1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
If there had been civil war in Judea in his day would Jesus and his apostles have enrolled themselves under the flag of either party? The teaching in James "to the Twelve Tribes," some thirty years after, is proof that they would not.
"The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."
This shows that our [American] civil war is not a fruit of righteousness, and therefore the righteous are interdicted from meddling with it. It is of the lusts of sinful men as were the wars and fightings in Judea that preceded the dissolution of the Commonwealth of Judah.
"From whence come wars and fightings among you?"
said James to the "patriots" of the day.
... Would James and his brethren have mingled in these wars and fightings? Assuredly not; for he condemned them as lustful contentions for the acquisition of the means of gratifying the lusts of the flesh.
Satan would be very friendly to us if we would approve his policy. He would commend us for our "patriotism," and promote some of us to be his corporals, captains, and colonels, if we would only fall down and worship him, in unresistingly acquiescing in his invitation to enrol.
Thus he would be our friend, and we should be his, and all things would go smooth for a time; and when peace came, if ever, and we escaped the slaughter of battle pro aris et focis, for Satan's altars and fires, we should receive the thanks of the victors, and be puffed in the lying columns of his newspapers, as heroes transcending in prowess and feats of arms, all the Alexanders and Cæsars of ancient and modern times!
Thus our vanity would reach to heaven, where we should collapse into vexation of spirit, being scouted from the Divine Presence as the enemies of God.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, June 1861
2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
We create our own unhappiness by desiring what it would not be good for us to have, or what God in His love and wisdom does not see fit to give.
If we truly believed that "ALL things work together for good to them that love God," we could not be unhappy. Happiness is contentment with reality, and harmony with God.
But, some would ask, are all requests presented at the throne of grace, favourably answered? Assuredly not. The apostle James says "Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss," for the gratification of lust. Petitions resulting solely from desire for fleshly indulgences, are discarded; but petitions for "grace to help in time of need," or extremity, if presented in faith, receive the most gracious attention.
Sis Eusebia - The Ambassador of the Coming Age, March 1868
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
Every son of Adam is "conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity," and therefore "sinful flesh," on the principle that "what is born of the flesh is flesh." If he obey the impulses of his flesh he is like Cain, "of the wicked one;" but, if he believe the "exceeding great and precious promises of God," obey the law of faith, and put to death unlawful obedience to his propensities, he becomes a son of the living God, and a brother and joint-heir of the Lord Jesus Christ of the glory to be revealed in the last time.
But, serpent-sin, being a constituent of human nature, is treated of in the Scripture in the aggregate, as well as in its individual manifestations.
The "lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life," generated in our nature by sin, and displayed in all the children of sin, taken in the aggregate, constitute "the world," which stands opposed to God. Serpent-sin in the flesh is the god of the world, who possesses the glory of it. Hence, to overcome the world is to overcome the wicked one; because sin finds its expression in the things of the world.
These things are the civil and ecclesiastical polities, and social institutions of the nations; which are all based upon "the wisdom that descendeth not from above" -- the serpent-wisdom of the flesh. If this be admitted, it is easy to appreciate the full force of the saying, "the friendship of the world is enmity against God. Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God".
Let no one, then, who would have God's favour, seek the honour and glory of the world in Church or State; for promotion in either of them can only be attained by sacrificing the principles of God's truth upon the altar of popular favour, or of princely patronage. Let no man envy men in place and power. It is their misfortune and will be their ruin; and though many of them profess to be very pious, and to have great zeal for religion, yea, zeal as flaming as the scribes and pharisees of old, they are in friendship with the world, which in return heaps upon them its riches and honour, and therefore they are the enemies of God. It is unnecessary to indicate them in detail. If the reader understands the Scripture, he can easily discern them.
Wherever the gospel of the kingdom is supplanted by sectarian theology, there is a strong hold of "the carnal mind, which is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). This is a rule to which there is no exception, and the grand secret of that formality, coldness, and spiritual death, which are said to paralyze "the churches." They are rich in all things, but the truth; and of that there is a worse than Egyptian scarcity.
Elpis Israel 1.3.
The sons of God are the most cheerful and sociable of men when the right conditions exist. If they "have here no continuing city," it is not because they are insensible to the attractions of polished life. It is precisely the reverse. It is because the life in the world is not polished enough in the true sense that they
"love not the world, neither the things that are in the world."
It lacks the true salt of life in lacking the manifested presence of God and any desire towards Him, which are the root of true well-being.
Freemasonry in Relation to the Truth
There can be no doubt that Freemasonry is an institution of the world in the strictest sense of the phrase. It represents the "friendship of the world" more directly than almost any other contrivance of unjustified man, and offers that friendship distinctly on the basis of the flesh.
As such, there is no less doubt that the profession of it is incompatible with the brotherhood of Christ, which has the doing of the will of God for its foundation, and which distinctly enjoins on its subjects that they come out from the world (2 Cor. 6:17), and love it not (1 Jno. 2:15), as the friendship of the world is enmity with God (Jas. 4:4), and that if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him,-(1 Jno. 2:15.)
A direct answer to your question is, that a faithful Christadelphian would not join the masons; and that if a mason, he would resign his connection with the fraternity.
The Christadelphian, Aug 1872
6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
There is such a thing as being proud before God; not broken and contrite in heart; not humble under His mighty hand; ashamed to acknowledge our dependence on Him. This is the natural man, who is pretty strong with us all to start with.
The Christadelphian, Aug 1873
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
"Ye must be born again."
By nature our descent is not noble. Our father, according to the flesh, is the devil! The fact is humiliating, but wholesome to remember. Our position, therefore, by nature is hopeless. The devil and his seed are doomed to extinction. If we would be saved from this destruction we must be born again-we must be born of God. How emphatic was Christ upon this point!
"Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God" (Jno. iii. 3.).
It is important to hold right views concerning this new birth. First, its completion involves a process of time. It is not simply a mental change, nor is it confined to the momentary change of nature referred to in 1 Cor. xv. 52. It comprises both-mind and body-the life that now is and that which is to come.
Brother Roberts' remarks on this head are worth repeating:
"The flesh changed by Spirit is the process at both stages; but the completeness of the process is not realised till we stand before Christ in the joy and glory of the final transformation."
How do we stand in this matter? Have we been mentally born again? If we have (and we can soon ascertain this by applying to our ways the test contained in Gal. v. 22-23)#, then let us never forget that unless we continue to keep in touch with the Word (which begat us, Jas. i. 18; 1 Pet. i. 23), our new self will speedily emaciate and die.
Let us take care.
The Christadelphian, Feb 1899
#But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Gal 5: 22-23)
Mr. Royle ventured on an effort to retrieve the ruin brought on his position at the first two meetings: but he only made it worse. The final sally extinguished him. He contended that the Bible contradicted itself, in proof of which he cited the command of Christ to "Resist not evil" alongside of James's exhortation to "Resist the devil." He asked me how this was to be reconciled? I replied that the evil which Jesus commanded men not to resist was personal evil, as shown by the immediate explanation: "If a man smite thee on the one cheek, turn to him the other also." Men usually resisted personal smitings, but did not resist the devil.
TC Feb 1896. p53. 'A Voyage to Australia...'
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Realize the urgent importance of constant closeness to God.
The power of the attraction of gravity is in inverse proportion to the distance, and the attraction increases, not just simply but exponentially, with closeness. This is true both naturally and spiritually. There are always powerful, almost irresistible forces pulling us away -- forces of the flesh and of the world. There is no safety or stability except in closely clasped contact with the Eternal Father, the Source and Power of holiness and life and light. Neglect or loosen or forget the urgency of that contact, and you soon will be swept helplessly away into eternal darkness and oblivion.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
Keep constantly before your mind your total helplessness and total dependence upon God. Never slip into the folly of feeling self-confident or self-sufficient. This is the only wisdom. We are nothing. Our highest "knowledge" is foolishness: our greatest achievements are meaningless and puny. Only as willing and faithful instruments in the hands of God can we do anything worthwhile, or anything right. Maintain the direct and continuous contact, or you lose all power of truth and holiness.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
The distinction is between natural childlike humility and false grown-up pride-between a recognition of complete dependence and a false assumption of self-dependence and independence.
A little child is completely dependent-leans upon and looks to the parent for everything in the fulness of faith, quite naturally and without any thought to the contrary, without any illusions or assumptions of self-sufficiency, without any thought of proud independence.
But as soon as there is any development of personal awareness, there is a beginning of pride and self-assurance. The serpent nature, the "pride of life," soon becomes manifest.
Pride is the ruling passion of human nature, and it is considered a great virtue to be self-dependent. Small-minded people take great pride in not being dependent upon others. But how fleshly; and foolish this is, when examined in the light of the Spirit's teaching!-
"No man liveth to himself."
"The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee."
"What hast thou that thou hast not been given? And if thou hast been given it, why dost thou glory?"
Even Jesus himself said-
"I can of mine own self do nothing."
We of ourselves can do nothing that is really worth anything. We must reverse the world's proud folly, and become as little children-recognizing our utter dependence upon God and upon one another-our utter natural helplessness and uselessness, of ourselves. Every breath we take is the gift of God. If He should withdraw His sustaining power from proud man for a moment, man would perish like a crushed worm.
It is hard to unlearn the habits of a lifetime-to shake ourselves free of the ugly mould into which the whole fleshly world endeavours ceaselessly to shape us like itself.
There is so much pride in our position, in our ability, in our accomplishments, in our possessions, in our appearance-so much time and effort lavished on decking and draping these poor, corrupt, perishing forms of clay.
How pitifully empty all these things are in the light of eternal truth! Most of the world's interest and activity and effort is wrapped up in empty-headed glorification of the flesh and human appearance and accomplishments, but-
"Unless ye become as little children-humble yourselves as little children-ye cannot-ye CANNOT -enter the Kingdom of God."
We have to go to VERY little children for the example, because the trend of pride starts early.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4.29
12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
Don't criticize: help! Leave the judging to God, where it belongs. Anybody can criticize, and most do. It takes no brains, ability, preparation or effort: just a small mind and a loose tongue. Critics are always in oversupply. Helpers and doers and builders are always scarce, for that takes effort and self-sacrifice and intelligence and patience and love, which are not natural, animal, human characteristics, like criticism is.
Criticism comes built-in and ready-made: part of the universal diabolos. Every unnecessary critical word is a mark against us at the judgment seat. We may be thoughtlessly compiling quite a formidable record for that dread day.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
"Had I the time, the ability, and the money of some, what would I not do for the truth?"
This is a statement best left unsaid. It is a boast-a seeking of credit for unshown merit. For aught we know, we might do much less than the ones we criticise. Instead of bragging, it is better to turn one's thoughts to matters practical.
What are we doing for the truth with what we do possess? Could we not do a wee bit more? This is the question to which to pin ourselves when inclined to fly off into the regions of speculation. It is what we do, and not what we think we would do, that will count in the day of judgment.
To make ourselves feel good by dwelling on the real or supposed shortcomings of others is not a laudable exercise. It is a common failing, but none the less a very hurtful one. Self-elevation will reckon as nothing, and less than nothing, when the time comes for our life's account to be made up.
To appear good, or even to be good for a short time, whilst under the gaze of our brethren, is an easy matter. The true test of faithfulness comes when we are away from our brethren-when mingling throughout the week with the disobedient alien. It is then that we are tried, and it is then that we form habits and create a mind that will make us a blessing or a curse to our ecclesia.
If a brother is faithful away from the meetings-in his home and in his business-he will be also in the ecclesia. If he is unfaithful in his daily life, he will be-he must be-so in his dealings with his brethren. This is only natural. If we work this matter out we shall see that unfaithfulness behind the scenes is the cause of much ecclesial trouble-of the bitterness and dissension that is too often manifest in certain ecclesias.
Bro AT Jannaway.
The Christadelphian, Nov 1907
17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
True it is that a man in a pure state of nature has no developed will that he can control. He is as much the slave of blind impulse as an animal. But there is no question as to man in this state: the Scriptures declare and experience proves that such men are
"like the beasts that perish" (Psa. 49:20).
Men are not accountable when they are thus blind and beyond the reach of law (John 9:41; Rom. 5:13). The law of responsibility comes into operation only when men are sufficiently enlightened to know (John 3:19). That such should be held responsible is a recognition of "voluntary will" as the basis of human character.
Law of Moses Ch 22