And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh…
And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, &c. The life of man, whether longer or shorter, is a time during which the Spirit of God strives with him. It is at once in judgment and in mercy that the strife is not prolonged; for where there is continued opposition to the will of God there is continual laying up of judgment against the day of wrath. The allotted time of man upon the earth is sufficient for the required probation, clearly manifesting the direction of the will, the decided choice of the heart. Here is -
I. THE GREAT MORAL FACT OF MAN'S CONDITION IN HIS FLESHLY STATE. The striving of God's Spirit with him.
1. In the order of the world and of human life.
2. In the revelation of truth and positive appeals of the Divine word.
3. In the constant nearness and influence of spiritual society.
4. In the working of conscience and the moral instincts generally.
II. THE DIVINE APPOINTMENT OF SPIRITUAL PRIVILEGE at once a righteous limitation and a gracious concentration. That which is unlimited is apt to be undervalued. Not always shall the Spirit strive.
1. Individually this is testified. A heart which knows not the day of its visitation becomes hardened.
2. In the history of spiritual work in communities. Times of refreshing generally followed by withdrawments of power. The limit of life itself is before us all. Not always can we hear the voice and see the open door.
III. THE NATURAL AND THE SPIRITUAL ARE INTIMATELY RELATED TO ONE ANOTHER IN THE LIFE OF MAN. He who decreed the length of days to his creature did also strive with the evil of his fallen nature that he might cast it out. The hundred and twenty years are seldom reached; but is it not because the evil is so obstinately retained? Those whose spirit is most in fellowship with the Spirit of God are least weighed down with the burden of the flesh, are strongest to resist the wearing, wasting influence of the world.
IV. THE STRIVING OF GOD'S SPIRIT WITH US MAY CEASE. What follows? To fall on the stone is to be broken, to be under it is to be crushed. The alternative is before every human life - to be dealt with as with God or against him. "Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!" The progressive revelations of the Bible point to the winding up of all earthly history. Not always strife. Be ye reconciled to God. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.