By Arthur Zepp
"Be holy in all manner of living." -- Peter 1:16
Bishop Foster said: "Christians often need to be admonished; and not always the less so because of the greatness of their attainments. Admitting, as we do, that no degree of religious progress precludes mental imperfection and infirmity, even the most mature Christians may need counsel and advice; and whether they need it or not, they will in proportion to their humility and self distrust, thankfully receive it when given with good intent and in a proper spirit."
The first temptation of the entirely sanctified is to spiritual pride -- "to think more highly of himself than he ought" -- to think he knows it all and that none can teach him.
"To imagine none can teach you but those who are themselves' saved from sin, is a very grave and dangerous mistake. You have need to be taught by the weakest, by all men. "For God sendeth by whom he will send."
Do therefore say to any who would advise or reprove you, "You are blind; you cannot teach me. This is your wisdom, 'your carnal reason,' but calmly weigh the thing before God."
Fruits of Perfect Love, or Holiness Applied.
"By their fruits ye shall know them." No fruit, 110 perfect love. No abounding love for God if none to man.
St. Paul informs us at large. Love is long suffering. It suffers all the weaknesses of the children of God; all the wickedness of the children of the world, and that not only for a little time but as long as God pleases. In all it sees the hand of God and willingly submits thereto.
Meantime love is kind. In all, and after all, it suffers, it is soft, mild, tender, benign. Love envieth not; it excludes every kind and degree of envy out of the heart. Love acteth not rashly, in a violent headstrong manner, nor passes any rash or severe judgment. It doth not be have itself indecently; is not rude, does not act out of character. Seeketh not her own ease, pleasure, honor or profit. Is not provoked, expels all anger from the heart. Thinketh no evil; casts out all suspicions and readiness to believe evil. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, yea, weeps at the sin or folly of its bitterest enemies. But rejoiceth in the truth; in the holiness and happiness of every child of man. Love covers all things, speaks evil of no man. Believeth all things that tend to the advantage of another's character. It hopeth all things, whatever may extenuate the faults which can not be denied, and it endureth all things which God can permit or men or devils inflict. This is the law of Christ, the perfect law, the law of liberty.
Willingness to Admit Faults
Let there be in you that lowly mind which was in Christ Jesus and be ye likewise clothed with humility. As one instance of this, be always ready to own any fault you have been in. If you have at any time thought, spoken or acted wrong, be not backward to acknowledge it. Never dream that this will hurt the cause of God; no it will further it. Be therefore open and frank when you are taxed with anything; do not seek either to evade or disguise it; but let it appear just as it is, and you will thereby not hinder but adorn the Gospel." -- Wesley.
"Why should you be any more backward in acknowledging your failings than in professing that you do not pretend to infallibility? St. Paul was perfect in the love which casts out fear, and therefore he boldly reproved the high priest; but when he had reproved him too sharply, he directly confesses his mistake, and set his seal to the importance of the duty in which he had been inadvertently wanting. "Then Paul said, I knew not, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." St. John was perfect in the courteous, humble love, which brings us down at the feet of all. His courtesy, his humility, and the dazzling glory which beamed forth from a Divine messenger, whom he apprehended to be more than a creature, betrayed him into a fault contrary to that of St. Paul; but far from concealing it he openly confessed it and published his confession for the edification of all the churches: "When I had heard and seen," said he, "I fell down before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then said he unto me, 'See thou do it not, for I am thy fellow-servant.'" Christian Perfection shines as much in the childlike simplicity with which the Perfect readily acknowledge their faults, as it does in the manly steadiness with which they resist unto blood, striving against sin." -- John Fletcher
Influence an Inevitable Result of a Holy Life
Holiness and influence are concomitants -- inseparable. They can not be divorced; while the experience of holiness is actually retained there will be, must be, influence when influence is gone holiness is gone.
Jesus said, John 7:38, "Out of his heart" -- the depths of his life -- "shall flow rivers of living water." That is, out of the heart of life of the one full of the Holy Ghost (John 7:39) a holy influence shall flow corresponding to the onflowing of a mighty river.
"The lives of Christians, practical exponents as they are of our religion, are among the great influences for the conversion and sanctification of the world. Books and sermons may be resisted, even tears and entreaties may be despised; but the silent and unostentatious influence of holy lives will speak a language to the heart it cannot easily gainsay, a language which will sound on when we sleep in the dust. The dim tracery of words will be washed away and effaced from memory; but the deep lines of a beautiful example, chiseled into the heart, will remain forever.
It is holiness) not the profession of it that will give us influence both with God and man; winging our prayers with faith and our counsels with wisdom, deriving power from above and sending out from us currents of influence through earth. God in us the hope of glory, shining out in the even and resplendent beauty of a holy life will give us an influence which will draw many after us to brighten in our crown of rejoicing forever. (Ye may) indeed turn many to righteousness by wise and earnest words; but infinitely greater will be their efficiency if followed up by the influence of a life known and read of all. -- Bishop Foster
"The confession of sin during the whole course of the present life is exceedingly proper for various reasons; and first, because sin is an unspeakable evil. Those who have obtained the state of perfect love never can forget their former degradation and guilt; and in their present state of mind, they never can remember it without being, at each distinct retrospection deeply humbled and penitent. Indeed, as true confession consists much more in the state of the heart than in the expression of the lip, those who are earnestly seeking and practicing holiness may be said, in the highest sense of the terms, to be always acknowledging and lamenting their sin . . whenever and wherever committed, whether by them selves or others, at the present or in times past.
Second. There is a propriety and a practical importance in the confession of sin, during the whole course of the present life; because our various infirmities, our defects of judgment, our frequent ignorance of the motives and characters of our fellowmen, and the relative wrong acts and feelings which originate in these sources, from which no one, in the present period and history of the church, can reasonably expect to be free, require an atonement, as well as our willful and voluntary transgressions. Such is not only our own belief, but we believe it is generally conceded by those who are likely to take an interest in these inquiries. All such infirmities call for the atonement of Christ. Anything needing the atonement must be confessed and renounced to receive the benefits of such atonement.
It is in accordance with what has now been said, that Christians who are established in the interior life, whenever they have fallen into such errors and infirmities, experience no true peace of mind until they find a sense of forgiveness. For an error in judgment; for an ill-placed word when there was no evil designed or intention of saying what was wrong; for an action which was undesignedly a mistaken one, either through undue remissness or undue haste; for any hasty uncharitable judgment uttered; for any unavoidable blindness and ignorance whatever, which are followed by evil or unhappy results; they find no relief but in an immediate and believing application of the atoning blood. Now as such infirmities are frequent (observe), and as, indeed, they are unavoidable so long as we come short of the intellectual and physical perfection of Adam, we shall have abundant occasion to confess our trespasses; and it will ever be true that our sin in this sense of the term will ever be before us.
It is proper to remark here that Mr. Wesley, while he maintained with great ability and earnestness, the doctrine of Christian perfection, or of perfect love, did not hold to the doctrine of sinless perfection. . That is to say, he maintained that it was both our duty and privilege to love God with all our heart and also that this state of mind had been actually, and in many cases realized. He maintained, nevertheless, that this state was consistent with those wrong judgments which are involuntary and unavoidable, and consequently with wrong acts and affections, that we are continually liable to transgress in the respects which have been mentioned, even while we are in the state of perfect love, and that the best of men may say from the heart:
This view seems to be correct. And it is very desirable when we look at it in its practical results, as well as in its moral relations that it should be continually maintained, because it will constantly prompt us not only to seek perfection in love, but to seek perfection in manners, habits, health, words, knowledge, and all good judgment." -- Upham's Interior Life
Molting and Shedding
Beverly Carradine, in an article on "Moulting and Shedding," shows how, in a sense, this process continues all through life:
"We started the spiritual life by leaving off our actual sins. Later we got rid of the old man.
Since then we cannot number the wrong sayings, unwise methods, foolish notions, hasty conclusions, and improper ways of approaching and dealing with men we have dropped. No bird ever molted as we have done. No tree ever outstripped us in the shedding business ... One thing we shed as a young preacher was a rattan ... After that we molted a beaver hat ... Then came the shedding of witty speeches.
Time would fail to tell of the different things which are quietly dropped or vigorously flung off in the course of years from the boughs and branches of a healthy Christian life. They are not sins, but are unwise sayings and doings; wrong conceptions of duty; false doctrines: mannerisms, improprieties, eccentricities, extravagances of speech and action; in a word, everything like fungus growth that needs to be cut off, or like the frosted leaf which ought to be shed quickly and blown utterly away.
Peter had a time molting what is known as the ceremonial law. There it hung like a bunch of fluttering dry leaves for months and years after Pentecost, requiring a sharp rebuke from Paul, and a vision from Heaven to knock the dry things off.
What a relief it would be in many respects, what a help to the cause of God, and what an increased glory to Christianity, if a lot of silly dressing, and funny headgear, of man imposed asceticisms and a certain nasal whangdoodle style of praying and preaching could at once and forever be gotten rid of. In other words shed or molted.
Truly that strong autumnal gale from heaven cannot blow too soon, which shall strip from us and bear away the needless, the superfluous, the unsightly, the burdensome, and the hurtful, and leave us open for a foliage and fruitage which shall be honored of God and blessed to the present and everlasting good of men."
As we progress in holiness there will be a commensurate liberality -- we will cease to content ourselves with giving tithes and offerings -- we will do this, to be sure, but will learn we are stewards and not owners, and that all we possess is subservient to the Divine order. Stinginess and sanctification are not compatible ideas they do not hang together -- the stingy man is not a sanctified man. We should stand before God and say, with Muller, as to the disposition of what Thou hast entrusted to me, "Command me Lord" all is Thine.
John Wesley's example of liberality shames many of his sons. He preached, "Lay not up treasures upon earth," and a life of self-denial and economy for Jesus' sake, and practiced what he preached. When his salary was thirty-two pounds a year he lived on twenty-eight and gave the balance to the Lord. When his income was sixty pounds he still lived on twenty-eight and gave away the remaining thirty-two. When it reached ninety pounds he lived on the usual twenty-eight and gave away the sixty-two pounds. When it reached one hundred and twenty pounds he did not permit his living expenses to increase but still managed to live on the twenty-eight and gave the balance to God. Are we progressing in practical holiness according to this example?