The Success Of Faith
from "Girdle of Truth" (available from Present Truth Publishers)

Hosea 14:9

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 and misery.

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; for the

"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!