There is no one more beautiful than one who is broken! Stubbornness and self-love give way to beauty in one who has been broken by God. We see Jacob in the Old Testament, how even in his mother’s womb he struggled with his brother. He was subtle, tricky, deceitful. Yet his life was full of sorrows and grief. When a youth, he fled from home. For twenty years he was cheated by Laban. The wife of his heart’s love, Rachel, died prematurely. The son of his love, Joseph, was sold. Years later Benjamin was detained in Egypt. He was successively dealt with by God, meeting misfortune after misfortune. He was stricken by God once, twice; indeed, his whole history could be said to be a history of being stricken by God. Finally after many such dealings, the man Jacob was transformed. In his last few years, he was quite transparent. How dignified was his answer to Pharaoh! How beautiful was his end, when he worshipped God on his staff! How clear were his blessings to his descendants! After reading the last page of his history, we want to bow our heads and worship God. Here is one who is matured, who knows God. Several decades of dealings have resulted in Jacob’s outward man being broken. In his old age, the picture is a beautiful one.
Each of us has much of the same Jacob nature in us. Our only hope is that the Lord may blaze a way out, breaking the outward man to such a degree that the inward man may come out and be seen. This is precious, and this is the way of those who serve the Lord. Only thus can we serve; only thus can we lead men to the Lord. All else is limited in its value. Doctrine does not have much use nor does theology. What is the use of mere mental knowledge of the Bible if the outward man remains unbroken? Only the person through whom God can come forth is useful.
After our outward man has been stricken, dealt with, and led through various trials, we have wounds upon us, thus allowing the spirit to emerge. We are afraid to meet some brothers and sisters whose whole being remains intact, never having been dealt with and changed. May God have mercy upon us in showing us clearly this way and in revealing to us that it is the only way. May He also show us that herein is seen the purpose of all His dealings with in these few years, say ten or twenty. Thus let no one despise the Lord’s dealings. May He truly reveal to us what is meant by the breaking of the outward man. Should the outward man remain whole, everything would be merely in our mind, utterly expect the Lord to deal with us thoroughly.
Verwacht wonden te zien
Niemand is aantrekkelijker dan degene die verbroken is! Koppigheid en eigenliefde wijken voor schoonheid in iemand die door God verbroken is. In het Oude Testament zien wij hoe Jacob zelfs in de moederschoot streed met zijn broer. Hij was listig, sluw en onbetrouwbaar. Toch was zijn leven vol droefheid en smart. Als jongeman vluchtte hij van huis weg. Twintig jaar lang werd hij door Laban beetgenomen. Rachel, de vrouw, die hij van harte liefhad, stierf vroegtijdig. Jozef, zijn lievelingszoon, werd verkocht. Jaren later werd Benjamin in Egypte vastgehouden. Keer op keer was God met hem bezig; de ene beproeving volgde op de andere. Hij werd meer dan eens zwaar beproefd door God. Wij zouden zelfs kunnen zeggen dat zijn hele levensgeschiedenis de geschiedenis is van iemand die door God beproefd werd. Nadat God hem zo vaak getuchtigd had, was de man Jacob tenslotte omgevormd. De laatste paar jaar van zijn leven was hij geheel oprecht. Hoe waardig was zijn antwoord aan Farao! Hoe schoon was zijn einde toen hij God aanbad, leunend op zijn staf!
Hoe zuiver waren zijn zegeningen voor zijn nageslacht! Nadat wij de laatste bladzij van zijn geschiedenis gelezen hebben, willen wij ons hoofd buigen en God aanbidden. Hier is iemand die tot rijpheid is gekomen, iemand die God kent. Tientallen jaren is God met hem bezig geweest en het resultaat is dat Jacobs uitwendige mens verbroken is. Hoe schoon is het beeld dat wij van hem hebben aan het eind van zijn leven.
Ieder van ons heeft veel van die Jacobsnatuur in zich. Onze enige hoop is dat de Heer Zich te vuur en te zwaard een weg zal banen, waardoor de uitwendige mens zodanig wordt verbroken dat de inwendige mens naar buiten kan treden en zichtbaar kan worden. Dit is geen kleine zaak en het is de weg van hen die de Heer dienen. Zo alleen kunnen wij dienen en slechts zo kunnen wij mensen tot de Heer leiden. Al het andere heeft een beperkte waarde. Een leer heeft niet veel te betekenen en theologie evenmin. En wat voor nut heeft zuiver verstandelijke kennis van de Bijbel als de uitwendige mens onveranderd blijft?
Alleen de mens door wie God Zich kan openbaren is bruikbaar.
Nadat God onze uitwendige mens getuchtigd heeft, nadat Hij die onder handen heeft genomen en hem door tal van beproevingen heeft geleid, dragen wij wonden en daardoor kan de geest zich baanbreken. Wij voelen ons onrustig als wij bepaalde broeders en zusters ontmoeten die in wezen onveranderd zijn gebleven, daar zij nooit onder handen genomen en verbroken zijn. Moge God ons genadig zijn door ons duidelijk deze weg te laten zien en ons te openbaren dat dit de enige weg is. Moge Hij ons ook tonen dat wij in dit licht zien hoe Hij de afgelopen tien of twintig jaar met ons bezig is geweest. Laat daarom niemand Gods handelen veronachtzamen. Moge Hij ons waarlijk openbaren wat de bedoeling is van deze verbreking van de uitwendige mens. Als de uitwendige mens ongeschonden blijft, zal onze ziel blijven heersen en ons leven volkomen nutteloos zijn. Laten wij daarom verwachten dat de Heer grondig met ons zal klaarkomen.
Before And After Brokeness
THE BREAKING of the outward man is the basic experience of all who serve God. This must be accomplished before He can use us in an effective way.
When one is working for God, two possibilities may arise. First, it is possible that with the outward man unbroken, one’s spirit may be inert and unable to function. If he is a clever person, his mind governs his work; if he is a compassionate person, the emotions control his actions. Such work may appear successful but cannot bring people to God. Second, his spirit may come forth clad in his own thoughts or emotions. The result is mixed and impure. Such work will bring men into mixed and impure experience. These two conditions weaken our service to God.
If we desire to work effectively, we must realize that basically “it is the Spirit which quickens.” Sooner or later, if not on the first day of our salvation, then perhaps ten years after, we must recognize this fact. Many have to be brought to their wits’ end to see the emptiness of their labor before they know how useless are their many thoughts, their varied emotions. No matter how many people you can attract with your thoughts or emotions, the result comes to nothing. Eventually we must confess: “It is the Spirit which quickens.” The Spirit alone makes people live. Your best thought, your best emotion cannot make people live. Man can be brought into life only by the Spirit. Many serving the Lord come to see this fact only after passing through much sorrow and many failures. Finally the Lord’s word becomes meaningful to them: that which quickens is the Spirit. When the spirit is released then sinners may be born anew and saints may be established. When life is communicated through the channel of the spirit, those who receive it are born anew. When life is supplied through the spirit to believers, it results in their being established. Without the Spirit, there can be no new birth and no establishment.
One rather remarkable thing is that God does not mean to distinguish between His Spirit and our spirit. There are many places in the Bible where it is impossible to determine whether the word “spirit” indicates our human spirit or God’s Spirit. Bible translators, from Luther down to present day scholars who have labored on the English versions, have been unable to decide if the word “spirit,” as used in many places in the New Testament, refers to the human spirit or to the Spirit of God.
Of the whole Bible, Romans eight may very well be the chapter where the word “spirit” is used most frequently. Who can discern how many times the word “spirit” in this chapter refers to the human spirit and how many times to God’s Spirit? In various English versions, the word “pneuma” (spirit) is sometimes written with a capital letter; other times, with a small letter. It is evident that these versions do not agree, and no one person’s opinion is final. It is simply impossible to distinguish. When in regeneration we receive our new spirit, we receive God’s Spirit too. The moment our human spirit is raised from the state of death, we receive the Holy Spirit. We often say that the Holy Spirit dwells in our spirit, but we find it hard to discern which is the Holy Spirit and which is our own spirit. The Holy Spirit and our spirit have become so mingled; while each is unique they are not easily distinguished.
Thus, the release of the spirit is the release of the human spirit as well as that of the Holy Spirit, Who is in the spirit of man. Since the Holy Spirit and our spirit are joined into one, (1 Cor. 6.17), they can be distinguished only in name, not in fact. And since the release of one means the release of both, others can touch the Holy Spirit whenever they touch our spirit. Thank God that inasmuch as you allow people to contact your spirit, you allow them to contact God. Your spirit has brought the Holy Spirit to man.
When the Holy Spirit is working, He needs to be carried by the human spirit. The electricity in an electric bulb does not travel like lightning. It must be conducted through electric wires. If you want to use electricity, you need an electric wire to bring it to you. In like manner, the Spirit of God employs the human spirit as His carrier, and through it He is brought to man.