J. C. Philpot
Today’s Words for Zion’s Wayfarers
“Turn us unto you, O Lord, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.” Lamentations 5:21
If we do not wish to deceive ourselves, if God has made us honest, if he has planted his fear in our hearts, if he has begun and is carrying on a good work in us, there will be evidences of the existence of the life of God within. Life is the commencement of salvation as an inward reality; for whatever the eternal purposes of God are, or whatever standing the vessel of mercy has in Christ previous to effectual calling, there is no more movement in the soul Godwards until life is imparted, than there is natural life and motion in a breathless corpse that lies interred in the churchyard.
But wherever divine life is implanted there will be certain fruits and feelings that spring out of this life. One fruit will be ‘complaint’, and this will arise sometimes from a feeling of the burden of sin, and at others from a sense of merited chastisement from God on account of it. But wherever this complaining is spiritual, there will be accompanying it “an accepting the punishment of our iniquity,” and “a putting of our mouth in the dust.” Thus where there is spiritual life there will be complaint, confession, and submission; the effect being meekness, brokenness, and humility.
This breaks to pieces self-conceit and self-justification, and the result is a searching and trying our ways whether they are of God. The fruit of this search will be, for the most part, a solemn and painful conviction that the greater part have been in the flesh; or, at least, there will be many anxious suspicions which cannot be relieved except by an express testimony from the Lord himself. This produces a going out of soul unto him, the cry now being, “Let us turn again to the Lord;” and towards him the heart turns as to the only Source and Author of every good and perfect gift. As the quickened soul knows that he is a heart-searching God, this appeal will purge away much hypocrisy and insincerity, and deepen uprightness, sincerity, and godly integrity. And the blessed fruit and end of all this sifting work will be a coming down of gracious answers, divine testimonies, smiles of the Savior’s loving countenance, soft whispers of God’s eternal favor, and the blessed witness of the Spirit within.