Let us continue viewing this matter of abandonment.
Some have asked the question, "If I utterly abandon myself to the Lord, will that mean I will have no new revelation of Jesus Christ?"
Does abandonment end revelation?
No, it does not. Quite the contrary, abandonment is the means that the Lord will use to give you revelation. The revelation you receive will come to you as reality rather than knowledge. This is made possible only by abandonment.
You must remember to whom it is you are abandoning yourself.
It is to the Lord Jesus that you abandon yourself. It is also the Lord whom you will follow as the Way; it is this Lord that you will hear as the Truth, and it is from this Lord that you will receive Life. (John 14:6) If you follow Him as the Way, you will hear Him as the Truth, and He will bring life to you as the Life.
As revelation comes to you, something happens; Jesus Christ actually makes an imprint of Himself upon your soul. Each time He comes to you, He leaves a new and different impression of His nature upon you.
Soon there are many different expressions of His nature impressed into your being.
Perhaps you have heard that you should think on the different experiences of Jesus Christ. But it is far better for you to bear, to carry, these experiences of Jesus Christ within yourself.
This is the way it was in the life of Paul. He did not ponder the sufferings of Christ; he did not consider the marks of suffering on the Lord's body. Instead, Paul bore in his own body the experiences of his Lord. He even said, "I bear in my body the marks of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 6:17) Did he do so by considering such marks? No. Jesus Christ had personally imprinted Himself upon Paul.
When the Lord finds a believer who is completely abandoned to Him in all things without and in all things within, He will often choose to give that person special revelations of His nature. If such should be your experience, accept these revelations with a thankful heart.
Always receive everything from Him with a thankful heart, no matter what it is He chooses to bestow.
Let us say that the Lord gives you special revelation. What should be your attitude? You must receive the revelation as you would receive all other things from Him.
There are Christians to whom God has given some revelation of Himself, and that revelation has brought enjoyment to them for years. In other words, sometimes the Lord will give you such a powerful revelation of Himself that the experience of that one truth will be your strength for years. During that time you are drawn more and more inwardly to God. This is wonderful. You should be faithful to that revelation just as long as it lasts.
But what happens when that revelation begins to fade away; what do you do when it no longer brings the enjoyment it once did? When this happens, it simply means that God has decided it best to put an end to that experience. What must be your attitude? You must freely yield to having it taken away from you. Lay it aside. The Lord wishes to move on to a deeper and more central understanding of Himself. Receive all things equally. Abandon yourself even in matters of revelation. Always be ready to give yourself to whatever seems to be His will. Have no desire in your life except the desire to reach passionately after Him and to always dwell with Him. Learn what it means to continually sink into nothingness before your Lord.
Learn, having done this, to accept equally all His gifts, whether they are light or darkness. Treat fruitfulness and barrenness the same way.
Whether it be weakness or strength, sweetness or bitterness, temptation, distraction, pain, weariness, uncertainty or blessing, all should be received as equal from the Lord's hand. None of these should delay your course even for a moment.
One last word about revelation.
The Lord gives you some revelation that you are unable to understand. Do not be distressed; you have no reason to be concerned. Simply love the Lord. This love includes within itself every kind of devotion for Him. If you are one who is given up to God and God alone, then you will have no trouble seeing Jesus Christ revealed to you in all the fullness of His nature. Some part of the revelation of Himself may be very clear; some other part of that revelation may not be so clear. Accept them both as the same. Anyone who loves God loves everything that pertains to Him. You joy in the revelation of Him that you do not understand just as you do in the revelation of Him that you do understand.
If you love Him, you love everything about Him.
What is the result of walking continually before God in a state of abandonment? The ultimate result is godliness. Once you have made this relationship with God part of your life, godliness is easily within your reach.
What do we mean by godliness? Godliness is something that comes from God. If you are faithful to learn this simple way to experience your Lord, you will take possession of God. And as you possess Him, you will inherit all His traits. This is godliness: The more you possess God, the more you are made like Him (transformation).
But it must be a godliness that has grown from within you. If godliness is not from deep within you, it is only a mask. The mere outward appearance of godliness is as changeable as a garment. But when godliness is produced in you from the Life that is deep within you - then that godliness is real, lasting, and the genuine essence of the Lord. "The King's daughter is all glorious within." (Psalm 45:13)
How, then, is godliness achieved?
The Christian who has learned to be abandoned to Jesus Christ and who walks in a life of abandonment to Him, practices godliness in the highest degree. But you would never hear such a person claim to possess any particular spirituality at all. Why? Because that Christian has become totally united with God. It is the Lord Himself who is leading that believer into this very thorough practice of godliness.
The Lord is very jealous over any saint who is utterly abandoned to Him. He does not let that believer have any pleasures at all outside of Himself.
Is abandonment the only thing necessary to bring us into godliness? No, but if you become faithful in following everything that has been said thus far, godliness will come. But do not forget that suffering is included in the experience of abandonment. It is the fire of suffering which will bring forth the gold of godliness.
Do not be fearful that you will not wish to walk this way. In the level of experience of which I now speak there is a hungering for suffering. Such Christians burn with love for the Lord. In fact, if they were permitted to follow their own desires, they would put themselves under a great deal of discipline, even excessive self-denial. Once such love burns within the heart of a believer, he thinks of nothing but how to please his beloved Lord. He begins to neglect himself - no, far more than that - in love with the Lord, he even completely forgets about himself. As his love for the Lord grows, so does his hatred for his self-life.
May you learn this path.
Oh, if this simple way to prayer, this simple experience of Jesus Christ, could be acquired by the Lord's children, the whole church of God would easily be reformed.
This way of prayer, this simple relationship to your Lord, is so suited for everyone; it is just as suited for the dull and the ignorant as it is for the well-educated. This prayer, this experience which begins so simply, has as its end a totally abandoned love to the Lord.
Only one thing is required - love.
St. Augustine said, "Love, then do what you please." For when you have learned to love, you will not even desire to do those things that might offend the One you love.
In the last section we concluded by saying that the believer who is utterly in love with the Lord will not even desire the things that might offend the object of his affection. I will go on to say it is only by abandonment that it is possible to reach a total victory in subduing your senses and your desires.
Why is this so?
Actually, the reason is very obvious. First of all, you must understand the workings of your inmost parts. Where do your five senses draw their life and energy? From your soul. It is your soul that gives life and energy to your five senses; and when your senses become aroused, they in turn stimulate your desires.
How can we speak of a total victory over the five senses and over the passions and desire that become aroused through them?
If your body were dead, you would not be able to feel, and you certainly would have no desire. But why? Why would the body have no desire? Because it would be disconnected from the soul. So let me repeat, your feelings and your senses draw their power from the soul.
Christians have sought to find many ways to overcome their desires. Perhaps the most common approach has been discipline and self-denial. But no matter how severe your self-denial may be, it will never completely conquer your senses.
No, self-denial is not the answer!
Even when it appears to have worked, what self-denial has actually done is to change only the outward expression of those desires.
When you deal with the externals, what you are really doing is driving your soul farther outward from your spirit. The more your soul is focused on these outward things, the farther it is removed from its center and from its resting place! The result of this type of self-denial is the opposite of what you sought. Unfortunately, this is what always happens to a believer when his life is lived out on the surface.
If you dwell on the desires of your outward nature - paying attention to them - they, in turn, become more and more active. Instead of being subdued, they gain more power. We can conclude from all this that although self-denial may truly weaken the body, it can never take away the keenness of your senses.
Then what is your hope?
There is only one way to conquer your five senses, and that is by inward recollection. Or, to put it another way, the only way to conquer your five senses is by turning your soul completely inward to your spirit, there to possess a present God. Your soul must turn all of its attention and energies within, not without! Within to Christ, not without to the senses. When your soul is turned within, it actually becomes separated from your external senses; and once your five senses are separated from your soul, they receive no more attention. Their life supply is cut off!
They become powerless.
Now let us follow the course of the soul. Your soul has learned at this point to turn within and draw near to the presence of God. The soul becomes farther and farther separated from the self. You may experience being powerfully drawn within - to seek God in your spirit - and discover that the outer man becomes very weak. (Some may even be prone to faintings.)
Your main concern, therefore, is with the presence of Jesus Christ. Your main concern lies in dwelling continually upon the God who is within you. Then, without particularly thinking of self-denial or "putting away the deeds of the flesh," God will cause you to experience a natural subduing of the flesh! You can be sure of this: The Christian who has faithfully abandoned himself to the Lord will soon discover that he also has laid hold of a God who will not rest until He has subdued everything! Your Lord will put to death all that remains to be put to death in your life.
What, then, is required of you? All you need to do is remain steadfast in giving your utmost attention to God. He will do all things perfectly. The truth is, not everyone is capable of severe outward self-denial, but everyone is capable of turning within and abandoning himself wholly to God.
It is true that what you see and what you hear are continually supplying your busy imagination with new subjects. They keep your thoughts jumping from one subject to another. Therefore, there is a place for discipline concerning what you see and hear. But be at peace; God will teach you about all this. All you need do is follow His Spirit.
Two great advantages will come to you if you proceed in the way I have described in this section. First of all, by withdrawing from outward objects, you will constantly draw nearer to God.
The closer you are to God, the more you receive His nature.
The more you receive His nature, the more you will draw upon His sustaining power.
Secondly, the nearer you draw to the Lord, the farther you are removed from sin. So you see, by simply turning within to your spirit, you begin to acquire the habit of being near to the Lord and far from all else.
Next week: Toward The Center