This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Giving Up Self to Christ

Many people are perplexed to understand the exhortation to give up self to Christ and to have no will of their own. We are so created that we must regard our own welfare. Self-love is implanted in our natures. If it would be destroyed, there would be nothing to which God or man could appeal. Neither threatening nor promise would move such a soul. Moreover, self-love has the approval of Christ in his epitome of the moral law. He makes it the measure of our love to our neighbor — "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

But selfishness differs from self-love in this, that self is exalted into the supreme law of action. The well-being of others, and the will of God are not regarded. This is the self that is to be crucified. Says St. Paul, "I am crucified with Christ, but it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me" — Gal. 2:20 — as punctuated by Alford. The former ego of selfishness has met with violent death, having been nailed to the cross, and Christ has taken the supreme place in the soul. The very fact that this death was violent implies that it was instantaneous, a very sharply defined transition in St. Paul's consciousness. There is some one last rallying point of selfishness, a last ditch in which the evil ego intrenches itself. It may be some very trifling thing that is to be exempted from the dominion of Christ, some preference, some indulgence, some humiliating duty some association to be broken, some adornment to be discarded. "Reign. Jesus, over all but this," is the real language of that unyielding heart. This trifle, held fast, has been the bar which has kept thousands out of that harmony with the divine will which precedes the fullness of the Spirit.

But when this last entrenchment of self-will has been surrendered to Christ, he is not long in taking possession. The fullness, as well as the immediateness, depends on the faith of the soul in the divine promise. For there is a difference between the subjugation of the rebel and his reconstruction in loyal citizenship, between the death of sin and the fullness of the Christ-life. But the great distinctive and god-like feature of man is his free will. The memorable event, the pivotal point on which destiny, heaven, or hell hinges, is the hour of intense spiritual illumination, conviction of sin, when sin is deliberately chosen — "evil, be thou my good" — or voluntarily rejected. Submission to Christ is an act of faith. It could not be possible without confidence in his veracity and goodness. Hence, justification and emergence into "the higher life" frequently take place when the only preceding act which impressed itself on the memory was not an act of faith, but of surrender, which is grounded on trust as its indispensable condition.

Half-Hours with St. Paul, Chapter 10.

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