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“think soberly…God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Rom 12:3


There are some things that need to be stressed about spiritual growth and the example of the brass serpent, before going on in our study. There is a danger in all spiritual experiences—because of our fleshly vanity—to be tempted by Satan. We begin to think more of ourselves than we should, and we start to take some credit and glory for what God alone has done for us by His grace. As we begin to experience our new life in Christ and the victories we see through His power, we may begin to forget how weak we are in ourselves, and start again to believe we may have something to do with it. Even the Apostle Paul, in spite of his spiritual maturity, found that he himself was not exempt from such temptations. Even he needed to have a thorn in the flesh to keep him from being lifted up with pride. However, if we keep certain truths in perspective, we will find we have a great weapon to use against the Devils temptation. Even Jesus used Scripture to combat Satan, when He was tempted in the wilderness, and we must follow His example to remain victorious.

Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

1 Cor 4:6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

1 Tim 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

2 Tim 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

2 Cor 12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Matt 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Eph 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

Regarding the Brazen Serpent, first, there were many Israelites who were bitten by serpents and died without ever looking at the remedy. Many people may have heard of the brass serpent and of the proposed healing it offered, but they did not come to look upon it. Maybe they were too far away and didn’t respond in time; or maybe they didn’t believe that there was any good in coming—after all, what could a brass serpent do for them? Likewise, many sinners die without ever hearing about Christ or being brought to see Christ; and many a genuine Christian lives and dies without ever knowing the life which is his in Christ. It is totally in the sovereign will of God that any soul is given the privilege to see Christ and be healed. Human pride can never say, ‘There was something about me, or something in me that bought me to see Christ.’—because there is nothing in any of us, apart from the grace of God, that draws us to Christ.

Num 21:6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

John 12:37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

Rom 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Rom 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded

Matt 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Rom 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

Secondly, could we say that there were some whom God chose to look because they were not so bad a sinner as others, or because God saw something good in them, and so He chose for them to look? Not at all. Were there some who were drawn to look because they had done some good in their lives, and so were accounted worthy to look? Absolutely not. So with our knowing Christ in salvation and for life, it is all of grace and nothing of our own works. God’s grace and man’s works are like oil and water; they cannot be mixed no matter what the percentage of each there may be. We can only say that it is by grace alone that we are brought to see Christ because, “there is none that doeth good,” and coming to Christ is a “good” thing. There was nothing that made us worthy because, “I know that in me that is in my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” There was no work we could do because, “how to perform that which is good I find not.”

Rom 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Rom 3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

Tit 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Thirdly, were there some who where healed because they acted in faith upon their own choosing and initiative, and so were healed? Again no, for God gave the faith for some to look, and others He passed by. So, many people have heard about Christ, but have never come personally to look upon Him for salvation. Saving faith is “the gift of God,” and without it we cannot come to believe in Christ for salvation. Likewise, the faith for apprehending the Christ life is equally a gift. Study the Bible as we might, attend a Bible college, or go to an abundant living conference, and while the truth may be taught there, without God revealing it to us, we will never have the faith by our own striving to make it effectual. Just as in salvation, we must cry out to God to reveal to us how to live by faith, and to enable us to do so.

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

2 The 3:2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Jer 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

Fourthly, did those who were healed have some part in their healing because they themselves chose to come and look? Again no, because it was God’s choosing that brought them. Likewise, no person comes to Christ because they chose to come, and although all Christians have been bidden to “come and dine” and enjoy His fellowship and life, none will come on their own. They must be drawn to come, and given the faith to look and live. Those who do come must never glory in their coming, because it was God’s grace alone that brought them, and it was His gift of faith that caused them to see.

John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood,
nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

1 Cor 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written,
He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

John 6:65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

Fifthly, was it their looking at the brass serpent that healed them? No again. Their looking only secured for themselves God’s healing power through that serpent. Even so, it is not the strength of our faith that saves us and gives us life, but it is the object of our faith—the Lord Jesus. Real faith must always be in the One who can help us; because by itself, faith is dead, useless, worthless, and powerless. Our looking only secures for us the life He has made possible for us in Christ; faith by itself is not life. Many Christians make much ado about the power of faith, even imagining that they can cause God to do certain things by the exercise of their faith. There is no power in faith itself; faith only allows us to laid hold upon the One who has all power and authority, and can help us in times of need. Faith is actually a profession of our weakness, and a trust in the omnipotence of God. As a young Christian, I had often tried to cause certain things to happen by a headstrong belief that those things would come to pass, but they never did. Those things did not materialize because that was not faith, but my own self-will and energy of mind trying to make something happen. Every time faith is spoken of in the Gospels, it is in connection with coming to Jesus, and believing in His power and authority. All praise belongs to Him and not our faith.

1 Kings 18:25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
29 And it came to pass, when midday was past,
and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

1 Cor 15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

Heb 6:18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec

Mark 11:22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Sixthly, did those who came to the serpent have to make a decision whether or not they wanted to be healed; or were they permitted to casually look upon the serpent and then decide whether they should trust the serpent to heal them? The Bible indicates no such scenario. When they came, they were desperate to be healed, and they were fully persuaded beforehand that the serpent of brass could heal them. Consequently, when they were sovereignly permitted to look and see the serpent of brass, they were instantaneously healed.  When God brings someone to look to Jesus, it is to save them irresistibly. They have already been made ready; they have already been shown their guilt and God’s wrath toward them; and they want nothing else but to look and be saved. This idea of whether we want to trust Jesus, or whether we want to let Jesus come into our hearts is totally unscriptural. Man in his lost condition absolutely wants nothing to do with Christ. This mentality is also dishonoring to God. God is not placing Jesus in some storefront window for us to decide whether He is something we want, or whether we want to accept Him or not. Did God cause His own Son to endure such suffering and agony, and then let vile sinners decide if they wanted Him or not?—assuredly not.

Now, it is God’s will for those of us who are saved, to want to be saved; and we are already willing to come to Jesus when He shows us the Saviour; but only because we have been made willing by the Spirit’s work in preparing our hearts. Even thus it is the same when we are brought to experience the life in the Spirit. When God allows us to look, we are already made ready to look—we are tired of our old life; we wish we could die we are so miserable. When we finally do see the truth, we do not make any decision whether we want to walk in the Spirit, but we embrace it immediately.  It is God’s will for every one of His children to walk in the Spirit, and eventually, either here, or after the Judgment Seat of Christ, we all will do so. To be permitted to walk in the Spirit however, is a joy and a privilege, and God will not allow anyone to take it lightly, or make a decision whether we want to or not.

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

Acts 16:13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us:
whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

2 Tim 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

However, what meaning shall we attach to the word “receive,” or “received”—as found in the Bible concerning salvation or the Christ life? Does not that word denote some active acceptance on our part to what God has done? Do we not have to decide to accept Christ by an act of our will? As a young believer, I often presented the Gospel to someone as being like a gift. God has a gift for them and that gift is eternal life. The gift howbeit, is wrapped up in a Person, whose name is Jesus; and when they receive Jesus they will be receiving eternal life. However, I went on, a gift must be accepted; you must take it in order for it to become yours; you must decide whether you want the gift or not. Now, there were some partial truths to what I said, and God often used my zeal in trying to be a witness—despite my ignorance; but the whole import of what I was trying to convey was wrong. First of all, I had made eternal life more important than the One in whom we have eternal life. When we have Jesus, we have everything; and when we don’t have Christ, we don’t have anything. Even the lost will exist eternally, but how and where? Having Jesus, living with Christ, is what will make our eternity a habitual state of bliss. Furthermore, God is not offering His gift to everyone—hoping that some people will receive it, or make a decision to take it. When He offers Christ to someone, who knows that they are a hell-bound, lost, miserable sinner, they will receive Him unconditionally, without any further thought. When God offers the Christ life to a miserable believer, they will receive it without hesitation. To receive Christ is not to decide whether we want Him or not, but it is to take Him into our lives immediately. We have already had our hearts prepared by God, and we will not choose or do otherwise.

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Col 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Psa 110:3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.

Now, it might be asked by some, ‘If God is willing that His children all walk in the Spirit, and it is within His power to cause them to desire the Christ-life, why do some of His children obviously still “ walk as men?”’ The answer is—there is a process by which God works in the lives of men, either for salvation or for living the Christ-life. God always uses means to accomplish His purposes. Man was created by God as an autonomous creature, with a mind and a will to make decisions; and God has never rescinded man’s right to choose for himself the course of his life. Therefore, God chooses to work through man’s mind, emotions, and will to bring about His purposes. Although all believers are predestinated “to be conformed to the image of his Son,” God, through the means of His Word, His Spirit, and the experiences of life, draws them to that “image.” Furthermore, some believers do not avail themselves of the means of grace—God’s Word, prayer, teaching and preaching; and thus they prolong God’s work. Many believers dwell in churches where the Christ-life is never taught, or worse, even taught against. Satan has done all he can to distort the Gospel message of salvation and the Christ-life. Others “resist the Holy Ghost” just as unbelievers who will not come to Christ for salvation. All believers are in various degrees of conforming to Christ, and eventually all will be perfected in heaven. However, for those who yield themselves to God’s purposes, the life of Christ can be a reality even now—in this sin cursed world, and in this body of sinful flesh.

1 Cor 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions,
are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Eph 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

2 Tim 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Isa 3:12 As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

2 Cor 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14 And no marvel;
for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

Acts 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.


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