by T. Austin-Sparks
Transcribed from a message given in July 1958.
On Thursday evening last, we were occupied with Psalm 51 and the
Lord gave us a very precious word, and our brother was very greatly
helped. We shall not forget it. And I'm sure that he will not feel
that I am trying to improve on what he said when I bring you back to
that Psalm this morning for a few minutes. That is not my thought at
all, but before Thursday and since, an emphasis has been in me of
one part of the psalm and I feel that it is the Lord's message for
us. It is in verse 6. Psalm 51 verse 6:
"Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts"
"Thou desirest truth. In the inward parts." I think that, in a very real sense, that is the heart of the psalm. If we were able to really recognise the meaning of those words, just exactly what they do signify, we should see that everything in this psalm, and in the wider context of this psalm in deep human experience with God, everything is centred there and it is the key to everything. We can, I am sure, say that this psalm touches the deepest depths that ever man could touch in the need of God and the mercy of God.
In Psalm 1 we have the blessedness of the man who has not walked in sin, and the counsel of the ungodly, and so on. Well, his is a blessedness indeed. In Psalm 32 we have the blessedness of the man whose sin is covered, whose iniquity is pardoned, whose sin is covered; and I take it that that is the provision which is made in sacrifice in blood and priesthood for the man who sins. Well, it's a blessing to find that provision on hand, but here in this psalm, we are altogether outside of any of the ordinary provisions. Perhaps you have not recognised this: that David's sin, which was behind this psalm, was altogether outside of the provision of the law of Moses. There was no provision in that whole sacrificial system for this sin.
The sin of David was the sin unto death; it was blood guiltiness, the sin unto death. The only thing that the law had to say for sinning in this way, was death. And so we are altogether outside of the provision of the law here; vast, comprehensive, and detailed as that provision was, it made no provision. God has got to make some special provision here. And we were reminded on Thursday that it is in that special provision of the sacrifice of His Son - something far bigger than any Jewish sacrifice, or altar, or priesthood, something reaching deeper down than anything than ever was known in Israel - it is in that that we find David saved from death. He knew the death of this thing. He cried, as you know here, that he might be delivered from blood-guiltiness. Well, this is the deepest point to which we can come, any man can come.
There are different degrees of God's dealing with the soul. He deals with us upon one level, in a certain way, and then we go into a deeper death and He's got to deal with us in another and deeper way and still we go deeper... And He has got to make a provision and deal with us in a still deeper way. I'm not saying that it is in the ordering and will of God that we go right down to these deaths, but here is a wonderful thing: God is going to touch bottom in this matter of man's sin and man's need and His own grace - He'll touch bottom! That is, He'll go to the deepest depths. And when David says, "Thou desirest truth in the inward parts" he's going beyond the law, which was all outward; no mere formalism about this, no mere Jewish ritual in this, no mere outward observance of the rites and the ceremonies in this! No. This has got to go right into the innermost being in the inward parts, in the inward parts. And God works toward that.
God is ever working toward the most inward parts. Do you recognise that? Do you understand what He's doing with us? Oh, He will meet us in blessing on a certain level as we walk before Him like the man in Psalm 1, He will meet us with His gracious provision when we transgress and trespass and fail and do wrong. He will meet us there in grace, but God is going to pursue this matter to the most inward place of our being and register there His work of grace and redemption. "Thou desirest..." and David did not come to that until he reached de profundis, the deepest place of need, of failure, of conscious weakness and worthlessness. Then he cried, "It's not enough to just please God in ordinary ways, it is not enough to observe the ritual of the law and go to the ceremonies and carry out all that which is external, God is after truth in the inward parts...," right down into the depths of our being. Why? Why? Because truth is a major feature and constituent of the Divine nature.
God is called the God of Truth - the God of Truth. Jesus Christ, the second person of the Godhead, called Himself the Truth, "I am the Truth..." "For this purpose came I into the world that I might bear witness of the truth"! The Holy Spirit is described as the Spirit of Truth, "When He, the Spirit of Truth is come..." The Godhead - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - are characterised by this one feature: Truth! And God desires and has set His heart upon having people who are partakers of the Divine Nature. And so, He is working ever more deeply toward this end, that what is true of Himself, shall be true of His children - those begotten of Him - that they should be true sons of God in this sense.
Satan is described as the liar and the father of lies. For that reason, all untruth is an abomination to God. God has consigned all liars to the lake of fire. He has excluded from the New Jerusalem "everything that maketh a lie". God hates everything that is not true, not true... and true right through and through like Himself. He hates it, He must have, He desires truth in the inward parts.
The interference of Satan with God's creation - with man - resulted in man becoming something false where God is concerned: he is a misrepresentation of God's mind; and he is a deceived creature. "The god of this age", says Paul, "hath blinded the mind of the unbelieving". Man is a deceived, blinded creature... "Thou desirest truth in the inward parts".
Now you see how large a matter this is, and one is hard-pressed to know what to say, and what not to say about it. But let us dwell for a moment upon this clause: "the inward parts".
The Inward Parts
You will detect in this Psalm that that is running right through, you know. Here it is, "in the inward parts", "create in me a clean heart... renew a right spirit within me... a broken spirit and a contrite heart Thou wilt not despise". You see, it's all this innermost realm of things that has now arisen as the real need. The real need. No more deception, no more falsehood, no more mockery, no more make-believe, no more going on as though it was all right but it is not all right; no more using external means to cover over inward foulness; no more going to meetings, and saying prayers, and joining in the whole system, when the inward parts are not right before God. The inward parts... Seeing then that we are what we are by nature now, this represents a re-constituting of us. A reconstituting of us! Anything that does not minister to that is false in itself. Any system of religion that just puts on from the outside, and covers over the inner life by mere rite and ritual is false; it is not true.
The work of God is to reconstitute human nature. And that, of course, involves two things. On the one side, it involves a breaking down, a breaking down. And if you know anything about God's dealings with lives which come into His hands, there is undoubtedly a large place for that - a progressive breaking down, breaking down... getting to the root of things, and undeceiving us. If we have got any illusions about ourselves, they will all be gone when God has done with us. If we are governed by any kind of falsehood or lie about ourselves, and our position, and our work, when God has done with us, that will all be gone. He's going to break us down until we see ourselves stark, as an unclean thing, with all our righteousnesses as filthy rags. So He will break us down, and He does. But there is the other side, of course, all the time, for God is not only, and always, negative; there is the constructing, bringing us to the place where anything that is false, anything that is not absolutely transparent and true, straight, clear, is hateful to us.
More and more our inner man revolts against our own falsehood! Any exaggeration comes back on us at once with conviction of wrong; any false statement hits us hard, and we know that we have not spoken the truth. Oh, it is a tremendous thing to get into the hands of the Holy Spirit! This reconstituting of our entire nature until, like God, the one thing, the one thing that we hate is anything that is false. "I hate", said David, "every false way". I hate every false way. We must come there, but we must be great lovers of the truth. This is going to pursue us everywhere; it will pursue us into our own life within ourselves, that we are not deceiving ourselves at all. We're not deceiving ourselves, before God we know exactly what God thinks about us, and we know where we stand in the light.
It will pursue us into our social life, and all our social lies and make-beliefs will have to come under the light of God. Oh, what a tremendous amount of falsehood, make-believe, there is in the social realm. Yes, our economy is built up very largely, our social economy is built up on lies. What about all the make-up? Isn't it to make out that you are something that you're not, to give a semblance of something that is not true? You see, the whole social life is like that; it is a fabric of untruths, and we have many ways of just saying things that really are not true. The "friendly lie".
It will pursue us into our business; the lie that gets us a good sale or a good buy - the commercial lie. And so, through and through, God will pursue this matter of truth. Forgive me dear friends, but it's a very, very important thing with God. If God does hate what is untrue, and desires truth in the inward parts, how can He bless where there is anything that is false, of any kind at all? His eyes see.
Well, He's got to reconstitute us, and that's what the Spirit of Truth does. And this is a time work - indeed, it is a lifelong work, a lifelong work. This thing comes more to light, becomes more intense, the further on we go. The Lord lets you off with a lot of things as spiritual infants, as we do our children. We know that they are children, and we don't take too much notice of certain things which we know are not quite right or not at all right. And God is very patient and very tender to bring us on, to bring us on. It wouldn't do for Him to come right in with all the fulness of the exactness of His nature too soon - He spreads it over the whole lifetime. And the nearer we come to the Lord, and the closer we walk with Him, the more meticulous the Holy Spirit is over this matter of truth - the closer are His dealings with us. It's very true, you see, perfecting truth in the fear of the Lord - perfecting! The nearer we get to the end, perhaps the more stringent will be the Lord's dealings with anything false in our lives. It's a time matter, but God is very faithful - He is very faithful; He doesn't let things pass. Do we want Him to be faithful? Well, it's not comfortable to say, "Yes," but it is good that He should be faithful with every inconsistency, every contradiction, every falsehood, in the inward parts.
That carries the matter deeper than our own natural, moral life. I'm not talking about morals now. It's right to be honest; it's right to have integrity; it's right to be straight; it's right to be true, naturally, humanly; but I'm not talking about that. This thing goes deeper than what we call "common honesty", it's deeper than our natural moral life at its best, for the simple reason that, by nature, we have not got God's conceptions and God's standards. God's thoughts about things are very different from ours. We would often allow what God would never allow! He has a different point of view about things altogether. We judge in one way and God judges in another. It is necessary for us to come to God's standpoint about things. Oh, we would say, "There's no harm in that..." but what does the Lord say about it? "Oh, there's no wrong in that; look at so-and-so and so-and-so," and take our standard, perhaps, from other people? We have known people to do that; point to some outstanding figure in the work of God, in whose life was a certain thing and that one has been taken as the model, to be copied, and that thing, "Oh, there's no harm in it; look at so-and-so." And I have known lives and ministries to be ruined on that very principle. No, no, God says, "Walk before Me! Not before any human model; not before any human standard, don't reason like that, 'There is no harm in it; so-and-so does it; it is quite a common practice'. No, no! Walk before Me". We have got to get this in the spirit, in the spirit; the inward man. It's deeper than our best moral standards. Otherwise there's no point of it being in the Bible at all, if our moral standards can rise to God's satisfaction - why must we be so handled and reconstituted? It's deeper than our intellect, than our reason. You cannot, by reason or intellect, arrive at God's standard at all. Not at all! Oh, don't think that ever by any method of reasoning, you are going to reach God's standard. You never will. Here it is only by revelation of the Holy Spirit. Christ has got to be revealed in our hearts by the Spirit. There is no point in Jesus saying: "When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall guide you into all the truth", if we could get there by our own intelligence! Not at all. It must come by the Spirit's revelation of Christ in our hearts, in the inward parts. This is something spiritual. "God is Spirit; they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" - spirit and truth go together. Only what is spiritual, what is of God, is truth - only that!
The Apostle Paul had a great intellect, as everybody knows, and he had a very high standard of moral life, and he was an utterly deceived man before his conversion. "I verily thought that I ought...." 'It was a matter of conscience with me to do many things contrary....' He was conscientious. He could say, as concerning the righteousness which is of the Law: blameless! There's a moral standard! There's an intellectual standard, there's a conscientious standard! But all wrong, all wrong... mistaken, deceived. No, that's not the way. It's only by the work of the Holy Spirit Himself in us, changing us, completely changing us. It may be that common honesty, sincerity will be a way along which God can come. I am quite sure, that if we are not going to be honest and straight with God, He is not going to meet us, but that will not get us there. He may require the gangway across which to pass to us, of meaning business with Him, and being thoroughly honest with Him. But let us not think that any sincerity of ours will bring us to be partakers of the Divine nature - not at all! "Thou desirest truth in the inward parts", in the inward parts, the deepest realm of our being - in our spirit.
Well, I think that's all that I dare take time to say on this matter this morning, but we ought to leave it at the point where we do recognise that God has provided for this in sending the Holy Spirit: "When He, the Spirit of Truth is come..." It's all a matter of the Holy Spirit as Lord within us, having His place as absolute Lord over intellect, over our own moral pride, conceit, and satisfaction. Oh, let me come back to where I started: The Holy Spirit will take this thing right down, thank God. Thank God! Oh, what are you hoping in? Are you hoping in something in yourself - the man of Psalm 1? Or are you hoping in the law and the ritual and the ceremonies and the sacrifices - the man in Psalm 32? And yes, you get God's mercy and grace there if you can satisfy Him on either of those grounds at all - there's a blessing. But, God is not going to stop there. And thank God He doesn't.
Do I say too terrible a thing when I say that God will bring us to the place of complete despair on all other grounds than His mercy in order that He might reach His end, reach His end, which is His own satisfaction in us - that "no flesh should glory in His presence". "He that glorieth shall glory in the Lord." So our Psalm is of mercy and of grace, boundless beyond... beyond anything that ever has been provided for in the old economy. It is provided for in Jesus Christ.
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