Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTLIKENESS – PART 11
Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
2 Peter 1: 5-11
II. SPECIFIC APPLICATIONS OF GENERAL METHODS
A. The Development of the Elements of Christlikeness
Let us apply the seven general methods to overcoming the evil of unbelief. There are many other evils than unbelief, but let us suppose that unbelief is one of our faults:
(1.) Watchfulness will assist in enabling us to abhor unbelief. It will first inform us of its presence in our dispositions and of the circumstances and influences that are liable to call forth its exercise, and thus put us on our guard against it. It will further show us the teachings of the Word where unbelief is shown as displeasing to God and injurious to us. Then watchfulness will arouse our new heart, mind and will to use its abhorrence of evil in revolt against unbelief and thus will cast it out of the heart.
(2.) Prayer, desiring to abhor unbelief, and thus rid us of it, will appeal to God to give us the necessary knowledge, strength and stimulation from His Word. The Father will surely answer this by bringing into our lives, through some of His servants, the necessary instruction and energy. And He will work the circumstances of our lives into such relationships as will enable us to see the abhorrent character of unbelief; and then furnish us with the occasions and helps, so that we may fight against and overcome it.
(3.) Faith in the Spirit, Word and providences of God will likewise instill abhorrence for unbelief into our hearts. It will show us that the Spirit of God is all that we need as the quality to develop and exercise abhorrence for unbelief. It will give us confidence that the Word contains the necessary light and power to work abhorrence of unbelief and that the providences of God will back our efforts to develop and use abhorrence of this fault until it is completely expelled from our hearts.
(4.) Hope for overcoming unbelief will likewise assist. Hope, ardently desiring and expecting victory in learning to abhor unbelief, will make us courageous to use the means and methods that will stimulate abhorrence for this blemish, and thus send us into the battle, until such abhorrence for it has expelled this fault.
(5.) Love for overcoming unbelief by abhorrence will lend its help, making the task of using the necessary means easier and delightsome, and will shortly, therefore, bring into activity an abhorrence of this evil which will dispossess it of its place in our hearts.
(6.) Persistent determination to overcome unbelief will back the preceding steps with the continued fixity of our wills in the direction of cultivating abhorrence for our unbelief, and will eventually remove it from our dispositions.
(7.) Exercise will do its part. Whenever unbelief shows itself, when we avail ourselves of every opportunity to abhor it, continued exercise will make abhorrence for unbelief active against it until it will be driven out of our characters.
Avoidance of Evil
Let us apply these methods to avoidance of evil, using despair as the evil that we desire to avoid:
(1.) Watchfulness will inform us of the presence of despair, of the circumstances and influences that tend to arouse it into activity, and of the suitable parts of the Lord’s Word necessary for its eradication. Its second purpose will arouse the new heart, mind and will to use the suitable parts of the Lord’s Word to move us to avoid the circumstances and the influences that play upon despair; until finally, despair will be put aside by lack of exercise.
(2.) Prayer will likewise assist, for in our need we will come to God in prayer, asking for help to avoid despair. Our Heavenly Father will see to it that the necessary instructions from the Word will be given, enlightening the mind, and strengthening and stimulating the heart, whereby we may be enabled to avoid the circumstances and the influences calculated to cultivate despair. He will further furnish us with providences that will assist us to avoid the circumstances and the influences productive of despair. Our part will be to submit ourselves to the influence of the Word amid those providences, and thus to avoid the circumstances and influences productive of despair.
(3.) Faith in the Spirit, Word and providences of God will render its help in enabling us to avoid this fault. It will have confidence in God’s descriptions of despair and of the stimulating power of God’s Word to cultivate its avoidance. It will have confidence that the Spirit within us is, when exercised, strong enough to enable us to avoid it; it will have confidence that God’s providences are for our help against this evil; and will fill our hearts with a quiet rest that will gain the victory.
(4.) Hope for overcoming despair will also assist us to avoid it. While it recognizes this enemy as having a power in our hearts, it knows that God is on our side in the battle, and therefore makes us courageous to do and to dare whatever is necessary to avoid the circumstances and influences that arouse it in our hearts.
(5.) Love for overcoming despair will fill our hearts with holy joy to avoid it, and thus enable us to avoid the persons, circumstances and influences calculated to arouse it. Thus it will die from lack of exercise.
(6.) Persistent determination to overcome despair will back the preceding methods with all the continued fixity of will that it can command and will thus accomplish avoidance of despair.
(7.) Exercise in overcoming it will apply in our lives. The act of getting out of the way of those persons, situations and influences that cause us to despair helps us to overcome it.
Let us apply these methods to the opposition to evil, supposing that pride were our fault:
(1.) Watchfulness will inform us that pride is present or seeking to enter our hearts. It will inform us as to the circumstances and influences that tend to bring it into action, and will cite to us suitable parts of the Lord’s Word to use against pride. Then it will by the Word stimulate us to fight pride. It will stimulate us to attack it, when we see it present and to resist every effort it makes to enter our hearts or to increase in us; and thus it will produce victory.
(2.) Prayer will appeal to God for help. In answer to our prayers, God will set into operation agencies that will bring to us the necessary teachings on pride and on the ways of overcoming it, and the necessary strength to prompt our heart to contend against it, both attacking it if present, and resisting its efforts to gain an entrance into our hearts. Then God will furnish us with the providences wherewith we will be given the occasions and the supports necessary to oppose pride. Our part would be to submit ourselves to the requirements of God’s Word applicable to our needs until we have developed opposition to pride and thus overthrown it.
(3.) Faith in the Spirit, Word and providences of God will render help in opposing pride. It will believe that the Spirit is strong enough to develop opposition to pride, that the Word is sufficient to give the necessary light, strength and stimulation; and that the providences of God are sufficient to furnish the necessary occasions and supports wherewith we may develop opposition to pride. Consequently, this confidence will make us ready for the fight.
(4.) Hope for overcoming evil will help greatly. Expecting victory in the battle, it will stimulate us with courage to make available to the fight everything that lies at our disposal, and thus will contribute toward the development of opposition to pride, until it is overthrown and kept out of our heatrs.
(5.) Love for overcoming evil will also stimulate our opposition to pride. It makes the battle a delight, and therefore makes it easier. Consequently, it will arouse us to attack pride, if it is in our hearts, or to resist its attacks upon us until it is overthrown.
(6.) Persistent determination to overcome evil will likewise aid us in our opposition to pride. It will set the weight of a continually fixed will back of the preceding methods in opposition to pride, before which it must give way.
(7.) Exercise in overcoming this evil is the external expression of the preceding methods in fighting pride. Whenever its presence is manifested in our hearts, or it attempts to make an entrance therein, continued exercise will make this oppositional attitude toward pride a fixed part of our character, thus guaranteeing victory.
We conclude our discussion of the application of the seven general methods for overcoming evil to the three elements of Christlikeness related to evil: abhorrence of, avoidance to and opposition to evil.
(to be continued)