The Removal of Self
Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart.
(Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV)
There is no question that Isaac was given of God to Abraham; he was a perfect miracle, impossible unless God had given him. And then we read, “God did prove Abraham.” Abraham… gave him up and he got him back; got him back with a whole kingdom…. He has the kingdom by letting go – the foreshadowing of this Son of God Who let go. You see, it is intensely practical. Oh, how can this be? By getting yourself out of the picture! That is why it cannot be – because self is in the picture! Self-will, self-interest, self-realization; that is the kingdom of Satan, and God is not going to give you His kingdom on that ground….
This is practical. I have to be quite sure that I am not in this, that some secret ambition of mine, some motive of mine, is not at work. Oh, how subtle are our hearts! You and I perhaps are ready to be utterly for the Lord. We mean well, and we mean it thoroughly. We would sing really with our hearts and with our voices at full strength, ‘None of self, and all of Thee,’ and we would mean it, and there would be no uncertainty so far as we are concerned. And yet God knows that we are all the time defeated in our very sincerity by secret motives, and nothing but a test position can prove whether we actually mean it. So He brings us to a test – to a prospect, and then a disappointment. How do we react? Is our sorrow, our pain, for the Lord or for ourselves? Are we disappointed, or is it really only the Lord for Whom we are concerned and we are not in it at all? You see what I mean – a test situation to find out after all whether it is ‘None of self, and all of Thee.’ We can never discover it except in practical ways along the line of very practical testings. The Lord knows it all right, but it is not enough that He knows it. You see, in order for us to come in, we have to come in intelligently and cooperatively. That is the point of every test. The Lord could do a thing with a stroke, it could happen mechanically. But we are in a moral world, and God acts towards man on moral ground. Man has a will that constitutes him a morally responsible person, and so he must exercise his will in cooperation with God.