Against the entire sanctification of believers Satan brings to bear all his devices, his sophistical arguments, and the full force of his powerful will; but the resolute soul, determined to be all the Lord's, will find him a conquered foe, with no power but to deceive. The way to overcome him surely is to will to steadfastly believe and agree with God, in spite of all Satan's suggested doubts.
In the fifteenth chapter of Genesis, we have an account of Abraham's sacrifice, which is very suggestive to the seeker after full salvation.
Abraham took certain beasts and birds, and offered them to God. But after he had made the offering, and while he was waiting for the witness of God's acceptance, birds of prey came to snatch away the sacrifice. Abraham drove them away. This continued until the evening, and then the fire of God consumed the offering.
Just so, he who would be entirely sanctified must make an unreserved offering of himself to God. This act must be real, not imaginary -- a real transfer of self, with all hopes, plans, prospects, property, powers of body and mind, time, cares, burdens, joys, sorrows, reputation, friends, to God, in a "perpetual covenant not to be forgotten." When he has thus given himself to God, to be anything or nothing, go anywhere or stay anywhere for Jesus, he must, like Abraham, patiently, trustingly, expectantly wait for God to witness that he is accepted.
"Though the vision tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry ... but the just shall live by his faith" (Hab. ii. 3, 4).
Now, during this short or long period of waiting, the devil will surely send his birds of prey to snatch away the offering.
He will say, "You ought to feel different if you have given yourself wholly to God." Remember, that is the devil's bird of prey -- drive it away. Feeling is always produced by some appropriate object. To have the feeling of love, I must think of some loved one; but the very moment I get my thought off the object of my love, and begin to examine the state of my feelings, that moment my feelings subside.
Look unto Jesus and pay no attention to your emotions; they are involuntary, but will soon adjust themselves to the fixed habit of your faith and will.
"But, maybe," something suggests, "your consecration is not complete; go over it again and be sure."
Another evil bird of prey -- drive it away.
Satan becomes exceedingly pious just at this point, and wants to keep you eternally on the treadmill of consecration, knowing that, as long as he can keep you examining your consecration, you will not get your eyes on the promise of God, and, consequently, will not believe; and without faith that your offering is now accepted, it is only so much dead works.
"But you do not have the joy, the deep and powerful emotions that others say they have." That is another bird of prey -- drive it away.
A woman recently said to me: "I have given up all, but I have not the happiness I expected."
"Ah, sister," said I, "the promise is not unto them that seek happiness, but, to them "which hunger and thirst after righteousness, they shall be filled." Seek righteousness, not happiness."
She did so, and in a few moments she was satisfied, for with righteousness came fullness of joy.
"But faith is such an incomprehensible something, you cannot exercise it; pray to God to help your unbelief."
The devil's bird of prey -- drive it away.
Faith is almost too simple to be defined. It is trust in the word of Jesus, simple confidence that He means just what He says in all the promises, and that He means all the promises for you. Beware of being "corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. xi. 3).
I tell you, dear comrade, everything that is contrary to present faith in the promise of God for full salvation is one of the devil's birds of prey, and you must resolutely drive it away if you ever get saved.
Quit reasoning with the devil! "Cast down reasonings (2 Cor. x. 5, margin), and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God," and trust. Reason with God. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord" (Isa. i. 18). At one of our watch-night services, a man knelt at the table with quite a number of others, seeking a clean heart. He was told to give himself wholly to God, and trust. Finally, he began to pray, and then he said: "I do give myself to God, and now I am going to live and work for Him with what power I have, and let Him give me the fullness of the blessing and power just when He chooses. He has promised to give it to me, and He will do it, will He not?"
"Yes, my brother; He has promised, and He will surely perform," I replied.
"Yes, yes; He had promised it," said the man. Just then light shot through his soul, and his next words were: "Praise the Lord! Glory to God! "He reasoned together with God, and, looking to the promise, was delivered. Others about him reasoned with the devil, looked to their feelings, and were not sanctified.
But after you have taken the step of faith, God's plan is for you to talk your faith. The men of character, of force and influence, are the men who put themselves on record. The man who has convictions, and who is not afraid to announce them to the world and defend them, is the man who has true stability. It is so in politics, in business, in all moral reforms, in salvation. There is a universal law underlying the declaration: "With the mouth confession is made unto salvation." If you are sanctified, and would remain sanctified, you must at the earliest opportunity put yourself on record before all the devils in Hell and all your acquaintances on earth and all the angels in Heaven. You must stand out before the world as a professor and a possessor of heart purity, of "Holiness unto the Lord." Only in this way can you burn all the bridges behind you; and until they are destroyed, you are not safe.
The other day a lady said to me: "I have always hesitated to say, 'The Lord sanctifies me wholly'; but not until recently did I see the reason. I now see that I secretly desired a bridge behind me, so that I might escape back from my position without injury to myself. If I profess sanctification, I must be careful lest I bring myself into disrepute; but if I do not profess it, I can do questionable things and then shield myself by saying, 'I do not profess to be perfect.' "
Ah, that is the secret! Be careful, dear reader, or you will become a religious fence rider, and the devil will get you; for all who are astride the fence are really on the devil's side. "He that is not for Me is against Me." Get away over on God's side, by a definite profession of your faith. But the devil will say: "You had better not say anything about this, till you find out whether you will be able to keep it. Be careful, lest you do more harm than good."
Drive that bird of prey away quickly, or all you have done thus far will be of no avail. That bird has devoured tens of thousands of offerings just as honestly made as yours. You are not to "keep the blessing" at all; but you are to boldly assert your faith in the Blesser, and He will keep you.
Only yesterday a brother said to me: "When I sought this experience, I gave myself definitely and fully to God, and told Him I would trust Him; but I felt as dry as that post. Shortly after this, a friend asked me if I were sanctified, and before I had time to examine my feelings, I said 'Yes'; and God that minute blessed me and filled me full of His Spirit, and since then He has sweetly kept me."
He talked his faith, and agreed with God.
"But you want to be honest, and not claim more than you possess," says Satan.
A bird of prey!
You must assert that you believe God to be honest, and that He has promised that "What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them" (Mark xi. 24). Count God faithful.
A former soldier of mine gave herself to God, but did not feel any difference, and so hesitated to say that God had sanctified her wholly.
"But," she said, "I began to reason over the matter thus: I know I have given myself wholly to God. I am willing to be anything, do anything, suffer anything for Jesus. I am willing to forego all pleasure, honor and all my cherished hopes and plans for His sake, but I do not feel that God sanctifies me; and yet He promises to do so, on the simple condition that I give myself to Him and believe His Word. Knowing that I have given myself to Him, I must believe or make Him a liar; I will believe that He does now sanctify me. But," said she, "I did not get any witness that the work was done just then. However, I rested in God, and some days after this I went to one of the holiness conventions, and there, while a number were testifying, I thought I would rise and tell them God sanctified me. I did so, and between rising up and sitting down, God came and witnessed that it was done. Now I know I am sanctified."
And her shining face was a sufficient evidence that the work was, indeed, done.
Dear reader, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Give yourself wholly to God, trust Him, then confess your faith. "And the Lord whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in: behold He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts" (Mal. iii. 1).
Confessing Other People's Sins
'Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?' asked the Lord of Adam in the Garden of Eden. And Adam replied, 'The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.' Thus they confessed the sins of others and ignored their own, and the curse fell upon them instead of blessing.
Nothing more surely makes manifest a man's spiritual blindness and deadness and hardness of heart than this hiding behind others and confessing their faults instead of his own, and nothing will more surely confirm him in his blindness and sin. It is a deadly kind of hypocrisy. It is an endeavor to shift on to others responsibility for a man's own evil heart and life, and it can meet only with God's displeasure.
'He that covereth his sins shall not prosper,' said Solomon; 'but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy,' and there is no more dangerous way of trying to cover one's sins than by blaming somebody else and calling attention to his faults instead of humbly confessing our own.
An incident in the life of King Saul makes this plain. 'Samuel said unto Saul, Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel..... Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep and ass. ..... But Saul and the people spared Agag (the king) and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fatlings and the lambs and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them; but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly....
'Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth Me that I have set up Saul to be king, for he is turned back from following Me, and hath not performed My commandments.....And Saul said..... I have performed the commandment of the Lord. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Saul said..... I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me..... but the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed.' Thus Saul tried to cover his own sin by confessing the sins of others; but Samuel answered him, 'Thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king.' So Saul lost his kingdom.
And men still lose their crown of peace and salvation and God's favor by sinning, by disobeying, and by confessing the sins of others instead of their own.
'Confess your faults one to another,' wrote James. ' If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,' wrote John.
'I have sinned!' cried David, and again he said, 'I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me.' We can hear the sob of a broken and penitent heart, through the open and humble confession. And God put away his sin.
'God be merciful to me a sinner!' prayed the publican; and 'this man went down to his house justified.'
'Are you saved? ' I asked a little woman in one of our Prayer Meetings.
No, I am not,' she replied with emphasis.
'Were you ever saved?' I asked.
'Yes, I was.'
'And what did Jesus do that you turned your back on Him and started for Hell? ' I questioned. 'A man who called himself a Christian slapped my husband in the face,' said she; but she did not tell me the fact (which I learned later) that the man confessed his wrong, and apologized.
'Well, that was too bad,' I replied; 'but you shouldn't have turned your back on Jesus for that. You know they slapped Jesus in the face, they "smote Him with the palms of their hands.'' And she opened wide her eyes and looked at me. 'And you know they spat in His face also, and not content with that, they crushed a crown of thorns on His head; but that did not satisfy them, so they bared His back, and tied His hands to His feet, and whipped His poor bare back till it was all cut and torn and bleeding -- that was the way the Roman soldiers, under Pilate, scourged Him; and then they smote Him on the head and mocked Him; but not content with that, they then placed a great cross on His shoulders, and it must have pressed heavily upon the poor, wounded back. But He carried it, and there on Calvary they crucified Him; they drove great nails through His hands and feet, and lifting the cross they let it fall heavily into its place. This must have rent and torn His hands and feet very terribly, but He prayed, "Father, forgive them." And there He hung in agony and pain, while they robbed Him of His only suit of clothes, and gave Him gall and vinegar to drink, and wagged their heads and mocked Him. Then He bowed His head and died. And this He suffered for you, my sister, but you turned your back upon Him because some one ill-treated your husband!
And as I talked she saw Jesus; the sin of the other man faded from her sight and her own sin grew big before her eyes, until she was in tears; then rising, she rushed, sobbing, to the penitent-form to confess her own sin to the Lord, and, I trust, to be restored once more to His favor.
When a man gets this vision of Jesus, he ceases to blame other men, and looks only at his own sin, which he can no longer excuse. He blames himself, pleads guilty, and confesses his wrongdoing with a broken and contrite heart; then, looking into the pitying face of his suffering Saviour, he trusts, receives pardon, enters into peace, and becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus.
This is the vision and faith that begets love to the Saviour, that produces obedience in the heart, that saves from all sin, and that gives love and skill to save others also.
Oh, my brother, my sister, let me beg of you to take your eyes off other people and fix them upon yourself and upon Jesus; then you will get the 'beam' out of your own eye, and see clearly how to get the 'mote' out of your brother's eye!
And you that have to deal with people who are always confessing other people's sins, let me beg of you to deal with them very tenderly, though very firmly, lest you forget 'the hole of the pit whence ye are digged,' and lest you become severe with your brother for a fault from which you may think yourself delivered, but are not entirely free.
Remember Paul's words: 'Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.' I have seen men fall themselves through failing to be gentle with those who have fallen. Remember the words of Jesus: 'Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.' How hard is that sweet lesson of meekness and lowliness of heart! But that is the first lesson Jesus sets us to learn.