The Outside and the Inside - by JB Stoney
THE OUTSIDE INDICATES THE INSIDE
“THOSE that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.”
Every divine demonstration has its origin within. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” It is from the Lord the good is generated. Hence there cannot be an expression of grace beyond the grace within, and the only way to ensure a fuller expression is by getting more from the Lord for oneself. It is out of the belly shall flow rivers of living water. They flow in first, before they flow out. I can see my defects outside, but I cannot correct them outside; and if I were to attempt it, it would be mere patching up. When I see the defects on the outside, I must refer it to a lack inside, just as if I were to see a flaw on the leaf of a plant, I should at once attribute it to some damage at the root. The outside is like a barometer, it indicates the state of the heart; and the only way to be fair outside, is to have the grace of Christ ruling within.
There are two great eras in a christian’s life. The first is when the devil by force would compel him not to leave the world — this is Amalek. I say force, for Amalek fights, and the young believer, ardent in grace, likes to turn his back on the world because he has come to Christ, and the devil works on his fear, as he did on Peter in the high priest’s house, so that he dare not take such a dangerous path; he shrinks back, and like Isaac to his wife, he denies his relationship to Christ, though he could not surrender his own knowledge of it. Many are turned back here. They think that they cannot bear up against all the opposition that the path of separation from the world would entail on them. Now the one who resists Satan here, succeeds in turning his back on Egypt: he is a young man (see 1 John 2 : 13) he has “overcome the wicked one”.
But you have greater conflict to go through before you can reach the real battle field, and this is Balaam. As Amalek was Satan’s power to prevent you from leaving the world, the device of Balaam is to prevent your entering the land, where the true contention —the setting forth of Christ in the scene of His rejection —can only be.
Now Balaam is very different from Amalek; and before you encounter Balaam you have learned according to John 3 and 4 that Christ is your life, and the Holy Spirit dwells in you. And you have overcome Og, king of Bashan, and Sihon, king of the Amorites — the force of Satan. This is, I suppose, the fire of persecution, which is what we get in Peter, while it is Amalek more in James. Force is to be met always by resistance; Peter should have resisted. And when the force of persecution is directed against you, you are to rejoice (1 Pet. 4: 13). But, after you are more than conquerors through Him that loved you, you are confronted with Balaam — the last form of the enemy before crossing the Jordan. Satan now would minister to the susceptibility of your nature. This device begins by an invitation; not an opposition now, but a solicitation — an offer to gratify you where naturally you can be most gratified. And there is no power against it but faith in Christ, which effects fasting; that is, not merely refusing the invitation, but if we “through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body”, we shall live. If we ‘‘walk in the Spirit - we ‘‘shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh”, and to this end we must sow to the Spirit. Here is the real school. It is that in the grace of Christ you refuse the offspring of your natural taste. It is not merely that you have made up your mind not to gratify it, but that you refuse it a place. This is practically Marah. The self-gratification is refused. Christ died on account of it, and that sweetens the death to you.
As I said at the beginning, the uncrucified sentiment, never intended to be divulged, will crop up in some form sooner or later; like a needle that one has swallowed, it will appear some day where least expected. Thus Balaam succeeds by ministering to the most vital part of one’s nature. There is no real relief from Balaam but Jordan. You are dead with Christ. But at the same time remember that, as no good can be really outside but that which is wrought within through the grace from on high, so assuredly there can be no flaw or incongruity outside that had not commenced inside; and if it had been nipped in the bud, as a real evil, it would never have come outside. On the contrary, the subduing of it inside not only secures from its appearing outside, but the beauty and fragrance of the grace which had mastered it within is seen.
Every one suffers from vexation, and often from those nearest to us. The vexation or the irritation, or the hard feeling itself, is sure to come, but the danger is not so much from the entrance of either, as from entertaining it, feeling, like Jonah, “I do well” to have my own feelings. It is the grace of Christ, in the power of the Spirit, which only can supplant the workings of the flesh; and when these workings are thus superseded, there is always an enhanced sense of the favour of the Lord, and there is flourishing in the courts of our God. You are not unused to conflict, “but let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing”. And may His blessing satisfy your heart and beautify your life.