H. C. G. Moule
Christ and Sanctification
Ch. 7, Motives and Means
A few words shall be given to a subject which sometimes brings with it perplexity and mistake. What is the true place, in the life ‘lived by faith in the Son of God’ for motives, for means, for helps? If it is indeed ‘not I, but Christ who liveth in me,’ what have external aids, supplies, and impulses to do for me? Have I anything to do but to yield myself, in the deep stillness of an exalted mysticism, to the play and development of that life within me which is not myself after all?
Is it so, that I am to be, more diligently than ever, a student of written pages, a suppliant at a Throne of Grace which is quite external to me, and a plain, humble dependant on the ﬁnished work of a guilt-bearing Cross erected ages ago at a city gate far off; not on a visioned inward cross on which, so to speak, an atonement is wrought out in me, but on the Tree of Life and Death at Golgotha? Am I to use the fulcrums of motive? Am I to tread the ladder of a patient use of means? Let us endeavour to give some outline of an answer.
The two great factors, surely, in the walk of Christian sanctity are, on this side, self surrender, on that side the personal power and inﬂuence of the Lord Jesus Christ in His vital, spiritual union with His servant and child whom He has redeemed and saved. Self-surrender, in one of its brightest and truest aspects, is just the unreserved acceptance, without an arrire pens, without a misgiving, of this sacred and powerful Personal Inﬂuence. And it is well, delightfully well, that the soul should habituate itself to the simplest possible attitude, as its prevailing consciousness, towards this inﬁnitely real and blessed Person. It is well, divinely well, that in our permanently maintained ‘submission wholly to His holy will and Pleasure,’ to the ‘ordering of all our doings by His governance,’ we should think and act ‘in the main with absolute plainness and directness; going as straight as it is possible to conceive, as a matter of consciousness, to Jesus Christ, and thinking as simply as possible just this—It is Jesus Christ who lives for me and in me. It is not well, for it surely will not work, that every such act and thought should demand a separate analysis of reasons why, and a separate use of means.
I am under the powerful inﬂuence of some dear and admirable earthly friend. I thankfully feel and own the impulses he gives my thought and will; the strength of his sympathy, the justness of his counsel. I know. If I stop to think, that these things are what they are to me because he is what he is; and I know if I stop to think, that certain simple conditions are needful if I would put myself beneath their power and feel their good. But, then, I am not always stopping to think this. He has become to me a reality, which does not need perpetual analysis. It is just him; and I go to him, and come away strong where I was weak, and happy where I was sad, and pure in purpose where I was wavering. Yet, on the other hand, I am sure to feed and develop this delightful average of habit by some deﬁnite stoppings here and there to think; by earnest memory of his conduct in the past, by deliberately watching him in the present, by taking pains to ascertain his mind and will if he has expressed it for me in writing, by freely asking him to put out more and more of his personal power upon me, and by the active meeting of his known wishes. Such things will not disturb, but, as I said, enrich and deepen the happy average, the delightful rule and habit, of personal and simple intercourse with him.
So with the soul and the Lord Jesus Christ. Continual and direct going to Him, or let us call it rest upon Him, is to be the blessed average, rule, and habit; not a ﬁtful and intermittent thing, a glimpse of sunshine through the ponderous clouds of a winter day, but a steady ‘light to shine upon the road’; a ‘dwelling in the secret place’ of the Lord. We are to ask, and to expect, that His peace shall habitually keep our heart and thoughts in Him. And we are, for our inner rest and outward work alike, to think as directly and simply as possible, while we deny self and accept the daily cross, that He does the work and not us. Can we lie too simply in His hand, as our place of life and peace? Can we be too thoroughly habituated to the attitude of simply knowing, It is the Lord; I am His; He is mine? I think not. If phrases like these are not conventional but living things, they represent, I believe, just that very element which is needed to transform many a life from a course, may I call it, of earnest friction into one of power and peace, in which the Lord is ‘served with a quiet mind.’
But, then, this does not mean that we must never stop and think. Far from it. If those blissful formulas of life are to be living things and not to become, in their turn, conventions full of death, we shall often do well, not always, but sometimes, to stop and think. Who is He, that I should believe on Him? What has He done to me and for me, that I should live because of Him? What has He said about His personal action on me, and its modes and its measures? What does that mean—I am His? What does that mean—He is mine? Such stoppings for thought, if made in His presence, what will they do? They will not disturb, they will enrich and develop and profoundly conﬁrm the sweet and noble simplicity of the believer’s spiritual contact with the Lord Jesus Christ as his Sanctiﬁcation.
Such is some suggestion of the true place of motives and means. Let me brieﬂy indicate further, a little in detail.
I. Motives.—The Word of God is full of the appeal to motives, in the believer’s walk with God. ‘Ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God’; ‘Ye were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ’; ‘I beseech you by the mercies of God’; ‘He was in all points tempted; let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace.’ Perhaps as pregnant a place as any is Gal. 2. 20, where the great Apostle of Justiﬁcation discloses to us the glorious secret of his present life of Sanctiﬁcation: ‘not I, but Christ liveth in me’; ‘I live my life in the ﬂesh by faith in the Son of God’; words impossible to take too absolutely in their blissful reality. May God the Holy Ghost make them for every true disciple the photograph of his own conscious blessedness! But do not forget how the strain closes: ‘Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.’ Here is motive, not drawn out in argument indeed, but embosomed in living realization. I am living absolutely upon Him; I am drawing direct from His fullness; but what has brought me into contact, what enriches and develops my faith, why is Christ in me all this to me? It is because He was all that for me, and towards me.
One practical result of this view of the place of motives is, that watchful and Scriptural meditation must be a very real thing with him who would live by faith in the Son, who would be ‘puriﬁed in heart by faith.’ I mean not artiﬁcial and mechanical meditation, but that direct consideration of our Apostle and High Priest in the light of the Written Word, of which the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks. Let our prayers not fail to have this always as a large element in them—holy contemplation, holy, humble, deﬁnite, undoubting avowal before the Lord of what He is, what He has done, what He is doing, for me and to me. And (here is our point) let this be with the object never to terminate the meditation, the ascription, in itself, but to contribute, as it were, just that item of fresh realization to the holy average and habit, the inarticulate consciousness, so to speak, of the soul’s hourly life in and upon Him and His resources for deliverance from sin and ability to walk and to please Him.
2. But I have thus already touched on my second word, Means. For meditation is indeed a means, one of the innumerable means of grace. I do not attempt to speak fully of any of those means, even the chief. It will be enough if one may but emphasize the two words means and grace apart. Of grace, what shall I say? I will dare to say just this, that on the whole, and for the subject we have in hand, it is, in effect, just the working of the Eternal Spirit, the Third Person, who evermore, as the immediate, the literally immediate, Agent, ‘sanctiﬁeth the elect people of God! And by whatever doors of inner act, or outward ordinance, He evermore comes in to do His work—with an entrance, which is also residence—that is means of grace. Once for all in these chapters let me reverently do Him His sacred honour, remembering, all through the subject, His work. It is He who mediates, ministers, makes, the Presence of the slain and gloriﬁed Saviour to and in the soul. ‘If I depart, I will send Him’; ‘He shall glorify Me’; ‘I will come unto you.’ But this is just one of those divine truths which are meant not to encumber but to intensify the soul’s personal and absolutely simple life by faith in the Son of God. Stop and think of it, in the reverent study of the Word, and it will enhance your view of the greatness of the process that is going on; but so as to leave you the more free to act upon that process, to use to the uttermost that contact with Christ which is secured and made divinely virtual and powerful, by none other than the Holy Spirit. Then, remembering Him, use the means by which He loves to do His spiritual work.
PRAY in the Holy Ghost. Remember that a close walk with God, by faith in His Son, is perfectly sure, if really close, to be a life of watching and prayer such as never was before; a life in which the very sense of holy joy and possession will instinctively work in you the blessed sensitiveness which must ever ask, while yet you have and rest.
SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES. For there the Spirit speaketh expressly. The closer the walk with God, by faith in His Son, the stronger will be the holy appetite for the positive assurances of your inheritance, and the positive precepts of His now delightful will, in His absolutely truthful and authoritative Word.
WORSHIP GOD in the Spirit. Dream not that the life of faith can be its true self in neglect of the holy adorations and praises and confessions of the Lord’s congregation. Expect, rather, to ﬁnd in every public prayer, truth, and help tenfold.
Continue in the BREAKING OF BREAD. It is your LORD’S ORDINANCE, and therefore divine. At that Sacred Table, taught by the Spirit, what less do you do than put your ﬁnger into the print of the nails, and thrust your hand into His side, and say—as if indeed you saw Him, the slain and risen Lamb—’My Lord, and my God’? Deep is the blessedness of the Communion-hour when we are habitually living by faith in Him; a blessedness sure to enrich with new spiritual realization the daily and hourly contact with the living Lord Jesus Christ.
Yes, let us remember it well. Our strength against temptation, our ability for true obedience, resides in nothing less, nothing else, than living union and contact with Jesus Christ our Head. That union and contact is immediate, spiritual. NOTHING is to be between; not the most venerable and apostolic organization, not the most precious of Christ-given ordinances. But these things are not therefore nothing. Rightly used, by the spiritually-minded disciple, they have a sacred work to do. They are to be powerful things in the way of assuring the fact of contact, and of promoting, deepening, enriching, guiding, the sense of it. But the contact, the union, found and realized, is the vital thing, unique, immediate, and wholly spiritual.
Will the reader make perfectly sure that THIS is the possession of his own soul? For nothing less than this is spiritual safety. Nothing else than this can bring spiritual satisfaction. It is in fact the deep secret, the substance and the sum, Of CHRISTIAN SANCTITY.