CONSECRATION is a subject that should never be set aside or treated lightly; for reference to Exod. xxix. 1, 37, and Lev. viii, ix., will show how needful it was for the Aaronic priesthood to carefully follow a Divine order of sacrifices, washings, sprinkling of blood, the putting on of holy garments, and the anointing with holy oil, ere they entered, the holy place of God's tabernacle. The Nazarite, also, in Num. vi., was consecrated and separated in holiness unto God. With "unshaven head" he is presented to us, free from all natural adornment, and typically "dead to the world" with "the flesh mortified;" showing in all things practical holiness, and that separation from evil which should always characterize the people of God. Daniel, his three companions, and Joseph also, are Old Testament illustrations of this, and Samson's history is a solemn warning to the carnal and disobedient.
The new and living way by which God's royal priesthood enter "the place of worship in heaven" has been consecrated for us by His blood; so that believers need to have exercised hearts, that we may know and manifest true consecration of our bodies and spirits, which are His. Having sanctified us by the blood of Christ, we are separated from all that is of the world—the lust of the flesh, of the eye, and pride of life. We must remember that "what is not of faith is sin;" and we should "yield ourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead," and "the members of our bodies as instruments of righteousness unto holiness" (Rom. vi 13, 19). The cross has not only separated us from our sins, but it has separated us from the flesh, Satan, and the world; and we are called upon to manifest this. Not to talk about it, but to "show forth His praises who hath called us out of darkness into His marvellous light," and to "present our bodies a living sacrifice," being "not conformed to the world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds." A Christian brother once pungently said: "We hear of the perfume of the ointment, the fragrance of consecration; do we know how costly that fragrance is? How much did Mary pay for the precious spikenard? Is it easy to be consecrated? Oh the flippancy with which some talk about it. Many would have said Job was a consecrated man; but God had to empty him, to exercise him long, to reveal Himself to him; and only at this point did Job abhor himself, and repent in dust and ashes. Could all this have been dispensed with? Does the Lord chasten His people for nothing? Look at the afflictions of Paul! Did he become strong without passing through the weakening process? Consecration! how little we know about it! Who among us has resisted unto blood, striving against sin? Christ did this! Consecration is the life of Christ; that life lived out for us, even to carrying the cross, even unto death! Consecration! how costly! It cost Abel his life; Abraham his home and his only son; it cost Moses the sacrifice of Egypt's treasures; for some, it cost cruel mocking8 and scourgings; yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonments! All the Hebrew words for 'incense' are derived from to peel, to skin, to bleed; incense had to be ground and burned, crushed and consumed by the fire of the altar. I tremble when I hear men talking of their consecration. Brethren, let us have deeds of devotedness; and, above all, let us worship CHRIST, and not consecration.
There is indeed a need of deep humiliation before God concerning the state of His people in these perilous times. Even amongst those who gather to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is a prevailing lukewarmness that must grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Zeal for the Lord's service is not so fervent amongst us as it once was, when brethren from every station in life went through the towns and villages of our land, declaring in the market place and exchange, in halls, and wherever there was an open door, with the authority of ambassadors of the living God, that men ought everywhere to repent and believe the Gospel. When they boldly testified that saved sinners were privileged to meet for fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; and being constituted priests unto God, their right was to worship God by the Spirit, without the intervention of man. God abundantly honoured that testimony with a mighty revival in His Church some fifty years ago. Noble sacrifices have been made by those who "came out unto His name, taking nothing of the Gentiles." He blessed them, and gave them power to witness for Him in separation from evil. But how little is this power realized amongst us now! Where is "the travailing in birth for souls," and the simple, unworldly, unselfish mode of life that characterized our testimony in the time of our first love and ready obedience? Ah! let us examine ourselves, and seek the Spirit's power to raise us up from this apathy to a life of real consecration to God, "which is our reasonable service." But let us "count the cost." Are we prepared for the self-denial that is involved? The curtailing of our household and personal expenses that we may be able to distribute to the necessity of saints, that we may help the many noble-hearted servants of God who are labouring at home and abroad? Are we willing to be scoffed at by the religious world, to be misunderstood by our friends, seeking to please Jesus only? God won't fill us that we may consume it upon our lusts, but would rather teach us that His treasure is put in earthen vessels, and these must be broken before His light can shine out; that we may realise that the "excellency of the power is of God, and not of us;" "that we are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God." May He grant that the reading of these lines may lead to more true consecration of heart to Himself.