Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTLIKENESS – PART 9
Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
2 Peter 1: 5-11
Higher Primary Graces Abound if Lower Primary Graces are Produced
IF THE higher primary graces abound with respect to good, to the lower sentiments in the three following modes: (1) attaching them to the good, (2) supporting by the strong the weak features of character, and (3) using them as servants of righteousness and holiness, they produce the lower primary graces as the qualities of the lower sentiments, both human and spiritual. The following show how this is done:
By their using self-esteem through these modes they develop a proper self-respect and self-confidence as its qualities; the love for others’ approval, a proper ambition, politeness, obligatoriness as its attributes; love for safety, a proper carefulness and prudence as its graces; the love for repose, a proper restfulness, quietness as its virtues; the love for self-defense, a proper defensiveness as its grace; the love for life, a proper self-preservation as its quality; the love for hiding disadvantageous things, a proper tactfulness as its quality; the love for destroying injurious things, a proper aggressiveness as its virtue; the love for gaining and retaining, a proper industry, productivity and economy as its virtues; and love for food and drink, a proper and health-conducive appetite as its attribute.
The higher primary graces, through these modes, using the love for family makes one properly conjugal, paternal, maternal, filial and fraternal; love for friends, friendly; love for home, domestic; love for country, patriotic; love for the order of affairs, orderly; love for the sublime in nature or in the supernatural, sublime in sentiment; love for art, artistic, idealistic; love for knowledge, intelligent and reasonable; and love for one’s work, efficient and successful.
These qualities, being the attributes of special organs, are primary graces; but they are qualities of our lower, non-religious organs, hence are the lower primary graces.
Balance of Character in Lower Sentiments and their Graces
Our higher primary graces abound to our lower sentiments in respect to good in a fourth way: Properly adjusting our lower sentiments and their graces to one another and all other features of character. This is the seventh mode of procedure. The higher primary graces must do this adjusting in harmony with proper principles and in all relations. Aside from the general methods, the fourth (suppressing by the higher control of the lower sentiments), the sixth (supporting the weak by the strong features of Christian character), and especially the seventh (dominating all features of character by the higher primary graces combined with one another in orderly adjustment) special methods for developing good will be found most helpful. The result of this activity is the sixth process – balance of character in our lower sentiments and their graces.
The entire procedure results in developing the tertiary graces – those qualities of the heart and mind in general (and not limited to special organs as their qualities, or connected with special organs under proper control, as their accompanying graces).
The final application of the higher primary graces in abounding to our lower sentiments with respect to good is: The higher primary graces crystallizing the lower primary sentiments, their graces, and their balance with every feature of Christian character, that is, the seventh process of procedure. For the spirit-begotten, the New Creature through the higher primary graces was the agent; while for the non-spirit-begotten, the new will is and will, through the same set of graces, be the agent. The circumstances amid which crystallization operates are untoward experiences, such as losses, disappointments, delays, restraints, shelvings, chastisements, failures, oppositions, faults, necessities, hardships and sufferings. Successfully to complete the abounding through the seventh process will require the application of all the general and special methods for developing good and overcoming evil. The results of applying the third line through the seventh process of procedure are varied: maintaining all preceding results, the completion of the seventh process, that is, perfection of character.
Let us lay the main stress upon the lines, then its modes, next its methods and finally its processes. Let us look to the Lord for its order and then, giving all diligence, make our calling and election sure.
GENERAL METHODS FOR DEVELOPING CHRISTLIKENESS
Let us consider how the general methods may be applied in cultivating the seven elements of Christlikeness, and the ability of using the general and special methods themselves. Jesus’ character contained seven elements: (1) abhorrence of evil, (2) avoidance of evil, (3) opposition to evil, (4) the spiritual sentiments, (5) the use of His members as servants of righteousness and holiness, (6) the graces and (7) balance of character. Let us consider each one of them:
Abhorrence of Evil
Abhorrence of evil means a deep-seated hatred for evil, as more or less fills every sentiment of our being. In a moral order of affairs, such as must prevail in God’s universe, evil is bad and harmful – it works injury, unhappiness and ruin. The Apostle said, “Abhor that which is evil” (Romans 12: 9). Its function is to incite the heart to avoid and oppose evil. After detaching our affections from evil, abhorrence of evil is our first state of heart and mind toward evil.
Avoidance of Evil
Avoidance of evil means getting out of its way, fleeing from it, not allowing it to come near us. This can be done in two ways: (1) by evading its presence physically, and (2) by diverting our minds from its contemplation. Proverbs 4: 15 reads, “Avoid it, pass not by it; turn from it, and pass away.” Its function is to keep us from such situations, persons and states of mind as would bring us to a fall.
Opposition to Evil
God and Satan are in a war against one another, as far as the principles of good and evil are concerned. As God’s servants, we must oppose evil. This opposition should primarily be directed to evil within ourselves, though it also has applications to evil in others. Evil is more or less entrenched in us due to the depravity inherited from father Adam and our other ancestors. Opposition to evil has two functions: (1) to attack evil within and without us, and (2) to repel its attacks upon ourselves and others. James 4: 7: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
The Spiritual Sentiments
The spiritual sentiments applied to the spirit-begotten, and it meant that both their higher and lower sentiments attached to the things of the spiritual plane, corresponding to the things of the natural plane to which the human sentiments are attached. Colossians 3: 1, 2: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” The function of this element was intended to fit new creatures for heavenly conditions.
Use of our Members as Servants of Righteousness and Holiness
By our members, we mean both our human and our spiritual (for the spirit-begotten) sentiments. Our consecration has made us servants of God, who we serve along the lines of righteousness and holiness. Accordingly, we should use our members, all that we are and have and all that we hope to be and hope to have, for God’s glory, along the lines of righteousness and holiness. “Yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Romans 6: 19). The function of this element is intended to enable us to carry forward our Heavenly Father’s good cause, and to further the rights of God and man.
The graces are those qualities of heart and mind that make us attractive to God and to those who are of God’s disposition. They are excellencies, beauties and adornments of character that every child of God must have in order to be approved by Him. Some of the graces include: faith, hope, self-control, patience, piety, brotherly kindness, charity, humility, reticence, bravery, industry, self-forgetfulness, longsuffering, sincerity, forgiveness, liberality, frugality, peace, joy, meekness and gentleness. Several Scriptures treating of the graces include: (Colossians 3: 12-14) (Galatians 5: 22, 23) (2 Peter 1: 5-7). The function of the graces is to give our conduct beauty, elegance and attractiveness of manner, motive and sentiment.
Balance of Character
Balance of character is the ability and quality of heart and mind properly to adjust every feature of character amid the varying scenes of life to the principles of wisdom, justice, love and power, combined with one another in an orderly adjustment. 1 Timothy 1: 5: “The end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” The supremely perfect character of our Heavenly Father is set before us for our imitation (2 Corinthians 3: 18). The function of this element is to bring about harmony of disposition with the principles of wisdom, justice, love and power in all our conduct.
(to be continued)