J. A. Wood



166. What are the results of neglecting to seek holiness?

1. It affords fearful advantage to Satan, our great enemy.

He comes to enslave the soul with
fear, to inflate it with pride, to inspire it with the love of the world, to inflame its lusts, to excite anger, to obscure the path of duty, and induce rebellion against God. In the soul but partially sanctified Satan finds some tendency, more or less, to unbelief, to fear, to pride, to covetousness, to lust, and, indeed, to every sin. The seed of all sin is yet in the heart. What a fearful advantage is thus allowed to the enemy!

"But of all the foes we meet,
None so oft mislead our feet
None betray us into sin,
Like the foes that dwell within."

2. It is the occasion of frequent defeat in spiritual conflicts.

Sinning and repenting, rising and falling, are prominent characteristics of those who refuse to seek the blessing of holiness. How truthfully does this familiar stanza describe the lives of multitudes of converted men!

"Here I repent and sin again;
Slain with that same unhappy dart
Now I revive, and now am slain
Which, oh, too often wounds my heart."

"We are compelled to declare," says Bishop Peck, "in our honest judgment, there are few cases of only partial sanctification in which every single day does not make bitter work for repentance... How many, through the influence of remaining depravity, have been betrayed into angry passions, into vanity, pride, and unbridled lusts! How many have gradually yielded to the suggestions of an evil heart, and found at length that their strength was lost, their confidence gone, their Saviour grieved, and their souls brought into bitter condemnation!" — Central Idea, p 122

3. It is the origin of those grievous apostasies which have dishonored the church and ruined souls.

1. "Can there be any question of this? Who, that believes in the possibility of either temporary or final apostasy, could suggest a mode of backsliding more effectual, more inevitable, than to allow the sinful propensities of our nature to remain undisturbed — to disobey the great law of progress, which is revealed as sacredly binding upon every converted man?" Central Idea, p. 124.

2. Dr. George Peck says: "Leaving 'first principles,' and going on to perfection, is the only way to be secure against final and total apostasy. ... If, then, we do not wish to end in the flesh, to fall from grace, to lose our first love, to be deprived of the talent committed to us, to have the candlestick removed out of its place, and finally to be cast into outer darkness, we must leave the things which are behind, and go forward to those which are before. ... It is our only security against utter apostasy, the dismal gulf of infidelity, and the pit of hell.

"If we resist or neglect it, we are guilty of disobedience; we contract guilt, and come into condemnation. What, then, is the condition of those Christians who do not seek at all the entire sanctification which God requires? Are they doing the will of God? Let all concerned lay their hand upon their heart, and decide this question according to truth and evidence."

"But what I do mean is, that those Christians who do not seek, and seek CONSTANTLY, for an entirely sanctified nature, FALL INTO CONDEMNATION. And I may add that this condemnation must be removed by pardon, upon repentance, or it will finally 'drown the soul it destruction and perdition.' " Christian Perfection, pp. 16, 23, 419.

3. Rev. Timothy Merritt says: "If Christians would not backslide, and bring a reproach upon the cause of Christ, they must go on to perfection. There is no medium between going forward and drawing back. As soon as any one ceases to press forward, he declines in spiritual life." — Christian Manual.

4. Professor Finney says: "No man can be a Christian who does not sincerely desire it, and who does not constantly aim at it. No man is a friend of God who can acquiesce in a state of sin, and who is satisfied and contented that he is not holy as God is holy."

5. Mr. Wesley's views are presented by Dr. Peck as follows: "We must either be in possession of this high state of grace, or be pressing after it, if we would retain the favor of God, and be certain of heaven."

6. Dr. Doddridge says: "To allow yourself deliberately to sit down satisfied with any imperfect attainments in religion, and to look upon a more confirmed and improved state of it as what you do not desire, nay, as what you secretly resolve that you will not pursue, is one of the most fatal signs we can well imagine that you are an entire stranger to the first principles of it." — Rise and Progress, chap. 20.

7. President Mahan gives you his views on this subject, in his work on Christian Perfection, thus: "We are also prepared to account for a melancholy fact which characterizes different stages of the experience of the great mass of Christians. From the evangelical simplicity of their first love they pass into a state of legal bondage and, after a fruitless struggle of vain resolutions with 'the world, the flesh, and the devil,' they appear to descend into a kind of Antinomian death. " — Christian Perfection, p. 100.

8. Here backsliding often commences. He who fights against sin, and overcomes it, will soon be convicted that it is his duty and his privilege to seek a clean heart. Let him hesitate to do it, and he does not remain where he was before. He has taken back part of the consecration which he made. His power is gone. He is under condemnation." — Rev. B. T. Roberts: Editorial in Earnest Christian.

We are fully convinced that a neglect on the part of regenerated souls to seek entire sanctification, is a more fruitful occasion of losing the witness of justification, and of backsliding, than all other causes combined. Indeed, it includes, virtually, all other causes. The witness of a justified state can no more be retained without seeking holiness, than a witness of entire sanctification or holiness can be retained without a further and constant growth in grace and knowledge of the truth.

The very conditions upon which a state of justification is retained inevitably lead to Christian purity. The same is true of the conditions of retaining a state of perfect love — they are those by which the soul is to grow and mature in holiness. A violation of the conditions of increase and growth in holiness forfeits the state of holiness itself. The way for a regenerated soul to obtain the blessing of perfect love, is to abide closely by the conditions of retaining his justification. If he does, he will soon, very soon, bathe in the fountain, and come out pure through the blood of the Lamb.

The converted soul cannot retain the clear light of justification long without a knowledge of its need of being cleansed from heartfelt impurity, of unreserved submission to God, and trust in the blood of Christ for full redemption. Glory to God! In this way millions have obtained the perfect love of Christ.

4. Many good men think the church is sadly backslidden on account of this neglect.

1. Bishop Peck asks: "Is it not true that the large majority of real Christians are yet without it? — that, in consequence of its neglect, the church is loaded with a body of death filled with backsliders, and comparatively powerless for the great purpose to which she is ordained of Heaven? ...

"How many thousands have been slain by harbored inward foes, which have seemed to be harmless! What a mass of backsliders there are now in the Church, for the very reason that they have been satisfied without going on unto perfection." — Central Idea, p. 315.

2. President Mahan says: "We see the reason of the aspect of living death which the church now presents to the world. It is simply this: she is in a state of unbelief in respect to the nature and extent of the provisions and promises of divine grace. Christian Perfection, p. 51.

3. Bishop Foster says: "To say that the church is now living, and from the time of the beginning has been living, beneath her privilege, below her mission, would certainly be but a mild and moderate, though humiliating, utterance of the conviction of Christendom." — Christian Purity, p. 25.

5. A neglect to seek holiness causes a spirit of opposition to holiness.

It is usually the case that persons who have been repeatedly convicted of their need of holiness, and of their duty to seek it, and have refused to do it, or have put forth at times some slight efforts to obtain it, and then relapsed into indifference upon the subject, become its worst enemies. They become displeased with those who faithfully preach it, and dislike to hear it personally professed. This is the natural result of neglected duty, and of grieving the Holy Spirit. They become opposed to holiness because holiness is opposed to them. Sinners who pursue a similar course in regard to regeneration, experience similar results.

167. If I lose the blessing, must I tell others of it?

Usually this would be very improper. It would weaken the feeble-minded, and stagger those who are seeking. Fly directly to Christ. Take him again by simple faith as a present Saviour. Cry, Lord, here I am; I repent; I give up all; I am fully thine. Thou art my Saviour; I will, I do believe. You might tell an intimate friend or two; they would help you by their prayers.