Beware of splitting
upon this rock!
(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")
"Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!"
1 Peter 2:7
If Christ is truly precious to us—we shall be ready to deny ourselves for Him. "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23. Jesus Himself has been pleased to give us a safe and proper rule of judgment in this case: "If you love Me—keep My commandments. He who has My commandments and keeps them—he it is that loves Me." His Word and will have a prevailing, governing influence on the hearts and lives of those to whom He is precious. A steady desire and endeavor to avoid those things which are displeasing in His sight—is a practical proof that He is dear to us.
To deny ourselves is—to give up our own supposed wisdom, that we may be entirely under the guidance of God; to resign our own wills that we may be subject to His will; and to yield our passions to His government. To deny ourselves is—to forego everything sinful to which self is inclined; to practice every holy thing to which self is averse; and to be ready to give up everything dear to ourselves at the call of God—as our ease, our friends, our goods, our health, or even our life. It is a disowning, or renouncing ourselves for Christ; making ourselves nothing—that He may be all.
This cannot be sincerely done—unless Jesus is truly precious to us; or, which is the same thing—unless He is the object of our supreme affection. But if this is the case, we shall give up ourselves, with all that we have, to Him, without making any reserve. We shall, on a deliberate counting of the cost, choose the religion of Jesus, with all its difficulties—just as Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin which are but for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.
This is what our Lord means by the strong figurative expressions of plucking out the right eye, and cutting off the right hand. That is—parting with everything dear to us—when it stands in competition with Him, or is opposed to His service or His honor. For He justly reminds us, that "no man can serve two masters; either he will hate the one—and love the other; or else he will hold to the one—and despise the other." He constantly teaches us—the necessity of preferring Him and His interest and service—to the dearest objects on earth. "For he who loves father or mother, son or daughter more than Me—is not worthy of Me. Whoever does not take up his cross and follow Me—is not worthy of Me." When matters come to such a crisis—that a man must either break with his nearest and dearest relations and friends—or break with Christ—he who prefers their favor and friendship to Christ's, and will not give up temporal endearments for His sake—is not worthy to be owned as one of Christ's real disciples, nor can he partake of the spiritual and eternal blessings which belong to such. He who prefers his own ease and safety in this world—to the truths and the service of Christ, cannot be justly deemed one who sincerely loves Him, or one to whom He is precious.
The same lesson is taught us by the parable of the treasure hidden in a field, which, when a man has found it—he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. And likewise by that of a merchant-man, seeking fine pearls, who having found one pearl of great price—he goes and parts with all, that he may possess that pearl. He is willing to give up the riches, the honors and pleasures of this world—for the enjoyment of that inestimable treasure which he has discovered.
Self-denial, in respect to things in themselves sinful, should be universal; otherwise we do not give proper evidence of the sincerity of our love for Christ. Many go very far in a profession of religion, and yet live in the habitual indulgence of some sin—either great or small, secret or open. O reader, examine yourself, and beware of splitting upon this rock!
Let us labor then, to mortify corrupt passions, inclinations and affections; and not willfully indulge ourselves in any sinful habit, custom, or practice!