This brief message is designed as the sequel unto the opening one in the January issue, for certain it is that we shall only be able to go forward—as we steadfastly look upward for all-needed grace. Faith is to the soul—what the eye is to the body—namely, that which enables its possessor to look outside of himself and steadfastly fix his gaze on an external object. And hence it is that the exercise and act of faith is so often referred to in the Word under the figure of "lifting up the eyes" and "looking unto the LORD."
Look upward! Was not that the very first thing which the blessed Spirit taught you, dear friend, after He had revealed to you your lost condition and made you realize that you were a guilty, polluted, and undone sinner? As the serpent-bitten Israelites were bidden to look up to the brazen serpent upon the pole—so you were taught to look upon the crucified Savior as the One who was willing and able to meet your dire need! "Look unto me—and be saved, all the ends of the earth" (Isa 45:22).
Now, as you commenced, so you must continue (Col 2:6). Christ enthroned in glory is henceforth to be the grand Object of your contemplation and adoration. Look up to Him daily and view Him by faith—as the eternal Lover of your soul, as the Lord of your righteousness, as the Bread of life to feed upon. Contemplate Him as "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). However cold, dull, and corrupt you feel to be in yourself, let your very consciousness of the same, serve to drive you more and more out of yourself, to rest wholly on what He did and suffered for you, and what He now is to you. Since He is your Savior, who loved you and gave Himself for you—make use of Him. Live by faith upon Him, and thereby you will please and honor Him. Look by faith within the veil, and take a view of what your great High Priest is there doing for you: He has all your concerns before Him, and is making all things work together for your good (Rom. 8:28). Let that encourage you to cast all your care upon Him and entrust all your concerns to Him.
Now, it is Satan's chief business to hinder Christ's redeemed people from so doing—for not only does he hate Christ, but he knows he cannot prevail with you, while you are believingly and lovingly absorbed with Him, and drawing strength from Him. Therefore, he will do everything in his power to keep you from this "one thing needful" (Luke 10:42). He did so when you were under conviction of sin. He sought to get you occupied entirely with your guilt and defilement, telling you your case was hopeless and trying to drive you to despair. When you were half delivered from that snare, he set you to work trying to save yourself by a process of reformation and religious exercises. But you found there was no relief for your lacerated conscience and burdened heart, until you looked away from self—and beheld "the Lamb of God" (John 1:29, 36)—taking your place, and suffering, the Just for the unjust. Only as you turned the eye of a feeble and flickering faith unto the atoning Redeemer, did your burden roll away, and peace surpassing all understanding fill your soul.
But Satan is very persistent. Even though you did find pardon and peace at the Cross—he will not abandon his efforts to entangle you afresh, rob you of peace and joy, and bring you into darkness and bondage. He will now seek to get you absorbed with self, to dwell unduly upon your failings (instead of confessing them to Christ), and push you down into the slough of despond. If that does not succeed, he will endeavor to get you occupied with your graces and attainments, telling you what wonderful progress you have made, and puffing you up with pride. Or he will absorb your mind with your "service for Christ," your evangelistic zeal and love for souls, and try and persuade you of being an eminent Christian. We are not ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), or, at any rate, we ought not to be so with God's Word in our hands; and therefore, we should "resist the devil" (James 4:7) and refuse to be ensnared by him—constantly looking upward to the Lord.
Many of God's children are ensnared by Satan today by quite a different device from those mentioned above—namely, by getting them unduly concerned with what is happening in the world. He persuades them that it is their duty to be well informed upon current events—that it is necessary for them to "keep up with the times" and take an intelligent interest in what is occurring in different parts of the earth, and particularly with the political and social conditions in their own country. He would fix their minds on the sensational items recorded in the newspapers, devoting much time to reading and listening in to the news of the day. And what good is accomplished thereby? Your concern over the doings of the Kremlin, and your dismay at the successes of the Vatican, will not affect either of them one iota. No, but it will injuriously affect you! It will get you absorbed with carnal things, and take the edge off your appetite for spiritual things.
Instead, look upward and contemplate the Divine Throne. God is ruling this world, working out His eternal purpose, having "his way in the whirlwind and in the storm" (Nah 1:3). Then emulate the Psalmist: "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help" (Psalm 121:1); and then, turning from poetic language to plain prose, added, "My help comes from the LORD" (Psalm 121:2). For the benefit of young preachers, let us say that were we sermonizing this verse, our divisions would be:
1. A definite decision—"I will."
2. A right resolve—"I will lift up my eyes."
3. An obvious object—"unto the hills" (the Lord).
4. An eager expectation—"from whence comes [not "possibly may come"] my help."
It was the look of faith and hope; and such a look is never put to confusion. It was the opposite of slothful inertia or fatalistic apathy. He did not say, "I will wait until I feel moved by the Spirit," but determined upon discharging his own responsibility. He had no right to expect it, unless he sought it—sought it definitely, resolutely, earnestly, believingly. "Therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you" (Isa 30:18); and He often waits for our importunate waiting upon Him, for only then do we really value His gracious supplies.
"My help comes from the LORD" (Psalm 121:2). That is a very comprehensive word which includes a great variety of blessings. Let us conclude with a short, "Bible reading" which will serve to open the meaning of this "help" and at the same time, set forth the different favors for which it is the Christian's privilege to look upward.
1. For a daily supply of grace: "In the morning will I direct my prayer unto you, and will look up" (Psalm 5:3).
2. For wisdom: "Neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon you" (2 Chronicles 20:12).
3. For deliverance from temptations: "My eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net" (Psalm 25:15).
4. For illumination and transformation: "They looked unto him, and were enlightened" (Psalm 34:5).
5. For directions: "As the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters,…so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God" (Psalm 123:2).
6. For comfort: "My eyes are unto you…leave not my soul destitute" (Psalm 141:8).
7. For the awing of the heart: "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who has created these things" (Isa 40:26).
8. For courage: "Not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible" (Heb 11:27).
9. For perseverance: "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus" (Heb 12:1-2).
10. For the appearing of Christ, "Looking for that blessed hope" (Ti 2:13).