Danger Signals For The Sanctified
I. After the soul is definitely and clearly sanctified it will see the appalling indifference and carelessness of professors of religion as never before, and then is in danger of becoming bitter and censorious when people do not appreciate and receive their testimony and at once seek and profess the same grace. Seeing it so very clearly them selves, they at once conclude that every one else could see it, if they were but willing to do so — utterly forgetting that they themselves were many days — perhaps years in seeing the light and reaching the experience they now enjoy. Instead of being tender and gentle and patient, they are in danger of becoming harsh, and pugilistic, and acrimonious, and feel that these crooked people ought to be exposed and straightened out, and that it is incumbent upon them to do it. To undertake to drive people into holiness is to awaken a question and a doubt whether the driver himself has the experience, and to defeat the very object they had hoped to accomplish. Men are so constituted that, as a rule, they do not drive well; most people will resent the effort. Jesus said He would “draw.” Censoriousness is directly opposed to the spirit of holiness. So whatever others may do, keep sweet.
II. In the sanctified heart love will be the ruling passion. Their love is purified and intensified, so that they will love with “a pure heart, fervently.” In this very intensity and fervency there lies a danger. Meeting those who have a similar experience, they will discover what the world calls “affinity.” One danger in this is the temptation to become clannish, not caring to associate or fellowship with any but those who belong to “our set.” In yielding to this temptation we become narrow, exclusive and selfish, and isolate and separate ourselves by our very attitude, from those whom we might and should help. Certain it is that we all delight to mingle with kindred spirits, but this selfish pleasure should not be indulged at the sacrifice of larger opportunity for helping those who have not a like experience, or as a mere selfish gratification. To mingle with those who may seem unlovable and disagreeable, where you are not understood nor appreciated, may not always be pleasant, and yet at times be very profitable — both to those who have not the experience, and to those having the experience. Jesus said, “Behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.” We are not to become clannish, nor recluses and hermits, but “without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”
Another danger arising from this intensity of love is that of “inordinate affection.” When Satan cannot keep us on one side of the path he will endeavor to run us off on the other side. When he cannot prevent a man from starting and running, his next attempt is to run him to extremes and run him to death. In associating with those of a like mind who are exceedingly congenial and affable, there is danger of undue infatuation, which is almost certain to result in improper relations, and will terminate in sin and ruin and death. Especially is this true when the infatuation is with the opposite sex. What at first may have been pure Christian love — entirely innocent and right — under the guise of friendship and sociability, may become perverted, and sensual and devilish. Remember that all sin at its beginnings appears innocent, if not justifiable. Sin is often the misuse and abuse of something legitimate and right within itself. Against “inordinate affection” sanctified people need to watch, as well as pray.
III. Another danger peculiar to the sanctified is that of underrating or depreciating the experience of justification. As the new-found experience so far transcends and outshines their former experience they will be tempted to feel that the experience of justification was a rather small and insignificant experience; this is always a mistake. The experience of justification is always a very great experience, and should never be regarded otherwise. In giving testimony, we sometimes hear people say, “When I was only justified,” it was thus and so, thus intimating that justification was rather an insignificant affair. This intimation is calculated to cast a reflection on any who are not sanctified, and also leave the impression among the unsaved that it would not amount to much, even if they were justified. We would insist that it is a very great and glorious thing to be truly justified; it was then that all the guilty past was blotted out, and the soul quickened from the death of sin, and made the recipient of eternal life, and adopted into the family of God, whereby it became an heir of all things — even the fullness of God. A clear experience of justification alone makes the experience of sanctification a possibility. That God should hear the cry of a poor lost sinner and save him from his sins, and so re-create and transform him that he almost feels as though he needed some one to identify him and make him to love and cherish the things he had formerly despised, and hate the things he had formerly loved, is surely a very great miracle, and sufficient to make angels marvel and rejoice. To speak lightly or depreciatingly of such an experience can but reflect upon him who does it, and will largely discount a testimony to sanctification.
IV. A fourth temptation peculiar to the sanctified arises from the very life of victory that has come to them. As the defeat at Ai resulted through the victory of Jericho, so, gathering spoils may become a snare; the temptation may be to self-reliance and self-exaltation. Even the Apostle Paul testified concerning himself that, “Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” We here learn that “the abundance of revelations” might betray one into pride and becoming “exalted above measure.” Pride of spiritual attainment and moral achievement is just as certainly an abomination to the Lord as any other sort of pride. It is this kind of pride that goeth before a fall. Becoming self-sufficient, the importance of incessant prayer and watchfulness does not seem so apparent, and the enemy taking advantage of this condition will seek to overthrow the soul with t he temptation that “you are doing so well” and “you are becoming so strong you are surely destined to become some great — a great preacher or leader,” etc., and so fill the heart with an unholy ambition, and spiritual pride, which must result in Certain defeat and ruin.
V. Another temptation peculiar to the newly sanctified comes through comparing their experience with those who have been sanctified a long while. Forgetting that there is a rapid growth in grace after the heart is cleansed from all sin — the obstructions to growth having been removed — they are apt to depreciate the work wrought in their own hearts, seeing they are not as tall as some other folks who are sanctified. The temptation will be to cast away their confidence, and go to seeking the experience of some one else. While the same work is divinely inwrought in each individual, so far as the cleansing of the heart is concerned, the outward manifestations greatly differ; and in like manner the question of growth after sanctification will occasion a very marked difference in the spiritual stature of sanctified people. As the infant may enjoy as perfect health as an adult, so a newly-sanctified soul may enjoy as perfect soul-health as a person who had been sanctified many years, though they do not wear the same size garments.