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Be Dead to This Present World

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Strangers to the Heavenly Trade

How to Get the Heavenly Trade

Be Dead to This Present World}

Fifth, be dead to this present world; get your hearts loose from things below. “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4 NASB). A soldier does not lay fetters and snares about his feet that might throw him down and hinder the course he engages to follow. Christianity is a warfare and race; earthly things in the heart are as entanglements around the feet and they hinder this undertaking. You will have no liberty to heavenly things until you have been redeemed from the earth. You cannot run the race toward glory until you give up useless dead weight. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 ESV). If you want to set your affections on the things above, you must first take them off the things of earth (Colossians 3:2).505 One who sets his face toward Heaven must turn his back to the world. “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13 NKJV). The world is one of those things Christians must leave behind them if they ever think to reach Heaven. “We should,” said Luther, “with a certain greatness of mind, disdain this life and the world, and with a large heart, aspire to the future glory of an eternal life.” Until you are brought to a contempt of this world and can deem it as dross and dung, you can never value Heaven or pursue the things above with an even and uninterrupted heart. The soul that plans to make Christianity its work must be ready to attend to that work at all times and have the heart ready and receptive to all the instructions that lead to it; an earthly heart cannot do this. A light and changeable spirit, now for God, now for the world, is unfit for this great employment. “But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:62 NKJV). It is characteristic of a heart under the command of earthly things that it is never steadfast toward God; the things of this world fill the soul with wind and make it light and trifling about the things of God. The heart of people is like that jewel that I read about that someone gave to Alexander; while it was kept bright, it was heavier than the choicest gold and most precious stones, but if it fell into the dust and became rusty, it was lighter than a feather. And so is the heart if it falls into the dusty things of this world. The Church, clothed with the sun, has the moon under her feet (Revelation 12:1).506 The more a soul is filled with the pure knowledge of God and is shining in its way of life, the more it is lifted up above the world. The nearer it is to Heaven, the farther it is from earth. “The more separate from the world,” said Mr. Greenhill on Ezekiel 3:23,507 “the more fit for communion with God. Ezekiel must leave his house and go out to the plain, and there the Lord will talk with him.” The king’s daughter must forget her own people and her father’s house before the king would greatly desire her beauty (Psalm 45:10–11).508 And Abraham must leave his country and pleasant habitation before he could have frequent communion with God. Likewise, in heart and affections, a soul must sit loose from the ensnaring things of this world if it ever expects to pursue the heavenly trade. Augustine said that, to the extent that anyone ceases from loving his worldly concerns, to that extent he clings the more to God.

505Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2 NKJV).

506And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1 ESV).

507The hand of the Lord was on me there, and He said to me, ‘Get up, go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you.’ So I got up and went out to the plain; and behold, the glory of the Lord was standing there, like the glory which I saw by the river Chebar, and I fell on my face” (Ezekiel 3:22–23 NASB).

508Listen, O daughter, Consider and incline your ear; Forget your own people also, and your father’s house; So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord, worship Him” (Psalm 45:10–11 NKJV).

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