Robert E. Surgenor
"The garment we are weaving now, we shall wear for all eternity!"
This remark was made on one occasion by the late William Warke and caused deep consideration in my soul. I would like you to consider the valuable truth in his remark by considering with me some basic things. First, let us consider the three categories of the human race:
(1) The Natural man. Not saved. (1) He is Imperceptive and Ignorant of anything spiritual.
(2) The Carnal man. Saved, but the indwelling Holy Spirit is grieved. He lives in various degrees to the satisfying of his fleshly (non-spiritual) desires. Paul lamented of Demus, "Demus hath forsaken me, having loved this present world." The Corinthians, though endowed with abundance of spiritual gift, were carnal.
The Carnal man can be described as a believer whose tendency and activity are fleshly. Not just a simple state of weakness, but a course of conduct which attacks the new life and tells actively against it. He is: (1) Insubordinate to Christ (2) Indulging in the flesh (3) Inconsistent in testimony (4) Imperfect in spiritual maturity (5) Intemperate in conduct.
Carnal individuals vary in degree. Some may read their Bible on a daily basis to gain knowledge. However all that may be learned is not necessarily obeyed. Meetings are attended with other believers, but the things of the world hold an attraction. By the word world we mean a system, a plan, put into action by the powers of darkness to keep men occupied with temporal things rather than things which are spiritual. God counteracts this with the following exhortation (Col.3:1-3) "If (since) ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection (mind) on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." Thus everything of an earthly nature is incompatible with that which is heavenly. The two just cannot mix, they cannot be reconciled. This standard is rarely taught and considered extreme. The term "LEGAL" is sounded, but legalism is going beyond the teachings of Scripture and what is being presented here is simply the plain teachings of Scripture. Our modern day with all its prosperity and self-seeking cannot accept it. However, to reject it, to water it down, to minimize it brings dire consequences in that coming day. Then in the glory, He will deny us, to our eternal loss and regret.
Another degree of carnality would be an individual who seldom reads his Bible. He never meditates upon it as his daily companion. He is occupied primarily with the activities that the world offers, whether in theater, politics, social activities, sports, or even unscriptural religious activities, "money making" as a goal, or just wasteful time spent on ones fleshly desires and pursuits. The carnal man can be a very sociable person with fellow saints. Celebrations involving the serving of food, picnics and the like are heartily enjoyed. These gatherings are mistakenly termed times of fellowship, when in reality they are nothing more than socials. The word "fellowship" is found fifteen times in the New Testament and always carries the thought of communion together over the things of God, the sharing of spiritual things. As far as the carnal man is concerned there is very little true fellowship with fellow believers in his life. His prayer life also is minimal. True worship is almost nonexistent and if any, very weak. His public prayers are mechanical, pregnant with stock phrases culled from his memory. There is no overflowing of heart found in his prayerful expressions. Devotional prayers to the Father for the work of Christ are few and most of the few prayers are offered only in times of trouble for deliverance. The life is characterized by all "take" from God but nothing to "give" to God. The Carnal Believers poem is: "I lived for myself, for myself alone. For myself and none beside. Just as if Jesus had never lived, and as if He had never died."
(3) The Spiritual Man. Spiritual saints recognize their many failures but the general bent of their life and desires could thus be definedthey possess the fear of God. In other words they would tremble at the thought of not obeying all that the Lord has revealed to them. It is this type of person that God is willing to teach, revealing more and more spiritual truths. God could hardly be expected to reveal fresh truths to a soul if already revealed truths were not obeyed. "To this man will I look to him that is of a meek and quiet spirit and who trembleth at My word" (Isa. 66:2). The carnal man is void of this, consequently he never grows in divine truths. He will tell you, "I just cant see it that way." In Bible readings he may be forward, wanting to be seen and heard, but his contribution is rarely profitable or intelligent because of his lack of scriptural intelligence and spiritual perception. Contrasted to this is the carnal man with more common sense. His silence is noticeable, having nothing to contribute because of his lack of knowledge in divine things. He may talk well on other things such as mechanics, farming, business methods etc., but when Bible truths are the topic, he is on strange ground, thus he remains silent.
To introduce a spiritual man into a Bible reading is like a breath of fresh air and a drink of cold water to a thirsty soul. His attitude is one of meekness. He is not domineering or pushy. He is there to help, not to stir up controversy. His contribution is concise and in keeping with the context and the saints are profited thereby. This is the manner of the spiritual man. However, we have known some spiritual men to be fairly silent in Bible readings, but their conduct is for a far different reason than the carnal mans. They prefer to give others place that they feel are more capable than themselves. We may say that this is a loss to the saints present who may have benefitted from their short and intelligent contribution.
The spiritual have considered and obeyed to the best of their ability the four following commands. These commands (1) the natural man scoffs at (2) the carnal man makes excuses for and (3) the spiritual unreservedly seek to the best of their spiritual ability -to bow to and obey, no matter what the cost.
(1) Romans 12:1. "That ye present your bodies a living sacrifice." Immediately the spiritual man perceives that his actual body no longer belongs to him and that in priestly fashion, he presents it to His God. It is through the body as a vehicle, that the world is enjoyed, thus that connection is lost. "Which is your reasonable service, "meaning, "ones intelligent service." The Holy Spirit makes the spiritual man intelligent as to his expected position regarding the world. Many carnal men cry "LEGAL" at this truth, because of their ignorance of divine principles. "And be not conformed to this world." "Conformed," indicating fashioning ones self to the world. Matching your life to theirs. From what source does the world find its pleasure? Mine should be different.
(2) Luke 9:23. "If any will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. "
(3) 2 Cor. 5:14. "They which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again." Self denial becomes a way of life to the spiritual man.
(4) 1 John 2:15. "Love not the world neither the things that are in the world. "The spiritual do not covet what society likes. The world, meaning "adornment," is what Satan produced after man sinned to keep mankind occupied and happy without God. What would ruined humanity do without television, radio, the arts, theatre, sight-seeing tours, sports, fashions, lodges, and all else that attracts the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life? All of such things which hinder the Christians spiritual enjoyment of God. Davids one desire was to dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psa. 27:4). One would hardly find all the amusement of the world in the house of the Lord. That is the life David was expressing on that occasion, a life totally absent from any worldly pleasures and pursuits. The spiritual man finds total satisfaction in such an atmosphere. The carnal man is unwilling to put his flesh to death and to be occupied alone with Him. Spiritual pleasures and worldly pleasures are as incompatible as water is with oil; as demons are with holy angels; and as light is with darkness. They cannot be mixed. In ones life every minute is monitored and is appraised as either being spent in something worldly or something spiritual. The natural man is no mixture - allis worldly. The carnal man is a mixture, worldly pursuits with a few spiritual desires. The spiritual man is no mixture - all is spiritual. To him there is no compromise! I am glad that I am no longer a natural man for then my eternity would have been eternal torment. Since I am on the way to heaven, I would far rather dwell there in splendor than in rags. I would rather seek a high position in the kingdom than be just a "nobody" there. When it comes to eternal things, the most sensible reasoning would be to be of a selfish nature. I want a great garment in the glory, not just some "hand-me-down." In other words, the degree of our glory there is determined by our life here. Our eternal position in the coming kingdom will be regulated in accordance to our way of life here. Do please remember the solemn, searching and most repeated statement of our blessed Lord. "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it (save it; preserve it)" (Matt 16:25); Mark 8:35; Lk. 9:24, 17:33. By saving your present life the Lord simply meanslive for yourself. By finding, saving, preserving your life Christ is simply telling us that by denying self here we shall have a greater life up there. Is this not worth going in for?
WHAT IS THE END RESULT? The answer is - REWARD! The great motivating factor in obedience and self-denial is not dread, or a set of rules and regulations, but rather a genuine, intelligent love to Christ. A love that involves all the mind, heart and soul. When this exists, all other sacrificial actions automatically follow. After the Judgment seat of Christ the saints will be eternally positioned to various stages. We shall not all be the same in heaven. Remember, the less that you give to God now of your all, the less you will have eternally in heaven. Paul exhorts Timothy, (2 Tim. 2:12) "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us:" We deny Him by giving the world the place in our heart that is rightfully His. He will deny us the reward and position of eternal glory that could have been ours. "Only one life, Twill soon be past. Only whats done for Christ will last." Is self-denial worth it? Weigh the matter up and decide for yourself, for it is YOUR future life that will either gain or lose. Yesthe garment we are weaving now, we shall wear for all eternity!