Sometimes believers find themselves so weak and feel so dead that they wonder how things will ever change. Spiritual duties are only a matter of form and a reminder of our dry barren condition. Perhaps it has stolen on the soul through careless indifference. A general spiritual laziness and apathy has the upper hand. In other situations it may be that unconfessed sin may be oppressing the conscience. Christ is still the life that the believer’s soul needs. But how do we make use of that life?
John Brown of Wamphray explains that Christ is still life to the deadened soul in the following ways:
1. Christ keeps possession of the soul. The seed remains, the root abides fast in the ground. There is still life at the heart, although the man is motionless. This is like someone in a deep sleep or who has fainted and yet life has not ebbed away from them completely.
2. Christ awakens and rouses the soul in due time. He recovers it from that condition by some means or other. It may be by some alarm of judgment and terror as with David; or mercy and tenderness, as with Peter.
Usually, Christ recovers the soul:
(1.) By revealing something of this condition. He gives them so much awareness and felt sense of it and so much light as will help the soul see that it is not well but it is lifeless.
(2.) By the revealing the dreadfulness of such a condition and how dangerous it is to continue in it.
(3.) By reminding the soul that He is the resurrection and the life. He does this by stirring up grace in the soul and causing it to look to Him for reviving and release.
(4.) By rousing up the soul in due course out of its drowsiness and sluggish folding the hands to sleep. He brings them out of that deep carelessness into a more lively, vigilant, and active condition.
How to Make Use of Christ as Our Soul’s Life
1. Look to Christ as the Light of Men Who Makes the Blind to See
Look to Christ in this way in order to get a better and a more thorough revelation of your condition. To be conscious of this disease is half-way to be being restored. The soul that has a sense of this, is half-recovered of this fever and lethargy.
2. Look to Christ as God
As God He is able to cause the dead and dry bones to live (Ezekiel 37). This will keep you from despondency and despair. It will produce hope within the poor believer, when he sees that his physician is God with whom nothing is impossible.
3. Look to Christ as Your Head and Husband
He is life to the poor soul that cleaves to Him. This will strengthen your hope and expectation. You will see that Christ is engaged as a point of honour, to revive a poor dead and lifeless member of His body. The life in the head is for the good of the whole body and every member of the body that is not quite cut off. The good that is in the husband is for the relief of His poor wife, that has not been divorced. Christ being life and the Life, must be appointed for the relief, reviving and recovering from deadness of those given to Him. They will be raised up at the last day; He must present all his members as living in that day.
4. Wait for Christ in His promises
By faith you must wrap yourself up in the promises and lie before this Sun of Righteousness. Lie there until the heat of His beams thaws your frozen heart, and brings warmth into your cold and dead soul. This will renew your hold upon Him, accepting Him as the Life, and as your life. Christ himself tells us in John 11:40, that this is the Father’s will, that sent him, that everyone that sees the Son, and believes on Him, might have everlasting life, and Christ will raise him up at the last day. Faith closing with Christ was the means of life at first, so it will be the means of recovery out of a deadened condition afterwards.
5. Mourn for the Sins which Caused Such Deadness
Repentance and godly sorrow for the evils that have sinned Christ and life away, is a way to bring life back again.
6. Ensure You Harbour No Known Sin in Your Soul
Set yourself against every known evil. Sin is an enemy to the life and recovery which you are seeking.
7. Wait for Christ as Your Life Where He is to be Found
You must wait on Christ as your life in His appointed means. It is the will of the Lord, that Christ should be waited on there and sought for there. There is little hope of recovery for those who neglect the ordinances. The ordinances cannot revive a poor soul without Christ Himself, yet He condescends to come with life to His people in and through the ordinances.
He has appointed us to wait for Him there. We must be willing to accept all His condescensions of love and seek and wait for Him there, where He has said He will be found. [Christ’s appointed ordinances include such things as prayer, the Word of God, meditation as well as public worship and preaching]
8. Beware of Trusting in the Ordinances More than Christ
Beware of putting these ordinances of life in Christ’s place. Beware of thinking that ordinances will do Christ’s work. Some do this ignorantly in thinking that by praying so often a day, and reading so much, and hearing so much, they will recover their lost lively condition, Alas! all the ordinances, without Christ mean nothing. Without Him, they are cold and lifeless and can never bring heat and warmth to a cold soul. We are to seek Him in the ordinances, and life can be expected from Him alone life and none else.
9. Beware of Using the Ordinances Carelessly
While there is no life in the ordinances without Christ and life can only be expected from Him, yet beware of using the ordinances in a careless and superficial way. This would shows little desire for life, and only increases deadness. The ordinances should be used seriously, diligently, and with great carefulness and earnestness.
10. Wait with Patience
Do not quarrel with Christ for delaying to come. Wait with much humility. It is not fitting for he who through his folly sinned life away, to quarrel with God now because He does not restore him again to life at the first asking. He may be glad if after long seeking, waiting and much diligence, God eventually comes and restores to him the joy of salvation. He could have been made to lie bedridden (spiritually) all his days for a lasting monument of his folly in sinning away his life and strength.
11. Beware of Giving Room to Anything that May Increase or Prolong Spiritual Deadness
Beware of carelessness and negligence in your Christian walk. Beware especially not to provoke God by sinning against light [Scripture truth that you know and believe].
12. Beware of Expecting a Set Measure of Life and Strength
Beggars must not be choosers, far less such beggars who through their own folly have sinned away a good portion. It was not for the prodigal to seek a new inheritance after he had squandered the first; it would be enough to be made as a servant.
13. Use Whatever Measure of Life You Receive for God and His Glory
Make good use of any small measure of life you get for God and His glory. If you get only one talent, use it to make gain by it. Use limbs and have limbs, use strength and have it. This will be the way to get more.
14. Make Vows to be Watchful
Make vows in the Lord to walk more watchfully in the future. Charge your soul not to stir or provoke the Lord to depart further or be prevented from coming to the soul.
Brown deals with the difficulties of those who still, despite all this, cannot see a change or increased liveliness in their condition.
1. What if I do not feel my deadness and weakness?
Though there may not be any real feeling of this condition, yet there may be a suspicion that all is not right. If this is the case, the soul must look out to Christ for the life of sense and for a sight of the provocations that have brought on that condition. Christ as the Life must recover the very beginnings of life. When the soul attains any real sense of this deadness it must follow the course previously prescribed for recovery.
2. But I cannot exercise faith, how can I come to Christ and make use of Him?
It is true that while the soul is in that condition it cannot act a strong and lively faith. But it can exercise a weak and sickly faith. A weak and sickly faith can lay hold on an enlivening Christ and so bring more strength and life to the soul. If the soul is so weak that it cannot grip, yet it can look to He that can quicken the dead and has helped many poor souls out of a dead condition. If it cannot do so much as look yet it may give a half-look and lie before him who waits to be gracious; and sustain itself with a “maybe He will come” if it can get no more.
3. What can I do if after all this I find no help but deadness remains and may even be increasing?
The soul in that condition must lie at His door waiting for His deliverance, resolving that if there is nothing better even to die at his door. It must leave no approved means or commanded duty neglected in order to recover its former vigour, activity and strength. While the believer is waiting in this way, he is doing his duty. This may give him peace and he may be sure that he shall never be ashamed (Psalm 25:3; Psalm 69:6; Isaiah 1:18).
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