“Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” — Luke 14:27.
Jesus explains very clearly what the cross implies: that whoever would be His disciple would have to endure hardships, be evil spoken of, suffer persecution and in many cases find foes in his own household. Cross-bearing signifies endurance of trials, difficulties, disappointments, the crossing of the human will and preferences by circumstances and conditions permitted of the Father. Our Lord’s will was fully submitted to God, so that it was his delight to do the Father’s will, and this must be our attitude to commence with, but after this consecration has taken place comes the trial and testing. When we consecrate our lives to God, laying down self-will and accepting His will to govern us in all things, come what may, He is well pleased with us also and is glad to cover us with Christ’s robe of righteousness and accept us because of Christ’s ransom merit imputed on our behalf. He accepts us as His beloved sons (John 1:12; Rom. 8:15; 1 John 3:1), either actually, as in the case of the Little Flock and the Great Company, or tentatively in the case of the Youthful Worthies and the Consecrated Epiphany Campers.
God gives us His holy Spirit and reveals to us of His secrets, His Plan of the Ages (Psa. 25:14; Prov. 3:32; Amos 3:7). He leads us by His Word, His Spirit and His providences. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14; Joel 2:28; Isa. 60:4). If you are faithful in following the Father’s leading, He will do for you as He did for Jesus, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). We are His workmanship (PT ’71, p. 36).
Our crosses come because we are living in “this present evil world,” because the spirit of the world is contrary to the Lord and his Spirit of righteousness and equity, and because our Adversary, Satan, seeks continually to stumble and ensnare us; because, also, our new wills are circumscribed and hindered and opposed by the desires of our natural bodies, which are more or less in accord with the things of this present time, its conditions, its aims, its sentiments, and because the new will strives to use the body in a manner and in a service which, under present evil conditions, continually causes it annoyance and suffering. These things are to be taken into consideration as the cost of discipleship—the cost of a place in the Kingdom promised to the “called, chosen and faithful of this age.”
God in speaking to His consecrated children says: “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). It is not enough that we should start out with a courageous intention, a bold acknowledgment of Jesus, and a bold profession of discipleship, but we must be proven. Discipleship is not for those who have a little enthusiasm at the beginning, but only those who shall demonstrate their worthiness by their faithfulness will be accounted worthy, and will be finally accepted by the Lord. Cross-bearing must be a daily matter. Our crosses are those oppositions of the world, the flesh and the Devil which conflict with the Divine will as laid down for us in the Lord’s Word. A supporting text is Matt. 16:24 “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
Our faithfulness in cross-bearing consists in our willingness to stand up for the Truth and every principle of righteousness no matter what the cost of friendships broken or enmities enkindled. The bearing of the cross is the way of growth in character for the consecrated child of God. Oh, the cross is to be not merely lifted, but carried faithfully unto death (R 5223).
A Disciple is a pupil, one who follows a teacher or leader. The Lord has promised His disciples certain great blessings. If they are obedient, they shall be greatly blessed with everlasting life, some, a Little Flock shall sit with Him in His Throne, and be with Him where He is. Many other consecrated children will be given special privileges as His earthly representatives. It becomes, therefore, an important question as to what is involved in discipleship. Is it an easy or a difficult matter? How can we enter the School of Christ? Only by having received an invitation from the LORD, the great majority being blinded (John 6:44). We must be drawn first before we can come to Jesus, and then we must come to Jesus before we can have access to the Father (John 14:6). The Gospel Church, under the Abrahamic Covenant arrangement, are drawn to the Son by the Father, “Given unto him.” This arrangement will change during the Millennial Mediatorial Reign of Christ. In the next age, the Father will not draw, but the Lord Jesus will draw them to Himself. However, during the expanded Gospel Age Harvest our primary drawing and calling [an invitation] is of Jehovah up to the time when we accept His grace in Christ and make our consecration. The Apostle declares: “Even so many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39).
Those who have been and are being accounted worthy of a share with the Lord in His Kingdom and an abundant entrance into it, must be fully and completely devoted to Him and His cause, they must be figuratively beheaded, dead to self-will and cut off from all other heads except Christ. Eventually, all of the world of mankind who will attain unto everlasting life must consecrate, come under Christ as their Head and render full obedience to Him (Eph. 1:10; Isa. 45:23; Phil. 2:10, 11). But during the reign of sin and death God has been selecting the pre-Millennial consecrated seed of Abraham (His Ancient Worthies, Little Flock, Great Company, Youthful Worthies and Consecrated Epiphany Campers) for special honors, privileges and blessings, including special opportunities of service in the coming Kingdom for the blessing of all the families of the earth. These selected ones must be specially developed and tested, to be accounted worthy of such exaltation (Heb. 11:38; 2 Thes. 1:5, 11; Rev. 3:4; PT ’67, p. 37).
As consecrated children of God we should not expect that the present life will be a smooth and pleasant dream of earthly calm and pleasure. No one should be surprised if he is called upon to endure much for the Truth’s sake, and to evidence to God his faithfulness to Him and to His Word, and his willingness to endure all the fiery trials that God sees best for him to have for developing the graces of the Spirit in his character. The “taking up” of one’s cross is done when he takes the step of consecration, after first counting the cost. This, however, does not mean that it is to merely be lifted, but it, (the cross of Christ) is to be “borne,” carried faithfully unto and until death. One bears his cross only as he faithfully resists anything that opposes the will of God, the will of Christ, which he has accepted as his own.
Opportunities for cross-bearing will be found in one’s daily experiences. If, for instance, the opposition of husband or wife is engendered by the spouse’s faithfulness to the Lord, in doing his will, the bearing of this opposition by the spouse would be cross-bearing, because of his/her enduring it for Christ’s sake, for the cause of Truth and righteousness. The same principle applies in connection with opposition from other members of the household, also opposition encountered in our relationships with the brethren, business associates, friends, neighbors, etc. Our perseverance in withstanding anything that would cross us in our faithfulness to Christ our Head and Master would be a part of our cross-bearing.
We must speak a word of caution at this time! Luke 14:33 “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” does not mean that a father must desert his wife and family, and a mother her husband and children, that they must abandon their home, their jobs, their automobile, their clothing, etc.? Surely not! We are to “provide things honest in the sight of all men”; and “if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (Rom. 12:17; 1 Tim. 5:8). What it does mean is that when we dedicate ourselves to God and accept Christ as our Head, we surrender all; we forsake, give up, our own ideas, our own will, and our own personal right to earthly possessions and prospects. Whatever He entrusts to our care from our human all, given to Him, is to be treated by us as a stewardship, to be used only in harmony with what we understand to be His will and in His interests. Self-will must be kept completely dead; His will only must rule in all of our relationships and doings.
JESUS AS OUR EXAMPLE
We would do well to follow our Lord in our prayer life. Perfect though He was, Jesus felt the need of going frequently to, and remaining long at the Throne of Grace. We see this to be done by Him when contemplating the unbelief of the nominal Jewish people and the spirit of the Israelites indeed (Matt. 11:25, 26), in His frequently spending all night in prayer, again, at Lazarus’ tomb, in the upper room just before His betrayal, in Gethsemane and on the cross. Doubtless, daily and hourly did He seek the Throne of Grace, where He found love, sympathy, wisdom and strength. If He who was perfect needed to seek the Father’s grace, how much more do we, who are encompassed with infirmity, need it. Yes, we need it to obtain mercy for our sins and weaknesses and to find grace to help in every time of need. To encourage us to use this privilege we have the Father’s ability, invitation and promise. And His answers to our proper petitions offered up in Jesus’ name and merit are a constant incentive for us to seek anew His grace, mercy and Truth. And if, like Him, we fulfil the conditions of prevailing prayer—letting God’s Word control our petitions and remaining faithful to our consecration—we will be favored with answers to our prayers.
Let us, therefore, go confidently, in full assurance of faith, to our gracious Heavenly Father, and we will obtain the answers to our properly made prayers. And in this we will be following Jesus. Such following of Him in meditation on the good Word, in witnessing to that Word, in living out its principles for our development in the Holy Spirit, in self-scrutiny and watchfulness and in prayer, must be faithfully accompanied by appropriate self-denial. It must also be kept up amid our cross-bearing; for while the Millennial world will practice the study, spread and doing of the Word, as well as exercise self-examination, watchfulness and prayer only under the easy conditions of the highway of holiness, we have to do these things amid and in spite of the trialsome experiences, enumerated above, that constitute the cross borne in our narrow way. And if we are faithful in Jehovah’s appointed trials we will be enlightened with God’s favor; and our future will be as bright as His promises to us (PT ’87, p. 84).
If God has called you to be really like Jesus, and if you are willing, He will draw you into a life of loving and joyful self-denial, of humility, and of cross-bearing (Matt. 16:24). In love, He will put upon you such demands of obedience that you will not be free to follow other people except as they follow Christ (1 Cor. 11:1), or to measure yourself by other Christians in general. The holy Spirit of benevolence, self-denial, contentment, peace, etc., is the spirit or disposition that rules in the hearts and minds of the Lord’s true people. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13). Those who would be the Lord’s true followers or disciples must practice self-denial and cross-bearing (Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23).
Even if we have no weakness of our own, our self-denial and cross-bearing would present us with difficulties enough to tax our powers, even as Jesus, who was without imperfection of any kind, found it to be the case. If He with difficulty denied self and bore the cross, we may be sure that we, who are encompassed with infirmities, will find difficulties therein. Even if there were no obstacles from the devil, the world and the flesh in the way of our Christian walk, it would still present difficulties to our successful progress, for self-denial and world-denial, watchfulness and prayer, study, spread and practice of the Truth and enduring faithfully the trials of that way would of themselves offer us difficulties to overcome.
The God of justice and mercy says He will strengthen our heart, (Psa. 27:14) just as He did for His Beloved Son Jesus. The term, strengthen our heart, has a variety of meanings in the Bible. It means, first of all, the affections, then it means the will; it means also the graces that the will develops by exercising the affections. It sometimes is used to mean the intellect, and at times it means a combination of any two or three or all four of them. Since it can have these meanings, and since there is nothing in the text to restrict its meaning to any one of these senses in particular, we will be well advised to take it to mean all of them, either singly or combinedly in two or more of them. Accordingly, the promise implies that God will strengthen those who wait on Him, and who exercise their strength while waiting and while doing the thing revealed to them for which they waited on the Lord.
We would respectfully ask: how does God give the Consecrated added strength? God answers—through His Word, Spirit and providences, for these are the three great means or channels of grace. The first of these is the Word, the Truth. First of all, it enlightens us on what of strength God would give us and on how we may get that enlightenment from the Word. Then He shows us that it consists, firstly, of self-control and patience, i.e., will power, and then of power in the intellect, affections and graces. Furthermore, He shows us how we may from the Word get it, i.e., by submitting mind, heart and will to its power-producing parts in motive, thought, word and act in all the pertinent methods of its development. Finally, He shows us why, when, from whom and where we are to learn this knowledge. Accordingly, from the Word we derive all the knowledge necessary for us to gain strength.
Secondly, God strengthens us by His Spirit allowing us to have His disposition in us, the new mind, heart and will (PT ’85, p. 60). And thirdly, God strengthens His people by His providences, i.e., He creates such situations[Italics ours] as give them opportunities to exercise their minds, hearts, graces and wills amid experiences calling for the exercise of their holy Spirit, enlightened and energized by the Word, whereby they gain strength reflexly and infusedly from God’s cornucopia of blessings.
We have need of all the strength that we have, and that may be given to us. Our weakness implies this need. The strongest of us are weak and would be unable to stand, unless supported by the strength that God by Christ’s ministry gives us (Phil. 4:13). The Apostle Paul needed added strength to win out, and he found Jesus an ever present Strengthener, accordingly as He said to him: “My grace is sufficient for thee: my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9) — i.e., His strength completes, makes up for our weakness (BS ’84, p. 6).
THE APOSTLE PAUL’S EXAMPLE
What a wonderful example we have in the Apostle Paul! He was fitted for a high social and political position, both by birth and by education. He could have attained to great power and influence, both among the Jews and the Romans, for he was a Roman, freeborn (Phil. 3:5, 6; Acts 21:39; 22:3-5, 25-29). He gladly gave up all these things of gain for the much greater gains in Christ. “The loss of all things,” which he suffered for Christ’s sake, is understood to include the approval and favor of his own father and mother, who impliedly disinherited him because of his acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah (R 2969, col. 1, top). “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Seemingly, Paul had to choose between (1) retaining favor with his influential and apparently wealthy parents and (2) being loyal to God and Christ. Thank God, he chose the latter!
Jesus “died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:15; comp. 1 Pet. 4:2). We who have accepted Jesus as our Head are to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:14). What shall we say, then, of those who have accepted Jesus as their Head and have vowed to take His will as their own, yet practice self-will contrary to His will and fulfil the lusts, the desires, of the flesh? Are those faithful to the Lord who love father or mother, son or daughter, brother or sister, more than Him? They may profess the name of Jesus, but are they worthy of Him? Should they look to Him, or to those of their own households, for their reward?
To give a few illustrations: Suppose that one knows that one of his fleshly relatives—his father, son or fleshly brother, etc.—is opposed to the special “Vow Unto the Lord” (R 5794), or to the advancing Truth that the Lord is giving to His people, or to the one whom the Lord has appointed as the leader of His people (comp. Num. 16:3-11), but yet votes for that one to serve as an elder of the ecclesia despite his opposition to the Lord and the Truth, in order to keep peace in the family, or to keep from hurting that one’s feelings, or to prevent possible hard feelings or persecutions from that one. Can the Lord smile with favor upon such a course, which is really a sowing to the flesh? Matt 10:37, “He that loveth father or mother … son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” One who in his vote does not express what he conscientiously believes to be the mind of Christ, but votes instead according to the desires of the flesh (note the Manna comments for Aug. 27), is not faithful to the Lord in this. He has committed a sin against his Head and should repent and seek forgiveness.
Family ties are precious, and rightly so, but they should never be given first place. Our motto should be “God First” in all things; and we should always be activated by principle rather than by favoritism, personal preference or fleshly desires that may cross our full allegiance to God and His principles of Truth and righteousness.
LOVING GOD AND CHRIST SUPREMELY
Those who would be accounted worthy of a share with the Lord in His Kingdom and an abundant entrance into it, must be fully and completely devoted to Him and His cause; they must be figuratively beheaded, dead to self-will and cut off from all other heads except Christ. Eventually, all of the world of mankind who will attain unto everlasting life must consecrate, come under Christ as their Head and render full obedience to Him (Eph. 1:10; Psa. 110:3; Isa. 45:23; Phil. 2:10, 11; Acts 3:23). But during the reign of sin and death God has been selecting the pre-Millennial consecrated seed of Abraham (His Ancient Worthies, Little Flock, Great Company, Youthful Worthies and Consecrated Epiphany Campers) for special honors, privileges and blessings, including special opportunities of service in the coming Kingdom for the blessing of all the families of the earth. These selected ones must be specially developed and tested, to be accounted worthy of such exaltation (Heb. 11:38; 2 Thes. 1:5, 11). These selected ones are the ones who are pleasing in the Lord’s sight, those who walked close to the Lord, who were not driven from Him by any of the craftiness of the Adversary. These have followed the Lord in a narrow way of discipline and trial (Rev. 3:4).
We are to understand this worthiness and fitness is by God’s grace, through Christ, a transformation work for the vessels God has chosen to bring Truth in its dueness, Truth that will continue to be the food of God’s people until they come to the kingdom. Yes, upon Truth already had the Lord superimposes more Truth, adding line upon line, precept upon precept (Isa. 28:10, 13). The night-long falling of the manna upon the dew suggests the progressive development of the Truth (Prov. 4:18), ever reminding us of the thought expressed in a hymn. “Still there’s more to follow.”
One of the chief hindrances to Christian growth is the failure to discern the importance, yes, even the completeness of self-denial and acceptance of the headship of Christ that is requisite in those who would be accounted worthy of Him and a share in His Kingdom honors. It is required of every one who would be a true Christian, a disciple of the Lord, that he deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him (Matt. 16:24; John 10:4). Some well-meaning Christians have been heard to say, “I have a mind of my own, I do my own thinking.” This is all right, if one means that he under Jesus’ headship, “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5), has “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) as his own and does his own thinking as directed by Christ—but independent from rulership by others. The true Christian should not let another individual do his thinking for him, nor a body of men make his creed for him or tell him what he must believe. “Let every man be fully persuaded [fully assured] in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5).
Before we dedicated our lives to God, we were active in “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the [fleshly] mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Eph. 2:3). But in our consecration we gave to God our heart—our full affection and devotion (Prov. 23:26), we gave to Him our mind, to think only as He would have us think, to “delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Rom 7:22), we gave to Him our will, laying down self-will, fully and completely, and accepting His will to govern us in all things (Heb. 10:36; 13:21; 1 John 2:17; Mark 3:35). This headless and selfless condition is not merely a sentiment; it must be a reality, so far as the new heart, mind and will are concerned.
We must reach that attitude of relationship to Christ that will be continually seeking to know the will of the Head, and seeking to do it. True, the new creature, or the new heart, mind and will, “the inner man,” must operate through and think with the human organism, and because the latter is imperfect through the fall, the result may frequently be an imperfect understanding of the will of Christ, as well as an imperfect doing of that will. However, the imperfections of the fallen flesh are not imputed against the inner man, if it is loyal in seeking to know and do the will of Christ (PT ’67, p. 37).
The prominent class [Consecrated Epiphany Campers] that God is, since 1954 working with, do have the holy Spirit; because it is always the privilege of the consecrated to see the Truth due in their times (PT ’84, p. 23); the Scriptures teach for all times that the due Truth is for ALL the consecrated (E-15, p. 652). With very positive reasoning we believe that all the figurative wheat and barley— the Little Flock and the Great Company—has now all been garnered. Also, all the figurative rye, or spelt—the Ancient Worthies (E Vol. 12, p. 493)—was harvested prior to the Gospel Age (Luke 16: 16). But other grains or seeds that were grown in the Holy Land and used for making bread, such as beans, lentils and millet (Ezek. 4:9), may be used to illustrate the Youthful Worthies, the Consecrated Epiphany Campers and the rest of the quasi-elect. These classes are still being harvested as pre-Millennial seed of Abraham. Beans = Youthful Worthies; Lentils = CECs; Millet = the rest of the Quasi-elect. (PT ’79, p. 68; PT ’61, p. 41).
Let us now examine Pastor R. G. Jolly’s remarks in harmony with our living in the expanded Gospel Age Harvest. (Quote): Bro. Russell also wrote of the Laodicean Church as including the nominal people of God, e.g., “We are in the time of the last or Laodicean stage of the great nominal gospel church of wheat and tares (Rev. 3:14-22). She is upbraided for her lukewarmness, pride, spiritual poverty, blindness and nakedness, and counseled to forsake quickly her evil ways before it is too late” (SITS Vol 4, p. 41); “we have no intimation in the Scripture that she [the Laodicean Church] will give any heed to this counsel; on the contrary, the intimation is that more and more she will become a Babel of confusion, and that she will go down with political and financial systems of this present age, in the great time of trouble with which this age will terminate” (R 2763, par. 6).
As to the ending of the Laodicean period, Bro. Johnson indicated “that the Laodicean period was the harvest period from 1874-1954—the first 40 years of which—the Parousia—being for the reaping and the second 40 years of which—the Epiphany—being for the rest of the other harvest processes” (E Vol. 6, p. 377; see also p. 383, top). So far as God’s people are concerned, the last part of the Laodicean period and the Epiphany, “the last special period of the Gospel Age” (E Vol. 4, p. 65, par. 2), seem to end at the same time. The garnering into the Kingdom of the last Little Flock member on Oct. 22, 1950, several years before 1954, ended the Laodicean stage of the Church for the Body of Christ in the flesh, (Italics ours) but not for the other above-mentioned parts of the Laodicean Church. For these, 1954 marks the ending, in the restricted sense, of both the Laodicean epoch and the Epiphany period, for here the Gospel-Age elect as a whole, including the Youthful Worthies, are for the first time complete in their membership, and the first work of the Basileia opens up (see PT ‘54, pp. 41, 42, 51-59).
However, the Epiphany period, while ending in its restricted sense in 1954, continues in other senses beyond 1954 and 1956 (PT ‘54, pp. 51-54However, the Epiphany period, while ending in its restricted sense in 1954, continues in other senses beyond 1954 and 1956 (PT ‘54, pp. 51-54); so the Laodicean stage of the Church, of which the Epiphany is the last part, also continues beyond 1954 and 1956. Also, the Great Company (a part of the real Church—E Vol. 8, pp. 238, 239) and the Youthful Worthies will be here an uncertain number of years after 1954-56 (E Vol. 11, p. 493). For them, the Laodicean period extends for an indefinite time beyond 1954-56.
The Epiphany period as the Time of Trouble upon the nominal church and the world also seems to be synchronous with the last part of the Laodicean epoch. Bro. Johnson states that “with 1914 began the Epiphaniac features of Laodicea … with the World War as the first great physical punishment of Christendom for vindication of the people, to be followed by the other features of wrath, which will not end until the Epiphaniac part of Laodicea is ended” (E Vol. 6, p. 379; see also E Vol. 11, p. 417). “From this standpoint also the Laodicean period evidently continues beyond 1954-56, for the Epiphany, its last part, continues beyond 1954-56” (PT ‘54, pp. 51, 52). (End quote)
There is much evidence that we are in the Laodicean stage with Pastors Russell and Johnson as the two star members of that stage; with Pastor Jolly as their special helper and we although lesser saints, are still Laodicean saints. Let us examine the October 17 Manna text: “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust” Psa. 91:4. So close to His heart does Jehovah gather His loyal and faithful children that they feel the warmth of His love, and the responsive language of their hearts is, “I will abide in thy tabernacle”-under Thy protection—“forever”; “I will trust in the covert of thy wings; for thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong Tower from the enemy … for thou, O God, hast heard my vows”-my consecration—“thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name” (Psa. 61:4, 3, 5). “I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble” (Psa. 59: 16). The Laodicean saints are here addressed [Italics ours].
We recognize that the good work for the Ancient Worthies, Little Flock, Great Company, and Youthful Worthies has been completed, yet the same kind of good work goes on for the Consecrated Epiphany Campers, for they also need instruction as to how to serve God in building up the Epiphany Camp, etc. The under-shepherds may be recognized by their spirit of self-sacrifice for the sheep, and by their ability to feed them by expounding and teaching to them the Scriptures harmoniously. God will highly honor the “new heart, mind and will” “the inner man” of the Consecrated Epiphany Campers for they are proving themselves faithful under greater trial than restitutionists in general will have. They will be privileged to be the special assistants of the Worthies and will be very able helpers to the world of mankind as they with them come up the Highway of Holiness.
As a fifth order of the seed of Abraham, Consecrated Epiphany Campers will, under elective features of salvation be one part of the five pre-restitution consecrated classes—the Little Flock, the Ancient Worthies, the Great Company, the Youthful Worthies and the Consecrated Epiphany Campers—symbolized respectively by Zion, Moriah, Akra, Bezetha and Ophel—the special means of assisting the non-elect up the Highway of Holiness. These five classes will feed the restitution class under the Millennial Mediatorial Reign of Christ. Isaiah 49:10 “They shall not hunger or thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.”
A STEADFAST WARFARE
In our consecrated life the new heart, mind and will is to wage a steadfast warfare against the fleshly desires. From the start we are to remember that we “have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:9, 10). But throughout our earthly sojourn to our promised inheritance we must “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12), we must “keep the body under, and bring it into subjection” (1 Cor. 9:27), we must continually, day by day, “put off, according to the former course of life, that old man, corrupted by deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and be you clothed with that new man, who [which], according to God, has been formed in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:22- 24—Diaglott). There is constant conflict between the Spirit and the flesh (Gal. 5:16, 17). Indeed, we must “walk circumspectly” if we would “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (Eph. 5:15; 1 Pet. 2:11). Walk “as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance” (1 Pet. 1:14).
It means a great deal to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. Even Jesus had to be tested in all points like as we are (yet without sin—Heb. 4:15) before He received God’s final “well done.” When Jesus was on the mount of temptation, Satan strongly appealed to Him through the desires of His flesh (PT ‘65, pp. 29, 30), but He rebuked and overcame Satan, saying, among other things: “It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10). And we must be similarly tested, for “as he is, so are we in this world”; this love (our full devotion to God) must be made perfect in us (developed, tested and approved), if we are to have confidence in the Day of Judgment (1 John 4:17). “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Rom. 14:10); His final decisions as the Father’s Representative are given here in the end of the Gospel Age as to who of His disciples have held His headship faithfully and who have not, and they are rewarded accordingly.
We read in 2 Pet. 1:2 “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you.” We are told that this is possible through the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. We also notice that in verse 5 our attention is brought to the thought of “add to your faith.” When we examine these texts it appears that we add and God does the multiplying. 10 added to 10 makes 20; but 10 multiplied by 10 makes 100; add 10 more makes 30; multiply 10 more makes 1000. We do a little for God, then He does much for us. We add, little by little, to our character, and it takes all our care and attention to do that; we couldn’t have any hope if it was necessary for us to multiply the graces of the Spirit, but as we add, God multiplies grace and favor. It is that the more we give Him, the more we owe Him, we can never get out of His debt, but for all eternity we must continue getting deeper and deeper in His debt.
Those who have consecrated their lives to God now, though not begotten of the spirit, have laid down their own wills self-ward and world-ward and accepted God’s will as their own. This has not led them into the narrow way that leads to life and immortality, although it has led them into a narrow, rather difficult way, one of self-denial and strewn with temptations and oppositions from the world, the flesh, and the devil, together with trials, afflictions, persecutions, and sufferings for righteousness’ sake. (We sometimes refer to their course as a narrow way, in contrast to the world’s course). Though not on trial for life, they are on trial for faith and obedience and through their sins, especially against God’s Truth, have so greatly undermined their characters as to make it in some cases impossible for the Millennial arrangements to reform them (E Vol. 16, p. 175).