Monthly Archives: December 2013

What Are You Thinking?

In view of what we have been sharing about walking in the light of His countenance, I wonder if I don’t hear someone thinking, what are you talking about, do you know anyone who enjoys this kind of light, this New Covenant glory you are talking about?

In fact I know many who enjoy this… in measure.  It’s that inner sense of His shining face, a sense of illumination as to His will, and the steps He is leading us in.  He has lifted up His countenance upon us; He is smiling; He is pleased.  There is the assurance of His love.

But I also know at least one person who knows the times when darkness veils His lovely face, times that call for us to “trust in His unchanging grace.”

And remember that in the very passage we have been dwelling on (2 Cor. Ch. 3) Paul says:

Seeing, then, that we have such hope we use great plainness (openness) of speech, and not as Moses who put a veil over his face…

Hope?  This seems to imply that we may not be experiencing the full reality of what Paul is setting forth—not yet, that is.  Do I see His shining face?  Well, yes, in measure.  We enjoy this light of His countenance in measure.  But there is much more to come, and I don’t want to cheat myself of that.  So I nurture hope in my heart.  It is in the sphere of hope that we embrace these things—that in the New Covenant we have the hope of seeing the face of Jesus Christ shining with the glory of God, and our being changed into the very same image… from one measure of glory to another… to another…  It is with this confident hope and expectation that we unveil our own faces in every step of our walk, and continue to turn our unveiled faces with anticipation upward.  We know we will not be disappointed.  For “hope does not disappoint,” anchored, as it is, “within the veil.”

And so we seek to war a good warfare on the basis of this hope.  Yes, warfare.  We must recognize that we are in a war; this new-covenant hope is intensely resisted by the forces of darkness.  They are able to affect even our own thoughts.  This is perhaps the most difficult thing we Christians have to go through—the darkness of our thought life.  There are night seasons when His lovely face is hidden from us, and our minds are prey to darkness. That lovely shining countenance we love so much… now we are sure it is a frowning countenance.  In such times let us recognize our thinking for what it actually is—just that—darkness, not light.  Let us be on our guard, then, and beware lest we start believing that what we are thinking is actually true.  All those doubts, fears, evil surmisings, dark forebodings… let us recognize all that for what it is—darkness, not truth!

So let us keep this living hope ever before us, more and more seeking to gird up the loins of our mind, to discipline our mind not to dwell on darkness.  Let us put on the armour of light.  Let us guard against meditating on the darkness in times of darkness.  Let us meditate on the Light in the night watches—not on the night (Ps. 63.6).  Wrong thinking, if we do not recognize it for what it is, can become an enemy stronghold in the mind.

It can become a habit of mind to meditate on darkness—on some problem or evil circumstance or failure.  Or… have you ever entertained an imaginary conversation with someone who had done you wrong, and you are doing warfare with that person with your imaginary words?  Once when I was doing this myself, the Holy Spirit intercepted my thinking with a question.  “What are you thinking?”  I suddenly became aware that all I was thinking… it was just darkness!  I was embarrassed at the time, but I am grateful for that question now; it has helped me many times to dismiss thoughts that are darkness.  David cried out, “Search me O LORD and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts…” (Ps. 139.23).  This is what that question did for me.  It was God knowing my thoughts, and thus I was able to know them myself.  We deeply need this kind of input from our God, showing us the nature of the thoughts and intents of our heart.  Without it, and all unawares, darkness is seeping into our hearts as we think on these things.  Our adversary is building his own stronghold in our very thoughts when we do this.

Paul spoke of weapons that are effective against the strongholds of darkness.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;
Casting down imaginations (reasonings, arguments), and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ… (2 Cor. 10.4,5).

Paul is speaking of the enemy strongholds in the minds of those who were calling in question his apostolic authority and accusing him of a mere human agenda.  No, he cautioned; he might be walking in flesh, but he did not war after the flesh; he had weapons which could bring these strongholds down.

But it is vain to think we will have any success against the strongholds of darkness in the minds of others before we ourselves have brought into captivity every thought of our own mind to the obedience of Christ.

And so Paul continues:

And having in a readiness to revenge (avenge) all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

Your in this verse is plural.  Meaning “you as a church,” which is how Weymouth translates it.

Let this become our seeking then.  God has spiritual weapons with which we can pull down strongholds and bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.  This would indeed be a formidable church.  But first it will take discipline in our own thought life– not dwelling on the darkness, but rather earnestly seeking to fix our eyes on Jesus’ shining Face.  This will create another stronghold that the Prince of darkness cannot invade.  Let us gird up our minds, then, let our minds be filled with the light of faith, and hope, and love.  We have the hope of certain victory.  We will yet see the light of the glory of the Gospel of Christ triumphant over all darkness.

Light That Changes Us

We have been talking about walking in the light of our Lord and Saviour’s countenance.  It is light that changes us, as Paul shows when he compares the glory of the old covenant with that of the new.

Moses when he came down from the mountain after communing with God did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him (Ex. 34.29).  When the people saw him they shielded their eyes, could not look steadily into his face, could no more look on his face than look at the sun.

But then the glory on Moses’ face began to fade. So he covered his face.  He could not let the people see the fading glory—and he refused to minister without that glory.  So he went into the tent he had set up, and took the veil off while he communed further with the Lord.  Then, recharged as it were, he would come out and talk with the people again, till the glory began to fade again.

What Moses did was prophetic of the whole dispensation of the old covenant—and also of the blindness of the hearts of the people under that covenant.  Paul called the old covenant a “ministration of death” that would one day come to its end; its glory would come to an end.  But tragically, most of those who were bound under that covenant refused to acknowledge that it was over; there was a veil upon their hearts that prevented them from seeing that the Sinai covenant was history.

For, God had brought in a new covenant—one whose glory was never going to fade.  Those who drew nigh to God by this covenant would, with unveiled face, behold the glory of the Lord in the face of Jesus Christ, and be transformed “into the same image from glory to glory.”

“To this day,” grieved Paul, that same veil remained on their hearts in the reading of the old testament.  We may well say in our day it is still there—even in the reading of the new testament.  For “the letter” of the Scriptures has no power to change; it is “the Spirit that gives life” (2 Cor. 3.6).

And so Paul adds this:

Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away (2 Cor. 3.16).

He has in mind Moses returning to commune with the Lord, and taking away the veil while he talked with Him.

Let us not miss what Paul says next.  With apostolic authority and Holy Spirit inspiration, he brings this old testament picture right up into the new covenant.  “Now the Lord,” he says, referring to this passage about Moses returning to commune with the Lord, “is the Spirit…”

It is in unveiling our hearts to the Spirit of the Lord that we discover the shining face of the Lord Himself.

And in this light what do we discover?

“…And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

What does he mean—liberty?  This.  The covenant of the law was a covenant that “gendereth to bondage” (Gal. 4.24).  The Sinai covenant brought forth children of bondage.  It was “a yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5.1).  Rather than liberating from sin, it actually intensified sin in the heart of man, and brought them deeper into captivity to the law of sin and death (Rom. 7.23).  But the new covenant—the perfect law of liberty—minsters grace to the hearers and sets them free from the law of sin and death, empowering them with the quickening power of Life to do the will of God.  As Paul says in another place—and I wonder sometimes if this is not the most wondrous verse in the Bible:

The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath set me free from the law of sin and death.

The new covenant walk is a walk in the Spirit, a walk in the light of His countenance.  A walk in liberty.  A transforming walk.

…Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
But we all with open (unveiled) face beholding as in a glass (mirroring) the glory of the  Lord are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord (that is, the Lord the Spirit).

This is what the light of His countenance does as we walk in it.  It is new covenant light that changes us into the same image we see in the mirror.  It is true light, making true in us what is true in Him (1 Jn. 2.8).

Let us keep looking into this mirror!