Temptations Peculiar To The Sanctified – Part III
Depreciating The Former Experience
One of the early temptations peculiar to the sanctified, is to underestimate and undervalue their former experience in justification. At times they may be heard to say, “When I was just only converted,” etc., as though that experience had not had much meaning to them. This, of course, is a most serious mistake.
There is absolutely no need nor occasion for anyone to minify or depreciate the experience of justification in order to exalt and magnify the experience of entire sanctification. While we may appreciate the fact that by comparison the latter experience may seem to transcend and outshine the former in its fervor, and freedom, and fulness — in emphatic and ecstatic manifestations — it must, nevertheless, be remembered that the mercy which provides the forgiveness of sins, and quickens a dead soul into newness of life, is the greater miracle; and that without the work of regeneration — at which time we pass from “death unto life” (1 John 3:14; Eph. 2 :1), the experience of entire sanctification would have been impossible.
It is a wonderful, a most glorious experience, to be clearly, and scripturally “born again;” indeed, we think there is nothing comparable to it. And in no sense is it a half-way work. In analyzing the experience of the new birth, it will be seen that at least ten distinct things have taken place, as follows: 1. Holy Ghost awakening, and conviction for sin; 2. An unconditional surrender of the will; 3. . Repentance; 4. The exercise of a lively faith; 5. The pardon and forgiveness of every sin; 6. The quickening of the soul into newness of life; 7. The washing of regeneration; 8 . Adoption into the family of God; 9. The bestowment of love, peace, joy and power to become the sons of God; 10. The witness of the Spirit, attesting, and certifying, the fact of our acceptance with God. While much of this occurs coetaneously — so that to have one is to have the other — they are nevertheless distinct, and all enter into the experience designated as “the new birth.” And this experience will save and keep the soul from sinning. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin” (1 John 3:9). Instead of minifying, we would ever seek to magnify the experience of justification.
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Mistaking Liberty For License
Another temptation peculiar to the sanctified life, is that of mistaking liberty for license. Human nature, like the pendulum of a clock, is inclined to swing from one extreme to the other. Having been in bondage and enslaved by sin for so long a time, and now suddenly emerging into liberty, and the perfect freedom of the Spirit, there is need of constant watchfulness, lest this liberty should be used as “an occasion to the flesh.” There is liberty always to do anything and everything that is right, and pure, and holy; but this must not be mistaken for license to do anything that is doubtful, sinful or unholy. Irreverence, undue familiarity, insubordination, lightness, foolishness, inordinate affection, tending to free-loveism — all these things are the temptations and devices of Satan, in order to destroy the souls of men. To love too much is just as fatal to spiritual life, as not loving enough. Paul said, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient” (1 Cor. 6:12) . “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Gal. 5:1).
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Mistaking Light For Guilt
Another temptation peculiar to the sanctified soul comes as a result of an increase of light. As the Holy Spirit illuminates the mind, and unfolds new duties, and new responsibilities — and thus indicates some things that should be done — such as tithing, or fasting, or the call of God to certain lines of service: or, He may reveal some things that should be left undone — though other devout people may not seem to have any convictions or conscientious scruples in the matter — such as the wearing of gaudy attire, reading secular papers or traveling on the Sabbath, indulging in questionable amusements or doubtful habits — as light and conviction come upon the heart concerning such matters, the enemy is almost certain to accuse and condemn the soul concerning the past, and seek to prove that such a person evidently had not been sanctified — and if the person is not careful at this point, there will be a casting away of his confidence, and a questioning in his own mind whether he really had the blessing: Whereas, such person ought to thank God for an increase of light, which in itself is an evidence that he is growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior.
Such a person has nothing to do but walk in the light, and obey the promptings of the Spirit, and stick to the original contract to which he had agreed when first he made his consecration. No one is expected to do better than he knows, nor is he condemned for what he has not known. But when light is given individual responsibility cannot be evaded. Indeed, light is ever the measure of our responsibility. As Jesus said, concerning this, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.” “This is the condemnation, that light is come . . . and men loved darkness rather than light” (John 15:22; 3:19). It is only when men refuse to walk in the light, and deliberately disobey, that guilt is incurred, and condemnation sets in.
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Gratification of Physical Appetites
Paul said, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:27). Physical appetites, which are God-given, and wholly innocent, may nevertheless become the avenue of temptation, and the occasion of sin, when indulged and gratified excessively. Hence, the body must be kept under, and every physical appetite be brought into subjection, lest the tempter gain an advantage over us. While eating necessary food is God-ordained and absolutely legitimate and necessary, nevertheless, eating that which is known to be injurious, or eating too much and thus becoming gluttonous, is to yield to temptation, and become guilty of sin, While there is no sin in the body — no sin in matter — the body may nevertheless become the occasion and the instrument of sin. “Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). Thus the married, and the unmarried, may sin against the body by forbidden or excessive indulgence of fleshly appetites. Hence the injunction, “As ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity into iniquity, even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Rom. 6:19). “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19, 20).
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Misguided zeal invariably leads to fanaticism. When Satan cannot keep a person in the ruts of a dead formalism he will invariably seek to rush that person over the precipice, into the snares of some soul-destroying fanaticism. While “it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing,” Paul complains concerning the Galatians, “They zealously affect you, but not well” (Gal. 4:17, 18). All fanaticism has in it some phase of truth; but invariably it is distorted truth, and distorted truth is error. It places first what God placed last, or vice versa, and thus diverts the mind from that which is most essential and imperative. Usually a misguided zeal will place undue emphasis upon demonstration, or upon some of the gifts of the Spirit — such as “healing,” or the “speaking in tongues,” or “miracles” — and thus sidetrack the soul from the main line of that “charity,” which is perfect love in a pure heart. A fanatic is not at the first an evil minded person, but one who has a misguided zeal for truth, and has lost his equilibrium, He has “a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2).
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The Temptation To Doubt
The writer to the Hebrews warns against “an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (3:12). Many speak of their doubts, as though it were merely an infirmity, or human weakness, and excuse themselves by saying, “I am just naturally a doubting Thomas;” but instead of doubts being a human weakness, it is a devilishness. To doubt God, is to dishonor Him. A person should no more consent to being a doubter than he would consent to being a thief, or a liar. A thief or a liar might as readily be counted a Christian, as one who doubts God. Doubts invariably proceed from an evil heart. In sanctification this “evil root of unbelief” is utterly destroyed. While the enemy may present or suggest the temptation to doubt, it is instantly rejected by the sanctified heart. There is no soil in a pure heart in which the seeds of doubt and unbelief can germinate and grow. But says one, “I do not doubt God, but I doubt my experience; I doubt that He has sanctified me.” But the whole question here is, Have you fully met conditions? If so, there can be no doubt concerning the faithfulness of God, in doing His part. Surely you would not say that you had met the divine requirements, but you now doubted God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His promises. Remember, “Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb. 11:6); and that He is ever saying,