by C. W. Naylor

Part 1 of 2

We are twofold beings. The real man, the man who will live forever, the man who is made in the image of God, is not the man that our eyes gaze upon. For a little while we are dwellers in a body of clay. In regard to our physical body we have no preeminence over the beasts: it is made of clay, and it will return to the dust from which it came. Our bodies correspond very closely to those of the animal creation: theirs and ours have practically the same function; they are subject to the same physical laws. So far as his physical being is concerned, man differs from the animal only in being more highly organized.

We must not suppose, however, that because we have an animal body the body is necessarily impure. Such is not the case. Nothing of God's creation is impure. The body becomes impure only when it becomes defiled in some way through the sin of the soul, but the body considered by itself is pure, perfectly pure from a moral standpoint. Every part and every organ of the body was created for a pure and holy purpose. They all fulfill God's purpose. They are, therefore, as pure as God.

All the natural functions of our bodies are good. We ought to distinguish carefully between privacy and impurity. Some functions of the body, we naturally feel, belong to us alone; others include also those nearest us; and still others are public in their nature and have to do with our fellow men in general; but all these functions are God-created and pure. Do not allow yourself to believe that they are otherwise. It is proper and necessary that there should be a standard of modesty relating to these functions. It is proper that we should regard the standard of modesty and not deviate from it, but we wrong ourselves whenever we attach to any of these functions the idea of impurity. Our bodies are pure. Let us use them as such and keep them as such.

The desires that naturally arise from these functions are all pure. Get this thought firmly fixed in your mind: it may sometime save you serious trouble. When I was first saved, I did not understand myself, and I supposed that certain of these functional desires would cease when I was converted. As they did not, I became troubled and thought I was not right. I supposed that if I were really right in the sight of God, those functional desires would have ceased, and the fact that they had not ceased was evidence to me that I was not right with God. This misapprehension caused me great distress of mind and doubts and fears and perplexities. I prayed much, but found no way out of my difficulty. It was not until I learned that salvation does not destroy the natural functions of our bodies that I arrived at a point where I could have a settled experience.

Such desires have no spiritual significance. They are neither moral nor immoral; they are unmoral. To be thirsty is not to be sinful. This is only nature's way of calling for what she needs. It is only her way of making known the things that are needed for the proper functioning of the body. So all other natural desires and appetites arising from the body have to do only with its proper functioning and are pure and holy. Do not allow yourself to think that they are not. You will do yourself an injustice if you do and make for yourself much trouble. These desires are every one necessary. You could not spare a single one of them and be normal.

The gratification of these functional desires in a lawful way is pure and beneficial. These functions and the desires arising from them were made for man and pertain only to man. They have no spiritual significance whatever. They have no more relation to God than have such desires in an animal. Spiritually we are none the worse if we have them, and none the better if we do not have them.

But God has seen that it was fitting and wise to impose upon us certain restrictions in the gratification of natural desires. These restrictions are for man's good. The restriction is upon willing and choosing, and not upon desire. We have no choice as to whether we shall have these desires or not, but we do have a choice as to how they shall be permitted to manifest themselves. The will regulates their gratification, and if they are given improper gratification, it is the will becomes responsible, and it is the will that is defiled. The improper use of our physical functions, improper gratification of desires, may make those functions and desires abnormal. It may require the exercise of considerable will-power to restrain them within proper bounds, but even in such a case the desire itself is not evil. It is only unlawful gratification that is evil. Sometimes we have desires that we wish we did not have. Sometimes desire is hard to control. It asserts itself with force and clamors for gratification. We may wish that it did not do this, but, as already stated, such desire is not impure. It only requires that we keep it within the bounds that God has set for its gratification. Sometimes desire becomes abnormal, as desire for liquor or tobacco or narcotics. Such desires cannot be defiling so long as the will says no to them. Sometimes the procreative function originates strong desire. This is sometimes true where the body is in an abnormal condition. The principles already stated apply in such a condition also. There is no impurity unless the will fails to properly control desire when it might and should control it.

Do not lose sight of the fact that God created all the functions of your body and that you may gratify all these functions in a lawful and pure way with his approval upon you. To associate the idea of impurity with these functions or the desires arising from them or the lawful gratification of these desires is to charge God with being the author of impurity.

All these physical desires will persist so long as our bodies function properly. I have known men to teach publicly that after we are sanctified certain of these desires never manifest themselves again. There is no warrant for such teaching. It implies that such desires are impure. God will never take out of us anything that he put in us. He will never condemn us for doing that which he sees necessary for our well-being. Sanctification purifies us and renders us holy in body and spirit, but it does not make us anything but men. It does not make of us something different from what God intended us to be, and in the beginning he made us what he intended us to be.

All these functional desires must be guided by intelligence and restrained by the will. God has given us judgment, and he expects us to use it in the right way. He expects us to keep under our bodies and bring them into subjection so that we may be holy and without blame before him in love. He has given us the power to judge and discriminate between the right use of and the abuse of our faculties and proclivities. We should use this intelligence. We do not need superhuman intelligence for this; we need only common sense. If we go to extremes in any way, nature will exact the penalty. The presence of the Spirit of God in our hearts will oftentimes have a modifying effect upon our physical desires; especially is this true where these have become abnormal.

During life there is a constant warfare between the flesh and the spirit. The man who is ruled by the flesh and has desire for his master, works that which is evil in the sight of the Lord, but the man who has "power over his own will" (that is, the will to use his power of self-control) and brings himself into subjection to the Spirit of God, will live righteously and godly in Christ Jesus. Appetite knows nothing of property rights nor of the laws of God or man. It knows no distinction of right and wrong, of purity and impurity. If I am hungry, any appetizing food will attract me, and desire will reach out after it. Who owns that food does not matter; desire wants it. Desire knows nothing of ownership nor does it care about the owner. Intelligence knows and recognizes property rights; therefore intelligence and will must control appetite. If they do not and appetite gains the mastery, then the man becomes a sinner. As long as the spiritual man is in the ascendancy, as long as he rules, he keeps under the physical; but when the physical gains the ascendancy, the spiritual man ceases to be innocent and pure, and becomes sensual. That is, either the spirit must give up its way or the flesh must surrender to the spirit where their desires are contrary. This warfare is not a warfare of sin against righteousness; it is a warfare of the spirit against the flesh, of the spiritual against the natural. This warfare is not a thing of a day or a month, but it is a thing of a lifetime. Natural desire runs out to any object that can gratify it. The spirit's task is to limit it, and gratify it only in a right manner. When this is done, purity is maintained. If we fall to do this, we become defiled and sinful.

The Mental Constitution

Mentally man is a trinity, composed of reason, will, and the sensibilities. We might compare him to a steamship. His body is the hull and the power-plant. Reason or intellect is, or should be, the navigator. The will is the engineer and pilot. The sensibilities are the heating and refrigerating plants. It is in reason and will that man rises farthest God ward. These are the really important things in his constitution; everything else is secondary. It is through these that he knows God and obeys him. It is through these that we are made moral creatures and are subject to moral law and can know and understand moral problems and principles. It is through these that we draw nigh to the animals. When God illuminates the intellect and controls the will, he has a man for his service. These are the citadels of man's soul, and it is to them that God's appeal is made and through them that man becomes godlike.

The place of reason is in the chart-house of our vessel. God has given us a chart - his precious Word. Reason must study this chart and from it lay life's course. It must choose the port to which we shall sail and the course over which we shall sail. It must watch for the dangers that lie in the way. It must know the hidden rocks; it must know the shoals, the currents, and the various other dangers of navigation. It must read the weather-signs, so that we may know when the storms are coming and how to prepare for them and how best to weather them when they come. It must take the observations and locate our position on the voyage of life. It must decide all the problems of navigation. It must find the way out of all difficulties and dangers. Reason, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, is our only safe navigator. If we trust to anything else, we shall run upon the rocks and be lost.

The will must steer our vessel upon its course. Our lives must not be left to chance, but must be guided by a steady hand. Many dangerous rocks lie hidden in the in the sea of life. Unless a strong hand holds the wheel and obeys the voice of the navigator, we may make shipwreck. We dare not let every current carry us whither it will. We dare not let ourselves drift wherever the wind would blow us. We must keep straight upon our course. Knowing this, God has given us our wills to be the helmsmen of our vessels and to steer them in the straight and safe course that leads to the port of everlasting glory. The will must have the directing control of all the energies of our vessel. It must keep its hand upon the throttle of our lives. It must direct all our energies in the proper way. If any of our energies are not subject to our will, there is certain to be disorder in our lives. The will must be absolute master of our powers.

We need never expect to come to the place where our powers will always work good automatically. There is no such thing as an automatic Christian. Doing right is a matter of willing to do right and bringing the forces of our being into subjection to our will so that they work what the will has decreed that they shall work. We must often use our wills to compel ourselves to do that which is right, against our natural inclination. The Bible takes no account of our feelings. It points out duty. It says, "Do this" or "Do not do this." It says, "Be this" and "Do not be that." It does not say, "Feel patient"; it says, "Be patient." It does not say that we shall not feel tempted; it says that we shall not yield to temptation. When it points out any duty, it does not say, "Feel inclined to do this duty"; it says, "Do this." It lays upon the will the whole responsibility for the conduct. We are never judged by our feelings, but are judged by our wills. If reason and will are on the side of right, then the individual is judged as being right, and his conduct is approved.

The will must be subject to the orders of reason and resolutely carry them out. The reason that so many people are evil-doers is not because they have not enough intelligence to know the right, but because their wills do not act in harmony with their intelligence. They know what is right, but they do not will to act according to their knowledge. In many things they go contrary to their judgment; they do things that they know are unwise. They deliberately set aside their reason and do that which they know will bring the condemnation of God upon them and will be ruinous to their lives here and hereafter. When the will chooses its own course regardless of the reason, it always makes shipwreck of the life. It is imperative, therefore, that you make your will subject to the dictates of your reason. If you do not, only disaster awaits you.

Our Sensibilities and Emotions

I have likened our sensibilities and emotions to the heating and refrigerating plants of a steamer. All the warmth in life comes through our feelings; all the joy, peace, gladness, mirth, contentment, brightness, happiness, and other similar things come to us through our feelings. Without emotions life would be a cold, bleak waste. They are the things that make life worth while. They are as needful in their sphere as reason and will in their spheres. Not only does the warmth and charm of life come through our sensibilities, but also all that chills in life. Sorrow, pain, sadness, gloom, discouragement, despondency, remorse - all these have their seat in our sensibilities. From these come both the sunshine and the clouds of life. They bring to us both the bitter and the sweet.

Our emotions are always active, or at least rarely in a state of rest, during our waking hours. They are in a great measure independent of control. They work as they will. The will can influence them, but its control is limited. We cannot feel any certain way just because we will to do so. We cannot feel pleased or happy or contented just because we desire to do so. Our feelings are creatures of influence and circumstances. Whatever acts upon our feelings will produce results, no matter what it is that acts nor in what manner it acts. The feelings have no power of judgment, no discretion; they respond to whatever influence works upon them. They have no power of choice. They are like the strings of musical instruments, which respond to every touch and likewise to the quality of the touch. Circumstances may strike sweet melodies and rich harmonies of rejoicing, or they may strike discords of pain and sorrow. The chords that sound out depend more upon the player than upon the instrument; for the same instrument is capable of sounding forth many differing chords.

I said that the will could influence our feelings, but not rule them. The extent to which it may affect them depends upon the strength of the will. It may affect them in different ways. It may repress them for a time. It may put a brake upon them and prevent their free action. It may often set bounds to limit them, even though it has not perfect control over them. It may also set up a contrary influence through some other emotion by bringing some influence to bear upon it, and thus make one emotion balance or restrict the other. This is something that every Christian needs very much to learn. We may turn the attention away from that which is exciting some emotion to the contemplation of something that will either quiet the emotion or set up another kind. If we are sad or discouraged or despondent, and we let our minds run in the channel of our feelings, we shall only feel worse and worse. We should deliberately turn our minds from the dark side of the picture to that which is bright and uplifting. Look upon God and the beautiful things of his character. Look at the promises of his Word - look at the things that are in our favor. Look at hopeful things. Look away from the gloom and darkness, and you will soon find that the things at which you look react upon your feelings and that the gloomy feelings pass away. Giving your thought and attention to these brighter things will set up an emotion contrary to that which has been working, and it will balance or restrict the former, or possibly entirely overcome it.

Have you ever seen a person who had some trouble physically and who seemed to delight in telling his trouble to everybody he met? It was a favorite topic of conversation with him. Of course, the more he would talk about it, the more he would feel it and the more conscious of it he would be. Probably if he had quit talking about it and forgotten it, he would soon have felt all right. It is the same with our spiritual feelings: the more we think about our troubles, and the more we tell them, the greater they become. Never let bad feelings hold your attention. Turn you mind resolutely away from them. As often as it comes back to them, turn it away to something else, until you form the habit of thinking of that which is good and uplifting and encouraging. In such things as these we are what we make of ourselves. Gloominess is a habit; so is cheerfulness. We cannot prevent bad feelings from coming sometimes, but we need not give them place or pet them when they do come. There are too many good and too many beautiful things in life, too many things enjoyable, for us to allow our minds to run on the dark side of things very much. Whatever occupies our attention, shuts out other things. Therefore if we let the dark side of the picture occupy our attention, we cannot see the bright side; but if we will turn out eyes away from the dark side, we shall find that there is a bright side at which we may look. As we look at the bright side, it will react upon our emotions, and we shall be joyful instead of being in heaviness. We may be glad instead of being in mourning. We may be encouraged instead of being discouraged. Say to your emotions resolutely, "Thus far shalt thou go and no farther." Set a bound for them beyond which they may not pass, and repress all bad feelings, and so make way for good ones.

The sensibilities are active and very often try to usurp the place of reason and the will. There is danger in permitting this. If we decide by our feelings what is right and what we ought to do, our feelings may soon change, and we shall think something else is right or that we ought to do some other way, and so we shall be unsettled. One time we shall feel as if we should do a thing, and shortly afterwards we may find that we feel as if we should not do it. At one time we may feel that a thing is right, and soon come to question it when we feel some other way. Reason must be the master. It is the one that is to lay out our course. Reason should decide for us what is right and what is wrong. Do not let your feelings usurp reason's place. Try to understand the principles that are involved. Decide the rightness or wrongness of the thing by these principles, not by your feelings. This is the only safe way. It is only by doing this that you can ever be settled in any course of conduct very long at a time.

The feelings are blind. They cannot observe the compass; they cannot see the chart; they cannot see where the dangers lie. Hence they cannot lay a safe course. Suppose the captain of a vessel should place a blind man in the pilot-house, and this blind man should trust to his feelings to mark out the course and steer away from the rocks. Should you like to trust your safety to such a pilot? This is exactly what you do when you trust your feelings to be your pilot on the sea of life. Whenever we let feelings usurp the place of reason, we have a blind pilot. That is why so many persons make shipwreck and why so many get into trouble. If the feelings give the will orders how to steer and how to use our energies, only disaster can come; but this is just what thousands are doing. They give more heed to their feelings than to anything else. The Word of God counts less than feelings. No matter what it says, if their feelings do not agree with it, they cannot trust it.

Too many people let feelings make the observations in their lives. When they want to know where they are, they consult their feelings. They feel that they are so and so, and they conclude that feeling knows. They must be as they feel, they think, or they would not feel so. Suppose you were on a ship when you knew that the captain was running the vessel according to his feelings. He would suppose himself to be where he felt he was. He might have ever so much confidence in his feelings, but would you feel really safe? could you make yourself believe that his feelings were a safe guide for the ship? If our feelings are not safe guides in natural things, are they in spiritual things? Notwithstanding the folly of such a course, many persons judge themselves almost exclusively by their emotions. When they feel all right, they think they are all right; when they do not feel so well, they do not have such confidence in themselves.

Reason has its chart and compass, its sextant and its astronomical tables, and all other things necessary to make observations with accuracy and certainty. Feeling only guesses. Shall we take the ready and impulsive answer of our feelings, or shall we wait for reason by its more sure means to tell us the facts? When reason speaks and feeling contradicts it, which is the safer to believe? Which is the safer guide? Sometimes people know from the standpoint of their reason and the Word of God that they are doing what is their duty to do as Christians, but at the same time their feelings are not what they suppose they ought to be. In fact, they may not feel as they desire to at all. Their feelings may be exactly opposite to the testimony of their understanding. Such persons are often prone to accept the testimony of their feelings rather than that of their intelligence. This is always an unwise course. Our sensibilities are blind; they have no power to discriminate between fact and falsehood. Whatever we accept as truth or probable truth has upon our emotions all the force of things known to be facts. If I believe my friend is dead, I shall have the same feelings as though he were dead, no matter if he is in perfect health. If we believe that we are wrong in something, we shall feel that we are wrong, whether we are or are not. Do not be a creature of your feelings. Do not be ruled by them. Do not let them mar your peace. Settle your condition from some other standpoint. Take the Word of God. It will not deceive you, but your feelings may if you trust in them.

Evidence of Feelings Unreliable

We may feel safe when we are in grave danger. Two men were recently walking across a piece of ground. They felt very much at ease. There appeared to be no danger whatever, but just in front of them was a heavy charge of dynamite with a burning fuse attached. Only the earnest cries of a man who knew the danger saved them from walking right upon it and being killed. On the other hand, we may feel that we are in danger when we are perfectly safe. The sinner often feels very safe in his sins, when, in truth, he is in the very greatest danger. Some Christians feel themselves in grave danger, but they are perfectly safe if they will but trust God.

Sometimes people feel very bad when they do not know of their having done anything amiss. Again, some feel condemned when they have done something that they know was not wrong. Their reason tells them that it was not wrong. The Bible does not condemn it, and yet someway, somehow, they feel condemned over it. The adversary delights to take advantage of us at such times if we will permit him. If we do anything that is wrong, the Spirit of God will show us what we have done that is wrong and why it is wrong. He will not leave us to wonder and question. He will put his finger on the thing and say, "There it is; there is the trouble." God makes things plain to us. The adversary brings confusion. He generally leaves us in uncertainty. He cannot point out anything, or usually does not. The most he can usually say is, "You have done something. There is something wrong. "Your feelings are ready to join right in with him and echo the strain. Yes, you have done something, but what? You may argue, "If I were saved, I should not feel this way." How do you know that you should not? The question is not, "How do you feel, but, How are you? Feelings must give place to reason. Whenever you judge your condition and spiritual standing by your feelings, whether those feelings be good or bad, whether they be in your favor or against you, you are doing a very unwise thing. Base your salvation upon something more substantial than feelings. I have seen more than one sinner so enthused that he could leap and shout and praise the Lord. I have seen more than one good saint crushed down until he could not raise his head.

We cannot tell conditions by feelings. Some very dangerous diseases produce practically no suffering. I have known cases where the danger was very grave and where the patients could not be prevailed up on to think that there was anything seriously wrong with them. Some things that are very painful are not dangerous, and in fact represent disorder of a very minor character. True Christians sometimes have bad feelings when these feelings are no index whatever to their spiritual condition. Read the life of John Bunyan. See the things that he suffered through his sensitive feelings. Sometimes he would feel that he was a great sinner and just ready to drop into hell. He was not such; he was a pious and holy man. Thousands of others have had similar experiences, and the writer is one.

Click Here For Part Two