God’s Word Judges – God's Word Relieves
By William Gurnall
The Word will judge you at the last day (John 12:48). "God shall judge the secrets of men…according to my gospel" (Rom. 2:16). The book of your conscience will be opened and compared with the Word, and then Christ the Judge will sentence you to life or death. But you do not have to wait until the last day to find out what your sentence will be. If you cannot stand before the Word now when it is opened by a minister and applied to your conscience, what will you do when it is opened by God's Son? Now your conscience may from the Word condemn you, but not finally; if you repent and have faith, this private court may reverse the sentence of death and justify you before God. But on the day of judgment His decision will be irreversible.
If judgment goes against you then, you are lost forever. No reversing of the sentence or even a brief stay of execution can be expected. When the Word leaves the Judge's mouth, the sinner will be delivered immediately into the tormentor's hands. Can you still welcome lust, now that you have glimpsed the everlasting chains in which God's Word dooms the sinner to burn?
When God said, "My son, give me thine heart," He was asking for love (Prov. 23:26). Thus if you hide the Word in your heart you have a rare antidote against the poison of sin; for the chains of love are stronger than the chains of fear. Herod's love of Herodias was more powerful than his fear of John. He had some hold of his conscience which bound his hands for a while. But a woman had his affections, and the heart can unbind the hands. His love for her made him shake off his respect for John – and at last drench his hands in his blood. (See Mark 6:17-29.)
The man who is a prisoner of the command – and bound to good behavior only by chains of fear in the conscience – may somehow have these removed, and then he will shake off his obedience too. But one who loves the Word, and the purity of its precepts, cannot turn traitor. When this person sins, he makes a wound as deep in his own heart as in the law, and trembles at displeasing God: "I love Thy testimonies. My flesh trembleth for fear of Thee" (Psa. 119:119-120). Blessed fear is the daughter of love!
But now to kindle your heart with love for God's Word, think on these two truths – the Word is your most faithful monitor and the sweetest comforter you have in all the world.
The Word is your most faithful monitor. Scripture tells you plainly what your faults are and will not let sin lie upon you; instead it points to the enemy who stalks the very life of the soul. It discovers every design which Satan and your own lusts plot against you. This protection is one thing which made David love the Scriptures so dearly: "Moreover by them is thy servant warned" (Psa. 19:11).
Besides warning of danger, God's Word shows you how to escape it. King Ahasuerus heaped favor upon Mordecai because he had once saved his life from attempted treason. (See Esther 6:1-11.) How much more, then, should you reverence Scripture, which has saved you from the enemy many times? David was so thankful for Abigail's wisdom that he rewarded her kindness by taking her to be his wife. (See First Samuel 25.) God's Word offers such necessary intimate counsel every day that you should not be ashamed to fall in love with it without reserve.
The Word is your sweetest comforter. When you are bogged down in the quicksand of guilt, how puny this world's pleasures and treasures become! A person can no more comfort you than a man on the seashore who sees his friend drowning but cannot get out to him. The Word alone can walk on these waters and come to the soul's relief.
You may be as desperate as those sailors who were about to die, when the Word stands up – like Paul – and brings relief: "You should have listened to me in the first place and not have untied your obedience from God's fair haven of safety. But repent of your sin and turn to God in Christ Jesus; then you will not lose your life" (Acts 27:21-26).
There is forgiveness with the Lord Jesus. No matter what the trouble, this truth brings comfort to saints. You know how a cool spring is welcomed in a parched desert. And when you recall what is sweet refreshment you have had from God's wells of salvation you will cry out with David: "I will never forget Thy precepts: for with them Thou hast quickened me" (Psa. 119:93). It is no surprise that Satan tries to stop your well of comfort; but it is more than tragic if he can persuade you to do it yourself.
Plead the Promise Against Sin at the Throne of Grace
As the veins in the body have arteries to bring them life, so precepts in the Word have promises to encourage and empower Christians to perform their vows to God. Is there a command to play? There is also a promise: "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26).
Does God ask for your heart? The promise says, "A new heart also will I give you" (Ezek. 36:26). Does He require us to crucify the flesh? Not without His promise: "Sin shall not have dominion over you" (Rom. 6:14). But to make this promise serve your need, you must humbly and boldly press it believingly at the throne of grace. What the precept commands, the prayer of faith begs and receives. In other words, first conquer heaven and then you do not need to fear overcoming hell.
Do not forget – you are warring at God's expense, not your own. David was a military man who could handle one enemy as well as another, but he dared not promise himself success until he had heard from God: "Order my steps in Thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me" (Psa. 119:133). But if you have decided to steal victory in your own strength, expect an overthrow. It will be a mercy, for defeat will bring humility with it but victory will only increase your pride in your own strength.
Jehoshaphat chose the right battle plan by admitting to God that he did not know what to do. Almost a million men were available at his call, yet he cried out for God's help as if he were alone: "We have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee" (2 Chron. 20:12). If Caesar had headed such an army, he probably would have known what to do. But the humble man knew better; a host of mighty warriors count for nothing unless God is with them.
– From The Christian In Complete Armour, Volume Three. William Gurnall (1616-1679) was born and lived his entire life in England. The above excerpt is taken from “a mordernized abridgement” of his Puritan Classic by the same title. Reprinted by permission of The Banner of Truth, P.O. Box 621, Carlisle, PA 17013.