Sunday Classic Hanna Whitall Smith: ” The Christians Secret to a Happy Life” (5-8)

Posted: April 10, 2011 in Uncategorized
“Traditional Christianity Saved by Grace”
 Hell got bigger. Grace got Greater, and the world is heading for Hell in a Handbasket. You really don’t want to go there. Unless you seriously don’t do something about it, You are Going to Hell. Hell was not made for you and you weren’t made for Hell, but it isn’t oblivion you are facing when you die, but Hell. You are going in the wrong direction and admit it or not, Hell is waiting for you. Jesus Said, Call on Me and You Shall Be Saved. We call it Salvation because it is. It is not going where you deserve to be, and that is Hell. Jesus said, Call on me. Read these so you can be assured God wants you in heaven.“Call on the Name of the Lord, and You Shall Be Saved”. Reject them, pure and simple, You Go to hell. It’s your call, it just might be your Last Call. –Michael James Stone
 SUNDAYS are CLASSICS
Every Sunday we post Classics of Chrisitanity which allows the reader to find
“the pearls of faith in the fields of Christendom” 


                                                                            

This Weeks Classic

 

 Hanna Whitall Smith

 


 The Christians Secret to a Happy Life

 

Part II

DIFFICULTIES

Chapter 5

DIFFICULTIES CONCERNING CONSECRATIO

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It is very important that Christians not be ignorant of the temptations that seem to stand ready to oppose every step of their progress. These temptations are especially active when the soul hungers and thirsts after righteousness and begins to reach out after the fullness of life in Christ.

One of the greatest of these temptations concerns consecration. One who desires holiness is told that he must consecrate himself and he strives to do so. But he meets with difficulty at once. He has done what he thinks is necessary to be consecrated, yet he finds nothing different in his experience. Nothing seems changed as he has been led to expect it would be. He is completely baffled and desperately asks the question, “How am I to know when I am consecrated?”

The chief temptation that assaults the soul at this point and at every step of its progress concerns feelings. We can’t believe we are consecrated until we feel that we are. And because we don’t feel that God has taken charge of us, we can’t really believe that He has. As usual, we put feeling first, faith second, and His promise last of all. Now God’s rule in everything is, His promise (His Word) first, faith second, and feeling last of all. We cannot change this order.

Put Faith Before Feeling

The way to meet this temptation concerning concentration is simply to take God’s side in the matter. We must follow His way by putting faith before feeling. Give yourself completely to the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you all that is not of Him in your heart and life. If the Holy Spirit reveals anything to you, give it to the Lord immediately, and say “Thy will be done.” If the Holy Spirit reveals nothing to you, you must believe that there is nothing, and must conclude that you have given Him all. Then, recognize the fact that when you give yourself to God He accepts you. Let your faith take hold of this fact at once. Firmly believe that He has taken all that you have surrendered to Him. You must not wait to feel that you have given yourself, or that God has taken you. You must simply believe it to be the case. If you are steadfast in believing, you will realize it is a blessed fact that you are completely the Lord’s.

If you were to give an estate to a friend, you would have to give it, and he would have to receive it by faith. An estate is not a thing that can be picked up and handed over to another. The giving of it and the receiving of it must be a transaction of word and paper and, therefore, one of faith. Now, suppose you give an estate one day to a friend, and then doubt whether you had really given it, and whether he had actually taken it and considered it his own. Suppose you feel it necessary to go day after day and renew the gift. What would your friend think? What would be the condition of your own mind concerning it? Your friend would certainly begin to doubt whether you ever intended to give it to him at all. You yourself would be so confused about it, that you would not know whether the estate was yours or his.

Now, isn’t this the same way you have been acting toward God concerning consecration? You have daily given yourself to Him over and over, perhaps for months, but you still wonder whether you really gave yourself to Him and whether He has taken you. Because you felt no change, you have concluded that it is not done. This confusion will last forever, unless you stop it by putting faith to work. You must get to the point of believing the matter to be an accomplished and settled thing.

The Levitical law of offerings to the Lord clearly states that everything which is given to Him becomes, by the very act of giving, something holy. Set apart from all other things, it is something that cannot be put to any other uses, unless sacrilege is committed. “Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord” (Leviticus 27:28). Having given it once to the Lord, the devoted thing from that time on was believed by all Israel as being the Lord’s. No one dared to retake it.

The giver might have grudgingly and halfheartedly made his offering, but, having made the offer, the matter was taken out of his hands altogether. The devoted thing, by God’s own law, became “most holy unto the Lord.” It was not made holy by the state of mind of the giver, but by the holiness of the divine receiver. “The altar sanctifieth the gift” (Matthew 23:19). An offering, once laid upon the altar, belonged to the Lord from that very moment. I can imagine someone offering a gift and then begin to question his sincerity and honesty in doing it. I can imagine his coming back to the priest to say that he was afraid because he did not give it correctly or was not perfectly sincere in giving it. I feel sure the priest would have silenced him at once, saying, “I don’t know how you gave your offering, or what your motives were in giving it. The facts are that you did give it, and that it’s the Lord’s. For every devoted thing is most holy unto Him. It’s too late to change the transaction now.” Not only the priest, but all Israel, would have been aghast at the man, who, having once given his offering, would reach out his hand to take it back. Yet, day after day, sincere Christians, with no thought of the sacrilege they are committing, are guilty of a similar act. They give themselves to the Lord in solemn consecration, and then through unbelief, take back that which they have given.

Believing Brings Assurance

Because God is not visibly present to the eye, it is difficult to feel that a transaction with Him is real. If we could actually see Him when we made our acts of consecration we would feel it to be a very real thing. We would realize that we had given our word to Him and could not dare to take it back, no matter how much we might wish to do so. Such a transaction would have the same power for us as a spoken promise to an earthly friend always has to a man of honor. We need to see that God’s presence is always a fact. We need to see that every act of our soul is done before Him. A word spoken in prayer is spoken to Him just as if our eyes could see Him and our hands could touch Him. We will then stop having such vague conceptions of our relations with Him and will feel the binding force of every word we say in His presence.

I know some will say, ‘Ah, yes. But if He would only speak to me and say that He took me when l gave myself to Him, I would have no trouble then in believing it.” No, of course you wouldn’t. But then, where would the room for faith be? Sight is not faith. Hearing is not faith. Neither is feeling faith. But believing when we can neither see, hear, nor feel, is faith. The Bible tells us our salvation is to be by faith. Therefore, we must believe before we feel, often against our feelings, if we would command. He receives us then and there, and from that moment we are His. A real transaction has taken place. It cannot be violated without dishonor on our part, and we know it will not be violated by Him.

In Deuteronomy 26:1719 we see God’s way of working under these circumstances. “Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in His ways, and to keep His statutes and His commandments, and His judgments, and to hearken unto His voice. And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be His peculiar people, as He hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all His commandments, and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the Lord thy God, as He hath spoken.”

When we confess the Lord to be our God, and express the desire to walk in His ways and keep His commandments, He affirms that we are His, and that we shall keep all His commandments. And from that moment He takes possession of us. This always has been and continues to be His principle of working. “Every devoted thing is most holy to the Lord.” This is stated clearly. There should be no question about it!

According To His Will

However, if you need further assurance of this, let me refer you to a New Testament verse which approaches the subject from a different angle, but which also definitely settles it. It is in 1 John 5:14-15, and reads, “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” Is it according to His will that you should be entirely surrendered to Him? There is only one answer to this. He has commanded it! Is it not also according to His will that He should work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure? This question also can have only one answer, for He has declared it to be His purpose.

You know, then, that these things are according to His will. Therefore, God’s own Word tells you that He hears you. Knowing this much, you are motivated to go farther and know that you have the petitions that you have desired of Him. That you have, I say, not that you will have, or may have, but have now in actual possession. It is thus that we “obtain promises” by faith. It is thus that we have “access by faith” into the grace that is given us in our Lord Jesus Christ. It is thus, and thus only, that we come to know our hearts “purified by faith,” and are enabled to live by faith, to stand by faith, to walk by faith.

I wish to make this subject so clear and practical that no one need be confused about it again. I will again repeat exactly what must be done to get rid of your confusion about consecration.

I suppose that you have trusted the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. I suppose you know something of what it means to belong to the family of God and to be made an heir of God through faith in Christ. And now you feel springing up in your heart the longing to be conformed to the image of your Lord. In order for this to happen, you must surrender yourself entirely to Him so that He may work in you all the good pleasure of His will. You have tried over and over to do it, but up to now you have not been successful. It is at this point that I desire to help you.

What you must do now is to come to Him once more in a surrender of your whole self to His will, as completely as you know how. You must ask Him to reveal to you, by His Spirit, any hidden rebellion. And if He reveals nothing, then you must believe that there is nothing, and that the surrender is complete. This must then be considered a settled matter. You have totally yielded yourself to the Lord, and from now on you do not in any way belong to yourself. You must never even so much as listen to a suggestion to the contrary. If you are tempted to doubt whether you really have completely surrendered yourself, face it with the assurance that you have. Don’t even debate the matter. Get rid of any such idea instantly. Get rid of it firmly. You meant it then and you mean it now You have really done it. Your emotions may question the surrender, but your will must hold firm. It is your purpose God looks at, not your feelings about that purpose. And your purpose, or will, is therefore the only thing you need to consider.

God Works In You

Once the surrender has been made, it never needs to be questioned. The next point is to believe that God takes what you have surrendered and accepts it as His. He does not accept it at some future time. He accepts it at that moment. From that point on He will begin to work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. It is in this that you must be content. There is nothing more for you to do, except to be an obedient child. For you are the Lord’s. You are entirely in His hands, and He has taken over the complete care and management and forming of you. He will, according to His word, work “in you that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:21). But you must be firmly resolved here. If you begin to question your surrender, or God’s acceptance of it, then your wavering faith will produce a wavering experience, and He cannot work in you to do His will. But while you trust, He works. And the result of His working is always to change you into the image of Christ by His mighty Spirit.

Do you completely surrender yourself to Him at this moment? If you answer “yes,” begin at once to believe that you are His, that He has taken you, and that He is working in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. Keep on believing this. You will find it a great help to put your reckoning into words, and say over and over to yourself and to your God, “Lord I am Yours. I give myself entirely to You. I believe that You take me. I leave myself with You. Work in me all the good pleasure of Your will, and I will only lie still in Your hands and trust You.”

Make this a daily, definite act of your will, and many times a day remember it as your continual attitude before the Lord. Confess it to yourself. Confess it to your God. Confess it to your friends. Continually confess the Lord to be your God. Declare your purpose of walking in His ways and keeping His statutes. And sooner or later. you will find in practical experience that He has taken you to be one of His peculiar people, enabling you to keep all His commandments and assuring you that you are being made into “an holy people unto the Lord, as He hath spoken” (Deuteronomy 7:6).

 

Chapter 6

DIFFICULTIES CONCERNING FAITH

After consecration, the next step in the soul’s progress out of the wilderness of a failing Christian experience into the land that flows with milk and honey, is that of faith. And here, as in the first step, the soul encounters certain kinds of difficulty and hindrance at once.

The child of God who understands the fullness of life available to him through Jesus Christ, and whose heart hungers to experience that fullness, can be assured that this fullness is only to be received by faith. But the subject of faith is such a hopeless to his mind, that the idea of faith, instead of shedding light upon the way to fullness of life in Christ, only seems to make it more difficult and involved than ever.

“Of course it must by faith,” he says, “for I know that everything in the Christian life is by faith. But that is just what makes it so hard, for I have no faith, and I do not even know what it is, nor how to get it.” And, thus, confused at the very beginning by this difficulty, he is plunged into darkness, and almost despair. This trouble arises from the fact that the subject of faith is very generally misunderstood. For, in reality, faith is the simplest and plainest thing in the world and it is most easy to put into practice.

Your idea of faith, I suppose, has been something like this. You have looked upon it as a sort of thing either a Christian exercise of soul, or an inward attitude of heart. You suppose it to be something tangible. In fact, when you have secured it, you suppose you can look at it and rejoice over it. You suppose you can use it as a passport to God’s favor, or a coin with which to purchase His gifts. You have been praying for faith, expecting all the while to get something like this. You have never received any such thing, so now you are insisting that you have no faith.

The Simplicity Of Faith

Faith is not in the least like this. It cannot be touched. It is simply believing God. Like sight, it is nothing apart from its object. You might as well shut your eyes and look inside, and see whether you have sight, as to look inside to discover whether you have faith. You see something and know that you have sight. You believe something and know that you have faith. For as sight is only seeing, so faith is only believing. As the only necessary thing about sight is that you see the thing as it is, so the only necessary thing about belief is that you believe the thing as it is. The virtue does not lie in your believing, but in the thing you believe. If you believe the truth, you are saved. If you believe a lie, you are lost. In both cases the act of believing is the same. The things believed are exactly opposite, and it is this which makes the mighty difference. Your salvation does not come because your faith saves you. Your salvation comes because it links you to the Savior who saves. Your believing is really nothing but the link.

I beg you to recognize the extreme simplicity of faith. I beg you to recognize that it is nothing more nor less than just believing God when He says He either has done something for us, or will do it. Then trust Him to keep His word. It is so simple that it is hard to explain.

If any one asks me what it means to trust someone to do a piece of work for me, I can only answer that it means committing the work to the someone and leaving it in his hands without any feelings of anxiety. All of us trust important matters to others in this way. We feel calm in trusting because of the confidence we have in those who take care of the important matters for us. How mothers trust their precious infants to the care of nurses and feel no shadow of anxiety! How often we trust our health and our lives, without a thought of fear, to cooks and taxi drivers, and all sorts of paid workers who have us completely at their mercy. They could, if they chose to do so, or even if they failed in being careful, plunge us into misery or death in a moment. We do this and make no complaint about it. We often put our trust in people we hardly know. We require only a general knowledge of human nature as the foundation of our trust. And, we never feel as if we were doing anything in the least remarkable!

You have done this and continue to do this yourself. You could not live among your fellowmen and go through the customary routine of life for a single day, if you were unable to trust them. It never enters into your head to say you cannot live among them. Yet, you do not hesitate to continually say that you cannot trust your God! You excuse yourself by saying that you are “a poor weak creature” and “have no faith.”

I wish you would try to imagine yourself acting in your human relations as you do in your spiritual relations. Suppose you should begin tomorrow with the notion that you could not trust anybody, because you had no faith. When you sat down to breakfast you would say, “I can’t eat anything on this table, for I have no faith, and I can’t believe the cook hasn’t put poison in the coffee, or that the butcher hasn’t sent home diseased or unhealthy meat.” So you would starve. When you went about your daily business you would say, “I can’t ride in this train because I have no faith. I can’t trust the engineer, nor the conductor, nor the men who built the train, nor the men who repair the rails.” You would have to walk everywhere, and would become completely exhausted. You would be unable to reach the places you could have reached in the train.

When your friends met you with any statements, or your business agent with any accounts, you would say, “I’m sorry that I can’t believe you, but I have no faith, and never can believe anybody.” If you opened a newspaper, you would be forced to put it down again, saying, “I really can’t believe a word this paper says, for I have no faith. I don’t believe there is any such person as the Queen, for I never saw her. l can’t believe there is any such country as Ireland for I was never there. I have no faith. so of course I can’t believe anything that I haven’t actually felt and touched myself. It’s a great ordeal, but l can’t help it, for I have no faith.”

Just picture a day like this and see how disastrous it would be to yourself. It would be completely ridiculous to anyone who observes you. Realize how your friends would feel insulted, and how people would refuse to serve you another day. Then realize that if this lack of faith in your fellowmen would be so dreadful, what must it be when you tell God that you have no power to trust Him or to believe His word. If your friends would be insulted, imagine telling God that it is a great ordeal, but you cannot help it “for you have no faith.”

Have Confidence In The Holy Spirit

Is it possible that you can trust your fellowmen,and cannot trust your God? Is it possible that you

can receive the witness of men,” and cannot receive “the witness of God?” Is it possible that

you can believe man’s records, and cannot believe God’s record? You can commit your dearest

earthly interest to your weak, failing fellowcreatures without a fear. Yet, you are afraid to commit your spiritual interests to the Savior who laid down His life for you, and of whom it is declared in Hebrews 7:25 that He is “able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by Him?”

Surely, surely, dear believer, you, whose very name “believer” implies that you can believe, you will never again dare to excuse yourself on the plea of having no faith. For when you say this, you mean, of course, that you have no faith in God since you are not asked to have faith in yourself. Your soul would be in very poor condition indeed. Let me beg you, then, when you think or say these things, always to complete the sentence, and say, “I have no faith in God! I can’t believe God!” I am sure this will soon become so dreadful to you, that you will not dare to continue it.

However, you say that you cannot believe without the Holy Spirit. Very well. Will you then come to the conclusion that your lack of faith is because of the failure of the Holy Spirit to do His work? For if it is, then you are surely not to blame and need feel no condemnation. All urgings for you to believe are useless.

But no! Don’t you see that in saying you have no faith and cannot believe, you are not only “making God a liar,” but you are also showing an utter lack of confidence in the Holy Spirit?

He is always ready to help our infirmities. We never have to wait for Him. He is always waiting for us. And I have such absolute confidence in the Holy Spirit and in His being always ready to do His work, that I dare to say to everyone of you, that you can believe now at this very moment. If you do not, it is not the Spirit’s fault, but your own.

Put your will, then, on the believing side. Say, “Lord, I will believe, I do believe,” and continue to say it. Insist upon believing in the face of every doubt that assails you. Out of your unbelief, throw yourself completely on the Word, (the promises of God), and dare to abandon yourself to the keeping and saving power of the Lord Jesus. If you have ever trusted a friend for an important matter, I beg you, trust yourself and all your spiritual interests in the hands of your heavenly Friend now, and never allow yourself to doubt again.

Cease To Worry

Always remember that there are two things which are more completely incompatible than even oil and water. They are trust and worry. Would you call it trust to give something into the hands of a friend to take care of for you, and then spend your nights and days in anxious thought and worry as to whether it would be done correctly? And can you call it trust, when you have given the saving and keeping of your soul into the hands of the Lord, if day after day, and night after night, you are spending hours of anxious thought questioning the matter?

When a believer really trusts anything, he ceases to worry about the thing he has trusted. And when he worries, it is plain proof that he doesn’t trust. Tested by this rule, how little real trust there is in the Church of Christ! No wonder our Lord asked the pathetic question in Luke 18:8, “When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” He will find plenty of work, a great deal of sincerity, and doubtless many consecrated hearts. But shall He find faith the one thing He values more than all the rest? Every child of God will know how to answer this question regarding himself. If any of you still say “No,” I beg you to let this be the last time for such an answer. If you have ever experienced the trustworthiness of our Lord, from now on believe that He is true, by the generous recklessness of your trust in Him!

Very early in my Christian life, I remember having every tender and loyal impulse within me stirred to the depths when I read an appeal in a volume of old sermons. The appeal called all who loved the Lord Jesus, to show others how worthy He was of being trusted by the steadfastness of their own faith in Him. As I read the inspiring words, I had a sudden glimpse of the privilege and the glory of being called to walk in paths so dark that only an utter recklessness of trust would be possible!

It may be true that “Ye have not passed this way heretofore” (Joshua 3:4). But today it is your happy privilege to prove your loyal confidence in Jesus, by starting out with Him on a life and walk of faith, lived moment by moment in absolute and childlike trust in Him. You have trusted Him in a few things, and He has not failed you. Trust Him now for everything, and see if He does not do for you more than you cou Id ever have asked or even thought . And remember that it is not done according to your power or capacity, but according to His own mighty power working in you all the good pleasure of His most blessed will.

You do not find it difficult to trust the management of the universe and all outward creations to the Lord. Can your own case be more complex and difficult than these, that you have to be anxious or troubled about His management of you? Get rid of such doubts! Take your stand on the power and trustworthiness of your God. See how quickly all difficulties will vanish before a steadfast determination to believe. Trust God always and you will find the faith that perhaps begins by a mighty effort, will end, sooner or later, by becoming the easy and natural habit of the soul. A law of the spiritual life is that every act of trust makes the next act less difficult. And at last, if you persist in these acts of trust, trusting becomes like breathing the natural unconscious action of the redeemed soul.

Believe All God’s Promises

Put your will into your believing. Your faith must not be passive. Your faith must be active energy. Be firmly resolved and say, “I will believe.

I will not be discouraged. For “we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence (faith) steadfast unto the end” (Hebrews 3 14). They begin to build a little faith, but then begin to doubt. When we give in to doubts, we cannot have faith! We are told “all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23). In Hebrews 11:33,34, we see that faith has subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. The Word assures us that faith can do it again. Our Lord Himself says, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20).

If you are a child of God, you must have at least as much faith as a grain of mustard seed. Therefore, you dare not say again that you cannot trust because you have no faith. Instead, you should say, “I can trust my Lord, and I will trust Him. All the powers of earth or hell will not be able to make me doubt my wonderful, glorious, faithful Redeemer!”

Let your faith believe all of God’s promises. In every dark hour remember: “Though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations” (1 Peter 1 6), be patient and trustful, and wait. First Peter 1:7 encourages us “that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

 

Chapter 7

DIFFICULTIES CONCERNING THE WILL

When the child of God completely trusts the Lord for all areas of his life, and begins to know something of the blessedness of the life hid with Christ in God he may face a difficulty. If his experiences of peace and rest have somewhat subsided, or if he has never experienced them, he begins to feel that his situation is unreal. He begins to feel like a hypocrite. It seems to him that his belief does not go below the surface. It appears to be mere lipbelief. Therefore, he thinks it is of no account, and that his surrender is not a surrender of the heart and consequently cannot be acceptable to God. He is afraid to say he is completely the lord’s, for fear he will be telling an untruth. Yet he cannot bring himself to say he is not the Lord’s because he longs for it so intensely. The difficulty is real and very disheartening.

This can be overcome when the Christian thoroughly understands the principles of the new life, and has learned how to live in it. The common thought is that this life hid with Christ in God is to be lived in the realm of emotions. Consequently, all the attention of the soul is directed toward the emotions. Whether the soul is at rest or troubled depends on whether the emotions are satisfied or not. Now, the higher Christian life is not to be lived in the emotions at all, but in the will. If the will of the Christian abides in the center of God’s will the varying states of emotion do not disturb or affect the reality of the life in the least.

Fenelon makes this clear by stating: “pure religion resides in the will alone.” He means that the will is the governing power in man’s nature and, if the will is Goddirected, all the rest of man’s nature must come into harmony. When I speak of the will, I do not mean the wish of the man, or even his purpose, but the deliberate choice, the deciding power to which all that is in the man must yield obedience.

Choose To Believe

The emotions are sometimes thought to be the governing power in our nature. But I think all of us know as a matter of practical experience, that there is something within us, behind our emotions and our wishes, an independent self that decides everything and controls everything. Our emotions belong to us. We endure them and enjoy them, but they are not truly “us”. If God is to take possession of us, He must enter into this central will or personality. As He reigns there by the power of His Spirit, all the rest of our nature must come under His sway. As the will is, so is the man. This truth is very important. The decisions of our will are often directly opposed to the decisions of your emotions. If we are in the habit of considering our emotions as the test, we will feel like hypocrites in declaring those things to be real which our will alone has decided. But the moment we see that the will rules, we will completely disregard anything that goes against it. We will claim the decisions of the will as reality. Let the emotions rebel as they may.

I am aware that this is a difficult subject to deal with. But it is so practical regarding the life of faith that I beg you to master it.

Perhaps an illustration will help you. An intelligent young man seeking to enter into this new life was completely discouraged at finding himself the slave to the habit of doubting. Nothing seemed “true” or “real” to his emotions. The more he struggled, the more unreal it all became. He was told a secret concerning the will: if he would only choose to believe he need not then trouble about his emotions, for they would find themselves compelled, sooner or later, to come into harmony with the will. “What!” he said, “do you mean to tell me that I can choose to believe when nothing seems .true to me? And will. that kind of believing be. real?” “Yes,” was the answer. “It will. Fenelon says that true religion resides in the will alone. He means that, since a man’s will is really the man’s self, what his will does, he does. Your part is simply to put your will in this matter of believing over on God’s side. Make up your mind that you will believe what He says, because He says it, and that you will not pay any attention to the feelings that make it seem so unreal. God will not fail to respond, sooner or later, to his revelation to such faith. “

The young man paused a moment, and then solemnly said, “I understand, and will do what you say. I cannot control my emotions, but I can control my will. The new life begins to look possible to me if only my will needs to be set straight in the matter. I can give my will to God, and I do .”

From that moment, disregarding his emotions which continually accused him of being a hypocrite, this young man held firmly to the decision of his will. Instead of paying attention to his emotions, he continued to choose to believe. At the end of a few days, he found himself triumphant. Every emotion and every thought was brought into captivity to the power of the Spirit of God who had taken possession of the will put into His hands. The young man had firmly professed his faith without wavering. At times it took all the will power he possessed to say that he believed, because his senses and emotions did not support the fact. But he had understood the idea that his will was, after all, himself, and that if he kept his will on God’s side, he was doing all he could do. God alone could change his emotions or control his being. The result has been one of the strongest Christian lives I know of, in its marvellous simplicity, directness, and power over sin.

A Surrendered Will

Here is the secret. Our will is the source of all our actions. Under the control of sin and self, our will caused us to act for our own pleasure. But God calls us to yield our wills to Him so He can take control of them and work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. If we will obey this call and present ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice, He will take possession of our surrendered wills, and will begin at once to work in us, “that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:21), giving us the mind that was in Christ, and transforming us into His image (see Romans 12:1,2).

Here is another illustration. A lady who had entered into this life hid with Christ was facing a great trial. If she had listened to her emotions she would have been discouraged. But she had learned the secret of the will, and knowing that she had chosen the will of God for her portion, she didn’t pay the slightest attention to her emotions. She persisted in confronting ever thought concerning the trial with the words, “Thy will be done! Thy will be done!” That His will should be done was her delight! The result was that in an incredibly short space of time every thought was brought into captivity, and she began to find even her emotions rejoicing in the will of God.

There was another lady who had an habitual sin which her emotions dearly loved, but which in her will she hated. Believing herself to be under the control of her emotions, she thought she was unable to conquer it, unless her emotions changed first. But she learned the secret concerning the will, and prayed, “Lord, you see that I love this sin emotionally but in my real central self I hate it. Until now my emotions have had the mastery. But now I put my will into your hands, and give it up to your working. I will never again consent in my will to yield to this sin. Take possession of my will, and work in me to will and to do of your good pleasure.”

Immediately she began to find deliverance. The Lord took possession of the will surrendered to Him and began to work in her by His own power. His will gained mastery over her emotions in the situation and she was delivered by the inward power of the Spirit of God.

Let me show you how to apply this principle to your own situation. Do not consider your emotions. They are only servants. Simply regard your will, which is the real ruler of your being. Is your will given up to God? Is your will put into His hands? Does your will decide to believe? Does your will choose to obey? If this is the case, then you are in the Lord’s hands. You decide to believe, and you choose to obey. Your will is yourself. The thing is done. The transaction with God is real when your will acts. It is real in God’s sight. Get hold of this secret. Discover that you do not need to pay attention to your emotions. You must simply pay attention to the state of your will.

“Yield yourself to God” (Romans 6:13). “Present yourself a living sacrifice to Him” (Romans 12:1). “Abide in Christ” (John 15:4). “Walk in the light” (1 John 1:7). All these Scripture commands become possible for you because you are aware that your will can act and can take God’s side. Whereas, if you had to rely on your uncontrollable emotions, you would sink down in helpless despair.

When this feeling of unreality or hypocrisy comes, do not be troubled by it. It is only in your emotions and is not worth a moment’s thought. Only see to it that your will is in God’s hands. See that your inward self is abandoned to His working, that your choice, your decision, is on His side. Then leave it there. Your uncontrollable emotions, attached to the mighty power of God by the choice of your will must inevitably come into captivity and give their allegiance to Him.

Will What God Wills

The will is like a wise mother in a nursery. The emotions are like crying children. The mother makes up her mind to have her children do what she believes to be right and best. The children complain and say they won’t do it. However, the mother knows that she is the one in control and pursues her course lovingly and calmly in spite of all their complaints. The result is that the children are sooner or later won over to the mother’s course of action. They fall in with her decision and all is harmonious and happy. But if for a moment that mother should think that the children were the masters instead of herself, confusion would reign. At this very moment there are many who are confused, simply because their feelings are allowed to govern instead of their will.

Remember that the real thing in your experience is what your will decides, not what your emotions decide. You are in far more danger of hypocrisy and untruth in giving in to your feelings, than in holding firm to the decision of your will. If your will is on God’s side, you are no hypocrite in claiming at this moment the blessed reality of belonging completely to Him, even though your emotions are not in agreement.

I am convinced that throughout the Bible the expressions concerning the “heart” do not mean the emotions (that which we now understand by the word “heart”). Rather, they mean the will, man’s own central self. The object of God’s dealing with man is that this “I” may be yielded up to Him, and this central life given up to His total control. It is not the feelings of the man God wants, but the man himself.

We must be careful not to make a mistake here. I say we must “give up” our wills, but I do not mean we are to be left willless. We are not to give up our wills in order to be left like limp nerveless creatures without any will at all We are simply to put the higher, divine, mature will of God in place of our foolish, misdirected wills of ignorance and immaturity. If we put the emphasis on the word “our,” we will understand it better. The will we are to give up is our will, as it is misdirected and separated from God’s will. We are not to “give up” our will when it is one with God’s will. For when our will is in harmony with His will, it would be wrong for us to give it up.

The child is required to give up the misdirected will that belongs to it as a child, and we cannot let it say “I will” or “I will not.” But when its will is in harmony with ours, we want it to stand up for those beliefs and, according to conscience say “I will” or “I will not” with all the force of which it is capable.

When God is “working in us to will,” we must be firmly resolved to carry out this will. We must respond with an emphatic “I will” to every “Thou shalt” of His. For God can only carry out His own will with us as much as we consent to it.

Have you consented? Are you firmly resolved to will what God wills? He wills that you should be entirely surrendered to Him, and He wills that you should trust Him perfectly. Do you will the same?

Chapter 8

DIFFICULTIES CONCERNING GUIDANCE

Now you have begun the life of faith. You have given yourself to the Lord to be completely His. You are now entirely in His hands to be moulded according to His own divine purpose, into a vessel unto His honor. Your most earnest desire is to follow Him wherever He may lead you. You want to be pliable in His hands. You are trusting Him to “work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phillipians 2:13). But you find a great difficulty here. You have not yet learned to know His voice, and you are in great doubt and perplexity as to what really is His will for you.

Perhaps God seems to be calling you to certain paths. Perhaps friends who seem to be more mature in the Christian life have implied that you might be in error. You hesitate to disagree with them for fear of making them angry. In your heart you believe the Lord is telling you to do a particular thing, yet you are timid about doing that thing because friends do not approve. You find yourself plunged into great doubt and uneasiness. The fully surrendered soul has a way out of all these difficulties. I would repeat that the soul must be fully surrendered because if any part of the will is held back from God, it is almost impossible to find out the mind of God in reference to that point. There fore, you must first be sure that your purpose is truly to obey the Lord in every area of your life. If this is your purpose, your soul only needs to know the will of God in order to consent to it. Then you surely cannot doubt His willingness to make His will known and to guide you in the right paths. The Bible clearly states many promises in reference to this. For instance, John 10:3,4 says, “He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know his voice.” John 14:26 says, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” And James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

With such declarations, we must believe that divine guidance is promised to us. Our faith must therefore confidently look for and expect it. This is most important. In James 1:6,7, we are told, “let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” Study these scriptures and do not let the slightest doubt shake your firm faith that divine guidance has been promised. If you seek it, you are sure to receive it.

God Knows All

Next, you must remember that our God has all knowledge and all wisdom. Therefore, it is very possible that He may guide you into paths where He knows great blessings are waiting for you. Men cannot see what God sees. God knows all. His ways are not as man’s ways. His thoughts are not as man’s thoughts. He alone knows the end of things from the beginning and can judge what the results of any course of action may be. Thus, you might go against the loving wishes of even your dearest friends. Remember, the key is complete surrender of the will to God. Certainly, there are those friends who are mature Christians whom God will use at times to guide us. However, we must rely on God’s Word first and foremost. We must surrender ourselves completely to God. We must hold nothing back. He is our guide first and foremost. His Word leads us to a closer walk with Him.

Study Luke 14:2633 and similar passages. Learn that in order to be a disciple and follower of your Lord, you may be called upon to inwardly forsake all that you have, even father or mother, or brother or sister, or husband or wife. You may even have to give up the way of life you once cherished. Unless this possibility is clearly recognized, you will likely get into difficulty. The child of God who enters upon this life of obedience is sooner or later led into paths which meet with the disapproval of those he loves best. And unless he is prepared for this, and can trust the Lord through it all, he will scarcely know what to do.

But, these points having all been settled, we now question how God’s guidance comes to us, and how we will be able to know His voice. He reveals His will to us in four ways: through the Scriptures, through providential circumstances, through the convictions of our own higher judgement, and through the inward impressions of the Holy Spirit on our minds. It is safe to say that God speaks where these four are in harmony. I present this as a foundation principle. His voice will always be in harmony with itself, no matter how many different ways He may speak. There may be many voices, but there can be only one message. If God tells me in one voice to do something or not to do something, He cannot possibly tell me the opposite in another voice. If the voices contradict the speakers cannot be the same. My rule for distinguishing the voice of God would be to bring it to the test and see whether the four points beginning this chapter are in agreement.

Guidance From The Bible

Look first to the Bible. If you are in doubt about any subject, you must first consult the Bible and see whether there is any law there to direct you. Until you have found and obeyed God is will as it is revealed in His Word, you must not expect nor ask for a separate, direct, personal revelation. A great many mistakes are made in the matter of guidance overlooking this simple rule. Where the Father has given us a clearly written direction about something, He will not, of course, give us a special revelation about that thing. If we fail to search out and obey the Scripture rule and look instead for an inward voice, we will open ourselves to delusions, and will inevitably get into error. No man, for instance, could expect or need any direct personal revelation to tell him not to steal, because God has already plainly declared His will about stealing in the Bible, His Holy Word. However, I have frequently met with Christians who have gone off into fanaticism as the result.

It is true that the Bible does not always give a rule for every specific course of action, and in these cases we need and must expect guidance in other ways. But the Bible is more clear about details than most people think, and there are not many important things for which the Bible does not give clear direction.

The matter of dress is presented in 1 Peter 3:3,4, and in 1 Timothy 2:9. The matter of conversation is presented in Ephesians 4:29 and 5:4. The matter of vengeance and standing up for our rights is presented in Romans 12:1921, Matthew 5:3848, and 1 Peter 2:1921. The matter of forgiving one another is presented in Ephesians 4:32 and Mark 11:25,26. The matter of conformity to the world is presented in Romans 12: 2, 1 John 2: 1 5 17, and James 4:4. The matter of anxieties of every kind is

presented in Matthew 6:2534 and Philippians 4:67.

I only give these examples to show how full and practical Bible guidance is. If you find yourself confused about something, first search and see what it has to say on the subject. Ask God to make clear to you what is His mind by the power of His Spirit and through the Scriptures. You must obey what is clearly taught in the Bible. No special guidance will ever be given about a point on which the Scriptures are clear, nor could any guidance ever contradict the Scriptures.

It is important to remember that the Bible is a book of principles. We must be careful not to isolate Bible verses which may, in fact, go against Bible principles. Remember in the fourth chapter of Luke, Satan used isolated Bible verses to tempt Christ, while Christ resisted Satan by stating Bible principles.

If you do not find any principles in the Bible that will settle your special point of difficulty, you must then seek guidance in the other ways mentioned. God will surely present Himself to you, either by convicting your judgement, by providential circumstances, or by a clear inward impression. In all true guidance these four voices will agree for God cannot say in one voice what He contradicts in another. Therefore, if you have an impression of duty, you must see whether it agrees with Scripture, whether it agrees with your own higher judgement, and also whether a door opens to enable you to perform the duty.

Impressions In Guidance

If anyone of these tests fails, it is not safe to proceed. You must wait in quiet trust until the Lord shows you that His voice is speaking. Anything which is out of this divine harmony must be rejected as not coming from God. We must never forget that ” impressions” can come from other sources as well as from the Holy Spirit. The strong personalities of those around us are the source of many of our impressions. Impressions also come out of our physical conditions. And finally, impressions come from Satan who tries to stop us from seeking a more mature Christian life. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that we are seated in “heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 6:12 tells us that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

These spiritual enemies, whoever or whatever they may be, must communicate with us by means of our spiritual faculties. Their voices will be, as the voice of God is, an inward impression made upon our spirits. Consequently, just as the Holy Spirit may tell us by impressions what the will of God is concerning us, these spiritual enemies will also tell us by impressions what their will is concerning us. They disguise themselves as “angels of light” who have come to lead us closer to God.

Many sincere children of God have been deluded into paths of extreme fanaticism, while thinking they were closely following the Lord the whole time. God, who sees the sincerity of all hearts, can and does, pity and forgive. Remember, it is not enough to have a “leading.” We must find out the source of that leading before we give ourselves up to follow it. Be careful not to be deceived!

So we must first test our “leadings” by seeing if they agree with what the Bible says. When we study and meditate on God’s Word, His laws are written on our hearts. Thus our judgement and common sense will be based on Biblical concepts. We must also test our “leadings” by this judgement and common sense that is enlightened by the Holy Spirit. This is “conviction.”

Our impressions must also be tested by providential circumstances. If a “leading” is of God, the way will always open for it. Our Lord assures us of this when He says in John 10:4, “And when He putteth forth His own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him; for they know His voice.” Notice here the expressions “goeth before,” and “follow.” The Lord goes before us to open a way, and we are to follow in the way opened to us. It is never a sign of a divine leading when the Christian insists on opening his own way, riding roughly over all opposing things. If the Lord “goes before” us, He will open the door for us. We will not need to batter down doors for ourselves.

A Desire Of The Heart

That God cares enough about us to desire to regulate the details of our lives is the strongest proof of love He could give. He lets us know just how to live and walk to please Him. We never care about the little details of people’s lives unless we love them.

God’s law, therefore, is only another name for God’s love. The more that law descends into the details of our lives, the more sure we are of the depth and reality of the love. We can never know the full joy and privilege of the life hid with Christ in God until we have learned the lesson of a daily and hourly guidance.

God’s promise is that He will work in us to will as well as to do His good pleasure. This means, that He will take possession of our will and work it for us. His suggestions will come to us, not so much as commands from the outside, but as desires springing up within us. They will originate in our will. We will feel as though we desired to do something not as though we must. In Hebrews 8:10 God says, “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.”

Therefore, the way in which the Holy Spirit usually works in a full obedient soul, in regard to this direct guidance, is to impress upon the mind a wish or desire to do or to not do certain things. Our affection and understanding embrace God’s laws and we are drawn to obey, instead of being driven to it. Ask Him to make His will clear to you._ _

Promise Him that you will obey Him. Be firm in the belief that He is guiding you according to His Word. When in doubt, wait for His clear direction. Look and listen for His voice continually.

Trust Him above all else. Trust Him to make you forget the “leading” if it is not His will. Faith is greatly needed here. He has promised to guide. You have asked Him to do it. Now you must believe that He does, and must take what comes as being His guidance. No earthly parent or master could guide his children or servants if they refuse to take his commands as really being the expression of his will. God cannot guide those souls who never trust Him enough to believe it.

Above all, do not be afraid of this blessed life, lived hour by hour and day by day under the guidance of your Lord! If He seeks to bring you out of the world and into a very close relationship with

Him, do not shrink from it. It is your most blessed privilege. Rejoice in it. Embrace it eagerly. Surrender all to the Lord so it can be yours.

(next week 9-12)

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