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Free Books » Muller, George » Counsel to Converts

Chapter 4 Counsel to Converts by Muller, George




THE portion from which I have it laid on my heart to speak a few words of counsel and advice, especially to the younger brethren and sisters in Christ, you will find in Eph. vi. 10-18.

I have already observed the deep importance of never, in the last degree, relying on our own power and energy, or upon our past experience, or upon what we think we can accomplish in the things of God; but rather through­out to distrust ourselves, even to the very close of our earthly pilgrimage, and only to rely upon the power and wisdom of God Himself, so that in His power and might we may go forward in the battle.



and regarding this, we have observed the deep importance of putting on the whole armour of God. Every part of the armour which God Himself has been pleased to provide for His children, is absolutely required, in order that we may be fully furnished for the conflict. And for this very purpose has the armour been provided, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. That adver­sary is very subtle and crafty, and he is ever watching that he may get an advantage over us. In order to lay still greater stress on this, the apostle, by the guidance of the Holy Ghost, proceeds to say, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood." The battle is not that of army against army, or man against man, as in this world, "but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

Here I observe particularly, the deep importance of ever keeping before us, that we have really and truly to fight against the powers of darkness. And if at any time any of us should, through the subtlety of Satan, yield to the temptation that there is no such being as a real personal devil, let them be aware that that is just one of his chief devices, in order to throw the child of God off his guard, so that he may the more easily get power over him.

Verily, there is such a being as the devil. And he is mighty, as well as experienced. But also, for our comfort, let us keep this before us, that greater is He that is for us than all that can be against us. And therefore with courage we may go forth against the powers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places. As long as we recognise our own weakness and impotency, and depend upon God, we shall be helped even against these powers.

Thus far we have already proceeded. Now,


Wherefore; that is to say, because the conflict is what it is, and because we do not fight against man, or against flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness, and against spiritual evil powers, "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." For this very purpose the armour is provided for us, that we may be able to withstand and finally to overcome.

Now let not any dear child of God suppose, as there is at times a danger of supposing, that because the conflict is what it is-because it is spiritual, and because our enemies are so many and so mighty, that, therefore, it is utterly useless to attempt to fight against the powers of darkness. Not so. Let us go with good courage to the conflict. The will of the Lord is that we should


and under whatever circumstances of danger, perplexity, or of trial, the child of God may be placed, let him always be of "good courage." Who shall harm us, if God is for us? If He is on our side, who shall then withstand us?

But let us never trust in self, else we shall quickly find how weak we are. Especially let us never begin to reason with the devil; he is too much for us. The will of God is, never, never, never, under any circumstance, to reason with the tempter. He who begins to reason, is certain to fall; because we have ever to keep before us who the devil is, and what power he has; and, therefore, if we begin to reason, we are sure to be overcome.

We know not how long the chief of the evil spirits has been in existence; but we know that he was in existence at the creation of the world, and was the originator of evil. Therefore, from the time he deceived our first parents, he has reasoned with a great number of people; and has thus gained a vast experience. Think of all this vast experience, and of all the wiles he has learned, and you will see how absurd it is to attempt to reason with Satan. God's blessed Word is enough, and that is the only thing he cannot stand against. But if you begin to reason with the devil, it is certain that you cannot stand.

Never, then, attempt to reason; especially you, my younger brethren and sisters in Christ. Learn at the outset of the divine life that you must not reason, and that, if you do, you will fall. When tempted, take the blessed book, and say, "My Lord says so-and-so, and believe it;" and in child-like simplicity rest upon it. Satan cannot stand against that.

"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."

Notice further that word


What is particularly meant is the day of temptation; that is the evil day. And on that day we are to take comfort in the knowledge that God is our helper. But, in a certain sense, the whole of this life is an evil day, because of the power of Satan, and because of the world which surrounds us. The devil is ever on the watch to get at us, and therefore, in a certain sense, the whole time we are in the body lasts the evil day. The whole armour of God is given to us, not to be used on this particular day, or that, but to be worn during the whole pilgrimage of this life. We may have fought very successfully for a time, but still we are to keep it on.

In the armies of this world, you all know how it is-­battle after battle has been fought, and success has been gained. What then? The armour is put off, and now the soldiers rest. But not thus with the armour of God. The whole pilgrimage is a time of war; the conflict ceases not, but must be maintained throughout life.

But to you who are not alive spiritually, who are dead in trespasses and sins and have no conflict, I say, affec­tionately, it is the slumber of death which is upon you. The life which you now live will be terminated, unless you are awakened, in eternal spiritual death. Therefore, if you are not awakened, seek with all earnestness of purpose to be made to know your own state, and to seek to become alive through Jesus Christ.

The gospel is yet preached to you-the door of mercy is still open wide. The very fact that you are here to-day shows, that the gospel door is open yet. Oh, press into the door-believe the gospel-obey the commandment to receive the gospel, and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in Him alone, for the salvation of your soul!

Then, if you do so, you will, in the riches of God's grace, receive the forgiveness of your sins; you will be regenerated, and, although you were dead in trespasses and sins, you will instantaneously be made a child of God, an heir of God, joint-heir with Christ; be brought on the road to heaven, and have the bright and blessed prospect of everlasting life before you. Then, and only then, you will know something practically and experimentally of the conflict against the powers of darkness.

It is to those, then, who are believers, and who know what the conflict is, that I speak this evening. And to you beloved brethren and sisters in Christ, but especially the younger brethren and sisters, I say, never allow your­selves to be at ease with regard to the conflict.

It is written here,


Oh, how deeply important it is to notice that we must be prepared to stand firm. Again and again do we see the child of God who has set out well, and who has con­tinued for a time to run well, and who has given up the world, with its habits, customs, and pursuits; has re­nounced all these, and has rejoiced the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as the hearts of God's dear children; has gone on for a year or two, and then he begins to hanker after this world; then he begins to take his ease in the conflict; another year or two, and he is as much in the world as ever he was.

What a sad, sad, sad case is this; yet how frequently do we see it occur. To avoid it, I say to the beloved children of God, Be satisfied with nothing short of this, that you are going on in the self-same decided way for God as you did at the beginning. Continue to keep on the armour of God, and say, By His grace I will stand.

Let it never be said of you, That man began well, but has not gone on well. Let it be so that any who knew us in 1830, and now see us in 1875, can say of us, Well, after forty-five years have passed away, that man is as decided as ever.

I ask myself, and answer it as before God, and I ask you, my brethren also, to answer before God, How is it with us? Are you as decided as at the beginning? If not, there is something wrong. Having been very decided for God is not enough; we must be so still, even continually; ever resisting the powers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places.

Let us, then, never settle down at ease to enjoy the victory. That should never be the case in this world. There is no permanent victory here; it is far off in yonder world, in the bright blessed eternity which is awaiting us. We shall have victory and rest there, but here, in this life, we have to fight-fight on in the conflict of life.

Now let us consider the armour itself.



To most of you, my dear Christian Friends, I scarcely need to say, that we have here to keep before us, not the common English soldier with his firearms and modern equipment, but soldiers as they were in those days, and especially the Roman soldiers. The nature of their armour and warfare we have to keep before us.

Now at that time it was a matter of great importance to the soldiers to have a girdle to gird themselves. By means of this girdle the soldier braced himself up for the march and the conflict. The clothes were thus tied close to the body, in order that the soldier might not be hindered in his marching, nor in his fighting, as the fighting often consisted in one man fighting against another man.

Now, in the spiritual conflict, what have we for a girdle? It is the truth of God. This brings before us the fact, that, just in the measure in which we hold the blessed truths of God's word, so in measure, and only so in measure, are we ready for the conflict.

Every particle of error hinders us in our spiritual con­flict. We are helped in the measure, in which we adhere to the truth of God. And while the temptation in the case of the young disciple may be to say, "I know I am a child of God, and that Jesus Christ has saved me, therefore what does it matter whether I understand this or that particular truth or not, or this or that particular doctrine or not," yet it is a matter of great importance. Because, in such a degree as we understand the truth, so shall we be able to stand in the hour of conflict, and so much the less shall we be hindered in this our conflict.

We ought to hold the truth in all its parts-every particle of the truth as revealed to us; and we ought not to have our favourite parts, and only those of God's word to which we pay particular attention, to the neglect of other equally important parts. And just in proportion as we seek to know the whole revealed truth, so shall we be strengthened, as with a girdle, for the conflict.



This part of the armour of a Roman soldier was gene­rally made of a piece of iron or brass, and which particu­larly covered and protected the vital parts, such as the heart, lungs, and liver. A very important thing, then, was the "breast plate," or piece of iron or brass, covering, as it did, the vital parts of the Roman soldier. Now, we have to ask ourselves, in connection with this, What is this? What have we for a breast-plate to protect us?

One or another says, we must live a righteous life. True, we have to seek to live a righteous life; but this is not the point here. It is this, that we seek continually as weak sinners, to hide ourselves in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In this spiritual conflict there is nothing so important, as that from the very beginning of the spiritual course, we begin as miserable sinners, trusting alone in the righteousness of Christ, - the righteousness which the Blessed One has wrought out for sinners, the righteous­ness in which alone we trust before God. This the only ground on which we expect God to help us, to answer our prayers, and deliver us from the difficulties with which we meet in our spiritual conflict.



It is, then, deeply important to see that we are sinners, miserable and weak in ourselves, but that Jesus is our all and-in all; not only thus at the beginning, but thus we must go on; not only two or three years, not even five, ten, or twenty years, and then trust in our own merits, but that we continue, as long as we live, to depend solely on the righteousness of Christ. It is not only at our con­version that this is so deeply important, when we are made new creatures and enter upon this warfare; but it is equally important at all times in our spiritual life. So that when the devil says-as he will say-"Do you expect to get to heaven, you miserable sinner? You do not deserve it; look at what you have done! No such thing; you need not expect it, you will not get there." When he says that, what is the answer to be? "It is true that I have sinned; yet for Christ Jesus' sake ­miserable sinner as I am -through His righteousness, I shall yet be in heaven." What is the result of this? You rise!

The devil seems to have you down, and seeks to give you your death blow; yet you rise! He seems to have obtained the mastery over you, and yet you rise again, because you trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and not in self, and you stand before God not in yourself, but in Christ. And though a miserable sinner, yet through Jesus, who makes you clean in His blood, you know you will get to heaven at last.

When you thus go to Christ, and take refuge in His righteousness, the devil is outwitted. Therefore remember particularly to have on this breastplate.

If the Roman soldier had not put on his breastplate, how easily he would have been cut down when his breast was unprotected. So it is with us; it is important that we should put on "the breastplate of righteousness."



What is the meaning of this? I invited you last Tuesday evening, to meditate on these verses; you may have considered it, but now consider it again with me. What is the meaning of this-" your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace"?

These soldiers, of whom we have been speaking, did not go bare-footed into the battle; for if so, and it were man wrestling against man, how easily they might slip and fall down while fighting one against the other. Neither did they wear sandals, which would not have afforded full protection to the feet. The common thing amongst these soldiers was to wear strong boots.

Many of my friends may remember the name of one of the Roman emperors, Caligula, which means, "little boot." He was called thus because he became a soldier when very young, and his feet were so small that none of the ordinary soldiers' boots would suit him, and he had to have little boots made on purpose for him. I simply remind you of this to show that the common practice amongst the soldiers was to wear boots, in order that they might be the better helped with regard to their warfare.

Boots also were of especial importance, on account of marching. The roads at that time were rough and rugged, and thus these boots were of great service in the war, as they had to march in rank against the enemy. And so our spiritual boots protect us when on the rough march of life, as also in the hour of conflict, We, who are the children of God, have a provision made for us in this respect, and it is the gospel of peace which God has provided for us, that we may be able to march homewards through the rough paths of life, and even to stand in the hour of conflict.

What is this preparation of the gospel of peace? It means, we are the children of God, and we are no longer at enmity with God, but are at peace with Him. Our sins are for­given in the Lord Jesus Christ. God is well pleased with us for Christ, His dear Son's, sake; and we, having no longer any fear, are at peace with God.

That is the preparation of the gospel of peace, with regard to our spiritual conflict and also with regard to our homeward march. Hold it fast; although thou art a miserable sinner, yet thou art forgiven for Christ's sake. "Through whom we have the forgiveness of sins, accord­ing to the riches of His grace." Though I am a miserable sinner, yet the Father loves me, and I am on the road to heaven, where I shall certainly be at last.

Let the child of God hold fast this hope, and this persuasion of his security, as given in the simple statement of the gospel, and by this he will be able to pursue his march heavenwards, and in the hour of conflict he will be able to stand manfully.

All this by having the preparation of the gospel of peace! How deeply important, then, to have clear views of God's gospel, and that we should receive it simply as the gospel, and not in any way mix it up with our own doings or experience. Some would seem to act as if they are to do what they can, and, what they cannot, the Lord will do. Far be it from us to have such thoughts. He and He alone must do all for us. By His atoning death on the cross, He has borne the punishment due to us for our sins, sins which deserved punishment-and nothing but punishment-and has brought us to this blessed hope and trust that all our sins are forgiven; that God is well pleased with us for Christ's sake, and that, sinners though we are, yet He now delights in us for His dear Son's sake, and He is willing to help us in all our conflicts for Christ's sake. Thus we experience that joy and peace, which will help us on the march to heaven, and in the hour of spiritual conflict. So then, let us make much of this preparation of the gospel of peace, which is spiritually the protection of our feet, even as the old Roman soldiers were protected by their strong boots.


wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." As the words stand here in our translation, one or the other might suppose that those words "above all" indicate that it is of the first importance to have this shield of faith. Now I do not at all undervalue this shield of faith, but only to point out that this "above all" does not mean that it is of more importance than the other parts of the armour. The meaning of it is, "in addition to all;" that is, not leaving it out.

We have already observed the importance of faith, but this again brings before us the deep importance of exer­cising faith; and this not only on this particular point, or on any other particular point, but our faith should be exercised on the whole revealed truth of God. In regard to all that He has said as to this world, or the world to come, as well as the first point, that of believing on His dear Son, whom He hath sent into the world. We have to aim after this, that we should increasingly and truly, and with child-like simplicity, seek to take God at His Word. That is exercising faith, which is here called the "shield of faith."

Now in the case of the Roman soldiers, it was deeply important to be protected by the shield. You all know how important this shield was to ward off dangers, such as arrows and blows of the sword. But it was also of great service in warding off darts. So in the spiritual conflict this shield of faith is given, that the child of God should be able to stand against the fiery darts of the wicked-that is the wicked one-the darts of Satan.



They are called fiery darts, because they are so painful and so pernicious. We all know, in our own experience, the exceedingly painful nature of these fiery darts, and the only way to overcome them is, by using the shield of faith. Exceedingly great temptations are often met with, which tend to make us distrust the love and power of our Father; and the only means of meeting these is, by faith. The best way to illustrate the meaning of faith, as applied to these temptations, is, just to give one or two instances.

For instance, here is a child of God: suppose that he has been regenerated, and for some time has fought manfully against the, evil one, and the allurements of this world. But after a time, perhaps two or three years, he begins to be less watchful. What then?  He goes back again, and begins to love this present world, and soon the temptation comes. "Well, I am afraid I shall not be successful, and after all I shall lose the battle." You all know that a child of God may thus be tempted, and how wretched he will be, till he uses the shield of faith to quench this fiery dart of doubt and mistrust. How shall we use the shield of faith? It is stated regarding the children of God, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." This is true regarding all the children of God; and it is true regarding you. How quickly, when this is used with child-like simplicity, does it quench that fiery dart.

Or in the temptation, which sometimes comes to the child of God, when he is tempted to think that he may, after all, be lost; how does the word of God suit this? Simply by believing what it declares, "None shall be able to pluck them out of My Father's hand." I am one of His sheep, and therefore I cannot be lost. How this will quench the fiery darts of the devil, and give us joy instead of sorrow!



Now one or two points regarding temporal matters, where faith is also of deep importance. Suppose one who has all his life earned his bread by toil. He gets on towards sixty, and presently will be past it. Now Satan begins to trouble him, and says, "You are getting old now; soon there will be nothing remaining for you but the union or the workhouse."

How wretched and miserable a child of God is made by this; but by using the shield of faith he will be able to quench it. "If my Father has cared for me when young, surely He will continue to care for me when old, and when sick, even as in the past. Or, as He says in the Word, 'I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.''' How  quickly this temptation will be quenched. I have seen many of God's dear children who were thus troubled.



One instance I remember distinctly, although it occurred many years ago. It was that of an aged widow, a child of God, who had lived very consistently. She had worked hard with her hands in youth, and now in her old age she began to say, I shall have to go to the work-house. She had some money which she had saved of her past earnings, and she said, "When this is gone I can earn no more, and I shall have to go to the union." I sought to comfort her; I reminded her how God had cared for her in the past, and how He had promised never to leave her nor forsake her; and that as surely as she was a child of God, so surely would He care for her; and that even some of His own children would be led to assist her.

But still the temptation continued, and what was the end of it? Her joy was marred completely for years; she was in deep trouble, simply by this one thought. Yet see how it came to pass at last. One by one the sovereigns were used, and at length it came to the last sovereign; one shilling of it was spent, when the Lord took her to Himself, and there was for her no such thing as the workhouse.

But see how she was losing her spiritual joy, and how her life and her communion with God was marred by this one fiery dart; whereas, if the shield of faith had been used, the devil would have been confounded, and her last years would have been in peace. Therefore, let us use this shield of faith, with the revelation God has been pleased to make of Himself, and we shall soon see the fiery darts of the devil quenched, and have joy.



In the parallel passage in 1 Thessalonians, v. 8, it is, "for an helmet, the hope of salvation." So we have to understand it here, it is the hope of our salvation that is to be our helmet.

All these parts of the armour were of great importance to the Roman soldier; the girdle to bind, the breastplate to defend the vital parts, the boots to protect the feet, and enable them to march firmly, the shield to ward off blows; but although he had all these, there was yet wanting one thing-the iron helmet. Without it, how soon would his head, the most exposed and most tender part of his body, have been injured or hurt. Therefore, the Roman soldier was also protected in this part; his head was protected by the iron helmet.

Thus with the child of God; he has protection for his spiritually weak part, and it is just this-the hope of salvation. While on earth, we go toiling amidst diffi­culties, and trials, and temptations. Often all things seem to be against us, not only the world, but sometimes even the children of God turn their backs on us, and we are left alone, comparatively speaking. Yet, in the midst of it all, there is something unspeakably comforting in this, that makes the heart joyous. What is it? It is "the hope of salvation," the joy of looking forward, and knowing that we shall be in heaven at last.

It is this that keeps us up. The way at times may be very dark, but then it is always a pilgrimage, which is day by day getting shorter as I get nearer home. The journey is ever towards home-nearer, nearer home. It is this bright, blessed prospect of home, home, home ­of complete deliverance from sin and temptation, through the blood of Christ Jesus, which strengtheneth us at such times.

To know that we shall be delivered from the old evil nature, to be brought into a state in which the will of God is carried out by us continually, that the mind of God shall be found in us, and that we shall be with the Lord Jesus Christ, who is now at the right hand of God, and shall be like Him-these are some of the bright, blessed prospects of the state to which we are going.

Therefore, my beloved brethren and sisters, especially the younger ones, when temptation, trial, or difficulty come, and when all seems going against us here, remem­ber that this is not our home, and that we must not expect to enjoy this present evil world. Then think of the Father's house, where there are many mansions, and the bright, blessed, and glorious prospect we' have of that Father's home, and you will find there is not a better lever to lift us above this world than just to contemplate heaven. Oh, make much of it! make much of it!

For fifty years I have known the Lord, and as grey hairs multiply, and as, little by little, I get nearer and nearer, the prospect becomes brighter and brighter; and during many years of sore conflict, trial, and affliction, this has cheered me exceedingly: "I shall soon be home-soon be with my Lord." Therefore make much of this hope, that, even as the helmet protected the Roman soldier, so the hope of salvation may protect you by the way.

Now the last part of the armour:


All the other parts to which we have referred, were in order to protect us from assaults; that is, of a defensive character. Now, here is something to make an attack with a weapon of an offensive character, with which to march against the enemy, and to make inroads on the powers of darkness.

Not only as the children of God are we to know our weakness, we are also to know and to act as those who have God on our side, One who is both able and willing to help us in time of need; and we should go right among the enemies, that we may pluck brands out of the fire, to the praise, and honour, and glory of God.

Beloved fellow Christians, it is the will of the Lord, that we should not only defend ourselves, but that we should also resolutely seek to win souls, and rescue sinners from the snares of the devil, and bring them to the Lord Jesus Christ. For both of these ends there is nothing like the weapon used by our Saviour Himself when tempted, "It is written"; that is, the use of the word of God.

And in order that we may be able to use it to good purpose, we must study it, as I observed last week, regularly and prayerfully, with meditation, and with simple faith, and with self-application. Do not let us reason, but learn, ever to take God at His word with child-like simplicity; and, when occasion arises, bring it out against the devil. Then he will not be able to stand.

This word, the word of God, is also to be used that we may win souls for Christ; and not only with reference to them, but with reference to our fellow-disciples, that we may strengthen their hands, and encourage their hearts against the powers of darkness. We can never make too much of the word of God, which must be in our hands as a sharp sword, "piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit." It is the spiritual sword for the spiritual conflict.



Lastly. "Praying always, with all prayer and suppli­cation in the spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel."

It is not necessary to dwell on this last part, as I have spoken on it again and again. Only this will I observe, that while all the other points, which have been referred to, are deeply important, yet they will not be successful, unless they are coupled with prayer, constant and believing prayer; for if we should attend to all the other things, and put on the whole armour which God has provided for us, and yet not pray, we shall find how weak and helpless we are.

Why is this? Though we are the children of God we are in ourselves weak, and God will have us to recognise our helplessness before Himself. Therefore, as opportunity and time allow, let us give ourselves to prayer. It is most important to have stated times for prayer, and not to leave it to certain impressions. If we leave it to feelings, you will find that you will be less and less inclined to prayer, and soon will be altogether without it; or, in other words, a miserable sinner, without help in the conflict. Have certain times for secret closet prayer, when by ourselves we pour out our souls before God.

In connection with this, let us, as heads of families, have regular family prayer, so that God shall be recognised in the family. As children of God we should also seek to meet with other children of God in prayer, such as prayer meetings. We ought to seek more and more opportunities of fellowship in prayer, as, for instance, in the daily prayer meeting in connection with this hall, where we have met day by day to spread out our wants before Him, and to seek His blessing on our united efforts for the Lord.

Now, my dear fellow believers, attend to these matters which we have been considering, putting on the whole armour of God, accompanied by prayer, and certain I am that you will be happy Christians, holy Christians, and useful Christians. That is what I would desire with regard to all my beloved brethren and sisters in Christ, that they all should be happy Christians; and that they cannot be, except they seek to act according to the mind of God. But acting thus, they will be holy children, and if they walk in His ways and walk with Him, they will also be useful children, as they will be living witnesses for God.

Not only so, but let them aim after being fruitful, bearing fruit thirty, forty, or fifty-fold, and, it may be, sixty-fold. Having attained to this, be not satisfied, but aim after sixty-five, or seventy-fold, and then it might be, and there is no reason that it should not be, a hundred­fold.

May God help us so to live as to bring praise, honour, and glory to His name while life is continued to us!