Adapting Holiness To Every Day Life
A great source of perplexity to entirely sanctified souls is to know how always to adjust the new life in them to practical every day life and environment. They are as pure as they can ever be in their hearts but often woefully ignorant in their heads, and very very far from being perfectly informed. “Thinking through impaired mediums occasions wrong judgment” and this in turn causes wrong practices, even when perfectly sincere in thinking the course chosen right; and it frequently happens they learn by painful blunders and see afterwards the course of action which should have been pursued. Happy the soul who has humility and grace enough on being informed of his error to say the three hardest words in the English language: “I was mistaken,” and adjust his error. Some things we can not hope to learn by any other method than this.
Sanctified souls are without specific precedent governing action in many particulars of life; (e. g. Jesus never married) — true Jesus, their great Exemplar, would always and in all things do right, yet this does not relieve the perplexity, (for one may be “holy yet perplexed”) as several courses equally right may confront, as often is the case, and when every test of Divine guidance is used the soul is shut up to the decision of its own sanctified mind and in fear of God decides to take a certain course in perfect sincerity, yet said decision may cause suspicion from others as to purity of motive and freedom from self-preference in same. In such case the soul should firmly and in Christ-like spirit stand by his convictions, though men and devils rage until God or men show him to be in error.
We have before us the gigantic task of learning, through the voices of the Spirit, conscience, reason, the word of God, through failures and reproofs, how to adapt the sanctified life to all phases of life we touch, as we think Jesus would, were He in our stead — in other words, we are to “walk as He walked” and “grow up into Him in all things.” We must study the “Guide Book” which furnishes a principle of action for every detail of life, and specific guidance in many things. It is unthinkable we know all of its teachings because our hearts are pure. We should search the Scriptures with an attitude of heart which invites light, prays for it; which is willing and glad toknow any command of God yet unknown so it can yield glad obedience to it.
In this connection Sheridan Baker said:
“Perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.” Having obtained entire purity it is now to be carried into all departments of life, and our habits are all to be adjusted to this gracious state, or, perhaps, more properly, the gracious state is to assimilate to itself all our habits of business and of life. This grace cannot be retained unless it is cultivated and used. It must control us in the treatment of ourselves; it must mold our spirit and conduct in the home circle; it must regulate our conduct with our neighbors; it must shape our course with our brethren in the church, and it must mold the life which we live in ourselves.”
Adapting Sanctification to Business Life
To live in this sinful world with a sanctified heart and keep ones self unspotted from the world is a “neat thing.” It is without a doubt difficult to live in the business realm with a conscience void of offense toward God and man. “Lie” is written over much of the modern business world. Employers boldly tell employees they cannot expect to take their religion into their business; so the writer was told on several occasions when in business. The “neatest thing” he ever did was to work for a great railroad company and “keep his job, and at the same time, a conscience void of offense toward God and man.” Once he had to refuse to work on Sunday; on another occasion he resigned rather than obey an official, who dictated a deliberate false entry. In between these events his mind was much exercised by lawfulness of some transactions he was requested to aid in making. Every sanctified person in business must adopt Paul’s motto given to Timothy: “Be not a partaker of other men’s sins.” The writer believes, (and knows, from experience,) if a man for conscience sake resigns a position where questionable things are required, God will see that he gets as good, if not a better position, and that right early.
A friend in the West told us how his employer required him to mislabel goods for shipment so they would go at a cheaper freight rate. Said he (in substance) “What was I to do?” the merchant, who ordered the goods, so requested; and if my employer refused, another company would have filled the order; and if I had refused I would have been discharged (by a church member) for insubordination. There is only one thing for a sanctified man to do in a similar predicament and that is, “Do right!” and trust God, or take the inevitable alternative, — “Backslide”!
A Menace to Progress
We fear many have overlooked the fact there is a three-fold witness of the Spirit to the sanctified state, i e. blameless in “body,” “soul” and “spirit.” The “soul” is blameless when made pure and kept pure by grace Divine; the “mind” is blameless when reasonable effort is made to increase the fund of useful knowledge; the soul is blameless when every legitimate appetite, passion or function of the body is brought under the control of reason. Continence or “self control,” regulates the legitimate sex functions of the body when used in their legitimate sphere — i. e., matrimony. While sanctification does not dehumanize nor incapacitate for the propagation of the race, neither does it by any means allow license, excess or incontinence in the use of legitimate bodily functions in lawful relations. No one can remain sanctified while permitting appetites, passions or instincts of the body to have unbridled sway.
Some one has said, “As long as we think there is any faculty of our being which we can use with reference to our own selfish pleasures and not with reference to the purpose God has designed said faculties we have not yet learned how unholy we are.” The inspired apostle wrote, “Abstain, dearly beloved, “from fleshy lusts which war against the soul.” Many who have been truly sanctified are now walking under a cloud, because they have not realized the intimate connection between a victorious soul life and a blameless bodily life which knows how to possess every bodily appetite and desire “in sanctification and honor.” Excess, even in legitimate spheres, grieves the Spirit and causes condemnation, spiritually, and incapacitates physically, for best endeavor in God’s service.
Recovery from Spiritual Accidents
Sanctified souls are liable to fail. They need not if watchful. We fear many do.
John A. Wood has pointed out, in “Perfect Love,” the soul under stress of powerful Satanic onslaught may yield temporary disobedience at some point while the general tenor of the life in all other things is “obedience to Christ.”
Accidents are liable to occur to the sanctified. Happy the soul who has learned how to instantly recover We have frequently seen intelligent sanctified people, who should know better, come mourning to the altar AS though hopelessly backslidden when all that ailed them in the ‘world was some unintentional failure, not a sin properly so called, which, because of their over conscientiousness was made a source of accusation by the Accuser. Sanctified people should not run to a public altar for every little inadvertency and thus become a gazing and laughing stock — and frequently a stumbling block to opposers. They should keep their troubles to themselves. Where unintentional failures have been private, e. g. between husband and wife, the only adjustment necessary is between themselves and God. Of course, where the failure has been public, public acknowledgment is necessary.
In this connection a helpful illustration has been suggested. Imagine a railroad running from Chicago to New York thus:
A heavy train leaves Chicago and runs without accident to Pittsburgh which is about half way between the two points. At Pittsburgh, unknown to the engineer, a switch is open and he finds himself with his heavy train switched off the main line — on the side track. What shall he do? Where shall he get on the main line? We can not imagine him, even though by following the switch, which makes a circuit back to Chicago, his starting point, traversing four hundred miles to get back on the main line! If he has any sense he will switch right back to the point where he unwittingly got off the main line!
Let this same diagram represent the road to heaven, thus:
After the soul in its journey has passed conversion and sanctification and gotten three fourths of the journey to the skies covered like the engineer, inadvertently there is a slip off the main line. What shall be done? Many say, “O, now, all is lost because of this unintentional slip, I must go back all over the journey and get on where I started.” As much sense to do that as for the engineer with his heavy train to go back to Chicago.
All that is necessary is to switch right back to the main line at the point where you slipped off. Claim the promises: “If any man sins (i. e. should happen to sin, inadvertently or unwittingly, not deliberately and premeditatedly,) we have an Advocate.” etc. and “His blood cleanses from all sin,” unwitting, as well as actual and original sin, and go rejoicing down the main line towards heaven.
Observe, we are not now speaking of deliberate sin properly so called! But of unavoidable, unpremeditated sin, improperly so called sin, which the sanctified are liable to be surprised into occasionally which needs the merit of the atoning blood. This is God’s gracious provision for the New Testament saint as truly as the “special sacrifice,” provided under the Old Testament economy “for the sin which a man committeth unwittingly,” was His provision for the unintentional failures of Old Testament saints.
The Why of Temptation
In Possibilities of Grace Asbury Lowrey has some excellent thoughts on this difficult problem.
“It is impossible to answer this question infallibly, Why does God allow his children — his most faithful and pure children — to be tempted? We cannot tell. We only know what is revealed, and that is the simple fact, that different orders of holy beings have been subjected to temptation. Adam in his primitive condition, was tempted Christ was tempted; and we must presume that the angels who lost their first estate were also tempted. So far as we know, all free and responsible intelligences have been tried and tested by temptation. And this fact may involve the real motive in the Divine mind in permitting such exposure. — Virtue, to be virtue, must be proven! Necessitated goodness is no goodness; untried integrity is no integrity. A rewardable being must be capable of right and wrong doing at the same time; and the complexion of his character must be determined by his resistance of the wrong, and his choice of the right.
Moral excellence becomes more conspicuous, bright, and beautiful when it has passed through a severe ordeal of solicitation, and come out untainted. The continence of Joseph, and faithfulness of Caleb and Joshua, are instances. Even the incorruptibility of Jesus under temptation is confirmatory of this position. Spiritual goodness, like gold, is refined by fire. And its value is increased when its genuineness and superior qualities are made (by temptation) to appear.
A soldier, whose heroism has never been demonstrated does not stand, in the estimation of his comrades and country, where the man does who has been under tire, and showed undaunted pluck and manly courage.
Hypothetical bravery is nothing compared with that which has been exemplified and severely tried. The same may be said of general fidelity in its relation to all the trusts and relations of life. Until it has been placed in circumstances where it may have been violated, but was not, it cannot claim the highest appreciation and fullest confidence of men.
Reasons for Temptation
1. God loves to see the counterpart of His own absolute goodness and grandeur in men, and these, too, up to the point of highest finite possibility … Accordingly He has constituted man free, that he may be responsible. He has gifted him with the power of choice, that his good or evil may be the product of his own act. He has exposed him to temptation, that his integrity may not turn out to be accidental, for the want of tests, much less necessitated by compulsory circumstances.
2. Temptation is disciplinary. It is the Lord’s gymnasium by which He hardens bone and muscle Moral qualities, like physical members, are invigorated by exercise, but weakened and finally destroyed, by disuse. And as our Father loves, and has need of a sturdy and well developed family of children, He has been pleased to put them into the training school of temptation.
3. Temptation develops sympathy for those who are tempted. This seems to have been the chief object of our Lord’s temptation: “For in that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted.” The inference seems legitimate, from this verse that sufferings and temptations were necessary to empower Christ with ability, in a qualified sense, to succor those who are subject to temptation.
Now if temptation perfected the endowments of Jesus, and rounded off His character as a compassionate Redeemer, will not the same experiences put us into greater sympathy with our frail and tempted fellow-men?
Impassible men, lifted above the trials and weaknesses of their race, like placid angels and unpitying divinities, have no sentiments in common with a nature all bent and fractured and rotten. A man to make the woes and weaknesses of others his own, must be tempted and touched to the core of his being with corresponding emotions. He must literally weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn.
“Touched with a sympathy within
He knows our feeble frame;
He knows what sore temptations mean,
For He hath felt the same.”