this is txt file this is txt file UNBLEMISHED PRIESTS

I feel that tonight we want to talk on some subject that will help us in these meetings; something that will stir up our pure minds by way of remembrance. I am going to take our text from the book of Lev., 21st chapter, 16th to 21st verses. Leviticus 21:16-21: "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, speak unto Aaron saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God; for whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach; a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or anything superfluous, or a man that is broken-footed, or broken-handed, or crook-backed, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; no man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire; he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God."

In these verses we have the Lord's statement as to the things that would disqualify a man from serving in the Jewish priesthood; and we understand, dear friends, that these things have an application to the Christian today. We have learned in the Lord's word that the law had a shadow of good things to come, -that the things which pertain to that Jewish Age were pictures illustrative of the things that belong to us and our day.

We find, for instance, that back there in those days they had a high priest. We find that in our day we have a greater priesthood. That priest back there was merely a shadow of this greater high priest. Who is this greater high priest? Paul says in Hebrews that Jesus is the High Priest of our profession. But we find that back there in those days the high priest offered sacrifices, and so our High Priest offers sacrifices. But that high priest back there offered sacrifices of animals and beasts, but our High Priest is not only a greater priest, but He also offered greater sacrifices. What greater sacrifice did He offer? Well, first of all He offered His own self. But we find that back there they not only had the high [PE432] priest; they also had under priests; and we find that today Jesus is not only our High Priest; there are under-priests. In that time there was not merely a priest, but there was a priesthood; so in our day, there is not merely a priest, but there is a priesthood.

We recognize that in those days the under-priests referred to those who imitated the high-priest; they offered sacrifices which were inferior, yet they bore resemblance to them. We find the same thing is true today; for nineteen hundred years there has been in the world a class who have been seeking to imitate the Lord Jesus-a class who appreciate Paul's words when he said in Rom. 12:1, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." And we understand, dear friends, that this sacrificial class constitute the priesthood under Jesus, the great High Priest. It is of this that the Apostle Peter writes when he says in 1 Pet. 2:9: "For ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood." We find then that this Jewish priesthood, this Aaronic priesthood, as it is variously called, is brought to our attention because of the way it illustrates this royal priesthood. The periods in which they presented the history which is recorded of them, the details of their service, is merely parts of the great picture which illustrates this great royal priesthood, in which we are concerned.

And it must be that the passage that we have chosen for our text must have some interest to us. A man though he was, the lineal descendant of Aaron might be disqualified from a place in the priesthood. This doesn't mean that because a blind man couldn't be a Jewish priest, because a lame man couldn't be a Jewish priest, this doesn't mean that no blind people or lame people could be in the royal priesthood. It would be a mistake to make an application along these lines. On the other hand, we should make an application which is exactly parallel with the type. These common mistakes the Roman Catholic church make; you know to this day the Roman Catholic church applies these things in a literal sense. A man, to become a Roman Catholic priest, must undergo a physical examination. Well, now, we are sure that our Catholic friends make a mistake in that. We know that was not the way our Lord intended it to be applied. We are sure, dear friends, that the Apostle was a member of the royal priesthood, but he couldn't be according to the Catholic church. The thought is, these things that might disqualify those people from a place in the natural priesthood, were pictures or illustrations of the things in the spiritual, things that would disqualify a person from a place in the royal priesthood. It was a matter of physical blindness that would disqualify one from a place in the Levitical priesthood, but it is figurative blindness that would disqualify [PE433] one from a place in the royal priesthood. We are going to spend the evening in noticing these spiritual disqualifications. We are so glad that we have learned that this doesn't mean that all are going to be lost that will never be in the royal priesthood. The Lord has arranged.some special things for those who will participate in the royal priesthood.

Now let us notice, first, no one could be a Jewish priest unless he was without blemish.

The man who had any kind of a physical blemish was disqualified. He could not be a Jewish priest. No matter how closely he might have been related to Aaron. And we find, dear friends, along spiritual lines, you and I cannot be members of that priesthood if we have any blemish. "Why," you say, "we are all blemished. How can we have a place in that priesthood?" There is only one way we can be without blemish. How? By taking the Lord Jesus as our Savior. We recognize, dear friends, that this is the thought expressed in Rom. 5:1: "Therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." That is the reason why it says in the 4th chapter of Romans, "Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord will not impute iniquity." And if you and I accept Jesus as our Savior, we are without blemish. In God's sight we look pure. We have the merit of Jesus to base our hope on. I often think indeed how true it is that God looks at us in the face of Jesus Christ as we often express it. That is the way we judge anyone. You look at a man and we look at his face, and if he has a fine intelligence with a fine countenance, you judge him by his head; you don't judge him by anything else. You don't look at his feet; you pass his feet by and look at his head. And so as members of the body of Jesus Christ, God looks at the head and makes allowance for the members of the body, and we rejoice that thus we are without blemish. Now, dear friends, this would indicate that in the book there will not be one who has not trusted in the blood of Jesus Christ. And there will not be one who will have trusted in his own righteousness. There will not be one, but what will have recognized that all our hope will have rested in the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. The only one that merely thought that the death of Jesus was a patriotic matter, the one that didn't really think our salvation would depend upon the satisfaction of justice couldn't hope to have a place in the royal priesthood. Now it comes to the second disqualification. It says in particular he must not be blind.

And so, dear friends, it would imply if you and I are spiritually blind, we cannot be of the royal priesthood. We would understand that there will be a great many in that royal priesthood who will be blind in the physical sense, but dear friends, to be blind in the physical sense, and to be blind in the spiritual sense is a different thing. What would it [PE434] mean to be blind in the spiritual sense? Well, it would mean that we couldn't see that Jesus died for our sins. There are a great many people who cannot see that. They must be blind if they cannot see that the Bible says: "Faith without works is dead." "If I could have all faith so that I could move mountains, and have not love, I am nothing." We recognize the fact then of the necessity for humility, that God resisteth the proud, but giveth His grace unto the humble.

2 Peter 1: "Add to your faith virtue and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly-kindness, and to brotherly-kindness charity, for if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind and cannot see afar off." The Apostle Peter says: The man that says "if you believe in Jesus that is all that is necessary, and live just what kind of life you please," he is blind and cannot be acceptable to our Savior. Belief in Jesus is merely a basis. There will not be one in the royal priesthood but what will have seen that. This does not mean, of course, that all the members of the royal priesthood will have seen exactly the same as one another. The Christian today may see considerably more than the Christian in the Dark Ages. You can see that even now; the man in Mattoon will see more than the man in Nevada. Here in Mattoon the man will see cars, etc., and out in Nevada the man will see only sand hills. Is it because the man in Mattoon has better sight? No; but because there was more to see in Mattoon. And so it is in spiritual sight. The Christian today has more to see than the Christian back in the Dark Ages. The man back there had the privilege of seeing what it was to walk in the footsteps of the Savior. This would indicate that those who accepted Jesus as their Savior and went on to walk in His footsteps, will have a place in the royal priesthood.

Then it says that no man that was lame could be in the Jewish priesthood. And we would understand that, on that same principle, no one who is spiritually lame can have a place in the royal priesthood. What would it mean to be spiritually lame? It would mean simply this: That we would limp. You know there is a verse that says: "Let us limp with patience the race set before us?" And yet I feel that some of the Lord's people look at it that way. The fact is that the Lord is looking for those who are so devoted to Him that they run with patience the race set before them. In Malachi it says, "Ye offer the lame in sacrifice." What would it mean to offer the lame in sacrifice? I would say that here is a brother who has lived a few doors from a certain man. This brother has know that neighbor a long time. They have often walked down to [PE435] work together. They have stood out in front of their houses and talked together, and yet that brother has never made any effort to help that neighbor to see the glad things he sees. Sometimes he has made some.reference to the truth, but they were so vague that if that man had the wisdom of Solomon he couldn't tell what it was. Two years have passed and this brother says, "I have got to be more faithful, and I will call on that neighbor and tell him about the glad things I have seen." Next Sunday he says, "It is pretty warm today and I will put it off till next Sunday." Next Sunday comes and it is pretty warm. The next Sunday comes and he says, "I am not feeling very well today, I will put it off till another Sunday." Next Sunday he says, "I am pretty tired and I will put it off again." And his conscience bothers him, and he says, "Here is this neighbor of mine. We have talked about politics, and the weather and I have never made a real intelligent effort to tell him about the very best thing I know. The things that are very precious I haven't made any effort to tell him at all. Next Sunday I must go and see this man." Next Sunday comes and that brother starts for his neighbor's. Probably he is only wishing he didn't have to go, and after he gets started he half wishes the neighbor won't be at home. He gets there, the neighbor is there, and he says, "Mr. Smith, we have often talked together and the best thing I really know we have never talked about." And he tells Mr. Smith about it.

Dear friends, that brother is using his opportunities, isn't he? But really he is lame, or it wouldn't take him two years to go down the street and tell that man about it. The Lord is not looking for man or woman who wants the Lord to put an opportunity right down in front of them, but the Lord is looking for the man or woman who will make opportunities; who will consider that the service of the Lord is the most desirable thing in life, and, dear friends, they are the ones whom the Lord desires will have a place in that royal priesthood. We recognize that we were all lame in a sense when we started out, but, dear friends, we will have to get out of that lameness. I want to tell you, dear friends, that we will be in that great multitude class if we don't get out of that lameness. I trust you and I will realize the necessity of developing along these lines. This does not mean that we will throw wisdom and cautiousness to the winds. It does not mean that, but it does mean, dear friends, that we will appreciate the opportunity the Lord has given us to such a degree that we will run with all the power and capacity which God supplies us.

We next come to another disqualification here. It tells us that the man who was to be a Jewish priest must not have a flat nose. In our day we would rather speak of it as a broken nose. We can readily understand why the priest could not serve if his nose was broken. The Lord [PE436] intended that those Jewish priests would be his representatives, and the Lord desired that His representatives should make a proper appearance before the people. The Lord knew that the deformed countenance would detract from the dignity he should have. It would have made the priest seem less dignified than would otherwise have been the case. If you and I are not glorifying the Lord in a spiritual sense, then we have a broken nose. "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven." We are told again how our life ought to be such that they will glorify God in the day of visitation. Then it tells again that we are to adorn ourselves with the glory of God. It is to be such spiritual glory as would set an example, as it were, to those around them, and impress them with the fact and influence of the Gospel we proclaim.

I was recently at a place, Midland, Pa. There is a little class there out in the country. A neighbor knew our friend there and knew something of their life, and this is what he said, "There is only one thing I have got against these people. They are trying too much to be like Jesus." I wonder if the people of Mattoon would speak about you that way? We have got to understand that this world will misunderstand our motives, and misconstrue our actions, and yet they ought to say, "I have got nothing against that man unless it is he is trying too much to be like Jesus." When our neighbors look back in the next age they will say something like this: "Well, have you heard that so and so, that neighbor of ours, is one of that royal priesthood?" The other will say: "I don't wonder that is so. I used to think he was a sort of a crank, but those were the days when I didn't know things as I do today. I can see now that there was one of God's jewels. I can see that his whole heart was the Lord's. I can see that the principle desire of his life was to glorify God. I can see with him the all-important thing was to prove faithful to Him who had called him. I can see he is the very one who ought to be there. I can feel all the more confident because he is there." Possibly it might be the other way. Possibly the neighbor would say: "I have heard that so and so is one of that royal priesthood. But I can't make myself believe that is correct. Why look back there in that other age. We didn't view matters as we do today. Since we have come up and learned more perfectly the Lord's methods, I can look back and see that that man was not a man like a consecrated child of God should have been. I used to think that he showed good since. I used to think he was the kind of a Christian everybody ought to be. He didn't put his religion out all the time. I can see now that matters were wrong there. I used to talk with him by the hour and he never talked about religion. It seems to me he was more interested in the things of this world. Why, I know [PE437] he used to be so much interested in certain kinds of pleasure. I used to see him out on the porch reading worldly magazines and papers. I do not think he is one of the royal priesthood. It must be some one else with the same name." And dear friends, of course it couldn't be. A man who didn't live closer to the Lord than that is not going to be a member of that royal priesthood. Think of the men today who are laying down their lives and everything just to be elected president of the United States this fall. Think of the sacrifices made along other lines, and if men are doing that what ought not we be willing to do when we think of that exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

Well then, we come to the next disqualification. It says here that no one could be one of that Levitical priesthood who had any superfluity. Sometimes children are born with an extra finger or toe. We find such a one could not be a member of the Jewish priesthood. We find, dear friends, that this has a typical application. We might say it is another viewpoint from which we might consider the matter. From this other standpoint the great high priest, Jesus Christ, the Head of the church, will not be blind to the needs of the world in the next age, and the great high priest will not be lame, and that great high priest will not have any superfluity, any superficial member; not one too many, and not one too few. We are talking about the matter from the individual standpoint. It is from the individual standpoint that no one will be in the royal priesthood who will have any superfluity. What do you mean by that? Well, I have met sisters who have said that they didn't have time for reading and for volunteer work; yet they would spend hours and hours in doing needle work. Is there anything sinful in that? No; but if you are going to do that, there is a great possibility you cannot be in the royal priesthood. If that sister has to do that embroidery in order to earn a living or even in certain circumstances we can imagine a sister getting in a physical state where that would be to relieve a certain condition, but if she is doing it just simply to waste time, she cannot be in the royal priesthood. The royal priesthood isn't going to be made up of people who gave up merely bad things; but it is going to be made up of people who gave up good things. I am reminded of one brother who had a good farm and earning a good living and he could go to conventions and do a little in connection with the work. That brother was willing to tie himself up like that. The brother was willing to entangle himself up in the last days. That would be perfectly right for a worldly man, but would not be perfectly right for one who is to be of the royal priesthood. I heard one brother giving his experience some time ago. He said there was such a change made in him. Beforehand he would be walking down the street and he would go into a drug store [PE438] and buy an ice cream soda. But he said, "Do I need that ice cream soda? Well, it wouldn't hurt to deny yourself, would it? Put that dime in your pocket and give it to the Lord." He would be going down the street and looking in a store and see a magazine. But he said, "Do I need that magazine? Will that help me to get into the kingdom? Will that give me more time? No; take that fifteen cents and put it with the dime. Now, I have made a quarter for the Lord then and there."

Why, you say, little things like that are not worth paying any attention to. If you and I are going to neglect the little things we will not be of that class that are going to be joint heirs with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know too, we are not in the same condition. Here is a brother who never paid more than a dollar and a half for a pair of shoes. He would think more would be superfluous for a pair of shoes. Another brother would pay seven dollars for a pair of shoes. I know a brother who bought an automobile and he used it to good service. Then another brother bought an automobile and he found it crowding out spiritual things. He realized his automobile was superfluous and he got rid of it as fast as he could. He wanted the Lord to get as much out of his life as he possibly could. If we have got that spirit, dear friends, we can be of the royal priesthood. The great trouble is, you know, we are so ready to promise the Lord what we are going to do, but, dear friends, how hard it is to keep those promises, and yet that is what the Lord is looking for-those who make promises and keep them-not those who make promises and break them. You will hear friends, when arranging for the volunteer work-they say, I haven't done much in the volunteer work; give me a good big territory; and when the work is all over you will find they haven't done anything. They will find some excuse to get out. It is something like Sam Jones, the Evangelist, said some years ago. He brought out a story that some colored men got in a storm and one prayed so and so; if he would not be struck by lightning, he would serve the Lord, and one says, "You know you won't do that," and he says, "Yes, You know I was only fooling the Lord." The Lord will expect us to try to keep our promises. Are we ready to make promises, and then find some way in which we will not have to keep them? In your life, and in my life, we have superficial things, and we want the Lord to get as much out of our sacrifice as He can. We want Him to get as much out of our lives as possibly can be gotten.

The next disqualification: it says that no one could be a Jewish priest if he was broken footed. He would be worse off than the man who was lame. He would have to use crutches. You and I cannot be in the royal priesthood if we are lame; if we have to use a pair of crutches. The crutches with some are their business. When their business goes [PE439] smoothly they wouldn't miss a meeting. They have a smile for every one; and if any one is down-hearted, they say, "cheer up, brother, the cloud has a silver lining." But if their business goes wrong, they will come to meeting and keep silent. Their crutches was good business. Sometimes a brother out on the farm makes his crops his crutches. If crops are prosperous, he is a good brother. I know one class that had a rather peculiar kind of crutches. I advised the friends to have meetings and they agreed that they would, and I saw one of the brothers some time after, and I said, brother, are you having your meetings now, and he said, "after you were here we started to have meetings and the first Sunday we had a fine time; the second Sunday too; and the third Sunday we hardly had a neighbor out. And the fourth Sunday we had beautiful weather and didn't have any one there but the four friends in the truth. No one came to sing for us, and we couldn't get along without singing." We find that the crutches were the young people who sang for them. The Lord will hold us up Himself. Sometimes, here and there, fellowship will be the crutches. We want to be so that if there was not a brother around we would be faithful.

Then we get to the next disqualification: He says that no one could be a member of the Jewish priesthood if he was broken handed, and so we might understand we may be disqualified from a place in the royal priesthood if we were broken handed. A man who was broken handed couldn't hold on to anything. The Scripture says we must hold fast. But how can we hold fast if we are broken handed? We find many people who will come to meeting when a pilgrim will come around, but they won't come out any more until the next pilgrim comes around. We find this same thing in protracted meetings. The Lord is not looking for spasmodic, intermittent Christians. He is looking for those who will take hold and keep hold.

The next disqualification He brings to our attention is the fact that the Jewish priest must not be a hunch back, must not be a crook back. The man who was hunch back, because of a deformity to his spine, could not lift the sacrifice to the altar. If you and I are spiritually hunch back, if we can't bear the burden of persecution, then we are not ready for a place in the royal priesthood. We want to be ready to stand up under any burden. We don't have to bear it by ourselves, but the Lord will help us.

The next disqualification that is brought to our attention is that of being a dwarf. No dwarf could be a member of the Jewish priesthood. A dwarf would be one who was under-developed. We would find sometimes cases where a child would grow until eight years old, and never grow any more. He was a dwarf. A spiritual dwarf can't be in the royal [PE440] priesthood. I met a spiritual dwarf some time ago. I saw he had not been in the truth very long. I said to him, "brother, how long have you known these truths?" "Why," he says, "brother, I have been in the truth twenty years." There are two cases of dwarfs. The one is the case of the person who grows for a while and then stops growing. There is another kind, the more frequent kind; you will find a man who has stopped growing in body, but his head has not, and he has a head for a man of about sixty, but a body for a person of about seven or eight. And so we meet spiritual dwarfs like that and we see some that their love and humility has not grown, but oh, their head has grown. They could quote you the Bible. They are dwarfs. I trust we are of those who grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We want to grow in all respects. We want our zeal to grow our humility to grow, and we want to grow in knowledge. The spiritual dwarf doesn't have control of his growth. If you are not growing very much it is because you are not as faithful as you ought to be.

But then in the next place we see that no one could be a member of the Levitical priesthood, if he had a blemish in his eye. Now we saw a while ago that if he was blind he couldn't be n the priesthood. But here we are told that if a priest had a blemish in his eye, if he was near-sighted, or had a cataract on his eye, he was disqualified from a place in the Aaronic priesthood. And so, dear friends, if you and I have got any blemish in our spiritual vision, we could not be in the royal priesthood. Sometimes it is pride that injures our spiritual vision; sometimes envy, and sometimes other things. Now, I think, dear friends, there is so much to see of that. We have got to be so careful to get these blemishes out of our lives. I had an illustration of that in my own experience after the convention in Mountain Lake Park. The pilgrim brethren were invited up to Brooklyn for a few days, and Brother Russell sent an invitation to the ministers of Brooklyn to come. Quite a number of the ministers and neighbors came in, and that night they had arranged that they should have supper down in the dining room. The pilgrim brethren were arranged as a committee to serve them. So it was arranged that these ministers should be sprinkled around amongst the brethren with the object in view of talking to them. One of the brethren was master of ceremonies. He read off the names and they responded. After a while he called out "Reverend Barton," and I tell you I was shocked. Now I felt bad. I just decided I was not going to go; I just stood still. One or two of the friends said, "that is your name," but I didn't go. Then at last he said, "Brother Barton," and I went. We had a two hours' question meeting, but for the first fifteen minutes it was spoiled for me. All I could think of was "Reverend Barton." After supper was over I wanted [PE441] to find out the reason for it. I went to that brother and said, "brother, why do you call me Reverend Barton?" Well, I found out that there was a minister in Brooklyn named Barton and it was arranged that he was to sit at the same table with me. Well, Reverend Barton meant him, and Brother Barton meant me; and I had all my feelings for nothing. Now, thus, dear friends, we don't want any blemishes in our eyes. We don't want our vision marred by pride. We find it can be marred in so many ways.

We will find sometimes brethren whose spiritual vision is so affected that there are opportunities for service, and yet they will not use these opportunities. I trust with us our spiritual vision is not bad.

Well then, he tells us next that no one could be a member of that Jewish priesthood who was scurvy. Scurvy was a disease, and a disease of a peculiar nature, and in some respects it is a disease that is very largely expected by sailors that travel to different parts of the world where they must live on sailing vessels for months on certain kinds of food. We find a cause for spiritual scurvy is failure to meet with the people of God. If you and I don't have any spiritual fellowship; if in our community there is not any of God's people, then God will make up for it. But if we have the opportunity and don't do it, then we will have scurvy. If you and I don't love to meet with the People of God today then how will we be able to spend eternity with them?

He gives the next disqualification: No one could be a Jewish priest if he was scabbed. It really means to have the itch. That is the very significance of scabbed in a sense. Doctors call it scabies. If you and I have got the spiritual itch we will never be in that royal priesthood. What do you mean by spiritual itch? I met a brother once who had the itch. The first thing he said was, "tell us something brand new, Brother Barton." No matter whether it was good or not; but it was to be brand new. He was itching, you see. I knew a brother that, if he knew I was going to talk on something new tonight, he would walk twenty miles to be here, but if I was going to talk on patience he would not come across the street to be here. Some itch to be elders. Some itch to bring out new questions. Maybe he has question No. 4 in mind. When they talk about question No. 1 he is not thinking about question No. 1. He misses all the good things in question No. 1. Then question No. 2 comes up and he misses all the good things in that; he is thinking about that fine point in question No. 4. Then question No. 3 comes up. Why, he is itching worse than ever now; it is so near. Probably some brother in question No. 3 proves conclusively that his point in question No. 4 is all wrong, but he doesn't get it. The question No. 4 comes up and he gives his fine point, and he wonders why the class doesn't see it. He doesn't know. [PE442] that his point was exploded ten minutes before. He was itching. Sometimes a brother itches to get the better part of an argument with somebody. It is just like physical itch-something wrong in our blood.

And then, dear friends, we have the last disqualification. I want to remind you of one point. You and I might have none of these disqualifications and yet there might be a hidden disqualification; there might be there a little pride or a little selfishness that we are treasuring up. It says: "Keep thou me from secret faults." We want to get rid of everything that is out of harmony with our spiritual welfare if we are ever going to hear him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Some way it almost discourages me if I have to attain to all that. It would be impossible in our own strength, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. We will find ourselves rising above all these things that might prove our unfitness for a place in the royal priesthood. And by God's grace we may finally be accounted worthy of a place in that kingdom.

Dear friends, don't let us be discouraged, because the very time we are thinking of being discouraged may be the very time the Lord is about to say to you, the time has arrived to allow you special help and special victory along these lines. I often think: "Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory." If you find you are not gaining some headway in some particular line, don't be discouraged; he will give the victory. We have got to strive and fight as though the victory depends upon us, but we have got to trust that tit will be given to us. When the victory comes it will not be because we were striving, but because He gives the victory through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us realize that the things worth striving for are the things laid before us in this Gospel of Jesus Christ.