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Victorious Life

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Lesson 101 of 127
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Traits of the Self Life Part 1






Traits of the Self-Life – Part 1

Sermon transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

Here’s the way the Google search goes: If you search for: “If we confess our sins” – they just bring up Adam Clarke: “If, from a deep sense of our guilt, impurity, and helplessness, we humble ourselves before God, acknowledging our iniquity, his holiness, and our own utter helplessness, and implore mercy for his sake who has died for us; he is faithful, because to such he has promised mercy, (Psalm 32:5, Proverb 28:13), and just, for Christ has died for us, and thus made an atonement to the Divine justice; so that God can now be just, and yet the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.”

Google – they have no sense! They know nobody will read on — but they carry on! “And to cleanse us from all unrighteousness – not only to forgive the sin, but to purify the heart.”

So Google preaches our sermon for us here. So – if you have the phrases, their search machine will find them. They’ll probably back you up with Adam Clarke – Wesley’s chief theologian.

It continues:

“Observe here, 1. Sin exists in the soul after two modes or forms: (1.) In guilt, which requires forgiveness or pardon. (2.) In pollution, which requires cleansing. 2. Guilt, to be forgiven, must be confessed; and pollution, to be cleansed, must be also confessed. In order to find mercy, a man must know and feel himself to be a sinner, that he may fervently apply to God for pardon; in order to get a clean heart, a man must know and feel its depravity, acknowledge and deplore it before God, in order to be fully sanctified.”

This is just Google – it’s what somebody gets if they look up “if we confess our sins. It continues:

“3. Few are pardoned, because they do not feel and confess their sins; and few are sanctified or cleansed from all sin, because they do not feel and confess their own sore, and the plague of their hearts.”

“4. As the blood of Jesus Christ, the merit of his passion and death, applied by faith, purges the conscience from all dead works, so the same cleanses the heart from all unrighteousness.”

“5. As all unrighteousness is sin, so he that is cleansed from all unrighteousness is cleansed from all sin. To attempt to evade this, and plead for the continuance of sin in the heart through life, is ungrateful, wicked, and even blasphemous; for as he who says he has not sinned, (1 John 1:10) makes God a liar, who has declared the contrary through every part of his revelation; so he that says the blood of Christ either cannot or will not cleanse us from all sin in this life, gives also the lie to his Maker, who has declared the contrary, and thus shows that the word – the doctrine of God is not in him.”

“Reader, it is the birthright of every child of God to be cleansed from all sin, to keep himself unspotted from the world, and so to live as never more to offend his Maker. All things are possible to him that believeth; because all things are possible to the infinitely meritorious blood and energetic Spirit of the Lord Jesus. See the notes on the parallel passages in the margin; and

particularly in St. John’s gospel,(cid:160)John 1 note.”

It boggles the mind. Loved ones, we don’t even have to try. We don’t even have to get on a plane and go to Tanganyika or go to Taiwan. So do you see? But I agree with you – our heart has to be cleansed. You can’t speak to them {if your heart isn’t cleansed).

My heart was lifted a bit yesterday, because I saw where the guy {a man in the audience at this sermon} does his devotions – always in the library. But he does his devotion there. So I picked up his book. I don’t normally do this, because that’s your private business. But I picked up one of his books, because it looked like the kind of books I read. Of course it was David Stoner. Marty probably knows – Methodist minister describing how he came into the fullness of the clean heart. That lifted my spirit because he was at his father’s business. That’s what I did, day after day after day. You have to do it – Gregory, each one of us. You can’t go any further unless you settle it.

This society is desperate. You probably realize it yourself. The present gospel that is heard and preached on television and everywhere throughout America, and many places elsewhere, does a great job – because it inoculates everybody against the disease. Yes! If you confess your sins, God regards his Son’s death as yours, so you’re OK! You’re forgiven.

Everybody believes it. Everybody believes that Jesus died for them. They’re taught, “God looks for somebody’s death, takes his Son’s death in place of yours. So – you’re free. You can carry on.”

That’s pretty much what people believe the gospel is. It’s the substitutionary theory of Christ’s death – that you should have died for your sins, but Jesus died instead of you. So you’re laughing! That’s what the world believes. So they’re kind of inoculated against what God is after – that his Son should live in each one of us, and renew the world by his Spirit.

So there’s desperate need for them to see it’s not normal for them to lust and destroy whoever’s body you want. It’s not normal! It’s not God’s will for you to have all kinds of unclean thoughts and dirty jokes. It’s not normal.

It’s not normal to have all kinds of envious and jealous thoughts towards people – as long as outwardly you look civil. That’s not normal. It’s abnormal. It’s sub-normal. But you can only do it with power, energy, and blessing if your own heart is cleansed.

So I’m very aware that any of us who put ourselves in the position of teachers had better be pretty careful about ourselves! It was a great blessing to me – this little tract. Of course, you know it well. What I do quite often – but certainly at this time every year – I just go slowly through it. It’s E.E. Shelhamer’s tract, Traits of the Self Life.

“The following are some of the features and manifestations of the self life. The Holy Spirit alone can interpret and apply this to your individual case. As you read, examine yourself in the very presence of God. Are you ever conscious of: (And I just take them one by one.)

“A secret spirit of pride.” I look into my heart, and I know if there is anything of this, it’s a clear indication that Christ is not in control(cid:160)of all of my life.

“A secret spirit of pride. An exalted feeling, in view of your success or position, because of your

good training or appearance, because of your natural gifts and abilities; an important, independent spirit.”

I would say that I was very aware of that without any difficulty! – before the Holy Spirit began to dig into my heart. So I was very conscious of those feelings – if you preached a good sermon, or if somebody said something complimentary to you. Or you thought of your own position, and you thought, “Very nice!” “Because of your good training or appearance, because of your natural gifts and abilities; an important, independent spirit.”

Of course that was very easy for a minister because everybody treated you as important. So it was very easy for there to grow in you a kind of spirit of, “I am important.” What I watched out for was: if anybody said anything nice to me – what was the reaction in my heart? And did I feel I’m more important than other people?

I would say that God has dealt with a lot of these things and finished with them in me. But I still watch out – because I think if you let even a little bit of the self influence your life or your heart, you’re opening yourself to a spirit that can take you over.

So if you say to me, “Would that be a bell-ringing thing with me?” Oh yes! That’s dangerous.

“A love of human praise. A secret fondness to be noticed.” So I watch in conversation, “Am I making a joke to draw attention to myself? Or is it an honest joke – a really nice, funny joke?”

“A love of human praise.” I don’t know if you’ve found that in yourself. We were always taught as teachers that praise is one of your greatest helps to encourage children to learn and to develop – to praise them. So praise is used far and wide in our society, and praise is a good thing to give while it’s sensible and not exaggeration.

But then what about the person receiving it? Do you get to the point where you love human praise? {Writing on the white board} That was it: people and their praise? Or, God and his praise, and God’s love? And what comes from one or the other — is Your Significance. Dying to self is dying to that {pointing to on the white board “Love from Others”}, and receiving your sense of significance from God’s love and praise only.

So you may say, “Oh, just a little slippage this way does no harm.” But it does – because you’re beginning to depend on something other than God himself. Maybe what none of us realize is: when you’re living from here {pointing on white board to “Significance and Love from God”} and not from here {pointing on white board to “Significance and Love from Others”} the spirit is free and rises up, enjoys God, and is in a spirit of victory. It’s very hard for a temptation to get to it.

So you may think at times, “Well, I’m not always in a spirit of praise and victory.” Well, then you’re in danger! If you’re creeping along doing your best, and struggling through this hard world which is giving you a problem – you’re a sitting duck for every evil sentient spirit that can come in – especially one of discouragement.

So you’re either in a glorious situation, living from God from inside out, or you’re in a dangerous situation, dipping your feet into the dirt down here, and kind of going round the edge and keeping up from it. The sewer is not drowning you – but it’s round your feet.

That’s part of why I think Gregory’s situation is dangerous too, because he’s like me – kind of a meditative guy! I’m all for that – rather than for my mouthing off all the time. But I think it’s dangerous, because as a kind of meditative, introspective person, you’re a sitting duck for being dragged down into negativism, worry, and anxiety.

You triumph easily when you’re flying high. When you’re flying high here in this realm {pointing to white board where it says, “God’s Love”} – if your mind and your feelings are filled with delight, you’re in the Father’s world, he has all things prepared for you tomorrow, and you don’t need to worry a thing. “Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication make your requests known to God.” {Paraphrase of Philippians 4:6.} Then you’re in a position of safety! If you’re down there (pointing to on the white board “The World’s Love”) you’re in a position of danger.

So it’s interesting. You’re either uproariously victorious, or you’re not victorious. That’s about it.

“Love of human praise. A secret fondness to be noticed.” I certainly knew that so well as an Irish comedian – because you draw attention if you make a joke. “A secret fondness to be noticed.”

“A love of supremacy. A drawing attention to self in conversation.” I’ve thought of that at times because I’ll often say to you, “Oh, well, I wouldn’t do that!” and it sometimes strikes me, “Well, great you! Who cares whether you do it or not!” I always say it because it gives some feeling that I know what you’re feeling. But I think it’s something you have to be careful of. Are you drawing attention to self in conversation for self’s sake?

“A swelling out of self when you have had a free time of speaking or praying.”

As a speaker, of course, you understand that. That’s why the comedians and all the other show business people have trouble – because it’s after the show that they go and they drink, because they think they’re the most wonderful thing that’s ever happened to the world!

So that’s a dangerous thing that we all know. But it can become a normal part of your quiet mind. “Hmm, I did that pretty well.” I didn’t see much trouble with that, until I realized, “Yeah, you’re kind of drawing attention to yourself.” Every time you draw attention to yourself, you’re drawing yourself into dangerous waters.

It was much better when I thought, “That fellow Ernest O’Neill doesn’t exist. He’s dead. He doesn’t exist.” I had summer days as a little child. I was involved in some wonderful thing we were doing – some silly little thing we were doing at Bangor in County Down, and all the family was there. I was saying, “Dad, get me started.” (That’s what Myron used to say to his dad – “Dad, get me started.”) One of those when you had no worry. Everything was wonderful. Now that’s the way it’s meant to be! You’re happier when you forget yourself. You’re a bit of a drag really to yourself.

That’s what we don’t see! That’s what the evil spirit deceives us about. We think, “No, no. You HAVE to think of yourself.” The more you think of yourself and take care of yourself – the more into a swamp you’ll sink. So that’s why I think this is good – because it’s better to regard every trait of the self-life as the beginning of sin inside you, that will bear other fruit.

“The stirrings of anger or impatience.” I think I have a thousand reasons that my impatience with

Irene {Rev. O’Neill’s wife} is not evil. But it’s evil. Why is it evil? It’s not black evil. But think of it this way: Is God’s time not the important time? Is the time he decides things should be done – is that not the right time? Why have I a right to be impatient because he’s not doing it in my time?

That came home to me very strongly. You could say, “Oh, yes, you’re just a bit impatient. But it’s very understandable in this situation.” It may be understandable, but it’s certainly not dwelling in heaven. And it’s not dwelling in reality. Reality is give thanks in all things, in all circumstances, and for all things. Why? Because every one of them is God’s will.

The old saints said it: good and evil are God’s will. “Do not good and evil come from the mouth of the Lord?” It’s Lamentations 3:38. Yes! Everything that comes to us is God’s will for us. We can afford to accept his timing as correct, be humble and be respectful of him, and be ready to say, “Our timing is not the greatest time in the universe. We do not have Ernest O’Neill Greenwich Mean Time. We do not. We are little nothings. It is his time. HE is the Greenwich Mean Time.”

“The stirrings of anger or impatience, which worst of all you call nervousness or holy indignation.” Why is this worst of all? Because you’re justifying it. “Well, I’m justified by being impatient here. Yes, yes I am. I have every right to it!” The self crows and swells. The Savior crouches against the wall and cries for Calvary, as you squeeze him to the wall.

“A touchy, sensitive spirit.” “Oh no. I’m just very sensitive. I’m just very sensitive about that kind of thing.” Oh great you! I suppose you have a right to be sensitive! It’s dreadful. It’s, “Lord Jesus, after all, they’re offending me there! They’re offending my sensitivity. I’m just a bit touchy about that kind of thing.” Oh great you! Touchy! I’m sorry – that’s what I say to myself. You have to say it to yourself.

“A disposition to resent and retaliate when disapproved of or contradicted.” I’d watch out for it because it’s so subtle. “Well, they’re overlooking me. They’re contradicting me, and I know what’s right in this situation.”

So what says that? The “I” says that. It’s the “I” that gets up on its hind legs and says that – “That they’re disapproving of me, they’re contradicting ME. The great Me!” What we don’t realize is — that “me,” if that’s what you’re defending — you’ll have to defend it for the rest of your life! It’ll wear you out! Because it is actually finally indefensible. You’ll wear yourself into the grave doing it. But you do it because there’s nobody else looking after you. Isn’t that right? There’s nobody else looking after you – but yourself.

He looks down on his child, and weeps! “Why doesn’t she know that I’m watching over her? That I will take care of her. Why doesn’t she know that?” That’s it.

“A desire to throw sharp heated flings at another.” I just watch for it – because it’s death! That thing rising inside you that wants to, however subtly, get back at them!

“Self-will.(cid:160)A stubborn, unteachable spirit.” (TAPE ENDS SUDDENLY)