Leaning on the Arm of Flesh

By John Thiel, Audio: mp3

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 52:8 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. 10The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Many times I have sung this hymn and it caused me a few challenges of thought:

“I am trusting Thee Lord Jesus, trusting only thee”

It goes on to say for all the different situations of life; for guiding me, for pardon, for mercy, to supply all my needs. Different thoughts would come into my mind that I needed the guidance of such as my parents, yet I didn’t always listen to their guidance thinking I was following the guidance of the Lord in my life and then I got unstuck. I was looking for a person to trust. We often need to trust each other, but trusting only thee; does that mean I don’t trust other people? These were the thoughts that often perplexed my mind.

Today we have a great perplexity in the multitudinous ministries that are around us all claiming to be representatives of the Lord. We have been taught we are to unite together with my brethren in the church and have a church that is a place where we can trust, a place where we can feel assurance. Not only in our own situation, but in all the different companies that I know and that I have been watching over the years, there is a development within the framework of Adventism today that is gathering momentum to such a degree that they have come to the conclusion that you can trust no church, you can trust no minister, you can’t rely on the arm of flesh.

To be able to discern the arm of the Lord in contrast to the arm of flesh is a very pertinent subject for us today to be able to recognise that there are human beings that we need help from as we need help from God. How to find your way through that?

Our Scripture reading expressed something valuable in relation to this. It talked about the watchmen, God’s watchmen:

Isaiah 52:8 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion. Therefore break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

May God help us to bare His arm so that through all nations His arm will be recognised, in contrast to the arm of flesh. We are seeking to understand leaning on the arm of flesh, what really is that?

Jeremiah 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed [be] the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, [in] a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed [is] the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and [that] spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

If we make flesh our arm, what will happen? We will be like the heath in the desert and we will not know when good cometh. We shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness in a salt land not inhabited. We will find nothing that refreshes and strengthens the soul. Notice especially and ascertain verse 5 to know what it means when it says not to make flesh the arm – “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.”

What is the Lord identifying for us? He is identifying a trust in man while simultaneously departing from the Lord. That is a very important criterion. Departing from the Lord at heart, we don’t want the Lord’s answers, we don’t want anything that hints of the Lord. We want answers to our needs and we turn to the counsels of man. If a man raises anything about the Lord, no I don’t want that; I want you to tell me what is right. Can you see the simple meaning of not leaning on the arm of flesh? When in need we are relying on human assistance bereft of God’s content, the assistance we are getting is not from God, it is totally from man. Human help outside of God is depending merely on flesh for support.

Isaiah 31:1 Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because [they are] many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!

Can you see an example of this?

Isaiah 31:2 Yet he also [is] wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity. Now the Egyptians [are] men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together.

Can you see the clarity of leaning on the arm of flesh, and what that really means? It means that there is no help from God, it is a turning away from God and looking for total human help and support. This is in the time of the Israelites, when they had troubles they would go to the arm of flesh – Egypt, or Rome, or Babylon for help. But when the help came, both Babylon and Israel fell together. Egypt and Israel fell together. They relied upon the assurances of human power, which was the arm of flesh.

When we look at this in reference to leaning on the help of someone else as leaning on the arm of flesh, we need to go a little deeper than that. We need to look first of all that we can do that within ourselves. Outside of being converted each individual relies on the arm of flesh within. What does the unconverted person rely on for his comfort, for his joy, for the fulfilment of his desires?

Ephesians 2:1 And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

For our pleasure, for the fulfilment of our desires, where do we turn without conversion? We turn to the flesh. That is what unconverted people do; they constantly look for comfort, for strength, for assurance, within. What is my fleshy desire, my self-centred desire? It was from this arm of the flesh that we were to be redeemed.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

Can you see this addresses the situation directly? The counsel is to trust in the Lord in contrast to leaning to your own understanding. “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.” Can you see the arm of the flesh versus the arm of the Lord? This is very important, this is the counsel to come out from the arm of flesh that we are used to relying on, within ourselves. The counsel that is given here is, Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Don’t lean on the arm of flesh, your own understanding. There is the example in the redemption story of Jesus who shows us in His experience. He had something in Him that He could have relied on which was not the Lord.

The Arm of the Lord and the Arm of the Flesh in Jesus

Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

What was His experience in the days of His flesh? Did He have a problem with His flesh? What would have happened if He had followed His flesh? He would have died because His flesh did die; but He cried unto Him who was able to save Him from death. He learned to lean on the Father to help Him, and not on Himself. He is the author of our salvation, He is showing us by His own example how we are going to be saved from leaning on our flesh. He cried to Him who could save Him. In other words, He would not exercise His own flesh to save Himself.

John 5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

What was He leaning on? He was leaning not on Himself, I can do nothing of myself; I will not lean upon myself; I am entirely and absolutely relying on the Lord and what He is doing for me and showing me to do.

John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

I know what I am saying is right. I know what I am doing is right because I am not leaning on the arm of flesh. I am leaning totally and entirely upon what I see and hear the Father in heaven say and do. When it comes to me and my circumstances, my flesh, I am not paying any attention to that; I am not leaning on it. This is the example of Jesus in our experience of salvation. If we are talking about leaning on the arm of flesh we must deal with that first. Am I leaning on my own human perceptions, my own dependency upon myself? It is from this authorship of Jesus saying, I can’t rely on my flesh, I cannot rely upon anything but that which is shown me of the Father, that proceeds the arm of the Lord:

Isaiah 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire him.

To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? As we look to Jesus, the flesh is not happy because the flesh doesn’t get the feeling that it’s being a support. “He shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” The flesh is not satisfied with that. This is the arm of the Lord. The arm of the Lord is revealed in Jesus Christ. As I want to understand about not leaning on the arm of flesh, but leaning on the arm of the Lord, it is crystal clear before us as we watch Jesus and as we look upon Him. When a human being such as Jesus denies His flesh within communicating only God’s voice and God’s actions, what do we see in the human being? We see the arm of the Lord in the human being. That is what Jesus came to reveal – the arm of the Lord.

The Arm of the Lord

Isaiah 52:10 The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

He has made bare His arm in Jesus. The Pharisees saw Jesus as a human being, and they thought He was just a human being, but there the arm of the Lord was revealed and made bare in that human being. Jesus was sent by the Father and the Father communicated Himself to His Son, and His Son was totally bereft of the human flesh and relied totally on the revelation of the Father. There He revealed the arm of the Lord.

What did Jesus do to reveal the arm of the Lord to humanity?

John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace [be] unto you: as [my] Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on [them], and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; [and] whose soever [sins] ye retain, they are retained.

What is Jesus saying? I came to this earth, I was sent from the Father to reveal the arm of the Lord. Now, as I have been sent, I send you. To do what? The very sins that people do that you remit will be remitted from them. Why? How does that work? The Catholic Church believes it means their idea. It is not the Catholic idea, it is the people that God sends who are following exactly in the process of Jesus who says, Of mine own self I can do nothing. They rely so entirely on what God reveals to them that they simply repeat, as Jesus did, what the Father says and does. He says, I want you to do the same as I did, then you will reveal the arm of the Lord in your life. A human being is to represent the arm of the Lord, struggling with the arm of human flesh within and the Spirit of God moving and controlling. Jesus battled through that, and every believer has got the flesh but he refuses to lean on the arm of flesh, he entirely relies on the counsel of the Lord and trusts in Him entirely as Jesus did. That person reveals the arm of the Lord.

Isaiah 59:16 And he saw that [there was] no man, and wondered that [there was] no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.

Here was Jesus struggling in the human flesh at Gethsemane, where He looked for somebody and there was none. When He realised He had no helpers and He couldn’t even succeed Himself, it was the arm of the Lord that brought salvation unto Him. The righteousness of the Lord sustained Him. This is the picture that a human being struggling with the onslaught of human flesh or the arm of flesh can struggle there and conquer as Jesus did. Then is revealed the arm of the Lord in the human being. This is what salvation is all about. The terminology of the arm of flesh versus the arm of the Lord is a very important subject. It actually has to do with our salvation.

Isaiah 40:6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh [is] grass, and all the goodliness thereof [is] as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people [is] grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift [it] up, be not afraid; 10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong [hand], and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward [is] with him, and his work before him. 11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry [them] in his bosom, [and] shall gently lead those that are with young.

Are we reading about redemption? Can you see that it has to do with the contrast of leaning on the arm of flesh versus the arm of the Lord? Before Jesus Christ came, His path was prepared by John the Baptist. “What shall I cry?” John the Baptist who relied on the Father, and not on flesh, asked, What shall I do? What do you want me to do?

Flesh is as Grass

You might think it is beautiful today, I can lay in it and it’s nice and green, it gives you a sense of security, but tomorrow or after the dryness, it is gone. That is the flesh. If you rely on it, it will let you down. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. Come on Zion, you are to declare and bring good tidings. Don’t be afraid, say to the cities of Juda, Behold your GodDon’t be afraid that they might not listen to you, don’t be afraid that I might not be doing the right thing, just do what the Lord instructs as He did to Jesus, and Jesus obeyed. He did not turn back; He did exactly everything the Father said to Him. That is what it means in verse 10, Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock.

There is such a resplendent appreciation in these scriptures. Here is the gospel that shows us that human beings, Zion, can go forward in the assurance that they are not leaning on the arm of flesh when they understand this gospel. When we have been given the light of this gospel and the revelation of Jesus of humanity blended with divinity in Him (here again is the subject of the nature of Christ), you can’t get away from that subject if you want to get it clear in your mind what the true activity of the gospel is. If we do not believe that Jesus had the flesh that wanted to assert itself and He said, No flesh, you have nothing for me to rely on, I will rely entirely on the Lord in my experience, then we fail to see the example by which we as human beings, as Zion, are to represent to the world the arm of the Lord and not the arm of flesh.

2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

What is this saying? The knowledge of Jesus our Lord and His God, our God, as we have the knowledge of the interaction of the flesh and the arm of God or the Spirit, that knowledge:

2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

We who have the knowledge of the true Jesus in His battle between the Spirit and the flesh, as we have that knowledge and we see what Jesus as the author of our salvation played out before us and we embrace that, we are partakers of the divine nature. That is what is written. Being partakers of the divine nature we now follow in the footsteps of Jesus because He was divine and human. Which one of the two are we going to lean on within ourselves? Are we going to lean on the arm of flesh, our habitual life, or are we going to lean on the divine nature inside? Here is the description of this kind of experience:

Galatians 5:16 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Think about that text. To receive the divine nature, we now have a two-fold battle, a battle of two items. The flesh with all its varieties of dependencies that have made our life meaningful in the past wants to do something, and the Spirit says, I don’t want that. Then the Spirit says, We want to do this, and the flesh says, I don’t want that. Have you ever been in that experience? It is devastating. It gets worse and worse until finally you know how to crack it, so that you cannot do as you would. How do you feel when you can’t do as you would? It’s a shocking experience within. Jesus went through that.

In the battle of the arm of the flesh against the arm of God within, which one will we lean on for my sense of achievement and for my sense of success? It is common sense that I won’t lean on the arm of flesh but it’s a challenge because we have become so apt on leaning on the arm of flesh within us. The other one is a new experience which takes a lot of doing. Jesus demonstrated it. By keeping my eyes focused on Jesus in this battle, then that arm of the Lord will be revealed to me and I will lean on Him.

Jeremiah 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed [be] the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.

Inside of each one of us we are making decisions, whether I am going to listen to the flesh or whether I am going to listen to the Lord. Cursed am I if I will follow the flesh and refuse to heed at heart the voice of the divine. Then I go along a path that my spiritual life doesn’t want, but my flesh wants it, it is nice. Eventually it’s going to end me in a flesh that is like grass; it will eventually whither. At the beginning it looks good; at the beginning there are flowers and it’s nice. Then we think this is the right way to go, but it will finally whither and we will be in a salt pan.

Isaiah 33:2 O LORD, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.

We have a beautiful example of this in Jesus. He was in trouble, and although He went through the dearth of flesh withering, He came out with power, the arm of the Lord revealed. That is our cry; that is the prayer in this scripture. O Lord, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou their arm every morning.

As human beings, we are subject to the crafty wiles and temptations of this fallen foe [Satan]. And unless we are kept by the power of Christ, we shall certainly be led away by the satanic sophistries by which the world is flooded. Our safety is to lean not on human power, on the arm of flesh, but upon the divine arm. Those who are partakers of the divine nature will not be beguiled by Satan. {21MR 464.3}

We are to be partakers of the divine nature, and if we understand the battle between the Spirit and the flesh in Christ and we see it in ourselves, we will not be beguiled by Satan. We can see very clearly the arm of flesh versus the arm of God; we will see it. Satan can’t create a sophistry in my mind. Can you see where the sophistries are working around us, how people, under Satan’s sophistries, are being lead to rely on the arm of flesh instead of a plain Thus saith the Lord?

Everyone will be tested. Men professing to be Christians will be placed in positions of trust, {21MR 464.4}

Should we trust only God? Men professing to be Christians will be placed in positions of trust. Are we to trust the position? Yes we are, because they have been placed in that position. God has put them there. As I have been sent, so are you sent. In the church men are placed in positions of trust,

…as guardians over the flock of God. But if they act as dictators, using arbitrary authority, they are out of their place. {21MR 464.4} 

If they are in a position of trust, when are they out of it? Can you see it? The Lord’s arm is to be revealed through those whom He has sent, but the moment they behave as dictators, using arbitrary authority, they are not in that place anymore.

Christ alone is our sufficiency. Great mischief has resulted from the course of men who set themselves as lords over God’s heritage. {21MR 464.4}

That suddenly opens up a huge field of recognizing the arm of the Lord versus the arm of flesh in the church.

We are God’s property. In Jesus Christ we are to behold a pattern of what we should be. Every soul should be educated to look not to his fellow men, but unto Christ. He is the author and finisher of our faith. Let no man think it his place to point out to others in a compulsory manner their duty. This God forbids. All are to be guided in the path of duty by the plain word of God. {21MR 464.5}

If there is a person, a human being, who is in that position of trust, if he is the arm of the Lord to the church, then what will he do? He will do what God would do; he will do what Jesus would do. The moment he doesn’t do that, he is not the arm of the Lord; he is relying on and communicating the arm of the flesh. That is a beautiful clarity here.

In every human being whom God has sent to be the under-shepherd, there needs to be a daily decision to not pursue the arm of flesh within, but to pursue the arm of the Lord. We have a very good description of one person who learned that and became the arm of the Lord.

Psalms 89:18 For the LORD [is] our defence; and the Holy One of Israel [is] our king. 19 Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon [one that is] mighty; I have exalted [one] chosen out of the people. 20 I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: 21 With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him.

Here was a person chosen from among the people. Here was David who went through all this experience and then could be trusted by God so that in anointing him it was God’s hand being established in him. God’s arm is the strength of him. We have here a human being whom God has given for a purpose.

Isaiah 55:3 …I will make an everlasting covenant with you, [even] the sure mercies of David. 4 Behold, I have given him [for] a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.

When David fulfilled his position, was that the arm of flesh? No, because God had given him as a commander. His arm, His hand was working through David.

Under David’s rule, the people of Israel gained strength and uprightness through obedience to God’s law. But the kings that followed strove for self-exaltation. They took to themselves glory for the greatness of the kingdom, forgetting how utterly dependent they were upon God. They regarded themselves as wise and independent, because of the honor showed them by fallible, erring man. They became corrupt, immoral, and rebelled against the Lord, turning from Him to the worship of idols. {4BC 1155.6}

Under David’s rule there was a recognition, in contrast to the other kings, that he needed absolute dependence upon the Lord, and therefore the Lord could make him His arm and His hand. Notice why this could be and why He could do this when he did that terrible sin and he repented of it. Notice what he pleaded with God for. First we looked at Jesus, now we are looking at David, and then Moses. We will see that the human being who has battled with the battle between the Spirit and the flesh and has made the choice in the battle not to rely upon the flesh but upon the Spirit, is one who can reveal the arm of the Lord.

Pslams 51:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin [is] ever before me.

Is this important in regards to not relying upon the arm of flesh? I know that in my flesh I am a sinner, and so he recognised the total depravity of his flesh; it was always before him. Then he cries to God,

Psalms 51:11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me [with thy] free spirit. 13 [Then] will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

A Human Being

I will be the arm of the Lord. I will be a shepherd. That is why Jesus was called the Son of David. When confused in reference to what is the arm of flesh and what is the arm of the Lord, if we would go to a man such as David, would we be leaning on the arm of flesh? According to this, no. When confused, especially within ourselves, between the flesh and the Spirit, is there someone who has gone before me to help me? Is there some human being? I can’t see Jesus properly, is there a human being that God will use to help me? Is it any different today as it was in the day of Moses?

Isaiah 63:11 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, [and] his people, [saying], Where [is] he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where [is] he that put his holy Spirit within him? 12 That led [them] by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name?

Was Moses His glorious arm? It was through Moses as he put his arm across the water with his staff that the waters parted. To the observer, it was Moses who was leading them out of Egypt, but as this says, Where is he that brought them out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? He who brought them out with the shepherd of his flock. Who was Moses? The shepherd of God’s flock. It was by the right hand of Moses with God’s glorious arm that this happened.

In the perplexities and adversities of today out of which we need guiding, we are going to be among that people who are going to sing the song of Moses. Is it only the Lord and I without any human agent that will get me there? This is what we are learning from very strong, independent-minded people today. They are confusing the picture. They say, It’s just the Lord and you. Therefore they all follow independently the way they think the Lord is leading them.

Little gods

And they become little gods, little churches of their own because of this mentality – Don’t lean on the arm of flesh. Don’t even lean on the pioneers. That is what we are doing, aren’t we? We are leaning upon the Lord leading His people as through the pioneers. As we have come all this way, we are often thrown about by the question of, what did the pioneers say? Do we still have men and women today whom we can talk with, that can do the same as the pioneers did if they were with us now?

Isaiah 30:20 And [though] the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: 21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This [is] the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

When we are in adversity and perplexity today, does God say, I’m just going to lead you? He says, Your teachers will no longer be removed in a corner, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers. And in your ears, the Holy Spirit will be whispering to you, Here it is. This is the picture. We know well that God has established gifts and positions of trust in His church – Ephesians 4. Jesus left the world and He left gifts behind: some apostles, some prophets, some pastors, some teachers. What for? They were meant to perfect the saints. Who? The Lord through them, of course, but they were people whom He has established by His gifts to be in positions of trust to prepare a people to stand for Jesus to come, to be perfect. God has not left Himself without human helpers in the last days.

Human Helpers

Speaking in the immediate precinct of the close of probation, the finishing of the work, Jesus says:

Matthew 24:45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed [is] that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.

God, right to the very last, has His servants who will give spiritual meat as Moses did, as David did, as the disciples did, as the pioneers did. They will be men and women whom God has put in position. Why? Because they are following exactly the arm of the Lord instead of the arm of flesh inside of them. They are the people He chooses. You can safely trust when they reveal no flesh in terms of their representation of truth. The angels’ messages of Revelation are beautifully verified according to the following scripture. Again you see the arm of the Lord through the human:

Malachi 2:4 And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him [for] the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity. For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he [is] the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

Many today see no value in seeking for help of any man. Why do they do that? Because they read the Spirit of Prophecy and reading outside of its correct intention they will make people think this:

For a long time I have seen the danger that was coming into our ranks in the tendency to look to human wisdom and to depend on human guidance. This will always prove a snare to souls, and I am bidden to lift the danger signal, warning my fellow workers against it, and pointing them to the Lord Jesus. The man or woman who leans upon the wisdom of the human mind leans on a broken reed. {UL 290.2}

Never should a worker encourage one who is in need of instruction and help to go first to human agencies for an understanding of his duty. . . . It is a wrong education to teach our people to lean on human aids, instead of going to the Lord in prayer. The enemy of souls has been the instigator of this, that minds might become obscured. . . . Those who bear responsibilities in the work are to cooperate with heavenly angels in teaching men and women to look to God as the source of their strength. . . . {UL 290.5}

When you read widely from Sr. White you will understand exactly what she said, but the people who read her writings on a one-sided approach will jump to that and say, See, you people are leaning on the arm of flesh by following a man. This is what they would have said in the days of Moses, when Korah, Dathan and Abiram said, You take too much upon yourself. It is the same story, no different. We get the balance by reading another quote so we get it clear as to what is behind the meaning of the Upward Look statement:

Do not refuse to unite with your brethren, fearing that if you put yourself on an equality with them you will not be able to do all that your own judgment might suggest. God’s workers are to counsel together. Ministers, physicians, or directors are walking in false paths when they regard themselves as a complete whole; when they feel no need of counsel from men of experience, who have been led by the Lord, who, as they have moved forward in self-denial to advance the work, have given evidence that they were led and controlled by the Holy Spirit and were thus enabled to speak and plan and act wisely and understandingly. {MM 46.5}

We are to counsel with men of experience who have been led by the Lord, who, as they have moved forward in self-denial to advance the work, have given evidence that they were led and controlled by the Holy Spirit and were thus enabled to speak and plan and act wisely and understandingly. Can you see the important spiritual illumination here? When we look to counsel with people, looking to those who have had experience by self-denial in advancing the work and are led and controlled by the Holy Spirit, then are we leaning on the arm of flesh if we go to them for counsel? Not at all according to this. It is the same as those who have gone before us.

This is now the balancing appreciation of the Spirit of Prophecy. When we read Sr. White’s writings on one side of the spectrum, and we don’t ignore the others, it makes itself abundantly clear. It has taken me many years to get the balance of it.

Those who make the fear of the Lord the beginning of their wisdom and give heed to the counsel of men of experience can be a great blessing… {9T 199.1}

If I make the fear of the Lord the beginning of my wisdom and take heed to the counsel of men of experience, then I will be a blessing, and I will be blessed.

No one man is to consider himself authority in all things. We should be willing to learn one from another. Great and noble-minded men are teachable. Selfish and narrow minds are not willing to be taught. It is the privilege of men associating with men to lay under tribute every man’s mind with which they come in contact, absorbing every particle of common sense that they can gain by the experience and education of others. If there are things that are not of value, cast that aside. If the heart is humble, the purpose true, they will have sanctified ears and perception to distinguish between the true and the false. {15MR 346.1}

Sr. White is writing specifically about those in positions of trust as they are to counsel with one another and learn from those of experience. She then says that they are to go forward and feed the flock. The flock now, under these kinds of ministers who have this noble-mindedness and who rely upon counsel from those of long years of experience, notice what she says:

I saw that ministers who labor in word and doctrine have a great work before them; a heavy responsibility rests upon them. In their labor they do not come close enough to hearts. Their work is too general, and often too scattered. Their labor must be concentrated to the very ones for whom they are laboring. When they preach from the desk, they only commence their work. They must then live out their preaching, ever guarding themselves, that they bring not a reproach upon the cause of God. They should illustrate by example the life of Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:9: “For we are laborers together with God.” 2 Corinthians 6:1: “We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” The minister’s work is not done when he leaves the desk. He should not then throw off the burden and occupy his mind with reading or writing unless this is actually necessary. He should follow up his public labors by private efforts, laboring personally for souls whenever an opportunity presents, conversing around the fireside, beseeching and entreating souls in Christ’s stead to be reconciled to God. Our work here is soon to close, “and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.” {1T 432.1}

The flock are now going to be met with men, and if we have an independent mentality we will think, No we don’t need you. But what does it say? When the preaching has been done then the work of the person whom God has appointed is to go into the homes of the people and counsel them according to what is written. Are we prepared to follow this balanced understanding? By God’s grace we have largely, but don’t become confused by the independent minds that are sending out messages today that when we follow this process and we say, “Yes I believe this,” other people say, “But Br. Paul believes that and that is why you do, or Br. John believes that and that is why this person does. You are all following men.”

Do you ever become apologetic about that? Sometimes I feel we do. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that the Lord has sent us messengers. There is nothing wrong with listening carefully to those of years of experience and saying, Yes, what they represent is clearly the voice of Jesus speaking in my own heart. I hadn’t recognised it before, I got confused between the Spirit and the flesh. Now they are identifying the Spirit inside of me. To the onlooker it looks like they are following John Thiel, or they are following Br. Paul, or they are following whoever else. That is the way they judge us. We are not to become confused by the confused state of the minds of Adventists today. Here is a plain Thus saith the Lord to deal with the arm of flesh. We have followed it carefully. There is much more to read. I am not going to enlarge by reading any more.

In summary, we can lean on the arm of flesh within myself, or by relying on human counsel, on the human-mindedness of those who lean on the arm of flesh in themselves. To lean on the arm of the Lord is to trust implicitly all the word of the Lord we read and receive of those the Lord sends us, and then to read ourselves. It is my prayer that this message may be remembered as we will meet the challenges in the future. They are only going to get more stiff. Those who have gone through stiff experience before us can help us when we are trembling and ready to fold up under the battle between the Spirit and the flesh. Let us not throw away the help that God sends us in other human beings is my prayer.

Amen.

Posted on July 6, 2014, in Divine Service Sermons, Unity and Trust and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: