Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,
says Yahweh of Hosts. Zechariah 4:6
Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of Glory may come in! Who is this King of Glory?
Yahweh of Hosts: He is the King of Glory. Psalm 24:9-10
"Oh, that my ways were directed to keep your statutes!"
The Lord has indeed commanded us to keep his precepts. But, alas! where is our power? Satan would have us believe our weakness to be an excuse for indolence; the Spirit of God convicts us of our weakness and uses it as an incitement to prayer and an exercise of faith.
If, Reader, your heart is perfect with God, then you "agree with the law that it is good," you "delight in the law of God according to the inward man," and you would not have one jot or tittle altered, mitigated, or repealed that it might be more conformed to your own will or allow you more liberty of self-indulgence in the ways of sin. Yet do you not sigh to think that when you aim at the perfect standard of holiness you should, at your best moments and in your highest attainments, fall so far below it, seeing indeed the way before you but feeling yourself without the ability to walk in it? Then let a sense of your helplessness for the work of the Lord lead you to the throne of grace, to pray, watch and wait for the strengthening and refreshing influences of the Spirit of grace.
It is here at the throne of grace where we realize at one and the same time our utter insufficiency and our complete All-sufficiency. We behold Jesus, who is ever presenting himself before God as our glorious Head, receiving in himself the full supply for this and every successive moment of our inexpressible need. Our work, therefore, is not left to our own hands. So long as Jesus has a remnant of the Spirit, grace will be found sufficient for it; divine strength will be made perfect in our weakness. Without him we can do nothing, but through him all things.
In connecting this verse with the preceding, how accurately is the middle path preserved-- equally distant from the idea of self-sufficiency to keep the Lord's statutes and from self-justification in neglecting them! The first attempt to render spiritual obedience will quickly convince us of our utter helplessness. We might as soon create a world as create in our hearts one pulse of spiritual life. And yet our inability does not cancel our obligation. Shall God lose his right because sin has paralyzed our ability? Is not a drunken servant still under his master's law? Is not the sin which prevents him from performing his duty an aggravation and not an excuse? Our weakness stems from a heart which cannot be subject to the law of God because it is carnal, at enmity against God. The obligation therefore remains in full force. Our inability is our sin, our guilt, and condemnation.
What then remains for us but to return the mandate to heaven accompanied with an earnest prayer that the Lord would write upon our hearts those statutes to which he requires obedience in his word: You have commanded us to keep your precepts diligently. We acknowledge, Lord, our obligation, but we feel our impotency. Lord, help us. We look unto thee. Oh, that our ways were directed to keep your statutes!
"Give what you command, and then command what you will," prays Augustine.
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