Hanna Whitall Smith
The Christians Secret to a Happy Life
DIFFICULTIES CONCERNING CONSECRATIO
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).
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.”
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).