|I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.| -- Romans 12:1, 2.
In this chapter we will notice the scriptures upon the theme of consecration and dedication -- the important step necessary on the part of the justified believer, before he can enter into this blessed grace of entire sanctification.
We find that in the old dispensation everything that was to be employed in the service of God necessarily had to be consecrated. In the tabernacle and temple service every vessel and article of furniture, even the smallest spoon, the tongs, and snuffers, together with the building itself, and all the priests and their garments, were consecrated wholly unto God, to be used for no other purpose than divine service. This setting apart for holy service was the Old Testament sanctification. The setting apart of these things, together with the ceremonial application of what God had ordained to be used in this dedication, was acceptable in his sight.
This consecration in the old dispensation is but a shadow of the new. It was God's own way of sanctification -- making things holy unto himself. The mere declaration on the part of Moses, in the consecration of these things, that they were now holy, would not have been sufficient without the careful observance of the application of the blood of animals and the holy anointing oil, which were typical of the blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Some of the articles of the tabernacles and temple were sanctified simply by a setting apart and sprinkling with oil (Lev.8:10), while others required the application of oil and blood. Lev.8:11, 15. In the consecration of Aaron and his sons the anointing oil and the blood were applied. Without this they would not have been sanctified. Lev.8:30. The apostle speaks of this in his letter to the Hebrews -- |For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?| -- Heb.9:13.
The importance of an exclusive dedication to the service of God should impress our minds with deep solemnity. Anything held back from such a dedication would most certainly have been rejected in the old dispensation, and truly it is the same in the new. Many professing to follow Jesus into a thorough consecration, are at heart disposed to keep back some treasured idol. Many have doubtless made a profession of sanctification, and yet have never made a definite consecration. Such are deceived, and never know the joys of this glorious experience. The cleansing blood and the Holy Spirit will never be applied to the heart that is not absolutely consecrated.
It is both scriptural and logical that we present our bodies a living sacrifice, not only for service but for actual sacrifice in a definite and absolute consecration. We have no bad things to present to the Lord in this consecration; for we are not sinners. We would not be proper candidates for sanctification if we were clinging to anything sinful. Everything sinful must be forsaken and denounced by the guilty sinner when he comes to God for pardon. Otherwise he would never be forgiven of his sins. The world, the flesh, and the devil are forsaken in true repentance. |Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.| Therefore all sinful things are laid aside forever in repentance. This is the Bible signification of repentance: To give up all sinful things. But the Bible signification of consecration is to present to Jesus all the sacred treasures of our hearts -- give up all our good things.
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No sinner can make a definite Bible consecration; for he has no good things to bring to God. He is guilty and condemned in the sight of God. It is the justified believer who has learned by experience that his inward spiritual condition is not yet satisfactory. It may have been for a time; but he sooner or later becomes aware that there is a deeper work of grace needed. He doubts not that he is justified, but knows that something more must be wrought within. Through the ministry of the word of God and the blessed guidance of the Holy Spirit, he is soon taught that a definite consecration must be made as one of the Bible conditions for sanctification. Now comes the searching and far-reaching question: Are you willing to make this consecration? This means everything to the soul. All the sacred God-given treasures around which the heart's affections have so closely entwined, and which have become a part of the very life itself, are now required to be yielded up to Jesus as a voluntary offering. There is no danger that anything will be forgotten; for the heart-searching eye of God will reveal every hidden treasure, and make known the depths of meaning to the soul, which will be astounded to know as never before how much it means to lay all of itself and sacred treasures at the feet of Jesus. There comes an inward struggle, perhaps. The heart's affections tighten around the sacred objects of its love, until they seem dearer than ever before; but while this is being done there comes a sadness stealing over the soul; for whereas these objects seem so sacred and precious, there is a consciousness within that Jesus is slighted. The affections are divided between Jesus and these treasures. He asks the question, |Lovest thou me more than these?| You can answer, |Yes, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.| But must I give up these treasures, these sacred things of my heart for thee? Can not I have both them and thee? This is where death must set in. Thank God, it is the death-route, the only road to this glorious Canaan of soul-rest.
It soon becomes a significant fact thoroughly understood that Jesus requires the undivided heart and every affection. You cannot refuse him. He has done too much for you. He suffered without the gate that he might sanctify you with his own blood. He gave himself for the church that he might sanctify and cleanse it; and now how can you withhold anything from him? He has a just right to all your affections. He gave his all for you, and now it is right that you should give your all for him. He sacrificed his life for you; now you are brought to the sacrifice of your life for him -- a living sacrifice. You see that this claim is right and just. It is a reasonable requirement on his part; a |reasonable service| on your part.
But, dear reader, the question must be answered. Are you going to yield? You may answer, Yes; but the Lord requires you to do so at once. Usually when the soul is brought face to face with this consecration and begins to become willing to yield up its treasures, it lets go the easiest ones first, and as one by one they are counted over to the Lord there comes a final struggle; the dearest one of all is now before you. The emotions of the heart begin to deepen as the affections cling to this treasure. Everything has now centered upon this one object. It is to be sacrificed for Jesus or he must be sacrificed for it. Which will it be? It must be Jesus only. Much reasoning may arise upon this important matter, but all is vain. There must be the yielding. You must say from the depths of your soul, |Thy will be done.| You have often said this before, but it never meant nearly what it does now. You truly feel the agonies of death. Were you to be laid on your death-bed or in your coffin, there would be no greater separation from everything of this earth than this. No loved one can now go with you. No treasure can be kept as your own. The lone, dark vale must be crossed. No sympathy of friend can follow you. Everything must be left behind. Dear reader, this is a critical moment. The destiny of your soul is hanging upon a single thread. You are swinging out over the deep precipice -- clinging, clinging, clinging. Jesus demands that you let go and drop completely into his will. You desire to do this, but your soul shrinks. It seems so dark below. Many a one has here taken counsel with his own soul and decided to swing back upon the side of self, thereby losing incalculable wealth, and missing this glorious soul-rest which |remaineth therefore ... for the people of God.| O dear soul, do not fail to labor to enter in! Let the death struggle continue until it has completed its work -- until you have truly ceased from your own works. The floodgates of heaven are ready to open and fill you with such glory that it will cause this old world to fade out of sight; but not until you can cheerfully and willingly let go and say to Jesus, |Thy will be done.| Your Pentecost is just in reach. Will you have it, or will you not?
In the dedication of the tabernacle we have a beautiful type of the dedication of ourselves to this |reasonable service| of God. The erection of the tabernacle, the placing of all the furniture, and the arrangement of the entire structure had to be made in every respect |according to the pattern| shown to Moses on the mount. In the completion of all the work, we read in Ex.40 that it was now all done |as the Lord commanded Moses.| He might have thought it did not matter much about some of these things, and that the Lord would not require every small thing to be done according to the pattern; but no matter what he might have thought, he knew that obedience to every requirement of the Lord was his only safety; so he made everything according to the pattern. In verse 33 the record says, |So Moses finished the work.|
Dear soul, can this be said of you? Have you finished the work? Have you ceased from your own works? You must reach this point in your consecration, so you can realize just as definitely as Moses did, that you have truly finished the work. When this was the condition in the dedication of the tabernacle, |a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.| V.34. When Moses had finished the work and the dedication was complete, the glory of the Lord came into the tabernacle. So it is with the consecrated heart; the glory of the Lord will fill it.
In the dedication of the temple we also have a type of this Pentecostal experience. |Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel that were assembled unto him before the ark, sacrificed sheep and oxen, which could not be told nor numbered for multitude.| -- 2 Chron.5:6. See the sacrifice unto the Lord. Nothing was too great; everything was fully yielded up to him without reserve. |And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course: also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:) it came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth forever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God.| -- 2 Chron.5:11-14. Thus we see that when the sacrifice was complete and everything was in perfect order, the glory of God filled the temple.
This was but a type of the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem. In the type, the glory of the Lord filled the consecrated temple. In the antitype, the consecrated hearts (the temples of the Holy Ghost) were filled with the glory of the Lord. Now this is just what Jesus will do with every consecrated heart today. |He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.| -- Matt.3:11. But the consecration must be complete. It is reasonable that Jesus should require us to yield up everything to him. Our hearts cannot be purified until every affection is yielded. He requires this for our own highest good. He wants the supreme right of way so that he can work his own will in our entire being. He wants the absolute control, so that he can get between us and everything. Praise his name! this is for our benefit, which we will plainly see when once we have paid the full price. When his will is completely wrought in us, then he will with himself freely give us all things for our greatest good and his highest glory. Even an hundredfold shall be our delightful portion. But the loss of all things must precede this wonderful increase. An absolute death must precede this abundant life. Then and then only can the Holy Ghost come into and possess the temple. Oh, that every professed believer in Jesus might see the importance of this consecration! The suffering of death is serious indeed; but the unspeakable glory that follows causes the enraptured soul to be astonished at the marvelous gain for so small a loss. The perfect love of Jesus now flows from his heart into the one which has yielded its all to him. The undivided affections now feel the blessedness of perfect unity with him -- married indeed to him who is raised from the dead.