Counsel to Young Converts
When Barnabas came to Antioch, where many had recently been converted, he “exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord” Acts 11:23, 24. This is what the Christian is to do — cleave unto the Lord with purpose of heart. There is power and sufficiency in Christ for all He would have you to do or be. Some are allowed a long season of joy on first believing; but God knows our hearts, and how soon we begin to depend on our joy instead of Christ. Yet, not the joy, but Christ is to be our object.
Sin no longer remains upon you — God has blotted out your sins; but the flesh is in you to the end: and the old stock will put forth its buds, which must be nipped off as they appear, if we would not reap its bitter fruits. No good fruits can come of it. It is the new nature that bears fruit unto God. But though the flesh is in you, do not be thinking of this, but think of Christ, and seek His grace to turn away from the flesh.
As you grow in the knowledge of Christ, a joy comes deeper than the first joy. I have known Christ more or less some forty years, and I can truly say I have a thousand times more joy in Him now than I had at first. It is a deeper, calmer joy. The water rushing down a hill is beautiful to look at, and makes the most noise, but you will find the water in the plain is deeper, calmer, and more generally useful.
Cleave to the Lord.
A distracted or divided heart is the bane of Christians. When we are after something not according to Christ, we are away from the source of strength. When the soul is filled with Christ, we have no heart or eye for the trash of this world. If Christ is dwelling in your heart by faith, it will not be a question with you, “What harm is there in this and in that?” But rather, “Am I doing this with the approval of my Lord? Can He go along with me in this?”
Do not let the world get into your heart and distract your thoughts. I speak especially to you young ones. They who are older have had more experience of what the world is, and know more what it is worth: but it all lies shining before you, endeavoring to attract you. Its smiles are deceitful — still it smiles. It makes promises which it cannot keep — still it makes them. Your hearts cannot be satisfied by the world: it cannot fill them. They are but too little for Christ: He fills heaven with joy, and He will fill your heart to overflowing.
Cleave to the Lord with purpose of heart. He knew how treacherous the heart is, and how soon it puts anything in His place. You will have indeed to learn what is in your own heart: but abide with God, and you will learn it with Him, with the realization of His grace. If you do not, you will learn it, with bitter sorrow, through the devil’s successful temptation.
If you have been getting away from God, and other things have come in and formed a crust over your heart, as it were, you will not at once get back the joy. God will have you deal with this crust in true self-judgment, and return to Him. Remember Christ bought you with His own blood, that you should be His, not the world’s.
Do not let Satan get between you and God’s grace. However careless you may have been, however far you may have got away from Him, count on His love in turning back to Him. It is His joy to see you back again. Look at the sin with horror, but never wrong Him by distrusting His love. Mistrust not His grace; mistrust not His love. He has loved you, loves you now, and will love you to the end.
Talk much with Jesus, your Savior. Never be content without being able to walk and talk with Him as with a dear friend. Be not satisfied with anything short of close communion of soul with Him who has loved you and washed you from your sins by His own blood. Think of what He has suffered, the judgment of sin upon the cross, to make you His own! - J. N. D.