THE PRUNING KNIFE
Already Ye Are Clean Because of the Word I Have Spoken Unto
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What is the pruning knife of this
heavenly Husbandman? It is often said to be affliction. By no
means in the first place. How would it then fare with many who
have long seasons free from adversity; or with some on whom God
appears to shower down kindness all their life long? No; it is
the Word of God that is the knife, shaper than any two-edged sword,
that pierces even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit,
and is quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.
It is only when affliction leads to this discipline of the Word
that it becomes a blessing; the lack of this heart-cleansing through
the Word is the reason why affliction is so often unsanctified.
Not even Paul's thorn in the flesh could become a blessing until
Christ's Word--"My strength is made perfect in weakness"--had
made him see the danger of self-exaltation, and made him willing
to rejoice in infirmities.
The Word of God's pruning knife.
Jesus says: "Ye are already clean, because of the word I
have spoken unto you." How searchingly that word had been
spoken by Him, out of whose mouth there went a sharp two-edged
sword, as he had taught them! "Except a man deny himself,
lose his life, forsake all, hate father and mother, he cannot
be My disciple, he is not worthy of Me"; or as He humbled
their pride, or reproved their lack of love, or foretold their
all forsaking Him. From the opening of His ministry in the Sermon
on the Mount to His words of warning in the last night, His Word
had tried and cleansed them. He had discovered and condemned all
there was of self; they were now emptied and cleansed, ready for
the incoming of the Holy Spirit.
It is as the soul gives up its own
thoughts, and men's thoughts of what is religion, and yields itself
heartily, humbly, patiently, to the teaching of the Word by the
Spirit, that the Father will do His blessed work of pruning and
cleansing away all of nature and self that mixes with our work
and hinders His Spirit. Let those who would know all the Husbandman
can do for them, all the Vine can bring forth through them, seek
earnestly to yield themselves heartily to the blessed cleansing
through the Word. Let them, in their study of the Word, receive
it as a hammer that breaks and opens up, as a fire that melts
and refines, as a sword that lays bare and slays all that is of
the flesh. The word of conviction will prepare for the word of
comfort and of hope, and the Father will cleanse them through
All ye who are branches of the true
Vine, each time you read or hear the Word, wait first of all on
Him to use it for His cleansing of the branch. Set your heart
upon His desire for more fruit. Trust Him as Husbandman to work
it. Yield yourselves in simple childlike surrender to the cleansing
work of His Word and Spirit, and you may count upon it that His
purpose will be fulfilled in you.
Father, I pray Thee, cleanse me
through Thy Word. Let it search out and bring to light all that
is of self and the flesh in my religion. Let it cut away every
root of self-confidence, that the Vine may find me wholly free
to receive His life and Spirit. O my holy Husbandman, I trust
Thee to care for the branch as much as for the Vine. Thou only
art my hope.