The Success Of Faith
Faith is the only power which the believer has
over the world; and the moment he acts in faith, he is in opposition
to the world, and the world to him. The world in the hand of Satan
will always be arrayed against him in various ways, but as long
as there is faith, there will be victory. "For whatsoever
is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that
overcometh the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4). Now
faith is maintained in power in my soul if I am acting in reliance
on God's Word. I then walk in faith, and the greater the apparent
difficulties, the more they are made to conduce to my benefit
and to the world's discomfiture.
The children of Israel (see Ex. 14), saved from
the judgment of God on Egypt, and having fed on the paschal lamb,
are called to leave Egypt, and while they acted in obedience to
this word of the Lord, which told them to depart therefrom, they
walked in faith. But in so doing, they must encounter the enemy,
and the whole power of the world and of the devil is brought against
them. The Red Sea typifies the "strong man armed, until
the stronger than he had come upon him, and taken away the armour
in which he trusted and divided the spoils." Until Christ
came, no man could assert mastery over Satan; but to Him Satan
had to bow, and acknowledge, "I know Thee who Thou art,
the Holy One of God." The Lord Jesus entered into death
"that He might destroy him that had the power of death,"
and He is now raised far above all principality and power, as
supreme over every shade of hostile agency.
When a soul is quickened with the life of Christ,
its first consciousness, after assurance of its safety, is, "I
am not of the world, even as He is not of the world." Then
begins the walk of faith and, this being the aim and evidence
of the life that produces the walk, its first action is to lead
out of the world, or, as here typified, out of Egypt; and then
also begins the trying to the soul, which is caused by the array
of forces which beset and embarrass it. And this is necessary.
I must feel the terribleness of the difficulties in order that
I may enjoy the greatness of the victory which will be vouchsafed
to me. If I were of the world, the world would love its own; but
because I am not of the world -- but He has chosen me out of the
world -- therefore the world hateth me. Israel had hitherto proceeded
with a high hand, as many a young believer does; but ere long,
the world, in some shape or other, presses on him; and the more
so as he persists in leaving it.
Amid the various ways in which the world acts against
us, there is none more dangerous than its indirect imitation of
us. Pharaoh and the Egyptian did not professedly imitate Israel,
but they follow in Israel's track with a deadly purpose and evil
intention. In this, they typify the world in its most insidious
form of attack. The tares among the wheat are the most direful
oppression; the "spots in your feasts of charity"
the most unescapable persecution. No suffering which the Lord
endured from the world was equal to that of Judas's treachery.
If the world follows me, it is undoubtedly with a purpose to detain
me in Egypt; and if it avows it openly, like Pharaoh, so much
the better for me. The children of Israel do not appear to have
apprehended the pursuit of Pharaoh till they were hemmed in by
the waters of the Red Sea.
The soul does not realize the terrific power of
the world, until circumstances combine with the violence of man
to convince it that there is no escape except in the power of
faith. In this trying and excruciating moment, the weakness of
our flesh loudly betrays itself; but faith on the other hand asserts
its reliance on God. The children of Israel in their murmurings
represent the one; Moses the other. They say, "It had been
better for us to serve the Egyptians." Moses says, "Fear
ye not, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord."
The soul that has never entered into this strait, painful as it
is, has never truly essayed to leave the world, and take the place
of victory over it by faith; and therefore it has never known
the mighty power of God in vouchsafing to it full and marked deliverance
over all the power of the enemy. It has not realized what it is
to "sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus,"
which is the Christian's calling.
I may be a believer and know myself sheltered
from judgment through the blood of Christ; and still more, I may
have fed on Him as my life; but unless I overcome the wicked one,
in whose power the world lieth, I am not strong; and I am depriving
myself of the consciousness of strength, which is my portion,
if I am not marching onward to leave the world behind. A "babe"
I may be, but I shall never be a "young man," unless
I overcome; and that which overcomes is faith; and faith is not
in full exercise until I am so pressed that none but God can extricate
me. The very experience of this strait is an evidence that I am
in the path of faith, overcoming what is not of the Father down
here. The combined forces of the world (men and circumstances)
-- in another place "giants and cities walled up to heaven"
-- so hedge me round that in order to escape from them, I must
be cast simply and entirely on God. Until I am thus cast on Him,
I am not in active faith; and when I am, I shall know what is
"that victory that overcometh the world." When I
simply trust in God, He always helps me in a way quite unexpected
and unthought of, and also supremely above my utmost calculations.
In this moment of agony, Moses' faith waxed strong
-- it felt that God was equal to the difficulty; and God's first
word is, "Bid the people that they go forward." The
only movement of any value at such a moment is a more decided
advance; for it proves the existence and energy of faith, and
the dauntless advance wins the position. Daniel's move into the
lion's den places him in the end above his enemies. Oh, that our
souls knew better that the way to rise superior to the power of
the world is to be more active and determined in abandoning it!
God, whose "way is in the sea," now opens therein
a path of deliverance; and the believer realizes His mighty power.
The Egyptians follow, and as yet there is no obstacle
to hinder their advance; for imitators of Christianity can readily
follow the people of God up to a certain point, but no further.
And from thence, arises a fresh disclosure to faith; for, however
wondrous the opening that had already been made to the people
of God through this great difficulty, it by no means ends here;
on the contrary, the soul is led still more deeply into the sense
of God's interest for it after the resolution of the difficulty,
given in answer to faith. The first engagement of faith is with
the distress, but God, having opened a clear, safe, and wondrous
way for me out of it, He then unfolds to me how He cares for me.
This blessed disclosure the children of Israel are given in the
following way. "The Angel of the Lord which went before
the camp of Israel removed and went behind them, and the pillar
of cloud went from before their face and stood behind them. And
it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel,
and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by
night to these, so that the one came not near the other all night."
Here is another great evidence of being in the
path of faith! God does not guide His children by circumstances;
for such guidance would be below faith; but He often corrects
us and forces us back into the path of faith by circumstances.
I ought to know my Lord's will for me in everything, independently
of circumstances. He could not indicate His will to me in any
other channel except the Holy Spirit, who dwelling in me and helping
my infirmities, maketh intercession for me. I cannot therefore
estimate any of God's orderings for me according to their true
value until I am in the path of faith; but the moment I am in
that path, He makes an abundant display to me of His lovingkindness
and tender mercy. The soul is then made sensible of special acts
on God's part intercepting and checking the power of the world
which threatens it, and this is a most blessed and cheering experience,
but only known in the Red Sea; i.e., after the soul has entered
the opening vouchsafed to faith. It could not be known outside.
Paul at Philippi encountered a terrible "sea" in
the violence of the world and Satan; but he walked in faith, and
God opened the prison doors. And not only so, but his jailer is
changed into his host, and he receives the utmost care and attention,
where a little before all must have been, to human vision, darkness
There is no truly loyal soul that has not a history
of its own in its struggles to get detached from this evil world,
with a bright page here and there marking every successful step.
The world is always in antagonism, whether avowedly or not; and,
withal, so reckless and presumptuous, that it will venture to
imitate the path of faith, in order to detain the people of God
in their onward advance. This is Satan's aim in provoking the
imitation, though the instruments that he makes use of to attain
it may not be always conscious of so defined a purpose. All the
religious forms and services which are continually adopted by
people of the world without faith are, doubtless, urged upon them
by Satan in bitter hatred of the people of God. And as "Jannes
and Jambres (imitators to a point) withstood Moses," so
do imitators now-a-days withstand the truth; and they are as destructive
in their secret intentions as were the Egyptians who pursued the
children of Israel through the Red Sea. But their folly will sooner
or later be made manifest: the further they proceed, the greater
will be their difficulties. "And it came to pass in the
morning watch, that Jehovah looked upon the camp of the Egyptians,
in the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and embarrassed the camp
of the Egyptians." As with the five foolish virgins, the
discomfiture increases as the hour of deliverance for the wise
ones approaches. They may enter the path without difficulty; but
as they advance, troubles increase: "And He took off their
chariot wheels, and caused them to drive with difficulty …"
Terrible is the moment for the persecuting, imitating world!
The believer finds the path of faith, at first,
one of fear and risk; but as he advances, difficulties disappear,
and he is triumphant just before the world is overwhelmed. This
triumph is another great evidence of being in the path of faith.
Faith always leads to triumph; and as it advances, imparts an
increasingly clear consciousness of fullness of victory.
God always makes a way of escape; and after we
have suffered awhile, makes us perfect, stablishes, strengthens,
and settles us. If we faint not, we may surely reckon on deliverance;
"end of the Lord is very pitiful, and of
tender mercy" (James 5:11). But we must endure, and we
must advance; and if we do, we shall surmount every difficulty
in this world, be it great or small. And not only so, but we shall
have the cheering and triumphant assurance, "The Egyptians
whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever."
There is no resuscitation of a conquered foe. Many others may
arise, but one thoroughly conquered -- overwhelmed in the sea
of death -- can never present itself again. May the Lord in His
mercy and love lead us on in the power of that faith through which
we shall be more than conquerors, in the practical realization
of the wonders of His own victory for us!