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DEAD TO SIN
That many who profess the blessing of entire sanctification are greatly lacking in some of its essential elements is painfully evident. They are not “blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke.” They do not “shine as lights in the world.” Not that one can reach on earth such a state that those who are disposed to find fault with him can not do it. This is impossible. Our Saviour was perpetually found fault with by the most noted religionists of His day, and at last put to death by them. But we may get where we have the constant approbation of God;—where we please Him in all that we do, and in all that we say. Our lives may be in harmony with His word taken in its plain, evident meaning.
1. Some have not the courage to bear a faithful testimony for God and His truth. They speak against sin in the general, but they are careful not to attack, in a determined manner, popular sins. They pass them over in a way not calculated to attract attention. Where it is fashionable for professing Christians to dress like the world they have nothing to say against it. If the preacher’s salary is raised by renting the pews, they let it pass in silence, though the Bible plainly forbids it. If men prominent in the Church belong to secret, oath-bound societies they do not try to convince them that this stands in the way of their salvation. In short, they shun to declare the whole counsel of God. They tell many truths. But they are not thorough. The work they do is superficial. If they are themselves saved at last, it will be, as by fire.
2. Some evidently have not the love that is essential to salvation. They abuse, in no stinted manner, those who do not give them the endorsement they want. When things go contrary they behave very much as men of the world do when they are downright mad; yet they insist upon it that their bitter denunciations and personal invectives are prompted by love. They seem to forget that “love worketh no ill to his neighbor.” Towards those who favor them, but give no other evidence of superior piety, they are kind and complacent.
3. Others are self-willed. They seem consecrated, but it appears to be to have their own way. They make it a point of conscience to have every one come to their terms and submit to their conditions. They are bold and courageous, in defense of their own opinions and actions. They make the way to heaven so narrow that it seems almost impossible for any one to travel in it. After getting those who oppose them out of the church, if they can, they generally end with either joining the formal, fashionable church which they have specially denounced; or they become a sect in themselves.
The trouble in these and similar cases is, there is an effort to get that sanctified to God, which is not capable of being thoroughly and permanently sanctified—the old nature. The Apostle says:
“Put off . . . the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.”—Eph. 4:22.
The modern interpretation is, “Sanctify him.” So he makes an effort to get sanctified, and professes that it is done. But he will not stay sanctified. It is like putting a thin coating of silver on an iron spoon. A little wear brings the base material to the surface. A few knocks, and the old nature is apparent. The coating here and there comes off and he presents the appearance of being sanctified in spots.
There is an experience which will enable us to stand true to God, and true to our own convictions everywhere. Job had it. Paul lived in this state till death. God’s true saints have had it in all ages. Paul tells us in his own experience how it is obtained.
“I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”—Gal. 2:20.
Crucifixion was a lingering death. It was not sudden, like decapitation. The victim might linger in agony for days. So, one does not die out to the world all at once. The struggle between the life of self and death to self, the world, and sin may go on for a long time. But the sooner it is ended the better. The sudden piercing of the spear, though it may look cruel, is really an act of mercy. Anything that keeps the old nature alive but protracts the misery and postpones the triumph. For after death cometh the resurrection life.
Crucifixion was a death inflicted by others. The victim was simply passive. Others nailed him to the cross—others planted the cross in its place. Many fail to go forward in their experience because they lose sight of this truth. They do not accept the ill treatment that they receive because of their fidelity to Christ, as a part of their necessary discipline. They blame those who inflict it. Resentment takes the place of submission. They give blow for blow. When reviled they pay it back as best they can. If led to the slaughter they make desperate and successful efforts to escape. They will not consent to be nailed to the cross. Their whole life is a life of self. They may be very zealous, but it is the zeal of John and not of Paul. They spare no pains to herald their devotion to Christ. “Come and see my zeal for the Lord of hosts.” They may be exceedingly plain and outspoken, and uncompromising; but they are simply acting out their natural disposition, modified and restrained somewhat by grace. It is a great opportunity for growing in grace and becoming strong for God that we miss, when we refuse to suffer patiently the wrongs inflicted upon us, it may be, by those who ought to stand by us. Diamonds are found in beds of gravel. The worthless clay becomes fitted for the walls of a palace by becoming molded into shape and passing through the fire. The passionate, the proud, the self-willed, the worldly, may be fitted for a heaven of purity by consenting to die unto sin and unto the world. All they have to do is, to get and to keep the consent of their wills; the cross will be duly prepared. Let them quietly submit, the work will be done. More submission would make greater saints. We fail to get a solid experience because we will not hold still and suffer the crucifixion to go on and become completed. We do not reap the result desired because we will not accept the process. Our claim to having faith in God is worthless, so long as we refuse to have confidence in His mode of working. Faith in God is faith in His providence as well as in His word. It believes in what He does, as well as in what He says. Job saw the hand of God in making him poor, as well as in making him rich.
“The Lord gave; and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.”—Job 1:21.
He blessed the Lord in his affliction, and the Lord blessed him out of his affliction. His latter state was better than his first.
The only way to life is through the valley of the shadow of death. The worm weaves its shroud to get its wings. It dies to the earth that it may live in the air. After the crucifixion of self comes the resurrection to life. As the old nature dies we are transformed into the divine nature. The change is real, and may be permanent. The whole being is changed. The intellect is stronger and more active. Truth is comprehended and retained more easily than before. The conscience is corrected, and invested with sovereign authority over the entire man. Truth is loved and sought after and embraced. There is a keen sensitiveness to right and wrong. The side of right may have but few adherents, and they despised; but it can never be so unpopular that it is not, when seen, espoused and defended.
The body appetites undergo a great transformation. Those that are unnatural are removed. Those that are natural and right within proper limits are subdued and brought into subjection to reason and conscience. The reins of government have passed from the carnal to the spiritual. He is still in the body, but not in the flesh. The flesh no longer dominates and controls. A blessed harmony prevails throughout his entire being. One thus saved is no longer at war with himself. The rebel is dead. The “I”that made trouble is crucified. It no longer lives. Christ has taken possession. He sits upon the throne of the affections. The words and actions prompted by His Spirit are in harmony with His teachings,
“It is a faithful saying: for if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him he also will deny us.”—II Tim. 2:11,12.
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