The Word Of God Brings Spiritual Life
By Ruth Paxson
The spiritual man is in daily need of replenishing. He never ceases to feel his utter dependence upon God. God provides for his renewal. The man who is saved by the truth of God’s Word is also sanctified by it. The stature and strength of the spiritual man will be in exact proportion to his faithful continuance in the Word of the Lord. The study of God’s Word is the divinely-ordained method of spiritual growth.
“Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17).
“...If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed” (John 8:31).
A careful study of the Scriptural names of the Word of God reveals His intended use of it in the Christian’s renewal.
The Word of God Is a Mirror to Reveal
“For if any be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straitway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (Jas. 1:23-25).
A mirror reveals the personal appearance of the one who looks into it. The Bible is just such a revelation of man. In it we see the human heart mirrored exactly as it is in the sight of God. We have in the Word full-length portraits of the natural, the carnal and the spiritual man. As one studies the Bible he finds himself; mirrored in the lives of men and women who lived centuries ago he sees himself. In the covetousness of Achan, the backsliding of David, the despondency of Elijah, the avarice of Jacob, the falsehood of Ananias and Sapphira, the denial of Peter, the self-righteousness of Saul of Tarsus and the jealousy, unbelief and self-seeking of the disciples, he looks into his own sinful heart and his own wayward life. The Bible takes the covering off the inmost spirit and unveils its secret thoughts and motives. It shows us to ourselves as we are.
But it does not stop there. It unfolds to man’s vision the Perfect Man. He “beholds as in a glass the glory of the Lord” for in the Word God gives “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Then the Bible challenges him, who has seen himself as he is and as he may become, to act upon the vision, to become a doer of the Word in order that he may be conformed to the image of Christ.
The Word of God Is Water to Cleanse and Refresh
“...Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word” (Eph. 5:25-26).
“Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).
“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy Word” (Psa. 119:9).
Walking as pilgrims through a world reeking in sin we are in constant contact with its defilement and in constant need of cleansing. In olden times the priests, who were cleansed by the blood at the brazen altar, still needed the washing of water at the laver to make them fit for the worship and the work of the tabernacle. So we, though cleansed from the guilt of sin through the blood of the Living Word, yet need daily washing by the water of the written Word. The Christian’s life is kept pure and clean only in the proportion to which the Word of God is hid in the heart and applied to the life. Water also refreshes. Countless believers could testify to the removal of weariness of spirit, discouragement of soul and even exhaustion of body through a quiet hour of meditation upon the Word.
The Word of God Is Food to Nourish and Delight
The Word is milk for the newborn babe; it is strong meat for the spiritual adult; and it is honey for the spiritually-minded.
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2).
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14).
“More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Psa. 19:10).
The man who feeds upon God’s Word will become strong; the one who neglects it will be dwarfed. Both stature and strength are gauged by the quality of spiritual food eaten and assimilated. Wherever you find a spiritual anemic the reason is improper food.
The Christian who is improperly or insufficiently fed is the prey to all kinds of spiritual disease. He is powerless to resist temptation, blind to discern error, helpless to overcome sin. He is open to all the deceiving devices and subtle strategies of the evil one. He not only makes no progress but he cannot even hold his own and lives a flabby, inconsistent, dishonoring life before the world.
The Christian who is not entering into new possessions of God’s grace, love and power through new conquests of the Word is living on the stale manna of some moldy experience or musty testimony.
Sometimes a Christian worker has lost his power for no other reason than neglect of the Bible. Because of this his message is devoid of freshness and fruitfulness. The inevitable result is the giving of his own word in the wisdom, eloquence and energy of the flesh. This God never promises to bless. “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4).
The Word of God Is a Lamp to Guide
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psa. 119:105).
Pitfalls are all around the Christian; the devil has well-laid snares to entrap.
“And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Tim. 2:26).
“The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from Thy precepts” (Psa. 119:110).
The straight and narrow way is not always easily discerned and still less easily followed. In these perilous times when there is so much of the world in the church and when even the shepherd of the flock may walk in ways quite contrary to the Word of God, many an earnest Christian is perplexed and at a loss to know what is a consistent walk. He surely needs a light upon his path.
But he needs even more than that; he needs to be shown each step of the way. The Word of God is just such a guide and, when it is hid in the heart and heeded in the life, the Christian need not wander nor stumble. His every step may be ordered in full conformity to God’s will and ways in full obedience to God’s Word.
“Order my steps in Thy Word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me” (Psa. 119:133).
“The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide” (Psa. 37:31).
The teaching, instruction, warning, correction and guidance which every Christian needs to make him complete and to equip him for service are all to be found in the Bible.
“Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, A.V.).
The Word of God Is a Critic to Judge
“For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
The Greek word “kritikos” means able to judge. The tendency today is that men choose to be critics of the Word rather than to accept the Word as their critic. But one very salutary function of the Bible is its judgment upon the Christian’s thoughts and actions. The psalmist who offered that sincere prayer, “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” (Psa. 139:23-24), knew the helpfulness of God’s righteous judgments.
“Let my soul live, and it shall praise Thee; and let Thy judgments help me” (Psa. 119:175).
What a quickening of spiritual life would take place today if every child of God would put his life under the righteous judgment of the Word of God. The long-prayed-for revival undoubtedly would burst forth like fire if the Bible were permitted to become the critic of men’s thoughts, feelings and actions, and if they were willing to act upon its kindly, beneficent criticism.
The Word of God Is a Manual of Holy Living
“Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, and that seek Him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in His ways” (Psa. 119:1-3).
God has provision for every step of the way in the life of godliness, which He expects His child to live. In His Word He has given the principles that govern such a life, and the precepts which teach us how to practice them. The Christian who practices the presence of God and who lives the Christ-life most transparently is the one who is most thoroughly saturated with God’s Word and who deliberately has given himself to live out that Word in deed.
The Word of God Is a Weapon
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Eph. 6:17).
The Spirit-filled man has enemies; he is engaged in a warfare. The powers of hell are all against him. He is always open to attack and momentarily liable to defeat. He needs both defensive and offensive weapons. He must be able both to stand and to withstand in every assault of Satan.
There is but one way this can be done and it is the way the God-man used. His only weapon in the wilderness was the Sword of the Spirit. “It is written,” repeated three times in the threefold attack, repulsed the enemy.
Let us note that the God-man had His sword burnished and ready. He did not wait to draw out the scroll of Scripture and read from it to get an answer for the devil. His mind was so saturated with its truth that when Satan attacked Him, the Spirit instantly brought to His remembrance the very words that utterly routed him. He was kept in the moment of temptation by the Word hid in His heart. “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psa. 119:11).
It is only that part of the Word that is hid in the heart that will become a Sword in action at the moment most needed. It is the portion of the Word of God which we have learned and lived that will be effectual in the fight with Satan.
Another essential to success is confidence in the weapon we use.
“The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Psa. 12:6).
“Every word of God is pure; He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him” (Prov. 30:5).
Many Christians are defeated today in the warfare against sin and Satan because of doubt regarding their weapon, the Word of God. To them the Word is not the Sword of the Spirit but it is merely a staff of man’s making to assist him on the pathway of life which he feels at liberty to whittle down to the measure of his own intellect and experience. Belief in the absolute trustworthiness and final authority of the Word is an essential to the potent use of it as the Sword.
The Word of God Is a Fire That Both Burns and Warms
“Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name. But His Word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jer. 20:9).
The Bible is like a fire that burns out the dross, purifying and purging. It is a devouring flame before which nothing that is contrary to God’s will and ways can stand (Jer. 5:14; 1 Pet. 1:22).
It is at the same time a fire that warms with comfort and cheers the heart desolated by sorrow and distressed through suffering.
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thes. 4:18). “This is my comfort in my affliction: for Thy Word hath quickened me” (Psa. 119:50).
The Word of God Is a Hammer to Break
“Is not My Word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29).
There is such a residue of stubbornness, resistance and rebellion in every life! The man who has been accustomed to go his own way, seek his own pleasure and do his own will is not easily made submissive and humble. There is much in every one of us that is hard which needs to be broken; much that is resisting which needs to be melted.
As the Christian studies the Word and comes under the softening rays of God’s lovingkindness, tender mercy, unfailing faithfulness, unquenchable love and exhaustless grace, his heart is melted, his will is broken and his life is turned into joyous, humble submission to the loving will of God.
The Word of God Is a Seed That Matures and Multiplies
“Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God” (Luke 8:11).
A seed in itself is but a small hard substance which, if laid away in a drawer will remain only a seed. But put into suitable soil, given needed nurture, it will become a plant or a tree. The Word of God is seed. Let that incorruptible seed which has the very germ of life in it – “My words are life” – be sown in the soil of the human heart by the Holy Ghost and it fructifies in a new creation.
Before it can manifest its power to save and to sanctify it must be engrafted upon the inner life.
“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls” (Jas. 1:21).
The seed needs to be fostered and nurtured by earnest study and eager searching. Seed needs time to grow. The Word must be pondered and meditated upon. It must lie fallow in the mind, heart, conscience and will to bring forth its full fruitage. The seed must be kept abiding in the soil of faith. The Christian must continue in the Word. The Word must abide in him by day and by night.
“Oh, how love I Thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psa. 119:97).
“If ye abide in Me, and My Words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).
Coldness of heart, callousness of conscience, weakness of will, feebleness of testimony, joylessness in worship, fruitlessness in service, powerlessness in prayer all are traceable to just one thing – ignorance of and indifference to God’s Word. “...Ye seek to kill Me, because My Word hath no place in you” (John 8:37). But, when the Word is given its rightful place in any life, it has power to convict, to convert, to cleanse, to control, to criticize, to correct and to consecrate. It becomes a mould that fashions the life into ever growing likeness to the image of Christ Jesus.
– From Life on the Highest Plane by Ruth Paxson (1889 – 1949), a Bible teacher, missionary, and author.