Challenged to Change
Clean Conscience And Freedom
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Forsaking Sin & Repentance
1 John 3:9
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
A little book that Peggy mentioned, “Scriptural Holiness” which Douglass Crossman wrote in October 1966 — the only other known copy in this country is held in the British Museum — this little book has several sermons on ‘scriptural holiness’ in it. And one of them written obviously, maybe 1820 or 1830, deals with what often prevents men and women like ourselves entering into ‘the fullness of the Holy Spirit’ or having our ‘hearts cleansed by faith’. And it’s such a real issue that God has often dealt with me about, and I think also some of you, that I’d like to read it, as we examine ourselves before God, before taking the covenant on our own lips, and then before having communion.
“Sometimes the one thing lacking in the sacrifice that is presented to God is a doubtful thing,” a doubtful thing, “A custom of trade or a questionable habit of the self indulgence. When you’re piety is low you think little about it. But it invariably troubles you, when you seek earnestly for an increase of grace. It is not expressly condemned in the Word of God. Perhaps it is impossible in the nature of things that it should be, and you are only doing as others do whom you esteem as true Christians. If you could be clearly convinced that it was wrong, you would at once, and forever renounce it. But a little consideration will show you that this is not the right way to reason upon the subject.
Whence come all your doubts and scruples respecting the custom or the habit? Are they not suggested by your conscience? Do they not arise from a special application of the general precepts of the Bible? And where lies your unwillingness to abandon it? Is it not to be found in your inclination, or in considerations of self interest? If it be so, surely you cannot hesitate as to the side on which you should yield. You ought to say, not that you will renounce it when convinced that it is wrong, but that you will refrain from it until you are convinced it is right — which actually we would do without any doubt, if it were something that affected our own physical life or death.
We would not dream of continuing on with eating something or with doing something that someone said might cause cancer, or might cause some other fatal disease. We would not hesitate about it just because we weren’t sure of it. We would say to ourselves, ‘No, then we’ll keep away from it until we hear for certain that it’s right.’ It may be wrong to do it; it cannot be wrong to leave it undone. ‘Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.’” And of course anything that is doubtful is not of faith. “Nothing will more effectually hinder Christ from taking full possession of your heart than continuance in a doubtful course.” Continuing to do something, to engage in some mental, or physical, or emotional habit that you’re not sure about; you’re not sure if this is right or wrong. Indeed, it’s even more than that. You’re not sure that it’s something that God wants you to do. “Why than should you for so small a matter invalidate your claim to so great a blessing? Is not the misery produced by your doubts affecting its lawfulness, greater than all the happiness it yields you?” Think of the little bit of satisfaction you get from doing it. Is that greater than the happiness of knowing for sure that you’re not displeasing God?
“If confiding in Christ’s love to you, you will risk all consequences, and in his name and for his sake, make the sacrifice, he will give you a peace so great as to fill you with wonder and shame that you should ever have fought a battle so foolish and sinful.” Then he quotes a verse of scripture, “Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing that he alloweth.” “Happy is he
that condemneth not himself in that thing that he alloweth.” So that man is happy who does not find anything in himself to condemn. “Perhaps the one thing that hinders your full salvation is the one thing that is keeping Jesus from ministering his life through you in all its fullness.” Let us pray.
Will you stand please?
“And now beloved let us bind ourselves with willing bonds to our covenant God, and take the yoke of Christ upon us.
This taking of his yoke upon us means that we are heartily content that he appoint us our place and work, and that he alone be our reward.
Christ has many services to be done; some are easy, others are difficult; some bring honor, others bring reproach; some are suitable to our natural inclinations and temporal interests, other are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves, in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves. Yet the power to do all these things is assuredly given us in Christ, who strengthens us.
Therefore, let us make the covenant of God our own. Let us engage our heart to the Lord, and resolve in his strength never to go back.
Being thus prepared, let us now in sincere dependence on his grace and trusting in his promises yield ourselves anew to him.
As we stand, let us repeat the covenant to God together.
I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee; let me be full, let me empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thou art mine and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.