A Sermon Preached By John M’Kenzie At Zoar Chapel, Great Alie St, London, On Thursday Evening, September 4th, 1845
“And he said, Draw not nigh hither; put of thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”—Exodus 3:5
Everything in this fallen world is corrupted, depraved, and ungodlike; and the child of God cannot be in it without suffering from its pollution and defilement. But spiritual and supernatural things have an intrinsic value, beauty, and glory in all their parts and bearings; and when they are made known feelingly and powerfully to the heart by the Holy Ghost, every branch of them becomes solemn and sacred to the soul. But, in different states of feeling, and in different stages of experience, various branches of truth have different effects upon the mind. At one time, the doctrines of grace are sweet, glorious, and full of consolation to our spirits; at other times, when greatly tried and exercised, it is more suitable and adapted to our feelings to have the experience of the saints portrayed as in God’s Word set forth and unfolded to view; then, there are other times when the promises lay hold of our heart, move and enlarge our soul, draw up our affections to God, and kindle a spirit of faith and trust in him. But there are other times, when the work of God the Holy Ghost becomes exceedingly dear and sweet to our minds: to see how he has engaged to begin, carry on, and complete the work of grace in the heart and crown it with glory; and especially so, when we are taught to know our own ignorance, and feel our own helplessness and inability to do anything spiritually good and acceptable before God.
Thus, when we have faith given us to see and believe any part of God’s truth, when a little light is thrown upon it, we know we stand upon “holy ground,” and upon this ground is made known to us the Father, Son, and blessed Spirit, one eternal, undivided Jehovah, in his covenant love and grace, opening himself up to our hearts.
In making a few remarks upon the words of the text, we shall, first, notice the place: “holy ground,” and secondly, the way in which a sinner can stand before God upon this “holy ground.”
1. “The place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” Now, in order to trace out this place, to see where it is, and to know what constitutes it “holy ground,” we must begin at the first verse of the chapter: “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and behold the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burned. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” We are told in Hebrews 12:23, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three mouths of his parents, because they saw that he was a proper child.” When he grew up to manhood, it is evident he had some intimations that he should be the deliverer of his brethren the Hebrews. He, therefore, thinking the time had come when he should deliver God’s Israel, went out and rescued one of his brethren from an Egyptian, and slew him while they were contending together. But Moses, hearing that the Egyptians sought to take away his life, fled into a strange land, and dwelt there with the priest of Midian forty years. God’s ways are not our ways, neither our thoughts his thoughts. Moses ran before he was sent. It was not the Lord’s time to deliver Israel; he had, therefore, to wait the appointed time. But when the period drew nigh that God’s promise should be fulfilled “the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush.” Now, it was the immediate presence of the “angel of the Lord” in the burning bush that consecrated the place around and made it “holy ground,” therefore, the Lord says, “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”
Various have been the views concerning this very precious and blessed gospel passage. Some have taken this angel to be a common angel; others, a mere supernatural manifestation of God. But it appears quite evident to me from the context, that the angel in the burning bush was no other than Jehovah Jesus. The passage should be rendered, not “the angel of the Lord,” but “the angel Jehovah,” as it evidently points out God the Word, Immanuel, Christ Jesus. Angels are frequently spoken of in the Scriptures; but we must make a distinction between the appearance of created angels and that of the uncreated Word, Jehovah Jesus.
An angel, you know, means a “messenger,” and Christ is represented as “the Messenger of the Lord of Hosts,” and “the Messenger of the Covenant” (Malachi 1:1); and under the Old Testament dispensation he was frequently set forth as “the angel of the Lord,” “the angel of his presence.”
But there is a great and solemn mystery hid beneath this representation of “the angel of the Lord” in the burning bush. I believe, first, the “angel Jehovah” sets forth the Godhead of the Lord Jesus Christ; secondly, “the bush” is a clear figure of his holy humanity; and thirdly, the bush enveloped in flames strikingly portrays the burning holiness of God taking vengeance upon the soul and body of the Lord Christ for the sins of his elect people. Mark the expression, it is most wonderful: “Behold the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.” Is not this beautifully expressive of the burning wrath of God in the Person of Christ, and yet the Lord himself not consumed by it? If you and I have felt in our souls the apprehension of the wrath of God against one of our sins, we must have felt that it was really consuming us! We have instances, both ancient and modern, where the wrath of God let into the soul was more than human nature could endure. Judas Iscariot could not bear it, and therefore “he went out and hanged himself.” This wrath was poured out against the sins of the church in the Person of Jesus Christ, but he himself was not consumed. The devil, reason, and flesh and blood, no doubt, thought it would destroy and make an end of him; but in the very act of being thus burned, he gained a victory. He conquered sin, death, and hell; he rose triumphantly from the grave; and after making himself manifest to his apostles and disciples, showing that he was not burnt, nor consumed, though he had sunk under the wrath of God, he ascended to glory, as a mighty and victorious conqueror.
The “angel of the Lord,” then, whom Moses saw, was no other than Jehovah Jesus; it was his glorious presence that consecrated the spot around the burning bush, and made it “holy ground.” Moses, therefore, could only stand upon this ground strapped of his shoes.
Another sense of this may be taken, if we look at it as figurative of the fiery sufferings and afflictions of the Hebrews in Egypt. Their sorrows and oppressions are typical of the bondage and burnings which the souls of God’s elect people experience under the presence of the Lord in his vital operations. The feelings and sensations produced thereby are to the sensible sinner always solemn and “holy ground.” It is gospel grace which gives us life to feel the bondage of the law, implants a tender conscience, causes us to sigh and groan under a sense of sin and guilt, and to feel the requirements of the law a grievous load, a distressing task which we cannot perform. It is the work of grace that accomplishes this; therefore, wherever the Spirit of God begins to work, however dark and obscure it may seem, that work is in itself of a solemn character; it is a sacred, consecrated spot of ground; it is “holiness unto the Lord,” it is the Lord’s dwelling-place. Upon this “holy ground,” therefore, the shoes must be put off.
But there was another reason why Moses was commanded to “put off the shoes from off his feet,” not only because the bush was burning with fire, and yet not consumed, but because of the glorious presence of “the angel Jehovah” that dwelt in it. Now there is something very endearing and glorious in this title of Christ; it is full of gospel sweetness and preciousness to a poor guilty soul. The Lord says, “I appeared unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by the name of God Almighty; but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them” (Exodus 6:3).
Various terms and words are used in Scripture to express the Supreme Being. For instance, the word “God,” generally understood as expressing his essential and abstract Deity, as the Almighty, the divine, good, and all-glorious Creator, the Maker of all things, visible and invisible, without reference to his attributes in particular. But other words set forth more especially and peculiarly his relative characters, such as “the Father,” “the Son,” and “the Holy Ghost.” Now it is evident, these terms are expressive of a plurality of Persons in the Godhead. When, therefore, we use the word “God,” which is an old Saxon word signifying “good,” we speak of him only as the “good Being,” but when we speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we speak of a distinction of Persons in the Trinity: “for there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one” (1 John 5:7). The sacred word, “Jehovah,” which is of frequent occurrence in Scripture, means the self-existent, independent, and all-glorious Lord; and is applied to Father, Son, and Spirit. I need not tell you, the word LORD, printed in Roman capitals, intimates that the original word is Jehovah; and when it is united to the word “God” it is expressive of the Trinity in Unity, and the Unity of the Trinity; as in Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one Lord.” And this sets forth the glorious truth of a merciful, gracious, covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. Thus we have the eternal, self-existent, independent, all-glorious Jehovah, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, engaged in covenant love for the redemption and salvation of poor guilty sinners.
There is great beauty, therefore, couched in the wonderful figure before us: the “angel of the Lord” appearing in the burning bush, and yet the bush unconsumed. It is “holy ground.” The glory of Jehovah, the Three-One God, all-glorious in covenant love and covenant engagements, is here in the bush. “Moreover the Lord said, 1 am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” It is evident, then, that Jehovah himself was speaking from the bush; for the term, “Lord,” or “Jehovah,” is never applied to a created angel.
Then the Lord says, in the 7th verse, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows. And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.” Here is Jehovah Jesus in the bush; here is the mercy and kindness of God; here is redemption and deliverance; here is the word of grace and salvation. The Lord proclaims, reveals and makes known to Moses and the children of Israel his glorious relation to them as a covenant-keeping God; he says, “I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.” All this is a revelation of the covenant-faithfulness of God to his people. The message Moses was to carry was one of grace, peace, salvation, and deliverance; and this was the cause of the prominent manner in which God made himself known to him above that of his forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But on another occasion, when the Lord had promised Moses that his presence should go with him, we find he was anxious for something more; he wanted to behold his essential glory, to see him as Jehovah. But he could not see him purely as God; he could not behold his abstract Deity, and live in the flesh. The Lord, however, indulged him with a sight of his glory as he would afterwards appear in Christ; he put him in the cleft of the rock, and covered him with his hand, while he passed by, that he might see his “back parts.” Now, the “glory” and the “back parts” are of the same character as the representation of “the angel in the bush.” The bush contained as it were the glorious Godhead, and Moses could stand and bow before it, so when he was in the cleft of the rock, he saw the back parts of God, that is, his after appearance in the flesh, heard his voice, and beheld his glory. But what was that glory? The Lord says, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy” (Exodus 33:19). All this declares to poor, needy, and sensible sinners the mercy and salvation of a covenant God treasured up in Christ Jesus; and is thus set forth in John 1:14: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” As the angel dwelt in the burning bush without the fire consuming it, so the Godhead dwelt in the humanity ofJesus, and yet he was unconsumed by the burning wrath of justice against sin. This was the first thing that struck Moses: “How is this?” as if his heart said, “Here is the fire in the bush, and yet the bush is not consumed! Here is the solemn voice of Deity speaking to me, yet I live!” He hid his face; he could not look upon the awful glory. So it is when the Spirit of God strips the veil of darkness and ignorance from our eyes, and reveals and makes himself known to our understanding. When he shines gloriously upon the angel, Jehovah Jesus, in the bush, upon the glorious majesty of the Godhead dwelling in Christ, and then shows us the solemn agonies and sufferings of the blessed God-man in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary; when we see him wrestling with sin, death, and Satan; when we see the flaming vengeance of God blazing in his soul; and yet see him bearing, suffering, and enduring all, and at last view him sinking in the arms of death, victorious in the very article of dissolution: when we see these solemn and glorious mysteries of a suffering Christ, our hearts are filled with the same feelings as Moses was, when, with his head bowed, and his shoes put off from his feet, he was overwhelmed with wonder and awe before the burning bush.
2. But I promised to notice, in the second place, the way in which a sinner can stand upon this “holy ground.” He stands upon it only as “accepted in the Beloved.” The Almighty God himself is in Christ; he can stand, therefore, before the burning bush, and yet live; while he adores, believes, and worships. The text informs us, that the Lord said unto Moses, “Draw not nigh hither,” that is, as I understand it, till he had “put off the shoes from off his feet.” The Lord did not forbid him the ground; nor did he go away until he had seen the solemn sight, and heard the message from God; but he stripped off his shoes, as the Lord told him. We are, therefore, to stand upon this “holy ground” with sacred awe, and with a solemn feeling and reverential fear of God in Christ, gazing in astonishment and delight, and only approaching to worship with our “shoes off.”
But what are we to understand by “putting off the shoes?” In the Scriptures, putting off or casting away the shoes is sometimes figurative of great bondage and degradation; at other times, it intimates great grief and trouble. When David fled out of Jerusalem from the rebellion of his son Absalom, it is said, “David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went bare-footed” (2 Samuel 15:30); and so he passed over die brook Kidron, and probably through the Garden of Gethsemane, where die Lord of glory wrestled, and stood like the burning bush, receiving in his soul the fiery flames of the burning wrath of God. It is quite evident that David passed over, or very near, the sacred spot where the Lord agonized. The Spirit was not only teaching him a similar experience, but leading him to view by faith the solemn mystery of Christ’s sufferings. Thus the Psalmist had to “put off his shoes” as he went over the brook Kidron.
But again. In Scripture, “putting off the shoes” is expressive also of reverence, awe, and submission on approaching a superior. It was the custom, on entering the presence of oriental kings, to strip off the coat, and put on garments provided for the occasion, and to go in bare-headed and sometimes bare-footed. Thus, the “putting off the shoes” seems to signify that Christ Jesus is most solemn, sacred, and holy in his Person; and that whoever approaches him, must come stripped, naked and bare in self. It represents to the eye of the spiritual understanding, too, that God must be approached in Christ as a gracious God, as a covenant-keeping God; that he must be approached as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the triune, undivided Jehovah, the God of salvation, wholly and entirely. The sinner must go stripped of his own righteousness, naked in his soul before God. He must not stand on the ground of his own strength, his own wisdom, or his own righteousness; that must be entirely removed and cut away from under him; and he must stand solely on the ground of Christ’s Person and work, solemnly bowing in reverential and acceptable worship before God. The Lord has declared he “will not give his glory to another,” and that “he that glorieth must glory in the Lord,” but there can be no glorying in the Lord, unless we feel that we are nothing, and less than nothing in ourselves, and become fools for Christ’s sake, that we may learn of him. It is hard work to be stripped of our own wisdom, our own strength, and our own righteousness, that the soul may come naked before God; yet every redeemed and saved soul must come thus. It is a painful lesson to learn at the commencement of a work of grace in a sinner’s soul; but it is a heart-cheering truth when the Lord has brought us to the end of our own works. It is a glorious truth that our souls love to hear: that the Lord not only does not require, but actually forbids, our own righteousness and strength upon this “holy ground.”
When a poor sensible God-taught sinner is grieved and worn out in his feelings under a sense of his vileness, depravity, and guilt, scarcely knowing how to lie low enough before God, it is consolatory for that soul to hear his voice, saying, “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet.” Our creature piety, strength, and righteousness is then cast aside, and we stand before God as helpless, and guilty sinners. It is for such God manifests himself in the burning bush, expressly to bring them near to himself, to assure them he will fulfil his covenant with them; that having heard their cries, he will bring them out of Egyptian bondage.
If our conscience is made tender, our souls will be asking this question, “How does the Lord strip the poor soul of his own righteousness?” Why, in the first place, by revealing to him the righteousness of a holy God in the law; and then, in the next place, by revealing to him the glorious righteousness of God in Christ in the burning bush. When the Lord Jesus reveals this sacred truth to the sinner’s heart, under his gracious power and influence, he plainly and clearly sees that “God is a Spirit,” and that he is a holy, just, and good Spirit; that his righteous nature abhors iniquity and sin, and cannot pass by it. I will not insist upon the particular means by which he comes to know this for God’s means are in his own hand. He has not told us how he does it; but that he does it is certain. When the soul sees and feels these things, then, just in proportion as he discovers the holiness, justice, and purity of God, in the same proportion will he feel that he is a ruined sinner before God: he then fears he is too sinful to live before God, and too guilty to be saved. There are two feelings in a sensible sinner’s soul; and from these two will arise others; (1) An anxious concern about his state before God; (2) An earnest desire to be at peace with God, to have that peace which arises from the pardon of sin; but alas, he feels no power to obtain it, no light to see where it is to come from, and scarcely any faith to believe it will ever be in his heart. He knows and perceives that there is a just and holy God, and that he himself is a vile and guilty sinner. He sees that sin is with him a personal indwelling thing in his soul; he feels as sensibly that sin is a part and parcel of himself; as that his arm is a member of bis body: and this poor guilty soul desires and longs to feel fit for heaven, and acceptable to God. In this case he lies, like the poor children of Israel in Egypt, groaning and crying under a sense of sin, and with a secret conviction that he is a vile monster before a holy God; yet feeling that the law requires perfection and purity, but how to procure perfect holiness and obedience be knows not. Now, this will serve to teach him that there is a reality in the law. He will say with Paul, “When the commandment came, sin revived,” that is, was made plain to the eyes of his understanding, and made plain in the feelings of his heart; “and I died,” died in his feelings, as to his hopes of going to heaven on the ground of the law, or of his own goodness. Now this makes the righteousness of God, in the Person of his Son, the angel Jehovah, who is “the Lord our Righteousness,” acceptable to the soul. When, then, the blessed Spirit opens his eyes, and makes known to him the righteousness of Christ, why, it so sparkles in his eye, that he seems like a man who had been born blind, and had obtained his sight all of a sudden. He had formed conjectures about objects, and colours, and shapes; but now he stands amazed, wondering, and almost worships the objects of sight. Just so it is with the poor sinner when he loses his blindness, and is brought to see the righteousness of Christ. I do not say that he always views his own interest in it; for it is not so easy as some imagine to see the righteousness of Christ in full assurance for his own person. The Spirit often makes the poor sinner to see that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness” before he shows him that Christ is that unto himself. And when this is done, he exclaims, “I have been trying for months and years to obtain this by my own doings; I have been trying to please God, to obey the law, and to attain perfection.” But now his own righteousness drops from him; he strips it off as filthy rags; and with his very heart and soul he glories in casting it away as a perfect nuisance. He then discovers a glory in Christ he never saw before. “I see,” says the soul, “Christ came to do that which I have in vain been trying to do for myself.” The next thing he wants is to feel Christ’s righteousness applied to his soul by the power of the Spirit. He longs to feel an earnest in his heart that Jesus has lived and died for him. He wants to be enabled to say with Paul, in sincerity and spiritual feeling, “He loved me, and gave himself for me.”
This is the way the Lord strips a sinner of his own righteousness, and brings him to say with Isaiah, “We are all as an unclean thing; and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (64:6). That is a strong expression, and it arises from a strong feeling of sinfulness and depravity: “our iniquities have taken us away,” like a strong wind, like a violent storm; they have carried us away as a man is taken up by a whirlwind. Now, such a man, in such a state, seeing Christ’s righteousness, and putting off his own, stands before God naked, as the feet of Moses were when he stood upon the “holy ground.” But, I believe, it is as impossible for a person unregenerated by the Spirit of God to come out of his own righteousness, and to cast it away as he would a serpent from his bosom, as it is for the devils to love God; it is not in their nature; they can neither understand nor feel the depth of the fall, the vileness and depravity of human nature, the curse of the law, nor the guilt and sting of sin in its real spiritual sense. Therefore, not having felt these things, they never can really prize in their souls the sparkling, shining, glorious righteousness of the Son of God.
Another thing they have to put off before they can worship God upon this “holy ground” is their own strength. “Put off thy shoes,” that in which thou standest. Not only have we to abandon our goodness, our creature perfection, our fleshly holiness, as justifying us before God; but, if the Lord has blessed us with faith in his Son, and brought 11s to a spiritual knowledge of our pardon, justification, and acceptance with God through him, we must put off our own strength. Of this my soul knew scarcely anything till some time after I had known Christ. A year after I had stood upon this “holy ground” I was led to love him for his own intrinsic loveliness, and this enabled me to cast away my own righteousness with as much disdain as ever I did my sins. But I could no more put away my own strength at first, than I could stand in my own righteousness for justification before God. This lesson is a hard one to learn; but when we are brought to know it, it is a glorious truth. By putting away our own strength, I mean this: we must be brought into a daily and hourly dependence upon the Lord to supply every living want and desire of the soul. 1 know what the heart of a man will say, who is in bondage, guilt, doubts and fears, if he sees or hears of one being blessed with pardon, assurance, and acceptance with God, he says, “Oh, if I knew I was pardoned, if I could feel that my sins were put away, and that I had safety in Christ then I could go on to the end of my days with joy and gladness, and do without any manifestations after that.” You may think so; I once thought so; and I have known good men who have thought so. But you will find it very different when you come to walk in the path. 1 knew a good man who lived twenty years in doubts and fears about his acceptance with God, and was held in bondage by legal teachers. He was at length brought to see the righteousness of Christ; but even that did not satisfy him; he went year after year groaning and crying to the Lord to pardon his sins, and to give him a blessed knowledge of it: and he told me, that he knew if the Lord only gave him this, he should care for nothing to the end of his life. But when the Lord granted this, he found that he wanted something more. We need Jesus as a Prince and a Saviour, not only to save us once from sin, hell, and the devil, but to save us continually, throughout and entirely, to the last breath we draw. We find as we go along, that when we get into a cold, dead, barren state, unable to feel any solemnity or spirituality of mind, to exercise faith in the Son of God or to enjoy the reading or preaching of God’s Word; when we get into this stripped state, we need the Lord to reveal himself to us again and again in his goodness and mercy. Thus we come to understand what we did not before, that we need the Lord’s Christ to be salvation to the first to the last moment of our lives.
Now, what I mean by putting off our own strength is this: we must be brought as beggars to hope in God from day to day, and to feel that we are dependent upon him for every spiritual feeling. And until we are brought here, we shall never honour God aright. “This,” say you, “leads to Antinomianism, to dishonouring Christ, to not fearing sin.” It may be so with hard hearts, who neither fear God nor dread sin; but not with those who really feel their helplessness; it does not lead them into presumption, into that state in which they neither pray, nor read the Scriptures, nor attend the house of God. The fact is, God’s people cannot so live; the devil may tempt them, outward things may distress them, and the world may entangle them; but the Spirit of the Lord will bring them back again, make them mourn over their sins, groan under their hardness, and fall under the power of God. Those whose hearts are hard and hypocritical cannot thus feelingly and solemnly repent, grieve, sigh, and entreat the Lord to pour upon them a spirit of “grace and supplication.” But the people of God know that unless his Spirit is present with them, they will be cold and hard; that speaking, hearing, or reading, will be alike useless, without savour, unction, or power. They need the presence of the Spirit in every spiritual act and feeling; for all must proceed from his blessed operations. Then the soul stands upon this “holy ground” stripped of its own strength.
But how is this done? It is done, first of all, by seeing what God’s strength is; by discerning in the Scriptures that there is such a thing as God’s strength; and by feeling that we must have the Spirit’s power in our soul, or we can have no religion: and then, by feeling that we are barren, that we have no fruits of the Spirit as we wish to have, and that we cannot create them nor keep them alive. We must be brought to see and feel this; and to know that we are poor, barren, sinful worms of the earth. But Oh! what a wretched state of mind is this! The soul says, “Lord, I feel barren, but I long to be fruitful; I am blind, but I long to see thee in the sanctuary as I have seen thee; I am cold, hard, and unfeeling, but I want to have my heart softened and revived.” Sometimes we go week after week, month after month, in this wretched state of feeling. One hour we are upon our knees weeping and mourning before the Lord; the next hour we are cold, flinty, and barren. Sometimes, in the morning or afternoon, we have been melted and softened before God; in the evening, our hearts have been as hard as a rock. This seems strange, but it is true. It all shows us the depravity and helplessness of our nature, and that we need the strength of God. When we are brought thus to have no more confidence in our own strength than in our own righteousness, and to stand only in the strength of God, and in “the power of his might,” then we “put off our shoes” as we stand upon this “holy ground.”
It is a blessed thing to be brought to exchange our own righteousness for the righteousness of Christ, and, as the Apostle did, “count all things,” Pharisaism and everything else “dung and dross, that he might win Christ, and be found in him.” And it is a blessed thing also, to put off our strength, that the strength of Christ may be made perfect in our weakness; so that, as Paul did, we may “glory in our infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon us.” The glory of Christ can only rest upon us as a knowledge of our infirmities is wrought in our hearts by the power of the Spirit.
Now, do not say, as some men do, “Well then, I need not care; I may rest in indolence, if this be the case. If the Spirit of God must really work all in me, and I can do nothing of myself, I need make no attempt at it.” That is not a right feeling; that is not the teaching of the Spirit. It is only the blind that see, the lame that walk, the deaf that hear and the dumb that speak. This is a great mystery, but it is God’s truth, it is Bible truth. Those only can understand it who are brought to say with Peter, “Lord, save or I perish.” In such God has begun his good work, and there is no possibility of its miscarrying. He will cause them to glory and delight, daily and hourly, in his strength. He will keep them in every time of trouble and temptation. He will uphold them by the sweet experience of his covenant faithfulness, by supplying all their wants out of the fulness of Christ, and by daily teaching and guiding diem by his blessed Spirit.