The subject laid upon my mind after a great deal of exercise is the spiritual problem of unanswered prayer the silence of God delays from Heaven.
“THE SILENCE OF GOD”
Mr. V. Farley
February 9th, 1962
The subject laid upon my mind, after a great deal of exercise, is, the spiritual problem of unanswered prayer, the silence of God, delays from Heaven. It is not at all unlikely that there are some here present in that place, and it would be a happy occasion if the Lord should use this word for their encouragement.
In Job 30, 20-21, we read, “I cry unto Thee, and Thou dost not hear me: I stand up, and Thou regardest me not. Thou art become cruel to me; with Thy strong hand Thou opposest Thyself against me.” Here is our starting point, namely, it is no new thing for those who fear God, and are exercised towards Him, to be in this case. I would especially relate it to the pardon of your sins. You have prayed, you have cried, you have hoped, but still God delays; the Heavens seem as brass, and you know not what to do. In addition to that, matters appear to grow worse. One said,
“I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.”
Some here have no doubt prayed like that. But what happened? To you, things seem to deteriorate; iniquities perhaps prevail against you: the more you strive against sin’s power, the worse you feel; and may be, in addition to this, you are afflicted. Poor Job was in that case; God’s hand was upon him, and he uses some strong expressions. “Thou art become cruel to me,” and possibly you give vent to some such words and feelings. It may encourage you just a little at this stage to remember that this is no new experience; Job was in it; David came into it; Jeremiah in his day experienced it, and doubtless many others, but they were delivered, they were brought out. they saw happier days, and why not you? Nevertheless, it is most trying.
Now, as regards the time, and the place, we must say the whole matter is in the hand of God. It is His prerogative and right to
dispense that much desired pardon, forgiveness and peace in His own time and way. Nevertheless, we may address these characters and say, let us beware of putting a stumbling block of our own in the way. Such a thing is possible. Let us not stand with our back to the sun, in our own light. By that I mean, let us examine and see to it that our prayers and desires to God are truly sincere. It is of the utmost importance that we search Jerusalem with candles, that we look into the nooks, crannies, and corners of our lives to see if our hearts are right in this great matter. Now let that suffice to open the subject, and I will now lead you over to the opening verses of the 17th Psalm, which we read together.
Here is the principle of real sincerity. “Hear the right, O Lord, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.” That is the point now to examine. Are those who seek forgiveness and find that this blessing is delayed, sincere in their asking for it? I gather that you really desire God would forgive all your sins, every one, and leave nothing unforgiven because you know that you cannot possibly enter Heaven with one stain of sin upon the conscience. ‘Yes,’ you say, ‘that is what I want: I want to be made white; to be cleansed throughout; I want to be covered with that glorious righteousness; I want to be without spot and blemish before God.’ Very well, that is good. Let us now test the sincerity of it, because the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. I am not going to question your sincerity, but I would examine it with you.
You desire that the Lord will pardon every sin without exception. Then, may I ask, have you renounced every sin in the spirit of it? Have you truly repented of them? How do you prove your sincerity? Can you say with all your heart, you are now at war, you have now entered upon the lists, you have now put on the whole armour of God, you have now come out on the Lord’s side, and you have declared total and absolute war with the world, the flesh and the devil? Your sincerity is proved in this universal hatred to all sin. You are not only going to war with those outward and more scandalous evils, which everybody can see, but you are made spiritually-minded, and you want to overcome all manner of sin. You do not spare, you do not equivocate, but are whole-hearted in this warfare against all evil. How necessary that it should be so, to prove the sincerity of your desire for complete forgiveness. Would you wish to harbour anything in your heart, as you come before the Lord? Would you cleave to that abominable thing as you ask for forgiveness? I hope not, yet the heart is like that. There is such a dilly-dallying, there is such a deceitfulness, that at times, though we profess one thing with our lips, our hearts are not steadfast with God. We are like Lot when he came out of Sodom, and said. “Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.” (Genesis 19. 20.) Is there some besetting sin, something in your heart that says, ‘Is it not a little one?’ Can you say with your whole heart, ‘I would turn from it, if I could I would
prove my sincerity by never sinning any more?’ We do need that sincerity and whole-hearted resolve against all sin; the least as well as the greatest.
You remember King Saul was commanded of the Lord in that memorable account in I Samuel chapter 15 to slay everything. What happened? Why, he came back to Samuel quite pleased with himself and said, “I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” Samuel answered, “What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” Is this obedience? No, of course, not. He had equivocated, he had hesitated, he had spared when he should have slain. How is it with our hearts, and our repentance? Do we come to the Lord and say we have repented of this, that and the other, when there is something that we have spared, some lust, some idol, some sin, which we have not or cannot give up? You want all sin forgiven? Then the Lord requires that you demonstrate your sincerity, not by becoming sinless, not by gaining complete victoryÂ—that is not in your powerÂ—but by steadfastly setting your face against every known sin, so that when you pray, and you ask for forgiveness your heart and conscience will bear you out, you are clear of any wilful or perverse commission of sin or omission of duty, and you can stand before Him with that godly sincerity. Oh! it must be so. You would not wish to come before the Lord, the blessed God, hugging in your bosom that abominable thing which He hates. No. There can be no hope of full enjoyment, no forgiveness, all the time there is this confederacy with evil. So we read in Job, “Are the consolations of God small with thee? Is there any secret thing with thee?” (Job 15. 11). There were some strange gods in Jacob’s house, and he said. ‘Find them, bury them, take them away.’ (Genesis 35. 2 and 3). So there are of times lurking in our hearts and lives, evils, idols, imagery, things not utterly forsaken, besetting sins, darling sins. How they cleave!
Well, there is no forgiveness granted or to be enjoyed while these are entertained. Can you say that the Lord has brought you to that sincerity of the Psalmist here, “Thou hast proved mine heart; Thou hast visited me in the night; Thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.” Happy will you be if your conscience clears you in this matter. You say. ‘I am not sinless, I dare not claim that. I sin every day, at this very moment, but I can say, so far as I can judge my own sincerity, that I am in arms against it, I am engaged in a warfare, and there is no discharge in this war. I am set against it with this resolve to fight on and either fall in battle or gain deliverance at last. It is not those outward sins only, but heart sins, secret sins, and matters which involve motives, inward principles, the thoughts and intents of the heart, which are registered and known, and though I cannot cast them out, yet one thing, I am resolved not to give them peace, not to entertain them, not to provide house and home for them. They are intruders. I hate them. I am a wretched man, a wretched woman, a wretched
child because of this. I am resolved to fight on in His strength. I am repenting every day, and thus declare my sincerity against bosom sins, denying myself, fighting against the desires of the flesh and of the mind, which others can tolerate and speak lightly of.’ But with you, if your heart is single and right, there is no little sin, and you know that the very “thought of foolishness is sin.” If you can follow me there, it is a good sign of your sincerity. On the other hand, do you find your heart convicting you, does sin break out again, do you repent of your repentance? Do you find yourself breaking through all restraints and returning again like the sow to her wallowing in the mire? Alas, there is a need of a stronger proof of sincerity than this, if you still love sin, and return to it, though you come before the Lord and ask for forgiveness. Shall you harbour in your heart this evil? Do you remember He requires truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part He makes us to know wisdom?
But further, let me ask you this. How is your heart affected toward the Lord Jesus Christ? You are seeking forgiveness of your sin, pleading His precious blood and righteousness, pressing your request in His Name for this great blessing, but here again, are you sincere throughout? and by that I mean, do you renounce not only your sins, but all your goodness? Can you say,
“Nothing in my hand I bring;
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace.”
Are you willing in the matter of salvation, forgiveness and Justification to surrender all the glory to Him? Can you say He is your one Object; there is no other foundation nor refuge nor basis of hope, but the finished work of the blessed Redeemer? Can you say so? Are you sure? Or do you seek to divide the glory with Him? Have you got a handful of good works behind you? Are you seeking to make up full weight by casting His Name in the scale, or are you made willing to be humbled under the mighty hand of God, and brought to this place, with nothing to pay? not a scrap, not a rush, not a handful, saying, ‘I am poor, I am destitute, I am cast upon the mercy of God in the blessed Redeemer, and all that He has done. This one thing I desire, forgiveness through the Lamb of God. Here is my hope; here is my request.’ That is good then, you have been brought to a point as to who is to have the glory, the honour and the credit in this great matter. You have come to the end of all perfection, the end of yours, the end of everybody’s. You cannot rest in the good opinion of your friends, or your minister; you cannot trust to your prayers, your repentance, your righteousness; you cannot take refuge in any degree of experience you have had. Very goodÂ—you are driven
out of every refuge of lies, you can no longer build up a wall of untempered mortar.
“My soul into Thy arms I cast,
I trust I shall be saved at last.”
Have you really come to that point? It is a self-renunciation; it is being brought to nothing; yet not omitting good works. You will seek to do good works; you will seek a Gospel obedience. It is becoming, it is right, yet you put not one iota of trust upon it. You say with Paul, “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” It is a hard thing to renounce yourself and your goodness, your progress and your wisdom, to be nothing.
Well, so far so goodÂ—you have sincerity; you have this mark. I want to go further. You make your application to the Lord for this divine forgiveness, through the Lord Jesus, and you want to receive Him, to know Him as your Saviour and your Redeemer; you want to enjoy His rest, you want to be led into the banqueting house and His banner over you to be love; you want to be led into those green pastures and lie down beside the still waters; you want complete deliverance and repose to your poor distracted heart. Very good! Very right! But is that all? I want to test the sincerity of this. If you are right and your desires are true, you will view the Lord Jesus in another light; not only is He a Saviour and Redeemer, but He is King, and He is Lord. Is your heart made willing to receive a whole Christ? Is Christ divided or not? He is not. Those who receive Him will find Him a whole Christ. They want every office He sustains. If your heart is sincere in this great matter, you will agree with me, that you want to own Him as your King; not only, as your Husband, not only as your Friend, but One to teach you; One to guide you; One to correct you; One to chasten you if need be. Can you receive a whole Christ in that manner? Not only His consolations, but His commandments, His corrections, when He says, “If any man follow Me. let him take up his cross daily and deny himself:” to hold all things with a loose hand and say, “Here have we no abiding city, but seek one to come;” when He says. ‘take up this continuing armour, this whole armour of God, and put it on’. Come out on the Lord’s side; His enemies are to be yours: His friends are to be your friends. For you to say to Him in effect, ‘Thine are we David; peace be to thee, and peace be to thy helpers. We are on thy side,’ (I Chron. 12, 18), to take Him for your King and obey His laws; to take up His cross and bear His yoke, to sit at His feet, and commit the keeping of all things unto Him; for you to be no longer your own, but bought with a price, a trophy of redeeming love and blood given up to the Lord,Â—”Here I am, send me.”
Do you feel that all this is embraced in your desire for forgiveness? I cannot lower the standard, because Christ is not divided. Now, you must know whether you seek forgiveness upon such
terms as these, not as though you would divide the spoil at all; not like thisÂ—”And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying. We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.” (Isaiah 4. 1). Do you want forgiveness? Do you want your reproach to be taken away by Him, and yet not to walk with Him, not be married to Him; have no communion with Him, but to say, “we will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel?” That is not the Gospel; that is the way of some who have a name to live, but they are dead; they profess His Name as an outward uniform, but they want none of His laws, none of His corrections, none of His self-denial. What saith your soul? Can you wholeheartedly acquiesce in these things? If so, the Lord has made your heart sincere, and you are a believer, and as such, you are already forgiven. Yes, this great salvation, this forgiveness that we speak of is plainly declared in Acts 13, 39. “And by Him all that believe are justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Now, take heed, you to whom I am speaking. It will not satisfy you for me to tell you that you are forgiven, though it is so. You want The Lord to reveal it, to make it clear, to make it powerfully known; and He will.
I just close with one Scripture (Isaiah 50, 10). “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light?” What is he to do? “Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” It may be for the present a season of darkness, but this darkness is temporary as a cloud over the sun, and the shining light is not destroyed by it. “Unto the upright there ariseth a light in darkness.” So different from the light and the sparks that are spoken of in verse 11. They represent that outward artificial light of false religion, which is like the flickering out of a candle into eternal darkness. Whilst you wait for this blessing of forgiveness, seek to go on fearing the Lord, obeying the voice of His servant, though for a season it is darkness. “Let him trust.” Yes, it is safe to trust in the Lord. It is the act of committing your case, your soul with all its concerns into the hands of a gracious God. “Let him trust in the name of the Lord and stay”Â—what is the difference? The first is the act of faith expressed, trusting, and then to ‘stay’ is a perpetuation of the same thing, in other words. “Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” (Isaiah 26, 4). You shall have your forgiveness because He cannot deny Himself; He said not to the seed of Jacob, seek ye Me in vain.