“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” – Ps. 51:2
“Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” – Titus 2:14
“Heal my soul, for I have sinned against you.” – Ps. 41:4
The ears must be unstopped before the mouth is opened. Effective speaking for God depends upon right hearkening to God. It is by hearkening the heart is filled. And it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. Jesus said, Ephphatha, Be opened.” [Mark 7:34]. Both the ears and the tongue were set free.
That act was symbolical of the whole of Christ’s ministry. He came, not only to redeem the soul, but to liberate every power and faculty we possess, and which God originally created for His glory.
Satan’s great aim is to enslave and carry into captivity. He seeks to close every avenue which brings the soul into intercourse with God. Christ has come to open the prison doors – to burst the fetters that keep the soul in slavery to sin. “The effect of Jesus Christ’s ministry was one continual Ephphatha” – the emancipation of every moral and spiritual power, the loosening of every chain.
We all acknowledge the power of habit. Experience teaches us that the actions, and especially the oft-repeated actions, of days gone by, are a real power in us today. “The present is the resultant of the past.” Habit is the power and ability of doing anything acquired by frequent repetition. What at first was difficult, and imperfectly performed, by habit becomes easy, and is executed thoroughly. Habit, therefore, is an acquired power, and is the result of repeated action. It is often like a second nature.
It is clear from this that we are not born with habits, though we inherit that which gave rise to them. Evil habits must not therefore be confused with those sinful tendencies with which every child of Adam comes into the world. We are born with the sinful tendency, but we are not born with the sinful habit.
“Man is a bundle of habits.” But his conduct is the result of something more than mere habit. Perhaps it would be impossible to exaggerate the power exercised by habit on our daily life. And yet it is of the greatest importance that we should recognize the clear distinction that exists between the inherent tendency and the acquired habit. Every evil habit may be entirely laid aside; we may be completely delivered from the power of any habit. But this does not mean that the tendency to sin is thereby eradicated.
Now there is a very close connection between acquired habits and desires. “If a bad set of habits have grown up with the growth of the individual, or if a single bad tendency be allowed to become an habitual spring of action, a far stronger effort of violation will be required to determine the conduct in opposition to them…” (Carpenter’s Mental Physiology)…
In his Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul enumerates a number of sins, all of which may be included under the heading of acquired habits (Eph. 4.:25 – 32). Falsehood, theft, corrupt speech, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, railing, malice – all these are to be laid aside, not subjugated or kept under, but altogether put away, as things with which the believer has nothing more to do, and from which he is to be actually separated. “Wherefore putting away” – that is, stripping off – all these sins – as one puts off clothes. The very desire to yield to them may be removed.
The Apostle Peter, when he presses upon his readers the privilege and duty of holiness, brings them at once to the Cross of Christ. This is his argument: “Be holy, for I am holy knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Pet. 1. 16, 18, 19).
We may thus claim, as one of the benefits of Christ’s death, complete and immediate deliverance from the evil power of our past manner of life. Christ died to redeem us from every evil habit of mind and of body – from every false or dishonest course of action – from every vain or untrue line of conduct – from every base or impure motive.
[May we fully receive and display Christ’s redemptive ministry:
“‘The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.’
…And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.'” Luke 4:18-21 NKJV]
Part 2 of 2 Excerpt from ch. 1 The Law of Liberty in the Spiritual Life, by Evan Hopkins (1837-1918).