The Prophet Isaiah says that God inhabits eternity (Isaiah lvii. 15); and Solomon says, 'The heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee.' (I Kings viii. 27.) But, wonder of wonders! Paul says that we are a habitation of God. 'What!' says he, 'know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?' (I Cor. vi. 19.)' And again, 'Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?' (I Cor. iii. 16.)
This is a very solemn truth; but it ought to be a joy-giving one. It certainly adds dignity and honor to us beyond anything that earthly rulers could possibly bestow, and it lifts our bodies from their kinship to the beasts into a sacred fellowship with the Lord. This fact makes the sanctification of the body both a glorious privilege and an important duty.
Many people think that sanctification, or holiness, has to do only with the soul. But the truth is, that it has to do with every part of our nature, and every article of our possession. The body is to be sanctified as well as the soul. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians as follows: 'The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.' (1 Thess. v. 23.) By this he means that the body is to be set apart and kept as a holy thing for the Lord.
We are to make a present of our bodies to the Lord. Paul says, 'I beseech you therefore, brethren,..... that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.' (Rom. xii. 1.) Just as the soldier surrenders his personal liberty, and gives his body to his country, for hard campaigns, for toilsome marches, for weary sieges, and, if need be, for death, so we are to present our bodies, to the Lord. Jesus gave His body for us, and we are to give our bodies to Him.
Not only are we to present our bodies as a whole to the Lord, but each member as well; the eyes, the ears, the hands, the feet, the tongue, each and all are to be given to Him. (See Rom. vi. 13.)
The eyes are to be turned away from the things that would wean the soul from God. The General tells of a holy man he knew, who, when he walked the streets, kept his eyes straight before him, not looking into the shop windows, lest his communion with God should be hindered, and his mind be filled with worldly, foolish, and covetous, thoughts.
Some years ago, silver bracelets were very fashionable, and a girl who had plenty of money went to buy a pair. But before she found any pretty and dainty enough to suit her she got saved, and then she knew she had no right to spend her money foolishly, or to wear such things even if she had them. But her eyes had got into the habit of searching shop windows in every city where she went, for those bracelets, and she found that the habit was very bad for her soul. It made her care less to pray, and hindered her thinking about Jesus when she was out walking, and actually lessened her desire to get souls saved. So she had to give her eyes to God, to be kept from leading her away from Jesus; and for years afterwards, she said she never went through a shopping street without praying David's prayer, 'Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.'
It was a longing look toward the fertile plains of Sodom and Gomorrah that led to all the sorrows and losses of Lot. It was a covetous look at the Babylonish garment and wedge of gold that led to the utter ruin of Achan. It was a lustful look that led to the sad downfall and shame of David.
There are some things that a Christian should not look at, and if by chance his eyes should fall upon them, they should be turned away quickly lest sin should get into his heart through Eye-gate, Everyone who wishes to be holy will say with Job, 'I have made a covenant with mine eyes.'
Again, the ears are to be sanctified, The holy man will guard himself lest sin enter into his heart through Ear-gate. 'Take heed what ye hear,' said Jesus; and again, 'Take heed how ye hear.' Just so surely as the body can be poisoned or flourished and strengthened by the things we eat, according to whether they be good or bad so surely can the soul be poisoned or nourished by the things we hear. No pure-minded man or woman, boy or girl, will listen to an impure story, an obscene song, or unclean talk.
Some time ago, two Salvation Army Officers were traveling by train. The railway carriage was crowded, and they were separated. One of them sat down by an elderly man, and in a short time, they were in conversation with a gentleman in front of them. Soon the elderly man looked about and said, 'There are no women near, who can hear, are there? I want to tell a story.' The Officer was at once on guard, and said, 'I am a Salvationist, sir. I do not wish to hear a story that would be unfit for ladies to hear.' The old man looked ashamed, the gentleman in front looked a look of wonder, and the nasty story was not told, and the Salvationist, no doubt, escaped a great temptation.
But while we should not listen to evil, neither should we speak it. Sometimes it is impossible to avoid hearing wicked and filthy things, however much we may wish to do so, for we cannot control the tongues of others. That was one of the sorrows of Lot in Sodom. His soul was 'vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.' While we cannot control the tongues of others, we must control our own, and while we may not be always able to avoid hearing wicked and evil and unclean things, we can avoid saying them.
If we would be holy, and enjoy God's smile, we must sanctify our tongues, and keep our lips pure. 'Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good for the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.' (Eph. iv. 20.) We must not forget, however, that the heart is the fountain from which flows all our talk, and if that be clean the conversation will be pure. Jesus said, 'Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.' Therefore, 'keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.'
Take my voice, and let me sing Always, only for my King; Take my lips, and let them be Filled with messages from Thee.
Let the feet also be given to the Lord, no longer to walk in the ways of sin, but to walk patiently and gladly in the path of duty, and to run on errands of mercy.
Take my feet, and let them be Swift and beautiful for Thee
The hands are to be used for holy service, and no longer to smite and pilfer.
Take my hands and let them move At the impulse of Thy love.
Thus the whole body is to be given to the Lord, and kept and used for Him. Since Jesus ascended to Heaven, He has no body upon earth. So, will you prove your love to Him, my Comrade, by letting Him have yours? If so, no sexual impurity is to be allowed, no unclean habit is to be indulged, no appetite is to be permitted to gain the mastery, but the whole body is to be kept under, and made the servant of the soul.
Athletes, football and cricket players, and prizefighters when in training, are exceedingly careful about their health. They select their food with care, and eat nothing that would disagree with them, omitting heavy suppers; they abstain from strong drink and tobacco; they bathe their bodies daily; they go to bed and get up at regular hours; they sleep with open windows, and, of course, the have plenty of fresh air and systematic exercise. This they do for months, and sometimes for years, simply that they may beat some other fellows in contests of strength and skill. Now they do it, says Paul, 'to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.' And then he adds, 'I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.' (I Cor. ix. 25-27.)
I know a man who noticed that when he ate too much he became irritable, and was subject to various temptations from which a careful diet freed him. He had to control his appetite in order to keep a clean heart.
Young people are likely to squander their health in all sorts of useless and careless ways, and are tempted to laugh and sneer at their elders when they lift a warning voice. But they will some day find that advance in holiness, progress toward Heaven, and happiness and usefulness, are more dependent on the right care of the body than they supposed.
'Beloved. I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health even as thy soul prospereth.' (3 John 2.)
Let my hands perform His bidding,
Let my feet run in His ways,
Let mine eyes see Jesus only,
Let my lips speak forth His praise.
All for Jesus.
Let my lips speak forth His praise.
Holiness And Unconscious Influence
Some people often sing:
"Oh, to be nothing, nothing;"
but, in reality, to be something, to be useful, is one of the first and strongest desires that spring up in the heart of a truly saved person. And one of the blessed things about a holy life is its supernatural, constant, and often unconscious influence for good. A holy person does not have to resolve, and struggle to be a blessing. Without conscious effort, his life and talk and looks inspire the fainthearted, encourage the timid, instruct the ignorant, feed the hungry, and rebuke the proud, and selfish, and wayward. He blesses people in all sorts of ways, without at the time knowing it, and is often surprised to learn how the Lord has been blessing him.
Luke says that 'The whole multitude sought to touch Jesus; for there went virtue out of Him, and healed them all.' And, just so, virtue goes out from holy people, as perfume floats from a rose, or warmth from fire, or light from a flame.
A sanctified Officer said to a comrade who was deserting his post, 'I feel that woe is me, if I preach not the Gospel.' Some weeks later an Officer said to him, 'I overheard you that day when you said, "Woe is me, if I preach not the Gospel," and it stirred my soul, and made me feel that way too.' Those words had been said quietly, but God was in them, and they were with power. This fits Solomon's saying, 'The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.' (Eccles. ix. 17.)
A number of years ago in America, two sanctified Salvationists, a man and his wife, were followed home from their meetings several nights by a nurse from the hospital near by. She could not get away from her duties long enough to attend the meetings, but she said to herself, 'I will walk home behind them, and maybe I shall get something for my soul.'
And she did. All unconscious that a hungry heart was feeding upon their words, the Salvationists talked out of their clean hearts about Jesus, and His love, and His word, and His uttermost salvation, and as a result, the nurse was so filled with desire to glorify God and save souls that she left her work for people's bodies, and became a missionary, and is now in the far east. This strange story came back to the two Salvationists from Korea, after many days, to surprise and gladden them, and fill them with wonder at the unconscious power of holy conversation.
The very silence of a holy man is with power. I have known such silence to still the voice of slander and foolishness, and hush the laugh of silliness and folly. An Officer with a clean heart aflame with love, met a girl who had offered herself for the Slum Work. She was giggling and chattering in a way that convinced him that instead of being filled with the Holy Spirit she was empty. He wanted to speak to her about her soul, but hardly knew how to begin, so he was silent, and prayed in his heart for her. Afterward she said, 'I looked at his face, and said to myself, "There is a holy man, a man dead to sin. But I am alive yet." And that sight of his face led her to seek and find the blessing, and now for years she has been a most useful and devoted Officer. The very presence of such a man is a rebuke to sin and half-heartedness and folly, and is a mighty inspiration to goodness.
After the overthrow of Sisera and all his host, Deborah and Barak sang a song of triumph and thanksgiving and closed it with these words, 'Let them that love Him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might.' (Judges v. 31.) Think of it! How mighty the sun is! how he floods the world with light! how he melts the snow, and thaws the iceberg, and warms the whole earth, and quickens and gladdens every living thing! None can stop him in his course; and so God means that it shall be with holy men and women. They comfort those that are right, and convict those that are wrong, just as the sun energizes everything that has life, and hastens the dissolution of everything that is dead.
But while holy people have power to bless and do good, they also have a strange influence often to arouse persecution. They prove the saying of Jesus, 'I came not to send peace, but a sword' (Matt. x. 34.)
But even this will turn to a blessing. God makes it work for good to them that love Him, and it often leads to the salvation of the persecutors. The godly life and testimony of Joseph rebuked his unclean brothers, and they sold him into slavery. But years after, when he ruled over all Egypt, and his brothers were seeking his forgiveness and mercy, be said, "Fear not: as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.' (Gen. 1. 19, 20.) Thus persecution often leads to the salvation of many people.
This very power of a holy life to arouse hatred and persecution and opposition, is a part of the unconscious influence of holiness, and is mightily used by God for the advancement of His Kingdom on earth, so that many have been able to say with Paul when he was put into jail, that locking them up had only made the Gospel spread more, and made other men bolder to preach it. (Phil. i. 12-20.)
'Come,' said a distinguished Scotch professor to a German skeptic, 'and I will show you a student that will make you think of Jesus.'
'There is no difference between him and the Book,' said his fellow-townsmen of a Chinese convert.
'Ye are the light of the world,' said Jesus; 'ye are the salt of the earth,'
Such lives are full of healing, cleansing, helping, comforting power; and such may be your life, my brother, my sister, no matter how dark your surroundings, if you will consecrate yourself entirely to God, take up your cross and follow Jesus, and seek, ask for, and receive the Holy Spirit as your Sanctifier.
Oh, that He may come into your heart right now, and nevermore be grieved, or allowed to depart!
Oh, make my life one blazing fire Of pure and fervent heart desire, The lost to find, the low to raise, And give them cause Thy name to praise, Because, wherever I may go, I show Thy power to every foe!