“Further, it (the surrendered heart) is dedicated to enjoy God. It chooses Him as its portion, its happiness, all and in all. It consents to find all its satisfaction in Him and Him alone, whether it be in the loss of every other channel of happiness or by His filling all the springs of life with Himself.”
Excerpt From: A. B. Simpson. “Wholly Sanctified.” WingSpread Publishers
Inner Garden Part 2
This passage describes the single focus of the man or woman who is surrendered to God, surrender being the better part of sanctification. The title of this discussion arises from having heard a wonderful message from an anointed preacher who described the wonders of an environment planned and constructed by God Himself, Who, the scripture said, planted the Garden of Eden. The preacher described the wonderful pleasure enjoyed by Adam and Eve as they enjoyed such splendid abundance as well as a blissful innocence borne of an intimacy with their creator and an ignorance of the difference between good and evil; they had no consciousness of sin.
But you know what happened and as a result, we are expelled from that garden, wherever it is. A great deal has been taught over the past generation of God's desire for us to use our faith and His word to overwhelm the evil forces of poverty and disease and effect a modern Garden today. Throughout the Old Testament, from exceedingly rich Abraham to incredibly rich Solomon, righteousness brought forth circumstantial blessing. But scripture develops great truths progressively, and I think we might have papered over a truth in our desire to publish a gospel of prosperity. I believe the disciples, the overcomers , were to enter an Inner Garden, safe from the ever changing world around us.
As utopian as " Inner Garden" sounds, it's actually the end product of the harsher sounding "we are to die daily" or " pick up your cross and follow me". The bible is replete with references to the sacrifice of the flesh- a truth progressively revealed borrowing the familiar concepts of animal sacrifice and circumcision - graphically illustrated by Jesus' crucifixion. It is the flesh that demands satisfaction for its many cravings; it is the flesh that fears it's cravings won't be satisfied as the flesh doesn't trust God. In short, the flesh craves and it fears, and in those 2 traits lie all our problems. And for all of our problems, there are 2 possible solutions: 1) provide for all cravings and demonstrate either a supply that assuages our fear of insufficiency or a power that answers that fear. Or 2) kill the flesh and shut it up ... For good!
God wanted us to see Him as the answer; the One who could return us to the Garden, or make us another. He tells us in Deuteronomy that if we obey, He will do just that:
IF YOU will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.
And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God. Deut 28:1,2
Moses then goes on to enumerate the physical blessings that would reward their dedication and obedience. How is it then that we find Paul writing in 2 Corinthians (11: 23-26)
I am talking like one beside himself, [but] I am more, with far more extensive and abundant labors, with far more imprisonments, [beaten] with countless stripes, and frequently [at the point of] death.
Five times I received from [the hands of] the Jews forty [lashes all] but one;
Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been aboard a ship wrecked at sea; a [whole] night and a day I have spent [adrift] on the deep;
Many times on journeys, [exposed to] perils from rivers, perils from bandits, perils from [my own] nation, perils from the Gentiles, perils in the city, perils in the desert places, perils in the sea, perils from those posing as believers [but destitute of Christian knowledge and piety];
In toil and hardship, watching often [through sleepless nights], in hunger and thirst, frequently driven to fasting by want, in cold and exposure and lack of clothing.
Sounds kind of like Paul was on the wrong side of obedience. He's getting beaten, suffering hunger, lacking adequate clothing. But we know better. Paul as God's chosen instrument was about the Father's business. His obedience won him an inner blessing:
I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.
I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]
So rather than being sufficient in barns full of produce and livestock, in a proven ability to bring forth supply by prayer and supplication , Paul is sufficient, no matter what his circumstances are telling him, in Christ's sufficiency.
That is really heavy!
I think the greatest quality of the Inner Garden is the absence of fear. Fear is Satan's substance and gift. If he comes to kill, steal, and destroy, he does it with fear. There's no sense in spending a lot of space describing it, we are all well acquainted with it. Winning the lottery promises an end to it; drugs and alcohol wonderfully suspends it but then amplifies it; success deadens it, failure empowers it. There is no answer to it except faith in God's promise to keep us. And that faith is not the result of scholarly study, or dedication to faith principles, or self discipline or supporting faith ministries as important as these things can be. Faith is born of love. Perfect love casts out all fear. Fear is exiled by love's trust. Paul didn't say he was self sufficient because Christ had manifested or physically demonstrated His sufficiency- Paul had just described some of the lack he had suffered!- he was self-sufficient because he believed in Jesus' sufficiency. He knew Him and loved Him and felt complete in his Lord's promise of and power to supply! Just as someone feels complete in the winning lottery ticket in their pocket. Until they surrender it and actually receive the money, they are subject to want and lack, but they don't fear, being confident in the lottery's sufficiency. We believe in the lottery's sufficiency because we witness people buying tickets, people having received prize money in the past, the government's ability and authority to assure that the lottery will pay because we ( Americans) have yet to face the specter of a government unable to assure these things (although the bible prophecies that eventuality). And at present, Satan hasn't fully attacked that faith and confidence as he has our faith and confidence in God. So the winning ticket in our pocket is a promise of plenty and that promise calms us and gives us joy! That is what we are to grasp in faith from our God. We must love Him though we've never seen Him and that love is the product of walking with Him in spirit. Love allows us to believe what we have yet to see, based solely on His promises.
To walk in that love, one must have a very solid revelation of the power of Christ's blood. Our sin, be it serious criminal activity or failure to rise to God's vision for us, is a tremendous and impenetrable barricade to the Father's presence. I have found Jesus' perfection to be a glaring light exposing my weakness and stubborn refusal to yield. I think in the beginning, its way easier to accept God's grace as coming from a Being so superior that His grace flows from low expectations; He easily sympathizes with our frailty. As we mature in Him, and long to become like Him, our trespasses are more egregious. As we understand the degree to which Jesus emptied Himself, and the degree to which he accepted the limitations of humanity and realize how perfect and unblemished He remained in His earthly life despite facing all that we face- and much more!- we find our unlikeness to Him repulsive and inexcusable! Though we have been given a lofty position as sons and heirs, we must strive to conform to those positions. Grace is not easy. Read through the gospels and take note of Jesus' kindness, grace, and generosity while dealing with the people in contrast to His strict training and demanding attitude when dealing with his disciples. But grace is a gift and we must accept it along with our lack of qualification to expect it. We must receive it. There is nothing easy about all this and the forces of hell are aligned to deny you entrance into His rest! But Jesus gave us the keys of the kingdom and proclaimed that hell could not prevail against us!
The Inner Garden exists where one realizes their authority to drive the enemy out. The bible says resist the enemy and he will flee! How we allow ourselves to be tormented with his lies and his gospel of fear must cause all the heavenly witnesses to shake their heads at our passivity. We have authority but we must exercise it in faith. We must believe it. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and He did by being an example! So follow that example; recognize his ways and deceits and rebuke him and refuse to accept all that he offers!
Finally, as Paul wrote from prison, probably insufficiently clothed, dirty and malnourished: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice!" (Phil 4: 4). It's a difficult task to be in this world but not of it; to spend a large part of our time scratching out a living, dealing with family needs, concerned with fixing and correcting the things breaking around us without being consumed and completely absorbed by it all. We must consciously rejoice in the Lord; if He comes through with the rent by Friday or not, rejoice in Him. If you're not bringing home what you did 10 yrs ago, rejoice! Again I say, Rejoice! These light and momentary afflictions are nothing compared to the great glory we will share with Him! The Inner Garden is a place where the great and glorious God moves high and lifted up, not relegated to a shadowy background. He is always cause for rejoicing!
John said, "I must decrease and He must increase!" That remains true. Your flesh and its unbelief and appetites and anxiety must decrease and your yieldedness and delight in Him and trust in Him must increase that we might return to the Garden. Dead flesh and a delighted yieldedness born of love for and joyful faith in Him are the exquisite fruit of the Inner Garden! Theo