relationship to God.”
“If a teacher fascinates with his doctrine, his teaching never came from God. The teacher sent from God is the one who clears the way to Jesus and keeps it clear; souls forget altogether about him because the vision of Jesus is the only abiding result. When people are attracted to Jesus Christ through you, see always that you stay on God all the time, and their hearts and affections will never stop at you.
[What] has crippled many a church, many a Sunday School class and Bible class, is that the pastor or teacher has won people to himself, and the result when they leave is enervating sentimentality. The true man or woman of God never leaves that behind, every remembrance of them makes you want to serve God all the more.
So beware of stealing the hearts of the people of God in your mind. (2 Samuel 15:6) If once you get the thought, ‘It is my winsome way of putting it, my presentation of the truth that attracts’—the only name for that is the ugly name of thief, stealing the hearts of the sheep of God who do not know why they stop at you. Keep the mind stayed on God, and I defy anyone’s heart to stop at you, it will always go on to God. The peril comes when we forget that our duty is to present Jesus Christ and never get in the way in thought.”
“We will deal treacherously with the Bible records if we are not soaked in the revelation that God alone is good. We will put the saints on the throne, not God. There is only one unshakeable goodness, and that is God. It takes time to get there because we will cling to things and to people. Those of us who ought to be princes and princesses with God cling to the shows of God’s goodness instead of God Himself. The only influence that is to tell in a servant of God is God. Let people think what they like about you, but be careful that the last thought they get is God. When we have gone from them, there must be no beauty or fascination in us that makes them long for us, the only remembrance left must be, ‘That woman was true to God’, ‘That man was true to God.'”