How To Keep From Sinning
I have advanced, I think, no new ideas in discussing this subject, and I have no new theory to advance in the study of the subject of the present chapter. The utmost I aim at, is to go back to first principles, and to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance. I simply urge all to do as I aim to do, to “Seek for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.
“Now in order to keep from sinning, there must be first of all the belief that such a condition is possible; nor can this belief be reached in any controversial spirit. “But let God be true and every man a liar,” so I advise that His verdict be obtained upon the question.
It must be that God will give a definite and clear cut answer to this question, when it is asked in good faith. What I may say on the subject, of “How to keep from sinning,” will of course be of service only to those who get an answer from God in the affirmative.
Taking my practical definition of sin into consideration, I must believe that, there will be essential agreement with my position, and I have to take that for granted, in order to proceed with the discussion of the most important part of this all important subject.
This whole matter of Divine Guidance is a matter of faith pure and simple, and it is this fundamental principle of the Christian life, projected into all the future, and into all the details of life.
When we first exercised faith in God for the forgiveness of our sins, it was at once honored, and our sins were forgiven, and at that moment there was no sin upon our souls. God’s approval was as clear as the noonday sun. There was no doubt at all, but what He was then well pleased with us, and delighted in our confidence and love. Now all I claim is, that this state may be perpetuated without a break, providing the original condition of faith remains intact. For what God can do for us in one moment or during one hour, He can perpetuate during all the hours of our pilgrimage.
Our first act of faith was, that God would, or did then and there, pardon our sins and adopt us into His family; and the faith to be exercised subsequently through life, differs only from this act, in that, it is a faith for the perpetuation of that which is already a fact, that is, the full assurance that God is with us constantly, and will by His almighty power and grace, keep our souls in innocence, and preserve us in the integrity of our hearts; as before stated, a faith to be kept in the position we were then in.
It is true that, there are but few persons who learn this lesson in the beginning; and so the average experience of Christians is that of sinning and repenting, the humiliating experience of doing what ought not to be done, and leaving undone what ought to be done. Instead of saying ” My soul shall make her boast in God,” and constantly having the electric wire of faith, which attaches the poor weak soul to the limitless power of the Holy Ghost, always connected, the connection is very often broken, and the spiritual machinery of the Christian is at a stand-still.
But many a Christian has learned the reason for his failure to do the will of God, and has once and for all, learned the perpetual faith act; so that now he is kept from falling into sin, and never knows what it is to stand condemned, either before God, or at the bar of his own conscience.
When one knows how to do this, it is very easy and simple, but practically it seems to be a hard lesson to learn; for few know the happy secret, and many being conscious of their own earnest endeavors to solve the problem, and having failed, declare that it cannot be done. I do not know why God has conditioned most of His greatest blessings on knowledge, but it is a fact, and today God can say as of yore, “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” Our faith to be kept from sin must take in the following conditions among others.
First. That the Holy Spirit dwells in us; and that His exclusive business, so far as we are concerned, is to teach us the will of God, and cause us to do it. We must place no reliance whatever, upon our good resolutions, or good works, or upon ourselves, or our fellows. We must not depend upon any outward helps whatsoever, or upon any so called religious feeling, but know and act as we know; that the Holy Ghost and He alone, can keep us in a condition constantly well pleasing to God.
Second. Our faith must be absolute. There must be no expectation that the Holy Spirit will permit us to do anything that will displease God. Our faith must be a certainty that He will, and does, keep us from sinning. If our faith has one broken link, or allows even one little sin in the life, the entire chain of faith is useless. There must be the conviction of certainty, “That faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it;” in response to Paul’s prayer, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God that your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Third. Then the faith must be fundamental. That is the Holy Spirit must be allowed to make the laws for our life, and He will not build upon our human ideas. He will not build upon any pious, or other conception that we may have, of what a Christian should do. He will not even share this work with us, so that as long as we have any vestige of our own will, or in any measure expect Him to build to our plans, He cannot work His almighty power in us. We must believe that He is able to communicate to us at all times, what we ought to do, and that He does so. To have any fear that, such an abandonment to the Holy Ghost will be a failure or in any way disastrous, is an effectual barrier to our enjoying the blessing here spoken of.
To start on this life as an experiment, is an impossibility; for it must be entered forever, or can be entered never. All who pass over the river of creed guidance, or self-guidance, or common sense guidance, to the Holy Spirit for His guidance, must pull up all the bridges behind them. Over the portals of one of the infernal regions, in Dante’s conception of the lost, are these words, “All hope abandon, ye who enter here”; and with the addition of one word, this language must be applied to all who enter this earthly paradise, “All other hope abandon, ye who enter here.”
The Holy Spirit must be the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the one only Guide, and Planner of our life, and then, He will keep us always in a condition well pleasing to Him.
Fourth. This faith must not depend upon sight. It is a faith in the Unseen, and the Invisible; a full dependence upon that which is in no way tangible, to the outward senses. It is a confident start upon the invisible bridge, which spans the yawning chasm between the present and the unknown future. It is Abraham starting on a journey he knew not whither, and for possessions he knew not what, only in so far as he put his reliance upon the unseen God, who had spoken to him in a voice without sound. If there is no God, or if He cannot or will not now make known His will to the faithful soul; or if the story of Noah, of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, and Joseph; of Moses, of Gideon, of David and Samuel, of John the Baptist and of Jesus, is mythical and not historical, then he is a fool who abandons the seen for the Unseen, and risks his all in a God who exists only in the excited imagination of fanatics. But if the Bible God is a real God; if He who gave speech can speak : and if He who made the ear can Himself hear; if the story of the many men, both in and out of the Bible, be true, that God does indeed dwell with, and talk to men; then he is a wise man who commits himself without sight to such a God.
Fifth, But this faith will be justified by results, in the daily life and experience of all who dare thus commit themselves to the unseen Holy Spirit. Each successive step on this journey is a faith step; but when the step is taken, it then becomes knowledge, for the foot strikes solid ground. Each new day is started in naked faith; but when to-day becomes yesterday, the faith is justified by the results; and the glorious facts of each day’s experience, can be subjected to the most searching scrutiny. Each day will be a day of complete victory over the world, the flesh and the Devil. Such a soul linked to the Almighty, will go forth “From conquering and to conquer,” and daily make her boast in God.
Instead of the daily wail of doing what ought not to be done, and leaving undone what ought to be done, and being conscious of sinning in thought, word and deed; there will be the exultant experience of, “Now being dead unto sin, we have our fruit unto holiness, and the end is everlasting life;” “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” For while they that are in the flesh cannot please God yet, they who are in the Spirit and in whom the Spirit of God dwells, do constantly please him; “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,” “The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God.” And thus, our comfort and dependence, is not in ourselves, but our daily song of praise to God is, “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, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”