It is sometimes asserted, “I consecrated myself to God at the time I was converted.” This statement is sometimes sincerely made, but it is incorrect. No person who knows the scriptural definition of the term consecration will make such an assertion. Consecration is an act which can be performed only by a child of God. Take a reference Bible and turn to the passages that contain the words consecration, consecrate and their cognates and in the margin, in most instances, will be found the translation, to fill the hand. This refers to the method of consecration under the old dispensation. The worshipper came to the temple with his hands filled with something good to be used in the service of God — a sheaf of wheat, some of the fruits of the earth. Or he led a lamb, a goat, a heifer or a bullock. He solemnly laid his hands upon the victim and set it apart for the service of God and his sanctuary. He always brought something good for use in the service of God. This is what Paul means when he says, “Your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” God will accept nothing that is not good as a sacrifice to His service. A sinner cannot offer such a sacrifice, because he is “dead in trespasses and sins.” He must be made alive by being born again before he can offer “a living sacrifice.” He has nothing to give but his sins. And God has no use for them. How can a dead man offer himself, a living sacrifice! He must forsake his sins by repentance, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Then he is born of God – made alive from the dead – and is in a condition to offer a living sacrifice. We hear men sometimes tell of giving their sins – their whiskey, tobacco, etc. – to God. How absurd! All sinful things are to be put away. They will do to burn on the devil’s altar but not on the altar of God. The little slave girl in the days of oppression was ransomed from the auctioneer’s block by a kindhearted man. She fell at his feet exclaiming, “I will serve you all my life.” She had been redeemed and then she consecrated to his service her redeemed powers. It is only redeemed men that have anything to consecrate. The sinner repents. The child of God consecrates. How absurd that hymn,
“All my doubts I give to Jesus.”
He has no use for our doubts. Let them go where they belong. They had their origin with the devil. A sinner is never commanded to consecrate in all the Word of God. The constant command to him is, “Repent.” A reference to the Word of God shows that consecration is commanded to the children of God only. In Paul’s great exhortation to consecration he says (Rom. xii. 1), “I beseech you, therefore, brethren.” He beseeches not the unconverted, but the brethren to entirely consecrate. The epistle to the Romans was written to the church at Rome. In Rom. vi. 13, he repeats the same thought, “yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” Here the command to consecrate is given to those “that are alive from the dead,” and not to unconverted men. If we keep this distinction in our minds, — repentance for the sinner, consecration for the child of God, — we shall avoid a fatal confusion that has hindered some good people. We must remember th at every sinner is a rebel against the kingdom of heaven. And his first duty is to throw down his weapons of rebellion — in other words, repent. When people undertake to assert that repentance and consecration are the same thing, they are driven to some very absurd conclusions. We once met a brother who, in order to find an excuse for refusing to entirely consecrate himself to God, maintained stoutly that he was entirely consecrated to God before he was converted. If that was true, then he was a consecrated sinner, which is absurd. We once heard of a church that began a protracted meeting. For three nights the converted people were urged to come to the altar and consecrate themselves to God. Having started the meeting in this manner, the rest of the effort was an invitation to the unconverted to come to the altar and consecrate themselves to God. Both parties were exhorted to do the same thing and confusion settled down upon the minds of the people. Sinners inquired as to whether the church was unconverted, and Christians resented being asked to do the same thing that was urged upon sinners. The assertion that we consecrate when we repent is both unscriptural and illogical.
Consecration meetings in our young people’s societies are never held for unconverted people, but always for those who are Christians. Such meetings are never held for the purpose of converting sinners. To still further substantiate this truth we call attention to the hymnals of all the denominations. In these, repentance is always adopted as the language of sinners and consecration as the language of the children of God. The language of the sinner is
“Show pity, Lord! O Lord, forgive!
Let a repenting rebel live:
Are not thy mercies large and free?
May not a sinner trust in thee? “My crimes are great, but don’t surpass
The power and glory of thy grace.
Great God, thy nature hath no bound,
So let thy pardoning love be found.”
Such a man is like the ancient runner to the city o refuge with justice upon his track. He thinks not o the beauties of the city, but only to escape pursuing. justice. Real conviction gives a man no time for any thing except escape from the wrath to come. But the redeemed man expresses himself thus, as he consecrates himself to God:
“When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.”
And the conclusion he arrives at as he reflects upon the salvation God has given him is:
“Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”