Wollen and Linen - Following the Path of Christ - Chapter 13 - Corinth

Wollen and Linen - JG Bellet

In the New Testament the church at Corinth was the Israelite on the wilderness side of the river.
The apostle’s fears respecting the saints there were not respecting Judaising influences; nor were they on account of the working of liberty of thought and infidel speculations, at least at the time of the second epistle; nor were they respecting the turning of grace into lasciviousness.
These fears occupy the mind of the Spirit in addressing other saints and churches: but at Corinth it was worldliness that was dreaded. A certain man appears to have gained attention from the saints there; he was one who had, both from nature and from circumstances, something to attract the mere worldly heart of man. He was, I believe, as modern language speaks, a gentleman. He had a fine person and an independent fortune, and the Corinthian saints had evidently to a great extent got under his influence. To some extent they were beguiled.
They had begun to look on things after the outward appearance; they were suffering a man to vaunt himself and to take occasion to be somebody among them, simply from the advantage he had from nature and from circumstances. Such a bad condition of things the apostle had to withstand. Affection and confidence towards himself had been withdrawn in measure because he had no such advantages to boast which they were thus beginning to prize. And surely he was purposed not to affect such things at all. And though he had certain things “in the flesh” of which he might glory, still he would glory rather in his infirmities. He would be “weak in Christ”.
The natural or worldly advantages which this man had and used among the saints, our apostle exposed as Moses would expose the woollen and linen garment or other mixtures. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers”, says he to the saints now, as Moses had said of old to Israel , “Thou shalt not plough with an ox and an ass together. Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together”. But Paul himself was not thus yoked and clothed; indeed he was not. He was among the foremost of the tribe of Judah in crossing the river.
Surely I may say all these things illustrate profitable lessons for us. We are not to be mixed up with that from which the call of God separates us; we are not to wear the garment of divers sorts. But if we refuse it and put on only the pure clothing, take the place and be found in the connection to which the call of God leads, we are to be there with a girded as well as with an unmixed garment, and to watch, too, that it be unspotted.
The world is that, not to the improvement of which Christ calls us, but to separation from which He calls us. But if, beloved, in form we take the separated place, let us seek the grace and the power which alone can adorn and furnish that place for the Lord!
And such is the character of the hour we are now passing through. The god and prince of this world is allowing the citizens to sweep and garnish his house, and they are led to admire it afresh in its adorned condition, and to flatter themselves that it is by no means the same house that it once was. But this delusion is solemn; it is as much the home of the unclean spirit as ever it was, and only the more suitable for him because it is swept and garnished, and ere long he will use all these operations of the citizens for his final and most awful purposes.
“He that gathereth not with me scattereth”. Is our labour according to the purpose of Christ? Is it by the rule of His weights and measures? If it be not, though we may labour in His name we are but doing what the enemy will soon turn to his own account.
In the parable the sweeping and the garnishing turn out at the last to have been all for the unclean spirit, to whom the house as much belonged as ever it did, though it be true he had left it for a season. Whatever is done for the improvement of the house is done for the master of the house, and Satan is the god of the world as much as ever he was, and will be till the judgment of it by the Rider on the white horse takes place.
The lengthened peace of the nations which Europe so long and till lately enjoyed gave abundant occasion to the sweeping and garnishing of the house. In man’s way the sword was turned into a ploughshare.
The earth and its resources, man and his skill, have been produced and cultivated beyond all that ever was known, and the house looks different from what it was now that it is under these cleansing and ornamenting labours of its servants. Advancement in letters, morals, refinement, and religion is immense; peace societies, temperance societies, literature for the million, and music for the million, with the general confederacy of the nations, loudly tell all this, as do the boasts in the age which are heard every hour.
But this diligence is according to the mind of the real master of the house, or the god of this world. This is serious truth: “He that gathereth not with me scattereth”. This is a serious word: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers”. It is confusion. It is the illicit weaving of woollen and linen together.
But, beloved, while one says this, the heart owns it and would be humbled by the confession of it, that many a dear, honest-hearted servant of Christ who is labouring with a mistaken purpose, and working – not by the weights and measures that are according to the standard of the sanctuary – with a true affection and zeal, and singleness, and diligence and fervour, may be far before others of us who have clearly discerned their mistake.
I dread indifference more than mixture. I would shun Laodicea more than Sardis . May we learn the lesson in both its features –
*        Sardis , with its religious bustle which gave it a name to live, will not do;
*        Laodicea , with its selfish, cold-hearted ease and satisfaction, will not do.
Let us be diligent but in pure service; occupying talents, but occupying them for a rejected Master; looking for nothing from the world that has cast Him out, but counting on everything in His own presence by and by.
J G Bellett