Incidents in Travel and Soul Winning – By Elmer & Julia Shelhamer

Chapter 28

Living in Advance

If athletes can live in advance, deny themselves of luxuries and gratifications, and endure all kinds of hardships in order to win on a future date, why cannot we? They run for earthly glory, while we are running for an eternal crown. A great pugilist said he could not afford to drink, smoke, run with women and live the “night life”, for he must house all his energy for that final conflict.

No one just happens to be good or bad. Long before he is recognized as such he first prepared the way in his thought life. He either entertained or resisted certain suggestions. “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Do you hear? He is no better than his thoughts, though he may appear so outwardly.

All outward sin begins first with an inward consent It is impossible to grieve God or man until there has been the cherished consent. Satan may work long and hard, but he wins out the moment the will consents, though the overt act may not be consummated for months or years, yea, never. Nevertheless, Satan sits back and looks on with fiendish delight to see the soul little by little prepare the way for a final surrender.

The temptation or solicitation is first presented to the mind or intelligence. The intelligence looks at it for a moment, then passes it over to the reason. Here begins a royal debate, pro and con, generally at first in favor of right. But now comes the crucial decision when the will, the executive of man, finally assumes control and either sets aside or endorses all that reason has hitherto argued. Now angels and devils must look on with bated breath to see the deliverance or downfall of a soul!

A very godly evangelist came along distance to have us pray for him, declaring that he was backslidden in heart. I could not at first believe it. He related that he had committed no sin. Nevertheless, at the place where he was entertained he one night heard a gentle knock on his door, but declined to open to the pretty creature outside. Later he heard the knock again; once more he resisted and did not open. But the sad thing was when, after consideration, he inwardly consented in his mind to open if the knock came the third time. God in mercy did not permit it, but guilt was incurred just the same — for reason had been silenced and set aside and now the will had finally consented to evil. God sometimes leaves us, as in Hezekiah’s case, “that he may try us and know all that is in our hearts.”

What a place the judgment will be when sinners will be condemned, not only for actions committed but for desires entertained. On the other hand, saints will be rewarded not only for good deeds, but for benevolent intentions unperformed for lack of ability or opportunity.

The “Age of Consent” frequently figures in court proceedings. When we were in South Africa the first time we saw a colored man in chains because he had assaulted one of our fine (black) school teachers. How indignant we all felt toward this vile creature. But to our astonishment he came clear in court when it was proved that the teacher had not positively resisted, but on the other hand, had halfway consented.

O Brother, your great Advocate, Jesus Christ Himself; cannot clear you though He longs to do so, if, when your case is called, it can be proved that you inwardly consented to Satan’s proposition. It is worse to sin against God and nobody know it than to sin against others and everybody know it.

Now what is the proper thing to do? Nip every suggestion in the bud, and “If sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” Blessed be God, you may be so pure in heart that, like your adorable Lord, you can say, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in us”