“Yea, they turned back, and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.” – Psalms lxxviii. 41.
The holy writer used these words after rehearsing the manifold blessings bestowed upon the children of Israel. They were still God’s people, as the opening verse of this Psalm testifies: “Give ear, 0 my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.” Notwithstanding the many blessings with which He blessed them, and the wonderful works which God did before their eyes, yet, “For all this they sinned still.” But the Lord was “full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not.” Some were destroyed, it is true, but as a people they were preserved – saved from destruction. This turning back and tempting God could be done only by God’s people. It was a grievous sin. Is it not a grievous sin to-day! None but God’s people can turn back and thus tempt the Lord. Wise men of the world have always limited God in all things, rejecting his testimony and setting aside his decrees of justice. It is the Lord’s people that I want to speak about. There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, but there is evident condemnation for all those redeemed and quickened sinners who now walk after the flesh. Is it not walking after the flesh to deny the only Lord God, who hath bought them! Have not some to-day turned back from following Jesus! How have they turned back! By claiming that they merit esteem at the hand of the Lord in helping God to build up his cause in the land, holding that the Lord’s hand is a little short to do everything, therefore it is necessary for man to aid him in melting the hearts of the people by the words of man’s wisdom. This is to make simple (or simplify) the gospel to the understanding of men. The testimony of God, I have often thought, and it seems to be sustained by the Scriptures, that when believers cannot trust God in his providence, in regard to their worldly prosperity, that they then tempt him. When they appeal to men for future aid, for fear that providence will be against them, this is tempting God; then their whole trust is not in him. God says that he is a jealous God; he also says, My name is Jealousy. If believers fail to render all their trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, then they have turned back and tempted God. Many things common to all the saints might be specified in detail that draw us from the path of holiness in this life. I shall not speak of many, but I am now just thinking of a conversation which I had with the late Elder Samuel Danks, in 1869, at his residence, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Somehow our conversation turned in the direction of insurance; he said an insurance agent waited on him one day and asked him if he had his house insured! “Yes,” replied brother Danks. “In what company have you got it insured!” was asked. “In heaven,” was brother Danks’ reply. He said to me that he felt to fully trust in the Lord, even to the loss or the preservation of his house and property. I mention this to show the strong faith which brother Danks had in the “Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.” This awakened, as it were, in my mind thoughts about rendering unto God that which belongs to him. I have ever felt, since I have been made to believe on his precious name, that I cannot yield too much dominion unto the Lord over my thoughts and actions, yet I am just as prone to sin along this line as the poorest of the flock; it is only by the spirit of prayer and supplication that my mind is brought back to view my infirmity. I feel to realize that I am walking after the flesh when I am looking to man for help in any temporal trouble; however, this seems to be the condition of my mind oftener than otherwise. The apostle exhorted the primitive saints: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” Have we received him as a Sovereign, unlimited in power and mercy! If so, let us go on unto perfection, and not turn back, but have our eye single unto the glory of God, for if our eye be single we shall be full of light, and if we are full of light the command of God’s prophet claims our attention, viz.: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” Most surely if we have received the Lord as a complete Sovereign, and we are found limiting him in any way whatever, then we are turned back from serving him in spirit and in truth. If this is our lamentable condition, that is, we are turned back, tempting Jehovah, limiting the Holy One of Israel, who is to blame, the creature or the Creator? Surely God “knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust;” must the dust enlightened from on high be justified in turning from the Light and tempting the Holy One! No flesh shall glory in his presence nor be justified in his sight, neither shall the God of Jeshurun be responsible for the errors or transgressions of his enlightened people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God and be cut back to the main stem of vitality by the Spirit which searches all things, yea, the deep things of God. Limiting God is idolatry, the greatest sin found among the children of men. Idolatry must have been found among the primitive saints of the gospel day, for Paul exhorted the Corinthian brethren to “flee from idolatry,” and John’s warning: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” There were some who were vainly puffed up by their fleshly mind, not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God; these were idolatrous people who did not hold the Head in proper estimation. They limited the Holy One, exalting the flesh above the Spirit’s teaching, preferring to eat their own bread and wear their own clothing, but desired His name to cover their sin. This is a great limit of the power of his grace and mercy. O what a slur against Omnipotence! Can one who believes in Jesus be ashamed of the great scope of his power! Why not give him jurisdiction over all things! Why not deliver all things up to his care and custody! It is written that whomsoever believeth upon this Corner-stone shall not be ashamed; again, they shall not be confounded; and again, they shall not make haste. Here is set forth the faith of God’s elect; let them then contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints in all its fullness and beauty in the face of opposition, for His great name’s sake.
I submit these thoughts to the readers of the Signs, if they are approved by the editors.
In hope of immortality,
J. F. BEEMAN.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 76., No. 2.
JANUARY 15, 1908.