“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Probation and Justification

“And He shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.
And He answered and spake unto those that stood before Him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him He said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.
And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by.” (Zech. 3:1-5). This speaks of justification as we receive Joshua’s robe of Christ’s righteousness. Then comes sanctification as He “protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in My ways, and if thou wilt keep My charge, then thou shalt also judge My house, and shalt also keep My courts.” (Zech. 3:6,7). And finally, the promise of glorification, “and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.” (vs.7). Wonderful promises we hear, promising a life of righteousness and eternal life beyond.

Listen to Christ’s words concerning Joshua’s situation. “Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” (vs. 2). In other words, the high priest had already suffered a lot for his errors. He had opened the door to satanic forces when he had committed grievous sins. And what could the Lord do to intervene? He could limit what Satan could do to Joshua, as He did with Job; but by Joshua’s choice, Satan must have the controls of the high priest until he should choose to turn to Jesus.

So Satan placed Joshua the son of Josedech in his furnace of affliction. But the “eyes of the Lord [that] run to and fro throughout the whole earth,” (2Chron. 16:9) watched keenly over His servant, as the apple of His eye, waiting until Satan’s harassment worked deep contrition into Joshua’s heart and the apple had fully ripened. Then, since through all the affliction Joshua had kept his one desire to be loved by God and to have His righteousness, the Lord could finally, rightfully, bring an end to Joshua’s refining troubles. He had passed the test and had proven his loyalty to God. Satan could no longer legally lay claim to Joshua.

So the Lord rebuked the devil and he had to go. In the court of God, with angels standing by as the jury, Satan had lost his case over Joshua. There was nothing more the devil could do to use the failings of the son of Josedech to open “his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.” (Rev. 13:6). And Joshua, a brand plucked from the fire, was now free to serve the God he had wrestled so long to have in peace.

As high priest, Joshua represented all Israel; and this vision is for us all. When we first decide to come to Christ just as we are, sinful, helpless, dependent, we still have to deal with consequences from our life of sin. These don’t disappear immediately when we first come to the Savior. We are in a probationary period to see if we will endure the work of Satan to keep us from continuing our search for Jesus’, and His deliverance from the devil’s power over us. But seeking Him, getting glimpses of His mercy, makes it much easier to cope with our tangled life of sin. His kind presence is our “way to escape, that [we] may be able to bear” the wrath of Satan while Jesus works to free us from him. (1Cor. 10:13).

Finally, if we stay in the caldron to the end of the refining, Christ will correct our each flaw; and all the consequences He resolves far beyond what should be reasonable. Then if Satan or his human agents still have complaints, the Lord rises up against them in our defense and they flee.

“The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.
The Lord is known by the judgment which He executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.” (Ps. 9:15-18).

Once our adversaries leave the Spirit of God says to us, “Where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” (Jn. 8:10). We weakly reply, “No man, Lord.” Then comes His divine jurisprudence, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (Jn. 8:11). Struck with immeasurable comfort and conviction, we are purged of sin and justified.

But we have more shortcomings to be dealt with. The Lord through His Spirit and providence begins with the next major sin and continues to the least, with a merciful break between each step of refinement. After some time of rest from a mighty deliverance, again a view of the loveliness of Christ’s merits grips the soul with conviction as a lesser sin comes to light, and again Satan works to harass and resist our humbling and repentance.

Expecting His Spirit to mercifully reveal our faults and gently, but sufficiently, convict us, our choice is increasingly to be rid of our sin that brings suffering to Father and Son. In the affliction from Satan we finally receive enough evidence against that sin and we resolve to leave it. The expulsion of sin is our act. It is a terrible ordeal, nevertheless it must take place. The battle has left us worn, but increasingly allied with Christ by faith. The Christian life doesn’t get easier when we come to God, but our soul is driven more tightly to Him and we have peace, even amid the storm surrounding us.

As we had been sold into sin, this refining must go on throughout life, cleansing us from less and less conspicuous sin. Thus, sanctification is a lifelong work, from justification to justification. But it is not just our work to do. More accurately, it is us choosing to come to Christ hoping, in spite of our sinfulness, that He will remain our Lord, Friend, and Savior from sin. In His revelation to our soul of His willingness to stay with us, all corrupted in selfishness, we lower our self-defense more and more, and we surrender deeper and deeper to His truth concerning our case.

Each victory and justification naturally brings the soul closer to Jesus and more dependent on Him. Increasingly the character resembles the character of Jesus. More clearly we conceive of the meekness of Christ’s mind. More deeply we know the lowliness of the Savior, and more fully we have life from above. We “grow up as calves of the stall” as we grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Son of God. Mal 4:2.

“Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy word.
I know, O LORD, that Thy judgments are right, and that Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes.
The law of Thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.” (Ps. 119:67,75,71,72).


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