But oh, the struggle! oh, the conflict!
(J. C. Philpot, "The
Threefold Overthrow of Self")
"I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it
shall be no more." Ezekiel 21:27
Jesus wants our hearts and affections. Therefore
every idol must go down, sooner or later, because
the idol draws away the affections of the soul from
Christ. Everything that is loved in opposition to Him
must sooner or later be taken away, that the Lord
Jesus alone may be worshiped. Everything which
exacts the allegiance of the soul must be overthrown.
Jesus shall have our heart and affections, but in
having our heart and affection, He shall have it . . .
He shall have it entirely for Himself.
He shall reign and rule supreme.
Now, here comes the conflict and the struggle.
SELF says, "I will have a part." Self wants to be . . .
bowed down to.
Self wants to indulge in, and gratify its desires.
Self wants, in some way, to erect its throne in
opposition to the Lord of life and glory.
But Jesus says, "No! I must reign supreme!"
Whatever it is that stands up in opposition to Him,
down it must go! Just as Dagon fell down before
the ark, so self must fall down before Christ . . .
in every shape,
in every form,
in whatever subtle guise self wears,
down it must come to a wreck and ruin before
the King of Zion!
So, if we are continually building up SELF,
Jesus will be continually overthrowing self.
If we are setting up our idols,
He shall be casting them down.
If we are continually hewing out "cisterns
that can hold no water," He will be continually
dashing these cisterns to pieces.
If we think highly of our knowledge,
we must be reduced to total folly.
If we are confident of our strength,
we must be reduced to utter weakness.
If we highly esteem our attainments, or in
any measure are resting upon the power of
the creature, the power of the creature must
be overthrown, so that we shall stand weak
before God, unable to lift up a finger to deliver
our souls from going down into the pit.
In this way does the Lord teach His people the
lesson that Christ must be all in all. They learn . . .
not in the way of speculation,
nor in the way of mere dry doctrine,
not from the mouth of others, but
they learn these lessons in painful soul-experience.
And every living soul that is sighing and longing after
a manifestation of Christ and desiring to have Him
enthroned in the heart; every such soul will know,
sooner or later . . .
an utter overthrow of self,
a thorough prostration of this idol,
a complete breaking to pieces of this beloved image,
that the desire of the righteous may be granted, and
that Christ may reign and rule as King and Lord in him
and over him, setting up His blessed kingdom there, and
winning to Himself every affection of the renewed heart.
Are there not moments, friends, are there not some
few and fleeting moments when the desire of our souls
is that Christ should be our Lord and God; when we are
willing that He should have every affection; that every
rebellious thought should be subdued and brought into
obedience to the cross of Christ; that every plan should
be frustrated which is not for the glory of God and our
soul's spiritual profit?
Are there not seasons in our experience when we can
lay down our souls before God, and say "Let Christ be
precious to my soul, let Him come with power to my
heart, let Him set up His throne as Lord and King, and
let self be nothing before Him?" But oh, the struggle!
oh, the conflict! when God answers these petitions!
When our plans are frustrated, what a
rebellion works up in the carnal mind!
When self is cast down, what a rising up of
the fretful, peevish impatience of the creature!
When the Lord does answer our prayers, and
strips off all false confidence; when He does
remove our rotten props, and dash to pieces
our broken cisterns, what a storm; what a
conflict takes place in the soul!
But He is not to be moved; He will take His own way.
"I will overturn, let the creature say what it will. I will
overturn, let the creature think what it will. Down it
shall go to ruin! It shall come to a wreck! It shall be
overthrown! My purpose shall be accomplished, and
I will fulfill all My pleasure. Self is a rebel who has
set up an idolatrous temple, and I will overturn and
bring the temple to ruin, for the purpose of manifesting
My glory and My salvation, that I may be your Lord and
If God has overturned our bright prospects, shall we say
it was a cruel hand that laid them low? If He has overthrown
our worldly plans, shall we say it was an unkind act? If He
has reduced our false righteousness to a heap of rubbish,
in order that Christ may be embraced as our all in all, shall
we say it was a cruel deed?
Is he an unkind father who takes away poison from
his child, and gives him food? Is she a cruel mother
who snatches her boy from the precipice on which he
was playing? No! The kindness was manifested in the
act of snatching the child from destruction!
So if the Lord has broken and overthrown our purposes,
it was a kind act; for in so doing He brings us to nothing,
that Christ may be embraced as our all in all, that our
hearts may echo back, "O Lord, fulfill all Your own promises
in our souls, and make us willing to be nothing; that upon the
nothingness of self, the glory and beauty and preciousness
of Christ may be exalted!"