IRL PARKER MAXEY (Former President, Professor Bible Missionary Institute, BMC)
I entered my first pastorate with the testimony of being both saved and sanctified wholly,
but in fact I was carnal. I had as a lad, been gloriously saved beyond any shadow of a doubt. Shortly after that I was just as clearly sanctified wholly. How ever, being ignorant of how to live a day by day victorious life: became backslidden in heart but not in outward life, not having committed outward sins. From the day God saved me I was never without a testimony long at any time. But having lost the witness to entire sanctification I was plagued with doubts and fears through my college days and post graduate studies. I sought God many times for the experience of ”full salvation” and just as many times claimed to have received this blessing of entire sanctification. Many, many times I would rationalize my way back into a testimony of being sanctified wholly. There was no doubt that I was volitionally all out for God and lived outwardly an exemplary life. But as the song writer put it, “When the Spirit tried to tell me, I would not the truth receive. I endeavored to be happy, and to make myself believe.”
I had obtained a Master’s Degree in Theology and was versed in the Wesleyan-Arminian
doctrine of the twofold nature of sin and the twofold cure as taught in Scripture. When doubts assailed me I would go through the mental process — “I’m all on the altar, Christ is the altar, His blood was shed not only for forgiveness but cleansing Mr. Devil, you can leave, I claim the efficacy of the blood for the cleansing of my soul this very moment!” And, as Phoebe Palmer preached, “If by faith, why not now!” I never kept count of how many times this process was repeated.
To calm my carnal heart I would reason, “Well, maybe I have been carnal, but from now on
I claim cleansing in the merit of the blood.” And so it was that I entered my first pastorate professing the blessing of a sanctified heart but still possessing the carnal nature.
I began my pastoral ministry, a home mission project, with great zeal. I was not trying to
play the hypocrite and because of this God blessed my ministry with fruit. People were getting saved and sanctified. But I was often in trouble myself. Symptoms of the carnal nature disturbed
my peace of mind and brought torment to my soul. At the same time my wife was not sanctified either but, like me, she also professed to be. Two carnal people living together under the profession of entire sanctification is a bad combination as we often found it to be.
As I have stated prior to this personal account, if the carnal nature is yet in the heart there
are sure to be symptoms of its existence. And yet it is the nature of a carnal heart to hide itself from itself and rationalize its existence away. To what irrational extremes a carnal heart will go to spare itself–all because of that primal sin of pride! It will prop itself up with all kinds of explanations and reasonings: “It is my tensed up nerves, I am under undue pressure, I haven’t been spending enough time in prayer, I need to read my Bible more.”
On and on the reasoning would go to justify my carnal uprisings. After wife and I would
have a carnal clash we would patch it up, ask forgiveness of each other and assure each other that our “head-on” collision was caused by nervous tension brought on by the pressure of the ministry. I would not stop long enough to allow the faithful Holy Spirit to probe me to the bottom, but I would allow carnal reasonings to get my deep need off the hook. Later on I could see how the Spirit tried to help me, but I had allowed myself to be brainwashed by carnality’s deceptiveness.
One day, however, with all praise and gratitude to God, I got tired of living such a life of
doubt and fear and went before the Lord alone with an open, honest heart. I saw very clearly that I did not possess what the old time saints possessed and enjoyed. I was bound by the carnal mind and void of liberty. What I professed to have wasn’t working in my own home or heart. When I went before the Lord in all honesty as the Psalmist did when he prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my hear: try me and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me …” (Psalm 139:23, 24), it was like a dam had broken and all the putrefaction of a carnal heart poured out in willing confession. In the following words, H. A. Baldwin pictures what I was experiencing at that time:
“…When to one is given this deep view of the inward workings of carnality, he will just as
naturally confess it as he will confess his actual sins when seeking pardon. The fact is that such a view of self will be accompanied by confession almost as inevitably as a person is accompanied by his shadow; the discovery and confession can scarcely be separated in experience…. Confession of inherent sin is a Bible requirement, the doctrine of those “holy men of old” who ”spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
Dr. Jesse T. Peck, in his Central Idea of Christianity (pages 220-221) says: “But you will
find some stubborn difficulties in your way. There are some unavoidable implications in the confessions you are called upon to make, that will be deeply humbling to the soul. You have probably been long known and recognized as a Christian — perhaps a faithful, fervent Christian; you have been a leader in the armies of Israel — a minister in the church of God — even an eminent minister among your brethren. In either case it is not quite easy to confess that you have been all this time without a pure heart — that your religion has been a religion of contests with yourself, as well as with the world and Satan, and that, though you have advocated for years a religion of purity, you have never yet fully availed yourself of the purifying provisions of the gospel…
“Nor is it upon any principle of penance, or self-mortification, or with any view of priestly
absolution, that confession is required. The grand principle of this whole concession is truth, truth to the conscience; truth to the facts of the present and the past; truth to the vows you have made, and the demands of the church; all of which requires, and must have, candid expression; and you will be gratified, you will be thankful to God for the benefits it confers.”
Dr. Adam Clarke, in his comments on 1 John 1:9 says: “Guilt, to be forgiven, must be
confessed; and pollution, to be cleansed, must be confessed … Few are pardoned because they do not feel and confess their sins; and few are sanctified or cleansed from all sin, because they do not feel and confess their own sore, and the plague of their hearts.”
At that time I had not read the above. Yet all this I faced and it was so painfully true in my
case. To begin with, as I went before God in my study alone, but with an open heart seeking help from God, I determined I would not leave a stone unturned in my quest for deliverance from inbred sin and for the purifying, fiery baptism of the Holy Ghost on my heart. At this point I was victorious in a regenerated experience.
Sunday was coming. I determined to face my church in all honesty and open confession of
my need. The Spirit was leading me unerringly to the land of perfect rest. God gave me a message to preach on that particular Sunday morning on the subject of entire sanctification as a second definite work of grace. When I finished preaching I confessed publicly to my church that I did not possess the experience I had just been preaching about, but was a candidate for that experience of heart holiness.
When I had gone that far in my quest for deliverance from the carnal nature and the
purification of my heart, God blessed me with one of the greatest blessings I had ever had up to that time. Let me inject right here that with every move a soul makes toward God, He (God) will bless that soul for it. How quick the wonderful Spirit of God is to bless and encourage an honest, seeking heart. However, I was not seeking a blessing, but a pure heart. The devil would like to have stopped me right there and had me prematurely claim deliverance from the sin nature.
I called an evangelist who came immediately to begin revival services in my church and I
became a seeker at my own altar. How long did I seek? The time element is not the significant thing — I sought until the faithful Holy Spirit led me to the end of myself; until I saw and confessed the depth of my own carnal heart. Behind jealousy, anger, carnal ambition, etc. — behind all these so apparent carnal traits and from which they flowed was “carnal self.” I was all wrapped up in self — I, me, mine! It took a divine revelation to reveal my “carnal self” to me. It was the first time in all my seeking over the past years that I tarried long enough to allow the Holy Spirit to probe to the bottom of my proud, carnal heart and help me to see and thoroughly confess what my heart was really like.
Self held center stage — not God and His glory! I was aware of the moment I had reached
the end of confessing carnal self. I had a witness within myself of that fact, and just as suddenly my faith claimed the blessing and then the Spirit Himself sealed with His witness that my heart was cleansed. God had given me a promise to cling to (Heb. 4:9, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.”). My heart had been so restless through those years of struggle! But at last I
was able by simple faith to enter into that rest through the merits of the blood of Christ that was shed on Calvary’s cross.
Charles Wesley wrote about that rest in the second verse of that familiar song, “Love
Breathe, oh, breathe Thy loving Spirit Into ev’ry troubled breast! Let us all in Thee inherit, Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning; Alpha and Omega be; End of faith, as its beginning Set our hearts at liberty.
Source: “Man’s Ascent To God” by I. Parker Maxey
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HOW THEY ENTERED CANAAN (A Collection of Holiness Experience Accounts) Compiled by Duane V. Maxey
Vol. I — Named Accounts