"Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you" 2 Cor. 10:1.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Gal. 5:22-23.
"With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love" Eph. 4:2.
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls ... Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth ... Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass." Matt. 11:29, 5:5, 21:5.
That which we have been considering, and with which we are to be occupied for a little while longer is this House of God, which is perfectly represented by the Lord Jesus while here on the earth. The house of God is governed by certain laws, and if we are coming into that relationship with Christ which the Word speaks of, resulting in our being builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit, and being a temple of God, living stones built up a spiritual house, then we also have got to be governed by the same laws as governed the life of the Lord Jesus, the same principles have got to hold good in our case if God is going to find in us His dwelling place. These laws are the opposite of those features of ruin, of which we have already spoken. If pride was the root of the ruin, then humility will be basic to recovery and to the house of God, and if pride is seen in independence, then humility will be seen in dependence.
Let us stay with that for a moment. We have seen that in the case of the Lord Jesus He chose of His own free will to live here on this earth a life of dependence upon the Father, making it perfectly clear that the Son can do nothing out from Himself, but He does whatsoever He sees the Father doing. He does not speak or work out from Himself, but His life is a life of voluntary dependence upon the Father all the way through. That was a mark of His true humility, and that made it possible for the Father to dwell in Him in this particular sense, that He was setting forth for man what a dwelling place of God really is. It is that in which there is no pride expressing itself in independence, but perfect humility on the basis of dependence.
It is that in which there is no pride expressing itself in independence, but perfect humility on the basis of dependence.
It seems to be clear enough in the case of the Lord Jesus to make it unnecessary for us to dwell upon Him in that connection, but if we advance to see the truth, the revelation of the House of God, the church, brought in especially through the apostle Paul, we are able to see how closely and strictly God kept to this principle. I wonder if it has ever struck you what a difference there was between the apostle Paul and the apostle John in relation to their particular and peculiar ministries. Paul as a man is very much in view. Of course, there is a sense in which it is quite wrong for a man to be in view, for the man to be obtruding himself upon the consciousness of others, but in the case of Paul the wrong element is strangely absent. The man is kept very much in view, and yet you never feel anything in the nature of assertiveness, the bringing of himself as himself to bear upon you; you never feel irritated by his presence, and yet he is very much in view. He speaks about himself. No apostle uses the personal pronoun more than Paul, or as much, and he seems to keep himself in view. Go through his life and see how much autobiography there is. Not only so, but the Holy Spirit seems to keep Paul in view.
Not only so, but the Holy Spirit seems to keep Paul in view.
That is because of two things, as I understand it. One is the church, as God’s object, is brought into view particularly through Paul, and the other is the need of the cross to be seen working, over against the man, to show the nature and elements of the church. The church as God’s object is brought into view particularly through Paul. Now it is necessary for the Lord to get an object lesson of what the church is to really administer in a life where the elements and the nature of the church are. It is not enough for a man to develop a teaching about something; it is not enough for Paul to be given a revelation of the church and then to talk about his revelation. Paul must be taken hold of in relation to his revelation, and made an object lesson of that revelation and he must, therefore, be made an object lesson concerning the church. The Holy Spirit brings the man, who is the message, right up in front of you and keeps him there, and then begins to deal with that man to show you what the church is and what the church is in that man. So that what you find in Paul is the outworking of the principles of the church.
So that what you find in Paul is the outworking of the principles of the church.
Take the point of humility. Look at Paul according to nature, look at Saul of Tarsus. You have anything but a man marked by humility, you have a man vindicating himself, assertive, aggressive, domineering, forceful, coming out into the light, displaying himself before the world. All that is in Paul by nature, and the Holy Spirit keeps him in view and allows him, perhaps causes him, to keep himself in a certain sense in view. Then what do you see? It is as though the Lord were taking up the cross and hammering Paul, hammering at all that pride, breaking it and bringing out in this man’s life a beautiful humility. Saul of Tarsus is not dependent, he is not suppliant. He is a man of independence, very great independence of judgement, of purpose, of manner, of spirit, of mind, of will, of way. All that is in Paul by nature. From time to time you get a little touch of it even when he is Paul the apostle, but you notice one thing. Here is a man who naturally is so independent, so proudly independent, who has been smitten, and smitten, and smitten by the Lord, and he is steadily moving to a place of utter dependence, until you meet Paul in the place where he confesses his utter dependence upon the Lord for his own physical life, for all that he knows. How the wisest men have erred in putting it down to the marvellous intellect of Paul! Paul would say, “I received it not of men.” This did not come through the flesh. This is not the result of learning, but received by revelation of Jesus Christ. “...It pleased God... to reveal his Son in me...” Paul will attribute everything to the Lord, and will say that he is utterly dependent upon the Lord for all strength, and all energy, and all life, and all knowledge, all wisdom, all understanding, everything. That keeps a man very humble. The Lord keeps that man at short accounts with Himself. The man does not know what he is going to do, he does not know in himself, he has to get direction from the Lord for each step. He keeps himself so free unto the Lord, that the Lord is able to change the course of things at a moment. He is dependent upon the Lord for his guidance every day. If you met him any day and asked him where he is going he would say, I do not know, I am waiting for the Lord. The Lord can indwell and can establish a man like that.
If you met him any day and asked him where he is going he would say, I do not know, I am waiting for the Lord. The Lord can indwell and can establish a man like that.
In the man through whom the first full revelation of the church came there had to be wrought the principle of the church. The church is a thing for the dispensation, and the Lord must point to that man and say, This is the church, this is what God’s dwelling place is, something without any pride in it, and the absence of pride is marked by an utter dependence upon the Lord. What is one of the great features of dependence upon the Lord? It is prayerfulness. A prayerless life is a life which has not recognised its dependence upon the Lord. A life of prayer is a life which has come to see that it cannot go on far without the Lord. That is why I believe the Lord has ordained prayer as His way of working and meeting the need. He has said, in effect, You have to live by Me. If you can go on without Me all right, go on; but for My purpose you have to live by Me. Prayer is our way of showing that we are dependent upon the Lord, and it is the way by which, therefore, the Lord comes in and manifests Himself.
Prayer is our way of showing that we are dependent upon the Lord, and it is the way by which, therefore, the Lord comes in and manifests Himself.
If you look again at Paul’s revelation of the church, the Body of Christ, you will see how he lays down the principle of dependence, interdependence, mutual dependence, and how he strikes strong blows against anything in the nature of independence, separateness. The Body is one, and no member in the Body can say to another, I have no need of you. Every member must say, I am dependent upon you. The hand cannot take the place of the foot. The whole body is constituted to demonstrate the law of dependence. That is humility. The opposite of that is striking out on your own, being a freelance and snapping your fingers at anybody and everybody else, and doing without them. That is pride, and it is deception.