H. C. G. Moule
Christ and Sanctification
Ch. 1, Introductory
The subject of these chapters has to do with the very heart of the life of the individual Christian, and of the Christian Church. It is nothing less than the supreme aim of the Christian Gospel that we should be holy; that the God of Peace should sanctify us through and through our being; that we should ‘walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing,’ ‘all studious meeting of His will,’ as the Greek of Col. I. 10 imports. At the blessed Table ever and again we ‘present ourselves, soul and body, a living sacriﬁce,’ and ask, in a spiritual attitude of entire receptivity, to ‘be fulﬁlled with His grace and heavenly benediction’.
It is the insatiable desire of the soul, which has truly seen the Lord, to be made fully like Him by His grace. And this desire, as it has never been wholly absent from His congregation, has, in our own day and amidst our own surroundings, in a very marked degree, come again to be a leading and ruling thing. Everywhere, under widely different circumstances, in many and varied Christian communities, sometimes diverging into ﬁelds of error, sometimes moving steadily on lines of eternal truth, there is felt and found in our Christian world of to-day a deep, strong, and growing drift of enquiry and desire after Christian holiness. There is a conspicuous longing to know the whole will of God about it, and the whole offer and resource of His grace; the whole extent to which the divine warrant bids faith go in seeking, expecting, and accepting a divine deliverance from sinning, and a divine enablement to positive holiness of will and walk.
Of our aims, how shall I speak both brieﬂy enough and greatly enough? They are just this—to be like Him ‘whom, not having seen, we love’; to displace accordingly, in grace reality, self from the inner throne, and to enthrone Him; to make not the slightest compromise with the smallest sin. We aim at being entirely willing, nay, deﬁnitely to will, to know with ever keener sensibility what is sin in us, and where it is, that it may be dealt with at once by the Holy Spirit.
We aim at nothing less than to walk with God all day long; to abide every hour in Christ, and He and His words in us; to love God with all the heart, and our neighbour as ourselves; to live, and that in no conventional sense, ‘no longer to ourselves, but to Him who died for us, and rose again.’
We aim at ‘yielding ourselves to God’ as the unregenerate will yields itself to sin, to self; at having every thought brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ—every thought, every movement of the inner world; a strict, comprehensive captivity, an absolute and arbitrary slavery. I
In the region of outward life our aim is, of course, equally large and pervading. It is to break with all evil, and follow all good. It is never, never more to speak evil of any man; never to lose patience; never to triﬂe with wrong, whether impurity, untruth, or unkindness; never in any known thing to evade our Master’s will; never to be ashamed of His name. I emphasize again and again, for there is the point. As believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, as those who are not their own, but bought, and who accordingly, in the strictest sense, belong to Him all through, our aim is, it must be, across any amount of counter thoughts, ‘never to grieve Him, never to stray’; always in the inner world, always in the outer, to ‘walk and to please Him.’ I say again, this is our aim, not in any conventional sense, such as to leave us easy and tolerably comfortable when we fail. Not so; God forbid.
Failure, when it comes across this aim, will come with the pang of a shame and disappointment, which we shall little wish to feel again. It will be a deeply conscious discord and collision. It will be a fall down a rough steep. It will be a joy lost, or, at best, deferred again. It will be the missing of a divine smile, the loss of ‘the light of the countenance of the King.’
It is possible, I dare to say, for those who will indeed draw on their Lord’s power for deliverance and victory, to live a life—how shall I describe it?—a life in which His promises are taken, as they stand, and found to be true. It is possible to cast every care on Him, daily, and to be at peace amidst the pressure. It is possible to have affections and imaginations puriﬁed through faith, in a profound and practical sense. It is possible to see the Will of God in everything, and to ﬁnd it, as one has said, no longer a sigh, but a song. It is possible, in the world of inner act and motion, to put away, to cause to be put away, all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and evil speaking, daily, and hourly. It is possible, by unreserved resort to divine power, under divine conditions, to become strongest, through and through, at our weakest point; to ﬁnd the thing which yesterday upset all our obligations to patience, or to purity, or to humility, an occasion today, through Him who loveth us, and worketh in us, for a joyful consent to His will, and a delightful sense of His presence and sin-annulling power. These are things divinely possible.
And, because they are His work, the genuine experience of them will lay us, must lay us, only lower at His feet, and leave us only more athirst for more.