Rev. Thomas Charles
THE temptation by which Satan ruined our first parents, he too successfully applies daily to us, their wretched posterity. “God doth know,” said Satan, “that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened; and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” It seems as if this were verified in the event; for “the Lord God said, Behold, man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.”
Before the Fall man knew nothing, as to good, but the will of his Creator; and it was enough for him implicitly to follow that. But since that direful event, he is become independent of God, and chooses for himself; “He is become like one of us,” God said, “to know good and evil.” Instead of being a child, provided for by his Father, under His care and protection, he is become his own master, and his own physician, choosing good and rejecting evil, as he thinks, according to his own inclination. Thus he set up, as it were, for himself; a spirit of independency had taken possession of his soul.
This is the spirit which constitutes essentially the character of Satan himself. “Whence comest thou?” the Lord asked him. His answer was, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it;” boldly intimating, that he acknowledged no superior, and was his own master, going where he would, and doing what he pleased, yea, even boasting as if the earth was his own, and that here none could control him, or at least had a right to do so.
We, as his children, faithfully bearing his image, and exactly copying his example, are under the influence of the same independent spirit. And were the Lord to put the same question to us, our answer, if according to truth, must be similar we go to and fro, live to ourselves, and do what we please, as independently of God as if there were no such Being. Thus we are like Satan. We are practical atheists, seeking for sufficiency and comfort in ourselves, and not in God in the creature, and not in the Creator. No temper or frame of mind can be more opposite to God than this, or further from true godliness.
Whilst this self-sufficiency influences the heart, there is an utter impossibility of any reconciliation between us and God. “God resisteth the proud.” And hence the Saviour says, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” We must be “converted,” and become what man was at his creation, “as little children,” that is, dependent on God, submissive to His will, seeking all our happiness in Him only, being contented, that He should for ever be the source of all our happiness, and that He should communicate it in the time, way, and degree He pleases.
When thus converted, we, as the creatures of God, become humble in spirit, and, as sinners, we become contrite in heart. And in this frame we are to walk with God, and He will dwell in us: “for thus saith the High and Lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy, I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Here the religion of Christ begins; and our progress in the divine life is always safely estimated by our progress in humility. Humility is the strength and ornament of all other graces; it is the food that nourishes them; the soil in which they grow.
An edited extract from An Essay on Spiritual Pride by Rev. Thomas Charles of Bala.