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Lesson 102 of 127
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Traits of the Self Life Part 2






Traits of the Self-Life – Part 2

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

I think our job today is to present ourselves where God has put us in his dear Son. We all vary in our awareness of that. Some of us are very clear about it, and some of us are struggling towards it. But we all want it with all our hearts. As dear Josie talked about her own awareness for the first time of sin, what came home to me is that what we call real sins – the sinful acts, the sinful words, the sinful thoughts – that those are what the world normally calls sins. Of course, that’s what the world talks about Jesus dying for. He died for our sins. He died for the punishment that is meted out for our sins, and he took it for us. That’s the normal interpretation of the death of Jesus. There’s great truth in it.

But what many of us discovered is — the sins came from sin! The sin we found is still deep down in our hearts. We vary in our interpretation of what sin is. I’ve done my little bit with “s-I-n” – the big I in sin is “I.”

But probably the real truth is: sin is living without God. Sin is living as if there is no God. Sin is living apart from God. Sin is sorting out your own needs — getting from people the sense of significance that of course we have from our dear Father. He has made us so significant that he has made us inside his own Son. So we’re certainly as dear to him as his own Son.

So are we important? Important? We’re the sons and daughters of God. You yourself are a daughter of God. You are part of Jesus. I am part of Jesus. He is the one in whom we were all made. We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which he has prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. {This is Ephesians 2:10} Of course we’re significant.

But our sin, our sense of unreality with God – people have not believed that. As little babies our mums made the worlds of us. Then our dads made the worlds of us. Then the other people thought we were lovely because we looked nice. Then our teachers made the world of us. Then other people made the world of us. Then we decided that’s how you become important. You have everybody think that you’re great.

So we began to feed that. We began to please people like crazy and wanted them to think the world of us. So sin became a way of life for us. We got all our approval and significance – our sense of importance – from what other people think.

The society is crazy now with that. “Say yes to me,” and, “Say I’m Number One.” It just goes on and on. We wear each other out trying to please each other. What many of us found was, after we had sought God for the forgiveness of our sins, we still found what John Wesley said. He said, “Many Christians have forsaken their sins, and have no trouble with their sins. They’ve given up their drunkenness. They’ve given up their waywardness. They’ve given up their unclean thoughts and their unclean acts. But they feel sin still within. They feel the urge and the desire to do those things.”

I think that’s the great difference between a person who is sanctified and a person who is not sanctified. The word “sanctified” has various meanings as you know – but it has the sense that the heart is clean. The difference between a clean heart and an unclean heart is partly that. In an unclean heart sin still dwells within. There’s still a desire for your own way and your own rights,

and you still try to get your significance from what other people do for you.

It’s the same with security. Right from the beginning we were taught, “You need money! You need a life. You need a job in order to keep yourself gathered together.” We decided that’s where you get security from. You get things, like my dad and my mum got things. That gave them security. They got clothes. They got houses. That’s how they lived. That’s how they established their security.

So we got our security from that. What many of us have found is, after we’ve given up the outward signs, or fought against them with all our heart, we still feel within us sin – a sense that we ought to make sure we have what we need ourselves. That’s why there is a little rising of the heart when the bank balance goes a little too low. There’s a little strain and a little stress. It’s all indication that we’re still looking somewhere else than God for our sense of security.

It’s the same with our happiness. T-G-I-F. {Thank God it’s Friday!} It still rules many of our lives, even though we don’t thank God every time it’s Friday. We don’t just look forward to the weekend. Yet if we had a little treat it would help. If we had little treats it makes life more interesting. Life would be boring if we didn’t have little happy things to look forward to.

So really we find sin still there within us – still some attitude that wants to meet our needs apart from God. Usually we want to meet them from the world of people and things and circumstances. So that’s the situation when the heart is not yet clean.

What is it like? There are so many illustrations. But when the heart is not clean – if you’d like to say — you’re not sanctified, when you have not been cleansed by the Holy Spirit, when you have not come to the end of self, when you have not experienced the death to self on the cross with Jesus – really it is like gasoline. There’s gasoline inside. The fiery dart from the wicked one comes in. Psheeeew! It meets something in here that loves it, that wants it!

Somebody praises you and you want the praise! You get the extra bonus, and you want the extra bonus. You have a wonderful weekend or a wonderful vacation, and you want more happiness. So there’s something within you that goes out to meet what is really a temptation, or what is a desire to live separate from God – to have a little something that is your own. It’s like gasoline being in there.

And afterwards – like a bucket of water. That’s it! It’s a big difference – because the fiery dart of the wicked one comes in and – Sssss! – sizzles out – because there’s nothing rising inside you. You don’t any longer look to circumstances for your happiness. You don’t any longer look to other people for approval. You don’t look any more for things. So there’s nothing inside to answer the thing that comes from outside. So it is a real difference.

Actually there may be no outward difference, though their usually is. There may be no outward difference in a person with a clean heart and a person with an unclean heart, or with a person as we say, justified but not sanctified, and a person who is sanctified, or a person who has the Holy Spirit within them, but is not filled with the Holy Spirit. All different terms that people use. But it does mean that there is no enemy within working against God.

Paul describes the agony: “The good I would I cannot do. And the evil that I hate is the very thing I end up doing! I do what I do not want.” {Paraphrase of Romans 7:19-20} That’s the whole experience that all of us have had at some time. That is the unsanctified life, the uncleansed heart.

That is the one who knows they’re in Christ, but has not really accepted all that he did for them on Calvary. The Savior died on Calvary, died on the cross to himself, for you. He died to yourself also. He went through the agony of dying to yourself on Calvary. That’s the bit that you don’t quite know, or you have not been willing for. It’s that willingness to die to the self that Christ died in you on Calvary. That unwillingness means that you’re still not ready to be completely in him.

So he’s not able to fill you with his Holy Spirit. There’s an enemy still within that is fighting against him. So that’s briefly the difference between the two experiences.

I think we vary here. Some of us are in it and some of us are not. All of us are hungering for it, and want it with all our hearts. It seems to me the heart of it is, are you willing to die to self as Jesus did for you on Calvary? It’s actually a bit more. Are you willing to stay in him? That’s it. Are you willing to stay in him — right through to the very bottom?

Wesley would have said – to the ground of your heart. He would have said: you pray. You listen to the Holy Spirit. You stay with him until you reach the ground of your heart.

There is a place in your heart that is the ground of your heart – that is the bottom line, the last thing that you’re holding onto. It’s different for all of us. But it is some attitude, or some desire, that you are not willing to let go of, and you are not willing to let Jesus fully control.

That’s the ground of your heart, and a person can come to it. That was a glorious thing. I could not believe it! Could you ever get to the end of constantly searching, constantly seeking, constantly hungering – and yes you can!

Yes — there is a ground of your heart. The Holy Spirit can witness when you, if you like to put it this way, are fully consecrated. Consecration is the Latin. “Consecro” means “separate.” “Sanctifio” is “to make holy.” So consecration is a work of man. It’s a human setting apart of yourself for God’s use. Sanctification is God’s work through the Holy Spirit making you holy – making the death to self that Christ wrought for you in eternity real in you. “Sanctus fio” – “fio” is the passive of the word “fagio” – to be made. So it makes you holy. It’s a work done by God’s Holy Spirit. He fills you with his Spirit. This is as opposed to “consecro” which is, you consecrate fully. But you are responsible for the consecration. Only God’s Spirit can show you the full extent of that consecration. He can show you the final consecration.

I was seeking the clean heart – the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and praying at that little parsonage in North Minneapolis. I was praying and seeking God and getting further and further and getting deeper and deeper, and feeling I was getting close to something. Then came the day. It’s probably the same with all immigrants. We want the “folks back home” to think we’ve done well. “Are you willing to die to what people think of you – for people who know you to think you’re nothing? Are you willing to be nothing? Are you willing for no one to know you?” At last I got to the ground of my heart.

The mail came actually that afternoon – a letter from DOCTOR. I should have been a doctor long ago. I went in with degrees way ahead of the rest of my classmates. But this guy had come to Menninger Clinic and done theology and done psychology, and he was Dr. Morris Taggert. He sent me a letter, and always when I got a letter, I got riled up – all that stuff: “I should have been there – I should have” — on and on.” I opened it. Nothing! Nothing. It was pretty good. No feeling of ambition or jealousy.

You CAN KNOW. There is a ground of your heart that you can come to. There’s a story about two men from Minnesota. They’d been seeking the clean heart for years. One of them entered in. The other was delighted to hear about it. He said, “John, what happened? What did you do?” John answered, “I just got honest with God.”

That’s what it is – not complicated at all. Except of course that we have woven such tissue of complicated motives and complicated love of self, that it is complicated to us. But finally the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of truth. He can lead you through it.

That was a big thing for me. I was brought up in some psychology, and certainly brought up as a school teacher and minister – to know what you thought and to think through things, and be intelligent. What happens is, you think you run your own operation. You think that if there is anything in you, you will see it! Nobody else knows you like you know yourself.

One of the big steps for me was to take seriously the Holy Spirit – that there is a Holy Spirit, that the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus is in me, and is able to see things that I cannot see, independent of me. So that was a big step for me – that I began to deal with the Holy Spirit as my psychiatrist, and to ask him to show me things that I am not able to see myself.

So it was clear to me that when he did this, it witnessed: “this is the ground of your heart.” Then of course everything just happens. Then you’re good because you feel good! You’re not good because you ought to be good and you ought to make a good witness. But you feel good because that’s it. That’s reality.

I do think today – and that’s why I’d like you to do a little thinking yourselves – that it’s very important to keep our eyes open, and watching for the Holy Spirit. For me, I think it is making sure that there are no little bits of self that creep in – because we operate and work in a world that is filled with self, and we operate with dear hearts who love us and are filled with self themselves, and want the best for us, but are constantly washing us with their ideas.

So it’s very important that you walk wisely, and that you walk knowingly and seeingly. So I think it’s always good to examine yourself from time to time and make sure that there’s nothing of self creeping in – because there is great deception in it. So I think it is important for us today to do a little of that.

But for yourself, I think there is a definite difference between a person. There’s the whole emphasis of Pentecost, which emphasizes the gifts of the Spirit, which is fair enough. The Pentecostals of Azusa Street, where Pentecostalism started in L.A., were very definite. They dealt with the heart. You remember the two old guys – they had a battered old room in L.A. They had nothing in the room but an orange box. One old black guy and a few white guys. They held their service and they were yearning for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Eventually the Holy Spirit fell upon them. Then one guy says, “It was interesting. John was the leader of the prayer meeting. He was behind the orange box. (They used that as a kind of pulpit.) He says, ‘Every time John hid behind the orange box, the Holy Spirit fell! And when he came out, the Holy Spirit went!’” This implied, of course, that the ego and the preoccupation with self was the thing.

Originally Pentecostalism started with the sense of the importance of seeing the self crucified. So it was a full experience. It wasn’t just the gifts of the spirit in those days.

So the gifts of the spirit and the emphasis on that, as opposed to the clean heart, is really a later development. So some of the Pentecostals we knew in Minneapolis were very real people.

But we should be clear what we’re talking about is not the importance of the gifts of the spirit that the Hoy Spirit does bring, but the cleansed heart. Acts 15:9 — Peter talking about why they should baptize the Gentiles said, “God gave the Holy Spirit to them as he did to us and cleansed their hearts by faith.” {This is a paraphrase.}

That was the great work that the New Testament church treasured – the work of the Holy Spirit – cleansed their hearts by faith. And when the heart is cleansed, there’s no rising up out of the heart of envy and jealousy and pride. There’s no rising up from within. That’s the difference.

It isn’t this business of it rising up, and you having the power of the Holy Spirit to hold it down. No! There’s nothing to hold down. The heart is filled with the Holy Spirit, and is clean, and sends up joy, and delight in the Father, and satisfaction with him.

It isn’t repression, which is unconscious suppression. Or it isn’t suppression, which is definitely trying to hold the thing down with your will and your mind. No. It’s cleansing of the heart. It’s a work done by the Holy Spirit in a heart that is willing for it to be done. God is able to ask you, “Are you willing for this?”

So from time to time – quite often in my life – I keep an eye out if God is saying something to me. It seems to me every experience in life is an opportunity to come clean again, or to be confirmed where you are.

If you say to me, “Big difference?” Oh without any doubt, a big difference for me. I don’t fight it. If Irene says to me, “Have you ….?” I look immediately. I’m not defending myself. There’s no self in there trying to defend itself.

So you’re right. It’s not sinless perfection. No, I’m not free from all sin. It’s not that issue. Sin is resistance to God’s will. Sin is independence of God. It’s living apart from God. It’s finding sources apart from God. It may not necessarily be what the world thinks of as perfect. But it is free from that resistance to God’s will – free from resisting the Holy Spirit’s light, free from somebody telling you, “You’re dreadful. You’re this or you’re that.” I want to know that. Tell me that – because I know that’s not what the Savior wants. So it’s freedom from the resistance that fights those things.

So – I commend it to you! {the baptism with the Holy Spirit} It’s very real and true and I think it’s what is God’s will for us. If you say to me, “Well, how long can you hang around?” I don’t think you ought to hang around too long. God is clear – his steadfast love NEVER ceases. His mercies NEVER come to an end. So undoubtedly the Holy Spirit, as Francis Thompson said, is the Hound of Heaven. He will follow us again and again and again.

But still – you don’t help by hanging around the borders of the Promised Land. There comes a time where you’ve got to say, “We’re going in.” Can you get used to standing around the borders? I think you can. I think the heart can harden. So I don’t think you should hang around. I think if you’re serious, you’ll be desperate for it. You’ll hunger and thirst after righteousness, and the kingdom is taken by violence(cid:9) — that is, you’re desperate! You want it with all your heart. God only gives

you what you want with all your heart.

So it’s very real and true and I think it’s life, and I think it’s what Christianity is all about. I think the other defeated life is agony and torture. I think this life is a life of fruitfulness. I would certainly testify to that. We saw a little bit of action then in our congregation then, because you have only one story, so it’s obvious what that story is! It blasts out and explodes into life.

So I think you seek it with all your heart. I think I’ll get down to the facts of the case. There they are. I think we have copies of that. We got down to “a jealous disposition” in our last talk. It’s one of the “Traits of the Self Life” talked about in this tract of that name.

He says in the top line, “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 conscience of …..” And so, I look at them, and I think, “If I see any touch of that, I’d better go with the Holy Spirit, and make sure there’s nothing there.” You can put it any way you like, but, “Is there any bit of me slipping off the cross?” Maybe that’s a nice way of putting it. Think of it this way: “Are YOU every conscious of a jealous disposition? A secret spirit of envy shut up in your heart. An unpleasant sensation in view of the prosperity and success of another.”

I just think to myself, “Am I? Am I ever aware of that?” The Savior on the cross had none of that! And he included me in himself. So he obviously had that destroyed in him on Calvary. My old self was crucified with him, and any tendency to have a jealous disposition was done.

“A disposition to speak of the faults and failings.” I take seriously “a disposition.” Have I a tendency to do that? Is that my tendency – “to speak of the faults and failings, rather than the gifts and virtues, of those more talented and appreciated than yourself”?

I think if there’s anything of that, I’d better get into my Savior, and say, “Lord, am I sitting comfortably in you? Or am itching to be out of you?”

“Are you ever conscious of a dishonest, deceitful disposition?” I think, “Do I give the wrong impression at times?” “The evading and covering of the truth?” “Do I ever do that?” “The covering up of your real faults.” Being reluctant to say, “That’s my fault.” “Leaving a better impression of yourself than is strictly true.” That is, “Am I giving them a wrong impression of who I am? Am I showing my nice side, but not the other side?”

“False humility.” Playing games with humility. “Exaggeration.” I did think, “This is a bit serious – exaggeration! Everybody exaggerates!” But of course, go into it a little, and ask yourself, “Why are you exaggerating? To make yourself look good? To make your argument work when you know it really doesn’t work? Why are you exaggerating? To show off? Is that because you think you are something?” The Savior was nothing, and he included himself in you.

“Straining the truth.” Of course, you’ll agree, it’s a great burden to do these things. That’s what I discovered. You strain the truth a bit – you have to remember how you strained it next time! So if you ever wonder, “Why does it steal?” It steals your joy! That’s why you’re more joyful when you’re filled with the Holy Spirit – because before that, these things are stealing your joy from you. It’s

like carrying a heavy weight on your back. I have to remember the last lie that I told. I have to remember the last time I swung it this way.

So you’re not able to be an open person. You’re always trying to swing the thing a little. So you’re usually running about three wars on the side that take a lot of your attention. Of course that’s why you’re not fruitful. That’s why God is not able to do with your life what he wants to do! Because you haven’t a single eye – enjoying life!

You see a little child – and they’re wonderful. Oh, our dog was great! He just hadn’t a care in the world. He was just so happy! He was able to be himself.

You were made to be yourself. But you substitute for yourself – an old self. But the new self in Christ is free from that.

“Unbelief.” Not believing God. Not believing he’s in charge. I always look at how I measure up on these things in moments of crises – moments of difficulty. Financial, health, a situation in your organization – those moments when you get caught up in the negative.

What is unbelief? It’s a tremendous insult – to the one who is holding up all the stars! All the planets! “And I’m not sure if he can handle this.”

But you see, it can sound funny and interesting, but it is actually downright rejection of God. It is rejecting him at that moment – unbelief. I don’t know about you, but it is very easy to justify yourself. “Oh, well, everybody has unbelief.” No – you only have unbelief if you don’t trust the loving Father who is at that moment keeping the brain alive inside you that is thinking what you’re thinking.

“Wait a minute! He’s holding me up. He’s feeding my breath to me this moment. What kind of strange creature won’t believe him??”

“A spirit of discouragement in times of pressure and opposition.” I just thought at one time, “Oh, that’s a noble thing to feel. How nobly you’re battling your troubles!” But of course, a spirit of discouragement in times of pressure and opposition is just lack of trust in the Father who is at that very moment holding you up. He’s holding you up so that you can think that thought!

Are you every conscious of a “lack of quietness and confidence in God? A lack of faith and trust in God? A disposition to worry and complain in the midst of pain, poverty, or at the dispensations of divine providence?” Are you every conscious of that – a disposition to worry?

That’s why I say, “a tendency.” That’s what you’re saved from. That’s what dies with the old self – a disposition, a tendency to worry and complain, in the midst of pain, poverty, or at the dispensation of divine providence. So I always looked and said, “Now have I a tendency to do that?” And if I have a tendency, that’s the beginning of a little seeping unbelief. A little seeping of unbelief. But do I not believe in something? Yes of course. The only reason I have unbelief in that is — I believe in myself!

That’s it. Unbelief in one thing implies belief in another. You’re not stupid! You know you have to believe in something. So – if you don’t believe in that – you believe in self. So, it’s back to self.

“An overanxious feeling whether everything will come out all right.” I always justified that. I always thought, “No wonder I have an overanxious feeling. Wouldn’t YOU have an overanxious feeling if you had a car like I have! Wouldn’t you? It’s reasonable.” NOT if your Father owns the universe, and if you’re his dear child, and if he has planned works for you to walk in. If he has made you in his Son, and made you for works that he has prepared beforehand for you to walk in, then there’s no reason for you to have any doubt about whether it will come out all right.

So it comes again and again back to reality. Am I living in reality? The reality of God having provided all I need.

“Are you ever conscious of formality or deadness, a lack of concern for lost souls, dryness and indifference, a lack of power with God? Are you ever conscious of selfishness, a love of ease, a love of money?” Then he says, “These are some of the traits which generally indicate a carnal heart. By prayer, hold your heart open to the searchlight of God, until you see the groundwork thereof.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart, Try me and know my thoughts, And see if there be any wicked way in me.”

“The Holy Ghost will enable you by confession and faith to bring your self-life to the death – to not patch over, but go to the bottom. It alone will pay.”

So I’d encourage you, even if all you’re doing is starting today. I’d encourage you to start today. Then if you’re really hungry — well, you know how often I’ve been bringing this little tract up. So you can say what you want. Beat me over the head with it! I don’t care. I think if this is real – if God has cleansed my heart, then all of this will just be blessing to me and confirmation. And if it isn’t, I get organized with the Holy Spirit, and I let him show me.

I deal with him always with the issue: will you die with him? That’s it. Are you willing to die with the dear Savior? Are you willing to die? He has died inside you. He has changed you inside himself at the cost of his own life. Are you willing to receive that change? It’s as easy as that.

It’s nothing very brave. It’s just: are you willing to receive what the Savior has done for you at overwhelming cost? He gave up a world and universe. That’s why he called, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” He experienced the death and destruction of himself, and God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.

It’s so terrible that I’m hesitant to say it. But I think it’s about the only way to express it. God experienced his own death! God experienced his own death in his son. Our God knocked himself out for our sakes.

So – what can we do? We’ll pray first, and then make our Covenant with God. Let us pray.