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CHAPTER 20

HOW RETAINED

It is not necessary to teach us how to lose our health. Works on Hygiene do not attempt to do that. A simple neglect of the laws of health will bring on disorder, disease, and finally death. To become a confirmed dyspeptic one does not need to commit some striking and willful act of disobedience to the laws of our physical being. Many a person has lost his health without being able to tell how he lost it.

So the Bible does not teach us how to lose holiness. It gives us very explicit directions how to keep it. We give a few.

The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men even as we do toward you: to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”—I Thess. 3:12, 13. “If ye do these things ye shall never fall, for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”—II Peter 1:10, 11. “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last times.”—I Peter 1:5.

Notice, in each of these passages there is something spoken of for us to do if we would keep holiness and get through to Heaven. In the first, we are told that we must “increase and abound in love one toward another and toward all men.” What we had when we were converted, or when we were sanctified wholly is not sufficient. It is not enough that we grow in knowledge; there must be a marked increase in love. We must abound in it—not merely toward those who love us, but toward “all men.”

In the second passage we are directed to do certain things. By reference to the preceding verses we shall find that the “things to be done” in order that we may “never fail,” are Christian graces to be added to the beginnings of these graces received when we were converted and when we were sanctified wholly.

Some lakes and inland seas are without outlets; but none are without inlets. Insensible evaporation would soon dry up the largest of them, if its waters were not receiving a constant addition. The sturdiest tree would soon die if it could derive no nourishment from earth or air. So no matter how much grace a person received when he was converted, and how great an increase was realized when he was sanctified wholly, if he does not go on in his experience and grow in grace he will become dry and unfruitful, spiritually dead, and insensible to his condition. His outward conduct may be without reproach, but his power is gone. To keep a house in good order repairs must be made as need requires; to keep wealth one must be acquiring wealth; to keep learning one must be adding to his store of learning, and to keep holiness one must be steadily “perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.”

In the third passage quoted, we are taught that it is the power of God that keeps us. This is frequently stated in the Scriptures.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”—Jude 24.

God’s power is adequate to carry us safely through any emergency that can possibly arise. However numerous and strong may be our enemies, God can easily overcome them. Whatever difficulties may stand in our way He can remove them. If a sea lies in our path He can open a passage through it. If a mountain would stop our progress He can give us wings like an eagle and enable us to soar above it. In the furnace He can keep us. In the desert He can feed us. Nothing is too great or too hard for the power of God. It is almighty. He who is kept by the power of God is kept in safety. He is willing, nay anxious to keep us all. He is just as ready to keep one as another. Then why are not all kept? The reason is found in us, and not in God. We are kept through faith. This faith is a voluntary trust on our part. One is kept, because he, of his own free will, exercises faith in God. Another doubts, and thus severs his union with God, and he in consequence falls into darkness and at last into sin.

There are many passages of Scripture which teach that we are kept by the infinite love and power of God. But, like those we have considered, they imply or express conditions which we are to meet. These conditions are important. If we meet them, we keep the grace which God has given us. If we fail to meet them then we lose the blessing of holiness. Many lose it in this way without knowing it. This was the case with the minister of the church of Ephesus. He was so active, so patient, so orthodox, and so zealous for the purity of the church that he had not the slightest idea that he had met with any serious loss. His zeal against evil-doers and false teachers, had taken the place of the tender love he had in other days. He considered himself radical, and uncompromising, and established in the faith. But Christ pronounced him fallen.

Reader, have you had a clear experience of being sanctified wholly? If not, then seek it at once. You cannot afford to live another day without it.

If you have obtained this blessing are you keeping it, clear and fresh? You may keep up the profession. Many do, long after they have lost the blessing. There may be nothing particularly amiss in their conduct or conversation, but they do not bring forth the fruits of holiness. They have not its joy or its power. They lack its gentleness, its meekness, its simplicity. Their profession is based upon reasoning or habit, and not upon the direct witness of the Spirit.

Beloved, how is it with you at the present time? Are you fulfilling the conditions on which the keeping of the blessing of holiness depends? If you are not increasing and abounding in that tender, unselfish love that makes you careful of the reputation of others, and considerate of their interests and happiness; if you are reckless in your statements, and ready with damaging insinuations against those who do not agree with your opinions; or if, on the other hand, you are light and trifling, gradually conforming to the world in your conversation, in your dress, and in your business, then you have every reason to believe that you have lost the blessing of holiness. Be honest with yourself: welcome the light, and humble yourself before God, and seek to be right with Him no matter how much of humiliation it may involve.

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