FLESH FAILS BUT CHRIST IS OUR STRENGTH, My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever (Psalm 73:26). Hebrew 12:14 says, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord," but holiness does not stand in multitudes of creature works. All our Pharisaical works under the letter of the law can never alter our fallen nature, but the new nature, which springs from the regeneration of the Spirit, does alter our works. We must see the chronology here. When the affections have been renewed by the work of regeneration of the Holy Spirit, that alters our works. We read though in Psalm 73:1: "Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart." HEB 12:14 says, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:" That holiness is not found in creature strength. It is not found in creature works. It is the working of regeneration of the Holy Spirit that gives the new desires, the new affections, the new heart, and this alters our works. The words of our Saviour in Matthew 5:8 point to the nature of those whose hearts have been renewed, who are "the servants of Christ, doing the will of God [not the orders of God] from the heart," as we see in Ephesians 6:6. Jesus said in Matthew 5:8: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." Our text says, My flesh and my heart faileth but the new heart, the new desires, do not fail, because it has been given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, by the working of regeneration, and it is sustained by the Holy Spirit. Asaph, a man dearly loved of the Lord and the author of Psalm 73, says in verse 2, "But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped." He was a good-fearing man, with a heart tender to the fear of God, but he saw that in his strength, his flesh, with his heart, he failed. That struggle between the flesh and the Spirit, and between the Spirit and the flesh, is what he is talking about here. The heart of man in its old nature is well described in Jeremiah 17:9: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" This is our hearts by nature, and it is the flesh striving against the spirit, and the spirit striving against the flesh that Asaph speaks of here. He sees that in his own strength he cannot stand. In his own strength he would succumb to the power of sin. Then he looks away from self and sees that "God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever." As long as you and I look into ourselves, we fail. We must look out of ourselves to Christ. This condition of the natural heart is spoken of in Genesis 6:5: "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination [that is, every purpose and desire as it is in the original] of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." The heart of natural man is evil continually, and this is what Asaph had come to see. He saw that in him dwelt no good thing. I want you to see what we find in Romans 5:21, which warns us that sin has a reigning power: "That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." You and I cannot overcome this reigning power of sin in our own strength. You see, grace also has a reigning power. Grace is stronger than sin. In the previous verse, Paul wrote: "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." We need grace, and as we read above, "grace reign[s] through righteousness," not through walking in sin. Paul warns in ROM 6:1-2, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Grace overcomes the power of sin, and it brings us under the reign of grace. It gives us a new rule in our life. Our life is no longer ruled by our old evil nature, but it brings us under that reigning power of grace. As we look away from ourselves, as we look unto Christ, we have victory over the power of sin. What a mercy, beloved, is the reigning of restraining grace. Grace restrains us from doing the things we want to do as we see in Galatians 5:17: "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." The restraining power of grace restrains us from doing those things that we would do, that we would do in the service of sin, so we are unable to serve under the reigning power of sin. It is a continuous warfare in our hearts between the reigning power of sin and the restraining power of grace. As the Holy Spirit works grace in our hearts, then He restrains us, and that is what we see Asaph was speaking about when he said that his flesh and his heart failed, until he came into Christ, the eternal sanctuary for His church, the place of security and safety. How does the Holy Spirit restrain us from sin? By lifting our eyes to the Lord Jesus Christ so that we come under the kingship and reign of Christ. Grace reigns. It is stronger, and it overcomes the reigning power of sin. Our text says, "My flesh and my heart faileth: but God[.... That is our blessed hope, ‘But God’] is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.’ This spiritual warfare is what Asaph speaks about in the chapter wherein our text is found as we see in Psalm 73:1-2: "Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped." He saw that his own heart would have gone after the reigning power of sin and would have fallen. He saw that reigning power of sin as we read in verse 3: "For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." The power of sin had drawn him. It has such a fascinating power. Our text teaches me is that it is not in me, it is not in my flesh, it is not in the strength of my heart because my heart will be drawn aside with the foolishness of sin. My heart has no power against that great enemy. Asaph saw that he needed that reigning power of grace to reign and to control and to overrule all of the powers of sin and hell. FOR OUR FIRST POINT, let's consider how our flesh and heart fail when we strive against sin in our own strength. FOR OUR SECOND POINT, let's consider how that God becomes the strength of our heart. This warfare is warfare against the power of sin. Where does sanctification, the purification of my heart, begin? Sanctification is the work of the Trinity, and must be understood in all three offices. It is not the work of my flesh and my heart. Our sanctification is of God the Father, it is of God the Son, and it is of God the Holy Spirit. I want you to see this in Jude 1, which speaks of "them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called." There we see the Trinity. The irresistible and effectual call is of the Holy Spirit. Our sanctification begins with being chosen in the Father's eternal love, and being set apart before time began in His eternal election. The Father is the author of our sanctification. Sanctification means set apart. We have been chosen and set apart as His peculiar people in eternal election before the world was even created. Next, sanctification is being "preserved in Jesus Christ"— not from falling in Adam, but from being destroyed under the power of sin. You and I have all fallen in Adam. In Jesus Christ we are being preserved. We have the restraining grace, preserving us from being brought to total destruction under the power of sin. As Asaph, when he looked to Christ, when he came into the sanctuary, when Christ was raised up before him, he was preserved. Then he saw the foolishness of his sin. He said in Psalm 73:22: "So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee." Then he saw that he was preserved in the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul was speaking of himself as well as all God's elect when he said in Ephesians 2:2: "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." He continues in verse 3: "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." We were not preserved from falling in Adam. When Paul says "we," he includes himself. We have all fallen under the power of sin, and serve under the prince of the power of the air. And by nature, we are all children of wrath, even as others. When it says we are preserved in Jesus Christ it means we do not go on to destruction under the power of sin. Asaph still struggled with the power of sin, and that is a consolation for you and me. Otherwise we would write bitter things against ourselves and say there is no hope, because we see how the power of sin is still such a struggle for us. Thirdly, our sanctification is being "called" by the Holy Spirit. We are sanctified by the Holy Spirit, by the effectual call of the Spirit. Watch what we see in 1 Peter 1:2: "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." God the Father chose us and set us a part for His own because of that foreknowledge, that intimate relationship between the Father and His children, that marriage union between Christ and His Bride, through the effectual call of the Spirit unto obedience. The Holy Spirit works grace in our hearts PHI 2:13 says "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." The Holy Spirit gives us that effectual call unto obedience and brings us to that sprinkling of blood. He brings our hearts, He draws us and takes us by that reigning power of grace and draws us to that sprinkling of blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Asaph was a godly man. David had chosen him to be one of the chief singers before the Lord continually. Yet when he became envious of the proud he found that in his own strength he was no match for the power of sin. He said in Psalm 73:13: "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency." Oh, what a power there is in sin that none of us can stand in our own strength. We must not look within ourselves. We must look out of ourselves unto the Lord Jesus Christ. He continued in verse 14: "For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning." He was now seeing how in his own strength he would yet fall. Asaph understood that "God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. [Yet he had to confess] But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped," until the Holy Spirit opened his eyes to see he was "preserved in Christ." This is what our text is speaking of—"but God is my strength." The Holy Spirit drew his eye of faith to look up to the Lord Jesus and to see how that he was preserved in Him. He said in Psalm 73:17: "Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end." The Lord Jesus Christ is our sanctuary. He is our place of refuge. He is our place of consolation. He is our place of rest. Then Asaph saw the destruction of the wicked. He was jealous. He envied them—until he saw their end, until he saw the emptiness of their prosperity, until he saw the emptiness of the pleasures of sin. Then he saw their end. When? When the Holy Spirit showed him how he was preserved in the Lord Jesus Christ, how that in the Lord Jesus Christ, he was brought into that sanctuary. We see in 1 Corinthians 10:12: "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." If you and I come to where we think we stand, oh, be careful. We are on a slippery slope. Then remember how the apostle Peter was so strong in himself. He thought he could stand: "And he said unto [Jesus], Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me." LUK 22:33. When we become strong in ourselves, when we lose sight of how Asaph said his flesh and heart failed, Satan has us in a slippery place. FOR OUR SECOND POINT, let's consider how God becomes the strength of our heart. Asaph said, "But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped," and it was in just such a time that faith sprung up. When he seemed to be falling, when it seemed as if he had slipped, sin was gaining power over him, and he saw that he was unable to stand against it, and just at such a point, faith sprung up. Our text says in Psalm 73:26: "My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever." Asaph was rescued in the nick of time. The Father has chosen His dear children from eternity, but see where they are chosen in Isaiah 48:10: "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." I want you to see the distinction of that and Asaph’s confession in Psalm 73:5-6: "They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plaqued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment." What the Lord does to distinguish His people is He has chosen them in the furnace of affliction. They do have trouble, and pride does not compass them about because the Lord has brought them into the humiliating process of the furnace. That is the distinction. He deals with us as sons. He comes with His chastening power, and that is the distinction between God’s people and the wicked. If we are not of the Lord’s people, then we may prosper in our wickedness. Our being preserved in Christ was predetermined. This isn’t something that just happens to us when we fall into this furnace of affliction, when we have trouble, when we are unable to go on in our pride, and the Lord is humbling us—that is not just a coincidence. I want you to see something in Malachi 3:3. I want you to see how we are preserved in Christ. "And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness." Remember the psalm we just sang: Is your all on the altar where that sacrifice has been laid? What sacrifice? Our all. The Lord purifies the heart. That’s being preserved in Jesus Christ. When our eye of faith is taken off from Christ, our flesh and heart may fail as Jacob when he said in Genesis 42:36b: "Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me." Jacob’s heart and flesh failed when his eyes started looking upon himself, when his eyes looked in instead of out. He was looking at his flesh. Joseph was not within the eye of his flesh, but Joseph was reigning over Egypt. He was the preserver of life. The Lord's ways are so much higher than our ways, and much higher than Jacob knew. Jacob knew God had told Abraham in Genesis 15:13: "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years." Jacob knew this, but he lost sight of it, and he lost sight of the fact that the Lord’s ways are higher than his ways and that He was bringing about that very thing. See how Jacob failed in his flesh and how he had no strength within himself. He said that all things were against him, not knowing that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. He lost sight of that. Our text says, "but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever," so how is the heart strengthened? We read in Hebrews 12:2: "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." That reward laid before the Lord Jesus Christ became the object of His faith. That is what we read in HEB 11:6, But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. There is no such thing as faith without having an eye on the object of our faith, which is the reward. The Lord Jesus Christ is our reward. The Lord Jesus Christ had the object of His faith before His eyes and He endured the cross, despising the shame. For what? For the joy that was set before Him—for the reward. This is how God strengthens our heart—by looking to Jesus and what He has gone through. When we learn to see the price He paid for our sins, when we learn to see His precious sacrifice and how He came in perfect submission to the will of the Father, then sin begins to lose its power by the reigning power of grace. When Asaph's eyes were turned aside he said, "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency" (Psalm 73:13)—until when? We see the answer in verse 17: "Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end." Until he started looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith. That’s where the strength of our faith is. He continued in verses 18 to 20: "Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image." All of the tensile, and all of the allurement of that sin, of the power of the wicked, had diminished. Now he saw that their plight was not so envious. We now start to want the image of Christ. We now despise the image of the wicked. That image no longer had any allurement for Asaph. He learned to see that their end was destruction, their good life was but for a moment, and the power of sin was broken. When our eyes are lifted by faith to look to Christ, we see the foolishness of our sin. Then we see how foolish we are. We don’t even have to look at the foolishness of the wicked as we look within ourselves. Asaph said in verses 21 to 26: "Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever." His eye was lifted to that blessed sacrifice. His eye was lifted to that holiness of God, which is of the reigning power of grace. See the beauty he saw now in serving the Lord instead of serving sin. His foot had well nigh slipped until his eyes were lifted to the blessed sanctuary, the place of refuge there is in Christ. As we have learned to see the sinfulness of sin, we learn to dread the power of sin more than the flames of hell. I hear so much hell and damnation preaching, and I am going to tell you something, I don’t like it. Do you know why? We should be preaching about the horrors of the power of sin, and if I have ever learned anything from the Lord, I have learned to dread sin. The thought of falling under the power of sin makes my heart shrink—the thought of sinning against the Lord in a way that He would lead me to myself and allow me to go on according to what Asaph found, that my feet would slip, and that I would start envying the proud, and that I would start walking in the foolishness of sin. That is the most dreadful thing. I have never had such concern over the flames of hell as I have over the power of sin. Paul wrote in Romans 7:22: "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man." This is the new heart. My flesh and my heart would fail, but when the Lord comes with His gracious Spirit and the reigning power of grace, now my heart will delight in the law of God after the inward man. Those inner chambers of the heart, that inner desire of the soul, is to serve the Lord. Continuing in verses 23 and 24, he writes: "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" What does Paul mean when he talks about "from the body of this death"? He is talking about the reigning power of sin. Then he answers his question (like Asaph) in verse 25: "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." Through that precious faith we have in the Lord Jesus Christ, He delivers us from the reigning power of sin, and brings us into the reigning power of grace—that new desire, those new affections, that new man, that delighting in the law of God after the inward man. My mind and my heart, my desire, is to do the will of God, but my flesh and my heart fail. That sinful flesh still wants to strive after the things of sin. We see that reigning power of sin, but grace also reigns to righteousness. That is what we have to see as the working of sanctification by the Holy Spirit in our hearts—that grace reigns unto righteousness. Yet, if we attempt to escape sin’s power in our own strength we learn over and over again as we see in Jeremiah 17:9: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" That heart of man by nature is desperately wicked. As we grow in grace we grow in the knowledge of the deceitfulness of our hearts. Then we learn to understand the meaning of the next verse, Jeremiah 17:10: "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." What reigns? Is it grace or is it sin? So he brought Asaph into this trial, and then he saw that his foot had well-nigh slipped, but God took Asaph’s eye off sin and raised his eyes to the Lord Jesus Christ. He gives us the trial of our faith, I allow you to be in a place to try your faith: will you serve sin or walk under the reigning power of grace? If Asaph walked with the wicked, he would perish with the wicked, but he was "…a brand plucked out of the fire," ZEC 3:2. He was plucked by his eyes being drawn to that blessed sanctuary. The Lord will reward every man according to the fruit of his doings, and if we serve throughout our entire life under the reigning power of sin, we will perish with those who serve sin. But if the Lord takes us by heart and by hand, and He leads us and brings us under reigning power of grace, then our eyes are lifted to that blessed sanctuary. It is through these trials in the purifying process that we learn to understand how transparent we are before God. We learn to see the power of sin and its reigning power in conflict with the reigning power of grace. We read in Hebrews 4:12-13: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." The Lord looks at the thoughts and intents of the heart. You and I offend in everything we do. Our best righteousness is but filthy rags, but the thoughts and intents of the heart is what the Lord looks at. What is our desire? Do we delight in the law after the inner man? Or do we secretly cherish sin? We may be living a Pharisaical life and conforming to the letter of the law with perfection, and yet have a heart’s desire and lust after sin. We can still be harboring hatred for our brother with our tongue—even though we haven’t even smitten him. Every thought, every word and every deed is naked and open before the eyes of the Lord, and the intent of our hearts is what He judges. This is what leads us to see our need of that Heavenly High Priest spoken of in the next two verses. It is so precious if we see the context of Scripture, when we see how transparent we are before the Lord. We read in 4:14-15: "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." When we see how transparent we are before God, then we see our need for our heavenly High Priest. And what is the office of a priest? The priest makes atonement. And what is atonement? It is to put the offering on the altar and to take the blood and to put it on the mercy seat, and therefore to plead mercy, for a wretched, hell- deserving sinner. Christ is our High Priest. In that office we see that He made the sacrifice, He made the payment for the penalty of sin, and His blood now is upon the mercy seat. Now He intercedes in our behalf. He can raise His crucified hands before the Father as His evidence that the penalty of our sin has been paid in full. When we learn to understand the sinfulness and the powerfulness of sin, now we need that blessed High Priest. How is it that our High Priest is so well acquainted with our every temptation and infirmity? We are transparent before Him. He has seen every infirmity of our hearts. When the devil took Jesus for forty days in the wilderness, He was tempted with every temptation that you and I can ever be tempted with. But that is not where it ends. I want you to see through something, and this is so important. I believe the Lord has really opened my eyes to see this. That is not the only place He was tempted. That is not the only place were every weakness and every infirmity of yours and mine were brought on His account. Because every one of them are written on His back in that bloody sweat with the finger of His Father's justice. This is why He knows it so intimately. Every evil thought, every weakness, every infirmity, was written with the finger of God’s justice on His back, in His bloody sweat. That is why He is so intimately acquainted with us with every temptation and infirmity. When we learn to see the power of sin, we understand how Christ knows that power, because He was chastened for it, and it was written on His back with the finger of God’s justice. In Isaiah 53:4-5 we read: "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." This was the justice of God; it was the finger of God’s justice upon Him. He received those stripes on His back, the stripes of the smiters, who smote Him. This is why He so intimately understands every struggle, every trial we endure. Each one of those left its scar on His back. As our names were engraved in the palms of His hands by the finger of His Father's justice, our every weakness and infirmity became so transparent before His holy eyes. Can you imagine the temptations of Satan in such an hour, how that Satan came as that ugly dragon and took Him by the heels to drag Him down from the cross, to tell Him, Give it up. You are doing this for Peter and he is standing there cursing and blaspheming your name and telling others he does not even know you. Give it up. Come down from the cross. Don’t think He does not understand—because He was there. That is why we become so transparent. He was tempted with every temptation you and I have ever been tempted with. We see in Hebrews 4:13: "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." Can you see why we are so transparent before Him? He can be so intimately touched with every weakness and every infirmity, because He understands it so well. As our hearts begin to faint in our own strength, the most blessed consolation we could ever receive is in Hebrews 4:16: "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Therefore tells us that He knows this so intimately. He is touched with it. His heart bleeds for us. It bleeds over our infirmities and our weaknesses. Don’t let them be hindrances that keep you from the throne of grace, because the power of sin has reigned in your heart and has become stronger than you. We can come boldly to the throne of grace because Christ so intimately understands our every infirmity and our every weakness. As our High Priest, He will come before the Father with that atonement to plead that precious blood, to plead those crucified hands as our intercessor. Mercy, undeserved favor, has been purchased with His blood, and with His perfect righteousness, with His perfect submission to the Father’s will. We received grace to help—to help with what? To overcome the power of sin, which He understands so intimately. You and I will find, like Asaph, that our flesh and heart fail. I cannot stand in my own strength. I cannot do it in my own strength. I have no might against this great army of sin and iniquity, the power of hell, but God.... God is my strength. We find mercy and grace to help in time of need, to help overcome. That does not mean that we sit back fatalistically and say, Well, Christ did it, so I can sit back and continue in sin. We struggle, we strive, with the sweat of our brow, we are as a woman in travail, struggling against the power of sin, but Christ comes to help in time of need. We cannot accomplish this in our own strength. What help does this refer to? Help to overcome the power of those temptations and infirmities, which Jesus Christ understands the power of so well. Oh beloved, what a pleading ground! We may come boldly unto the throne of unmerited love and favor, that we might have our offenses forgiven, "and find grace to help in time of need." He overcomes that power of temptation. He overcomes the power of sin. He overcomes all our infirmities. Why? Because He understands them so intimately. He was there. He was tempted with the same temptations. He struggled with those same infirmities—except He was the God Man, without sin. As the Holy Spirit gives us a glimpse of Christ's High Priestly office, and what He has done for us, we learn to understand what the apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10: "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." Now it becomes my chief joy, my infirmities, my inability to overcome in my own strength, because it keeps me so close to the cross. It keeps me from wandering away. The wicked that Asaph talked about were strong in themselves, not in trouble as other men, neither were they plagued like other men, so pride encompassed them. But like Paul, when you see your infirmities, this keeps you close to the cross. When we are weak in ourselves, in our flesh, then we are strong in faith. Our text says, "My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever." If we understand the gospel, if we understand the reigning power of grace, then we understand that our heart and flesh fail, we have no strength within ourselves, but God is the strength of our hearts. By staying near the cross, by walking in the footsteps of our Savior, we see that He is the strength of our heart and our portion forever. Now we desire nothing outside of Christ. Now we are to see as Asaph said in Psalm 73:21-28: "Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go whoring from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works." Amen. ------------------------------------------------
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