THE QUALIFICATIONS NEEDED FOR A HOLY LIFE by Andrew Murray
Several Endowments and Qualifications are necessary to enable us for the immediate practice of the Law particularly, we must have an inclination and propensity of our hearts thereunto;
And therefore we must be well persuaded of our Reconciliation with God,
And of our future enjoyment of the Everlasting Happiness,
And of sufficient strength both to will and perform all duties acceptably, until we come to the Enjoyment of that Happiness.
I have named here several qualifications and endowments that are necessary to make up that holy frame and state of the soul, whereby it is furnished and enabled to practice the law immediately, and that not only in the beginning, but in the continuation of that practice. The first Adam had excellent endowments bestowed upon him for a holy practice, when he was first created according to the image of God; and the second Adam had endowments more excellent, to enable Him for a harder task of obedience. And seeing obedience is grown more difficult, by reason of the opposition and temptations that it meets with since the fall of Adam, we that are to be imitators of Christ, and need to have very choice endowments, as Christ had; at least as good or something better than Adam had at first, as our work is harder than his.
That none may deceive themselves, and miscarry in their enterprise for holiness, by depending on such a weak occult quality, I have here showed four endowments, of which a true ability for the practice of holiness must necessarily be constituted, and by which it must subsist and be maintained, intending to show afterwards by what means these endowments are given to us, and whether the inclination or propensity here mentioned is perfect or imperfect.
In the first place, I assert that an inclination and propensity of heart to the duties of the law is necessary to frame and enable us for the immediate practice of them.
The duties of the law are of such a nature, that they cannot possibly be performed, while there is wholly an aversion or mere indifference of the heart to the performance of them, and no good inclination and propensity towards the practice of them; because the chief of all the commandments is to love the Lord with our whole heart, might, and soul, to love everything that is in Him, to love His will, and all His ways, and to like them as good. And all duties must be influenced in their performance by this love. We must delight to do the will of God; it must be sweeter to us than the honey or honey-comb (Ps. 40:8; Job 23:12; Ps. 63:1; 119:20; and 19:10). And this love, liking, delight, longing, thirsting, sweet-relishing, must be continued to the end; and the first indeliberate motion of lust must be regulated by love to God and our neighbor; and sin must be lusted against (Gal. 5:17), and abhorred (Ps. 36:4). Love to God must flow from a clean heart (1 Tim. 1:5), a heart cleansed from evil propensities and inclinations. And reason will tell us that the first motions of lust, which fall not under our choice and deliberation, cannot be avoided without a fixed propensity of the heart to holiness.
The second endowment necessary to enable us for the immediate practice of holiness is, that we be well persuaded of our reconciliation with God.
God has abundantly discovered to us in His Word that His method in bringing men from sin to holiness of life is first to make them know that He loves them, and that their sins are blotted out.
The third endowment necessary to enable us for the practice of holiness, without which a persuasion of our reconciliation with God would be of little efficacy to work in us a rational propensity to it, is that we be persuaded of our future enjoyment of the everlasting heavenly happiness. This must precede our holy practice, as a cause disposing and alluring us to it.
Christ, the great pattern of holiness, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame (Heb. 12:2). The apostles did not faint under affliction, because they knew that it brought for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:16-17). As worldly hope keeps the world at work in their various employments, so God gives His people the hope of His glory, to keep them close to His service (Heb. 6:11-12; 1 John 3:3). The way for us to keep ourselves in the love of God is to look for His mercy to eternal life (Jude, verse 21).
The last endowment, for the same end as the former is, that we be well persuaded of sufficient strength both to will and perform our duty acceptably, until we come to the enjoyment of the heavenly happiness.
Those that think sincere conformity to the law in ordinary cases to be so very easy, show that they neither know it nor themselves. I acknowledge that the work of God is easy and pleasant to those whom God rightly furnishes with endowments for it; but those that assert it to be easy to men in their common condition, show their imprudence in contradicting the general experience of heathens and Christians.
The wisdom of God has ever furnished people with a good persuasion of a sufficient strength that they might be enabled both to will and to do their duty. The first Adam was furnished with such a strength. Our Lord Christ doubtless knew the infinite power of His deity to enable Him for all that He was to do and suffer in our nature. He knew the Lord God would help Him, and that therefore He should not be confounded (Isa. 50:7). The Scripture shows what plentiful assurance of strength God gave to Moses, Joshua and Gideon, when He called them to great employments; and to the Israelites when He called them to subdue the land of Canaan.
Paul encourages believers to the life of holiness by persuading them that sin shall not prevail to get the dominion over them, because they are not under the law, but under grace (Rom. 6:13-14). And he exhorts them to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might, that they might be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:10-11).
John exhorts believers not to love the world, nor the things of the world, because they were strong, and had overcome the wicked one (1 John 2:14-15). They that were called of God heretofore to work miracles were first acquainted with the gift of power to work them; and no wise man will attempt to do them without the knowledge of the gift; even so, when men that are dead in sin are called to do the works of a holy life, which are in them great miracles, God makes a discovery of the gift of power unto them, that He may encourage them in a rational way to such a wonderful enterprise.