For the Lord most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth. (Psalm 47:2)
When a person is first converted, the heart or will consecrates itself and the whole being to God. This is a commitment of the whole being to the promotion of the highest good of being. All sin, on the other hand, is selfishness. All sin lies in the will seeking the indulgence or gratification of self. It lies in the will yielding obedience to the sinful inclinations instead of obeying God as His law is revealed in the reason.
Now, what needs to be done to break the power of temptation and let the soul go free? In order to answer this question, we will consider the sensibility—the part of the mind that feels, desires, suffers, enjoys. The fact is that the department of our sensibility that is related to temporal and sensory things has developed enormously and is tremblingly alive to all that corresponds to it. Meanwhile, because of the blindness of the mind to spiritual things, it is scarcely developed at all in its relationship to them. Spiritual things are seldom thought of by the carnal mind (see Romans 7:14), and when they are, they are only thought of; they are not clearly seen and, of course, are not felt.
Thoughts of God, of Christ, of sin, of holiness, of heaven, and of hell excite little or no emotion in the carnal mind. The carnal mind is alive and awake to earthly and tangible objects but is dead to spiritual realities. This is why the spiritual world needs to be revealed to the soul. The soul needs to see and clearly understand its own spiritual condition, necessities, and relationships. It needs to become acquainted with God and Christ, to have spiritual and eternal realities made plain, present, and all‑absorbing realities. The soul needs revelations of the eternal world—of the nature and guilt of sin, and of Christ, the Remedy of the soul—that will kill its lusts and awaken it to spiritual realities. This will greatly diminish the frequency and power of the temptations to gratify self, and will break up the voluntary slavery of the will.
The developments of the sensibility need to be thoroughly corrected. This can be done only by the Holy Spirit’s revelation to the inward man of those great, solemn, and overpowering realities of the “spirit land”—realities that lie concealed from the eye of flesh.
We often see those around us whose sensibility is so developed in one or more directions that they are led captive by appetite and passion in those directions in spite of reason and of God. The alcoholic is an example of this. People who are gluttonous, immoral, or greedy are examples of this.
On the other hand, we sometimes see, by some striking providence, a counter-development of the sensibility that slays those particular tendencies. The whole direction of a man’s life seems to be changed, at least outwardly. From being a perfect slave to his appetite for alcohol, he cannot, without the utmost loathing and disgust, so much as hear the name of his once-loved beverage mentioned. From being a very greedy man, he becomes deeply disgusted with wealth and spurns and despises it. Now, this has been brought about by a counter-development of the sensibility. It is an outward change only. In this particular case, religion had nothing to do with it.
However, because sin consists in the will being influenced by the sensibility, one great thing that needs to be done to strengthen and settle the will in the attitude of entire consecration to God is this: a spiritual counter-development of the sensibility must be brought about, so that it will not draw the will away from God. The sensibility needs to be crucified to the world, to things of time and sense, by a deep, clear, and powerful revelation of self to self and of Christ to the soul. This will awaken and develop all of the soul’s sensitivity to Christ and to spiritual and divine realities. This can be done easily through and by the Holy Spirit, who takes of the things of Christ and shows them to us. (See John 16:14.)
The Holy Spirit so reveals Christ that the soul receives Him to the throne of the heart, to rein throughout the whole being. When the will, the intellect, and the sensibility are yielded to Christ, He develops the intelligence and the sensibility by clear revelations of Himself, in all His offices and roles, to the soul. He strengthens the will and mellows and chastens the sensibility by these divine revelations to the intelligence.
It is plain that men are naturally able to be entirely sanctified in the sense of rendering entire and continual obedience to God, for men would not be obligated to do something they cannot do. But what is implied in the ability to be as holy as God requires us to be? Clearly, it is implied that we must have sufficient knowledge or light to plainly reveal to us the means of overcoming every difficulty or temptation that lies in our way. This knowledge is offered to us on the condition that we receive the Holy Spirit, who offers Himself as an indwelling light and guide and is received by simple faith.
The light and grace that we need and that it is the office of the Holy Spirit to supply, concerns mainly the following things:
- The knowledge of ourselves and of our past sins—their nature, guilt, and desert of dire damnation.
- The knowledge of our spiritual helplessness or weakness as a result of the following: the physical depravity of our natures, the strength of selfish habit, and the power of temptation from the world, the flesh, and the Devil.
- The knowledge of the character of God, the nature of His government, the purity of His law, and the necessity and fact of atonement for sin.
- The knowledge of our need of Christ in all His offices and roles.
- The revelation of Christ to our souls in all these roles, and in the great power that will produce in us a faith that takes hold of Him, without which Christ is not and cannot be our salvation.