IV. THE PURPOSE OF CONSECRATION—TO WORK FOR GOD
Since the meaning of consecration is to become a sacrifice, the thing offered is something which is entirely for God. The purpose of consecration, therefore, is to be used by God, to work for God. But in order that we may work for God, we must first let God work. Only those who have first let God work can work for God. We can only work for God to the extent that we allow God to work. If we do not let God work first, our labor can neither please Him nor be accepted by Him, no matter how diligent and enduring we are. Those things we do for God which are pleasing and acceptable to Him can never go beyond that which we allow God to work. “Let” is the basis, and “for” is the result. When we have the basis of “let,” then we can have the result of “for.” This is an unchanging principle. Therefore, when we consecrate ourselves to God, although it is to work for God, yet from our standpoint the emphasis is to let God work. The purpose of consecration then is to let God work in order that we might reach the stage of working for God.
The offering of the sacrifices in the Old Testament also sheds light on this matter. When the bullocks and rams were killed and offered to God as burnt-offerings, it was first necessary for God to do His thorough work upon them, that is, to consume them by fire, if they were to be pleasing and acceptable to Him. If the sacrifices were not consumed by fire, they would be raw and foul-smelling and could never be acceptable or pleasing to God. Our consecration today is just like that. We have already offered ourselves, yet if we do not allow God to work first, but go out to work for Him and serve Him directly, that work and that service will be raw, untempered, and foul-smelling. It can never be accepted by God, let alone satisfy Him.
When Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before God, they were consequently consumed by God (Lev. 10). The offering of strange fire is the principle of working directly for God. Anyone who has not been dealt with by God and worked on by God and yet tries to work for God directly is offering strange fire. It is not only raw, untempered, foul-smelling, and thus unacceptable to God, it is also dangerous and apt to involve one in much difficulty in God’s work. This is why we earnestly hope many times on one hand that brothers and sisters would love God and offer themselves to God, but on the other hand we are truly afraid that, when people love God and offer themselves to Him, they will want to work for God directly and serve Him directly. All such work and service is dangerous. I believe that if there are one hundred brothers and sisters in our midst who by the constraining love of the Lord consecrate themselves to Him, desiring to work for Him and yet not allowing Him to work first, these one hundred persons will quarrel every day. One will want to serve God this way, and another will want to serve God another way. The church will inevitably be divided.
One of the main reasons for the confusion in the church today is just this. Whenever someone offers himself to God, his purpose is to work for God, but he is either ignorant or neglects to allow God to work first. When people do not love the Lord or consecrate themselves to the Lord, it seems that everything is peaceful; but when there are those who love the Lord and consecrate themselves to Him, wanting to work for God directly, many problems are raised, and there is much confusion.
The same principle applies even to the reading of the Bible. If our head has not been worked on by God, if it is still in its natural state, it is dangerous to read the Bible. If we do, in each reading and in each expounding we will allow our fancy to run wild. If a person is not zealous to read the Bible, it is not so bad; but once he acquires this zeal, his reading becomes wild, and he gathers from it many strange and erroneous ideas. His zeal is good, but his untamed reading is indeed fearsome.
It is extremely dangerous whenever a man comes into direct touch with spiritual things without experiencing the working of God. If we want to touch spiritual things, whether it be to work for God, to study the Bible, to preach the gospel, or to oversee the church, we must first allow God to work on us that we might be broken, subdued, and disciplined by Him. Then we may touch spiritual things and work for God; then we are safe and no longer dangerous.
We must, therefore, be severe with ourselves and ask whether our consecration to God is for working for God directly or for allowing God to work in us first. If we are not willing to allow God to work in us first, we cannot attain the object of working for God. Consequently, after our consecration we must not first be anxious to accomplish something for the Lord. We need to remain on the altar and allow God to work on us and consume us. The result of this consuming work will enable us to work for the Lord. This consecration, this service, is ripe and resurrected; it is acceptable to God and satisfies Him. In conclusion, the object of consecration is to let God work in us that we may work for Him.
(The Experience of Life, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)