The prevailing sin of Christians
(J. A. James, "Evidences & Results of Sanctified Affliction")
Increasing deadness to the world, and growing spirituality
of mind, are sure results of 'sanctified affliction'.
The love of the world is the great snare of the church
in every age! Worldly-mindedness is now the prevailing
sin of Christians. We see them on all hands too eager to
make themselves happy on earth, and seeking their enjoyments,
if not in the sinful amusements of the world--yet in its 'innocent
and home-bred comforts'. They look not at unseen and eternal
things, but at seen and temporal things. Theirs is too much a
life of 'sense', refined it is true from its gross sinfulness--but
still a life of sense, rather than a life of faith.
Hence there is "a needs be" for severe trials, if not to separate
them and keep them separate from open and gross sins--yet
to lift up their affections to things above, and to lead them to
seek their happiness . . .
from God, the fountain of life;
from Christ, the Redeemer of their souls; and
from heaven, the object of their expectations.
When the world has been crucified to us, and we have been
crucified to the world; when we have been taught its vanity
and emptiness as a satisfying portion for the soul; when we
have lost much of our anxiety to obtain its possessions, and
of our dread of losing them; when we have turned from the
folly of hewing out broken cisterns which can hold no water,
and led more to the fountain of living waters; when we have
lost our dependence on our comforts and possessions for
happiness, and feel and rejoice in a glorious independence
from 'created good' for bliss--when there is really and truly
a conscious elevation of soul towards God and divine things
--there is the evidence that we are sanctified by our trials.
"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your
word. It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might
learn Your statutes. I know, O Lord, that Your judgments
are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted
me." (Psalm 119:67, 71, 75)