No strength of nature can suffice
To serve the Lord aright:
And what she has she misapplies,
For want of clearer light.
How long beneath the law I lay
In bondage and distress;
I toild the precept to obey,
But toild without success.
Then, to abstain from outward sin
Was more than I could do;
Now, if I feel its power within,
I feel I hate it too.
Then all my servile works were done
A righteousness to raise;
Now, freely chosen in the Son,
I freely choose His ways.
“What shall I do,” was then the word,
“That I may worthier grow?”
“What shall I render to the Lord?”
Is my inquiry now.
To see the law by Christ fulfilld
And hear His pardoning voice,
Changes a slave into a child,
And duty into choice.
The story is told that when Augustine was still without God and without hope, the Holy Spirit convicted him on the basis of Pauls words in Romans 13:14, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Augustine acknowledged his sinfulness, accepted Jesus as his Savior, and became a different person. His entire outlook on life began to change because of his new nature. One day he had to attend to some business in his old haunts in Rome.
As he walked along, a former companion saw him and began calling, “Augustine, Augustine, it is I!” He took one look at the poor, disreputable woman whose company he had formerly enjoyed, and he shuddered. Reminding himself of his new position in Christ, he quickly turned and ran from her, shouting, “Its not I! Its not I!” Augustine had found the secret of Pauls words: “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20).
Country music is not usually my cup of tea, but when Waylon Jennings described himself in “The Gemini Song,” he was describing all of us:
When Im bad, Im bad
And when Im good, Im the best you ever seen.
Theres two sides to me, and we aint even friends.
We desire both the right and the wrong. As the Roman philosopher Seneca put it, “People love their vices and hate them at the same time; they hate their sins and cannot leave them.”
I was in Ohio a few years ago, I was invited to preach in the State prison. Eleven hundred convicts were brought into the chapel, and all sat in front of me. After I had got through the preaching, the chaplain said to me:
“Mr. Moody, I want to tell you of a scene which occurred in this room. A few years ago, our commissioners went to the Governor of the State, and got him to promise that he would pardon five men for good behavior. The Governor consented, with this understandingthat the record was to be kept secret, and that at the end of six months the five men highest on the roll should receive a pardon, regardless of who or what they were. At the end of six months the prisoners were all brought into the chapel.
The commissioners came; the president stood on the platform, and putting his hand in his pocket, brought out some papers, and said: I hold in my hand pardons for five men.
The chaplain told me he never witnessed anything on earth like it. Every man was a still as death. Many were deadly pale. The suspense was awful; it seemed as if every heart had ceased to beat. The commissioner went on to tell them how they had got the pardon; but the chaplain interrupted him.
“Before you make your speech, read out the names. This suspense is awful.”
So he read out the first name, “Reuben Johnson will come and get his pardon” and he held it out, but none came forward.
He said to the warden: “Are all the prisoners here?”
The warden told him there were all there.
Then he said again, “Reuben Johnson will come and get his pardon It is signed and sealed by the Governor. He is a free man.”
Not one moved. The chaplain looked right down where Reuben was. He was well known; he had been nineteen years there, and many were looking around to see him spring to his feet. But he himself was looking around to see the fortunate man who had got his pardon. Finally the chaplain had caught his eye, and said: “Reuben, you are the man.”
Reuben turned around and looked behind him to see where Reuben was. The chaplain said the second time, “Reuben, you are the man”; and the second time he looked around, thinking it must be some other Reuben. He had to say three times, “Reuben, come and get your pardon.”
At last the truth began to steal over the old man. He got up, came along down the hall, trembling from head to foot, and when he got the pardon he looked at it, and went back to his seat, buried his face in his hands, and wept. When the prisoners got into the ranks to go back to the cells, Reuben got into the ranks, too, and the chaplain had to call him back. “Reuben get out of the ranks; you are a free man, you are no longer a prisoner.” And Reuben stepped out of the ranks. He was free!