By G. D. Watson
There springs up in the heart of the new Christian a desire to grow in grace, but his views of growth are vague, and as he looks forward to his Christian journey a silver mist hangs over the distant horizon. He does not apprehend clearly the hindrances in his own nature to spiritual progress, nor does he apprehend in any definite way the promises that are made in the Bible concerning the fullness of salvation. After awhile there comes to his understanding the special need of some grace or virtue that he seems to be lacking. Amid the daily ups and downs of life (the ordinary trials and annoyances and the temptations and besetments that surround him) he is made to feel that he needs some special grace by which he can get an easier victory in daily living.
In the experience of this Christian will be the discovery of an internal hindrance in the heart to the very grace he is seeking. This is the way the Holy Spirit leads the soul to discover the hidden danger of the carnal mind. Many a Christian, who could not believe at first that he had the remains of inward sin in him, is led to make this discovery by finding something in his nature that lies right in the way of his progress in grace, and strangles his peace, or joy, or liberty (Rom. 8:7).
While making this interior examination in his affections and tempers, to find out what is the particular besetting evil that prevents his growth in grace, he makes a great discovery that well nigh horrifies him. Instead of having one besetment that hinders his Christian progress, he finds that there is a whole world of carnality in his nature. Those outcroppings of one or two evil propensities, which at first attracted his attention, were only like the mineral veins of a mine — they lead down into a dark region of corruption and blindness and unbelief that he hitherto did not dream was in him. He then begins to understand that the whole body of sin, as an evil principle, remains in his heart. This saddens his spirit and causes a real grief in his soul. The very fact that he is born of God, and desires to love Him more, causes him inexpressible sorrow of heart to find that his whole being is pervaded with a hidden, yet positive evil. He then begins to see that many of his good deeds and much of his Christian work was tinged with selfishness, or subtle pride, or ambition, or a strain of vanity, or was mixed up with duplicity and double-mindedness. This brings to light what has been called the repentance of believers — that is, real grief over inward sin.
There then comes to this soul a thirst for the fullness of scriptural purity. At first he began with a sense of the need of some one particular grace, but now he sees that he needs a universal cleansing — not only from one form of evil but from every variety of pride and unbelief and selfishness. He sees that he needs something far more than to be sanctified in certain spots, for his spiritual vision takes in the length and breadth of his whole nature and scans the extent of his whole life. He yearns for nothing less than a complete and universal cleansing (1 Thess. 5:23-24).
He now begins to entirely yield himself to God, but not in the same way that he yielded for the pardon of his sins. This is a more profound and interior giving of himself without reservation to the will of God. It is an itemized consecration — point by point and thing after thing, in his outward and inward life; a letting go of things in the past and in the future; a placing of circumstances, plans and hopes and anticipations into the will of God (Rom. 12:1-2).
When this itemized yielding of the whole inner being to God is completed, then comes the hour of perfect trust in Jesus as a Savior and Cleanser and Sanctifier. This faith has no struggle in it — it is a sweet, quiet rest in Jesus; a sort of divine, heavenly indifference as to what the outcome may be. Hence the highest type of faith is not exercise, but a ceasing from exercise — a supernatural repose in God; letting the Holy Spirit do His work without having any anxiety to interfere with Him. He sees that he has a most intimate, thorough and blessed companionship with a divine Person, Who lives in him. From now on he does not rely upon any particular type of experience, but learns to confide in the blessed Comforter (Holy Spirit), out of whose fullness flows all good experiences. He learns to let the Holy Spirit use him for the glory of Jesus. Instead of trying to use God’s grace and God’s gifts, he learns how to comply with the inward monitions of the Comforter; and so understanding the mind of God, he yields himself continually, with great docility and humility, to be used by the blessed Holy Spirit, Who abides in his heart. This is the state that all sincere Christians have intimations of and desires for, but so few of them seem to fully enter into. This is the state that is truly apostolic, and it is for all those who will obey God without fear and in humility (Rom. 8:11, 14).
Steps to Holiness was taken from The Heavenly Life by G. D. Watson, condensed and revised, and may be reproduced and distributed.