The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall. Pages 29-33
2. The Follower’s Call to Service
The soldier is summoned to a life of active duty, and so is a Follower. The very nature of the calling precludes a life of ease. If you had thought to be a summer soldier, consider your commission carefully. Your spiritual orders are rigorous. Like the apostle, I would not have you be ignorant on this point and will, therefore, list a few of your directives.
I. Renouce Your Bosom Sins
Those sins which have lain nearest your heart must now be trampled under your feet. And what courage and resolution this requires! You think Abraham was tested to the limit when called upon to take Isaac, ‘His only son. .. whom thou lovest,’ (Gen. 22:2), and offer him up with his hands. Yet what was that to this: ‘Soul, take the lust which is the child to your heart, your Isaac, the sin from which you intend to gain the greatest pleasure. Lay hands on it and offer it up, pour out its blood before Me; run the sacrificing knife into the very heart of it – and do it joyfully!’
This is more than the human spirit can bear to hear. Our lust will not lie so patiently on the alter as Isaac, nor the Lamb brought dumb to the slaughter (isa. 53:7). Our flesh will roar and kick and shriek, rending the heart with its hideous cries. Indeed, who can express the conduct, the wrestling, the convulsions of spirit we endure before we can put our heart into such a command? Or who can fully recount the cleverness with which such lusts will plead for itself?
When the Spirit convicts you of sin, Satan will try to convince you, ‘It’s such a little one – spare it.’ Or he will bribe the soul with a vow of secrecy: ‘You can keep me and your good reputation, too. I will not be seen in your company to shame you among your neighbors. You may shut me up in the attic of your heart, out of sight, if only you will let me now and then have the wild embraces of your thoughts and affections in secret.’
If that not be granted, then Satan asks for a stay of execution, well knowing that such reprieved lusts at last obtain their full pardon. *The longer we procrastinate, the harder it becomes too break through the clever coaxing of this silver-tongued defender of sin and death, and actually carry out the execution. Here histories bravest men have shown themselves putty in the enemy’s hands. They return from the field with victory banners flying, and then live and die slaves to a base lust at home. They are like the great Roman who, as he rode triumphantly through the city, never took his eye off a prostitute walking along the street:a man who conquered empires, captured by the glance of a single woman!
II. Conform Your Life to Christ
We are commanded not to be conformed to this world – that is, not to compromise ourselves with the corrupt customs of our day. *The Follower must not be such a compliant tailor as to cut the coat of his profession according to popular fashion. Instead, he must stand fixed to his principles, openly showing he is a citizen of Heaven by clothing himself in the garments of Truth. It takes great courage to disregard the abasement you will surely meet for your nonconformity. Sadly, there are many who cannot stand the strain. Too often we have seen a self-tailored cloak of pride tossed hurriedly over the heavenly garment of imputed righteousness by one who fears the derision of men if he dares ‘confess Christ openly’, either with their mouth or their life (John 7:13). How many lose heaven because they are ashamed to go there in a “fool’s coat”!
While some will mock, others will persecute to death the Follower who will not conform in principle or practice. This was the trap laid for the the Hebrew children. They must dance to the tune of Nebuchadnezzar’s pipe, or burn (Dan.3:15). Such, too, was the plot laid to ensnare Daniel, who walked so faultlessly that the only charge his enemies could bring against him was his *singlemindedness in his walk with God (Dan.6:5). Now in such a case as this, when the choice means life or death, when a follower must renounce his Lord or become prey to the cruel teeth of bloody men, how many retreats and self-preserving escapes will a cowardly heart invent? *It is a great honor to a Follower when all his enemies can say is, ‘ He will not do as we do.’ The Follower who faces such great opposition must be well locked into the saddle of his profession, or else he will soon be dismounted.
III. Sidestep Stumbling Blocks
There have always been those in the church who, by serious mistakes in judgement and conduct, have laid a stumbling block in the path of professing followers. You will need a Holy resolution to bear up against such discouragements. Strive to be like Joshua. When most of the Israeites revolted and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, Joshua maintained his integrity. He declared that, though not another man would join him, yet he would serve the Lord.
IV. Trust God in Every Circumstance
*There are times when a follower is called to trust in a withdrawing God. ‘Let him that walketh in darkness and hath no light. .. trust in the name of the Lord’ (Isa. 50:10). This requires a bold step of faith (trust) – to venture into Gods presence with the same temerity as Esther into Ahasuerus’s. Even when no smile lights His face, when no golden scepter is extended to summon is to come near, we must press forward with this noble resolution; ‘If I perish, I perish’ (Esther 4:6).
Which leads our faith (trust) one step further: We must trust also in a “killing God”. We must declare with Job, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him’ (Job 13:15). It takes a submissive faith (trust) for a soul to march steadily forward while God seems to fire upon that soul and shoot His frowns like poisoned arrows into it. This is hard work, and will test the Followers mettle. Yet such a spirit we find in the poor woman of Canaan, who caught the bullets Christ shot at her, and with a humble boldness sent them back again in her prayer (Matt.15:22-28).
V. Stay on Course to The End of Your Life
Your work and your life must go off stage together. Persisting to the end will be the burr under your saddle – the torn in your flesh – when the road ahead seems endless and your soul begs an early discharge. It weighs down every other difficultly of your calling. We have known many who have joined the army of Christ and liked being a soldier for a battle or two, but have soon had enough and ended up deserting. The impulsively enlist for Christ’s duties, and are just as easily persuaded to take up a professed religion, and are just as easily persuaded to lay it down. Like the new moon, they shine a little in the first part of the evening, but go down before the night is over.
This persevering is a hard word! Taking up the cross daily, praying always, watching night and day and never laying aside our Armour to indulge ourselves, sends many sorrowful away from Christ. Yet, this is your calling:to make the Followers faith (trust) your daily work, without any vacation from one end of the year to the other. These few examples are enough to show how much courage and determination you need. How to obtain such courage is our next order of business.
– To be continued. .
– Questions for further digestion
♡ Is lust referred here only related to sexual sin?
♡ How often have I experienced the “feeling” that I don’t belong coming from others because my “coat” would not be tailored to the fashion of the times?
♡ Where do I see my Armor is being repaired or stitched back up by the Spirit after reading this?
Grace and peace in Yeshua the Messiah