“I Love the Lord” vs. “I Am All the Lord’s”
There is an enormous difference between the vision of God’s wholly sanctified children and His children who possess only the first cleansing. There are differences in the motivations of the heart, too, but I feel burdened to dig into the profound practical results of the two experiences.
We get an idea of these differences in the account of how God touched the blind man twice. “And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.” (Mark 8:22-25) The stages of vision are very plainly shown in this scripture.
At first, the man was utterly blind—he could not see, no matter how hard he might try. And so were we when in a state of trangression against God. “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:18) (See also John 12:40; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 2:11.) In such a condition, we could not receive the Spirit of truth because we could not see Him (John 14:17).
“How dark my prison house of sin,
Entombed in misery!”*
But then the Master touched each of us who are His children. “And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see.” (John 9:39) “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19) And the nature of that touch was, “I see men as trees, walking.”
I note that Jesus asked him “if he saw ought.” It was needful that he acknowledge and confess his condition. I am not blind anymore, but I do not see yet as is needful. I have much to be thankful for, but I need much more. I am not a sinner anymore and I really love God and want to please Him, but I lack something. “I see men as trees.”
A child of God who is not filled with the Holy Ghost sees imperfectly. He knows men after the flesh, just as the disciples once knew Christ before they were wholly sanctified. Please note the words of the apostle, “though we have known Christ after the flesh….” (2 Corinthians 5:16) “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” (Matthew 16:22) As though to say, “Lord, what You are saying does not fit with my preconceived notions of how things ought to go, and I feel so strongly about it that I am willing to try and straighten You out!” We gasp at the audacity of the unsanctified heart. A young man looks over all the young sisters and selects the one who seems appropriate to him to pursue as a companion for life. He sees after the flesh, that is, the natural man. He is led by his own reasoning and conditioning instead of the Spirit of God. He has his choice, instead of God’s choice for him. It is not that he is blind to things that are good and right; he simply grasps spiritual realities “as trees, walking.”
It is this partially right, partially wrong, vision that has contributed significantly to the building of the pens of The False Prophet—even mystic Babylon, the religious tower of Babel with its babble of different religious languages and attendant confusion and contradiction. If there was nothing right at all in the warrens of this institution, then their barrenness would offer little in the way of enticement to God’s children; but behold! they appropriate the merchandise of God’s church (2 Peter 2:3) to their own use. “Brother so-and-so is one of us. Dear Sister —— attends meeting here.” If indeed the claim is so, and the brother and sister are really of the household of faith and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, then they were not saved to be added to a door opened by men (Acts 2:47). They were born into the family of God (Psalm 87:5; Hebrews 12:23), and God has provided everything necessary for life and godliness for His children. They need not the foster care of human institutions. God has not called them to an unholy affinity of the saved and unsaved. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) But to see this situation in its true light, one must see things as they are in reality, not as trees walking.
We encounter this half-right/half-wrong vision all the time among God’s children. They simply do not see straight. They see some things (imperfectly), and they walk in all the light they can see, but there is more to see. How the Spirit of God yearns to lead us in all the light that heaven has for us!
We have people leaning on people when they should be leaning on God. In some cases of really-saved-children-of-God, you can scarcely see 1 John 2:27 in them, at all. Many are ensnared by the fear of man. Others will very honestly and sincerely confess that things are not clear at all where they worship, but they do not know what to do about it and do not know where to go. As Alfred said to Joe in The Man of His Counsel: “But what do you mean to do?” inquired Alfred. “You cannot go around all alone, can you? I should like to see you get settled somewhere where you can get in the harness just right and feel satisfied.” This is what it looks like when you see men as trees walking. To step out for God as a member of His church without joining up with something else appears as “going around all alone.” By contrast, to see things soberly (realistically) is to pray as Brother Paul, “I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” (Ephesians 3:14-15) To the glorious clear vision of Brother Paul, he was never alone. From that day on the road to Damascus, where Jesus spoke to him as he lay in the dust, he was never alone again, nor is he alone now. Praise God! Even when all forsook him at different places because of his stand for truth, God did not forsake him. “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever.” (2 Timothy 4:16-18) Yea, one with God is a majority. How blessed to look at the things that are unseen!
I sat in a memorial service for a brother who had once communicated a clear and definite vision of truth from God. Before he died, he had taken steps to commit himself to an organization that was falling away, and that he knew was falling away. In doing that, he went against the vision he had held for a large part of his life. Ministers of that organization were at his funeral, and their testimony of him can be accurately summed up in this statement: “He knew how to commit to a cause.” Not The Cause, but a cause. Not “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth,” (1 Timothy 3:15) but a church. Oh, we would tell you in the fear of God: God has something better for us than that!
Now the wholly sanctified have the privilege of looking at things that are not seen (2 Corinthians 4:18). This may appear as a contradiction (How can I see things that are not seen?), but, no. It is the normal viewpoint of the child of God filled with the Holy Ghost. His eyes have been opened (2 Kings 6:17), and he/she sees a great number of things clearly which were unclear before, and not seen at all before the unclear state. These things are the awesome and wonderful works of God. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) To have a pure vision, you must be pure in heart. Partially clear in heart will bring about a partial appreciation of God. And to be defiled by sin and transgression will blind you to God and what He is doing. Many are lacking the blessing that is the birthright of the pure in heart. They struggle on without it.
“I’ve received such great light, and its beams are so bright,
That the past of my life’s way seems dim;
I will walk in this light by day and by night,
Still closer I’ll cling unto Him.
“Some think I’ve done wrong by leaving the throng,
Who abide in sectarian strife;
But I’ve only come back where God’s people belong,
From Babel I fled for my life.”*
But what brings about this remarkable change in vision? What is the essential difference? Is it simply consecration?
Justified people live consecrated lives. “Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.” (Luke 18:28) Peter was not filled with the Holy Ghost at the point he said this, and the Lord accepted his statement without contradiction. It would be fair to say that he had left all as far as he knew. That is, he was walking in all the light he had. Indeed, without this, how can a man stay saved, if he does not walk in all the light he possesses?
And so we come to what we honestly think is reasonable service, and what God knows is reasonable service for us. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are far above ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). And He wants to lift us up—way, way up—so that we partake of His thoughts and can be armed with His mind. And He knows how to do this. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) We don’t know how to do better than our best, but God knows how to raise our best to His standard. He is able and willing to “sanctify you wholly.”
All we know is ourselves (and imperfectly, at that). “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11) When we were guilty of rebellion and acts of knowing disobedience, we knew ourselves as guilty selves. When the Spirit of God strove with our hearts in that condition, we became increasingly convicted of the magnitude of our transgression. How wretched we were! How undeserving of any mercy! How just the penalty of our sin! Oh, our undeservedness of the mercy and love of God!
“ ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved!
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!”*
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) He speaks a new language; he is dead unto sin and alive to righteousness; old things are passed away and all things are become new. In his heart is implanted a new divine nature, and there is a great thankfulness to God for forgiveness and a great hunger to never displease the Lord again. Whereas before he desired to sin and did so, now he desires to live holy and without blame before God. He is completely unaware of many underlying infirmities in his thinking and conditioning, his natural self, and his very moral nature, that are hindering and will continue to hinder him from proving in his life “what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2) How can he be aware? The change is so great, so glorious, in the heart and mind, that it takes some time to comprehend that more is needed. And then to become deeply convicted that God has something for the need, to the extent that faith is inspired and the promise of God is grasped firmly by that inspired faith.
There are a few that seem to cross the wilderness in a short time to the banks of Jordan, but most of us are fools and slow of heart (Luke 24:25). We just learn slowly and haltingly. And the adversary hinders as greatly as he can, for there is nothing other than regeneration itself that the devil hates worse than a genuine baptism of the Holy Ghost.
But what does it mean to see clearly instead of distorted? What actually happens? What is the actual result? What is the same, the common strand, in every sanctified experience? What does it mean to be dead to self? How does a sanctified man feel when he is tried or tempted?
If a man professes to be born again, but he continues to commit actual sin, then what should have happened in him has not happened. “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him…. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin…. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God.” (1 John 3:6,8,10) If a man fails of the grace of God, he can be forgiven and restored (1 John 2:1; Galatians 6:1). The very fact that a restoring is possible shows that the normal standard of a Christian life is living above sin. We might compare the experience to flying. If a pilot continually bounced off the ground, soared a little way, then bounced off the ground again, and so forth, we would not believe his account that he was “flying,” for we know better. When we fly, by definition, we stay above the ground. Even if we stay one inch above the ground, it could be called flying—howbeit, flying too low. Anyone can see that flying too low runs a real risk of not flying, i.e., back to earth.
Likewise, we readily realize that obtaining orbit around the earth is different than just flying. And it is no exaggeration to say that God has a orbiting experience for each child of God. God wants to get you above a day-to-day struggle with staying clear of sin. He has spiritual altitude for you. He wants to move the internal, beyond-words focus of your experience to guarding your altar of sacrifice (Genesis 15:9-11). This is not an altar of sacrifice of our own devising. This is the altar of sacrifice for each of us that the Holy Ghost dictates. It is your altar that the Holy Ghost inspires between you and your Lord.
Before you can guard your altar, it must be built in your life and everything you have and everything you are must be laid upon it and bound there securely (Psalm 118:27). You cannot do this of your own volition alone, any more than you could of yourself repent of all your sins. The plainest explanation of this is that we naturally want to serve the Lord as we see fit, when we are saved before we are sanctified, and we want to serve the Lord as He sees fit, after we are fully conquered and subdued. After this complete subjection is accomplished in us, the Comforter moves in with all of His wonderful luggage of power and glory, and we are enabled to orbit at a wonderfully elevated altitude of clear faith and perfect love. As long as we meet the conditions of His abiding, He abideth forever, and we find that His yoke is indeed easy and His burden light, especially as compared to our own efforts, by our own thinking, to serve God before the arrival and leadership of Him who leads us into all truth.
The marvelous and incredible part of this is that we are just as weak and needy as we were before the Sanctifier moved in (2 Corinthians 12:10). He has not made us superhuman; He has simply brought us to a point of complete submission, and a consecration to be always submitted on and on forever. There is the removal of a warped sense of self, slanted and biased toward self-interest, that is purged when the Holy Ghost enters the heart, but that still does not make of us anything more than a purged earthen vessel, now fit for the Master’s use. With great joy and deep conviction, the wholly sanctified can sing:
“Had I the choosing of my pathway,
In blindness I should go astray,
And wander far away in darkness,
Nor reach that land of endless day.”*
I cannot find words to express how all-consuming this conviction (“Had I the choosing of my pathway”) is to the Holy Ghost baptized. This involves a sentence of death, a permament, unwavering rejection of my own natural prowess in any area on which my Master sees fit to lay His finger. I have surrendered the right to choose, voluntarily and gladly. It is my last will and testament, forever and ever.
“I am Thine dear, blessed Jesus, all Thine,
All of self now to the death I consign;
Gladly, gladly all I have I resign,
That salvation in its fullness be mine.”*
Now this “death” is a living death, a daily sacrifice, reaffirmed and perpetually presented to my Lord 24/7 without reserve in any way. For I am dead, yet I am still alive, choosing always to turn away from my thinking, my choice, to follow His thinking, His choice.
“And now I have flung myself recklessly out,
Like a chip on the stream of the Infinite Will;
I pass the rough rocks with a smile and a shout,
And I just let my God His dear purpose fulfill.
“Forever I choose the good will of my God,
Its holy, deep riches to love and to know;
The serfdom of love to so sweeten the rod,
That its touch maketh rivers of honey to flow.”*
To fall below this standard is to come out of orbit. For to live to self does not necessarily involve rebellion. But it does involve giving more liberty (Galatians 5:13) to my natural flesh than is good or wise. And the effect is to bring me closer to crashing (sin), and having to repent and do the first works.
In our original text in Mark 8:22-25, we did not quote the scriptural account preceeding it. I would like to examine that now.
“Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?” (Mark 8:14-21)
This is a description of a trial that Jesus had with the twelve disciples. It is a fair and accurate representation of the trials that the wholly sanctified have with the saved-but-unsanctified at any given time. Prior to the scripture text quoted above, Jesus had been talking with the Pharisees (Mark 8:11). Their hearts were not right, and they were seeking a sign. This was a grief to Jesus, and He mentioned the matter to the disciples, saying, “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod.” At this point, something classic happened: The disciples misunderstood. They were true children of God, but they were on their own too much, reasoning without divine oversight and guidance. Among other things, it made them too sensitive of criticism. They were not hid away in the pavilion that God has for us (Psalm 31:20), and it hindered their spiritual vision. This was a trial to Jesus. “How is it that you do not understand?” Why should Jesus be tried at their forgetfulness to bring bread? Why would they think that Jesus was tried about this? Had they not just been through an experience that showed God could supply their needs without relying on human ability? But, when reminded of how God had supplied the needs of them and the five thousand, something still didn’t connect in their hearts. You see, they were flying too low. They had not obtained orbit. After the Holy Ghost came upon them, it was different, was it not?
Now the poet put it like this,
“Oh, we never can know
What the Lord will bestow
Of the blessings for which we have prayed,
Till our body and soul
He doth fully control,
And our all on the altar is laid.”*
It is just plain dangerous to stay in an unsanctified state of heart. It has the capacity to get us out of synch with the Holy Ghost. As a minister put it,
When Jesus hasn’t the first place in our affections, we will lose interest in the doctrine and experience of entire sanctification. We look on it as a kind of a luxury that we can accept or reject according to our own will or wish, and we become blind to the fact that sanctification is not a mere dessert that can be taken or let alone, after your meals, but it is the dinner itself.
It occurs to me that if we do not “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God,” (Romans 12:2) then we are going to prove something else. Surely, if we are not led by the Spirit of God, we will be led by something.
Now Satan is perfectly satisfied to see you make a formal profession of entire sanctification, with a formal consecration, while you receive no revolutionary touch from God that puts an end to trusting yourself and leaning to your understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). He knows perfectly well at what spiritual altitude you are flying, and he is dedicated to bringing you down. He is really afraid of the Spirit of God and knows he can’t fool Him at all, but he isn’t the least bit worried over his ability to get you into trouble when you are not perfectly yielded to God’s control, body and soul.
Oh, thank God for victory over the devil and all his deceptive works! God knows how to get us to heaven, and He will get us there if we will let Him. And He knows how to bring us to the point that we gladly let Him have His way. Praise His name!
“O sweet will of God! thou hast girded me ’round,
Like the deep, moving currents that girdle the sea;
With omnipotent love is my poor nature bound,
And this bondage to love sets me perfectly free.
“Roll on, checkered seasons, bring smiles or bring tears,
My soul sweetly sails on an infinite tide;
I shall soon touch the shores of eternity’s years,
And near the white throne of my Savior abide.”*