Hanna Whitall Smith
The Christians Secret to a Happy Life
The potential for a happy abundant Christian life is available to all who would make Jesus the Lord of their lives, yet there are many Christians whose lives lack the joy and fullness of a truly happy life. A keen observer once said to me, “You Christians seem to have a religion that makes you miserable. You are like a man with a headache. He does not want to get rid of his head, but it hurts him to keep it. You cannot expect outsiders to seek earnestly for anything so uncomfortable.” Then, for the first time I saw that the religion of Christ ought to be, and was meant to be, something that would make its possessors happy, not miserable. I began then and there to ask the Lord to show me the secret of a happy Christian life.
I will try to present what I have learned about this secret in the following pages. All of God’s children, I am convinced, feel instinctively in their moments of divine illumination, that a life of inward rest and outward victory is their inalienable birthright. Can you not remember the shout of triumph your souls gave when you first became acquainted with the Lord Jesus, and had a glimpse of His mighty saving power? How sure you were of victory, then! How easy it seemed to be more than conquerors through Him that loved you! Under the leadership of a Captain who had never been defeated in battle, how could you dream of defeat! And yet, how different the experience has been for many of you. Your victories have been few and brief, your defeats many and disastrous. You have not lived as you feel children of God ought to live. You have had, perhaps, a clear understanding of doctrinal truths, but you have not come into possession of their life and power. You have rejoiced in your knowledge of the things revealed in the Scriptures, but have not had a living realization of the things themselves, consciously felt in the soul. Christ is believed in, talked about, and served. However, He is not known as the very life of the soul, abiding there forever, and revealing Himself there continually in His beauty.
You have found Jesus as your Saviour from the penalty of sin, but you have not found Him as your Saviour from its power. You have carefully studied the Holy Scriptures and have gathered much precious truth from them. You have trusted that this would feed and nourish your spiritual life. But in spite of it all, your souls are starving and dying within you. You cry out in secret, again and again, for that bread and water of life which you see promised in the Scriptures to all believers. In the very depths of your heart, you know that your experience is not a Scriptural experience. As an old writer said, your religion is “merely talk whereas, the early Christians enjoyed, possessed, and lived it.” Your hearts have weakened within you, as day after day, and year after year, your early visions of triumph have grown dimmer. You have accepted that the best you can expect from your religion is a life of alternate failure and victory one hour sinning and the next repenting, and then beginning again, only to fail and repent again.
But is this all? Did the Lord Jesus only have this in His mind when He laid down His precious life to deliver you from your bondage to sin? Did He only propose this partial deliverance? Did He intend to leave you struggling under a weary consciousness of defeat and discouragement? When all those declarations were made concerning His coming, and the work He was to accomplish, did they only refer to a limited experience of victorious living? Was there a hidden clause in each promise that was meant to deprive it of its complete fulfilment? Did “delivered us out of the hand of our enemies” (Luke 1:74) mean that they should still have dominion over us? Did “always causeth us to triumph” (2 Corinthians 2:14) mean that we were only to triumph sometimes? Did being made “more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37) mean constant defeat and failure? Does “able. . .to save them to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25) mean the meagre salvation we see manifested among us now? Can we believe that the Saviour, who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, could possibly be satisfied with the many meagre Christian lives in the Church today? The Bible tells us that “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Can we ever imagine that this is beyond His power, and that He finds Himself unable to accomplish the thing He was manifested to do?
Complete Deliverance From Sin
Concentrate in the very beginning on this one to ask me to save you, now, in this life, from the power and dominion of sin, and to make you more than conquerors through His power. If you doubt this, search your Bible and make note of every announcement or declaration concerning the purposes and object of His death on the cross. You will be astonished to find how full they are. His victory delivers us from our sins, our bondage, and our defilement. There is no scripture that supports only a limited and partial deliverance. Yet, many Christians unfortunately are satisfied with just that!
Consider some scriptural references on this subject. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and announced the coming birth of the Saviour, he said, “and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins’ (Matthew 1 :2 1 ) .
When Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost” (Luke 1:67) at the birth of his son and “prophesied,” he declared that God had visited his people in order to fulfil the promise and the oath He had made them. The promise was “That He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life” (Luke 1:74,75).
When Peter was preaching on the porch of the temple to the wondering Jews, he said, “Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:26).
When Paul was telling the Ephesian Church the wondrous truth that Christ had so loved them as to give Himself for them, he went on to declare that His purpose in doing so was “that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5: 26, 27)
When Paul was seeking to instruct Titus, his own son after the common faith, concerning the grace of God, he declared that the object of that grace was to teach us “that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world” (Titus 2:12). He adds, as the reason for this, that Christ “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). When Peter was urging Christians to be holy and Christlike, he told them that “even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth” (1 Peter 3:21,22). He adds, “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
In Ephesians, when Paul contrasts the walk suitable for a Christian with the walk of an unbeliever, he presents the truth in Jesus as being this, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:2224).
In the sixth chapter of Romans, Paul forever answered the question regarding a child of God who continues in sin, and showed how utterly foreign it was to the whole spirit and aim of the salvation of Jesus. He brings up our death and resurrection with Christ as an unanswerable argument for our practical deliverance from sin, and says, “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6: 24) . He adds, “knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:6).
Sin Contrary To God
In the declarations concerning the purpose of the death of Christ, far more mention is made of a present salvation from sin than of a future salvation in a heaven beyond. This plainly shows God’s estimate of the relative importance of these two things.
Dear Christians, do you receive the testimony of Scripture on this matter? The same crucial questions that troubled the Church in Paul’s day are troubling it now. We must consider two things. First, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Romans 6: 1 ) . And second, “Do we then make void the law through faith?” (Romans 3:31). Will our answer to these questions be Paul’s emphatic “God forbid,” and his triumphant statements that, instead of making it void, “we establish the law”? Romans 8:3-4 tells us “what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
Can we suppose that the holy God who hates sin in the sinner is willing to tolerate it in the Christian? Can we really believe that He has even arranged the plan of salvation in such a way as to make it impossible for those who are saved from the guilt of sin to find deliverance from its power?
Dr. Chalmers says it well, “Sin is that scandal which must be rooted out from the great spiritual household over which God rejoices…It would indeed be strange to believe that sin, so hateful to God, caused death, and yet believe that sin should be permitted to continue. It would be very strange that what was previously the object of destroying vengeance should now become the object of toleration. Now that the penalty is removed, do you think it is possible that the unchangeable God has given up His aversion to sin so that ruined and redeemed man may now indulge, under the new arrangement, in that which under the old destroyed him? Does not the God who loved righteousness and hated iniquity six thousand years ago still love righteousness and hate iniquity?
“We can now walk before God in peace and graciousness. How can we believe that God would be allied with a persistent sinner? How will we, recover from such a catastrophe, continue that which first involved us in it? The cross of Christ, by the same mighty and decisive stroke with which it took the curse of sin away from us, also surely takes away the power and the love of sin.”
Dr. Chalmers and many other holy men of his generation, and our own generation, have united in declaring that the redemption accomplished for us by our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary is a redemption from the power of sin as well as from its guilt. Christ is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by Him.
A Quaker clergyman of the seventeenth century says: “There is nothing so contrary to God as sin, and God will not tolerate sin ruling man, His masterpiece.” When we consider how God’s mighty power destroys that which is contrary to Him, who can believe that the devil must always stand and prevail? I believe it is inconsistent with true faith for people to be Christians and yet to believe that Christ, the eternal Son of God, to whom all power in heaven and earth is given, will tolerate sin and the devil having dominion.
Power Over Sin
But you will say that no man can redeem himself by his own power, and no man can live without sin. Amen to that. But if men tell us that God’s power cannot help us and redeem us out of sin, we cannot accept it!
Would you agree if I should tell you that God puts forth His power to help keep us from sinning but the devil hinders Him? Would you believe that it is impossible for God to do it, because the devil does not like it? Would you believe that it is impossible that anyone should be free from sin because the devil has such power over them that God cannot cast him out? This is not so yet hasn’t this been preached? This kind of teaching says that although God’s power is available, it is impossible to get rid of sin because the devil has rooted sin deeply in man’s nature. Isn’t man God’s creature, and can’t God make man new and cast sin out of him? I do agree that sin is deeply rooted in man. Yet Christ Jesus has entered so deeply into the root of man’s nature that He has received power to destroy the devil and his works, and to recover and redeem man into righteousness and holiness. Otherwise, it is not true that “He is able to save. . .to the uttermost (all) that come unto God by Him” (Hebrews 7:25). We must throw away the Bible if we say that it is impossible for God to deliver man out of sin.
When our friends are in captivity in foreign lands, we pay money for their redemption. But we would not pay our money if they were still kept in chains. One would think himself cheated to pay so much money for their redemption and make the bargain that although one be said to be redeemed and be called a redeemed captive, he must still wear his chains. This refers to bodies, but I am now speaking of souls. Christ must be my redemption and rescue me from captivity. Am I a prisoner anywhere? Yes, “Verily, verily, whosoever committeth sin, saith Christ, is the servant of sin.” (John 8:34). If you have sinned, you are a slave, a captive who must be redeemed out of captivity.
You may say, “Who will pay a price for me? I am poor and have nothing. I cannot redeem myself. Who will pay a price for me?” There is One who has paid the price. What good news! He is Jesus, the Redeemer. He will free you from captivity.
Yet some say we must abide in sin as long as we live. What! Must we never be delivered? Must this crooked heart and perverse will always remain? Must I be a believer and yet have no faith that I can be sanctified and live a holy life? Can I never have mastery, can I never have victory over sin? Must it prevail over me as long as I live? What sort of a Redeemer then, is this, or what benefit do I have in this life of redemption? Ask God to open the eyes of your understanding by His Spirit, that you may know, “what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:19,20). And when you have begun to have some faint glimpses of this power, learn to look completely away from your own weakness. Put your case into His hands and trust Him to deliver you.
“When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people, and shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is He that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies to save you” (Deuteronomy 20: 14).
GOD’S SIDE AND MAN’S SIDE
There is much misunderstanding about the subject of the life and walk of faith because its two sides are not seen clearly. People are apt to think that there is only one side to it. They dwell exclusively upon the one they happen to see more clearly, without even thinking of any other. It is no wonder then, that there are distorted views of the whole matter.
Now, there are two very distinct sides to this subject, and like all other subjects, it cannot be fully understood unless both of these sides are kept constantly in view. I refer of course to God’s side and man’s side. In other words, to God’s part in the work of sanctification, and man’s part. These are very distinct and even contrasting, but they are not really contradictory.
At one time this was very strikingly illustrated to me. There were two preachers holding meetings in the same place at alternate hours. One spoke only of God’s part in the work, and the other dwelt exclusively upon man’s part. They were both in perfect sympathy with each other, and realized fully that they were each teaching different sides of the same great truth. This was also understood by a large proportion of their listeners. But some of the listeners did not comprehend this and one lady said to me in great perplexity, “I cannot understand it at all. Here are two preachers undertaking to teach just the same truth, and yet to me they seem flatly to contradict each other.” I felt at the time that she expressed a puzzle that, very often, causes great difficulty in the minds of many honest inquirers after this truth.
Suppose two friends go to see a famous building and return home to describe it. One has seen only the north side, and the other only the south. The first says: “The building was built in such a manner and has so many stories and ornaments.” “Oh, no,” says the other, interrupting him, “you are altogether mistaken. I saw the building, and it was built in quite a different manner, and its ornaments and stories were so and so.” A lively dispute might follow upon the truth of the respective descriptions, until the two friends discover that they had been describing different sides of the same building, and then all would be reconciled at once.
I should like to state, as clearly as I can, what I judge to be the two distinct sides in this matter. I would like to show how looking at one, without seeing the other, will be sure to create wrong impressions and views of the truth.
Man’s Part In Faith
To state it briefly, I would say that man’s part is to trust, and God’s part is to work. It can be seen at a glance how these two parts contrast with each other, and yet are not necessarily contradictory. I mean this: there is a certain work to be accomplished. We are to be delivered from the power of sin, and are to be made perfect in every good work to do the will of God. “Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,” we are to be actually “changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove what is good, acceptable, and the perfect will of God.
A real work is to be wrought in us and upon us. Sins with which we constantly struggle are to be conquered. Evil habits are to be overcome. Wrong attitudes andfeelings are to be rooted out. A positive transformation is to take place. So, at least, the Bible teaches. Now, somebody must do this. Either we must do it for ourselves, or another must do it for us. Most of us have tried to do it for ourselves at first, and have grievously failed. We then discover, from the Scriptures and from our own experience, that it is something we are unable to do. But, the Lord Jesus Christ has come on purpose to do it. He will do it for all who put themselves into His hands and trust Him completely.
God’s Part In Faith
Now, under these circumstances, what is the part of the believer, and what is the part of the Lord? Plainly the believer can do nothing but trust. The Lord, in whom he trusts, actually does the work entrusted to Him. Trusting and doing are certainly contrasted things, often indeed contradictory, but are they contradictory in this case? No, because it is two different parties that are concerned. If we should say that one party in a transaction trusted his case to another, and yet attended to it himself, we should state a contradiction and an impossibility. But, when we say that one party in a transaction trusts the other to do something, and that the other goes to work and does it, we are stating something that is perfectly simply and harmonious. When we say, therefore, that in this higher life man’s part is to trust, and God’s part is to do the thing entrusted to Him, we do not present a very difficult or puzzling problem.
The preacher, who is speaking man’s part in the matter, cannot speak of anything but surrender and trust, because this is positively all the man can do. We all agree about this. And yet such preachers are constantly criticised as though, in saying this, they had meant to imply there was no other part, and that nothing but trusting is to be done. And the cry goes out that this doctrine of faith does away with all realities. Souls are told to trust, and that is the end of it. They then sit down in a sort of religious easychair, dreaming away their life, fruitless of any actual result.
All this misunderstanding arises from the fact that either the preacher has neglected to state, or the hearer has failed to hear that the Lord works not by us, but by Him. Actual results are reached by our trusting, because our Lord undertakes the thing entrusted to Him and accomplishes it. We do not do anything, but He does it, and it is done all the better because of this. As soon as this is clearly seen, the difficulty disappears entirely.
On the other hand, the preacher who dwells on God’s part is criticized on a totally different ground. He does not speak of trust, for the Lord’s part is not trust, but to work. The Lord’s part is to do the thing entrusted to Him. He disciplines and trains by inward exercises and outward divine care or direction. He brings to us all the refining and purifying resources of His wisdom and His love. He makes everything in our lives and circumstances subservient to the one great purpose of causing us to grow in grace, and of conforming us, day by day and hour by hour, to the image of Christ. He carries us through a process of transformation, longer or shorter as our particular case may require. And soon, we see actual results concerning what we have given Him in trust. We have dared, for instance, according to the command in Romans 6:11, to believe ourselves dead unto sin by faith. The Lord makes this a reality.
The Potter And The Clay
Sanctification is both a step of faith and a profit in the oven, and finally turns it out of his workshop, a vessel to his honour, and fit for his use.”
Before, I was speaking of the clay’s part in the matter. I am now speaking of the potter’s part. These two are necessarily contrasted, but are not in the least contradictory. The clay is not expected to do the potter’s work. It only yields itself to his working. It seems to me that nothing could be clearer than the perfect harmony between these two apparently contradictory sorts of teaching.
What can be said about man’s part in this great work is that he must continually surrender himself and continually trust. But when we come to God’s side of the question, much can be said about the many wonderful ways in which He accomplishes the work entrusted to Him. It is here that growing is important. The lump of clay could never grow into a beautiful vessel if it stayed in the claypit for thousands of years. But when it is put into the hands of a skilful potter it grows rapidly under his fashioning into the vessel he intends it to be. In the same way the soul, abandoned to the working of the Heavenly Potter, is made into a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use.
The Maturing Process
Having, therefore, taken the step of faith by which you have put yourself completely and absolutely into His hands, you must now expect Him to begin work. His way of accomplishing that which you have entrusted to Him, may be different from your way. But He knows, and you must be satisfied.
I knew a lady who had entered into this life of faith with a great outpouring of the Spirit and a wonderful flood of light and joy. She supposed, of course, this was a preparation for some great service and expected to be put forth immediately into the Lord’s harvestfield. Instead of this, almost at once her husband lost all his money, and she was shut up in her own house to attend to all sorts of domestic duties with no time or strength left for any Gospel work at all. She accepted the discipline and yielded herself up as heartily to sweep, dust, bake, and sew, as she would have done to preach, pray, or write for the Lord. As a result, through this training He made her into a vessel “meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).
Another lady entered this life of faith under similar circumstances. She also expected to be sent out to do some great work, but instead was confined with two invalid children, to nurse, humor and amuse all day long. Unlike the first lady, this one did not accept the training. She worried, rebelled, and lost all her blessing, retreating into a sad spiritual condition. In the beginning, she understood her part of trusting but did not understand the divine process. She took herself out of the hands of the Heavenly Potter and the vessel was marred on the wheel.
I believe many a vessel has been similarly marred by not understanding these things. The maturity of a Christian experience cannot be
reached in a moment. It is the result of the work of God’s Holy Spirit, who, by His energizing and transforming power, causes us to “grow up into (Christ) in all things” (Ephesians 4:15). We cannot hope to reach this maturity in any other way than by yielding ourselves completely and willingly to His mighty working. However, the sanctification the Scriptures encourage, as a present experiencee upon all believers, does not consist in maturity of growth, but in purity of heart.
From the moment the lump of clay comes under the transforming hand of the potter, it is, during each day and hour of the process, just what the potter wants it to be at that hour or on that day. Therefore, it pleases him, but it is far from being the vessel he intends it to be in the future.
A little baby may be all that he or she could be or ought to be, and may perfectly please its mother. Yet it is very far from being what that mother would wish it to be when it reaches maturity.
The apple in June is a perfect apple for June. It is the best apple that June can produce. But it is very different from the apple in October, which is a perfected apple.
God’s works are perfect in every stage of their growth. Man’s works are never perfect until they are in every respect complete. In this life of sanctification, all we can claim is that by an act of faith we put ourselves into the hands of the Lord for Him to work in us all the good pleasure of His will. Then, by a continuous exercise of faith, keep ourselves there. This is our part in the matter. And when we do it we are truly pleasing to God. It may require years of training and discipline to mature us into a vessel that will be in all respects to His honour and fitted to every good work.
Trust Is The Foundation
Our part is the trusting. His part is to accomplish the results. When we do our part He never fails to do His. No one ever trusted in the Lord and was confounded. Do not be afraid to trust or tell others to trust. Trust is the beginning and the continuing foundation. When we trust, the Lord works, and His work is the important part of the whole matter.
This explains that apparent contradiction which puzzles so many. They say, “In one breath you tell us to do nothing but trust, and in the next you tell us to do impossible things. How can you make such statements agree?” They can be understood just as we understand the statements concerning a saw in a carpenter’s shop. We say, at one moment, that the saw has sawed the log, and the next moment declare that the carpenter has done it. The saw is the instrument used. The power that uses it is the carpenter’s.
And so we, yielding ourselves unto God, and our members as instruments of righteousness unto Him, find that He works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure . We can say with Paul, ” I laboured . .yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” ( 1 Corinthians 1 5: 1 0) . In the divine order, God’s working depends upon our cooperation. It was said that our Lord could do no mighty work at a certain place because of the unbelief of the people. It was not that He would not. He could not. I believe we often think that God will not, when the real truth is that He cannot. The potter, however skilful, cannot make a beautiful vessel out of a lump of clay that is never put into his hands. Neither can God make out of me a vessel unto His honour, unless I put myself into His hands. My part is the essential revelation of God’s part in the matter of my salvation. As God is sure to do His part all right, the vital thing for me is to find out what my part is, and then do it.
In this book, I will dwell mostly upon man’s side. I am writing for human beings, in the hope of making it plain as to how we are to fulfil our part in this great work. But I wish it to be distinctly understood, that unless I believed with all my heart in God’s effectual working on His side, not one word of this book would ever have been written.
In the first chapter I have tried to settle the question regarding the scriptural basis of the experience sometimes called the higher Christian life. It is the only true Christian life which is best described in the words, the “life hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). In the second chapter I have sought to bring the two distinct sides of this life together – the part to be done by the Lord and the part to be done by ourselves. I will now consider the point to be settled. The Bible presents a life of abiding rest and continual victory to the believer in the Lord Jesus. That is far beyond ordinary Christian experience. The Bible presents a Savior who saves us from the power of our sins just as He saves us from the guilt of sin.
The next point to be considered concerns the nature of the chief characteristics of this “life hid with Christ in God,” and how it differs from the greater part of Christian experience. The chief characteristics of the higher Christian life are: a complete surrender to the Lord; a perfect trust in Him, resulting in victory over sin; and finally, inward rest of soul. It differs from the lower range of Christian experience in that it causes us to let the Lord carry our burdens and manage our affairs for us, instead of trying to do it ourselves.
Getting Rid Of Burdens
Most Christians are like a man who was toiling along the road, bending under a heavy burden, when a wagon overtook him, and the driver kindly offered to help him on his journey. He joyfully accepted the offer, but when seated in the wagon, continued to bend beneath his burden, which he still kept on his shoulders. “Why don’t you lay down your burden?” asked the kindhearted driver. “Oh!” replied the man, “I feel that it is almost too much to ask you to carry me, and I could not think of letting you carry my burden too.” And so Christians, who have given themselves into the care and keeping of the Lord Jesus, still continue to bend beneath the weight of their burdens, and often go weary and heavy laden throughout the whole length of their journey.
When I speak of burdens, I mean everything that troubles us, whether they are spiritual concerns or earthly concerns. The first burden, which I believe to be the greatest burden we have to carry in life, is self. The most difficult thing we have to manage is self. Our own daily living, our feelings, our weaknesses, and temptations – these are the things that confuse us more than anything else. In getting rid of your burdens, therefore, the first one you must get rid of is yourself. You must hand yourself, and all your inward and outward experiences, over into the care and keeping of your God, and leave it there.
He made you and He understands you. He knows how to manage you. All you must do is trust Him to do it. Say to Him, “Here, Lord, I give myself to you. I have tried in every way I could think of to manage myself and to make myself what I know I ought to be, but I have always failed. Now I give it up to you. Take complete possession of me. Work in me all the good pleasure of your will. Mold and fashion me into a vessel that seems good to you. I leave myself in your hands. I believe you will, according to your promise, make me into ‘a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work'” (2 Timothy 2:21). At this point you must rest and trust yourself continually and absolutely to Him.
Next, you must get rid of every other burden – your health, your reputation, your Christian work, your houses, your children, and your business. In short you must get rid of every inward and outward thing that concerns you.
It is generally easier for us to trust the Lord for our future than it is to trust Him for our present life. We know we are helpless regarding the future, but we feel as if the present is in our own hands and must be carried on our own shoulders. Most of us have an unconfessed idea that it is enough to ask the Lord to carry ourselves without asking Him to carry our burdens, too.
Leaving Burdens with God
I knew a Christian lady who had a very heavy earthly burden. It took away her sleep and her appetite, and there was danger of her health breaking down under it. One day, when it seemed especially heavy, she noticed lying on the table near her a little tract called “Hannah’s Faith.” Attracted by the title, she picked it up and began to read it, little knowing, however, that it was to create a revolution in her whole experience. The story was of a poor woman who had been carried triumphantly through life of unusual sorrow. She was giving the history of her life to a kind visitor on one occasion. When she finished the visitor said, “Oh, Hannah, I do not see how you could bear so much sorrow!” “I did not bear it,” was the quick reply “the Lord bore it for me.” “Yes,” said the visitor, “that is the right way. We must take our troubles to the Lord.” “Yes,” replied Hannah, “but we must do more than that. We must leave them there. Most people,” she continued, “take their burdens to Him, but they bring them away with them again, and are just as worried and unhappy as ever. But I take mine and leave them with Him, and come away and forget them. If the worry comes back, I take it to Him again. I do this over and over, until at last I just forget I have any worries and am at perfect rest.”
My friend, very much struck with this plan, resolved to try it. She couldn’t change the circumstances of her life, but she took them to the Lord and handed them over into His management. She believed that He took them, and she left all the responsibility and the worry and anxiety with Him. When the anxieties returned, she took them back to the Lord. The result was, that although the circumstances remained unchanged, her soul was kept in perfect peace in the midst of them. She felt that she had found out a practical secret. From that time she never attempted to carry her own burdens or to manage her own affairs, but to hand them over to the Lord as fast as they arose.
This same secret so effective in her outward life, also proved to be still more effective in her inward life. She gave her whole self to the Lord with all that she was and all that she had. Believing that He took all she had committed to Him, she stopped worrying and her life changed for the better. She found out a simple secret. It was possible to obey God’s commandment contained in the words, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). By obeying this promise the result would inevitably be the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4 :7)
Rest In The Lord
There are many other things to be said about this life hid with Christ in God. There are many details concerning what the Lord Jesus does for those who give themselves to Him. The heart of the whole matter is stated here. The soul that has discovered this secret of simple faith has found the key that will unlock the whole treasure house of God.
I am sure these pages will fall into the hands of some child of God who is hungering for such a life as I have been describing. You long unspeakably to get rid of your weary burdens. You would be delighted to hand over the management of your unmanageable self into the hands of one who is able to manage you. You are tired and weary, and what I speak about looks unutterably sweet to you.
Do you recall going to bed with a great sense of rest after a day of great exertion and weariness? How good it felt to relax every muscle and let your body go in perfect abandon of ease and comfort! The strain of the day had ceased, for a few hours at least, and the work of the day had been forgotten. You no longer had to hold up an aching head or a weary back. You trusted yourself to the bed in absolute confidence, and it held you up without effort or strain or thought on your part. You rested!
But suppose you had doubted the strength or the stability of your bed. Suppose you were frightened that at any moment it would give way beneath you and you would land on the floor. Could you have rested then? Every muscle would have been strained in a fruitless effort to hold yourself up and the weariness would be greater than if you had not gone to bed at all.
Let this analogy teach you what it means to rest in the Lord. Let your souls lie down upon the couch of His sweet will as your bodies lie down in their beds at night. Relax every strain and release every burden. Let yourself go in perfect abandon of ease and comfort. Be assured that since He holds you up you are perfectly safe. Your part is simply to rest. His part is to sustain you. He cannot fail.
Freedom From Care
Let us look at another analogy which our Lord Himself has abundantly approved – that of the childlife. For “Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said: “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:23).
Now, what are the characteristics of a little child, and how does it live? It lives by faith. Its chief characteristic is freedom from care. Its life is one long trust from year’s end to year’s end. It trusts its parents. It trusts its teacher. It even sometimes trusts people who are completely unworthy of trust. A child’s trust is answered abundantly. The child provides nothing for itself and yet everything is provided. It takes no thought for the morrow, and forms no plans, and yet all its life is planned out for it. It finds its paths made ready and prepared as it comes to them day by day and hour by hour. It goes in and out of its father’s house with ease. It enjoys all the good things of the home without having spent a penny in procuring them. Under its father’s tender care the child does not worry about disease. Famine and fire and war may rage, but the child abides in utter unconcern and perfect rest. It lives in the present moment and receives its life unquestioningly as it comes to it day by day from its father’s hands.
I was visiting once in a wealthy home where there was a little adopted child who received all the love and tenderness and care that human hearts could give. As I watched that child running in and out day by day, free and lighthearted, with the happy carelessness of childhood, I thought what a picture it was of our wonderful position as children in the house of our Heavenly Father. And I said to myself, “If the loving hearts around this child would be grieved to see her worried or anxious about herself in any way about whether her food and clothes would be provided, or how she was to get her education or her future support. How much more must the great, loving heart of our God and Father be grieved and wounded at seeing His children taking so much anxious care and thought!” And I understood why it was that our Lord had said to us so emphatically, ‘Take no thought for your life’ (Matthew 6:25).
Who is taken care of the best in every household? Is it not the little children? And does not the least of all, the helpless baby, receive the largest share? We all know that the baby doesn’t work or sew, yet it is fed, clothed, loved, and rejoiced in more tenderly than the hardest worker of all.
This life of faith, then, about which I am writing, consists in just this being a child in the Father’s house. And when this is said, enough is said to change every weary, burdened life into one of blessedness and rest.
Let the ways of childish confidence and freedom from care, which so please you and win your hearts in your own little ones, teach you what should be your ways with God. Leave yourselves in His hands. Learn to be literally “careful for nothing” and you will find it to be a fact that “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee” (Isaiah 26:3) .
This is the divine description of the life of faith about which I am writing. It is no speculative theory, neither is it a dream of romance. There is such a thing as having one’s soul kept in perfect peace here in this life. Childlike trust in God is the key to its attainment.
Having sought to settle the question regarding the scriptural basis of actually living a life hid with Christ in God, and having also shown a little of what it is, the next point concerns how it is to be reached and realized.
First of all, I would say that this blessed life must not in any way be looked upon as an attainment, but as an obtainment. We cannot earn it. We cannot strive for it. We cannot win it. We can do nothing but ask for it and receive it. It is the gift of God in Christ Jesus. And when something is a gift, the only course left for the receiver is to take it and thank the giver for it. We never say of a gift, “See what I have attained,” and boast of our skill and wisdom in having attained it. Rather we say, “See what has been given to me,” and boast of the love and wealth and generosity of the giver. Everything in our salvation is a gift. From beginning to end, God is the giver and we are the receivers. God does not give to those who do great things. He gives to those who “receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness” (Romans 5:17), the richest promises.
In order to enter into a practical experience of this interior life, the soul must be in a receptive attitude, fully recognizing the fact that the higher Christian life is God’s gift in Christ Jesus, and that it cannot be gained by any efforts or works of our own. This will greatly simplify the matter. The only thing left to be considered is to discover who receives this gift from God and how they receive it. In short, He can bestow it only upon the fully consecrated soul. And finally, it is to be received by faith.
Entire Surrender To God
Consecration (the act of setting apart for the service of God) removes the difficulties out of the way and makes it possible for God to bestow the higher Christian life. In order for a lump of clay to be made into a beautiful vessel, it must be entirely abandoned to the potter. It must lie passive in his hands.
I was once trying to explain to a physician who was in charge of a large hospital, the necessity and meaning of consecration, but he seemed unable to understand. At last I said to him, “Suppose, in making your rounds among your patients, you would meet with one man who earnestly asked you to take his case in your care in order to cure him, but who at the same time refused to tell you all his symptoms or to take all your prescribed remedies. Suppose he should say to you, ‘I am quite willing to follow your directions regarding certain things because they seem good to me, but I prefer judging other matters for myself, and following my own directions. “What would you do in such a case?” I asked. “Do!” he replied with indignation: “Do! I would soon leave a man like that to his own care. For, of course,” he added, “I could do nothing for him unless he would put his whole case into my hands without any reservations and would obey my directions implicitly.” “It is necessary, then,” I said, “for doctors to be obeyed, if they are to have any chance to cure their patient?” “Implicitly obeyed!” he replied emphatically. “And that is consecration,” I continued. “God must have the whole case put into His hands without any reservations, and His directions must be implicitly followed.” “I see it,” he exclaimed. “I see it! And I will do it. God will have His own way with me from now on.”
To some minds the word “abandonment” might express this idea better than the word “consecration.” But whatever word we use, we mean an entire surrender of the whole being to God spirit, soul, and body placed under His absolute control, for Him to do with us just what He pleases. The language of our hearts, under all circumstances and in view of every act, is to be “Thy will be done.” Freedom of choice must be given up. A life of complete obedience is the key.
This may appear to be difficult to those who truly do not know God. But to those who know Him, it is the happiest and most restful of lives. He is our Father, He loves us and He knows just what is best for us. Therefore, His will is the most blessed thing that can come to us under any circumstances. I do not understand how it is that the eyes of so many Christians have been blinded to this fact. But it really would seem as if God’s own children were more afraid of His will than of anything else in life. His lovely, lovable will, which only means lovingkindnesses and tender mercies and blessings unspeakable to their souls! I wish I could show every one the immeasurable sweetness of the will of God. Heaven is a place of infinite bliss because His will is done there perfectly.
Our lives share in this bliss in the proportion that His will is perfectly done in them. He loves us -loves us, I say and the will of love is always blessing for its loved one. Some of us know what it is to love, and we know that if we could only have our way, our loved ones would be overwhelmed with blessings. All that is good and sweet and lovely in life would be poured out upon them from our lavish hands, if we only had the power to carry out our will for them. And if this is the way we love, how much more it must be so with God, who is love itself. If we for one moment could get a glimpse into the mighty depths of His love, our hearts would spring out to meet His will and embrace it as our richest treasure. We would abandon ourselves to it with an enthusiasm of gratitude and joy that such a wondrous privilege could be ours.
Many Christians seem to think that all their Father in heaven wants is a chance to make them miserable and to take away all their blessings. They imagine, poor souls, that if they try to govern things by their will they can hinder Him from doing this. I am ashamed to write this, yet we must face a fact which is making hundreds of lives miserable.
A Christian who was in a great deal of trouble was telling another Christian about the various efforts he had tried for deliverance, and concluded by saying, “But it has all been in vain, and there is literally nothing left for me to do now but to trust the Lord.” “Alas!” exclaimed his friend in a tone of the deepest commiseration, as though no greater risk were possible “Has it come to that?”
A Christian lady who had this feeling was once telling a friend how she found it impossible to say, “Thy will be done,” and how afraid she was to do it. She was the mother of an only little boy who was the heir to a great fortune and the idol of her heart. After she had completely stated her difficulties, her friend said, “Suppose your little Charley should come running to you tomorrow and say ‘Mother, I have made up my mind to let you have your own way with me from now on. I am always going to obey you, and I want you to do just whatever you think best with me. I will trust your love.’ How would you feel towards him? Would you say to yourself, ‘Ah, now I will have a chance to make Charley miserable. I will take away all his pleasures, and fill his life with every hard and disagreeable thing that I can find. I will compel him to do just the things that are the most difficult for him to do, and will give him all sorts of impossible commands ? “Oh, no, no, no!” exclaimed the indignant mother. “You know I wouldn’t do that. You know I would hug him to my heart, cover him with kisses, and hurry to fill his life with all that was sweetest and best.” “And are you more tender and more loving than God?” asked her friend. “No!” was the reply. “I see my mistake. Of course I must not be anymore afraid of saying, ‘Thy will be done,’ to my Heavenly Father, than I would want my Charley to be afraid of saying it to me.”
Better and sweeter than health, or friends, or money, or fame, or ease, or prosperity, is the adorable will of our God. It gilds the darkest hours with a divine halo, and sheds brightest sunshine on the gloomiest paths. When one reigns in the Kingdom, nothing can go wrong for him. Surely, then, it is only a glorious privilege that is opening before you, when I tell you that the first step you must take in order to enter into the life hid with Christ in God, is that of entire consecration. I beg you not to look at it as a difficult and stern demand. You must do it gladly, thankfully, enthusiastically. You must go in on what I call the privilege side of consecration. I can assure you, from the universal testimony of all who have tried it, that you will find it the happiest place you have ever entered yet.
According To Our Faith
After surrender, faith is important next. Faith is an absolutely necessary element when receiving any gift. When our friends give a thing to us, it is not really ours until we believe it has been given and we claim it as our own. Above all, this is true about gifts which are purely mental or spiritual. Love may be lavished upon us by another without measure, but until we believe that we are loved, it never really becomes ours.
I suppose most Christians understand this principle in reference to the matter of their forgiveness. They know that the forgiveness of sins through Jesus could have been preached to them forever, but it would never really have become theirs until they believed this preaching, and claimed the forgiveness as their own. But when it comes to living the Christian life, they lose sight of this principle, and think that, having been saved by faith, they are now to live by works and efforts. Instead of continuing to receive, they are now to begin to do. Our declaration that the life hid with Christ in God is to be entered by faith, seems perfectly unintelligible to them. And yet it is plainly declared, ‘as ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him” (Colossians 2:6). We received Him by faith, and by faith alone. Therefore, we are to walk in Him by faith, and by faith alone. And the faith by which we enter into this hidden life is the same as the faith by which we were translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, only it lays hold of a different thing.
Then we believed that Jesus was our Savior from the guilt of sin, and according to our faith it was done for us. Now we must believe that He is our Savior from the power of sin, and according to our faith it shall be done for us. Then we trusted Him for forgiveness, and it became ours. Now we must trust Him for righteousness, and it shall become ours also. Then we took Him as Savior from the penalties of our sins in the future. Now we must take Him as a Savior in the present from the bondage of our sins. Then He was our Redeemer. Now He is to be our Life. Then He lifted us out of the pit. Now He is to seat us in heavenly places with Himself.
Theologically I know that every believer has everything as soon as he is converted. But nothing is his until he claims it by faith. “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you” (Joshua 1:3). God “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). But until we set the foot of faith upon them, they do not practically become ours. “According to our faith” is always the limit and the rule (see Matthew 9:29).
But this faith that I am speaking of must be a present faith. No faith that is practiced in the future tense amounts to anything. A man may believe forever that his sins will be forgiven at some future time and he will never find peace. He has to come to the now belief, and say by a present appropriating faith, “My sins are now forgiven,” before his soul can be at rest. And, similarly, no faith that looks for a future deliverance from the power of sin will ever lead a soul into the life we are describing. The enemy delights in this future faith, for he knows it is powerless to accomplish any practical results. However, he trembles and flees when the soul of the believer dares to claim a present deliverance and to consider itself to be free from his power now.
Perhaps no four words in the language have more meaning in them than the following, which I would have you repeat over and over with your voice and with your soul, emphasizing a different word each time:
Believe God Will Do It
Jesus saves me now. It is He.
Jesus saves me now._It is His work to save.
Jesus saves me now. I am the one to be saved.
Jesus saves me now. He is doing it every moment.
Let us sum this up. In order to enter into this blessed interior life of rest and triumph, you have two steps to take: first, entire abandonment, and second, absolute faith. No matter what the complications of your experience, no matter what your difficulties, or your surroundings, or your “peculiar temperament,” these two steps will certainly bring you out into the green pastures and still waters of this life hid with Christ in God. You may be perfectly sure of this. And if you will let every other consideration go, and simply devote your attention to these two points, your progress will be rapid, and your soul will reach its desired haven far sooner than you can now think possible.
I will repeat the steps so there is no mistake. You are a child of God, and long to please Him. You love your divine Master, and you are sick and weary of the sin that grieves Him. You long to be delivered from its power. Everything you have tried up to now has failed to deliver you. Now in your despair, you are asking if it can be as happy people say, that Jesus is able and willing to deliver you. Surely you must know in your very soul that to save you out of the hand of all your enemies is, in fact, just the very thing He came to do. Then trust Him. Commit your case to Him without hesitation. Believe that He takes all. And at once, knowing what He is and what He has said, claim that He saves you even now. Just as you first believed that He delivered you from the guilt of sin because He said it, believe now that He delivers you from the power of sin because He says it.
Let your faith lay hold of a new power in Christ now. You have trusted Him as your dying Savior. Trust Him now as your living Savior. Just as He came to deliver you from future punishment, He also came to deliver you from present bondage. Just as sure as He came to bear your stripes for you, He has come to live your life for you. You are as completely powerless in the one case as in the other. You could not have gotten rid of your own sins and you could not accomplish practical righteousness for yourself. Christ, and Christ only, must do both for you. Your part in both cases is simply to give Him the thing to do, and then believe that He does it.
A woman, now very strong in this life of trust was at first in great darkness and perplexity when trying to come to an understanding of the higher Christian life. At that time she said to the friend who was trying to help her, “You all say abandon yourself and trust, abandon yourself and trust. But I don’t know how. I wish you would just do it out loud, so that I can see how you do it.”
Would you like me to do it out loud for you?
“Lord Jesus, I believe that you are able and willing to deliver me from all the care and unrest and bondage of my life. I believe you died to set me free, not only in the future, but here and now. I believe you are stronger than sin, and that you can keep me, even in my extreme weakness, from falling into its snares or obeying its commands. And, Lord, I am going to trust you to keep me. I have tried keeping myself, and have failed terribly. I am absolutely helpless. So now I will trust you. I give myself to you. Body, soul, and spirit, I present myself to you, as a piece of clay, to be fashioned into anything your love and your wisdom chooses. I hold back nothing. And now I am yours. I believe you accept all that I present to you. I believe that you have taken possession of this poor, weak, foolish heart. I believe that at this very moment you have begun to work in me to will and to do of your good pleasure. I trust you completely and I trust you now.”
Are you afraid to take this step? Does it seem too sudden, too much like a leap in the dark? Don’t you know that the step of faith always seems to be void, but the rock is always beneath: If you are ever to enter this glorious land flowing with milk and honey, you must first enter the brimming waters, for there is no other path. To do it now may save you months and even years of disappointment and grief. Hear the word of the Lord: “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9).