WE WILL now discuss the procedure that may be used in developing Christlikeness. This subject matter, while at times complicated, will hopefully be helpful both from a theoretical and a practical standpoint.
I. GENERAL EXPLANATIONS
A. A Christlike Character
Although none of the consecrated today are spirit begotten, many of the same principles that applied to the spirit begotten also apply to the non-spirit begotten in the development of a Christlike character. The consecrated today do not develop spiritual characters, but they do develop human characters, which through obedience will be perfected in the next Age, along with the obedient of mankind.
B. Our Procedure
We will now take up what is implied in our procedure in developing Christlikeness.
a. Its Meaning
Our procedure in developing Christlikeness means the ways of doing things which go to construct a Christlike character. There are certain lines, processes, modes, methods and an order of doing things that make up this process. They lock and interlock into one another and their faithful use results in constructing one element after another of Christlikeness. Sometimes they work on one element alone, sometimes on several of them and sometimes on all of them at one time.
b. Its Lines
The lines of procedure in cultivating Christlikeness means the avenues along which our hearts and minds travel in producing the higher primary graces, in operating them independently of one another, and in causing them to take control of all our conduct. Adding, the first line, means the work of producing the higher primary graces. Peter mentions these as faith, fortitude [hope], self-control, patience, piety, brotherly kindness and charity. Knowledge is not a grace of the heart, but an acquisition of the mind, and is therefore not one of higher primary graces.
After the higher primary graces are added, they must be kept active, the second line. Peter indicates this in v. 8, “If these things be in you.” These things are not merely to be produced and then be allowed to be dormant. They must be active after they are produced or our efforts in causing them to grow will be fruitless, nor will we be able to take up the third line of activity. We will, therefore, continually have to make these higher primary graces exercise themselves by seizing upon the various opportunities coming into our experiences calling for their activity.
The third line of procedure is causing the higher primary graces to abound. Peter also refers to this in v. 8: “If these things be in you, and abound.” In the abounding, the higher primary graces control all other features of character.
c. Its Processes
By the processes of our procedure in developing Christlikeness are meant the progressional forms of action in the development of our minds and hearts, while we are cultivating Christlikeness:
(1.) Maintaining the attitude of our consecration (Hebrews 3: 14).
(2.) Arousing our powers to activity (1 Corinthians 15: 34).
(3.) Producing growth (2 Peter 3: 18).
(4.) Strengthening that which has grown (Isaiah 35: 3).
(5.) Overcoming the evil (Romans 12: 2).
(6.) Balancing the good (1 Peter 5: 10).
(7.) Perfecting the good (1 Peter 5: 10).
d. Its Modes
After the higher primary graces are developed, they take charge of the modes of procedure and use them as occasion requires:
(1.) Attaching our sentiments (the inherent affections of our brain organs) to the good.
(2.) Detaching our sentiments from wrong and unsuitable objects, for the love of which these sentiments seek to control our higher primary graces.
(3.) Suppressing our sentiments and faults as they seek to control our higher primary graces.
(4.) Presenting impenetrable sentiments and graces in resistance to attacks from our faults, thereby securing and maintaining the inactivity of such sentiments and faults whenever they attempt to control the higher primary graces.
(5.) Supporting our weak by our strong good sentiments and by our graces.
(6.) Using our good sentiments as servants of righteousness and holiness.
(7.) Harmonizing every feature of character with one another along the lines of correct principles.
e. Its Methods
The methods of our procedure in cultivating Christlikeness are of two classes, general and special. There are seven of each for overcoming evil and seven for developing good. These will be discussed in future articles.
f. Its Order
By the order of our procedure in producing Christlikeness is meant the way that the lines, processes, modes and methods precede, intermingle with, and follow one another. We should distinguish between a logical and an actual order. Sometimes the logical and the actual order are identical; but because of abnormalities of disposition the actual order does not always follow the logical order, but differs from it depending upon the case. A brief description of the logical order follows:
Our procedure always begins by operating the first and second processes: (1) maintaining our consecrated attitude and (2) arousing our powers to activity. On the basis of these two processes such higher primary graces as we had before consecration seize their own special religious faculties and attach them to the objects on which they should be set (Romans 12: 9); thus they operate the first mode. As they continue, they cause further growth of the higher primary graces; thereby the third process and the first line of procedure are developed: production of growth and addition of the higher primary graces. Persistence in all the activities in the order of procedure results in the fourth process, strengthening that which has grown, and in the second line of procedure, making the higher primary graces active.
Persistence at this stage prepares us to operate the third line of procedure, causing the higher primary graces to abound. This third line begins in the religious organs by the higher primary graces (previously developed and continually supported by the previous attainments in the processes, lines and mode) using the second, third and fourth modes, [(2) detaching the sentiments from wrong and unsuitable objects for the love of which they try to control the higher primary graces; (3) suppressing the inapplicable sentiments or their faults as they seek to control the higher primary graces; and (4) presenting impenetrable sentiments and graces in resistance to attacks from our faults, thereby securing and maintaining the inactivity of the inapplicable sentiments and their faults as they seek to control the higher primary graces] to destroy the evil connected with our religious sentiments. When this is accomplished the fifth process, destruction of evil, is effected, as far as evil connected with our religious organs is concerned.
The next thing in order is to make the higher primary graces abound toward one another. This is done on the basis of the first and second processes, by these graces operating combinedly on one another to effect the first, fifth and sixth modes: (1) to attach the affections to the good; (5) to support the weak by the strong features of character; and (6) to make each serve righteousness and holiness in combination with the others. Thereby the third process and the first and fifth modes are created in the abounding of these graces toward one another. These things continually done produce the fourth process in these graces toward one another. Then the abounding by applying the seventh mode, harmonizing the various features of character with one another, produces the sixth process, balance in the higher primary graces. Finally, the abounding produces among the higher primary graces the seventh process, perfection, by using them to work their crystallization individually and toward one another.
We have only shown how the abounding of the higher primary graces in their activities apply to one another, our religious sentiments and their faults. But the abounding must also take place toward the lower human and spiritual sentiments (for the spirit begotten) and faults before the entire procedure is completed.
g. Its Results
The results, stated in vs. 8-11, are both negative and positive. Failure to do these things brings two evils: (1) blindness to truth formerly clearly seen, “he that lacketh these things is blind,” and to new truth, “and cannot see afar off”; and (2) the life given over to the former sins from which one has been cleansed, “and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” Positively its results are fivefold: (1) it takes away the impossibility of fruitlessness, “ye shall neither be barren”; (2) confers actual fruitfulness, “nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”; (3) enables one to make his calling and election sure, “wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure”; (4) keeps one from falling, “if ye do these things, ye shall never fall”; and (5) gives an abundant entrance into the Kingdom, “for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
(to be continued)