How We Escaped – By Elmer Shelhamer

Chapter 12

How I Escaped A Shallow Experience In Holiness

It is easy to stop short of the clear witness to heart purity. There are multitudes of people who are continually trying to quiet their fears relative to their true standing with God. As a boy preacher I studied books and men and thus received a high ideal of what it meant to be fully emptied of carnal self and filled with nothing but Divine Love. During those early years I professed to be wholly sanctified several times, but I now see that my instructors rushed me through and hence I stopped short.

After several, months of sweeping victory, I had doubts again whether I had the real experience. When I confided in others, yea, great men, they tried to quiet me by saying that I had the standard too high; that I was trying to get rid of human infirmities and Satan’s accusations. But I replied that I was not troubled with things on the outside, but the inside. Such manifestations as impatience, retaliation, self-will, unchastity, foolishness, flirting and a dozen other things did not bother me for I had complete victory over everything; now I wanted deliverance from everything.

There were two deep hidden things that disturbed me, which God alone beheld; an inward love of human praise and on the other hand an unpleasant sensation when another eclipsed me. No one suspected such things in me, but it seemed if I had heart purity I would detest forever the empty praise of men. And if I did anything worthy of praise, I owed it to my lovely Lord and should feel deeply grieved if He were robbed of any glory. On the other hand, if another surpassed me, I should rejoice that God’s Grace had accomplished more through him than through me. In short, a sanctified heart is supposed to be jealous for His glory, not for my own advancement. If I am always planning for His praise how can I ever accept any for myself? “How can ye believe which receive honour one of another and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?” Mark! He did not say who seek honour, but who receive it when it comes unsolicited. Under the searching light of God I found something within that received honour instead of quickly and gladly handing it over to my worthy Lord. This caused me to cry out, not for a blessing, nor for more activity, but for a mighty deliverance.

I was desperate to get a settled and satisfactory experience. I already had what most people professed, and yet it did not fully meet my expectations. My heart cry was voiced in an old song:

O God, my heart doth long for Thee,

Let me die! Let me die!

Now set my soul at liberty;

Let me die! Let me die!

Die to the trifling things of earth,

They’re now to me of little worth;

My Savior calls — I’m going forth;

Let me die! Let me die!

Oh, I must die to scoffs and sneers,

Let me die! Let me die!

I must be freed from slavish fears;

Let me die! Let me die!

So dead that no desire will rise

To appear good or great or wise,

In any but my Savior’s eyes;

Let me die! Let me die!

When I am dead, then Lord to Thee,

Will I live! Will I live!

My time, my strength, my all to Thee,

Will I give! Will I give!

I’ll work with Thee my Blessed Lord,

I’ll be obedient to Thy Word,

I’ll wield with power the Gospel Sword,

While I Live! While I Live!

Brethren, let me speak plainly! I am convinced that many of the modern holiness leaders are entirely too shallow in their altar work. They have the theory “down pat,” and some of them preach it strong, but sad to say, spoil it all at the altar. They rush the seeker through to a profession by singing or shouting; and the result is, after the high tide dies down — a dissatisfied soul. Then he concludes he has lost the blessing, or goes against his inward feelings and professes more loudly than before. Finally he wearies of this and decides he needs his “Baptism,” and away he goes to those who will encourage him in his seeking. Do not censure this hungry heart; censure yourself, or those who “daubed him over with untempered mortar.”

Finally I heard a mighty man of God tell his experience — how he had preached and professed holiness for years without having it. But when the Holy Ghost revealed to him his depravity — “The depths of pride, self-will and hell,” (as Wesley taught) — he cried out, “Let me die! Let me die!” He said he was three days confessing and deploring carnality, when suddenly the refining fire of God purified him through and through. When I heard this, immediately I said, “This is the Bible route — the death route.” “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified, (not happified, or consecrated) that the body of sin might be destroyed.” The Holy Spirit took me through step by step until I came to the end of myself, when the death-stroke was given and the clear witness received from high heaven that the precious Blood did now cleanse from all sin. Hallelujah!

It was too bad that I did not get proper instruction sooner. And it is too bad today that many of our holiness evangelists fail at this important point. I fear that either they never died the death themselves, or they have gotten into a rut and cannot get out. O brethren, let us do thorough work, remembering that when we let seekers stop short, we are simply preparing more material for some sidetrack movement. Let us stick to the old main line of death to carnality and the infilling of the Holy Ghost. I submit to you that when we give souls time to go to the bottom, they will get such a fiery baptism that all imitations will look like fox-fire in the presence of lightning.