The way to seek holiness is, to seek it. You must be determined about it. You never put in any “ifs” when you are looking for something which you know can be found. So, when seeking for holiness do not say, even to yourself, “I will have it, if it is for me.” Such an expression will weaken your faith. You know it. is for you. Leave the “if”out. God commands you to be holy. That is evidence enough. You have not as strong an evidence that you can gain anything else for which you seek. God requires that you should serve Him in the beauty of holiness. This service is reasonable, because it is within your reach. The servants of some masters are required to furnish their own delivery. It is not so with the servants of Christ. When He says, “Put on thy beautiful garments” (Isa. 52:1), He has them at hand, all fitted and furnished. His supply never fails. He requires no pay. All He asks of you is to put them on. But in doing this you must follow His directions.
Do not expect God to do what He commands. you to do. He will help you, but you must help yourself. No amount of praying will take the place of obedience. Many pray for cleansing, to whom God says,
In putting on new clothes you put off the old ones. This is the order of nature. It is the order of God. It is of no use to try to reverse this order. If you attempt it you will fail. And you will fail just as often as you attempt it.
If you want God to save you from filthy appetites, you must cease from filthy practices. If you would have Him to take away the love of tobacco, you must forever quit using tobacco. You ask the Lord to take all the pride out of your heart; He commands you to lay all the evidences of it off from your person. Until you consent to do it, yon cannot go a step farther. Do not let time-serving teachers deceive you on this point. They may tell you that God does not care about dress. He does care about the dress of His children; or He would not have said so much respecting it, in His word. In short you cannot take one step forward in the divine life, without some outward reformation of manners.
We once asked a Roman Catholic sister, devoted to the cause of education, what her work was. She replied, “Sometimes I am preceptress of a Young Ladies’ Seminary; and sometimes I am janitress, having to close the doors and sweep the halls; but I am as ready for the one as for he other.”
So, if you would have true holiness you must set yourself apart to do whatever God requires at your hands.
In seeking holiness come to God for yourself. Realize that it is a transaction wholly between God and your own soul. It may do good to get others to pray for you. It will do no harm, unless you depend on their prayers. But you must come to God for yourself. Make your supplication to Him. Believe that He hears. You are asking what He has promised—therefore expect it.
“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 hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”—I John 5:14, 15.
Then when you ask and receive, believe that you receive what you ask for and not some worthless imitation. Your confidence in God can never be misplaced. He will not send you from the throne of grace deceived. Have faith in God.
God has commanded it. Does He say “Thou halt not steal?” With equal plainness He says, “Be ye holy.” (Lev. 20:7. Num. 15:40. I Pet. 1:15, 16.) Here is a plain command, reiterated at long intervals, and under different dispensations. It is not a matter which is left to our own choice. It is imperatively required by our God.
It is necessary to our well being in time and in eternity that we obey this command for:
“Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”—Heb. 12:14.
How shall we seek holiness? Permit us to answer in the words of C. Larew, written quarter of a century ago.
“First of all, you will dedicate all to Him. Not but what all you have is His, and has been from the beginning, but you have not so regarded it. You have taken your portion and gone your way heretofore, wasting your Father’s gifts in selfish living. Let all this cease at once; and let it be your language, the language of your heart, ‘What wilt Thou have me to do?’ In word, consecrate all to your Heavenly Father. How will you do this? We answer,—consent and decide, that all, whether act, word, thought, desire or possessions shall be not as self, or men may will, but as God wills. This, you say, I have tried to do again and again. Doubtless you have, and done it acceptably, too. But here you halted; you did not believe. Believe what? you ask. I answer,—the word of God to you at that point. That word is that He ‘accepted’ and ‘received’ you. Hear Him,—‘Be ye separate and I will receive you.’ You separated yourself, ‘presented yourself a living sacrifice;’ but did not believe on the assurance of His word, that you were accepted. No, you waited for some sign, some sensible manifestation, to come up in your feelings, to assure you that all was received, thus making some preconceived emotion the ground of faith. God does not say, faith cometh by feeling, joyous, peaceful, or otherwise, else you would be right in expecting it to rise and inspire you with faith. Nay, ‘FAITH COMETH BY HEARING, and hearing by the word of God.’ Therefore, when you consecrate all, as well as you are enabled, you have God’s word for the fact that he ‘RECEIVES YOU.’ This faith will inspire you with feelings of peace, gladness, and great quiet of soul. In God’s order, faith gives rise to feelings, and not feelings to faith, as you have erroneously supposed. Hence, you may take God’s word and rest upon that. There is no error in this. It is the only way of success; as has been tried and proved by hundreds, after having struggled and floundered in this same error.
“To illustrate: suppose the Lord had said, in His abiding word, ‘If any man will place twelve stones upon the earth, and put a lamb thereon, and burn it to ashes, I will receive him, and be a Father unto him, and he shall be my son.’ Now, I ask, if you should do this, and the lamb be consumed to ashes, would you not have God’s word for your assurance? Yea, as convincingly as if heard audibly from Heaven,—that He ‘received you.’
“The Lord has not said this; but He has said, as shown above, that if we ‘come out from among them, and BE SEPARATE, and touch not the unclean thing, He WILL RECEIVE US.’ Now, I ask, if we thus do, have we not the testimony of the Spirit, written in the word, that we are accepted? Do not fall into the common error of separating the letter of the word from the spirit of the word. You must by faith, regard the letter as the testimony and expression of the mind and spirit of God to you; just as you believe the letter of a friend to be the expression of his mind and spirit. It is through this written word, directly or indirectly, that the Spirit speaks, testifies, or witnesses to us. To regard the word as a dead letter, is to remain in darkness and unbelief. To faith, ‘these words are spirit and they are life.’ Let us, therefore, ‘believe, nothing doubting.’
“But, says one, ‘How am I to know that the consecration is complete!’ I answer, if you see nothing to the contrary, it is; for the Lord has said, ‘If in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.’ The question is not, what will come up in the future to sacrifice and to suffer. In this, ‘Take no thought for the morrow,’ applies as well as in anything else. But do you not accept of the will of God as it is made to appear at the present moment? If this is so, this is all that the King requires. Only let this continue, moment by moment, and all will continue acceptable to Him. How great the rest of soul gained by him who thus comes into the truth.
“But, you ask, into what state, or degree of godliness may I now apprehend the Lord has brought me? Are my inward foes all dead? Shall I feel the roots of sin no more from this time?
“This is an important question—one, the understanding of which, may have much to do with your future peace and success in the way of holiness. Many, who have dedicated all, and believed, have been disappointed in finding, after a little while, the old self-nature stir within them, and either took it as an evidence that they were deceived, or soothingly called it ‘only temptation;’ and have continued to try to believe that all was entirely pure within.
“We forget that there are two parts, or elements, in entire sanctification. The one is the placing of the creature, or sacrifice, upon the altar,—Consecration. The other is the consuming of it to ashes, or to its primitive elements, by God’s own fire. The gold must first be put into the crucible; and then melted, and purified, by separating all its inner dross.
“We must first consent and covenant to give up ‘all things,’ and then suffer the loss of all. First be nailed to the cross and then ‘die daily,’ till ‘the world is crucified to us,’ and we live not, but Christ in us.”
“With the first, you have now complied, I trust. If so, you are ’sanctified,’ but perhaps not ‘wholly;’ you are ‘holy,’ but perhaps not yet ‘perfected.’ You are now as the gold in the crucible, and can begin to say, ‘though he slay me yet will I trust in him;’ and hence ready to ‘abide the fire.’ ‘Abide his coming,’ as a refiner and purifier. If so, you are fully in the hands of the ‘potter,’ and He can now begin to mold you as He will, for you will now be able to ‘abide,’ and not ‘draw back,’ as you once did when trial came, erroneously considering it an evidence that God was displeased, and no longer accepted you.
“We often make a joyous and gladsome state of the mind, the only evidence of our acceptance with the Father. This is a very mischievous error. To do this, is to make the faith of our acceptance depend upon our emotions or feelings, as we saw above; whereas ‘the word’ is the only true basis of faith; on compliance with which all the promises become ours. We forget the Saviour endured this, and yet was just as acceptable to the Father as when His emotion were the opposite. And now, as we are called to ‘endure hardness,’ and it is given us ‘to suffer with Christ,’ and also to bear some ‘afflictions for a moment,’ we must certainly not consider any one state of feeling the only acceptable one. For if, ‘when need be,’ we are in heaviness, then heaviness must be felt. If to endure hardness, then hardness must be felt. And if we are to have ‘afflictions’ then we must sometimes feel ‘afflicted.’ You therefore see that if you take one class of emotions to be the evidence of your acceptance, when you feel thus, your faith in God will abound. But, since our feelings necessarily change and vary, as we have seen above, our faith in this case will sometimes be lost, and we fall into consequent weakness and sadness, if not into gloom and discouragement. Nay, such anchor-ground is too unstable. We need the immovable promise of God, which holds both ’sure and steadfast,’ amid all the varying storms, winds, and rolling billows that come upon us.
“The only true test point required of us is in the will. If this be true,—if it be in the heart to say, ‘Thy will be done,’ we are accepted, let our feelings be what they may; ‘for where there is a willing mind, it is accepted.’ Ah, this living by feeling, instead of by faith, has made sad havoc of many a promising disciple. It reverses the order of God, and keeps the soul off its only true foundation—the promise of the Father. It is being much as the spoiled child, who, because it is not permitted constantly to feed upon sweetmeats, but is called by its parent to partake of substantial fare, and sometime to take that which is bitter, and also to go forth and endure that which is ‘hard and afflicting’ loses confidence in the love and wisdom of its father, and sadly refuses to do his will.
“Oh! my brother, let your motto be,—‘Not my will but thine be done.’ ‘Do unto me as seemeth unto thee good,’ and all will be well.
“Remember, ‘He sitteth as a refiner and purifier of silver, whose business it is, not to see there is no fire to try us, and no dross revealed, but to see that the fire gets not too hot, lest it injure and destroy; nor too cool, lest it do not accomplish its end, the purification of the heart from all its selfish nature.
“Neither is He at a loss for fuel from which to make these purging fires. They come from any and every circumstance around us, that is needful to cross our wills; from many little things connected with ourselves, our families, our tenderest friends, and the common business of life, and even from our religious services. He will cause a fire to glow forth, giving us a sense of the cross, mortification and death which are necessary to the perfect submission of our wills, and entire acquiescence with God. And if these fiery trials which are to try you, reveal hidden selfishness and sin, as the lance reveals offensive matter not before seen, because lying hid deep within, be not disheartened. It is your physician at work wisely, and accomplishing the object of your desire, a perfect cure. Courage brother! Keep your confidence! The ore must be fused before the dross can separate and pass off. We must die in order to live. And His soothing encouragement to you is, ‘And after you have suffered awhile, I will strengthen, establish and perfect you.’ ”
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”