Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: Deuteronomy 4:9;
There is always the tendency to move imperceptibly away from those things that were held so tenaciously by the early saints as imperative to deep spirituality, to maintaining the presence and approval of the Holy Spirit, and to drawing hungry souls into a vital experience of heart holiness.
These ‘landmarks’ by which the old saints lived and triumphed have slid slowly into oblivion. (Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge Prov. 22:20). We have lost sight of those strong testimonies that our forefathers lived out before the world. ( For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: Ps78:5-7) We have discounted them and set them aside as unnecessary and often called them ‘fanatical.’ And that has resulted in a people who don’t know the power of God in their lives.
Where are we now in our relationship to those ancient landmarks which our fathers have lived by and of which their lives bore witness? This is a good question for any man ( or woman! ) to ask himself. When we look at the past history of holy men and women, observation shows us that most, if not all religious organizations today have removed somewhat from the salvation that delivers from all sin and worldliness. In our day fervor at the place of prayer, zeal for the house of God, shouting, anointed preaching, and various other markers of righteousness are becoming increasingly absent even among the ranks of Church-goers. There is also an alarming loss of an active conscience among religious professors and this always results in a decline from daily righteous living. Ancient landmarks erode away, at first so subtly, so minimally, so insignificantly and imperceptible to the majority that any who sounds an alarm is branded as a troublemaker in the church.
What can be done in the face of this downward trend we find? For one thing, there is that ever present weakness of being entirely too shallow in altar work. Our preaching and teaching as a whole may not be faulty (the words are right) but, sad to say, too often at the altar seekers are rushed through to a profession of Salvation. But after the emotional tide subsides there is a vaguely dissatisfied soul who has no idea why the feeling of emptiness persists.
When the young convert expresses this vague emptiness or dissatisfaction to older Christians the are told it is 'temptation, or "human infirmities." They are told their expectation is too high. So the young Christian is encouraged to ‘claim’ their salvation and a blessing will follow. But the advisers, however well-meaning, sidetracked the babe in Christ. They mean well, but instead of teaching that holiness of heart is a true experience, an inward crucifixion, they hold that it is only a ‘gift’ and a great blessing. Full consecration, abandonment to God and the putting aside of all sin that results in purity of life is not part of the instruction.
True devotion and victory in God can only result from a complete dying out to the demands of the flesh and crying, 'Let me die! Let me die!' When all sin has been confessed and abandoned and all carnal desires rejected, the refining fire of God will give victory over the fleshly desires and habits of life that so many Christians struggle with.
'Knowing this that our old man is crucified, (not happy-fied, or consecrated, but crucified,) that the body of sin might be destroyed.' The Holy Spirit will take us step by step to the end of our self.
In the light of this then, much of the move away from the "old paths" can be laid at the responsibility of a desire to add numbers to the church, instead of seeing new Christians led to a complete understanding of full Salvation. When souls fail to get a pure heart, no matter how sincere they are, there is bound to be a struggle in daily living and a continual struggle with sin. Worldliness and wrong attitudes reflect a failure to obtain a heart purity. People who simply profess Salvation are put into responsible positions in the church before they have demonstrated a righteous life before the congregation. Ancient landmarks are moved bit by bit until all sorts of unrighteousness is accepted without thought.
God grant that In our day we will hold to the old paths of thorough righteousness in our teachings and lives!