But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, Romans 6:17
You cannot mortify a specific lust that is troubling you, unless you are seeking to obey the Lord from the heart in all areas. If a man finds a particular lust that is powerful and violent and it takes away his peace and troubles him, and if he sets himself against it, prays against it, groans under it, and sighs to be delivered; but in the meantime, perhaps, in other duties and in other ways he is loose and negligent, he will not be able to gain the victory over that troubling lust. This is a common condition among the sons of men in their pilgrimage. If we seek to correct a course or filthy outbreak of sin in the soul, but neglect the basic duties that promote our spiritually, we labour in vain, for it has a bad foundation. We must hate all sin, as sin, and not only because it troubles us. Love for Christ because he went to the cross, and hate for sin that sent him there, is a solid foundation for true spiritual mortification. To seek mortification only because a sin troubles us proceeds from self-love. Why do you seek to mortify this sin? – Because it troubles you and takes away your peace. Yes, but you have neglected prayer and reading. Neglect of these is just as sinful. Christ bled for these also. If you hate sin as sin, you will be watchful against everything that grieves the Spirit. Do you think God will help you in such a hypocritical effort? Do you think he will free you from this so you can commit another sin that grieves him? ‘No’, says God, ‘If I free him from this lust, I will not hear from him any more, and he will be content in his failure.’ We must not be concerned only with that which troubles us, but with all that troubles God. God’s work is to have full victory, and universal obedience, not just the sins that trouble our soul.
Sinclair Ferguson has publicly stated that no one has had a greater spiritual impact on his life than William Still! William Still was the minister of Gilcomston South Church, Aberdeen, from 1945 to 1997. While his name may not feature in the official annals of the Church of Scotland, it is doubtful whether any other individual in his Church during the latter half of the twentieth century had such a profound or widespread influence. For over fifty years Mr. Still pioneered a single-minded commitment to expository preaching and congregational prayer which made Gilcomston a beacon of Reformed and evangelical Christianity in Scotland.
A man whose very life breathed the grace and love of God, no one who ever met him, received his counsel, or sat under his ministry, could have escaped the sheer Christlikeness of Mr. Still’s life. In the early days of his ministry he wrote: “There is no part of me, or of my life, that I will withhold from the work that God has called me to.”
It was one of the marks of his evident commitment to the service of Christ that he devoted himself to the pastoral care of his people, providing them with daily Bible reading notes that would feed their souls and prepare them for works of service. The “Notes”, which appeared in the monthly “Congregational Record,” soon became highly sought after across Scotland, the United Kingdom, and even to the far-flung corners of the world, increasing in many a love for and commitment to the Word of God.
Drawn from every book in the Bible, this selection, edited and arranged by David C. Searle, will take the reader through the year with William Still. These pages will explain what it means to live under the authority of Scripture, to exalt the glorious Person of Christ, and to rejoice in the wonder of the gospel.