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The Cleansing of the Priests Bookmark

True Evangelism:  The Cleansing of the Priests

THE various conditions on which the answer to prayer depends, as set forth in the New Testament, require an experience in the supplicant of common vision and sympathy with the mind and will of God. "If ye abide in Me and My words abide in you," is a condition which demands a relation to God on the part of the individual, wherein both the present leading of God is realized and His written will is known. To abide in Christ is to keep His commandments (John 15:10), and to be in close fellowship with Him. To have His Word abiding in us is to be instructed in the Scriptures; and to one who has thus been brought into full sympathy with the purpose of God, it can safely be said, "Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." This promise of prayer, then, is not unlimited, as is sometimes supposed, but is qualified by a required adjustment to the will of God of the mind and heart of the one who prays. So, also, the oft-repeated condition, "In My name" admits of only such themes in prayer as can reasonably be coupled with the glory of Christ and the projects of His unfinished work in the world.

Another condition of prayer is given in Mark 11:24: "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." This condition does not include every subject of prayer; for it would be impossible to believe that God would grant anything inconsistent with His own purpose or Being. Yet with all this nearness to the mind of God there will be many legitimate objects of prayer, concerning the wisdom of which the believer must ever be in doubt; for all requests in prayer naturally fall into two classes at the point of the known will of God. When there is no revelation, the supplicator can never pass the boundary of the qualifying words, "Thy will, not mine, be done." But when there is a revelation of the will of God, this boundary is done away; and to be uncertain of the will of God, when His will is clearly revealed, is but to doubt the Word through which He has made it manifest.

The priestly intercession of the believer, which is a necessary element in true evangelism, falls in the realm of this latter phase of prayer. This prayer is nothing less than the mighty movings of the "power of God unto salvation," since the Spirit indites the intercession. It is a glorious human co-partnership with the Divine Shepherd in His solicitude and effort to seek the lost.

Every possible question as to the Divine will in the salvation, sanctification and glorification of men has been wholly answered in the revelation of the heart of God through the sacrifice of the Cross. "His eternal power and Godhead" were revealed in the things created; "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world were clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" (Rom. 1:20). His soul-saving compassion and desire for helpless men was revealed in the Cross of Christ; as it is written: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him" (John 1:18). "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come into the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:3, 4). "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself" (2 Cor. 5:19).

From the foregoing Scriptures it may be seen that there has been a completion of all the grounds of salvation, and a sufficient revelation of the purpose and will of God for the redemption of all men through the Cross of Christ; and since His covenant-promises, relating to prayer, are still in force, it is clear that all hindrances to the movements of God in salvation must be due to some failure on the human side. Either the believers do not meet their high privilege in the holy place, or the unsaved, when convicted, reject the vision that is given unto them. Since there is little evidence of any new vision received, or rejected, on the part of the unregenerate, the solution of the question as to why there is not more saving power among believers to-day must be sought for in the realm of the believer’s ministry of intercession.

It has already been pointed out that, while there may be little demand for purification in the exercise of gifts, where the service is only between man and man, there can be no entering into the holy place without the laving or removal of defilement, which God alone may see. This cleansing has been typified by the laver that stood at the entrance to the "Holy of holies" in the tabernacle of old. The necessity of that special cleansing of the priest before he approached the presence of Jehovah "in the tent of meeting" was emphasized by the penalty of death if the cleansing was neglected. The passage in Ex. 30:17–21 is here given:

"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: when they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offerings made by fire unto the Lord: so they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and his seed throughout their generations."

The restatement of the same truth is found in several passages in the New Testament in which the cleansing and refitting of the believer-priest is set forth. In John 13:3–11, Jesus speaks of the first tense of salvation as the whole bath ("He that is bathed"); and, in contrast to this, He also speaks of His own work in removing the believer’s defilement that may have been received through contact with the world. This cleansing of the believer is typified by the bathing of the feet. This is most suggestive when compared with the one preparatory whole bath of the Aaronic priest which was required when he entered the priestly office (Ex. 29:4), and the necessary repeated laving before each entrance into the holy place in the course of his priestly ministry.

John 13:3–11, which teaches the possible cleansing of the believer-priest, is as follows: "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God, He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. Then cometh He to Simon Peter: and Peter said unto Him, Lord, dost Thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter said unto Him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me. Simon Peter saith unto Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For He knew who should betray Him; therefore said He, Ye are not all clean."

Upon this passage, Dr. C. I. Scofield gives the following note in the "Scofield Reference Bible": "The underlying imagery is of an oriental returning from the public bath to his home. His feet would contract defilement and require cleansing, but not his body. So the believer is cleansed as before the law from all sin ‘once for all’ (Heb. 10:1–12), but needs ever to bring his daily sins to the Father in confession, that he may abide in unbroken fellowship with the Father and with the Son (1 John 1:1–10). The blood of Christ answers for ever to all the law could say as to the believer’s guilt, but he needs constant cleansing from the defilement of sin. See Eph. 5:25–27; 1 John 5:6. Typically, the order of approach to the presence of God was, first, the brazen altar of sacrifice, and then the laver of cleansing (Ex. 40:6, 7). See, also, the order in Ex. 30:17–21: Christ cannot have communion with a defiled saint, but He can and will cleanse him."

Other passages on the cleansing of the New Testament priest should be quoted also: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25–27). "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:6–9). "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work" (2 Tim. 2:19–21).

The Aaronic priest met the penalty of instant death if he attempted to enter the Holy of holies without the laving that was prescribed by the law, and while that penalty is not continued under grace, it is evident that God has safeguarded His holy Presence by closing the door of the believer’s priestly ministry so long as his sin and defilement is not put away. As the priest of the Old Testament failed in his office through unfitness before God, so the priest of the New Testament, from the same cause, may sacrifice much of his privilege in holy service and communion with Christ. His priestly ministry of sacrifice, in which he presents his body, his praise and his benevolence, may go on in their outward forms, he being under grace; yet it cannot be effectual when, because of sin, it is a ministry that is not acceptable to God. So also his priestly ministry of intercession may become of no avail through defilement.

Here, as in the ministry of sacrifice, the loss is immeasurable. Not only are all his possible services to God and blessings to men hindered, which might be realized through his ministry in the holiest place, but he is without the joy and peace of fellowship with Christ. It is of great importance for the believer to realize that through his defilement, not only his priestly ministry is hindered, but his own fellowship with Christ is sacrificed as well. "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:6, 7). "These things (about abiding in Christ) have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:11). "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:23, 24). "And now I come to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves" (John 17:13). "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full" (1 John 1:3, 4).

It may then be concluded that defilement in the believer hinders every phase of his priestly office, makes fellowship with Christ impossible, and robs him of his personal joy and blessing.

The limitation that is placed upon the priestly prayer of intercession through undealt-with sin in the believer’s life is the only aspect of this truth that is directly related to the subject of evangelism.

The following Scriptures warrant the conclusion that sin directly hinders prevailing prayer:

"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psa. 66:18). "Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy that He cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear" (Isa. 59:1, 2). "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way: first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift" (Matt. 5:23, 24). "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7). "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting" (1 Tim. 2:8). "Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:2, 3). "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered" (1 Pet. 3:7).

There is no point more strategic for the subtle attack of Satan against the plan and work of God in saving men than the one where God offers to meet the Christian for cleansing; for, if cleansing can be hindered, very much of human co-operation with God in "seeking the lost" is hindered also. This satanic influence is seen first in the fact that the Christians are almost universally ignorant of the God-provided way by which they may be cleansed from their defilement; and second, this satanic influence is seen in the tendency of the flesh to resist the necessary requirements of God, even when they are understood.

The definite offer to the unregenerate person of the forgiveness of his sins is conditioned upon his receiving Christ as his personal Saviour, and there is equally as definite an offer to the Christian for the forgiveness of his sin and defilement. The condition which is imposed upon the believer is that he confess his sins. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

The offer of forgiveness to the unsaved and the offer of forgiveness to the saved should never be confused. While both are made possible by the blood of Christ, the sin question with the unsaved is dealt with as a part of the whole first tense of salvation, which cannot be divided, and is likened by Christ to the whole bath: while the sin question with the saved person stands alone, since no other aspect of his glorious salvation is disturbed by his sin. Hence the removal of his defilement is all that is called for; and that is likened by Christ to the bathing of the feet of one who is returning from the whole bath.

The Prodigal Son presents an illustration of the way in which a Christian may return to fellowship and blessing. There is no record that the prodigal was any less a son "in the far country" than he was in his own home; nor is it recorded of him that he returned to his father’s house on the basis of sacrifice or atonement: but it is stated that he returned on the basis of confession; for it is said that he arose and came to his father, and said unto him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am not worthy to be called thy son."

In this same connection it may be seen that confession is the only requirement that can reasonably be demanded of a sinning saint; for the basis of any true fellowship is a symphonizing of thought and purpose. Hence any defilement in a believer of necessity interrupts his fellowship (though not his salvation) with a holy God. When fellowship with God is broken by sin, it can be re-established only by a frank admission of guilt and failure on the part of the sinning one. To refuse a confession is to contend that right is wrong, and wrong is right, which would be a contradiction of the very nature and character of God.

Confession re-opens the way for fellowship with God and of access to God, but it does not in any way atone for sin. Propitiation for sin was perfectly accomplished at the Cross. Since His ascension, Christ has been continually pleading the efficacy of His own sacrificial death for sin in behalf of believers (Rom. 8:33, 34; Heb. 7:25). Therefore, it is said to the Christian: "If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The sin of the saved one is not forgiven on the grounds of an immediate act of mercy, but is forgiven on the grounds of the sacrifice made "once for all" at the Cross. So it is said that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, rather than that He is tender and merciful to forgive us our sins.

The importance of confession of sin and of self-judgment is mentioned also in 1 Cor. 11:31, 32. "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." In considering this important passage, it may be noted:

I. This Scripture, like that relating to confession of sin, is addressed only to believers.

II. The believer is first given the opportunity to judge himself before God, and if he fails in voluntary self-judgment, God will judge him by chastisement.

III. And the chastisement of God is given that His child may not be condemned with the world. In this connection it should be remembered that God is in covenant with His children to the effect that they "shall not be brought into condemnation." "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My words, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). So again, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1).

The whole relation between the believer and his God is one of eternal sonship, which cannot be broken; hence all the judgments of God upon His own are for correction, while His judgments of the unsaved are unto condemnation. "He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18).

The same family relationship of the father to his son is carried through both the Old and the New Testaments. "I will be His father, and He shall be My son. If He commit iniquity, I will chasten Him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: but My mercy shall not depart away from Him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee" (2 Sam. 7:14, 15). "And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born of thee shall surely die" (2 Sam. 12:13, 14). "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5:5). "For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be weary and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation, which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit that we might be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterwards it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled" (Heb. 12:3–15). "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh it away; and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (John 15:2).

From this extensive body of Scripture it may be seen that the Christian is privileged to "walk in the light, as He is in the light," which does not necessarily mean a sinless life: but it does mean the humble confession of all the fruits of a sinful nature, and an attitude of willingness to meet every demand of God for the putting away of sin. If the confession of sin and the judgment of self is not willingly entered into, there must be a chastisement from God, lest the believer be condemned with the world. The execution of this chastisement, it would seem, is sometimes committed to Satan (1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:20). If fruit is not borne after chastisement, then God taketh the branch away (John 15:2). This is not a loss of salvation, but is an entire removal from this life and service.

There are two practical questions which arise in connection with the confession of sin on the part of the believer. First, How may he know what to confess? and second, To whom should he confess?

In answer to the question—How may he know what to confess?—it may be stated that there are at least three ways by which a Christian may come to know his unlikeness to the mind and character of God. These are:

I. The written Word of God, the teachings of which he may have neglected or transgressed. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16, 17).

II. The faithful admonition of the fellow-members of the body of Christ. "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or more that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church: but if he shall neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican" (Matt, 18:15–17). "Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him" (Luke 17:3, 4). "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Gal. 6:1).

III. The grieved Spirit who indwells him. The grieving of the Spirit will be to the Christian as an inner consciousness of wrong, which he must carefully and prayerfully heed. "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30).

The child of God will learn to distinguish between the ever-present unlikeness to Christ and the grosser sins that are mentioned in the Bible. "Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like" (Gal. 5:19–21). In this passage it will be seen that the sins of hatred, wrath, envy, variance, emulations and strife are mentioned in the same list with adultery, murder and drunkenness.

If a Christian really purposes to get right with God at any cost, he may well pray the prayer recorded in Psa. 139:23, 24: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." There is assurance that every unholy thing will be revealed to the one who thus prays. "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you" (Phil. 3:15).

In answer to this prayer for light upon the hidden sins in the life, there may be but one sin revealed at a time, and further revelations may be made to depend both upon an honest dealing with the revelation already given and upon a repetition of the same supplication. There is no other way for a Christian to deal with his sin-hindered life.

The voice of the unseen enemy must also be detected. He is ever present to dissuade the believer from taking the necessary step that leads him back into fellowship with God, and into the power and blessing of service. Satan’s method is to seek to minimize the hindering sin, to justify the unholy act or position, and to appeal to the personal pride of the Christian, or suggest that a confession of sin would hinder the believer’s influence for his Lord.

The answer to the second question: "To whom should a Christian confess?" is more simple:

I. Confession of sin should always be to God; for He is wronged by the sin of a Christian more than any mortal. The Scripture examples of confession are clear on this point. "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight" (Psa. 51:4). "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before Thee, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants" (Luke 15:18, 19).

II. Confession should be made to the person or persons who have been in any way wronged by the sin. Here, it may be added, confession does not in any way involve the wrong attitude of others, nor does it demand that the responsibility for sin shall be assumed by a person who is in no way at fault. If there has been an enmity between a Christian and some other person, the Christian is asked to consider and confess only his own wrong state of heart or sinful acts. This may not solve the misunderstanding between the two parties, but it will open the way for the cleansing of the Christian who confesses his sins.

Again, confession of sin should always be limited to those who have been wronged, whether the sin has been committed against the community, the church or an individual.

III. Confession should be made to any who have known of the sin; for they, in a measure, have also been wronged. "And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled (Heb. 12:13–15). "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way" (Rom. 14:13; see also Luke 17:1, 2; 1 Cor. 8:7–13).

The fifty-first Psalm is the record of David’s repentance and return to fellowship with God after his great sin, and is an exact statement of the necessary steps to be taken by a Christian in returning to his place of joy and power in service. The Psalm opens with a complete confession of sin; claims the cleansing that is promised; and ends with the restoration to joy, service, and whole fellowship with God.

If there is no fruit borne to the glory of God, no fellowship with God, and no joy in the life of a believer, it is evidence that there is need of adjustment in that life to the mind and will of God. Such adjustments are the common experience of those who know what it is to walk with God; for there is no other way to keep that priceless fellowship and blessing. The secret of abiding in such a walk with God is instant confession of every known sin, rather than a delay in, or an entire neglect of the performance of that duty.

Let it be restated that the believer may not realize a state of sinless perfection; but he can and must maintain an attitude of willing and instant confession of every known wrong, if he would walk in fellowship with his Lord and minister in the priestly office.

When the heart is searched before God, and all sin is put away, the believer will "walk in the light as He is in the light"; for that is the normal, if not the usual, Christian experience. In this relationship there will be fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, a running over with peace and joy, and unhindered outflow of the love of God through the life.

Of this outflow of love it may be stated that, as the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit which is given unto us, the normal experience of every believer should be a Divine sense of the lost condition of unsaved people, which will prompt any necessary sacrifice or effort to win them. The particular person or persons for whom a Christian may be burdened, and the extent of that burden, will be indicated and governed by the sovereign movings of the Spirit of God; while a sense of the burden, made possible through a cleansing of the life, is the one responsibility of the believer.

Where the believer-priest is cleansed and is in communion with God, the love of God shed abroad in his heart will create in him a Divine longing for the salvation of the lost and this will be brought about by the Spirit "which is given unto him." He will then, from time to time, be driven to intercession and prayer through his suffering with Christ for the lost. Like Paul he will say: "My heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved," and this prayer will be an intercession by the Spirit; "For we know not what to pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." And since that prayer is indicted by the Spirit, Who knows the mind of God, that prayer will be answered by the going forth of the Spirit in power, wielding His mighty sword to convict of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Then where this Divinely wrought vision is received and acted upon by a depositing of all hope and trust in the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, there will be, by the same Spirit, a marvellous transformation of the whole estate from the power and darkness of Satan into the light, liberty and blessing of the sons of God.

Thus when the believer-priest is cleansed and in a normal relation to God, the Spirit is free to take every necessary step in the "power of God unto salvation," and the believer will be led in perfect co-operation with Christ in His great unfinished work of seeking the lost. The work is all accomplished by the Spirit; for it is the Spirit Who inspires the prayer which is the only relief for the one who is suffering with Christ through the Divinely given burden for the lost; it is the Spirit Who convinces of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment in answer to prayer which He inspires; and it is the Spirit Who meets the willing soul with the power of God in salvation.

True evangelism begins, then, with a cleansed priest, and while the human instrument may co-operate in much of the subsequent work in seeking the lost, "It is not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit saith the Lord."

True Evangelism:  Lewis Sperry Chafer, 1911, Public Domain

True Evangelism:  The Cleansing of the Priests

THE various conditions on which the answer to prayer depends, as set forth in the New Testament, require an experience in the supplicant of common vision and sympathy with the mind and will of God. "If ye abide in Me and My words abide in you," is a condition which demands a relation to God on the part of the individual, wherein both the present leading of God is realized and His written will is known. To abide in Christ is to keep His commandments (John 15:10), and to be in close fellowship with Him. To have His Word abiding in us is to be instructed in the Scriptures; and to one who has thus been brought into full sympathy with the purpose of God, it can safely be said, "Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." This promise of prayer, then, is not unlimited, as is sometimes supposed, but is qualified by a required adjustment to the will of God of the mind and heart of the one who prays. So, also, the oft-repeated condition, "In My name" admits of only such themes in prayer as can reasonably be coupled with the glory of Christ and the projects of His unfinished work in the world.

Another condition of prayer is given in Mark 11:24: "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." This condition does not include every subject of prayer; for it would be impossible to believe that God would grant anything inconsistent with His own purpose or Being. Yet with all this nearness to the mind of God there will be many legitimate objects of prayer, concerning the wisdom of which the believer must ever be in doubt; for all requests in prayer naturally fall into two classes at the point of the known will of God. When there is no revelation, the supplicator can never pass the boundary of the qualifying words, "Thy will, not mine, be done." But when there is a revelation of the will of God, this boundary is done away; and to be uncertain of the will of God, when His will is clearly revealed, is but to doubt the Word through which He has made it manifest.

The priestly intercession of the believer, which is a necessary element in true evangelism, falls in the realm of this latter phase of prayer. This prayer is nothing less than the mighty movings of the "power of God unto salvation," since the Spirit indites the intercession. It is a glorious human co-partnership with the Divine Shepherd in His solicitude and effort to seek the lost.

Every possible question as to the Divine will in the salvation, sanctification and glorification of men has been wholly answered in the revelation of the heart of God through the sacrifice of the Cross. "His eternal power and Godhead" were revealed in the things created; "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world were clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" (Rom. 1:20). His soul-saving compassion and desire for helpless men was revealed in the Cross of Christ; as it is written: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him" (John 1:18). "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come into the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:3, 4). "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself" (2 Cor. 5:19).

From the foregoing Scriptures it may be seen that there has been a completion of all the grounds of salvation, and a sufficient revelation of the purpose and will of God for the redemption of all men through the Cross of Christ; and since His covenant-promises, relating to prayer, are still in force, it is clear that all hindrances to the movements of God in salvation must be due to some failure on the human side. Either the believers do not meet their high privilege in the holy place, or the unsaved, when convicted, reject the vision that is given unto them. Since there is little evidence of any new vision received, or rejected, on the part of the unregenerate, the solution of the question as to why there is not more saving power among believers to-day must be sought for in the realm of the believer’s ministry of intercession.

It has already been pointed out that, while there may be little demand for purification in the exercise of gifts, where the service is only between man and man, there can be no entering into the holy place without the laving or removal of defilement, which God alone may see. This cleansing has been typified by the laver that stood at the entrance to the "Holy of holies" in the tabernacle of old. The necessity of that special cleansing of the priest before he approached the presence of Jehovah "in the tent of meeting" was emphasized by the penalty of death if the cleansing was neglected. The passage in Ex. 30:17–21 is here given:

"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: when they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offerings made by fire unto the Lord: so they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and his seed throughout their generations."

The restatement of the same truth is found in several passages in the New Testament in which the cleansing and refitting of the believer-priest is set forth. In John 13:3–11, Jesus speaks of the first tense of salvation as the whole bath ("He that is bathed"); and, in contrast to this, He also speaks of His own work in removing the believer’s defilement that may have been received through contact with the world. This cleansing of the believer is typified by the bathing of the feet. This is most suggestive when compared with the one preparatory whole bath of the Aaronic priest which was required when he entered the priestly office (Ex. 29:4), and the necessary repeated laving before each entrance into the holy place in the course of his priestly ministry.

John 13:3–11, which teaches the possible cleansing of the believer-priest, is as follows: "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God, He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. Then cometh He to Simon Peter: and Peter said unto Him, Lord, dost Thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter said unto Him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me. Simon Peter saith unto Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For He knew who should betray Him; therefore said He, Ye are not all clean."

Upon this passage, Dr. C. I. Scofield gives the following note in the "Scofield Reference Bible": "The underlying imagery is of an oriental returning from the public bath to his home. His feet would contract defilement and require cleansing, but not his body. So the believer is cleansed as before the law from all sin ‘once for all’ (Heb. 10:1–12), but needs ever to bring his daily sins to the Father in confession, that he may abide in unbroken fellowship with the Father and with the Son (1 John 1:1–10). The blood of Christ answers for ever to all the law could say as to the believer’s guilt, but he needs constant cleansing from the defilement of sin. See Eph. 5:25–27; 1 John 5:6. Typically, the order of approach to the presence of God was, first, the brazen altar of sacrifice, and then the laver of cleansing (Ex. 40:6, 7). See, also, the order in Ex. 30:17–21: Christ cannot have communion with a defiled saint, but He can and will cleanse him."

Other passages on the cleansing of the New Testament priest should be quoted also: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25–27). "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:6–9). "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work" (2 Tim. 2:19–21).

The Aaronic priest met the penalty of instant death if he attempted to enter the Holy of holies without the laving that was prescribed by the law, and while that penalty is not continued under grace, it is evident that God has safeguarded His holy Presence by closing the door of the believer’s priestly ministry so long as his sin and defilement is not put away. As the priest of the Old Testament failed in his office through unfitness before God, so the priest of the New Testament, from the same cause, may sacrifice much of his privilege in holy service and communion with Christ. His priestly ministry of sacrifice, in which he presents his body, his praise and his benevolence, may go on in their outward forms, he being under grace; yet it cannot be effectual when, because of sin, it is a ministry that is not acceptable to God. So also his priestly ministry of intercession may become of no avail through defilement.

Here, as in the ministry of sacrifice, the loss is immeasurable. Not only are all his possible services to God and blessings to men hindered, which might be realized through his ministry in the holiest place, but he is without the joy and peace of fellowship with Christ. It is of great importance for the believer to realize that through his defilement, not only his priestly ministry is hindered, but his own fellowship with Christ is sacrificed as well. "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:6, 7). "These things (about abiding in Christ) have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:11). "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:23, 24). "And now I come to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves" (John 17:13). "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full" (1 John 1:3, 4).

It may then be concluded that defilement in the believer hinders every phase of his priestly office, makes fellowship with Christ impossible, and robs him of his personal joy and blessing.

The limitation that is placed upon the priestly prayer of intercession through undealt-with sin in the believer’s life is the only aspect of this truth that is directly related to the subject of evangelism.

The following Scriptures warrant the conclusion that sin directly hinders prevailing prayer:

"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psa. 66:18). "Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy that He cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear" (Isa. 59:1, 2). "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way: first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift" (Matt. 5:23, 24). "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7). "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting" (1 Tim. 2:8). "Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:2, 3). "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered" (1 Pet. 3:7).

There is no point more strategic for the subtle attack of Satan against the plan and work of God in saving men than the one where God offers to meet the Christian for cleansing; for, if cleansing can be hindered, very much of human co-operation with God in "seeking the lost" is hindered also. This satanic influence is seen first in the fact that the Christians are almost universally ignorant of the God-provided way by which they may be cleansed from their defilement; and second, this satanic influence is seen in the tendency of the flesh to resist the necessary requirements of God, even when they are understood.

The definite offer to the unregenerate person of the forgiveness of his sins is conditioned upon his receiving Christ as his personal Saviour, and there is equally as definite an offer to the Christian for the forgiveness of his sin and defilement. The condition which is imposed upon the believer is that he confess his sins. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

The offer of forgiveness to the unsaved and the offer of forgiveness to the saved should never be confused. While both are made possible by the blood of Christ, the sin question with the unsaved is dealt with as a part of the whole first tense of salvation, which cannot be divided, and is likened by Christ to the whole bath: while the sin question with the saved person stands alone, since no other aspect of his glorious salvation is disturbed by his sin. Hence the removal of his defilement is all that is called for; and that is likened by Christ to the bathing of the feet of one who is returning from the whole bath.

The Prodigal Son presents an illustration of the way in which a Christian may return to fellowship and blessing. There is no record that the prodigal was any less a son "in the far country" than he was in his own home; nor is it recorded of him that he returned to his father’s house on the basis of sacrifice or atonement: but it is stated that he returned on the basis of confession; for it is said that he arose and came to his father, and said unto him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am not worthy to be called thy son."

In this same connection it may be seen that confession is the only requirement that can reasonably be demanded of a sinning saint; for the basis of any true fellowship is a symphonizing of thought and purpose. Hence any defilement in a believer of necessity interrupts his fellowship (though not his salvation) with a holy God. When fellowship with God is broken by sin, it can be re-established only by a frank admission of guilt and failure on the part of the sinning one. To refuse a confession is to contend that right is wrong, and wrong is right, which would be a contradiction of the very nature and character of God.

Confession re-opens the way for fellowship with God and of access to God, but it does not in any way atone for sin. Propitiation for sin was perfectly accomplished at the Cross. Since His ascension, Christ has been continually pleading the efficacy of His own sacrificial death for sin in behalf of believers (Rom. 8:33, 34; Heb. 7:25). Therefore, it is said to the Christian: "If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The sin of the saved one is not forgiven on the grounds of an immediate act of mercy, but is forgiven on the grounds of the sacrifice made "once for all" at the Cross. So it is said that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, rather than that He is tender and merciful to forgive us our sins.

The importance of confession of sin and of self-judgment is mentioned also in 1 Cor. 11:31, 32. "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." In considering this important passage, it may be noted:

I. This Scripture, like that relating to confession of sin, is addressed only to believers.

II. The believer is first given the opportunity to judge himself before God, and if he fails in voluntary self-judgment, God will judge him by chastisement.

III. And the chastisement of God is given that His child may not be condemned with the world. In this connection it should be remembered that God is in covenant with His children to the effect that they "shall not be brought into condemnation." "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My words, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). So again, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1).

The whole relation between the believer and his God is one of eternal sonship, which cannot be broken; hence all the judgments of God upon His own are for correction, while His judgments of the unsaved are unto condemnation. "He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18).

The same family relationship of the father to his son is carried through both the Old and the New Testaments. "I will be His father, and He shall be My son. If He commit iniquity, I will chasten Him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: but My mercy shall not depart away from Him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee" (2 Sam. 7:14, 15). "And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born of thee shall surely die" (2 Sam. 12:13, 14). "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5:5). "For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be weary and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation, which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit that we might be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterwards it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled" (Heb. 12:3–15). "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh it away; and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (John 15:2).

From this extensive body of Scripture it may be seen that the Christian is privileged to "walk in the light, as He is in the light," which does not necessarily mean a sinless life: but it does mean the humble confession of all the fruits of a sinful nature, and an attitude of willingness to meet every demand of God for the putting away of sin. If the confession of sin and the judgment of self is not willingly entered into, there must be a chastisement from God, lest the believer be condemned with the world. The execution of this chastisement, it would seem, is sometimes committed to Satan (1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:20). If fruit is not borne after chastisement, then God taketh the branch away (John 15:2). This is not a loss of salvation, but is an entire removal from this life and service.

There are two practical questions which arise in connection with the confession of sin on the part of the believer. First, How may he know what to confess? and second, To whom should he confess?

In answer to the question—How may he know what to confess?—it may be stated that there are at least three ways by which a Christian may come to know his unlikeness to the mind and character of God. These are:

I. The written Word of God, the teachings of which he may have neglected or transgressed. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16, 17).

II. The faithful admonition of the fellow-members of the body of Christ. "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or more that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church: but if he shall neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican" (Matt, 18:15–17). "Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him" (Luke 17:3, 4). "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Gal. 6:1).

III. The grieved Spirit who indwells him. The grieving of the Spirit will be to the Christian as an inner consciousness of wrong, which he must carefully and prayerfully heed. "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30).

The child of God will learn to distinguish between the ever-present unlikeness to Christ and the grosser sins that are mentioned in the Bible. "Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like" (Gal. 5:19–21). In this passage it will be seen that the sins of hatred, wrath, envy, variance, emulations and strife are mentioned in the same list with adultery, murder and drunkenness.

If a Christian really purposes to get right with God at any cost, he may well pray the prayer recorded in Psa. 139:23, 24: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." There is assurance that every unholy thing will be revealed to the one who thus prays. "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you" (Phil. 3:15).

In answer to this prayer for light upon the hidden sins in the life, there may be but one sin revealed at a time, and further revelations may be made to depend both upon an honest dealing with the revelation already given and upon a repetition of the same supplication. There is no other way for a Christian to deal with his sin-hindered life.

The voice of the unseen enemy must also be detected. He is ever present to dissuade the believer from taking the necessary step that leads him back into fellowship with God, and into the power and blessing of service. Satan’s method is to seek to minimize the hindering sin, to justify the unholy act or position, and to appeal to the personal pride of the Christian, or suggest that a confession of sin would hinder the believer’s influence for his Lord.

The answer to the second question: "To whom should a Christian confess?" is more simple:

I. Confession of sin should always be to God; for He is wronged by the sin of a Christian more than any mortal. The Scripture examples of confession are clear on this point. "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight" (Psa. 51:4). "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before Thee, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants" (Luke 15:18, 19).

II. Confession should be made to the person or persons who have been in any way wronged by the sin. Here, it may be added, confession does not in any way involve the wrong attitude of others, nor does it demand that the responsibility for sin shall be assumed by a person who is in no way at fault. If there has been an enmity between a Christian and some other person, the Christian is asked to consider and confess only his own wrong state of heart or sinful acts. This may not solve the misunderstanding between the two parties, but it will open the way for the cleansing of the Christian who confesses his sins.

Again, confession of sin should always be limited to those who have been wronged, whether the sin has been committed against the community, the church or an individual.

III. Confession should be made to any who have known of the sin; for they, in a measure, have also been wronged. "And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled (Heb. 12:13–15). "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way" (Rom. 14:13; see also Luke 17:1, 2; 1 Cor. 8:7–13).

The fifty-first Psalm is the record of David’s repentance and return to fellowship with God after his great sin, and is an exact statement of the necessary steps to be taken by a Christian in returning to his place of joy and power in service. The Psalm opens with a complete confession of sin; claims the cleansing that is promised; and ends with the restoration to joy, service, and whole fellowship with God.

If there is no fruit borne to the glory of God, no fellowship with God, and no joy in the life of a believer, it is evidence that there is need of adjustment in that life to the mind and will of God. Such adjustments are the common experience of those who know what it is to walk with God; for there is no other way to keep that priceless fellowship and blessing. The secret of abiding in such a walk with God is instant confession of every known sin, rather than a delay in, or an entire neglect of the performance of that duty.

Let it be restated that the believer may not realize a state of sinless perfection; but he can and must maintain an attitude of willing and instant confession of every known wrong, if he would walk in fellowship with his Lord and minister in the priestly office.

When the heart is searched before God, and all sin is put away, the believer will "walk in the light as He is in the light"; for that is the normal, if not the usual, Christian experience. In this relationship there will be fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, a running over with peace and joy, and unhindered outflow of the love of God through the life.

Of this outflow of love it may be stated that, as the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit which is given unto us, the normal experience of every believer should be a Divine sense of the lost condition of unsaved people, which will prompt any necessary sacrifice or effort to win them. The particular person or persons for whom a Christian may be burdened, and the extent of that burden, will be indicated and governed by the sovereign movings of the Spirit of God; while a sense of the burden, made possible through a cleansing of the life, is the one responsibility of the believer.

Where the believer-priest is cleansed and is in communion with God, the love of God shed abroad in his heart will create in him a Divine longing for the salvation of the lost and this will be brought about by the Spirit "which is given unto him." He will then, from time to time, be driven to intercession and prayer through his suffering with Christ for the lost. Like Paul he will say: "My heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved," and this prayer will be an intercession by the Spirit; "For we know not what to pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." And since that prayer is indicted by the Spirit, Who knows the mind of God, that prayer will be answered by the going forth of the Spirit in power, wielding His mighty sword to convict of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Then where this Divinely wrought vision is received and acted upon by a depositing of all hope and trust in the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, there will be, by the same Spirit, a marvellous transformation of the whole estate from the power and darkness of Satan into the light, liberty and blessing of the sons of God.

Thus when the believer-priest is cleansed and in a normal relation to God, the Spirit is free to take every necessary step in the "power of God unto salvation," and the believer will be led in perfect co-operation with Christ in His great unfinished work of seeking the lost. The work is all accomplished by the Spirit; for it is the Spirit Who inspires the prayer which is the only relief for the one who is suffering with Christ through the Divinely given burden for the lost; it is the Spirit Who convinces of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment in answer to prayer which He inspires; and it is the Spirit Who meets the willing soul with the power of God in salvation.

True evangelism begins, then, with a cleansed priest, and while the human instrument may co-operate in much of the subsequent work in seeking the lost, "It is not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit saith the Lord."

True Evangelism:  Lewis Sperry Chafer, 1911, Public Domain



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