Building the Iron Saint
Every plunge brings a tougher skin and a softer heart.
Jesus calls us deeper, so Satan manufactures false depths. There are the deep things of God and the deep things of Satan (Revelation 2:24). Doug Wilson points out that the deep things of God are depths of holiness, not depths of mystical knowledge:
“…the Holy Spirit does indeed search the deep things of God, but He does not do it the way carnal minds think it should be done. The deep things of God are depths of holiness. In the submarine service, we used to have a term for the limit past which a submarine cannot go—that depth was called “crush depth.” And when it comes to God’s holiness, since there is no surface, no empty place above that holiness, every depth is crush depth. And the only way to avoid destruction is to be found in Jesus Christ.
Only the Spirit can sound the depths of Christ, and only Christ can protect us in the Spirit. One of the things He protects us from is the sin of being too clever for our own good, being too clever by half. The Spirit works in us as He did the early Christians, creating in them gladness and simplicity of heart.”
I want to put a different spin on this, the biblical concept of Testing and Maturity, or death and resurrection. The Bible is full of those willing to be refined and those who think they have no need for it; those who willingly put their heads on the stone altar (like Jacob) and those who are willing to slaughter 70 brothers to avoid their own submission (like Abimelech).
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God…”
How does God give us depth? He plunges us into the depths. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, by his slavemaster’s wife, and by a fellow prisoner. At every step he was plunged deeper into the abyss. Yet, at every step, he obeyed at a deeper level, with a deeper trust in God and a deeper level of holiness. Every plunge increased his crush depth. Finally, deep called unto deep. He was God’s perfected vassal, a metal man, a Tabernacle, like Jesus.
“But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged by no one.”
God’s discipline does bring gladness and simplicity of heart. These are deep things of which we are not naturally capable. It also brings greater glory, the glory of an Adam of dust transfigured into non-corroding precious metals. Every plunge brings plunder for God. Every plunge brings a tougher skin and a softer heart.
From Oswald Chambers:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.
These words mean the breaking of my independence with my own hand and surrendering to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. No one can do this for me. I must do it myself. God may bring me to the point three hundred and sixty-five times a year, but He cannot put me through it. It means breaking the husk of my individual independence of God, and the emancipation of my personality into oneness with Himself, not for my own ideas, but for absolute loyalty to Jesus. There is no possibility of dispute when once I am there. Very few of us know anything about loyalty to Christ—“For my sake.” It is that which makes the iron saint.
Has that break come? All the rest is pious fraud. The one point to decide is—Will I give up, will I surrender to Jesus Christ, and make no conditions whatever as to how the break comes? I must be broken from my self-realisation, and immediately that point is reached, the reality of the supernatural identification takes place at once, and the witness of the Spirit of God is unmistakable—“I have been crucified with Christ” (RV).
The passion of Christianity is that I deliberately sign away my own rights and become a bond-slave of Jesus Christ. Until I do that, I do not begin to be a saint.