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With such bitter experience, it is evident that the proper frame of spirit is dread and abhorrence of the tempter, and not any affected doubt as to his existence, or self-confident scorn for his weapons and his malice, and for his anticipations of overthrowing our steadfast
“He that is born of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not."* What shrinking from the tempter's very touch is suggested by the sound of the words, "That wicked one toucheth him not !" If a true believer is seduced into some crooked path, and thus laid open to temptation, the feeling of humiliation and hatred of sin which he must experience, reminds us of the exclamation of guilty Ahab on seeing Elijah before him, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy
?” What shuddering abhorrence, what shrinking aversion, what unfeigned dread, are implied in such words, and how suitable to a tempted and too often erring believer, when he has fallen, but is not utterly cast down,—not forsaken by God for ever, but convinced how evil and bitter a thing it is to forsake God for a moment,--dreading lest he should be left to himself, and recoiling from the unrelenting and unblushing tempter.
* 1 John, v. 18.
"Fear and trembling" includes,
4. Watchfulness against temptation. It is not the fear of man which is spoken of in my text. Here is no cowardice, but conscientious and solemn anxiety-" fear and trembling"caused by God alone in those who are, in the words chap. i. 28, " in nothing terrified by their adversaries." On the brink of eternity, and in an enemy's country, the Christian has to be on his guard. A trembling anxiety lest he should be found sleeping at his post, a serious consciousness of the possibility of being surprised and overpowered, and anxious circumspection-all this is quite consistent with Christian courage. Though he has chosen the side which must in the end be victorious, though the Captain of his salvation has assured him that he shall never perish, and that no man shall pluck him out of the hand of God; yet all this assurance demands the use of means.
Sin has to be opposed, self to be distrusted, the body to be kept under and brought into subjection, the world to be resisted and defeated, and the tempter to be actively hindered from gaining
advantage over us. What watchfulness is required! Indeed, the frame of spirit, “ fear and trembling," seems most befitting to a sentinel keeping a look-out in a dark night, feeling the weight of his charge, and yet calm; anxious, yet not afraid ; thoughtful, in order to preserve a steady determination ; expecting a conflict, and yet looking forward to victory and honour.
III. Confidence in God is the foundation of our motives and our strength.
The fact, that “fear and trembling" is a necessary frame of spirit, would make it evident to the Philippians that self-confidence is altogether improper. The Apostle declared the confidence which animated him in his work, chap. i. 25 : "Having this confidence." What confidence? That which he had declared in ver. 19 and 20. He recognised the believers in Philippi as sharing the same ground of confidence. He was confident of this very thing," that God would perform a good work in them; and this confident anticipation was founded on the belief expressed at the end of ver. 8, “ Ye are all partakers of my grace," i. e. partakers of God's grace along with me.
He called to the exercise of this confidence, when, after telling them, as obedient servants
of God, to work out their own salvation, he encouraged them by as positively stating the fact: • It is God which worketh in
both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Here is freely placed at the disposal of believers the all-sufficiency of God to give them the desire and the power to do His will. The will is to be sought and found in Him, the strength and glory of such “ doing" is to be regarded as His. If you look to a change in your heart and life, and are disposed to say, “ I think I have some credit in this,” the Apostle says, No," It is God.” If you say, “It is myself that I must trust for continuing in the way of salvation," my text will again contradict you.
It is God."
Consider the views of God which invite our confidence.
1. God should be confided in as a covenant God. It is part of the blessing provided in His covenant, “ I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts ;'* and my text declares the same truth. God has come under covenant obligation to all who come to Christ, that He will give them heaven-born will and strength to please Him more and
* Heb. viii. 10.
more; however much may be wanted and always is required to renew a ruined soul, to create it anew in the image of God.
2. The Lord Jesus Christ is a special and attractive object of confidence. Sinners of all descriptions are drawn to Him by Himself, the Almighty God, full of grace and truth.* It is through Christ that we are adınitted into covenant with God: of Him specially a
“ In the Lord I have righteousness and strength ;" and real Christians say of Christ, “We are the righteousness of God in Him."| The Christian life is a life of faith in the Son of God, and he who can lead this life must be able to say of the Son of God, “He loved me, and gave Himself for me.”I Confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ is the breath of spiritual life ; without it salvation is not your own, and you cannot be working out your own salvation.
3. God the Holy Ghost must be confided in. You remark, in chap. i. 19, that the Apostle in a special manner calculates
and confides in the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, i. e. of God the Holy Ghost. * John, i. 13, 14; xii. 32. of 2 Cor. v. 21.
Gal. ii. 20.