We now approach a phase of truth which we believe very vital to a proper conception of the glorious economy of holiness. It is a phase, we grant, too often ignored and overlooked by many advocates of heart purity.
There is associated with this marvelous work of heart cleansing a suppression, not of sin, but of the propensities, affections, and appetites of the sanctified. In the words of Dr. A. M. Hills, “Man is a complex being, a little world in himself, an animal and an angel dwelling together. Body and soul, reason and passion, conscience and desire, are often opposing and conflicting forces, and man is left in doubt to act or rest — in doubt to deem himself a God or beast — in doubt his soul or body to prefer.”
Such a being needs guidance and restraint. The fiery steeds of passion must be put under bit and bridle, and be made to obey the dictates of right reason instead of breaking away under the spur of desire. There is no natural and essential principle of our nature that needs to be, or can be eradicated, but there are many that need to be subordinated and restrained. The abnormal and the depraved in them need to be removed by sanctifying grace. The Bible perfectly reveals this the only way of harmonizing reason and conscience with the conflicting emotions and turbulent passions, bringing them all into submission to the perfect will of God. It does not teach us to abuse and to waste the body by torturing asceticism, nor does it surrender us to the supremacy of wasting passions. It forbids everything that is malevolent and selfish and harmful; it permits whatever is benevolent and calculated to enhance the good of man and the glory of God. It excludes one from no enjoyment that is compatible with the highest good. It demands no self-denial, but that willing sacrifice of perfect love.” Holiness does not by any means dehumanize a person. It removes the carnal element but not the human element. We are still intensely human, in fact more normally human than hitherto.
Many advocates of heart purity have, unintentionally, assumed an attitude of silence toward the problems of vital living following the glorious experience of heart cleansing, thus leaving many important and delicate problems of holy living obscured and unanswered. This silence has but contributed confusion and ofttimes a superficial ethics of holiness. We would by no means imply that this has been a deliberate evasion, but rather an assumption that the sanctified life would automatically care for itself. This very neglectful attitude has inferred to many either no necessity for the consideration of Christian ethics or an impossible state of perfection. There is a definite relationship between the experience of a clean heart and the moral conduct of the possessor.
It is high time, therefore, that holiness preachers teach more constantly, line upon line, precept upon precept, that consistency of conduct which is compatible with a profession of perfect love. Not only is this the case, but clear and patient instruction at this point would remove barriers of prejudice preventing honest souls from obtaining a precious experience now unknown to them. This rather inconsistent silence on the ethics of holiness has granted to its opponents grounds of complaint and argument that have materially impeded the progress and defense of this vital truth. We would in no wise infer that we can ever hope for a reconciliation of antagonistic teaching. Such would be a wild dream. Yet there are, we feel certain, thousands of stable-thinking people who would be won wholeheartedly to the espousal of our cause did they but fully understand our position.
We repeat — holiness does not dehumanize the individual. God endowed man with an emotional nature as a complement to both intelligence and will. This emotional nature still exists in the life of the sanctified even though marred and distorted by the shock of Sin. Propensities, appetites and affections must be recognized in the life of the sanctified. They must be controlled and cultured into harmonious consistence with true holiness. There are those God-given propensities placed in the human personality by infinite design: the social instinct, curiosity, self-preservation and kindred qualities.
God purposely endowed man with that quality we term social instinct. Man was made like God in his longing for fellowship. There is a reason for man’s natural affinity with his fellows. He is a gregarious creature by divine endowment, a reflection of the very nature of his Creator. For after the Infinite hand had peopled the heavens with innumerable hosts; had populated both land and sea with living creatures, still God’s heart yearned for fellowship. So He formed man out of the dust of the ground but in His own image He made him, the answer to the cry for fellowship in the heart of God. No wonder, we repeat, is it a surprising thing to find this propensity in man wherever he dwells. The complexities of modern life, then, are not merely a superficial reaction without an apparent cause. Man innately cleaves to his fellows, and although the cost of such relationship is high, he shuts his eyes to the price he must pay and jostles the multitudes in the hot and stifling cities of the world.
Right here, then, is a place for suppression. This native tendency must be held in check when its outworking hinders a close walk with God. One must learn when to leave the busy multitude and frequent the chamber of meditation and prayer. Right here is one of the keen tests of Christian life. Those who have seen this danger and have suppressed their natural yearning for their fellows for the sake of communion with their Maker, have learned the secret of power. That man who persistently and habitually withdraws from the warm touch of people for the sake of daily communion with his Saviour, has ever been the man who has led the line of the spiritual hosts of his generation. And the converse is just as true. That Christian, regardless of state of grace, who does not learn that vital secret of the proper suppression of his social desires for the place of prayer will soon lose that glow and warmth of heart found only in the secret presence of his Lord. This social instinct however sanctified will ever tug against the call to prayer.
Then again there is that propensity we call curiosity. Treat as lightly as you choose the curiosity of the human mind, yet you cannot check that burning thirst for knowledge. God put it there in the human breast assuming that man would use it to exploit the good and holy and become acquainted with the Infinite. Sad was that fall that prostituted this noble zeal for truth. Yet, withal, there it remains throbbing in the human breast even after the heart has been purified from sin. [No parent has the right to stifle that untiring “why” of the child. God placed it there that it might grow and expand in the knowledge of life and things. And thus it goes. All that has been accomplished in the onward march of science and invention finds its source in this God-given propensity, but that one who professes holiness of heart must vindicate his profession by suppressing this inclination to proper channels.) He who claims relationship with the Trinity of heaven must learn the art of suppressing his curiosity from unethical and indelicate intrusions into the lives of his fellows. Some who have boasted highly in profession of grace have totally lacked this phase of ethical discrimination. In plain words then, this legitimate propensity must be controlled so that one will keep his nose out of the other fellow’s business.
Again, is it wrong to protect oneself and guard one’s family? We trust not. God framed the human disposition thus. Am I proving untrue to my God and Christ when I seek to throw about myself and my family protections consistent with the time in which I live? No! But when the test comes between the comforts, congeniality, and seclusion of me and mine, and His precious will I must ever put the consideration of self behind me and give God first place in all things. In other words, I must practice the suppression of self-preservation.
Are those dominant and throbbing passions of human experience which we term love and hate consistent with a sanctified life? Can one love and hate in this world and find an ethical consistency with divine personality and the dictates of perfect love? He can. I can, and will love those of my own flesh. Yet when their warm comradeship would hinder the glory of Christ I will lay firm hold upon these delicate cords of life and bring them into subjection to His will. I will practice suppression.
God never intended that holiness of heart and life would remove positiveness and strength of character, rather are we convinced that true holiness will accentuate and beautify these qualities. Can I love God and still hate? Not when that hatred finds its goal in another personality, but I can and will by a proper suppression through a purified heart, feel strongly against sin and wrong. I will learn clearly how to differentiate between principle and people. Yea, through divine grace I can learn to hate sin with a holy hatred and still love my fellow man to the place where love never falls.
Paul said, “I die daily.” How grossly misconstrued has this scripture been. A most superficial reading of the context Shows that the apostle spoke of bodily relations. “Yes,” Paul said, “I keep my body under lest while I preach to others I myself should become a castaway.” Shall we speak frankly? Thousands of holiness people the country over have jeopardized the precious cause of holiness, have sometimes caricatured this wondrous truth by a careless failure to heed the admonition of Paul. They have seemingly ignored the legitimate and consistent suppression of God-given appetites and passions, or else they have swung to an extreme and fanatical position that has brought added repugnance and distaste to the most glorious truth of the gospel. Self-gratification has too often been the curse of many in the cooling of spiritual ardor. The shekinah glory of His own presence has often been grieved away because His people failed to reckon with an inner consistency of holy living and have ignored the fundamental principle of suppression.
Oh, my friend, consistency of conduct within and without will verify the actual power of God to deliver from the thralldom of sin in this present world. Appetites in the human constitution are not removed after sanctification. but they must be controlled in consistency with a pure heart. We must reckon with these human propensities, appetites, and affections. In the words of Paul, “We must reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:11). Thank God! through the wonderful experience of heart cleansing I can learn the practical possibilities of controlling these God-given propensities though they still may bear the scars of sin so that I am able to say with Paul, “Whether I eat or drink or whatsoever I do, I will do all to the glory of God.” Praise God! with a proper spiritual perspective and a wholesome philosophy I can learn how to bring these sanctified propensities, though ravished by the fall, into a joyous harmony with a consistent godly walk.