Perpetuation Of Consecration, Obedience And Faith
“If ye love me ye will keep my commandments.” — John 14:15. (R.V.)
In order to advance there must be a continuous unfolding of the principle of obedience assented to in entire .consecration:
Some one illustrates this thus: “When a boy volunteers to go into the navy, and gets a naval suit on, walks the deck, and is gay and jolly with his comrades, he has in his young heart the principle of loyalty to his government; but he knows no more of what that principle is going to involve than anything in the world. When he gets on the high seas, when sickness breaks out and he is in a foreign port, when he goes into a naval engagement and encounters storm and strife, and this extends over years, he finds that the principle of loyalty which he had in his heart must be unfolded day by day, month by month, and year by year. And as the principle of loyalty is applied on this point and on that it may involve a good deal of suffering.”
Thus it is with the sanctified life, or as the same author has said in substance, “the development of the sanctified is like the unrolling of a spool of cotton.” It is the proving true to God in the unrolling that counts; here is where thousands of people who have entered the sanctified life have failed. As God has unfolded and unrolled His will to their conscience they have not paid the price of continuous and instant obedience. The entrance of the sanctified life is comparatively a small thing compared to the after obedience required.
We met a brother at camp meeting who had previously been sanctified. When consecrating for sanctification he did not then have the light God would require him to leave his lodge. Later the light came that he should “come out from among and be separate” from, worldly alliances. He had gone too far to turn back, so he yielded to God’s will and came out. The next year found him again at the much-loved camp-meeting, only to learn of new light. While preaching on tithing we remarked a man’s consecration for sanctification was not complete, which did not include the tithe; that stinginess was no part of holiness; and that if any were sanctified without, bringing in “all the tithes,” from that morning they would feel condemned for disobedience to new light. This brother, though a manufacturer, and a man of some means, met the issue and resolved to walk in the light at any cost. The Lord blessed and advanced him there. Had he rebelled and refused at this point darkness would have come to his soul. We suppose, if he continues to attend the camp-meeting, from year to year God will through the word flash new light on his pathway.
Let the professor of holiness who reads these lines beware of robbing God in tithes and offerings. A professor of sanctification in the West owned one of the finest stock-farms in his state. He tithed his income. One day he and his wife looked into the tithe box with covetous eyes: it had accumulated to near a hundred dollars; they said: “It is too much; we cannot afford to give so much,” and forgetting the Lord God who giveth power to get wealth, took the money to pay a bill. They were soon judged for robbing God. Cholera and sickness carried their stock off; they lost in a short while thereafter, stock, fine farm, and everything and were reduced to direst poverty. He told us he traced his calamity directly to his refusal to keep up his consecration.
“In ten thousand forms, in an innumerable number of cases the principle of obedience” must be unfolded day by day and applied to this circumstance or that occasion.
“You must remember that the principle of obedience is one thing, — that ties in the heart, — but the application of that principle is something else. There is no suffering in the principle of obedience. The element of loyalty lies in the heart, and there is no suffering in that. But when you take that principle of loyalty, of obedience in the heart, and come to apply it in the outward life, it necessarily involves a great deal of suffering.”
A young lady who enjoyed the sanctified life had her attention called to the unscripturalness of wearing jewelry. When seeking holiness she was not told it was necessary to yield such small things. We told her, “the Master hath not need of this” (her ring) ; that whatever she did she must do all to the glory of God; that the adornment of women, especially sanctified ones, should not consist in the “wearing of gold and costly array.” God sealed the truth on her heart and whilst she had not known, when seeking holiness, God would require the surrender of her ring, yet now she saw to continue in the holy life she must walk in this new light. She did so and was made radiantly happy in the thought “all she knew and all she did not know” belonged to her king. Thus, consecration and obedience in the broader meaning of the terms include the unrevealed revelations of God’s will — to which as they are known we must promptly surrender — keep up a perpetual devotement of all to God. Not only have the principle of obedience but apply it in every case.
Progress in any state of grace will be according to the soul’s implicit obedience to all of God’s revealed will. This same condition was imposed on the holy pair in their primitive state of holiness and innocence. Even in that state improvement and development were to be gained by exercise. Holiness implies the most intense activity, mental and spiritual, of which we are capable. God gave them a prohibitive command, obedience to which would have brought lasting blessing to them and their posterity: “But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” — i.e.: they should lose their spiritual life — fellowship with God — and be banished from the fellowship of His presence. Holiness, being the restoration of man to that state and likeness of God which was lost in the fall, and reinstating him into essentially the same state of purity Adam enjoyed before the fall — (of course Adam had advantage over holy men now in that his knowledge was intuitive and that he did not inherit the same bodily infirmities as men now do because of hereditary taint) — as disobedience then forfeited that gracious state and broke off the life man had in God, so now the prime condition God lays down by which the holy life is maintained, and development therein accelerated, is, Obedience!
Soon after the writer entered the sanctified life, and before he became established therein, he remarked to a friend, who was advanced in the deep things of God, that he did not have the same delightful manifestations experienced in the first days of his sanctified life. (Not that we may expect to be on the mountain top and always ecstatic; in this case there was a withdrawal of the Divine presence because of disobedience.) We shall never forget how he suddenly turned on us and with anointed eye, looked, it seemed, through our very soul, and said, “Beloved, I have noticed Christ’s manifestations to the heart are sharply conditioned on obedience;” and then, with convicting power, quoted, “He that hath my commandments and obeyeth them, he it is that loveth me and he that loveth me (in this sense that he keeps my commandments) shall be loved of my Father and I will love him and will manifest myself to him.”
George Muller, of unprecedented faith, soon learned the relation of implicit and instant obedience to answers to prayer. He wrote in substance: “For it will not do, it is not possible, to live in the practice of any known sin and at the same time by prayer, draw from heaven supplies, temporal and spiritual, for the life that now is.” To the willing and obedient is promised the good of the land,
“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way,
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.”
Some years ago we met in one of our Western states a farmer who had had a marvelous conversion and was subsequently, definitely, and gloriously sanctified wholly. He would testify with great grace and power. His heart was aflame with holy love and zeal for Christ. One day in a testimony service we noticed “Ichabod” written over his usually bright features. “The glory had departed.” A cloud had come over his soul which was vividly registered on his features “The greatsoul’s apparent seat.” He could no longer tell of complete victory, nor give the old time fiery, electrifying exhortation. He confessed something was wrong and asked us the probable cause. We remarked possibly God had shown him something in his life which did not measure up to Bible requirement and he had not obeyed; we further suggested possibly he was not bringing all God’s tithes in from his big three hundred acre farm! This proved to be the cause. The light had come. God showed him His requirement. He had disobeyed, refused to walk in the light. He thought he knew better how much he should give than the Evangelist who had shown, “The tithe is holy to the Lord.” His disobedience brought a withdrawal of the Divine presence — condemnation. “Whoso turns his ear away (disobedience, refusing light) from the hearing of the law, his prayer (and profession), is an abomination to the Lord.” We rejoice to write this brother after a struggle obeyed this new light which had not come to him when consecrating for sanctification, and was again given his usual liberty and joy in the Lord.
Dearly beloved, brother and sister, in the sanctified life, would you know why you have made so little progress in the “Highway of Holiness?” You have forgotten the one thing needful — Obedience! Obedience! Not merely as a means of obtainment but also as a means of advancement. As Andrew Murray says in substance, “You have desired to be happy, holy, useful, and gain heaven, but have forgotten these are found in obedience. Our lack of understanding that obedience is the one thing needful has caused us to go mourning many a day.” “If ye love me ye will obey my commandments.” Jesus lays down the condition of continual abiding and advancement: “If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” “Hereby we do know that we are knowing Him if we are obeying His commandments. He that saith I know Him and obeys not His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him.”
Disobedience Hinders Power in Service
Some one says, “If the professing Christians of the world would stop fencing and parleying with God’s known will in their lives and yield obedience thereto, a mighty tidal wave of salvation would, as a result, come sweeping over the land.” Thus, not only does disobedience militate against the soul’s growth in grace, but also against power for service. Paul wrote to Timothy: “Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine (i.e. obey it); continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” The inference clearly is, if he should disobey, souls, who otherwise would have been saved, would be lost. The recent Welsh revival teaches the church if her members will put everything away known to be wrong in their lives and make every known wrong to their fellowmen right, immediately God’s Spirit, who is present, will commence working through the church on the unsaved. Evan Roberts, the chief human instrument in that great revival in which from eighty (80,000) to one hundred thousand (100,000) souls were saved, climaxes his message to the churches of the world with the significant words: “Obedience! Obedience! Obedience!” God’s lamentation has ever been concerning His recreant church: “O that thou hadst hearkened unto my commandments! then hadst thy peace been as a river and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea. Thy seed (spiritual offspring) also had been as the sand.” He graciously promises, “I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldst go.” Beloved reader, let us make a covenant of obedience with Him, resolving through the aid of His grace alone to die rather than disobey Him in the minutest revelation of His will. And let us remember there is a continuity of condition upon which we are to receive the full life of God in the soul and advance therein: “For God hath given the Holy Ghost to those who obey Him.” i.e.: He hath given, now gives, and continues to give, the Holy Ghost (either as Regenerator, Sanctifier, Anointer, and Leader) to those who have obeyed Him, now obey Him, and continue to Obey Him!
Only as we continually obey and keep up the perpetual consecration are we prepared to have faith. The familiar stanza, “Trust and obey,” should be reversed. “Obey and trust.” There can be no trust, no faith, unless obedience precedes it.
“The life of holiness is eminently a life of faith. We have before said it is attained by faith, we now say it cannot continue a moment without faith; faith is its very root and sap. The same faith which at first introduced the principle, preserves it. But we are not therefore to suppose the soul must always be in painful endeavor. Faith in the heart of a Christian operates when he does not think of it, produces fruit without his consciousness. It is obvious, that holiness can only coexist with faith. Would you retain the state? Maintain the vital principle: watch against every tincture of unbelief, every approach of infidelity; let the life you live be by the faith of the Son of God. We have feared some have fallen into delusion on the subject of faith. They seem to have the idea that it is a kind of magic cure or exterminator of the virus of sin, by which they are enabled to retain entire sanctification along with occasional evil practices. Faith is not something which one having learned how to use, he is enabled to sin, and get rid of his sin dexterously enabled to renounce or soil, and then restore, sanctity at will. Rather, it is that mysterious hand by which the holy soul clings to God amid all temptation, and so is kept from sin.” — Bishop Foster