“These are the kings of the country,
which Joshua and the children of Israel smote on this side of Jordan on
the west . . . All the kings were, thirty and one” [Josh. 12:7-24].
“Arba was a great man among the
Anakims” [Josh. 14:15].
“Caleb drove out thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai” [Josh. 15:14].
“For the love of Christ constraineth
us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead;
and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live
unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again” [II Cor.
These words describe the great
conflict of the higher Christian life in the Land of Promise. This
is not a conflict with the grosser forms of sin, for we leave them behind
us when we cross the Jordan and come into the land of holiness, obedience
Surely it ought to go without
saying, that no consecrated Christian would dare to indulge in willful
disobedience or sin. But there are other foes more subtle, and these
are symbolized, we believe, by these kings with whom Joshua made war so
There are various forms of self-life which, while not perhaps directly and wilfully sinful, in the grosser sense are yet as contrary to the will of God, and as necessary to be subdued and slain, before the soul can be in perfect harmony with the Divine will. They are all tyrants, which, if allowed to remain, will ultimately bring us into subjection to sin and separate us from the Lord.
They belong to one family, and
the progenitor of every one of them is Arba, the father of Anak; and his
first born son, Anak, has perpetuated his generation through many children,
and the numerous offspring constitute a line of no less than thirty-one;
so that there is a foe for every day in the month, in the Christian’s calendar.
The name Arba means –“the strength of Baal.” This represents the strength of the natural heart. Baal was the ancient Sidonian god of nature, and Arba stands for the natural heart, in all the force of its self-will and self-sufficiency.
The name of his son, Anak, signifies
in Hebrew, “long-necked,” and everybody knows that a long neck suggests
pride and self-will; so that these two names express the character of the
The other three sons whose names are mentioned, Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai carry out the family resemblance.
Sheshai means –“free,” suggesting the idea of the license in which selfishness delights.
Talmai means –“bold,” representing the independence of the self-life, which brooks no control.
Ahiman means –“brother of men,”
and express aptly the humanitarianism, which ignores God, and would make
humanity a god unto itself, expressing the self-sufficiency of the race,
rather than of the individual.
Shall we look at these kings
of the old Self-Dynasty, and see if we can recognize any of them in our
Yield yourself unto God, is the
watchword at the gate of holiness and peace. It is not only the evil
will, but the self-will that must die. Things that it would be right
for us to have, God cannot give us when we want them wilfully, and therefore
He has often to crucify us to our own will, for no other reason than to
break us, and make us self-surrendered and wholly subjected to His control.
Often, therefore, in our lives,
we have had to surrender something to Him which He really wished us to
have; and later in our life, when we no longer wanted it because we wanted
it, but because it was His will for us, He could trust us with it without
harm, and it was freely given when we could receive it no longer as a selfish
idol but as a Divine trust.
So God had to take Isaac from Abraham and then give him back, as he was no longer Abraham’s Isaac, but God’s. The will thus surrendered becomes a stronger will because it is henceforth not our will but His within us; and when we choose, we choose with the strength of God - and choose forever. Have we yielded our will and received His in return? Has the city of Arba become the city of Hebron, and the home of His love?
This is the gratification of
self in any of its forms.
Is it wrong to eat and drink, and to indulge our appetites? No, the act may not be wrong in itself, but it becomes wrong when we do it for the sake of the indulgence. I am not to eat because it gratifies me to eat; I am not to drink because I enjoy the act; but I am to eat and drink for the glory of God; that is, with distinct thought and purpose of pleasing Him and ministering to my bodily wants that I may be strong to serve and glorify Him.
It is the thought of self-gratification
that defiles the act, which in itself is right but in its motive may be
wholly selfish and sinful.
So the commonest acts of life are to be wholly consecrated to Him and done unto Him, and thus they become sacred and holy.
Have we learned the secret of thus living for His glory, and dying unto ourselves?
This is one of the forms of self-life,
which must be surrendered. “Love seeketh not her own.” Her
object is not to accomplish some personal end, but to benefit another and
to glorify God.
The great business of the people of this world is to seek their own ends, aggrandizements, honors and pleasures. But a consecrated life has but one purpose: to “seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness” and then to rest in His will, knowing that “all these things shall be added.”
It is very different from vanity,
which seeks the approval of others. Self-complacency is so satisfied
with itself that it cares little for the opinion of others and has a lofty
independence about it that even scorns their criticism and rises superior
to their praise. It is a god unto itself.
It is one of the most subtle
forms of self-life and has a sort of lofty grandeur which blinds its possessor
to its danger and its deep sinfulness.
Self-glorying is the converse
of this. It seeks the praise of others rather than its own.
It may be very small in its own eyes and, for this very reason, tries to
shine in the eyes of others.
A lady of rank is not dependent
upon her dress or her equipage for her position, but is usually very simple.
It is the lack of real greatness that makes the society butterfly eager
to attract attention by her gaudy display.
Self-glorying vaunts itself and
inflates its little bubble because it is so small. There is no creature
so diminutive in its real proportions when really reduced to its actual
dimensions, as the dude and the daughter of fashion.
The truly consecrated life wants
none of this. It is conscious of its nothingness and knows that it
is dependent on God alone for all it can ever possess; and, therefore,
it covers its face with the veil of His loveliness and robes itself in
His own righteousness, and then hides in His bosom, saying, “Not I, but
Christ that liveth in me.”
This is a form of self-life which
relies upon its own wisdom, strength and righteousness. It is Simon
Peter, saying, “Though all men shall deny Thee, yet will not I.”
This is your man of strong common
sense and self-reliance. He believes in his own opinion. He
relies upon his own judgment. He laughs at the people who talk about
Divine guidance and the Spirit’s leadings.
This must die before we can become established in the strength of Christ. Therefore, the strongest natures have often to fail in order to bring them to the end of self and lead them, like Peter, to lean on God, and like Jacob, with wounded thigh, to go forth depending hence forth on the strength of God.
This is the self that is always
thinking of itself and covered with its own shadow. Every act and
look and word is studied. Every feeling and inward state is morbidly
photographed upon the inward senses.
Sometimes we become conscious
of our own physical organism. We watch our breath, our pulses, our
temperature, and our physical state. We carry about with us continually
a morbid consciousness of our functions and conditions. All the simplicity
is taken away. We are bound to ourselves like a man with his hand
on his own collar, trying to pull himself along.
This is dreadful bondage. God wants us to have the freedom of a simple child that acts without thinking from spontaneous impulses and with a beautiful liberty. He does not want us to see the shining of our faces, to be conscious of our holy acts, or to make a note of every sacrifice and service; but He would have us, when He comes at the last, to say, “I was an hungered and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink”; to be so self-forgetful that we shall answer back, “When saw we Thee and hungered and fed Thee, or thirsty, and gave Thee drink?”
How shall we get out of this
wretched self-consciousness? Only
by getting into a higher consciousness, even the presence of our Lord,
and a purpose and object beyond ourselves,
to live for God and others, and to realize that He is living for us, and
living in us, in those sweet spontaneous impulses that are the true springs
An exaggerated form of self-consciousness is
This is very offensive and yet
very common. Some people carry it in their very gait and bearing,
as they walk along the street, and almost tempt one to step up to them
and ask the question which it is said Sidney Smith used occasionally to
ask people whom he saw on the street, “Excuse me, sir, but may I ask if
you are anybody in particular?”
This is not the usual accompaniment
of true greatness, but it is very common in very small men and women who
make up for their lack of real weight by an immense amount of self-assertion
and swaggering assumption.
This is very offensive to a true
Christian taste. Holy modesty will show itself in the very bearing.
True humility consists not so much in thinking meanly of ourselves, as
in not thinking of ourselves at all. And the ripe head of wheat always
hangs down in proportion to its weight.
This is just as bad as the other.
Some people are egregiously conscious of their own shortcomings and inability.
It keeps them from useful service and is always thrusting its littleness
and nothingness upon every situation.
If it sees its name in print,
it is afraid of being puffed up. If asked to be seated on the platform,
it will blush and shrink, and hide away. If called upon to do some
service, it will refuse on the ground of inability. This is all self.
A truly-surrendered heart hasn’t
got any name to see in print, any person to be conscious of, any power
to serve. Its name has been given to Christ, and if He wants it used
let Him have it, and blaze it before the universe in fame or infamy.
It hasn’t any ability to work, and if Christ wants to send it, He must
equip it and supply it with all necessary resources.
Therefore, it goes unquestioning and fully assured because all of its strength must come from God.
This is the self that stands
for its own rights and avenges its wrongs. It is quick to detect
an injury or an offense, and to express its sense of it in some marked
and unmistakable way.
It believes in receiving the respect and consideration due to it in all cases, and while it asks nothing beyond, yet it insists upon all its rights.
It is egregious in its own conceit.
It does not demand applause beyond its merits but it asks proper consideration,
and is going to have it.
Now, this is a very respectable,
but a very real form of selfishness. It is directly contrary to the
spirit of Christianity and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The very idea of His incarnation
was the renunciation of all His rights. Being in the form of God,
He was entitled to be equal with God, but we are told He did not count
this a prize, but “He emptied Himself and made Himself of no reputation".
If God wants to bring you here,
it is very easy for Him to empty you, and to make you of no reputation,
and there will be lots of people who will be ready to help Him do it.
But it is very lovely to do this ourselves, as Jesus did, and not to wait
to have it done for us.
The very essence of Christ’s
humiliation was that He gave up all His heavenly rights, and when He came
down to earth He gave up all His earthly rights and made it the business
of His life to let go, until there was nothing left to give up, but then
His very life was yielded.
You have not begun to deal with
the question of self-surrender until it reaches your dearest rights, and
you let them go into His hand as a glorious deposit; and every time you
do so, He puts it down in your bank account, and when the interest has
all accumulated, oh, how He will pay you back,---much of it in this world,
but how much more in the day of eternal recompense!
I solemnly believe that most
of the blessings that have been given to me in my life and ministry have
come because of the evil things people have said of me, and because God
made me willing to allow them to do it.
“Let Shimei curse; it may be
the Lord will requite you good for his cursing this day.”
is one of the most painful forms of selfishness.
One day, in India, I picked up
a beautiful little vine that was spreading over the ground. I thought
how lovely it would be to press it in my note-book. But by the time
I had taken it up it disappeared, and there was nothing left in my hand
but a long string on which the leaves had been. It was as stiff and
hard as a leafless stem, and I said “Why, where has my plant gone?”
I looked on the ground, and the other leaves were spreading over the grass
as before, but I could see no trace of the one I supposed I had dropped.
I looked at the little dry stem in my hand again, and I found it was the same little branch I had picked from the ground, but its leaves had all folded up as firm and dry as if it had been struck by an autumn blast. And when I touched the other leaves on the ground, they disappeared in the same way. Then I said, “Why, it is a sensitive plant!”
I thought of people I had seen
who had been all bright and radiant for a time, but something touched them
that was offensive, uncongenial, or humbling, and they suddenly disappeared
and shrank into such hard, dry, leafless sticks that there was no point
of contact with them. They seemed to have become all at once like
Egyptian mummies, ready for a glass case. What is the matter?
“Great peace have they that love
Thy law, and nothing shall offend them.” The Lord bring and keep
There is a place where we can
be, or rather where we can cease to be; and Christ become instead of me.
And of that place it is true, “He that was begotten of God keepeth him,
and that wicked one toucheth him not.”
There are some people who always
see things from their own side. How does this affect me?
You see your own side of it,
but if you would wait and see your brother’s side, if you would be willing
to believe that there is another side, you, yourself, would be saved from
a thousand stings, and others from a thousand misunderstandings.
“Look not every man on his own
things, but every man also on the things of others.” Put yourself
in your brother’s place. Take into consideration his circumstances,
his views. Think how you would act if you felt as he feels, saw with
his eyes, were placed as he is placed. You will be surprised to see
how differently you will look at things. And yet this is only one
of the first things in the holy art of self-forgetfulness.
Our morbid and excessive self-examination
is one of the forms of self-life that causes much pain and works much injury
in our Christian life.
There is a right, but there is
also a wrong self-examination. God alone can truly search us.
We are very apt, when we attempt it ourselves, to get poisoned with the
effluvia of the sepulchre into which we penetrate. Even Paul said,
“Yea, I judge not mine own self, but He that judgeth me is the Lord.”
Let us commit our own way unto Him, and honestly say, “Search me, O God,
and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any
wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Thus let us walk in Him, trust Him to show us all we need to see, and then believe, “if in anything we be otherwise minded, God will reveal even this unto us.”
is the root of all these forms
of the self-life. It is a heart centered upon itself and so long
as this is the case, every affection and every power of our being is turned
inward and self-ward, and the whole character distorted by the false adjustment
of our nature; just as much as our eye would be if it were ever turning
inward upon itself, rather than outward upon the objective world which
it was made to perceive.
God, who is the Type of all true
being, is essentially love, and lives not for Himself, but for others,
and when we become self-centered we are the opposite of God, and really
assume His Throne, and become gods unto ourselves.
It is the ruin and perversion
of a soul to love and live for itself.
are the natural fruit of self-life.
We love our friends and families
and the people who minister to our pleasure; and even those we love, we
love not so much for the blessing that we can be to them as for the pleasure
that they minister to us.
Love that terminates on ourselves
is selfish and degrading. The love that seeks another’s blessing
is elevating and divine.
may enter into the highest acts
and mar and pervert them to their inmost core.
It is not only what we say and
do, but why. God sees the very thought and purpose, and He judges
the act by its intent. The
natural heart cannot do a good thing without some selfish object which
perverts and destroys its purity.
are always springing up in the
old natural heart, and even if they never reach fruition or ever become
choices, acts or facts, we want to be free from the very wish, and to have
God so give us our desires that they shall spring from Him and be prompted
by His love.
The spirit of covetousness is
just a selfish desire, and God has pronounced it idolatry and most dreadful
are still more serious, for the
will is the spring of human actions and determines all our words and deeds.
We want a rightly directed will,
which chooses not its own gratification, but because of “Him who worketh
in us to will and to do of His good pleasure".
There are two kinds of enjoyment:
one which we seek for its own sake, and this is selfish; the other
is the pleasure that comes to us from doing good and because we are in
harmony with God and with our own being, which is the truest enjoyment.
Selfish pleasure, the desire
that seeks its own and terminates on itself, is earth-born, transitory
The worldling seeks to gain the
world, and calls his possessions his own. The true child of God has
nothing for himself, but holds all as a sacred trust for God. “Neither
said any of them that aught of the thing that they possessed was their
The true Christian conception
of property is stewardship; the holding of the gifts of God for His service,
and subject to His direction, and for His glory.
This is the sovereign remedy for avarice and the grasping spirit of the world, and we are never consecrated until all is laid, absolutely and forever, at His feet, and held there, subject constantly to His will.
Nearly all our cares and anxieties
spring from pure selfishness.
If we were wholly yielded to God and recognized our life in its every movement as absolutely His, we would have no anxiety, but would regard ourselves as His property and under His safe and constant protection. The Lord has said, "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon" and has added, with strange logical suggestiveness, "Therefore, I say unto you, take no anxious care for the morrow".
That little word, "therefore", discovers the link between Mammon worship and anxious care.
Many of our griefs and heartbreaks spring from the purest selfishness, wounded pride, ambition, self-love, or the loss of something which we should not have called our own.
The death of self blots out a universe of wretchedness and brings a heaven of joy.
One may deny himself to gratify himself, to exalt himself, and to save himself. It may be simply the old stream of his life turned into a new channel.
And so there may be
The Pharisees were virtuous, but their virtue was a selfish
cloak, intended for display, and therefore worthless, or worse. It
was simply an advertisement, and its motive destroyed its value.
The lady who walks the street with her skirts held carefully
away from the touch of her fallen sister may be an icicle of selfish propriety;
while her poor sister, with all her faults, may have a generous heart,
and may even be sinning from some motive of mistaken love, and sacrificing
herself for another. And while this does not palliate her sin, it
may make her a nobler character than even the virtuous one who scorns her.
And so there is a
which would even seek to justify itself before God by
its own religious works, and thus forfeit His righteousness and salvation.
For it is not of our sins alone, but even of our righteousness, that He
has said, they are "as filthy rags", and they must be laid down and we,
as helpless, worthless sinners accept the righteousness of Christ for our
justification before God.
We may have
and be so absorbed in our religious experience that our
eye will be taken off Jesus and centered upon ourselves, and thus we shall
become offensive exhibitions of religious self-consciousness, and our very
good be marred by its indirection and introversion.
True sanctification forgets itself and lives in constant
dependence upon the Lord Jesus as its Righteousness and All-sufficiency.
So we may have
The largest generosity and the most munificent offerings
of money may be only an advertisement of ourselves, and prompted by some
motive which terminates in our own interest or honor.
Some people give liberally, and then hamper their gifts with so many conditions, and get themselves so wrought into the administration of their beneficence, that all its disinterestedness is lost, and it looks like the gratification of their own higher pleasure.
The Church of God today is blighted by the selfishness
of her evangelistic work. She is spending seven hundred times as
much for her own people as she does upon the heathen world, and the spirit
of religious selfishness runs through all her plans.
They travel in a circle about the size of their own body
and soul, their family, and perhaps their own particular church, and the
suffering household of faith and the perishing world are scarcely ever
touched by their sympathies or their intercessions.
The highest prayer is the prayer of unselfish love, and
as we learn to pray for others, and to carry the dying world upon our hearts,
we shall find ourselves enriched in return, a thousandfold, and prove,
indeed, that "it is more blessed to give than to receive".
The future of many persons is as selfish as their present.
They live in the dreams of coming joys and triumphs, and their vision is
all earth-bound, and often, alas! as baseless as the fading cloud-land
that floats upon the summer sky.
The true Hope of the Gospel swallows up all these selfish
visions and earthly hopes. Looking for that blessed Hope and the
glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we hold all other
prospects subordinate and subject to that Supreme prospect.
Even the old hope of heaven that was sometimes a selfish weariness, and
a longing to be at rest, has been exchanged for that high and glorious
looking for His coming that lifts us out of ourselves into the greater
blessing it is to bring to millions, and nerves us to work for the hastening
of the coming glory and the preparation of the world to meet Him.
God alone can give this new and heaven-born hope, which is as divine as
it is lofty and inspiring.
"Neither count I my life dear unto myself" is the true spirit of consecration. "But that I may finish my course with joy and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus Christ."
That is the meaning of life, and the only object for which it should be cherished.
So we find the same apostle saying, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain"; and he adds, "Therefore, I know that I shall continue with you all for the furtherance of your faith".
The unselfish life is a safe life, and it is immortal
till its great purpose shall be fulfilled.
1. We must definitely and thoroughly enter into the meaning of that mighty word, "Ye are not your own". We must surrender ourselves so utterly that we can never own ourselves again.
We must hand over self and all its rights in an eternal
covenant, and give God the absolute right to own us, control us, and possess
And we must abide in this attitude, and never recall that
2. We must let God make this real in detail, as each day brings its tests and conflicts, and each of these thirty-one kings comes face to face before us. That which we did in the general must be fulfilled in the particular, and step by step, we must be established in the full experience of self-renunciation and entire consecration.
As each of these issues meets us, God is asking us the question, "Are you your own, or are you mine?" And as we stand true to our convenant, He will make it real.
We must choose that each new Agag shall die, and God will make the death effectual the moment we sign the death warrant.
3. We must receive the great antidote to self -
the love of Christ.
We have seen the power of love in a human life transforming a selfish person, living for the pleasures of society and the gratification of self-love, into a patient, self-sacrificing person, willing to endure any privation and go any length for those loved with a whole heart.
In a higher sense the love of Christ, and that alone, can slay the strength of self-love, and enable us to say, "The love of Christ constraineth me; for I thus judge that if One died for all then all died; and He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again".
4. Finally, we need not only the love of Christ but the Christ Himself.
It is not a principle, nor an emotion, nor a motive, that
is to transform our life and conquer these determined foes, but it is a
Christ will put His OWN heart into us, and so live in us, and we so live in HIS life, love in HIS love, and think, speak and act in Him, in all we do, that it shall be "not I, but Christ that liveth in me".
So let us receive HIM, the antidote of self, the Lord of Love, the Conqueror of the heart.