To A New Level Of Christian Living
"In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.
"Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of Him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
"Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.
"Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged"(Isaiah 6:1-7).
Isaiah was a prophet of God who one day beheld the sapphire throne of the King Himself. He heard the prayer or chant of the seraphim, and for a moment his whole soul was steeped in the rapture of that vision. But a moment after, he was plunged in the profoundest contrition of soul as he contrasted himself with those who served God with sinless lips, and he cried: "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips."
Why was this? Partly because after the golden years of Uzziah’s reign, in which money and splendor were corrupting the hearts of the people, it was necessary that the leaders at least, or many like Isaiah, who stood in the forefront, should be lifted to a higher level.
You must understand from the previous chapters of this book how the dwellers of Zion, the men and women of Jerusalem, and, indeed, all the people, were being corrupted by the sin, the fashion, the worldliness, and the money making of their time. It was needful, therefore, that God should raise a new standard among them by the hand of Isaiah, who stood closest to Him.
It may be that in your country at this time, some of your holy customs are being broken down. Perhaps family worship is no longer maintained as it was. The children are no longer trained in the habits of godliness as they once were. The high morale of your people, derived from noble ancestry, may have been disintegrating while the people devoted their energies in other directions than in wholehearted devotion to God. At such times, it is God’s habit to call around Himself His Isaiahs, His servants, those who stand nearest to Him, the members of His Church, and to lift them up to a new level of Christian living. From that moment He would have them be the pivot on which a lever may work to lift the entire nation.
Before you and I can become what God would have us to be, what we want to be, there must first be a humbling process. We must be laid low in the dust before God. Just in proportion as we are prepared to descend, will we ascend. Let us get down in the dust before Jesus Christ, our Lord, and let each one of us become convicted and cry: "Woe is me! For I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips."
There is a threefold conviction here, of personal unworthiness, of the nearness of God, and of the one method by which the heart of man can be pacified.
The Conviction of Unworthiness"Woe is me! for I am undone."
If you read the preceding chapter, the fifth chapter, you will understand how earnestly Isaiah had been pursuing his prophetic work. This man, who of all Israel seemed to be the purest and sweetest, is a man that bows the lowest and is most convinced of sin. God’s children need to learn that lesson too. He had done good work, but God saw that he could do better, and so convicted him of the comparative unworthiness of his past ministry. Thus the man by whom God has spoken through five chapters was a man who confessed to having unclean lips.
You may have a good record lying behind you. It may be that for five chapters of your life you have been ministering to people, to children, to the needy of your city, and you have been greatly acclaimed. But God wants to teach you a better lesson, to make you more mightily powerful, to baptize you more with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Therefore He takes even you, truehearted as you are, and brings you down into the place where the Holy Spirit will hold up your past life, and bid you review it until you who have been looked up to by everyone as an example – as you come beneath the light that shall fall upon you from the face of Jesus Christ – shall cry: "I am an undone man."
Isaiah’s conviction was wrought through the vision of Jesus, and indeed, that is the only vision that will really convince us of sin. We need to stand beneath the light that falls from His face. He is among us at this moment. Let Him look down deep into your hearts, and as you look up into His face, do you not realize that there is a look of grief and sorrow there, because in your work there has been so much of yourself and so little of His love? Does He not reveal to you the poverty of your motive, the lowness of your aim, your greater thought of what men might consider of you than of what He might say?
Let the light of the living Christ fall upon you, the light of the coming Christ, the light of the second advent, the light of the judgment seat of Christ, the light of the great white throne. As this falls upon your heart today, and you see what He wants you to be and what you are, you shall say: "I am undone."
There is another thought. Isaiah saw the worship of the blessed ones: "One cried to another." I like to think of that. It was as if one of them cried, "Your praises are not lifted high enough; higher, brothers, higher!" And he cried across the intervening space to the seraphim opposite, and bade them rise to a higher note, till the chorus swelled and rose and broke.
Sometimes in our prayer meeting an earnest man has shaken the very gates of heaven and has stirred the whole meeting. That is what we want. And as I tell you of a richer, fuller life, a life more abundant than many of you know, may you be convicted of the need of a new anointing, of a fresh application to the Son of God for the touch of fire. May ours be the seraph’s reverence, with the veiled face, ours his modesty, with the veiled form, ours his balance of one-third obedience to two-thirds contemplation. Then perhaps our cry may awaken similar results to his, and we shall cry, "Undone!"
The Conviction That God Is Near
It is said the whole earth is full of God’s glory (Isa. 6:3). You and I are prepared to say that the glory of God shines in some of His great waterfalls or mountain peaks, or oceans or sunsets and sunrises. But to be told that the whole earth is full of the glory of God startles us. When we hear of great crimes and abuse, we would not think the glory of God was there. But the seraphim say the whole earth is full of the glory of God. We are reminded of what Elizabeth Barrett Browning says:
"Earth’s crammed with Heaven,
And every common bush aflame with God,
But only he that sees takes off his shoes."
We must understand that when the heart is full of God, you will find God anywhere and everywhere. That is what we may rely on here. It is not I that can do anything, but God can. Heaven and Eternity are near. It is not my words that shall achieve the result, but the Spirit of God who is as much among His people as He was in the upper room upon the day of Pentecost.
"Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). The Spirit of God is here and is working among us also, as He has done in other times and places. He first convicts us of a cold heart, of our deep need, and of our utter undoneness, and then He comes Himself and says, "I am here."
Conviction of the One Need of a Penitent Sinner
When Isaiah cried, one of the seraphim immediately went for the live coal. The seraph took the live coal from off the altar, and that stood for blood and fire, the two things we want today. We lack blood and fire.
Blood! Can you not hear the hiss of the blood of the lamb as it flows around that coal? As the seraph takes it up with his tongs of gold and bears it to the prophet’s lips, it takes the atoning blood with it. We want that first. I call upon all of you to claim that first – the blood. Nothing else will do. "This is He that came by water and blood…not by water only, but by water and blood" (1 John 5:6). You and I need blood first. Let us then betake ourselves to our compassionate Lord, and seek from Him that forgiveness which He purchased on the cross. Do you want it? Are you quite satisfied? Do you look upon your past with perfect complacency? Is there nothing to regret? Are there no sins to put away?
It is natural to respond that you are undone. Then let us begin by opening our whole nature to Christ, and believe that His blood now cleanses from all sin (1 John 1:7,9). Let us dare to believe that when we turn to that blood, and claim the forgiveness which is based on it, the whole of our past sin is gone, blotted out, lost to view. If we remind God about it, He will say: "My child, you need not tell Me about it. I have forgotten it. It is as though it had never been."
Next We Need the Fire, the Live Coal
The Welsh preacher, Christmas Evans (1766-1838) tells us in his diary that one Sunday afternoon he was traveling a very lonely road to attend an appointment in a village on the other side of the slope, and he was convicted of a cold heart. He says: "I tethered my horse and went to a sequestered spot, where I walked to and fro, in an agony as I reviewed my life. I waited three hours before God, broken with sorrow, until there stole over me a sweet sense of His forgiving love. I received from God a new baptism of the Holy Ghost.
"As the sun was westering, I went back to the road, found my horse, mounted it, and went to my appointment. On the following day I preached with such new power to a vast concourse of people gathered on the hillside, that a revival broke out that day and spread through the whole principality."
Let us close with that. Convicted of a cold heart, of a worldly life, of self-seeking and pride, of having come short of God’s glory. Then forgiveness. Then the baptism of fire and power.
God grant that the live coal, which has never lost its glow since the day of Pentecost, may come to every heart, to every mouth, to every life; and that this day a fire shall begin to burn in every mission, in every Sunday school, in every church!
Revised from Meet For The Master’s Use, by F. B. Meyer.
F. B. Meyer (1847-1929) was a British Baptist preacher, and author of more than seventy books. His writings have been helpful to many in deepening their Christian lives. Herald of His Coming invites you to request a copy of the above book in magazine format. It is retitled, Ready For The Master’s Use. Send your request to:
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