HELPING PEOPLE TO HAVE A CLEARANCE OF THEIR PAST
To help someone to be saved in this way is easy. However, according to the normal, proper experience of Christians, after a person is regenerated, he needs many things. The first thing we should help him to do is to have a clearance of his past. Otherwise, he will not be able to grow well in life. If we help someone to believe and be regenerated, he will trust us. He may approach us, call us brother, and speak in an intimate and frank way about his past. Then it will be easy to instruct him. He may confess, for example, that he was wrong with his wife, so we can help him to go to her, confess his failures and faults, and ask her forgiveness. If the new one feels he will lose his face before his wife, we should help him to see that to commit sins and do wrong is to lose our face; to confess and testify how the Lord Jesus has saved us is a heavenly glory. The Holy Spirit will work with the new one, and he will say, “Hallelujah, praise the Lord! I will do this at any cost.” This is one of the many items of the clearance of the past. If a new convert will do this, he will advance very quickly.
There is no need to ask the new one, “Have you ever done something wrong to your parents, or have you ever stolen anything?” Rather, we may testify that we were the same as he. We also did wrong things to our parents and stole things. Perhaps we can tell him that we stole some money and bought a desk and some clothes with it, but after we were saved, we did not have any peace. Whenever we saw those things, we were condemned. It was very hard to sit at that desk to read the Bible or kneel in those clothes to pray. Therefore, we got rid of those things and refunded the stolen money to its owner. If we testify in this way, the Holy Spirit will work in the new one. After one or two illustrations like this, he will be clear. Right away he may realize that there is a radio in his room that was bought with stolen money. This will help him to clear up his past, and the Holy Spirit will continually work within him.
After this, we may say something in a general way, such as, “We are the children of God. God is light, and God is holy. We have to give up everything of darkness, anything that is not holy or righteous. This is to make a clearance of our past life.” Then we may pray with him, saying, “Lord, help this brother to clear up his past and to testify to the whole world that he is a true child of the holy God in the light.” This is to help someone in a definite way. It is not merely to contact people in a general, impractical way with doctrines. If a new one receives this kind of help, he will be released. He will testify in the meeting, pray, and offer thanks to the Lord. He will be in the heavens.
Many of us may not have had such a clearance of the past. This is not something legal, but the growth in life requires it. Once a person came to F. B. Meyer after a conference meeting and asked him what the proper way is for a Christian to grow. Mr. Meyer asked that person, “When was the last time you made a confession to someone or cleared up your sins with others?” This answer indicates that the more we clear up matters, the more growth we will have. However, after being saved for ten to thirty years, many Christians still do not have a clearance of the past. Therefore, it is hard for them to have the growth in life.
HELPING THEM TO CONSECRATE THEMSELVES
We may then follow up to say, “This is wonderful, brother. Now you have to consecrate yourself to the Lord.” The practical way to consecrate ourselves is to go to the Lord to pray. We should tell Him that from now on our right has passed from us to Him. It is better to itemize all that we have and all that we are, including our ability, knowledge, family, wife, children, property, business, job, studies, and our very self, telling the Lord that we offer these things to Him.
Almost all the problems between us and the Lord are related to our consecration. I do not have the confidence that many of us have settled the matter of consecration. For over one year around 1949 Brother Watchman Nee had a training in Shanghai. Week after week he stressed mainly one thing: consecration. Most of the trainees there were full-time co-workers. He dealt with this matter not mainly by giving messages but by asking one person a week to give a testimony about his consecration, the longer the better. Sometimes Brother Nee would say after the testimony, “This is not adequate. Tell us something more.” After the testimony, he would critique it. Sometimes he would say, “No, your consecration is false.” Over such a long period of time, after many testimonies, only one or two persons’ consecrations were proven to be real. He analyzed our consecrations, saying, “Why do I say your consecration is false? I can tell from your word that you have held something back.” In this way Brother Nee convinced us about consecration, and we all agreed with him.
(Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)