WE WILL now consider the second mode by which we may regulate the human sentiments in their natural functions:
B. Using the Human Sentiments as Servants of Righteousness and Holiness
This second mode may be used in two ways:
(1.) Making our human sentiments serve as safety-valves, that is, through the new human heart, mind, and will, using the worldly and artistic sentiments under certain conditions of extremity, as safety-valves for the prevention of sin and error. For example, boilers sometimes become overcharged with steam, and when an explosion is imminent, it may be prevented by opening the safety-valve. The same is true in our experiences. We sometimes experience situations in which we are no longer able to control our feelings, and unless some safety-valve is found, we will sin. Though the best way of using safety-valves would be by applying the religious sentiments as diverting channels and letting them have full reign to prevent sin, there are certain times when, because of weakness, depravity, or lack of development, we are unable to use this method. In such cases we may use our worldly and artistic sentiments as safety-valves.
Let us use an illustration to show how this is done. After very heavy rains some dams are in danger of breaking. The floods are coming with such an impact against them that they do not have sufficient strength to resist. There are two ways that relief may be achieved to prevent destruction: (1) parts of them may be opened up so as to let part of the water pass away, and thus decrease the pressure; or (2) another channel may be made through which the waters may be diverted from the dams. So, in our own experiences, sometimes we will have to find an outlet through the sentiment itself directly, when the pressure on it is too heavy to bear and we are unable to stand it without sin. Then again, we may divert the pressure to some other sentiment upon which there is no weight, to relieve the oppressed one. In using safety-valves, notice the caution the Apostle gives us in the second text: “For the time is coming when . . . they that use the world shall be as those not abusing it; for the fashion of this world passeth away” (Improved Version, I.V.).
Without this use of our worldly sentiments, at certain times it would be impossible to avoid sin because of our weakness. But God considers our weakness and has adjusted matters in such a way that relief may come. However, the Lord does not desire us to always use crutches. Through the grace of God, we are to grow so strong that we will not need the safety-valves through human sentiments. Therefore, the Apostle calls attention to its transitoriness in our text: “The fashion of this world passeth away.”
God’s Word does not, however, justify us in using safety-valves through the selfish human sentiments (Romans 8: 12, 13), because such use would only increase selfishness; but the worldly and artistic sentiments may be exercised in a way that would do good to others and, without doing us any injury, would prevent great harm.
USE OF HUMAN SENTIMENTS AS SAFETY VALVES
Let us consider the application of this principle with respect to sin. For example, the Apostle suggests that under certain conditions brethren should seek to avoid sin by marriage: “To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7: 2. He applies this same principle in other circumstances in: (1 Corinthians 7: 29-31). In fact, we may apply this principle of the direct use of the safety-valve to any one of the worldly sentiments that are under dire pressure, provided it is done in harmony with the rights of others. Thus, too strong love for children, home, friends, nature, art, human knowledge, and our work, may have to be experienced temporarily as direct safety-valves to prevent sin.
Let us now look at the use of diverting sentiments through which we can find relief from the pressure. Generally, this would be the better way if we can use it, because it will not give the sentiment that is already too strong an opportunity to exercise itself in a natural way, even though it be apart from sin. For example, because of the pressure of one’s burdens, one may have to resort to mirthfulness as an outlet so that they can do their work.
Let us suppose we have pressure upon a selfish quality, from such disgraces as pride, vanity, cowardice, laziness, contentiousness, self-preservation, hypocrisy, vindictiveness, covetousness, miserliness, gluttony, or drunkenness, and as a result, sin would be imminent unless a change is made. We may divert the attention by turning our thoughts from the selfish to one of the worldly or artistic sentiments – to love for wife or husband, love for children or parents, love for home, native land, friends, nature, art, music, agreeableness, or humor.
We may also use this method to escape from error. Sometimes the adversary continues to suggest thoughts to our minds to break our hold on the Truth, particularly if we are nervous. The proper course to take to escape a breakdown into error would be to quickly change our train of thought (Ephesians 4: 27). One may resort to humor, apply oneself to his secular work, think about some things he has learned along natural lines, contemplate nature and art, singing, or instrumental music.
One may give more attention to family affairs, to wife or husband, to children or parents, and to the care of the home. He may spend a social hour with noble worldly people (1 Corinthians 10: 27). By and by, the Lord, who realizes our longing for deliverance and finding our hearts faithful, sets into motion certain things for our help, which enable our deliverance from temptation, and save us from falling into error. Under certain conditions of mind, especially in a person who has been thinking so long on religious matters as to have exhausted his mind, the best thing to do would be to stop thinking on religion altogether for a time and to use these safety-valves.
(2.) The second way by which we are to regulate the human sentiments in their natural uses under the mode of using our members as servants of righteousness and holiness is to enslave them to the will of God. This is the fifth special method for developing good. To illustrate this thought let us take up the third text: “Yield yourselves unto God . . . yield your members [sentiments] servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Romans 6: 13, 19). This principle is explained in detail and in contrast with sin and selfishness in: (Romans 6: 10-22). In their natural uses, our sentiments love to go out, when related by ties of duty, to certain ones around us; and since we have such relationships upon the basis of justice, we must perform those duties, otherwise we would be violating God’s will. We need to therefore recognize to what extent it requires our human sentiments to go out to those to whom we are under obligations. We are related to certain ones by family ties and by business ties, either as employers or employees. These obligations call for the use of our worldly, artistic, and selfish sentiments. Many Scriptures give us the thought of obligation to our families (1 Timothy 5: 8). Servants (or employees) have certain obligations toward their masters (or employers), and masters have certain obligations toward their servants (Ephesians 6: 5-9).
Let us look at this principle in its use of the separate sentiments themselves. While the Lord’s people are more and more to overcome ordinary natural love, supplanting it by disinterested love, as well as by duty love, the operation of justice will more and more make us recognize that our duty love should go out in well-doing to those to whom we are obligated. God has placed us in families, in the relationship of employer and employee, and in various other associations, and these bring upon us obligations of yielding certain things to those with whom we stand related. Yet the same kind of good will must ultimately be developed toward all, to be prepared for our place in God’s coming Kingdom. This will make God’s people better husbands, wives, children, employees, and employers than if we were worldlings. But when our earthly relations attempt to dominate our rights, we must firmly resist, keeping the control of the world dead.
(to be continued)