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November 15 Today’s Reading: Acts 17-19
“If Haply They Might Feel after Him”
True Christianity is primarily a religion of the heart. It is inward and spiritual. A man believes with his heart. He repents in his heart. Prayer is found in and comes from the heart. And those things that are found in the heart are felt things. It is “Christ in you,” whom the Spirit of God calls, “the Hope of Glory” (Colossians 1:27). Those who seek and worship Him “feel after Him.” The Book of God speaks of three distinct things that are “felt” in the experience of every heaven born soul.
When the Lord God brought His ninth plague upon the land of Egypt, by which He destroyed the land, that is to say by which He destroyed the strength and confidence of the Egyptians, it was a plague “of thick darkness…even darkness which may be felt.” And when God the Holy Spirit comes in the mighty operations of His grace to save a sinner, His first task is to destroy all creature strength in the sinner. He does so by bringing into the soul of the chosen sinner the thick darkness of guilt. When He comes to convince a sinner of his sin, He brings into the land of man’s soul “thick darkness…even darkness which may be felt.” Darkness is often used in Scripture in this symbolic way (Isaiah 9:2; 29:18; 42:5-7; 50:10; Matthew 4:16; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 5:8; Colossians 1:12-14). The conviction of sin is something felt in the soul. — “I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of His wrath. He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light” (Lamentations 3:1-2).
The first thing the Holy Spirit does in the sinner in the experience of grace is to bring felt darkness into his soul by the conviction of sin. Then, He brings felt healing by the conviction of righteousness. He convinces the sinner of righteousness, because Christ has returned to the Father, having accomplished what He came into the world to accomplish. He brought in everlasting righteousness. The bringing in of righteousness involved two things: — Obedience and Satisfaction (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18). If ever God gives a poor sinner faith to touch Christ’s clothes, His righteousness, “the garments of salvation” (Isaiah 61:10), he will feel the healing of grace in his soul when he discovers that Christ has made him whole, righteous before God. We see this beautifully illustrated in Mark 5:25-29.
Felt No Harm
In Acts 28 we see a third felt thing. When Paul was bitten by a viper, “he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.” Like Paul, you and I have been bitten by a viper, the viper of hell, that old serpent, the devil. What pain the viper’s bite has caused us and is causing us! But as soon as the poor, perishing sinner is convinced by God the Holy Spirit (John 16:11) that judgment has been forever removed from him by the sacrifice of Christ, because justice has been satisfied on his behalf by the death of God’s dear Son, he looks to Christ in faith, shakes off the serpent, and soon feels no harm in his soul (Romans 8:1-4, 31-35). I cannot imagine a more glorious felt thing than “no harm.” Can you? Yet, this is something that cannot be fully felt until that great day (And it can’t be too soon!), when we shall at last shake off the beast of hell, that old serpent, the devil, into the fire of hell, and so completely and thoroughly triumph over him that we shall feel no harm! It is written, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). We shall forever feel “no harm” from the serpent’s bite and the sin caused by it!