THE MAN OF GOD  Or "Spiritual Religion Explained and Enforced"
by Octavius Winslow

The Man of God

Then the woman said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth." 1 Kings 17:24

It is admitted by all conversant with Christian evidence that the internal proofs of tithe truth of Christianity surpass all others. This is undoubtedly so as to the evidence of experience. An individual may not be able thoroughly to understand either the external or the internal evidences of Christianity, but let him have the evidence of personal experience and he is convinced. No reasoning can overthrow, no sophistry can weaken, no assertions can remove it. A man that has the experience of the truth in his heart is armed with a mighty weapon with which to confront and confound his foes.

We do not say that there will not arise occasional mental difficulties and spiritual despondencies, casting a momentary cloud-veil upon the luster of his hope. But this we affirm, and affirm it fearlessly, that as it is impossible to admit the sun within a room and then sanely question its light, so is it impossible for Christ to take up His abode in the heart of a poor sinner unattended by clear and demonstrable evidence. Nor is this evidence confined to himself; others are compelled to acknowledge that he is a man of God, that he has "passed from death unto life that his Christianity is more than a symbol, that it is a fact; more than a resemblance, that it is a reality. Such is the truth we are about to demonstrate.

The narrative which suggests it will be familiar. The prophet Elijah enters the abode of mourning. The heir and hope of the house was a corpse- the young child lay dead. And the prophet, prompted by the instinct of humanity, as of gratitude for the hospitalities of that home, cried to God for the resuscitation of the child. And the Lord answered the prophet: "And the soul of the child came unto him again, and he revived." In view of prayer so prevalent, and of a divine answer so immediate, the gladsome mother exclaimed, "Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth."

This touching incident in the life of the prophet is highly suggestive. The truth we propose to illustrate by it is- the visibility of Christian evidence, as authenticating divine grace in the soul of man. A Christian should be known as such by every act of his life. He should be as a city set upon a hill; a lighthouse planted on a rock-bound coast, whose light is as luminous and unmistakable as its influence is welcome and salutary. His principles, his practice, his spirit, his whole carriage and life should be such as to inspire the exclamation, "By this I know that you are a man of God."

Let me first direct the reader's attention to the dignity of the Christian character- the Man of God. The world has its men of mark. There is the man of intellect, and he is known as such. The world looks upon him as a learned man, admires him as a man of culture. We may here venture the remark, that one of the popular sins of the age is the deifying of human intellect. It is an age of the worship of Reason. And one of the natural and fatal results is the bold, unblushing exaltation of human philosophy over revealed truth.

There is, too, the man of rank. It is true it is an empty title that he wears, still he has a right to wear it, for God gave it to him. His Christianity- if he is a Christian- does not demand its surrender. He should use his coronet for God, and remain in the calling wherein grace has called him. There is the man of wealth. Money is, perhaps, his god, and there are not lacking those who worship the man as the impersonation of the deity. We do not assert that wealth is in itself a crime- it is the abuse of wealth that is the sin. To love it, hoarding it on the one hand penurously, or squandering it on the other prodigally, are both abuses wealth, and both are an abomination in the sight of God.

Then there is the man of taste and pleasure. Music, painting, sculpture, sensual delights, are the absorbing objects of his pursuit; and the world admires and cheers him on, for the world loves its own. Thus the world has its men of mark, its men of distinction whom it delights to honor.

But the Church has its men of distinction too. They are styled, "men of God." Who and what is a man of God?  The world cannot match him- we challenge it, and say, "Bring out your man of intellect, measure him with the renewed mind, the intellect taught and disciplined by God the Spirit, trained in God's school, on whose faculties the light of heaven has shone- he is in comparison but a dwarf! Bring forth your man of rank, the coronet glittering upon his brow, the ermine gracefully enfolding his form- compare that rank with the rank of a believer in Christ, with one who can claim a filial relationship to God, calling Him "Father" -with one
who belongs to the blood-royal of Him who is "King of kings and Lord of lords," who belongs to the Royal Priesthood, and his earthly order, his human titles, pale into impressive insignificance. Bring out your men of pleasure- what are their highest, purest delights, contrasted with the joys, delights, and pleasures of the child of God? The pleasure of the one is but a "name, a mock, a sham; the joys and delights of the other are real, substantial, satisfying.

But these are general remarks only; it may be proper that we attempt to show, who the man of God is- what are the essential elements, the great attributes of his character. In the first place, a man of God is a partaker of God's nature. It is this that ennobles and exalts him, and gives him a character so distinctive, a dignity so lofty. He possesses another nature than his own. It is not of earthborn royalty, nor is it of angel-birth, it is nothing less, it could be nothing more, than the nature of God himself!

God's essential nature is, of course, incommunicable. But the believer is, through grace, and in virtue of His spiritual regeneration, made a partaker of the divine nature. He is born of God, begotten of God- a holy principle is implanted in his heart, and he is thereby united to God in a nature in which he towers above the highest angel in heaven, enshrined in deathless glory. Thus he becomes a man of God. The divine image is restored, the lost link is found, the filial relation is discovered, and man once more walks with God in all the renewed faculties of his soul in the sweetest, closest fellowship.

He is also a man of God by divine adoption. God has taken him into His family, and made him His child and His heir. "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!" That he does not always clearly discern his adoption, does not invalidate in the slightest degree the fact that he is so. Nor are the chastenings of God to be interpreted as signs militating against the divine relation. He may not always have the direct witness of the Spirit, and he may often pass under the discipline of the rod; and yet, for all that, be a child of God still. No, the very chastening is a sign and seal of his adoption. "If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father does not chasten?"

Acceptance of Christ's salvation enters essentially into this character of a "man of God." It is astounding how far the unrenewed man will go in high admiration and approval of God, and yet be at variance with His Son. There is, there can be, no real love to, or spiritual relation with God, apart from a believing reception in the heart of His dear Son Christ Jesus. A man may respect and admire, adore and worship God, and yet hate, despise, and reject God's beloved Son. But what did Jesus say? "He that hates me hates my Father also." Thus, there can be no real love to God in our loftiest, most sublime conception of His loving character and works, when the heart is closed and barred in its deep, intense hatred of Jesus. A true man of God, then, is one who loves the Savior, believes in the Savior, has received the Savior in his heart, and has accepted His blood and righteousness as his one sole ground of justification here, and hope of glory hereafter. Oh, how precious is Jesus to a true "man of God!" How he prizes the 'unspeakable gift', and loves the Divine Giver!

In view of the statements thus far made, may we not indulge in a holy soliloquy something like this?- "If I am a partaker of the divine nature- if the Spirit of God has renewed my mind, God has made me- once an enemy and an alien, a child and an heir of glory. Oh, the dignity to which I am exalted, the glory to which I am chosen! God has 'set apart him who is godly for Himself,' and I am so set apart as His peculiar treasure! I am one upon whom God has set His heart- has taken out of the world to be His witness, to reflect His image, and to be a monument throughout eternity of His electing love, sovereign grace; and mighty power to save."

What an unfolding is here of the love of God! Who can tell how God loves "the man of God?" Does God love His own image? Then He loves it wherever He sees it. It may be, so to speak, but faintly engraved, imperfectly carved, obscurely and feebly exhibited; yet He loves it, be it the spiritual lisp of a child, the silent tear of a mourner, the gentle sighing of a contrite spirit, the tremulous touch of the believing hand, the filial uplifting of the eye- yes, wherever God sees His own holiness reflected, around that being His deepest affections cluster. Oh, how dear is that soul to God! "He who touches it, touches the apple of His eye."

What are some of the evidences which authenticate the character of "the man of God?" "By this I know that you are a man of God." Let it be remarked that it is a thing known. It is a fact which cannot be contradicted, a character which cannot be concealed. And God, too, will have it known, and will make it known. He will not have His mighty work concealed in the darkness and confusion of a moral chaos. When He created the world, He said, "Let there be light," that His work might be seen. So when He spiritually re-creates the soul, He bathes it in light, that His work and His power may be manifested. Now what are some of the evidences?

The first adduced is, the work of grace in his heart. By this we know he is a "man of God." This is God's own seal- His Divine attestation that he is "a man of God." He is taught- and this is his first step- by God the Spirit his own sinfulness; he is made to know the plague of his heart. There is the first evidence. A man once brought to see his sinfulness, in a moment prostrates in the dust all the lofty ideas of human merit, self-salvation, of legal obedience- the Babel of his own righteousness topples and falls. Blessed state! Oh, do not substitute any other! Think not of the healing until you know the wounding. What do you know of sin, indwelling sin, your own sin? "Sin is the transgression of the law," and you are that transgressor! And until you know the sin of your heart, you know nothing of true Christianity. I speak not now merely of sin formally acknowledged, of sin slightly felt, of sin felt but loved, confessed but cherished; but of sin mourned over beneath the cross, sin hated, sin separated from, fastened to the cross, crucified and slain.

This work of grace in the heart also includes what we have already adverted to- a reception of Jesus. He has been brought to the great rest to which God brings all his sons- a rest in Jesus Christ. Oh, at what a vast expense has God provided this rest for a weary soul, this Savior for the lost! Where will you final such spiritual repose as this? Christ is a divine rest, perfect rest from the works, the curse, and the condemnation of the law, from the guilt, the accusations, and the tyranny of sin! Oh, what a Savior is Jesus! Not the Savior of the saint, but of the sinner; not the Savior of the righteous, but of the guilty; who saves us just as we are- lost, guilty, helpless; fully and freely. Here, then, is an unmistakable mark of a man of God. He has no other rest but Christ, acknowledges no other salvation but Christ's, stands in no other righteousness but Christ's. Christ is his all and in all.

The growth of this work in the heart authenticates his Christian character. To behold the seed bringing forth fruit, the kingdom of grace in the heart enlarging, the man of God growing in a divine knowledge of God, in a deeper knowledge of his own heart, pressing after higher degrees in personal holiness, higher rounds in his heavenly ascent- oh, this marks him to be a man of God! Do you see one thus battling with inbred sin- thus foiling the foe, breaking the spell, overcoming all opposition to his spiritual course? Then you see a man of God.

But there is another general evidence- the reflection of that grace in the life. If there was any truth on which our Lord laid especial stress in His teaching, it was the holy life of the believer. The imagery He constantly employed taught and illustrated this truth that His followers were everywhere to be known as such, His disciples to be recognized as such. How striking are His words! "You are the salt of the earth;" as if there were nothing savory in the world but what is found in the man of God. Again, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set upon a hill." Then comes the exhortation, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

With this harmonizes the apostolic teaching- "That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom shine you as lights in the world." Solemn words! Oh, the dignity of the Christian character! The believer is to shine- as a lighthouse- for that is the original idea- throwing its beams over the dark, stormy billows, guiding the watery pathway of some storm-tossed voyager. Every man of God is so to let his light so shine that others, bound to eternity, and, perhaps, exposed to many a peril, may find the true haven of eternal rest.

And what are some of these brilliant rays by which the divine grace of the soul is reflected? Take that most eminent one- a walk regulated by the fear of God. It is a distinctive mark of the ungodly that the fear of God is not before their eyes. But to see a man of God walking in this fear, saying, with Nehemiah, "So I did not do so, because of the fear of the Lord," is to trace one of the most essential and authentic evidences of his high and holy relationship. Nothing stamps him to be a man of God like it. Walking softly, circumspectly, with a tender, blood-sprinkled conscience, shaping his course so as to please God in all things, setting the Lord aways before him; here we have the Divine evidence of a man of God. "By this I know that you are a man of God."

Another ray of this light is the reflected image of Jesus- the meek, lowly, gentle Savior. His conversation is Christ-like, his spirit is Christ-like, all his actions savor of the religion, the spirit, and the example of Jesus. Look at him as a tried man. See him as one called to endure losses and crosses for Christ. Oh, how much is there in the sanctified spirit and deportment of a tried believer that reflects the character of a gracious man, that marks him indeed a man of God. When God chastens and corrects, instead of repining, rebelling, and fretting against the Lord, the man of God is mute under the rod, submissive and resigned to the will of his heavenly Father. He will plead, "I was dumb; I opened not my mouth, because You did it." Oh, there is nothing in his whole Christianity that more marks him a man of God than his spirit and carriage when passing under the hand of God. By this meek, gentle submission of spirit under God's most heavy chastisement, "I know that you are a man of God."

See another reflected ray in his separation from the world, standing out a solemn witness against its ungodliness and worldliness. His principles, his joys, his consolations, all the very opposites of the world that lies in wickedness. He dare not tread where they tread. He dare not do as they do. He has upon his brow the impress of God's image- not marked in baptism- away, away with that fiction!- but his Father's name written upon his forehead, his adoption and regeneration and calling visible, as the noontide light, in his whole demeanor. "By this I know than you are a man of God."

A few instructions and exhortations growing out of the subject will close this chapter. Let it not be supposed that the continuous and constant maintenance of this character is an easy thing; that it requires on our part no thought, vigilance, and anxiety. It is not an easy matter to keep the garment white and unsullied, the hands clean, the heart pure, passing through this ungodly, polluted, and polluting world.

In the first place, be exhorted to get a proper sense of the dignity of your character. Remember, by a most solemn and sacred profession, you are "a man of God." You have a relation and a dignity to maintain; interests confided to your keeping, an honor intrusted to your hands, to which angels cannot aspire. You will be essentially and mightily aided in this, by walking in a sense of your adoption. Get the clear witness of the Spirit that you have "passed from death unto life;" then the thought will never be absent from you- "I am a Christian, a man of God, a follower of Christ; an heir of glory; a royal priest. So let me order my conversation that I do not compromise my dignity as a Christian, or dishonor my Father as His child."

To this must be added prayerful vigilance. That is, watchfulness and prayer combined. The separation of these two precepts will neutralize them both. They must, to be influential and successful, be united. We must watch and pray; pray and watch. Satan knows our weakness, our most frail and exposed part, and there will he marshal his hosts. Keep within the chamber of prayer; and when you go forth to the scene of battle, keep your heart with all diligence, for there the first spiritual declension in the divine life begins.

Above all, live on Christ's upholding grace- on Christ's inexhaustible fulness: "Without me you can do nothing." In Christ, God has laid up for you all strength, all sufficiency, all grace. In your weakness connect yourself to God's omnipotence; in your poverty, avail yourself of Christ's wealth. Draw largely from His grace, that you may be enabled, wherever you go, to extort, even from the scornful lip of infidelity itself, the exclamation, "By this I know that you are a man of God." Oh, receive the exhortation! Be a man of God wherever you are. As a man of rank, be the man of God- using that rank and the influence it gives to advance the glory of your Lord and Master. As a man of wealth, be the man of God- writing "holiness to the Lord" on all the worldly substance He has loaned you, and, with a large and benevolent heart, with an eye single to God's glory, counting it your highest honor to consecrate your property to Him.

As a professional man, be the man of God- adorning and hallowing your profession by your stern and unbending Christianity. As a man of business, be the man of God- conducting your worldly calling, not upon the infidel principles of the world, but, as a Christian man, upon the divine and unearthly principles of the gospel. As the head of a family, as a parent, as an employer, as a guardian, as a domestic, be the man of God; let your example before your children, your dependents, your servants, your employers, elicit the honored testimony, "By this I know that you are a man of God."

So let our light shine before men, that they may glorify our Father in us; so let us live, and so may we die, that our pathway may be trailed with light so luminous, undimmed, and deepening in its brightness and splendor, that when our sun sets it may go down in an unclouded effulgence- the glorious and holy sunset of "A MAN OF GOD."