Man is an object of blessing, and God is the source of it; but if the blessing becomes man's object, then God, the source of it, is overlooked, and that through His own gift. Satan insisted in Job 1:9 that God's gifts were Job's object, and not God Himself, from whom they came. This tendency in man is characteristic of the fall. It was by proposing a benefit that Satan ensnared Eve (1 Tim 2:4). The gain was made the prominent thing before the mind, and in order to secure it, God was overlooked and disobeyed, and sin entered. If in an innocent happy state this snare was so successful, how much more likely is it in our present fallen state, that the blessing should occupy the heart more than the Source of it.?
Now the thing for us to discover is, where does the decadence begin? It begins where we are in any way an object to ourselves; for when this is the case, our Father is not before us. The greatest blessings can be received, and yet the evil may have begun in the midst of them if we make ourselves the object with respect to them; and it has been where the greatest blessings have been conferred that the deepest declension has developed.
It seems so natural when one is surrounded with blessings, and thus sensible of being an object of divine favor, that one should think of oneself (Rom 12:3) But whenever it is so, the eye and heart are turned from the Father to oneself; for when He is before one, the "old man" gets no place, though there be the deepest consciousness of His favor. Hence it is the saint who is the object of the greatest favor who needs most to be on his guard, that he allow not his eye to rest on himself where the favors are sent, but on God from whom they are sent. If his eye turns to himself because of the favor, then the favor has been the means of turning the heart from the Father to a mere gift of His.
Against this the children of Israel are warned when they come into the land. "Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flock multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied . . . then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage" (Deu 8:12-14).
And thus it happened. The blessings conferred did turn their hearts to themselves, as the objects of God's favor, instead of to God Himself; and the consequence was that God was not only forgotten but rejected, and eventually a false and corrupt worship was introduced.
To Israel in the land all the blessings were earthly and human, hence occupation with them, though real, had the effect of turning the eye from the Blesser. Now in the NT there is no room or sanction for seeking anything on earth, for, as the man in Christ is heavenly, there is no room for maintaining a place or position on earth; and when such is attempted, it is an open departure from the true Christian ground.
Make the Father's side your interest and concern, and your own side will be fully and perfectly ensured; but turn your eye to your own, and, with much apparent effort and work, you will look for much and bring in little. This explains the little spiritual progress in many souls in the present day, notwithstanding the amount of truth and light they have received. May the Lord Jesus Christ in His Word be more simply the object of our heart in this evil day (Col 3:1, 2).
-J B Stoney