“But how may I know when I am wholly consecrated to God?” is the question often asked. There are many who do not know whether they are entirely the Lord’s or not. There is so much uncertainty in some quarters that it has actually voiced itself in this query of a hymn,
“Am I His, or am I not?”
We once asked a sister coming from a service if she was wholly the Lord’s. The reply was, “I do not know.” Being told that this was a matter that she ought to know for herself, she said, “Ask our minister.
“A wholly consecrated soul will know that it is a fact without having to ask preacher, priest or bishop. If we do not know that we are wholly the Lord’s, we are not wholly the Lord’s. He who has settled this matter knows it, just as really as he knows anything in this world. He has two witnesses to his consecration.
First, he has the witness of his own spirit – the consciousness that the matter is forever settled, the great transaction is done. We know this the same way that we know we have decided on any other transaction. If we have been in doubt about buying a piece of property, but have finally decided to purchase it and announce ourselves as ready and willing to fulfill all the conditions and lay the money down, we know we have done it. If there are future conditions which we cannot now fulfill and are not required of us until some future time, if we have decided in advance to fulfill them, we know we have thus decided. And if we give ourselves thus to God – all we know and all we do not know – we certainly know we have done it. Consecration is a business transaction between us and God. Any one who knows how to do honest business, knows how to consecrate himself to God. And no one yet ever honestly made the full covenant with God, no matter if he did it without any emotion, just as he would do any business with a party in whom he had confidence, without finding it to be the gateway to a new, richer and more glorious experience.
Second, we may know it by the testimony of the Holy Spirit. The object and end of consecration being entire sanctification (see next chapter), the latter should follow as soon as the consecration is made complete. To this work of entire sanctification the Holy Spirit witnesses. Thus he becomes a witness, not only to our entire sanctification, but naturally also to our consecration which precedes it. Consecration is our work; to this we have the direct witness of our own spirit. Sanctification is God’s work to which he witnesses, and in thus witnessing to his own work, he witnesses to ours, for he cannot sanctify us till we are wholly consecrated. This is the completeness of the test. The first evidence (of our own spirit) must be supplemented by the testimony of the Holy Spirit. To think we had the testimony of our spirit, without the testimony of the Holy Spirit, is presumption based upon self-deception. To think we have the testimony of the Spirit, on account of some feeling or emotion, if we have not the testimony of our own spirit that we have given ourselves to God, is fanaticism. It is the office of the Holy Spirit to witness to every installment of grace that is given. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit was not only the Comforter, but the Comforter that witnesses. When Daguerre was perfecting the process of portrait making by means of the camera, which has revolutionized that art, he found it impossible to retain the picture upon the glass slide. As soon as it was drawn out into the light, the picture vanished. After experimenting for a time he spread a coating of chemicals upon the glass and then drew it out in a dark slide, and in a dark closet with other chemicals fixed the image on the glass to stay. There are a great many who waver in their consecration. They get there and stay a little while and then recede. What we need to do is to wait until God comes, sanctifies and seals us by the witness of the Spirit and enables us to make our consecration permanent. When Abraham made his covenant, he sat down and watched it, keeping away the unclean birds until the burning lamp and smoking furnace attested by their appearance that the sacrifice was accepted and hence complete. So Paul says we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice in order that we “may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” When we get this divine proof from God by the witnessing Spirit, then we know that the consecration is complete.
Many are confused over the witness of the Spirit. Some are looking for great manifestations of glory, rapturous visions, etc. But the witness of the Spirit is an inward persuasion, wrought by the Holy Spirit, that the work is complete. It may have no great, miraculous manifestations at all. This is indescribable. It is the white stone with the new name which no man can read save he who possesses it. Until we have this comfortable persuasion, we can never be sure that we are wholly consecrated to God. Reader, if you have not yet “proved what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God,” it is surely because you have not given up to him wholly. You are holding on to something. If you do not know what it is, then guess at it and ask God to help you in your conjecture. If you are honest he will show you, if you are real anxious to know.
Many are not wholly consecrated because they are seeking a blessing merely; others because they have marked out a certain way for God to come and bless them — in their way instead of his way. Some are thinking their consecration will buy sanctification and are trying to be saved by its merit. Very many are not consecrated because they fear what the people will say. They are trying to take care of their reputation themselves instead of giving it to God. Very few are willing to be of no reputation for Jesus’ sake. If the holy fire has not yet fallen upon the sacrifice, find out at what point you have failed to put it all on the altar. If you really want to know at any cost, the Spirit will surely tell you. “And if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”