By T.M. Anderson
"Giving all diligence, add to your faith ... temperance."
The work of sanctification has cleansed the whole man in spirit, soul, and body. The whole is then put under the dominion of the will.
The experience of holiness does not result in the removal of the natural desires, and appetites, and affections; it only results in their cleansing, placing them at the command of the will. To be temperate, a holy person must keep these desires of body and mind in their proper place. Self-control becomes a part of his daily effort in maintaining a holy life. Self-control becomes a form of self-denial which every sanctified person must practice. To deny the normal desires of body and mind to be indulged beyond a certain limit is the wisdom of holy living.
Sanctification has made the human being a new creation, comparable only to that creation of God which He pronounced good. Such a being has not the least of sin in his nature. The sanctified are put in charge of their new sell as the first man was in command of himself. They have all the natural affections and appetites necessary to human happiness, but these are to be kept in the subjective, being governed by the will, which will is in conformity to the will of God. A desire for knowledge is normal, as Eve had when holy. A desire for food is normal. A desire for the beautiful is normal. But to yield to the tempter and indulge these in ways that God forbids is to sin and die.
Temperance in things pertaining to the body.
The body becomes the temple of the Holy Ghost when the work of sanctification is complete. "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
That which has bordered almost on blasphemy is the teaching that the body is a corrupt and sinful thing which constitutes a weight to be borne through life by Christians. It is sanctified unto the Lord, a temple in which He is to dwell by the Holy Ghost To defile it is to take a member of Christ's body and prostitute it to unholy ends. God will hold us responsible for the care of this, His sanctified dwelling. Through His grace we are to preserve it blameless unto His coming.
The body is weak and infirm, but not sinful. It is human flesh, but not carnal, beastly, and sensual. It will receive its immortal touch in the resurrection, being translated into the likeness of His glorious body; but until then, let us keep it a fit place for Him to dwell on this earth.
To be temperate one must keep the spiritual above the physical. The material and physical man must have things. There is no way to become independent of things necessary to the physical life in this world. God has promised that these things, such as food, clothing, shelter, shall be added. He knows His children have need of them before they ask.
The desire for things can become so abnormal as to work a hardship on us. The desire for comfort can develop into a craving for luxury. The body loves ease. It responds to all that makes for ease and plenty. God knows this weakness in us, and often keeps us poor in order to get us to heaven. There are not many rich in this calling.
A holy man should be trustworthy if God sees fit to prosper him. If he will rightly use his wealth, it can be a great blessing. But too often such are intemperate in that they fill their homes with expensive equipment, purchase high-priced cars, and otherwise cater to the flesh for ease while the unsaved world cries for the gospel from a Church too poor to furnish it.
Again it is true that things can so congest the life as to rob the spiritual nature and impoverish it. The legitimate and necessary things of everyday living can become a source of slavery to the body. So many things press in to be done that time to pray and read the Word is crowded into a small place. Jesus put the premium on self-control when he reprimanded Martha for being cumbered with much serving. She had gone to much trouble out of pure devotion to the Lord to make Him a great dinner. The much work of doing this had robbed her of the gracious words that fell from the Master's lips. She could not understand why Jesus would not rebuke Mary for her indifference to the work to be done. Jesus said to her, "But one thing is needful." That is, one simple dish of wholesome food was all that was necessary for bodily needs. If Martha had given less time to needless work, she could have had more time for the better part, which should have not been taken away from her.
Lack of temperance in this respect has been the cause of spiritual weakness and starvation of soul. Work must be done. The affairs of life must be attended to in the proper time. But it is true that they can get out of all bounds and reason because we are too much in the flesh, and live too close to the world of things. Say to work, "Stay thou here unfinished, until I have gone yonder and prayed." In this manner will the spiritual take the ascendancy over the physical, and a holy life will be preserved.
It is likewise true that the body, because of weariness and fatigue, can add a drag to the spiritual. It is often a great handicap to overcome. Proper rest has not been taken for the body. The reasons for such may be, as we think, justifiable. But there is no reason why one should not rest properly. Certain circumstances may militate against this, but it is the better part of wisdom to rest at the cost of sacrifice of things, rather than drag through life always too weary to be spiritual.
The best time to pray and devote self to spiritual things is in the early morning. It is then that the body is refreshed and the mind clear and alert. Sacrifice of some moments of sleep will result in a rich spiritual life. It will start each day right. It will fortify the soul against the adversary. If the labors of the day have made one too weary to pray at night, simply commit the soul to His care, and get in bed and rest. Do not try to pray when too weary to be normal in this holy exercise. So control self as to do this when refreshed in the morning.
Have set times to be in prayer. The life lived on a hit-and-miss method is always a small and starved life. If things must be done in the morning, things that have a set time to be done, then arise early, and devote some time with God. Fix the time and the place of daily worship, and let nothing encroach upon this hour. It will pay large dividends to the soul who will invest in it its best. Master things or things will master you. And no man can serve two masters. Mortify the deeds and needs of the body, and you shall live.
Temperance in the realm of the mind must be added to faith.
The mind must be kept within certain legitimate bounds if we would be holy. There are desires of the mind as well as desires of the body. The mind can be indulged like the flesh. The mind has its capacity for pleasures. It is the eye of the soul. Through the mental faculty one can go back over the past and live over its scenes in detail again. It can borrow trouble from the future, and create mountains of difficulties to be overcome which exist only in the imagination. When idle it becomes the most vulnerable spot for the devil's attacks.
To control the mind is necessary to maintain holiness. Sanctification cleanses the mind. But it becomes the task of the sanctified to keep it in proper channels.
All sanctified persons have found they have wandering thoughts in prayer. This is due to the lack of mental control and concentration. To shut the door while praying requires effort. To refuse to let the mind engage in a season of wanderings, while we mouth words in the effort to pray, requires self-control. This infirmity has resulted in much defeat at the mercy seat. Such come from the place of prayer in defeat and dissatisfaction. They did not hear from God Their souls are yet athirst for His blessing and assurance.
This same lack of mental control defeats many holy people in the public service where the Word is preached. They are sure to look about at the least disturbance of the coming and going of people. They have failed to keep their minds upon the truth preached, and thus it is lost forever. They go away with little or no profit derived from the message. Distractions had taken the mind off the service. They were impoverished by it
It is beyond all question that, through the mind, holy persons can fall. If the will is not exercised to keep the mind on holy things they are in grave danger of spiritual loss.
Paul said to a holy people that they should think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. The God of peace will be with all who think on these things.
The whole nature responds to the thoughts. The body with all its desires is immediately aroused through the mental faculty. All the cravings of the fleshly appetites are stirred into action by thoughts. Some who have fallen into terrible sin have had their powers of resistance undermined probably years before that by their meditations. They allowed themselves to think on things that compromised them in the sight of God. It afforded certain pleasure so to think, though they had not the slightest intention of doing the act. Such thinking opened a way to the enemy to assail them. Through the mind the will may be made to yield, and in giving consent of the will sin is committed. The mind of the sanctified is under control of the will. A clean mind must engage in clean meditations. "Let the ... meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer," is the prayer of the holy man. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee." This is the confidence we have in Him. But we must stay the mind on Him if we would have perfect peace.
The tongue must be under perfect control. Be temperate in speech.
Carefulness in word is necessary to the living of holiness. Nothing can so effectively show forth a holy heart as a well-ordered conversation. "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom." "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty." "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body." These scriptures speak for themselves. A sanctified person must set a watch over his lips, lest he be misjudged by those who do not fully understand him. Words fitly spoken are evidences of self-control. The speech that is seasoned with salt -- not too much as to make it brine, but properly seasoned -- is a token of a well-ordered life.
Words betray feelings, emotions, desires, thoughts, and affections. There is no better way to control these than to control the speech. Religion is vain if the tongue is not bridled.
Sanctified persons have felt the checks of the Spirit many times when they were intemperate in their speech. To fail to profit by these checks will lead to grieving the Spirit, followed by serious loss to the soul.
Certain matters are never to become topics of conversation to a holy people. They are admonished not even to mention them, as becometh saints. Leanness of soul follows in the wake of loose conversation. Foolish talking and jesting about matters that are not convenient, or not up to the standard of holiness, is unbecoming of a sanctified soul. Paradoxical as it may seem, yet it is true that sanctified persons walk with their mouths. To walk as children of light they are admonished to take heed to their speaking.
To be temperate, the eye must be under control.
It has been estimated that 75 per cent of knowledge is gained through the eye. This being true, then what a source does it prove to be for the world, the flesh, and the devil to tempt a holy man! What holy man is there who has not found it necessary to close his eyes that he may win the victory in a time of temptation? Jesus said if the eye was single the whole body would be full of light. If the eye is kept to a single purpose, that of looking at the pure and clean things in the world, then light does flood the soul. But darkness follows when the eye is permitted to rove at will. Few there be who know the meaning of our Lord's admonition when He said, "If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out." This was something to be done, not in order to obtain life, but to maintain spiritual life. It is not necessary to pluck out an eye in order to be born; but it is often necessary to remove a member of the body that one may continue to live.
The eye is not to look upon that which can never be a lawful possession, if the look is one with desire. All sanctified individuals have such possessions as lawfully belong to them. These are given to satisfy the demands of their own lives. Having these things, they are to be content, and look not with desire upon any other person's possessions. The line between lawful desire and lust can be crossed by a look. The boundary between what is rightfully ours and what belongs to another can be passed with a covetous look without much jar. To look with desire is the same as the act committed. Give all diligence to add temperance to your faith.
The affections must be under perfect control of the sanctified.
Man is naturally a creature that loves. He must love someone or something. Also he craves to be loved by something that can reciprocate his own affections. Human love is natural To want to be loved is natural But to misplace the affections is sinful. Christian love is sacrificial. Carnal love is selfish. The former gives all. The latter takes all.
Sanctification brings the soul into the state of perfected love. That is, God's love is perfected in the soul by the gift of himself to the soul. Such as are sanctified have given their all to Him as a love gift. But this higher affection does not exclude the lower form of love which is purely human. It loves others of its own kind and kin. Such love is natural; but it must be kept in a lesser place, because to love God is pre-eminently the greater form of love. Therefore all sanctified persons have their friends and relatives and loved ones as a God-given right; but these must be kept in the second place. In order to keep these in their proper place the sanctified must control their affections.
Human love can become a kind of passion which develops into a worship of the persons loved. It will enslave itself to the detriment of the soul. It becomes inordinate love when not under control. Sanctification does not result in a crushing of the human affections; it regulates them. It does not give a stoical outlook on life's relations; it gives a proper balance to them.
Holiness has resulted in an exaltation. It is the bringing of the life into the likeness of His resurrection. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." In this scripture is shown the proper control of the affections. They are set, or fixed, on that which is above. They are not to become earthly in their seeking. Keep them heavenly, and they will be pure. To do this a holy people must continually recognize that they are dead to all earthly loves of persons and things. They have hated their lives in this world in order to keep them unto life eternal. To hate the life in this world simply means to deny it first place. God has the first place in the affections. Spiritual life is pre-eminent over the temporal life. By so keeping these first things first, the lesser things will be made the more enjoyable.
Jesus said a man was to hate his father, mother, sister, brother, wife, children, houses, and lands, or he could not be his disciple. These are hard sayings, but true sayings. Such as will so deny themselves of all these will find that God hands them back sacred and sanctified into a new relationship. They shall have a place in the affections, but not the first place. This leads us to specify some ways in which the affections may be misplaced, leading to sad results.
Intemperate affections for persons.
The love which enslaves the reason and will is not pure; it is inordinate. This may be a love for persons who have no spiritual life as well as for those who do. It may be love for those who are related by the tie of family and blood. And it may be a love for those who are related in other ways. The favor, friendship, and reciprocated love of these may be greatly desired, which is natural that it should be. But so to love them as to heed their advice, which, if obeyed, would lead to acts that would displease God and impoverish the soul, is inordinate affection. Such affection is never to control the reason and will. It must never be permitted to go beyond the bounds where conscience forbids. The love which Adam had for his wife he let exceed the bounds of his reason and will. He took of the fruit and did eat. It led to his willful sin.
Many sanctified persons have been enticed from the way of holiness because they have compromised through their natural human affections. They loved unwisely. There is nothing sinful in the human affections. But they must never go beyond the proper bounds which God has placed about them.
A setting of the affections on things above, and refusing to let them become merely earthly, will often lead to suffering. Such suffering will be caused by the misunderstandings which those we do love have of us. Devotion to the worship of the Lord often invites their criticism. Refusing to accompany them to places they would go leads to their saying harsh and unkind things. The heart aches because of the love had for them, yet the pain is borne for His sake whom to love is joy and peace. This attitude they cannot understand. They are led to say that the church and religion have separated their family. A boundary is made across which loved ones must not be permitted to draw our affections. The pure will stop at a given point, and suffer untold agonies before they will go beyond this to please their unsaved relatives.
Such a stand taken by the sanctified cannot be understood by the unsanctified. They cannot appreciate the transcendent love of the sanctified for God. To them such are beside themselves.
There is no way to explain this situation to those who have no eyes to see or ears to hear. A holy people must suffer as a result of their love for Him which prevents their sinning against Him for the sake of any human relationship.
God loves humanity with a love that sacrifices and suffers for it. But God's love never goes beyond the bounds of His own nature, which is holy. He loves the sinner enough to die for him. But God will never effect a compromise with the sinner's ways. He does not fellowship with sinners, but He does fellowship with redeemed sinners.
In a very true sense are all holy persons like God. They love the unsaved of their own household and acquaintance. But they will not compromise their holiness through a form of love that is unnatural in its demands. They would suffer and die for the unsaved whom they love if it would save them. But they will not fellowship with them in their ways to the displeasure of God, merely to have peace with them. A higher form of affection prevents the human affection becoming unnatural in the sanctified. It is kept within its proper bounds as God designed it should be.
There is another form of affection which may lead to dire results because it is not controlled. It is that love which leads to marriage and home building. That this is something sacred and God-ordained is beyond all question. Yet, like every sacred thing, it can be abused and made a source of sin and unhappiness.
The love which leads to wedlock is normal. There is nothing unnatural about it if properly placed under the control of the will and reason. The sanctified cannot marry at will without giving due consideration to the matter as it may affect their after life. Being married to an unsaved companion before one is sanctified is quite different from deliberate marriage to an unsaved man or woman after being sanctified.
A sanctified woman said to me during a discussion of the reason why certain fine talented women had never married, "We are the product of what we believe." No greater truth could have been uttered which so fully gave the meaning of holiness, and the control of the affections. These women would rather remain unmarried than permit their natural affections to cause them to take steps which they had a right to take, yet which they believed were contrary to the higher love they had for God. We fear that not everyone can receive this truth. It restricts the human affections in a way not so easily obeyed. It touches the side of life which is most sensitive. Failure to deny self in this very matter has led to disastrous results. It has in more than one instance defeated the purpose of God with that life consecrated to Him for service. Men and women both are found who are out of the will of God for life's work because they married without due consideration of their calling. They never were able to answer the call to the mission field because they have tied themselves down in wedlock to a companion that refuses to go. Ministers have hindered their whole life in the ministry because of their steps in the matter of marriage.
Through their natural affections they have handicapped their lives, and limited their usefulness, by giving up to the human affection which was not a sin within itself, but was misplaced and uncontrolled.
Holiness results in a complete change of ownership. "Ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price." A sanctified person is God's property by right of redemption. Such a man or woman cannot do as they please with God's property without displeasing Him. To give over to obey any natural desire or inclination that may gratify them is the repudiation of the consecration made. God will not deny to His people the gratification of any natural instincts necessary to their happiness. Holiness of heart does not crush, or forbid, anything in life that is normal. But a holy people are a peculiar people. They cannot do as others. God's will is the governing principle of life to them. No desire or ambition to them is over gratified, no matter how natural it may be or how human it is to do it, if in it they cannot glorify God in the largest possible measure. Hence, to be temperate in this respect, denying the human affections lest we get out of the will of God, is the fine art of holy living; it adds temperance to faith, virtue, and knowledge.
There lurks yet another danger to be avoided by the control of the affections, Love between man and woman is ordained of God. They each have been created for the other. It is lawful for every man to have his own wife, and for every woman to have her own husband. Love ceases to be love and degenerates into sordid passion and lust when it passes beyond these bounds.
The Christian religion has not been entirely free from certain sects who under its cloak have practiced free love and other kindred evils. In many instances the intense religious devotions have led to loose morals because of ignorance and lack of self-control.
Pure religion is pure love. Love is an ecstasy affording great pleasure. The more intense one is in pursuit of religion the nearer he approaches the border of fanaticism. Fanaticism is due to loss of spiritual equilibrium and poise. License is taken for liberty and lust for love when the balance of the soul is lost.
Among the subtle and deceitful evils into which good people have been led are those along the line of affinities; these people form soul-mates which they choose. We hear of heavenly and spiritual marriages. The woman becomes dissatisfied with her husband. He is so unsympathetic and irreligious. She longs for the comfort and sympathy which she is denied. The devil sees to it that a so-called brother, be he preacher or layman, comes along at the proper time to offer the consolation. An infatuation springs up. An affinity is formed. The results often lead to the utter ruin of all concerned. The whole thing was started when a natural human affection was overbalanced for lack of control, and degenerated into lust and sin as the consequence.
Offering spiritual comfort to a person unhappily married, by any member of the opposite sex, is a dangerous procedure. One walks on the brink of hell whose duties call for such a ministry. The human affection when ungratified responds naturally to any show of sympathy and understanding from another party. It will fasten itself with a grip of death to anything that offers support. It may start pure and end debased and vile because it gets beyond control.
It is in place to heed Jude's words: "Others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire." Beware, lest the garments be spotted by the flesh.
The sanctified are exposed to the gravest dangers. They have need for the greatest wisdom and self-control. Their every natural and normal desire affords the enemy an opportunity to attack them. They must walk circumspectly and not as fools. They must watch and pray lest they enter into temptation.
We mention yet another evil to be avoided by a watch over the affections. The love of the world.
John admonishes the whole body of Christians to love not the world. It is directed to "little children," whose sins are forgiven. It is given to "young men ... [who] are strong, and ... have overcome the evil one." It is for "fathers." These last are mature saints, of whom it is said, "Ye have known him." No state of grace precludes the possibility of any person's ever reverting to the world again. Sanctification does not render any one invulnerable to the world's appeals. The world was used as a source of temptation to Jesus.
Mammon has drawn into its bosom many who were Samson's of power, and shorn them of their locks while they slept under its caress of pretended innocence. It lays siege to the heart with a persistence that cannot be taken lightly. It makes a tremendous bid for every man. It exerts a great pressure upon him from all sides.
Every person is born with a desire to possess persons and things for his own. This desire is normal and legitimate. It must be kept from degenerating to the sensual gratification of the flesh. Such a desire can be directed toward possessing God, and the things of God; and with that holy end in view, the things of this world can be used as a means to that end, and not an end within themselves.
John tells us what the world contains which we are not to love. "All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." This trinity is purely of the world. It is destined to pass away, with the lust thereof. Those persons who set their love upon such a transient and unstable thing as the contents of this world are doomed to eternal failure and ruin. To look to it for satisfaction is to make the mistake of the rich fool, who thought that his soul could be satisfied with the fullness of his barns. It is always night where such a man lives. He lives in the darkness of his own deluded senses. In a time he least expects will he hear the voice that speaks, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee."
For one who has known the love of God to turn back to the love of the world is comparable to the sow that was washed returning to her wallowing in the mire.
But let none feel they are secure from such defeat. This formidable foe is relentless and terrible. It challenges the strength of every saint's will and determination. Into its toils have fallen some who had a high standing. This infernal trinity is alluring to every sense of the body, mind, and soul. If there were not a danger, God would not have warned us.
To be temperate in all things to be seen with the eyes, enjoyed by the physical senses, and possessed as goods taxes the ingenuity of the sanctified. Indeed, such must keep the anointing of the Holy One on them that it may teach them all things. He who, despite the pull of the world, does the will of God shall abide forever.
The danger of a misplaced affection by the sanctified is not entirely passed when they refuse to become in bondage to the world's ease and luxury. Neither is it passed when they refuse to purchase their entertainment from it. To be crucified to the world is one thing; but to recognize that the world is crucified to them is quite another. Holiness of heart means death to every unholy desire for the world. It also brings the sanctified to look upon the sinful phase of the world as a culprit crucified for crime. They are as adverse to it as one would be adverse to a criminal condemned to be executed. They have not only died to all unnatural love they had for the world; but they now consider it as unlovable as an enemy of all good. But the world has not given up hope. Though its love has been spurned, yet it is hopeful of winning the affections again by fair means or foul: through natural desires of evil.
To refuse its advances in fashion and fame, honors and money is the wisdom of the sanctified. Let not the affections drop to the level of the world. Keep them set on things above, and not on things on the earth. "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." Give all diligence to add to your faith temperance.