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Threshing out chaff


									Threshing Out Chaff
[The following lesson was developed from the writings of George D. Watson, one of the most influential preachers of the late nineteenth century. In a publisher’s preface it was said of him: “In each generation God raises some few saints who discern truth more deeply than their fellows; rare spirits to whom He opens truths long hidden from the world, and such as are specially needed for the generation.” George Watson was one of these men. And while he lived in a past generation, he still has much to say to the church today.]

There are several references in Scripture to threshing out chaff. Even though God wants it removed, chaff is not a type of sin. It is essential to the growing of grain. Except for the chaff, a grain of wheat would be lost in its early stages of development. However, it only serves a temporary purpose. When the chaff is no longer needed, it must be removed. It is then good for nothing except to be burned. Weeds and briars are Scripture emblems of sinful dispositions that choke out the growth of grain. This sin needs to be removed immediately. But the chaff is an essential protection to the young grain in its milk state. It must not be removed until the grain is mature. These facts in nature have their exact counterpart in grace. If we trace out this thought about separating the chaff from the matured corn, it will explain many of the perplexing experiences that God’s children pass through after entering into a fully sanctified life. We need to remember that the land of Canaan still needed to be conquered after the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River. Let us now apply this principle of threshing out chaff to us personally. This is what Paul does in Romans 5:1-5. He first says that we are “justified by faith.” Then, after that, we “have access by faith” into establishing grace. It is then, after our sanctification, that we are put through a process of “tribulation.” The word tribulation comes from the word “tribulum,” which is a flail that the ancient Romans used to beat out the ripened grain and separate the wheat from the chaff. And we need to realize that this tribulum could never be used on the grain until after it had become full and mature. Only then could the tribulum be used to separate the grain from the chaff. The same principle will apply to every holy saint. Even as Christians who are fully surrendered to God’s will, there is still chaff closely enfolded around our

spiritual lives that needs to be removed. These things are not positively sinful. In fact, in many respects they are needful to protect the weak and milk stages of spiritual life. If they were removed too early, the soul would be overtaxed and it would cause spiritual ruin. Hence, we must be ripened in the hot sunshine of Divine truth and sanctified into completeness by the Holy Spirit before we are prepared for the tribulum. Only then are we in a state where we can be placed in God’s providential threshing machine. Among the things that make up the chaff, which needs to be threshed out of a sanctified soul, we will enumerate the following: Unwise Zeal – “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” (Rom. 10:2) Real zeal is most essential to a Christian life, but it needs to be expressed through clear judgment and divine love. The early stages of zeal are generally used to draw attention to ourselves. Much of this zeal may be offensive and critical, causing the immature to stumble. Though the heart may be pure in its desire to serve God, the judgment will still need correcting. Consequently, the zeal, even in fully sanctified Christians, may be unwise at times. But even unwise zeal, if it were taken away too soon, would end up ruining the soul. And so, after being fully sanctified, the work of tribulation will begin to remove inappropriate zeal by chastening the judgment. The purpose is to separate the excess without destroying the golden grain of holy zeal. Error in the knowledge of Scriptures – No Christian has ever lived who did not need to correct, or enlarge, or rearrange his theology after the experience of entire sanctification. After souls are immersed into Christ’s Spirit and the mental faculties have been strengthened with a new and heavenly spiritual life within the heart, then the Lord’s tribulum begins to work. By sore trials and severe temptations the understanding is marvelously sharpened. Those deeper truths, especially the many teachings about the role of suffering in the Christian’s life begin to be understood. The mind is lifted into a sweep of vision where it becomes possible to analyze fine points of experience and make a deeper discovery of the character of Jesus Christ. It is from this new perspective that the mind begins to eliminate many old traditions, erroneous concepts about holiness, and even false teachings that were previously held sacred.

Some form of theology is absolutely essential to every Christian. We must have a system of beliefs to hold us steady as we are separated from the ways of this world. For example, we are in the age when we are to live by the Spirit in perfect love rather than by the law. But the new believer still needs the law to constrain his actions. And if this sense of needing to live by law was taken away too soon, the soul would be weakened and easily overcome by the devil. Only when faith has become fully established through the work of entire sanctification will the believer be prepared to have this chaff threshed out. For if there had been a law given which could have given life {the Kingdomlife from heaven}, truly righteousness would have been by the law… But before faith came {until faith is perfected}, we were kept under guard by the law… (Gal. 3:21-23) There arises another Priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life…for the law made nothing perfect… (Heb. 7:15-16, 19) Phenomena and forms of emotional experience - There are many types of emotions and expressions found in Christians who are living in the milk state. But these outbreaks of emotion prevent them from reflecting the true life and character of Jesus. There is much emotional chaff in our manners, in our voices and in our gestures that need to be removed before Christ can be seen. But these emotions can provide helpful wells of refreshment to spiritually immature Christians who are still crossing through the wilderness. After entering into the life of promise, however, those imprudent, boisterous and unrestrained actions that draw so much attention to the individual must be thumped away with the tribulum. God must send His threshing machine to take out the chaff and sober them down to a humble, patient and steady walk in the Holy Spirit. We have listed only a few of the characteristics that make up the chaff that tribulation must thresh out of even from fully sanctified souls. They are not sins, but spiritual trappings. And while they may be needful to help spiritually weak Christians in the process of growth, they become a real hindrance when it comes to displaying the life and character of Jesus Christ. In threshing these things out, there will inevitably be pain and heartache and lonely hours of desolate feeling. This is the deeper death that takes place in the Christian life after sanctification. Every soul must pass through it before they can rise up into the highest realms of Christ’s heavenly life. When this chaff is

threshed out, all the faculties of the soul become as pure gold and enter into a deep, sweet, solid, inexpressible union with Christ. There is a sinking into a limitless sea of love, of charitable feelings, of kind thinking, and of holy insights into the heavenly life, which is truly the apostolic state of grace.
[Editor’s closing note: For the earnest seeker after God’s life of “true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24}, “the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Php.3:9), we would exhort you to put the characteristics listed above on the altar of sacrifice early on as you seek heart purity, with the understanding that God’s purifying fire will consume them at your own Pentecost, and then He will work them into your new nature through the “tribulation” or “soul-suffering” that comes with the tribulum, after you have crossed the Jordan River into His promised “rest” of soul where you only live to do God’s will]

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