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This entry is part 4 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

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by
Evangelist Thomas Cook

C. H. Spurgeon once wrote as follows: “There is a point of grace as much above the ordinary Christian as the ordinary Christian is above the world.” Of such he says: “Their place is with the eagle in his eyrie, high aloft. They are rejoicing Christians, holy and devout men doing service for the Master all over the world, and everywhere conquerors through Him that loved them.” The experience to which Mr. Spurgeon refers has been described as the higher life, entire sanctification, Christian perfection, perfect love, the rest of faith, and by numerous other names or terms. Modes of expression have been selected by various Christians which have best coincided with their theological views. There may be shades of difference in their import, but, generally speaking, the terms mean one and the same thing. [click to continue…]



This entry is part 20 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

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by
Evangelist Thomas Cook

The question is often asked, “How are we to keep our converts from lusting for the flesh-pots of Egypt, the leeks, the onions, and garlic of their former life?” [Exodus 16:3; Numbers 11:4-5] There is but one answer, the joy they have in God must surpass all the pleasures of sense. We read in the old myth that the Sirens sang men to death, but died themselves if they failed. When the Argonauts passed by them, Jason ordered Orpheus to strike his lyre. The enchantment of his singing and music surpassed theirs, and the Argonauts sailed safely by; whereupon the Sirens cast themselves into the sea and became transformed into rocks. We cannot make the Sirens fail unless we carry a charm with us greater than theirs. Joy must conquer joy, and music must conquer music; the Christian must have a music in his own soul far sweeter than any Siren-song of this delusive world. [click to continue…]



This entry is part 5 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

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by
Evangelist Thomas Cook

It is a mistake to suppose that there is any state of grace this side of heaven which puts a Christian where he is exempt from temptation.  So long as a soul is on probation, it will be tested by solicitations to sin.

It is true, when the heart is cleansed from all evil, the warfare within ceases. The struggle with the flesh, or inbred sin, or depravity, by whatever name it may be called, comes to an end when all antagonisms to God are expelled from the soul, and Christ reigns without a rival. But there are other enemies than those which exist within, against whom we shall have to fight strenuously to the end. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness (wicked spirits) in high places” [Ephesians 6:12]. This implies temptation, but temptation cannot be inconsistent with holiness, because Jesus was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” [Hebrews 4:15].

The Christian life is a long battle, but that fact does not imply that we are sinful, or inclined to sin. The nearer we live to God, the thicker and faster will Satan’s arrows fly. Some Christians do not live near enough to God to be the subject of a downright spiritual struggle. There is no better evidence of grace and progress than that we are much harassed by Satan’s emissaries. He does not need to employ his forces against nominal and inconsistent professors of religion. Severe temptation often precedes, or follows, special and signal blessing. Christ’s great battle with Apollyon occurred immediately after the descent of the Holy Ghost at His Baptism. As soon as He had received the signal anointing, which was to prepare Him for His great mission, “then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” [Matthew 4:1]. His temptation was evidently a part of the Divine plan, not only permitted, but arranged for. Experience was gained in His conflict with Satan, which could not have been obtained in any other way. Having “suffered being tempted,” [Hebrews 2:18] He is now able to succour those who are tempted as would have been impossible had He not resisted Satan’s fiery darts Himself.

Temptations are permitted for a purpose. None can come without Divine permission. Did not Satan complain that God had set a hedge about Job which he could not pass without a special permit [Job 1:10]? The Indians say that when a man kills a foe, the strength of the slain enemy passes into the victor’s arm. In that weird fancy lies a great truth. Each defeat leaves us weaker for the next battle, but each conquest leaves us stronger.

“Did Jesus Christ know that Judas was a thief?” [John 12:4-6] was a question asked at one of our recent holiness meetings. The reply was in the affirmative. “Then why did the Master, if He knew that, give him the bag?” continued the interrogator. The reply was as follows: God allows the bag to be put in every life—by the bag is meant that which is constantly testing our loyalty to Him—and usually the temptation comes in the weakest place of our character. God permits this because He knows we can only gain strength in the weak place by overcoming temptation at that point. Each new triumph brings an increase of moral power, and makes victory the next time easier. This is probably the reason why Bunyan2 places nearly all the great combats which Christian fought with Satan early in his journey. The first years of Christian life are the formative period of Christian character, when the assaults of the tempter are fullest of possibilities of benefit to the believer.

Samuel Rutherford3 writes: “The devil is but a whetstone to sharpen the faith and patience of the saints.  I know that he but heweth and polisheth stones all the time for the New Jerusalem.”

Some sincere souls are in constant bondage because they have never been taught to discriminate between evil thoughts and thoughts about evil. We must discern between things that differ. So long as we are in this world, and so long as we have five senses coming in contact with a world abounding with evil, Satan will be sure to use these as avenues of temptation. But no taint comes on the spirit from temptation which is at once and utterly rejected. It may and should be instantly repelled.

Milton4 says:

Evil into the mind of God or man
May come and go, so unapproved, and leave
No spot or blame behind
.5

It may seem difficult to some to ascertain whether certain states of the mind are the result of temptation, or the uprisings of the evil of their own nature. But when suggestions of evil awaken no response and kindle no desire, when they cause a shudder and a recoil, when they are opposed to our usual inclinations and desires, and cause pain, we may safely conclude that they are from without and not from within, and no self-reproach need ensue.

An evil thought springs from evil existing in the heart, but a thought about evil is a suggestion, flashed upon the mind by what we see or hear, or by the law of association, or by the enemy of our souls. Those who are holy have no evil within, consequently no evil thoughts; but intruding thoughts and whispers of evil will often need to be resisted. These are an unchangeable condition of probation.  Provided proper caution has been used to avoid occasions of temptation, “no spot or blame” [2 Peter 3:14] is left behind, any more than the shadow of a cloud passing over a beautiful lake disturbs or defiles it. It is not temptation, but the yielding to it that is sinful, and there is a condition in which we may, with St. Paul, always triumph [2 Corinthians 2:14].

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Temptation is first presented to the intellect, flashed it may be in a moment, the thoughts are appealed to—this is the earliest stage of temptation. Thence it is transmitted to the sensibilities, in which region it operates upon the senses, appetites, passions, or emotions. There is danger lest these be excited with a desire for gratification. A critical stage of temptation is now reached, but no guilt is necessarily contracted. In the case of those whose hearts are not entirely cleansed from sin, the temptation finds more or less inward sympathy, but there is no guilt incurred unless the evil suggestion is cherished or tolerated. The will has yet to be challenged, and upon its decision depends entirely whether the tempter is to be successful or not. If the will says “No” to the temptation, the tempter is foiled and defeated, and the soul comes off more than conqueror.

Though it is possible for the fully-cleansed soul to listen to Satan, and to reason with him until he again ejects sin into the heart as of old—he “beguiled Eve by his subtlety” [2 Corinthians 11:3], whose heart was perfectly pure—still it is not so likely that he will be successful as before the heart was cleansed from sin. There is no porter Parley6 within the citadel then, to open the castle gates to the enemy who is without. Holiness makes none so secure as that they cannot sin, but it gives them to possess all the elements of strength and stability. Though the warfare be long and severe, yet, by abiding in Christ, victory may be constant and complete; and as storms help to root the trees, we shall find that the best helps to growth in grace are the affronts, the crosses, and the temptations which befall us.
 


Footnotes:



This entry is part 21 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

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by
Evangelist Thomas Cook

We do not disparage other kinds of power, but for spiritual work spiritual power is the first and indispensable qualification. Christianity invites and consecrates every gift of God, and every grace and art of which man is capable. Nowhere does human ability find such sublime inspiration and such lofty exercise as in the service of God. All natural gifts are good, when lost in the great purpose of the Gospel, but they are perilous if depended upon instead of the Holy Ghost. The more gifts the better, if all are subsidised and sanctified by the Spirit of God; but, apart from absolute reliance upon Him, gifts may become a peril and a snare. Said the late Mrs. Booth:2 “The history of the Church proves that just in degree as she has come to have the human she has ceased to have faith in the supernatural.” Paul writes: “Our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Ghost” [1 Thessalonians 1:5]. And again he says: “My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and in power” [1 Corinthians 2:4]. If numbers and prestige decline, it is vain to resort to external aids and appliances. The work is spiritual, and only spiritual power can accomplish it. [click to continue…]



This entry is part 6 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

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by
Evangelist Thomas Cook

As explained in our last chapter, holiness does not bring exemption from temptation. It follows, therefore, that it is always possible for the entirely cleansed soul to sin. Holiness secures the safest possible condition on earth, but absolute security does not belong to this world.

Some assert that the doctrine of entire extirpation of sin from the heart puts the soul beyond real temptation. “There can be no real temptation,” they say, “to a soul which has nothing in its nature responsive to the solicitations of sin.” But such an assumption is much too broad. It renders angels in probation, Adam in Eden, and our Lord Himself, incapable of real temptation. But the fact that some angels fell, that Adam sinned, and that Jesus Christ “was in all points tempted as we are” [Hebrews 4:15], should be sufficient proof that holy souls are capable of temptation. [click to continue…]



This entry is part 22 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

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by
Evangelist Thomas Cook

An ancient writer wisely said,

There have been from the beginning two orders of Christians. The majority of the one order live a harmless life, doing many good works, abstaining from gross evils, and attending the ordinances of God, but waging no downright earnest warfare against the world, nor making any strenuous efforts for the promotion of Christ’s Kingdom. These aim at no special spiritual excellence, but are content with the average attainments of their neighbours. The other class of Christians not only abstain from every form of vice, but they are zealous of every kind of good works. They attend all the ordinances of God. They use all diligence to attain the whole mind that was in Christ, and to walk in the very footsteps of their beloved Master. They unhesitatingly trample on every pleasure which disqualifies for the highest usefulness. They deny themselves not only indulgences expressly forbidden, but also those which by experience they have found to diminish their enjoyment of God. They take up their cross daily. At the morning’s dawn they pray, “Glorify Thyself in me this day, O blessed Jesus.” It is more than their meat and drink to do their Heavenly Father’s will. They are not Quietists, ever lingering in secret places, delighting in the ecstasies of enraptured devotion; they go forth from the closet, as Moses came down from the mount of God, with faces radiant with the Divine glory, and visiting the degraded and the outcasts they prove by their lives the divineness of the Gospel.2 [click to continue…]



This entry is part 7 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

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by
Evangelist Thomas Cook

The reason why many do not apprehend the true nature of the salvation of Jesus Christ is because they do not understand the true nature of sin. Defective views of sin lead to incorrect views of privilege. What we think of the Atonement depends greatly upon our view of the evil which made it necessary.

Without the fullest information about sin, no man can have the fullest information about himself; or, what is still more important, without understanding sin no man can ever understand God and His dealings with us. The man who has felt his guilt most deeply always appreciates most the value of Christ’s redeeming work. Sin has many aspects, but there are two primary forms in which it exists. We can form no adequate conception of its nature, nor of the remedy God has provided, unless we look at it from these two points of view. We must discriminate between guilt and depravity. [click to continue…]


Consecration: Ch. 20 of “New Testament Holiness”


This entry is part 23 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

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ome writers of advanced Christian experience magnify the will and emphasise the importance of absolute submission, while others urge faith as the condition of blessing.  Both are right.  Perfect trust cannot exist without complete surrender.  Nor can we surrender our will to One whom we cannot trust.  Lady Maxwell 1 could pray, “Put a thorn in every enjoyment, a worm in every gourd, that would prevent, or in any measure retard my progress in Divine life.”  And when we can say, from our inmost heart, “I am willing to receive what Thou givest, and to want what Thou withholdest, and to relinquish what Thou takest, and to suffer what Thou inflictest, and to be what Thou requirest, and to do what Thou commandest.  Have Thine own way with me and mine in all particulars,” we are not far from the Canaan of God’s perfect love. [click to continue…]



This entry is part 8 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

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by
Evangelist Thomas Cook

Divine forgiveness and the new birth are ever co-existent and inseparable. No man receives the new name of a child of God without at the same time receiving a new nature. He becomes there and then a partaker of the Divine holiness. Condemnation is removed, the culprit is forgiven, and as invariably as day follows night, a sublime change is wrought by the Holy Spirit, creating within the soul a new spiritual life, a life of loyalty and love.

[click to continue…]



This entry is part 24 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

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here is this difference between consecration and entire sanctification—the one is what we do ourselves by Divine aid, the other is what God does in us.  Consecration is our voluntary act in which we give our all to God, while entire sanctification is a work wrought in us by the Holy Ghost.  There may be entire consecration without entire sanctification, but there cannot be the latter without the former.  The act of consecration must be followed by definite prayer for a clean heart, and then the act of faith by which we receive what we ask for.  In answer to our prayer and response to our faith God will put forth His power, and we shall be changed in a moment from indwelling sin to indwelling holiness.  We are saved by grace [Ephesians 2:8].  Just as over the blessing of justification, God has written over entire sanctification “to him that worketh not” [Romans 4:5].  Works have no more to do with the sanctifying of the soul than they have to do with the justifying of the soul.  Faith is the condition in the one as well as in the other.  [click to continue…]



This entry is part 9 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

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by
Evangelist Thomas Cook

There are various degrees of impurity, but, strictly speaking, there are no degrees of purity. According to Webster, the word “pure” means: “entire separation from all heterogeneous and extraneous matter, clear, free from mixture; as pure water, pure air, pure silver or gold.” The word in the New Testament which is most frequently translated “pure” occurs in some of its forms nearly seventy times. We may get at the idea the word was meant to convey by noting how the original is used. It is used

  • of the body, not smeared with paint or ointment,
  • of an army rid of its sick and ineffective,
  • of wheat, when all the chaff has been winnowed away,
  • of vines without excrescences,2
  • of gold without alloy.

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This entry is part 25 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

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e do not need to have a complete grasp of the doctrine of entire sanctification in all its relations and bearings in order to enjoy the experience, but if we can have a clear and distinct view of the thing at which we aim it will help us very much to reach it as a definite point of attainment.

In one of the churches of Rome there is a beautiful painting.  Those who stand in one position before it always say they see no beauty in it—that it appears like a huge tangled mass.  But when the guide leads you to where the light falls properly on the picture, suddenly its wondrous beauty dawns upon you.  So it is with holiness.  It is only when the Holy Spirit furnishes the light that we see clearly what our privilege is.  He only can reveal sin and present the remedy.  When we ask humbly and earnestly for His illumination we see clearly the point we are to aim at.  “He that willeth to do His will shall know of the doctrine” [John 7:17]. [click to continue…]



This entry is part 10 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

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by
Evangelist Thomas Cook

In meetings held for the promotion of holiness, we have often maintained that, so far as holiness is a deliverance from sin, the following points sum up the facts which cover the whole ground.

  1. Does an infection of nature remain in regenerate persons?
  2. If it does, may this infection of nature be entirely expelled from the soul?
  3. If an infection of nature does remain in regenerate persons, and this may be entirely expelled, when may the deliverance take place?

Most Christians assent readily enough to the first two of these propositions, but there is considerable difference of opinion as to the third, when this salvation may be obtained. Some say at death, others after a long period of growth; but we believe it may be a present and instantaneous experience. We do not mean instantaneous in the same sense as a flash of lightning or an explosion of gunpowder, but in the sense in which death is instantaneous. “A man may be a long time dying, but there is a moment when he dies.” [click to continue…]



This entry is part 26 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

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here is no step in the Christian life that God and man do not take together.  From the beginning to end in the work of salvation there must be both Divine and human action.  The words preserve and persevere are so much alike that the one can be spelt from the other.  If we are to be preserved we must persevere.  It is true that salvation in one sense is all of God, but it is also true that the gifts and graces of the Spirit are only ours when certain conditions are complied with.  Peter declares that in Christian life “we are kept by the power of God” [1 Peter 1:5], but St. James teaches that the godly man must “keep himself unspotted from the world” [James 1:27].  The Bible does not contradict itself.  To careful readers it explains itself, and the explanation is, that while grace is altogether the gift of God we ourselves have an important part to play.  We are to “work out” the salvation which God works within [Philippians 2:12].  [click to continue…]