True and False Confidence
Such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God….(2 Cor. iii. 4.)
THE Apostle treats of three things in these words. Firstly, he treats of the faith of the Saints, Such trust have we. Secondly, he shews on whose account there is this trust. Through Christ. Thirdly, he shews in whom the Saints have trust, To God-ward. Notice that this trust is twofold, both good and evil.
The good trust is of the Saints or of the good men; but the evil trust is the confidence of bad men or of sinners.
Good men are made good by the Grace of God alone. Bad men are made bad or sinful by its absence.
I. But the trust of the good, as gathered from the text, consists in seven things.
- In the fear of God. In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence. (Prov. xiv. 26)
The goodness of God is imparted to those men who fear the Lord. Fear of the Lord is not horror or dismay of the man who is in the hands of an unpredictably irrational Divine Tyrant. Rather, fear of the Lord is healthy awesome wonder and awe in the presence of the God who is the Rational Source of all being and wellbeing. To fear the Lord is to fear the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell. What we should fear is that we have too much disregarded, disobeyed, and displeased the Father of the universe. So wholesome fear generates humble submission to the Grace of God.
- In prayer. Thy servant hath found confidence to pray before thee. (1 Chr. Xvii. 25) Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God; and whatsoever we ask we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. (1 St. John iii. 21)
Trust in God’s goodness comes through prayer. If we are faithful to God, seek to do His will, and keep His commandments, God will infuse our souls with the goodness of His Grace. Of course, it is necessary always to seek to do His will alone. And thus our confidence in Him is strengthened as His will is perfected in our lives.
- In consecration of himself to God. If iniquity be in thy hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles, for then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot, yea, thou shalt be stedfast and shall not fear ; because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away, and thine age shall be clearer than the noon-day; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning. And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety : also thou shalt lie down and none shall make thee afraid ; yea, many shall make suit unto thee. (Job xi. 14-18)
It is essential that if any demonic or evil thought should approach us that we should offer it to the Lord for death and annihilation. Evil thoughts that disrupt and threaten our confidence and trust in the Lord must be overcome by the Grace of God. The Grace of God alone can make us right with Him, our neighbor, and ourselves. And thus when any thought threatens our faithful trust and confidence in the Father, through the Son, and by the Holy Spirit, we must name it, claim it, and offer it up to the Lord that He might crush and banish it from our lives. When we do this, even sinful temptations and distractions can be put to good use as what enable us to have deeper trust and confidence in the Lord.
- In bountiful almsgiving. Alms shall be a great confidence before the Most High God. (Tobit iv. 12)
One way to ensure our trust and confidence in the Lord is to lessen our dependence upon earthly riches and mammon. We do this by giving away our riches as alms or offerings to those in need. The poor are given to us always as a gift that enables us to share what we have with others as we depend upon the riches and treasures of God’s mercy through deepest trust and confidence in Him. As we get into the habit of giving away our earthly riches, our trust and confidence in the treasure of God’s merciful bounty grows.
- In the keeping of the Divine law. Bow down thine ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge ; for it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee : they shall withal be fitted in thy lips that thy trust may be in the Lord (Prov. xxii. 17-19) i.e., not in the world, not in anything else.
Keeping the Divine Law means that we are obeying the Lord God. Obedience means that we ‘exercise ourselves day and night’ in God’s Rule and Governance. We study His truth, discern His knowledge, and ask Him to rule and govern our bodies, souls, and spirits. We discern His truth mostly through our contemplation and study of the Holy Scriptures. They contain all things necessary to our salvation. Our trust and confidence in Him grow as we ‘read, learn, mark, and inwardly digest’ the words of Scripture.
(6) In the blood of Christ. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way. (Hebr. x. 19)
Now in addition to fear of the Lord, prayer, consecration of our bodies, souls, and spirits to God, almsgiving, and keeping the Law, we must surrender to the Lamb of God, God’s only Son made flesh, Jesus Christ, the Propitiation for our sins, if we would perfect our trust and confidence in God. Jesus Christ has broken down the wall or partition that separates and alienates us from the presence of our Heavenly Father through ‘His one oblation of Himself once offered as a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.’ Through the shedding of His blood, once for all on Calvary Hill, we are welcomed into the death of sin, death, and Satan in our lives. And yet this offering and gift of God in His only Son is not automatically or magically applied to the lives of all men. Not all men will be saved. Only those who enter into the effects and merits of His death will be saved. Only by entering into His death and welcoming His death into our lives can we be saved. Only when His death becomes our own can our trust and confidence in the Father be perfected truly. This means that as He died unto sin once, so through the effectual operation of His Holy Spirit, we should be dead to sin also and alive unto righteousness through His Resurrected and Ascended Being.
- In the day of judgment. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment ; because as He is, so are we in this world. (1 St. John iv. 17)
As Jesus Christ has overcome sin, death, and Satan, so we must die daily unto sin and come alive unto righteousness. ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ (St. John xvi. 33) Each and every day we must ask the Lord Jesus Christ to bring us into His victory over sin. Each and every day we must ask the Lord Jesus to bring us into His Resurrection and Ascension victory over sin. Each and every day we must ask Him to live in us. Each and every day we must ask Him to allow us to live in Him. This will perfect our trust and confidence in the Father because through Him alone we shall overcome all division and alienation from our Heavenly Father
II. In like manner the trust of the wicked consists in seven things, which are to be gathered from the text.
- In riches. Wherefore gloriest thou in the valleys, thy flowing valleys, O backsliding daughter? that trusted in her treasures. (Jer. xlix. 4)
We must never trust in things of this world if we hope to be saved. The comfort of this world and those things that ensure earthly comfort must never be taken for granted. And at times we must get into the habit of denying ourselves the pleasures of this world in order to be become habituated to relying wholly and completely upon the Lord. We must ask to the Lord to help us out of the comfortable and warm valleys in order to be taken up onto the top of a cold and isolated mountain to pray.
- In stupidity and maliciousness. For thou trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee ; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else besides me. (Is. xlvii. 10)
The fool hath said in his heart there is no God. (Ps. xiv. 1) The stupid man has thought that he can escape the just and merciful judgment of his Maker. God is “I am”. There is no escaping His loving censorious gaze and vision. To trust in our ways, to have confidence in ‘the devices and desires of our own hearts’ is malicious. Malice is, at the end of the day, ill will towards God. In the end we had better abandon such stupidity if we hope to be redeemed and saved.
- In the false array of the powerful. Wo to the rebellious children … To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and having trust in the shadow of Egypt; therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion. (Is. xxx. 1-3) Pharaoh is the prince of this world, the shadow of Egypt the power of this world. He is rightly called confusion because often when help is looked for destruction follows; as also the shadow of the power of this world ends in ignominy. They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed that trust in graven images (Is. xlii. 17) i.e., in the appearance of power and in the powerful.
To put our trust or confidence in the powerful of this world is equally stupid and foolish. The rulers of this world possess temporary and unsatisfactory power. Their strength and might is fleeting. It comes and goes. It does not ensure salvation. We look for help in the powers that be and we end up being more confused than ever in our spiritual lives. We think that we are pursuing goodness and we find that we have made peace with an evil that might give us temporary ease and comfort but does not increase and perfect our trust and confidence in the Lord.
- In the vain beauty of the flesh. But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pourest out thy fornication upon every one that passed by. (Ez. xvi. 15)
Our trust and confidence in the Lord is wholly frustrated and disrupted if we are enamored of our own beauty, power, and riches. Our selfish self-love is often used to manipulate and control others. We become our own gods, and thus put our trust and confidence in ourselves –in our power, our self-image, and riches to draw others into the web of our idiolatry.
- In the fortification of towers and walls. And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates until thy high and fenced walls come down wherein thou trustedst in all thy land. (Deut. xxviii. 52)
Our own riches and power will come tumbling down when we die. We shall leave this world with as little power as we had when we entered it. ‘Then shall the Lord say, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.’ (St. Luke xii. 20, 21)
- In the invocation of demons. Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted? (Deut. xxxii. 37)
When we trust in princes, their power, our beauty, our power, or our riches, soon we shall be found to have been worshiping false gods. At death and with the impending judgment, the false gods, idols, and demons disappear. They cannot withstand the presence of the Living God. Then there shall be no one and nothing to stand in our defense. We must put our whole trust and confidence in the Lord.
- In intercourse with that which is outward and unreal. The hypocrite’s hope shall perish; whose hope shall be cut off. And whose trust shall be as a spider’s web. (Job. viii. 13, 14) From which trust may Christ deliver us.
There is no hope for that man who has not trusted and had confidence in God alone. It is no use hoping for what cannot be granted. If we have not put our whole trust and confidence in God, we shall all perish. God doesn’t force His salvation upon any of us. So today, dearest friends, let us put our whole trust and confidence in God. Let us commit ourselves, our souls, and our bodies, to Him as a living sacrifice. Let us ask Him to surround us and fill us with the Grace of His Will alone. Let us intend to please Him with all of our lives. Amen.