Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour... I Peter 5:8

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. I Corinthians 1:18

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. II Corinthians 7:1

When a man truly converts and passes from death unto life, he enters into a warfare that he has never experienced before. In his pre-conversion life he was a slave to Satan and to sin. He belonged to Satan body, soul, and spirit and he did exactly what pleased his master. He seldom resisted the forces of the flesh because he seldom had any overriding reasons for doing so, since his life was governed by that kind of situational ethics that is so evident in the fallen creature.

But for that man who dares to confess his guilt and to yield himself to the Lord in a profound repentance and to openly proclaim his allegiance to the power and kingdom of Christ, all is now changed. Now Satan has become the archenemy of his soul and begins to cleverly and insidiously lay his traps and snares in order to regain the territory that he has just lost in that great war that is constantly being waged in the heavens. The hot hell that eternally burns within Satan and torments him with the certain knowledge that no pleasure will ever for him be ordained fills him with malicious envy and hatred for all that is good and for any that desire good.

Although no mere man, alive or dead, is or ever was any match for this terrible foe, he being greater in power and might and intelligence than all of the angels or all men or all beasts or any created thing, yet we are not left defenseless before him. For there is one, even Christ Jesus, to whom all power and authority in heaven and earth has been given. He is ever near to us to give us the strength necessary to overcome our enemy and to live victoriously in this present world.

After the Lord has brought us out of that sinful land of spiritual Egypt, through our Red Sea crossing of the new birth, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with great terribleness, and with signs and with wonders, He will, if we will let Him, lead us through a spiritual wilderness of dying and death to carnality and then across the spiritual Jordan of the fiery Baptism with the Holy Ghost into the land of promise, the spiritual land that flows with spiritual milk and spiritual honey, into a spiritual state of perfect love and peace and victory over sin in this life.

This journey through that spiritual wilderness is fraught with many hardships, trials, troubles, and dangers. For we must now do deadly battle with our inward corruptions which are not subject to the law of God, and neither indeed can be. However our Lord not only leads us carefully through these difficulties, but He also provides us with certain weapons for our defense. And by the careful use of these weapons those inward traitors of our eternal good, little by little, will be slain.

There are three fruits of the new birth that constantly spring forth out of our living faith to act as weapons to destroy the old Adamic nature within us: the fear of God, sobriety, and the inward cross. These are the only weapons that can effectively weaken and destroy this enemy within. All other remedies will fail because they are not ordained by our Redeemer but have their rise from the fleshly wise part in the very nature which we are trying to destroy.

The most dominant characteristic of the fallen nature is pride. Every evil work springs forth from that seed bed of corruption. Pride never confesses to wrong. Pride never admits to guilt. Pride always pretends to great knowledge and personal worth. Pride is the essence of Satan and where pride is in the ascendancy, Satan has the rule. Thus it is this quality that makes fallen man most resemble Satan and it is this quality of the affections that Satan uses most in his efforts to destroy the new creature.

The Christlikeness of humility is the exact opposite of pride and it is the only soil in which the new creature can grow. God always resists the proud in all that he does, and especially in his religious efforts, but He is ever ready to assist the humble. Thus, humility, being absolutely essential to the heaven-bound man, is worked into the repentant soul so that he can confess his total unworthiness and his complete inability to save himself. The sinner is made to see his folly and wickedness and to feel his nothingness so that he will be willing to let the Holy Spirit breathe humility into his heart. The new birth cannot spring forth nor survive except in this atmosphere. Hence, this quality of the soul must be protected at all costs.

The fear of God is the foundation upon which all spiritual progress must be made. As said wise King Solomon, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom." Proverbs 9:10. And he expounds a little more clearly again, "The fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death." Proverbs 14:26, 27. It is the fear of the Lord that keeps the Christian little in his own eyes and allows humility to flourish.

When a man first meets God, he sees God not as a God of love but as a God of judgment and wrath. He sees himself as a condemned criminal who is guilty of many heinous crimes against heaven and as truly deserving the just judgments of an offended God. A holy fear springs up in his heart and brings him to repentance. The holiness of God looms very large before his eyes and causes this fear to take deep root in the soul.

The new Christian's relationship to God is like that of a child to his father. He loves his father and stands in awe of his seemingly invincible power and ability. But the child is always conscious that that same power will be turned on him if he fails to honor and obey his father. It is that underlying reverential fear that causes the child to be obedient. It is indeed the beginning of wisdom.

This holy and reverential fear that is in the hearts of all of God's children operates in the same way. We stand in worshipful awe of Him and His great power. A filial love springs up in our hearts toward our heavenly Father. But we must never forget that His love will turn to a burning wrath if we despise His dominion over us. This is the beginning of heavenly wisdom because it moves us to work out our salvation in fear and trembling, in accordance with the apostle Paul's command.

The natural result of this holy fear of God is that a spirit of sobriety will begin to rule in our minds. The truth is that there is no place for laughing and joking in the religion of Jesus Christ. Jesus is our example and we have not one place in the scriptures that even slightly implies that He ever laughed or joked. How could He? He must have been constantly and terribly oppressed in His spirit by all of the sin around Him. And we must remember that He knew, as no other man could, just how indescribably horrible sin is in the sight of the Father.

As we begin to walk with God, He will show us little by little the unfathomable depths of depravity in our hearts and how this nature manifests itself in our lives. It works in our actions in secret ways and taints all that we do. As Jeremiah says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings."
Jeremiah 17:9, 10

Clearly man can never know his own heart. His own ways and the secret motives of his heart will be forever hidden from his eyes. God alone can see into the dark recesses of our souls and read our hidden motives. "There is none good, no not one," says the apostle to the Romans. The fallen nature pervades everything that we think or do. Thus, we can never take life lightly. Eternity is at stake. That awe inspiring thing called eternity can never be forgotten. If we forget it but for a moment, the hidden man of the heart will break out into some form of sin.

The God-ordained weapon against such things is sobriety. It is in sobriety that we find safety. A grave and serious deportment wards off all of those actions that would automatically spring forth from the light, unthinking mind. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." I Peter 5:8. The old Adamic nature within us would betray us at every opportunity and we must be always on our guard. This constant state of watchfulness is called sobriety.

In the book on Salvation by the author it is pointed out that after redeeming us out of spiritual Egypt, God will lead us by His Holy Spirit through the spiritual wilderness to the spiritual promised land. The wilderness that the Israelites had to pass through is symbolic of the spiritual wilderness of the mixed state of the unsanctified believer. Although he has received a measure of the Holy Spirit and has passed from death unto life, there yet remains in him the old fallen nature. This fallen nature wars against the Spirit and the Spirit wars against that nature. One of these two antagonists must gain total victory.

The great work of the Holy Spirit in this wilderness walk will be that He will shine the light of Christ into our hearts to make the hidden works of darkness manifest. We will find that our eyes will be opened little by little to see that sinful nature that permeates us. This is the work of the Holy Spirit alone. The light of Christ alone can make these things visible to us.

At each step in the wilderness we will have revealed to us another hidden corruption of the heart. It will then be up to us to choose sides. We can side with that nature and approve of it, or we can side with God and confess it and condemn it. This is far more difficult than one would imagine. The admission of guilt is never easy. It is the fear of the Lord and that alone that will make us condemn ourselves.

The Lord has ordained that the old man must be crucified. There is an inward cross that we must pick up to each carnal trait that is revealed to us by the light of Christ shining in our hearts. We can never choose our own cross because the carnal mind will always choose that which only pretends to crucify. After the Holy Spirit reveals some hidden carnal trait in the heart, He will then show us the cross that He has designed to crucify that trait. It will be a true cross. It will cause great inward pain. It will crucify that lust.

With these three weapons—sobriety, the cross, and the fear of God, we will slowly progress through the wilderness toward the spiritual Jordan river. When we have been sufficiently strengthened by these inward conflicts so that we can be used by the Lord in whatever capacity He has ordained for us, He will baptize us with the Holy Ghost and fire. He will by His almighty power destroy that old Adamic nature out of our hearts by the purging fires of the Holy Ghost and endue us with the power from on high so that we can render perfect service to Him for the glory of God.