A Deeper Death to Self
There is not only a death to sin, but, in a great many things, there is a deeper death to self after the soul has been sanctified. This deeper crucifixion is the unfolding and application of all the principles of self-renunciation which the soul agreed to in its full consecration.
Job was a perfect man, and dead to all sin; but in his great sufferings, he died to his own religious life; died to his domestic affections; died to his theology—all his views of God’s providence; he died to a great many things which in themselves were not sin, but which hindered his largest union with God.
The very largest degrees of self-renunciation, crucifixion, and abandonment to God take place after the work of heart purity. There are a multitude of things which are not sinful; nevertheless, our attachment to them prevents our greatest fullness of the Holy Spirit and our amplest cooperation with God.
Infinite wisdom takes us in hand, and arranges to lead us through deep, interior crucifixion to:
- our fine part,
- our lofty reason,
- our brightest hope,
- our cherished affections,
- our religious views,
- our dearest friendship,
- our pious zeal,
- our spiritual impetuosity,
- our narrow culture,
- our creeds and churchism,
- our success,
- our religious experiences,
- our spiritual comforts;
the crucifixion goes on till we are dead and detached from:
- all creatures,
- all saints,
- all thoughts,
- all hopes,
- all plans,
- all tender heart-yearnings,
- all preferences;
- dead to all troubles,
- all sorrows,
- all disappointments;
- equally dead to all praise or blame,
- success or failure,
- comforts or annoyances;
- dead to all climates and nationalities;
- dead to all desire but for Himself.
There are innumerable degrees of interior crucifixion on these various lines.
In contradistinction from heart-cleansing, this finer crucifixion of self is gradual; it extends through months or years: the interior spirit is mortified over and over on the same points till it reaches a state of divine indifference to it.
A great host of believers have obtained heartpurity, and yet, for a long time, have gone through all sorts of “dying daily” to self before they found that calm, fixed union with the Holy Ghost which is the deep longing of the child of God.
Again, in contradistinction with heart-cleansing, which is by faith, this deeper death to self is by suffering. This is abundantly taught in Scripture,
and confirmed by the furnace experience of thousands.
Joseph was a sanctified man before being cast into prison; but there the iron entered into his soul (see Ps. 105:18), and by suffering he reached the highest death of self. There are literally scores of Scripture passages, like Psalm 71:19-21, teaching that the upper ranges in the sanctified state are wrought out through suffering.
Perhaps the most remarkable passage of the Word on this subject is in Romans, fifth chapter; the first verse teaches justification by faith, the second verse teaches full salvation by faith, and verses three to five teach a deeper death and fuller Holy Ghost life by tribulation.
When the soul undergoes this deeper death of self, it enters into a great wideness of spiritual comprehension and love; a state of almost uninterrupted prayer;
- of boundless charity for all people;
- of unutterable tenderness and broadness of sympathy;
- of deep, quiet thoughtfulness;
- of extreme simplicity of life and manners; and
- of deep visions into God and the coming ages.
In this state of utter death to self, suffering, sorrows, pains, and mortifications of all kind are looked upon with a calm, sweet indifference. Such a soul looks back over its heart-breaking trials, its scalding tears, its mysterious tribulation, with gentle subduedness, without regret, for it now sees God in every step of the way.
The Rev. George Douglas Watson (1845–1924 ) was a widely-traveled Methodist evangelist prominent in the post-Civil-War Holiness Movement in the United States.