Born From Above

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 6 - The Meekness of the Heavenly Man

We have, in the earlier six gatherings of this Conference [we do not have the sixth message] been led to contemplate that great Divine thought and intention in having man constituted after God's own heart. With that intention, God proceeded with the creation and coming to man, said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). So He proceeded and produced the first of that race which was intended by Him to bring Him perfect satisfaction. But we saw that man was marred; then God, through the link of faith with a chain of men down the centuries, shows in each of those men some glimmer of His thought. Each one of them revealed through His in-working some constituent (among many of the marks of that marring and spoiling and traces of the works of the devil) of the man that God was after, but all of them coming short of perfection. Then in the fulness of the times, God sent His own Son, made of a woman, the incarnation by which the heavenly Man was introduced into this world.

He came, as we saw, to do two things. First, to put the former man out, to bring him to an end, and then through the Cross to establish the second Man, the last Adam, in his place. And all God's concern and all the concern of every believer should be this: the formation of man according to Christ, the bringing of Christ in His nature, His manhood, into fulness personally and corporately in His body, the church. Our main emphasis is upon the nature of what God is, therefore, from the beginning, seeking to realise, that heaven's verdict upon our having been here on this earth as Christians will be entirely a matter of how much Christ has been here because we have been here; not the many things that Christians are often occupied with as objective things, but just how much the Lord Jesus has been here because we were here.

Now we shall spend this time in contemplating this heavenly Man who has come in and who has come to stay, and whom God is with, whom God has established forever, who is going right through to God's end. We are to look at Him. We shall not see all. If we only see one thing, and that one thing comes to us through the eyes of our hearts and therefore makes for conformity to His likeness, our meditation is not in vain.

Pride the Point at which the First Man was Marred

We come then, to look at the heavenly Man to whom it is the intention of God to conform us, and apart from which conformity, our Christianity has no meaning and we have failed. So we have to start with the second Man, the last Adam, the heavenly Man, at the point where the former man was marred, where Satan did his basic work, for this Son of God as Son of man was manifested to destroy the works of the devil and those works are primarily in man. We have to see that the Lord Jesus, in incarnation, started right at the point where Satan's works were done in man, where the first man was marred, and at what point was that? There is one word which includes the whole range of satanic works, but which is the root of all the works of Satan, and that word is pride. We know from what the Scriptures tell us that it was when pride was found in his heart that the great rift and rupture took place between God and that covering cherub Lucifer, that "Son of the Morning". "Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty" (Ezekiel 28:17), pride was found in his heart. We know that he lost everything of his dominion and his rulership through pride. He lost his glory, he lost his place with God, through pride. And, in order to rob the first Adam of his Divinely appointed and intended destiny as ruler over the creation, to spoil God's work, it was just on that particular point that he commenced: the question of pride - that is the original sin and is where Adam failed.

I am not going to stay to analyse the temptation and the fall. It is perfectly clear it was a matter of pride. It was a revolt against being less than Satan suggested he might be. Through pride, Satan fell, and through pride, Adam fell, and it is the basis and root of all sin. If we were capable of understanding and knowing and apprehending, we should be able to trace pride in some way through all our troubles.

The Meekness of the Heavenly Man

It was there that the second Man, in order to destroy the works of the devil in man, in order to put aside the earthly man, that the heavenly Man began, and the one great, all-comprehensive word about Him is meekness. Meekness was found in Him, even before He came here into this scene. Being on an equality with God, He thought it not something to be grasped or to be held on to; He emptied Himself, becoming in the form of a man (Phil. 2:6-7). You see His beginnings. There is no proud, ostentatious entry into this humanity and this world among men. There is nothing whatever that this world would take account of according to its own standards. His beginnings are in the utmost meekness. It is not just a pretty story of the stable and the manger and no room in the inn and all the humble circumstances. It is a Divine principle at work, the mightiest principle in God's universe now for the destroying of the very works of the devil. God is getting right down to the roots of things. There is nothing here to make an impression, nothing impressive from the world's standpoint. Yes, spiritual forces are in operation, heaven is active, but no miracles to see that He has a propitious beginning. It is all very simple. He has entered in in meekness - mighty, and to the kingdom of Satan it is terrible - meekness.

Then, as He comes out before us in full manhood, we are able to mark His stand against the spirit of this world and its god, which is the spirit of pride, the spirit of fleshly glory, the spirit of natural impossibility. What a stand He made against the spirit of this world, and that spirit of this world which had invaded Israel, the Jewish nation in its worst form, for the worst form of pride is spiritual pride. He found His greatest antagonism in the realm where spiritual pride was seated and rooted among the Jewish rulers. They would not have Him because He did not come up to standard according to their worldly ideas. He annoyed and provoked them because of His utter other-worldliness. Their ideas were worldly ideas. The most scathing things that He ever said were said in connection with spiritual pride. The Pharisee went up to the temple, lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "I thank Thee that I am not as the rest of men... I do this, I do that..." and so on (Luke 18:9-12); spiritual pride. And to them He said, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do" (John 8:44). You cannot get further back than that and deeper than that, and He simply meant that pride, the pride of Lucifer, is the actuating motive of everything. "How can ye believe, who receive glory one of another?" (John 5:44).

But note, it was not what He said, it was what He was. He was the contrast. We can talk about pride and talk about humility or meekness. The real power is not in what is said; it is in the person, what the person is. He was the contrast in Himself.

Obedience the Hallmark of Meekness

Then we are told by the apostle that after emptying and humbling Himself, He became obedient. If there is one thing that is the hallmark of meekness, it is obedience. The apostle says "obedient unto death", and then He adds - "yea, the death of the cross". Could there be anything more humbling? Could there be anything more demanding and requiring more meekness than to be obedient unto the death of the cross? We might be willing to be obedient unto death if it could be the glorious death of a martyr who would be conspicuously, manifestly, laying down his life in a glorious way. The cross to the Jew was the very synonym for being cursed of God, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Gal. 3:13). To the Roman this was degradation, when the Roman idea is one of strength; their whole idea of manhood was strength and to be crucified meant utter weakness and denial of everything in manhood - shame, degradation. To the Greek it was foolishness, a contradiction of all wisdom, "To think you are going to get anywhere by being crucified! If you are going to be successful, you will never go to a cross!" "Obedient unto death, yea, the death of the cross". Can meekness go further than that? No! Well, this is the Man that God is with. This is the Man according to God's eternal thought. This is the Man who is destroying the works of the devil in His own manhood. This is the Man who is going right back to the very root of all satanic activity and rules it out in His manhood, and He is doing it by meekness.

He is not assailing the works of the devil objectively. He is getting down to them subjectively, He is dealing with them in their nature. He goes to the cause, before He touches the effect. It is the very essence of things. The works of the devil are not just the things that have come from the devil, but the reason why they have come, and the reason is pride, and this Son of Man is destroying those works in their nature, in their essence, by meekness.

God Committed Himself to the Lord Jesus on the Ground of His Meekness

That is why the Father committed Himself to the Son. We have quoted so often in this series John 2:24-25 - "Jesus did not trust Himself unto them, for that He knew all men, and because He needed not that any one should bear witness concerning man; for He Himself knew what was in man." But God has committed Himself to this Man, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him" (Matt. 17:5). God was with Him, God committed Himself to Him, to the Son. "The Father hath given all things into His (the Son's) hand" (John 3:35). And He did so; He committed Himself and all things to Him sheerly and purely on the ground of His meekness. Sometimes God cannot commit Himself to us because of our pride. There is no doubt about it, the least little blessing that the Lord gives us and up comes old Adam and begins to glory. Oh, how pleased we are, how gratified we are if something nice is said about us or about something we have said or done. And how little do we go down in meltedness of heart and tears, and thank God that ever He should have been able to say or do something through us that was a help. God cannot commit Himself. We are little used because it is not safe. We are so little blessed because it is not safe. We at once get into the picture. God could commit all things to the Son, and God could commit Himself to Him without the slightest fear, with no reserve, because of His meekness.

Moses a Foreshadowing of Christ in His Meekness

Moses is a beautiful type foreshadowing this one particular thing. We said that each link in the chain of men represented some feature of this heavenly Man, and it says about Moses, "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth" (Numbers 12:3). Well, there you see his outstanding, distinguishing characteristic and the result was, "The Lord spoke unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Ex. 33:11). He did not speak to him by an intermediary; He did not speak to him - as the word literally is there - in parables, "dark speeches" (Num. 12:8); He spoke openly face to face. What a thing to be able to say about a man! The Lord spoke to Moses mouth to mouth (Numbers 12:8). But you have to put the two things together, "Now the man Moses was very meek." Then the Lord revealed to Moses the whole heavenly pattern. Moses had an open heaven, a full, clear and very detailed revelation from God Himself of the things in the heavens. "Now the man Moses was very meek." The two things go together. The day came when in his own family circle, his brother Aaron and his sister Miriam are evidently talking somewhere aside. The spirit of pride and jealousy rose up, and they began to talk disparagingly about their brother Moses, "Hath the Lord indeed spoken only with Moses? He is taking too much on himself." Somewhere out of earshot this secret conspiracy was going on. God heard, overheard, and God came down and said, "You three come out here, appear before Me at the door of the tent". God took up the case of Moses. The meekness of Moses became the awful terror of Aaron and Miriam. It was the ground on which God called them to account in the most solemn and terrible way. God vindicated Moses because he "was very meek".

The Lord Jesus: Meek and Lowly in Heart

It is just a faint foreshadowing of this One who, far more than Moses, at far greater cost than Moses, was meek and lowly in heart. Did God speak with Him face to face? "The Father hath given all things into His hand". Has God disclosed to Him His eternal counsels? Oh yes! Has God vindicated Him? Why, you know there was a day when His own brethren after the flesh called Him into question, and the apostolic writer says - "Even His brethren did not believe on Him" (John 7:5). But you find them among the apostles later on calling Him Lord, the Lord Jesus; one of His own brethren after the flesh saying about his Brother, "The Lord Jesus". You see the way of meekness, its importance with God, and its undercutting power where Satan's works are. So He was able to say with every right: "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart" (Matt. 11:29).

True Meekness is of the Heart

I can quite visualise that we will take this in all sincerity and good meaning, and then we will go away and say, "We are going to be meek!" and we will put it on! We will begin to talk in a certain way that we think is a meek way of talking; we will begin to say things that we think are very meek things. We begin to behave and to look very meek. Beware! Satan will just get what he is after and spoil the whole thing. "Meek... in heart." It is not something put on, not something from the outside, not the tone in which we speak - a miserable tone, thinking it sounds meek. It is not when we begin to use self-depreciating words about ourselves, talking about what poor things we are, letting people know that we feel we are the worst of everything. That is not meekness. There are a lot of other things that could be imitation meekness. Now, I do not believe that if we had met Jesus in the days of His flesh we would have met anything like that, a poor whining tone. I do not believe He went about whining, and I do not believe that He ever said anything about Himself as to what a poor creature and specimen He was. I do not believe for one moment that He drew attention to Himself in that way. I believe we should have found a man every bit a man, with nothing to despise so far as His manhood or His speech were concerned.

He was meek and lowly in heart, and only God knows the heart, and God can read through all our make-believe. I am not saying that you have to go away and try to be meek and put on meekness. I am saying that you have got to be conformed to Christ, and you have to put yourselves into the hands of the Spirit of God to do it, and when He does it, or begins to do it, don't begin to kick. This, as we said in a previous meditation, is going to be a deep heart formation, very deep down in the heart - no make-believe, no mockery with God, but reality. We shall be stripped of our pride and everything that accounts for our pride, all that which would in any way make us think something of ourselves and deceive ourselves. "If a man think himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself" (Gal. 6:3). That does not mean that if any particular man thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself, that means about all men that if any believe they are something when they are nothing, they deceive them­selves.

All that deception is going to be destroyed. It is pride that is at the root of deception. Adam was deceived, but it was his pride that deceived him. There is nothing more deceiving than pride. Oh, the foolishness of it! You have only to look down upon men from a high enough standpoint, and all the cause of pride has gone. You have only got to go ten thousand feet up in a plane and look down on the earth and see men like ants crawling about, and yet marvellous beings in their own eyes. Get God's standpoint of these men who strut about the earth thinking themselves to be something. What are they from God's standpoint? "When he is nothing, deceiving himself." The Lord Jesus was not deceived in that way. He was meek and lowly in heart.

Some Characteristics of Meekness

Where shall we begin or end when we begin to speak about meekness? Oh, how different meekness is in its whole behaviour when you look at it in the case of the Lord Jesus. Well, meekness in Him found no revengefulness, "When He was reviled, (He) reviled not again" (1 Peter 2:23). When they said evil things about Him, there was no revengeful attitude, no revengeful spirit, "He gave His back to the smiters" (Isa. 50:6). He did not come back to get even. There is nothing revengeful about meekness. Meekness is never offended. It is pride that is offended. But how few of us can be talked to straightly and have things pointed out to us that are painfully amiss and doing harm, and take it meekly and not be offended or show offendedness! Meekness is not offended. Remember this.

Meekness has no airs; it is not superior. Read John 13 again. "Ye call Me your Teacher and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:13-14). In the form of a bondservant, laying aside His garments, taking a towel and a basin, pouring water into it, and washing the disciples' feet. This is not some act of condescension. This is Himself. It is not put on and He is not acting. It is Himself, it is His Spirit. So we could go on, and on, analysing meekness.

We have not been talking about meekness. The subject was the heavenly Man. This may be one outstanding, or it may be an inclusive feature, of the heavenly Man, but you see we started this series with the phrase "born from above". "Ye must be born from above", and you know quite well that you do not have somebody who is born, and then begin to stick virtues on to them afterward. It is what they are born with coming out. "Born from above" means that this is inherent in what is from above. It is that, it is a very part of our birth; it may be immature, not very much developed, but it is what is there by the work of the Spirit. "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). He is the Spirit of meekness. I would set meekness as the supreme feature of what is from above.

What remains then, as we close for the moment, is that we should really have dealings with the Lord about this. We are not going through to God's end, we are not going to pass on and even leave this world a success from heaven's standpoint, unless supremely, in all, through all, this Spirit of the heavenly Man has marked us with the Spirit of meekness. It will in itself determine how much of the work of the devil has been destroyed in manhood; the measure of Christ in terms of meekness. Recognise the importance of this.

It is Christ, no less than Christ, and all the mighty meaning of Christ as the Firstborn among many brethren, as the beginning of that race, that manhood, that humanity, which eventually is to reach God's appointed destiny and fulfil God's eternally deter­mined purpose in this universe. All is bound up, to begin with, with this matter of meekness.

We shall not, in this series, have time to speak on other features of the heavenly Man, but if this one thing takes hold of our hearts, something will have been done which will carry with it many, many other things and open the way for the Lord to do very much more.

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