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What is true in the realm of feeling is true in other spheres. The drive of will, determination, persistence, obstinacy, tenacity, obduracy, inflexibility, etc. So also in the matter of mere reason; each will at length by its own course, with its own particular emphasis in purely spiritual matters, bring the life to a state of paralysis. We lose all our weapons of effectual warfare when the uncircumcised Philistines, i.e., the natural resources which have never been crucified with Christ, hold sway or gain the ascendancy. "The Philistines be upon thee" will at length be a cry which synchronises with the tragic fact that "the Spirit of the Lord was departed from him" in the case of all such as presume upon natural ability and so play into the hands of forces which had never been circumcised.
Whatever God may do through a man or a woman, employing any wholly sanctified mind or heart or will or resource within or without it must be settled that the measure of spiritual effectiveness, the measure in which we count in the presence of the unseen forces is just the measure in which we have come by the Cross to the place where we know - and live accordingly - that it is not in or of ourselves to serve God; that no resource of ours can count as an effectual basis; that God must do it in us and through us; and that all means, methods, forces, times, enablements, must be out from Himself. Such was the lesson which God took great pains to teach Moses, Paul, and many other prophets, apostles, and men who had been most used.
The test question in the diagnosis is not that which relates to influence amongst men, much or little; reputation, following, head-counting, full diaries, acceptableness, meetings attended and taken-part-in, teaching received, truth known, knowledge possessed, zeal demonstrated, suffering endured: it is not whether we are well known among men, but whether demons say "Jesus I know and ____ I know." It is just how far the impact of Christ as Sovereign Lord is registered through His Body and its members upon the forces opposed to Him back of all human conditions, and how far the registering of that sovereignty there makes its re-action upon the earth-situation as dominated by those hostile forces. We may be very much in action in all other kinds of work and failing here be really paralysed; but we may be out of all other activities and counting in that realm "labour more abundantly (and effectually) than them all." We have yet more to say on this matter.
There are few, if any, more malignant causes of spiritual paralysis than a mind unrenewed or unguarded. We learn by bitter experience that the main objective of the adversary as the most important means to his ends is the mind. Nine-tenths of the trouble with both the individual child of God and the fellowship (or arrested fellowship) of the Lord's people is traceable to the workings of the unrenewed mind in which there is carnality still or the mind unguarded becoming the playground of "The prince of the power of the air." There are three aspects or directions of this morbid activity - Godward, manward, and selfward; or upward, outward and inward.
The Paralysis of a Doubtful Mental Concept Manward
In this realm we have a whole catalogue of unhappy symptoms. Christians with a true knowledge of God and otherwise a real walk with God becoming the prey of all kinds of thoughts about others; misjudgments, prejudices, criticisms, imaginations, etc. Plutarch spoke of great public conflagrations which were resultant from a smoking lamp of gossip in an attic. How true it is that a smouldering suggestion made to the mind and unquenched, at once involves that one and many others in a fire of far-reaching spiritual devastation. The activity of our own natural mind apart from the true revelation of the Holy Spirit; the observation, suggestion, interpretation, report, description, information of others; the insinuation, complexion, perspective, presentation of the wicked spirits in, through, or apart from the above; the "judging after the sight of the eyes and the hearing of the ears" (a thing which it is said the Lord Jesus would never do), the reasoning of the reason; how these lead to arrest, inflammation, disaffection, not only in the member concerned, but - if we knew the laws of spiritual relationship - in the whole spiritual organism.
A germ of this kind may be a lie in substance, or, being truth in substance, nevertheless sets up a wrong basis of relationships, i.e., human instead of Divine; "Knowing after the flesh instead of after the spirit." Oh, if only the Lord's people would obey the profoundly wise injunction "Prove all things"! Such a concept as we have mentioned will soon be fed by the enemy, and seeming evidence will accumulate from all quarters to justify (?) it. When relationships are so infected co-ordinated action and corporate functioning is impossible and the devil's end is achieved.
The Paralysis of a Questioning Mind
This is peculiarly the peril of the severely tried children of God, or the lurking danger in times and places of adversity. A doubt as to the love, the wisdom, the power, the faithfulness of God. Few there be that pass through without at least the consciousness of this spectre, and not many have passed through deep waters and intense fires without a Godward "Why?" at least in their thought. "Why should it be me?" "Why should it always be me?" The ruin of the race was resultant from the acceptance of an insinuation from Satan that God was after all not really favourable to the highest well-being of man; that there was something He was keeping back, and suspicion of God has always been a master-stroke against the primary law of union with God - faith.
When this seed of doubt has been sown in the mind and allowed to remain it is not long before every phase of spiritual vitality is paralysed; prayer, fellowship, the Word, ministry, service, testimony; and God can do nothing with a doubter.