An Israelite Indeed!
by James Smith, 1860
True grace in the heart always manifests itself by a concern for the welfare of others, and an attempt to bring them to Jesus. Where there is no concern for the salvation of others, no efforts to save souls from death — the case is at best very doubtful. When Jesus called Philip, he began to look after Nathaniel, spoke to him, pleaded with him, and met his objections; nor did he leave him, until he had brought him to Jesus. "Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to him, and said of him: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit." John 1:47. Let us look at:
Nathaniel's Title."An Israelite indeed!" As an Israelite — he was distinguished from other nations; and as an Israelite indeed — he was distinguished from many in his own people. He was circumcised in heart, as every true believer is, being renewed in the spirit of his mind. He was taught out of God's law — and therefore knew God's holiness, and his own sinfulness, and the method of salvation by grace. He was savingly interested in the atonement, which was made by Israel's priest, for Israel's race. He was cleansed from pollution and defilement, with the washing of water by the word. He was separated from the world around, separated by God, and for God, as the whole house of Israel were. He was related to God, being part of the people whom the Lord called his own, his first-born. To him as a sincere, sensible, and instructed worshiper of God — no sin was imputed, for to him belonged the blessedness of the man whose iniquity is forgiven, and whose sin is covered, to whom the Lord does not impute sin.
Just so, all God's true Israel are . . .
regenerated by the Holy Spirit — taught of God;
savingly interested in the sacrifice and perfect work of Christ;
cleansed from pollution by the sanctifying operations of the Holy Spirit;
adopted into God's family; and
justified from all things before God's throne. Consider, then,
Nathaniel's Excellence. "An Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit." There was no pretense about him, no hypocrisy, no sham. He was really what he appeared to be — as every professor should be.
He was sincere before God in prayer and praise, offering him the service of the heart, and giving utterance to the feelings of the soul.
He was sincere before men in his profession and in his dealings. He professed to be just what he was — and was just what he professed to be. His word might be taken, and his honesty trusted.
He was honest with himself, examining his own heart, and comparing his inner life and outward conduct with God's own righteous standard. He was all of one piece — the same in all places, in all companies, and at all times, so that you may know him. He hated craft, cunning, duplicity, and artifice; and was open and candid in his dealings. This is just what every professor of religion should be and do. Brethren, let us be deceitless. Let us have no hypocrisy, no pretense, no sham. But let us be sincere, upright, and honest. If we are wicked — let us appear so; and if we are righteous — let us prove it by works of righteousness. But never let us cover hatred with deceit, either toward God or man. Let us now glance at,
The Savior's Note of Admiration."Behold!" Behold the character, for . . .
This ought not to be the case — but it is. Let us,
therefore, behold, and learn . . .
what Christ admires;
what grace produces;
and what distinguishes man from man — SINCERITY.
Let us behold and imitate, for there is no true religion without sincerity of heart and life. Let us behold and see what God approves, and what glory will crown, for the upright shall dwell in his presence.
Observe, profession and possession differ: many have a profession of Christ — who do not have possession of Christ. All who profess to be God's Israel — are not Israelites indeed; "for he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision that is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit, whose praise is not of men — but of God." Therefore said the apostle, speaking of himself and his brethren, "We are the true circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
The Savior discerns and distinguishes. His eye penetrates the heart. He is acquainted with every thought, purpose, and motive of the soul. There is no deceiving him, for he has said, "I am he who searches hearts and minds."
Gracious Savior, search me in mercy. Show me just what I am in your sight — and make me just what I ought to be, both before God and man. Save, O save me, from all pretense, hypocrisy, and deceit; and make me open, honest, and sincere; that those who know me best, may say of me, as you did of Nathaniel, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!"