Peter says: “Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” 1 Peter 2:11. Every sinful gratification tends to benumb the faculties and deaden the mental and spiritual perceptions, and the word or the Spirit of God can make but a feeble impression upon the heart. Paul writes to the Corinthians: “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1. And with the fruits of the Spirit—“love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness”—he classes “temperance.” Galatians 5:22, 23.
Notwithstanding these inspired declarations, how many professed Christians are enfeebling their powers in the pursuit of gain or the worship of fashion; how many are debasing their godlike manhood by gluttony, by wine drinking, by forbidden pleasure. And the church, instead of rebuking, too often encourages the evil by appealing to appetite, to desire for gain or love of pleasure, to replenish her treasury, which love for Christ is too feeble to supply. Were Jesus to enter the churches of today and behold the feasting and unholy traffic there conducted in the name of religion, would He not drive out those desecrators, as He banished the money-changers from the temple?
The apostle James declares that the wisdom from above is “first pure.” Had he encountered those who take the precious name of Jesus upon lips defiled by tobacco, those whose breath and person are contaminated by its foul odor, and who pollute the air of heaven and force all about them to inhale the poison—had the apostle come in contact with a practice so opposed to the purity of the gospel, would he not have denounced it as “earthly, sensual, devilish”? Slaves of tobacco, claiming the blessing of entire sanctification, talk of their hope of heaven; but God’s word plainly declares that “there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth.” Revelation 21:27.
“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.” 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20. He whose body is the temple of the Holy Spirit will not be enslaved by a pernicious habit. His powers belong to Christ, who has bought him with the price of blood. His property is the Lord’s. How could he be guiltless in squandering this entrusted capital? Professed Christians yearly expend an immense sum upon useless and pernicious indulgences, while souls are perishing for the word of life. God is robbed in tithes and offerings, while they consume upon the altar of destroying lust more than they give to relieve the poor or for the support of the gospel. If all who profess to be followers of Christ were truly sanctified, their means, instead of being spent for needless and even hurtful indulgences, would be turned into the Lord’s treasury, and Christians would set an example of temperance, self-denial, and self-sacrifice. Then they would be the light of the world.
The world is given up to self-indulgence. “The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” control the masses of the people. But Christ’s followers have a holier calling. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean.” In the light of God’s word we are justified in declaring that sanctification cannot be genuine which does not work this utter renunciation of the sinful pursuits and gratifications of the world.
To those who comply with the conditions, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, … and touch not the unclean,” God’s promise is, “I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18. It is the privilege and the duty of every Christian to have a rich and abundant experience in the things of God. “I am the light of the world,” said Jesus. “He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12. “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18. Every step of faith and obedience brings the soul into closer connection with the Light of the world, in whom there “is no darkness at all.” The bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness shine upon the servants of God, and they are to reflect His rays. As the stars tell us that there is a great light in heaven with whose glory they are made bright, so Christians are to make it manifest that there is a God on the throne of the universe whose character is worthy of praise and imitation. The graces of His Spirit, the purity and holiness of His character, will be manifest in His witnesses.
Paul in his letter to the Colossians sets forth the rich blessings granted to the children of God. He says: We “do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness.” Colossians 1:9-11.
Again he writes of his desire that the brethren at Ephesus might come to understand the height of the Christian’s privilege. He opens before them, in the most comprehensive language, the marvelous power and knowledge that they might possess as sons and daughters of the Most High. It was theirs “to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man,” to be “rooted and grounded in love,” to “comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” But the prayer of the apostle reaches the climax of privilege when he prays that “ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19.
Here are revealed the heights of attainment that we may reach through faith in the promises of our heavenly Father, when we fulfill His requirements. Through the merits of Christ we have access to the throne of Infinite Power. “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32. The Father gave His Spirit without measure to His Son, and we also may partake of its fullness. Jesus says, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” Luke 11:13. “If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it.” “Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” John 14:14: 16:24.
While the Christian’s life will be characterized by humility, it should not be marked with sadness and self-depreciation. It is the privilege of everyone so to live that God will approve and bless him. It is not the will of our heavenly Father that we should be ever under condemnation and darkness. There is no evidence of true humility in going with the head bowed down and the heart filled with thoughts of self. We may go to Jesus and be cleansed, and stand before the law without shame and remorse. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1.
Through Jesus the fallen sons of Adam become “sons of God.” “Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Hebrews 2:11. The Christian’s life should be one of faith, of victory, and joy in God. “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4. Truly spoke God’s servant Nehemiah: “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10. And Paul says: “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
Such are the fruits of Bible conversion and sanctification; and it is because the great principles of righteousness set forth in the law of God are so indifferently regarded by the Christian world that these fruits are so rarely witnessed. This is why there is manifest so little of that deep, abiding work of the Spirit of God which marked revivals in former years.
It is by beholding that we become changed. And as those sacred precepts in which God has opened to men the perfection and holiness of His character are neglected, and the minds of the people are attracted to human teachings and theories, what marvel that there has followed a decline of living piety in the church. Saith the Lord: “They have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Psalm 1:1-3. It is only as the law of God is restored to its rightful position that there can be a revival of primitive faith and godliness among His professed people. “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16.