Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Profiting from the Word - Chapter 7

In Chapter 7 "The Scriptures and the World" of Profiting from the Word, A.W. Pink contends that Christians are not "to be content with an increase of mere head-knowledge of Scripture: what we need to be most concerned about is our practical growth, our experimental conformity to the image of Christ.  And one point at which we may test ourselves is, Does my reading and study of God’s Word make me less worldly?"  As part of my family devotional study of this book, I've decided to post my thoughts chapter by chapter and to include portions from the book that are helping me improve my daily Bible reading and study. You can read my notes from Chapter 1 here, Chapter 2 here, Chapter 3 here, Chapter 4 here, Chapter 5 here, and Chapter 6 here.

A man profits from the Word of God when:
  1. His eyes are opened to the true character of the world--"The 'world' is fallen human nature acting itself out in the human family, fashioning the framework of human society in accord with its own tendencies. It is the organized kingdom of the 'carnal mind' which is 'enmity against God' and which is 'not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be' (Rom 8:7). Wherever the 'carnal mind' is, there is 'the world;' so that worldliness is the world without God."
  2. He learns to resist and overcome the world--"Settle it then in your mind, my reader, that the world is a deadly enemy, and if you do not vanquish it in your heart then you are no child of God, for it is written 'For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world' (1Jo 5:4)...Out of many, the following reasons may be given as to why the world must be 'overcome.' First, all its alluring objects tend to divert the attention and alienate the affections of the soul from God...Second, the spirit of the world is diametrically opposed to the Spirit of Christ...Third, its concerns and cares are hostile to a devout and heavenly life."
  3. He understands that Christ delivers from the world--"The Son of God came here not only to 'fulfill' the requirements of the law (Mat 5:17), to 'destroy the works of the devil' (1Jo 3:8), to deliver us 'from the wrath to come' (1Th 1:10), to save us from our sins (Mat 1:21), but also to free us from the bondage of this world, to deliver the soul from its enthralling influence...And the Holy Spirit indwelling the saints co-operates with Christ in this blessed work. He turns their thoughts and affections away from earthly things to heavenly."
  4. He weans his heart from the world--"The truth is that until the heart be purged from this corruption the ear will be deaf to Divine instruction...The world has turned its back upon Christ, and though His name is professed in many places, yet will it have nothing to do with Him. All the desires and designs of worldlings are for the gratification of self...The Christian is taught by the Spirit, and through His presenting of Christ before the soul his thoughts are diverted from the world."
  5. He walks in separation from the world--"Surely disparity of character and conduct, the desires and pursuits which distinguish the regenerate from the unregenerate, must separate the one from the other. We who profess to have our citizenship in another world, to be guided by another Spirit, to be directed by another rule, and to be journeying to another country, cannot go arm and arm with those who despise all such things!"
  6. He evokes the hatred of the world--"What 'world' hated Christ and hounded Him to death? The religious world, those who pretended to be most zealous for God’s glory. So it is now...Ah, my brother, it is a healthy sign, a sure mark that you are profiting from the Word, when the religious world hates you."
  7. He is elevated above the world--"First, above its customs and fashions...Second, above its cares and sorrows...Third, above its temptations...Fourth, above its opinions and approvals. Have you learned to be independent of and defy the world? If your whole heart is set upon pleasing God, you will be quite unconcerned about the frowns of the godless."
In his second point on resisting and overcoming the world, Mr. Pink poses some very important questions for every Christian to ponder:

"Do the things which are so highly valued by the unregenerate charm and enthrall you? Take away from the worldling those things in which he delights, and he is wretched: is this so with you? Or, are your present joy and satisfaction found in objects which can never be taken from you? Treat not these questions lightly, we beseech you, but ponder them seriously in the presence of God. The honest answer to them will be an index to the real state of your soul, and will indicate whether or not you are deceived into supposing yourself to be 'a new creature in Christ Jesus' (see 2Co 5:17)."

At the end of the Chapter 7, he concludes with additional questions to measure yourself as a Christian:

"Now, my reader, do you really wish to measure yourself by the contents of this article? Then seek honest answers to the following questions. First, what are the objects before your mind in times of recreation? What do your thoughts most run upon? Second, what are the objects of your choice? When you have to decide how to spend an evening or the Sabbath afternoon, what do you select? Third, which occasions you the most sorrow, the loss of earthly things, or lack of communion with God? Which causes you greater grief (or chagrin), the spoiling of your plans or the coldness of your heart to Christ? Fourth, what is your favorite topic of conversation? Do you hanker after the news of the day, or to meet with those who talk of the 'altogether lovely' One (Song 5:16)? Fifth, do your 'good intentions' materialize, or are they nothing but empty dreams? Are you spending more or less time than formerly on your knees? Is the Word sweeter to your taste, or has your soul lost its relish for it?"

So, what do I think about?  I'm responsible for the duties I have as  wife and homeschool mom, but where do my thoughts go when I actually find that elusive "down time"?  Do I follow the command to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report (Phil. 4:8)?  No, typically my thoughts are selfish and worldly.  In Matthew 6:25:34, the word 'thought' is used 6 times.  In this passage Jesus Himself tells me to take no thought for my life, for my stature, for my raiment, for what I eat or drink, or for the morrow.  I am to seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added to me (v. 32).

Sanctification is a synergistic process, so while I have responsibility to conform my life to the image of Christ, I cannot do it in my own strength.  The Holy Spirit is the sanctifier and comforter of God's people (John 14:26), and He helps my infirmities by making intercession for me (Rom. 8:26).  Therefore, I need to be more prayerful in all that I do--this simple statement will definitely help control where my mind wanders!  Our family memorizes scripture, but I don't meditate on what I'm learning.  Incorporating memorization and meditation will also help guide my thoughts.  My outward life should be reflective of my inward thoughts; and both should be conformed to Christ.

"If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you," (John 15:18-19).