Victorious—Christian Living in the Home
Christian parents will do well to be on the lookout for every indication of the child’s growth in grace. At the family worship time, their interest, questions, responsiveness and prayers will reveal whether they are making progress, seemingly standing still or drifting backward.
In the Scriptures, God clearly shows His ideal for each of His children to be unceasing progress and growth in grace. In the First Epistle of John, chapter two, the Apostle writes to three classes of Christians: little children, young men and fathers. No doubt there were some of each of those three age groups among his converts. It would seem, however, that he was speaking principally to Christians in three different stages of spiritual growth and experience. He rejoices with the little children because they are happy in the knowledge of sins forgiven; with the young men because they are strong in the Lord, and with the fathers because they know God. Three classes: carefree childhood, strong, aggressive youth and mature adulthood. For lack of vision, proper supervision and instruction most young Christians remain in the childhood stage far too long. Many have their growth so stunted that they ever remain babes in Christ.
How fortunate then are those who reach the second stage where the Word of God abides in them, making them strong in the Lord and thus able to overcome the wicked one. There is such great satisfaction to live on that spiritual plane, that some are content to press no further. As ripeness, completeness and maturity in nature satisfies man, so our Lord seeks and delights in that spiritual development that brings each of His children to full maturity through union with Christ and intimate fellowship with the eternal God that His image may be reflected in their lives.
Obviously, we must ever recognize the universal law of growth, that continuous process, so unseen but certain when the laws of growth are observed by permitting the Holy Spirit to apply the Word of God to the life through the various experiences of daily life. Yet it is wonderful to behold the surprising degree of spiritual maturity reached by comparatively young Christians where the Spirit of God is given full sway in the life. This is often due, in addition to the steady processes of normal growth, to the quick response to the Spirit’s mighty work through experiences and crises that are revolutionary and transforming. At the outset, the new birth surely is such a crucial experience. And the deeper experiences of famous Christians clearly reveal that in the measure that the power of Christ is applied to the body of Christ and to the individual believer, there will follow other transforming experiences or crises such as the surrender of the life, the infilling of the Spirit, the crucifixion of the flesh and the forming of Christ’s own life within.
Let us never fear that the child, when once truly born again, cannot understand these spiritual truths. The Holy Spirit came to teach him and show him the things of Christ. And how He will do it if He has at His disposal Spirit-filled parents to live, guide, counsel, pray for and with the child! Forget not then, Father, Mother, that the great, wonderful objective of Christ, when once your children are saved, is actually to live over again His holy, glorious, victorious life in your children. And let us never question the possibility of this even though brothers and sisters may exhibit such a wide variety of temperaments, personalities and conflicting characteristics which have fallen to them from various branches of the family tree.
But, if the Spirit is to form Christ’s own life in them, He must first crucify the flesh or put to death the self-life. This He would do right in the home where they must live together, the bright with the dull, the even-tempered with the high-tempered, the refined with the coarse, the methodical with the careless, the clean with the slovenly, the fast with the slow, the spiritual with the carnal, the cheerful with the melancholy, the generous with the stingy, the optimistic with the pessimistic, the industrious with the lazy. Naturally they grate on each other. It is just such situations at home, in church, at school or at work that the Spirit uses to bring them to the end of themselves that He may then be able to form Christ’s own life in them.
This is clearly illustrated through the experience of a Christian worker who attended a Bible Training School at the age of sixteen. Being suddenly told of the death of her beloved father, she fainted from the shock, fell to the floor and struck her head against a trunk. Nervous prostration and years of suffering followed. Satan pounced upon this physical ailment to “sift her as wheat.” With this nervous condition and a sensitive disposition, he fastened upon her a very ungovernable temper. Many times she sent up to God her earnest agonies, cries, tears, and prayers for deliverance. Many times after crying to God to be kept for the day, she would rise from her knees, go down stairs only to fall to pieces over a burnt biscuit or potato, or any other trifling thing. Do what she would, there was always “a law in my members warring against the law of my mind, bringing me into captivity to the law of sin.” But undiscouraged, she persevered in prayer for deliverance.
“Then one day when an unusual disturbance caused her in her helpless hopelessness to again cry to the Lord for deliverance, four points were clearly given her by the Spirit as a guide to the coveted blessing: First—“Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed to sin” (Romans 6:11). Second—“Reckon yourselves alive unto God through Jesus Christ” (Romans 6:11). Third—“Yield yourselves unto God as those who are alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:13). Fourth—“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). Filled with gladness and thanksgiving, she felt that those four points were four keys, which if used by the Spirit would bring the deliverance sought.”
First, she was to reckon herself dead to temper. Second, she was to reckon herself alive unto God to the sweetness of love. Third, she was to yield herself unto God. Fourth, she was to let God work the temper out and the love in. To be of practical value, truth, when received, must be worked in us by the Spirit. So, a test soon came that worked it from her head to her heart.
A few days later she was awakened by a heavy crash in the hall. Half asleep she groped her way to the head of the stairs. Looking down she saw that her husband, in trying to take the lamp from its place in the hall, had let it slip from his hand, and to her horror she saw kerosene streaming down the stairs and over the hall carpet, with broken glass everywhere. He was frantically trying to repair the damage, unmindful of her presence. Instantly she was aroused and in spite of all her “reckonings” etc., she was “mad.” At once she was tempted to “give him a piece of her mind,” as was her habit. She felt she MUST say, “Now, George, how could you be so careless?” A voice whispered, “Yes, but that would not be Christ-like.” She responded to the voice, “I know, but I think I OUGHT to say something that would make him more careful in the future.” The tender voice repeated, “Yes, but that would not be Christ-like.” “True,” she replied, “but I WANT to say something.” Again the gentle voice said: “Yes, but that would not be Christ-like.” Finally she said: “Sure, but I MUST say something, or he will break all the lamps in the house and ruin everything. “Yes, but that would not be Christ-like. Have you forgotten the FOUR KEYS I gave you?”
She went back to her room. She remembered and began to reckon herself dead to those thoughts that came rolling like sea billows over her soul and seemed determined to force out the unkind word. She reckoned herself alive to the love that would say the kind thing. Still no relief. Then she said: “I yield myself unto Thee, Heavenly Father. Thou must work the wrong thoughts out, and the right thoughts in, for I CANNOT.” Instantly, like a flash of lightning, it was done. Every desire to say an unkind thing was taken away, and her heart was full of tenderness and love.
She went to the top of the stairs and called down in the sweetest of tones, for they came from HIS heart: “Hello, George, what is the matter down there?” With a look of agony and expectant reproof, he said: “I was trying to take the lamp down and it slipped from my hand. Oh, it’s too bad!” “Yes, it is quite a muss,” she said, “but never mind, we’ll fix it up after breakfast.” A more relieved man never breathed. He looked up to see whether it could possibly be his wife. The “reckonings” and “yielding” had given the Holy Spirit a chance to get the victory. From that moment the POWER of sin was broken. Those FOUR KEYS proved thereafter to be the means of entering and closing many a door that before had been an open entrance for the enemy. The cleaning up was not so difficult. And they had an unusually happy day, for Jesus had the right of way in that home. There we have the secret for victorious Christian living in the home. These principles may be applied to everything in the Christian life where there is conflict, trial and trouble, and thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Brehm was an Elder of The Moody Church and Prayer Secretary of the Great Commission Prayer League.