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Daily Looking Away From Self to Christ — J.C. Ryle

April 21, 2012

“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.” — Hebrews 12:2 

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

We must surely feel that we need Almighty help every day we live, if we are true Christians.  Even when started in the narrow way of life, with pardon, grace, and a new heart, we soon find that, left to ourselves, we shall never get safe home. Every returning morning brings with it so much to be done and borne and suffered, that we are often tempted to despair.  So weak and treacherous are our hearts, so busy the devil, so persecuting and ensnaring the world, that we are sometimes half inclined to look back and return to Egypt. We are such poor, weak creatures, that we cannot do two things at once.  It seems almost impossible to do our duty in that place of life to which God has called us, and not to be absorbed in it and forget our souls.  The cares and business and occupations of life appear to drink up all our thoughts, and swallow up all our attention.  What are we to do?  Where are we to look?  How many are exercised with thoughts like these

I believe the great Scriptural remedy for all who feel such helplessness as I have faintly described, is to look upward to Christ in heaven, and to keep steadily before our eyes His intercession at the right hand of God.  Like the sailor boy who goes aloft for the first time, we must learn to look UPWARD, away from ourselves and our weakness, and upward to Christ in heaven.  We must try to realize daily that Jesus not only died for us and rose again, but that He also lives as our Advocate with the Father, and appears in heaven for us. This, surely, was the mind of St. Paul, when he said, “Being reconciled to God by the death of His Son, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom. v. 10). This, again, is what he meant when he gave that confident challenge, “Who is he that condemneth ? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Rom. viii. 34).  This, above all, is what he had in view when he told the Hebrews, “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb. vii. 25).

Now I venture boldly to express a doubt whether modern Christians “look to Jesus” in this point of view, and make as much as they ought of His life of intercession.  It is too often a dropped link in our latter-day Christianity. We are apt to think only of the atoning DEATH and the precious blood, and to forget the LIFE and priestly office of our great Redeemer. It ought not to be so. We miss much by this forgetfulness of the whole truth as it is in Jesus.  What a mine of daily comfort there is in the thought, that we have an Advocate with the Father, who never slumbers or sleeps, whose eye is always upon us, who is continually pleading our cause and obtaining fresh supplies of grace for us, who watches over us in every company and place, and never forgets us, though we, in going to and fro, and doing our daily business, cannot always think of Him  While we are fighting Amalek in the valley below, One greater than Moses is holding up His hands for us in heaven, and through His intercession we shall prevail.  Surely, if we have been satisfied with half the truth about Jesus hitherto, we ought to say, ‘I will live in such fashion no more.’

And here let me declare my own firm conviction, that the habit of daily looking to the intercession of Christ is one great safeguard against some modern superstitions.  If Jesus did NOT live in heaven as our merciful and faithful High Priest, I could understand a little the craving that exists in many minds for that deadly opiate, which, nowadays, usurps the name and office of spiritual medicine: I mean, habitual confession to earthly priests, and habitual absolution. But I cannot understand it when I read the Epistle to the Hebrews, and see that we have a great High Priest in heaven, who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and who bids us pour out our hearts before Him, and come to Him for grace to help in time of need.  In short, I do not hesitate to assert, that a right view of Christ’s priestly office is the true antidote to some of the most dangerous errors of the Church of Rome.


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