How many there are today who have not reached the death experience. They have had their sins forgiven and realize that they are the children of God; but they cannot say that they are crucified with Christ, in the sense of the actual death of their old man. How many there are who are conscious of this inward foe, and yet are taught that it can never become dislodged from their nature and crucified. Praise God! he has provided a remedy in the blood of Christ. By faith in this blood the consecrated believer can receive the cleansing. The depraved nature is crucified, and Christ now takes supreme control of the holy temple.
The language of the apostle in Gal. 6:14 also expresses the same experience: "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." The blood of the cross has destroyed that inward nature which was the point of contact with the world. As long as this exists within, the world has a strong claim upon us, which, so long as it exists within us, will assert its nature, and, if permitted, will communicate with the world, and cause defeat in our Christian life, so that we cannot conscientiously say we are dead to the world: for there is something within us yet that is actually alive in this respect. This is the point of inward contact with the world, which, when brought into crucifixion, changes our inward condition and enables us to truly say with the apostle, that the world is crucified unto us and we unto the world, by the blood of the cross of Christ, and the life we now live in this mortal body, which is the temple of the Holy Ghost, we live by the faith of the Son of God, who has all power to keep us in the divine law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which makes and keeps us free from the law of sin and death.
In Matt. 15:13 we have this same doctrine of cleansing expressed in the words of Jesus: "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up." While it is true that Jesus was speaking of the doctrines of the Pharisees in this instance, we can see beyond the simple doctrines and traditions of men, which are but the outgrowth of this root of depravity which our heavenly Father never planted in the nature of man. The depraved heart is the fertile soil which spontaneously grows all these evil things which Jesus mentions in this parable. The root is there, and so long as it remains, there cannot be a satisfactory Christian life. But the heavenly decree has been uttered by the Redeemer himself, that this plant shall be rooted up, which rooting up can be testified to by thousands of blood-washed saints today. Many plain scriptures teach us that this experience of heart purity was a recognized fact in the apostolic days. Jesus taught that it was attainable and told of its blessings when in Matt. 5:8 he speaks of the pure in heart. John writes: "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." Paul says that "the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart" (1 Tim. 1:5), and in the same letter he writes: "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience."—Chap. 3:9. Also in Chap. 4:12, he writes: "Let no man despise thy youth: but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." In Chap. 5:22, he says, "Keep thyself pure." In 2 Tim. 2:22 we are taught that many of the saints had this experience of cleansing: "Flee also youthful lusts; but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
The prophet Malachi saw the glorious fullness of this gospel salvation as he beheld and spake by the Spirit: "And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness."—Mal. 3:3.
All these plain texts set forth the doctrines of cleansing beyond question. Then when Peter takes the witness-stand (Acts 15:9) and testifies that he and all the one hundred twenty at Pentecost, and afterward the household of Cornelius, received the cleansing at the time of the outpouring upon them of the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that God certainly is no respecter of persons, and has the same measure of grace for his people in this evening time of the gospel day. Praise his holy name! Let us magnify and exalt the power of the all-cleansing blood, for it can reach beyond the inmost depths of our fallen nature and wash us whiter than snow. "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"—
"Oh, now I see the cleansing wave, That fountain deep and wide; Jesus, my Lord, mighty to save, Points to his wounded side.
"The cleansing stream, I see, I see, I plunge, and oh, it cleanseth me Oh, praise the Lord, it cleanseth me! It cleanseth me, yes, cleanseth me."
Definition of perfection: Unblemished, blameless, pure.
We are commanded to be perfect. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."—Matt. 5:48. "For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection. Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you."—2 Cor. 13:9, 11. "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection."—Heb. 6:1.
We must be perfect in love. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself."—Luke 10:27. "And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness."—Col. 3:14. "But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him."—1 John 2:5. "If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.... Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world."—1 John 4:12, 17.
Perfect in unity. "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren."—Heb. 2:11. "And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word: that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."—John 17:19-23.
Perfect in Christ. "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."—Col. 1:28; 2:10; 4:12.
Perfect in purity. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure."—1 John 3:2, 3. "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."—2 Cor. 7:1. "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints."—1 Thess. 3:12, 13.
This perfection is attainable. "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."—Eph. 4:13. "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you."—Phil. 3:15. "For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified."—Heb. 10:14. "For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God."—Heb. 7:19. "Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience."—Heb. 9:9.
A perfection not attainable in this life. "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus."
Christian perfection is not maturity in wisdom, grace, or knowledge. "Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."—2 Pet. 3:17, 18.
Christian perfection is looked upon by some as an impossibility in this life; but when we turn to the word of God and see the many plain texts upon the subject, it must become evident to every candid mind that it is in the plan of redemption that every child of God should attain to it. It would not be according to the nature of divine grace to require of us anything we could not do. No reasonable earthly parent would demand an impossibility of a child, and it is certain our heavenly Father would not command us to be "perfect even as he is perfect" unless he has provided abundant grace to bring us up to this blessed experience. According to our own power or ability we could never reach such an exalted plane, for it is not within the power of man to change his depraved nature, and every self-effort to reach a state of perfection is but vain. But God is able to make all grace abound and as an All-wise Father he has made it possible that we should be perfect.
From the scriptures quoted we can plainly see that the perfection required of us is reasonable and just. Had he commanded us to be perfect in knowledge, wisdom, judgment, or in anything else in an absolute sense, we would be forced to the conclusion that God has either required an impossibility of us or it is not for us to attain in this life and therefore belongs only to the resurrected state. But we can clearly see the nature of his requirements and that they are all within the limits of his grace toward us in this life.
When Jesus commanded us to be perfect (Matt. 5:48) we can quite easily comprehend his meaning when we notice in the few preceding verses that we should be perfect in love, even to the extent that we shall love our enemies, that we may indeed be the children of our Father which is in heaven. The children of this world love those that love them. It is an easy matter and quite natural to do this. But to love our enemies is very contrary to the depraved nature; unless there has been the cleansing wrought within, there will be some inward consciousness of hatred toward those who despitefully use and persecute us. The high standard of righteousness which Jesus teaches here and throughout this chapter is the standard of sanctification. The love of God must be perfected in us, which destroys every element of the old nature, of which hatred is a prominent characteristic.
The first and great commandment, both of the old and new dispensation, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart," etc., is also a standard too high to be attained perfectly without the experience of entire sanctification. This commandment was given during the old dispensation; but it was not possible then that it could be kept perfectly, for there was no provision then made to destroy the power of, and cleanse the heart from, inbred depravity. The blood of those sacrifices could do no more than sanctify "to the purifying of the flesh." The inward condition of the heart could not be changed. Thus we see clearly that this commandment could not be kept in the New Testament sense of perfect love. Now, the blood of Jesus, which he shed on the cross that he might sanctify and cleanse our hearts, can make us holy. When the heart has realized the power of this cleansing and the love of God "shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost," we can in deed and in truth love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Praise God for his wonderful love to us! He furnishes the love with which to love him. If we but give him our hearts he will furnish all the rest. He wants an empty, clean vessel into which to pour out his love, that it may be manifested in this dark and sinful world.
Oh, that every child of God could see the imperative need of an absolute consecration and then cheerfully and voluntarily meet the conditions of the same, so that God could fill each heart with love, and cause each one to know what it means to love God with all our heart. As long as our affections are divided between God and anything else, our love is not perfect and until the regenerate heart has made the scriptural consecration, there will be a divided condition of the affections. The obedient regenerate heart dwells in God, and thus is taught of God the necessity of the perfect consecration, which, when fully complied with, enables the perfect cleansing to become effected. The apostle John says, "Herein is our love made perfect," and "his love is perfected in us."
No one can ever be fully satisfied in this redemption life until this second work of grace is accomplished in the heart. Justification brings us into the blessed kingdom of God's love. Sanctification perfects his love in us. This second grace enables us to realize not only the meaning of perfect love, but we also comprehend the glorious fact that God has wrought in us perfect purity and holiness. This implies our being perfect in God's will, and because we have yielded our will completely to him. Every disposition of our will which sought its own way is now in perfect conformity with his and as Jesus could say in Gethsemane, "Thy will be done," which meant death on Calvary to him, so we have said the same to God with a vivid consciousness that once for all it meant death to us. It has required the perfect will of Jesus to obtain this grace of sanctification for us, and it now requires our perfect will to receive it from him. Here is where we can stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Another beautiful characteristic of sanctification is perfect unity. One of the most striking features of the religious world today is division among those who profess to believe in and follow Christ. There is no greater evil existing than this. Men have made creeds and sects and have persuaded the people to join them, until the disgusting spectacle of division is seen everywhere, and the non-professing world is amazed at the sickening sight. Hireling preachers are pleading for their respective denominations, and while many honest children of God are dissatisfied with this sad state of affairs, they are taught from the pulpit that God has made these divisions and it is the duty of every Christian to join and support them. But such is not the will of God; he has designed that his people should all be one, and in his prayer Jesus expresses the extent of this unity. "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us." This certainly implies a wonderful and perfect unity. Many sect advocates cry, "Impossible, impossible; God's people cannot be one." But the whole theme of Jesus' prayer is unity. As we carefully read this prayer we can readily perceive the divine method to effect this unity. It is plain and simple: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.... Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one." Then in Heb. 2:11 we see again that this is God's plan—"For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one."
This grace not only brings us into a perfect inward unity with Jesus himself, but it just as truly brings us all into a perfect inward unity with each other. Divisions, sects, and factions are productions of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) and not of the Spirit. Sanctification destroys all the works of the flesh and extracts the very root itself and renders divisions impossible. Every sect yoke is destroyed because of the anointing. Isa. 10:27. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to effect this unity in us with God and with each other. Every human effort to accomplish this must necessarily end in failure. There are many efforts today to effect a union among Christians, but union is not scriptural unity. Union of sects is far from the scriptural unity of believers. A union consists upon a human basis and may consist of a union of sects, or a union of individuals, without any conditions of spirituality whatever. Each individual or body retaining its distinctive and separate division. Scriptural unity is based upon the inner-wrought grace of sanctification, where everything non-spiritual is entirely destroyed and the Holy Spirit has the right of way in every respect according to the perfect will of God.
It is only as we are thus perfected in this grace that the prayer of Jesus will be fully answered and his people lose every vestige of division. No sanctified heart can remain loyal to anything that separates the people of God. All sect holiness is below the Bible standard, for it upholds that which sanctification destroys. This is a far-reaching assertion, but in the light of God's word it is true. Many have lost this experience by listening to the perverted teachings of false shepherds and remaining in sectism. God says the "anointing" breaks and destroys the yoke, and no sect yoke will ever again fit on the neck of a sanctified person, if such remains loyal to the Holy Spirit. Praise God! He alone can effect perfect unity in us, by his divine process—sanctification. Then by the careful adherence to the teachings of God's word this beautiful apostolic unity can be maintained and demonstrated among men, and the prayer of Jesus further answered, "That the world may believe that thou hast sent me."
The difference between present and future perfection. In his letter to the church at Philippi, the apostle speaks of a perfection in the future, which unless understood may confuse some minds upon this subject. In Phil. 3:12 he writes, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus." Here it sounds as though perfection is not attainable in this life, but if we notice the language of the context we can clearly see that he is speaking of the resurrection of the dead. Ver. 11. It is the resurrection perfection that he here has reference to, which cannot be attained in this life. We must wait with the apostle until this "mortality shall be swallowed up of life," before we reach a state of absolute perfection, and with him, "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." But in verse 15 he says, "Let us therefore as many as be perfect be thus minded," showing that there is a present perfection which he, with others, has already attained. This is the experience which it is the will of God for us all to enjoy. For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. Dear reader, have you attained it, or are you yet living beneath your blood-bought privilege? "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."—Heb. 13:20, 21.
Holiness an attribute of God. "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?"—Ex. 15:11. "And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory."—Isa. 6:3. "And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."—Rev. 4:8.
God must be worshiped in holiness. "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."—1 Chron. 16:29. "Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness."—Psa. 30:4.
God's throne and dwelling-place. "God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness."—Psa. 47:8. "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit."—Isa. 57:15. "Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation."—Zech. 2:13. "Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and thy glory."—Isa. 63:15.
Holiness becomes God's house. "Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, forever."—Psa. 93:5. "The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness."—Titus 2:3.
The church of God is called a mountain of holiness. "The Lord bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness."—Jer. 31:23. "Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain."—Zech. 8:3. "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and the dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain saith the Lord."—Isa. 65:25.
God speaks in holiness. "God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice."—Psa. 60:6. "Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness."—Jer. 23:9.
The way of holiness. "And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those; the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."—Isa. 35:8-10.
The courts of holiness. "But they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the Lord; and they that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of my holiness."—Isa. 62:9.
The people of God are holy. "The people of thy holiness have possessed but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary."—Isa. 63:18. "And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken."—Isa. 62:12. "And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; and to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken."—Deut. 26:18, 19. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."—1 Pet. 2:9.
We are called unto holiness. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."—Heb. 12:14. "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy."—1 Pet. 1:15, 16. "For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness."—1 Thess. 4:7. "That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life."—Luke 1:74, 75. "For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness."—Heb. 12:10.
A perfect holiness attainable. "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."—2 Cor. 7:1.
Fruit unto holiness. "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life."—Rom. 6:22.
The foregoing scriptures are but a few out of the many plain texts from the word of God teaching us the glorious doctrine of holiness. Some professing Christians look upon this doctrine as unscriptural and impracticable, but in the light of the gospel of Christ there is no other doctrine taught than holiness. The very fact that God, and Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the word of God, and heaven, and all the celestial hosts are holy, at once suggests to every reasonable mind the utter necessity of holiness in the heart and life of man. The apostle says (Eph. 2:10) that "we are his workmanship, created in Jesus Christ unto good works."
Were we to look upon depraved humanity in the image of Adam, we would see nothing but sin and unholiness; but God has brought into existence a new order of creation in Christ Jesus. The first Adam is a sad and irreparable failure, and in him we see nothing good. All who are living according to the flesh are dead in trespasses and sins, and of course are unholy; but the second Adam, which is Christ has brought redemption and life, in whom there is purity and holiness. The old man is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, which must be put off. The new man is created in righteousness and true holiness, which must be put on. The reason some do not comprehend the doctrine of holiness is, they are yet living in the old creation, hence their nature and mind are corrupt. It is utterly impossible for such to be holy in this condition. The command, "Be ye holy," does not apply to them. They are not God's people. The first step for such to take is to repent, which if they obey they will be brought into the kingdom of God's holiness; into the new creation, the workmanship of God in Christ Jesus. Bless the Lord, O my soul, for this new creation of purity and holiness. All the living creatures of heaven bow before him that sitteth upon the throne, saying, Holy, holy, holy! and every sanctified heart on earth can join the blessed anthem of praise and adoration with the consciousness that the all-cleansing blood of Christ has reached its inmost depth and purified it for the habitation of the heavenly guest, the Holy Spirit. The pure heart is God's dwelling-place on earth. Jesus says (John 14:23) "If a man love me, he will keep my words and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."
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Thus we see that God not only dwells in the high and holy heaven, but also upon earth in the hearts of his obedient people. Who could consistently believe that God would dwell in a corrupt heart? "He shall be in you," is the promise of Jesus. "At that day [the day when the Holy Spirit comes into the heart], ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." Oh, the depths of the riches of this wonderful redemption, that God would forgive the guilty sinner, then purify his heart and make it his earthly abode. This is his will toward every son and daughter of Adam's race. He will create us in the image of Christ, so that we may truly serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life. This can be called none other than the way of holiness. It is God's own way, and is truly a highway too high for anything unclean to pass over. It is on a perfect level with heaven itself, and yet it is a highway here upon earth for all the ransomed of the Lord to travel upon. It is so plain and simple that no one need be led astray. The wayfaring men though fools, shall not err therein. A wayfaring man means one who is on the way, one who lives on the way. A seafaring man is one who lives on the sea. This way is so safe that though a man may be simple in the estimation of the world, and may be called a fool, yet if he keeps obedient to God he shall not be led astray. "No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon." This indicates a very safe way, where we need not fear any evil. Everything of the flesh or the old man is ruled out, and none but the redeemed shall walk there. We see therefore from the description of the prophet that this is a highway, a clean way, a simple way, a safe way, a way of songs and everlasting joy, which necessarily constitutes a way of holiness.
This is the way upon which the people of God are truly returning to Zion. This Zion is the scriptural name of the church of God. The people of God have been led into captivity of ecclesiastical bondage (Babylon), and the pure light of the gospel of holiness has been darkened by the creeds and doctrines of men, but God is revealing to his own that sanctification is a Bible doctrine; they seek for, and obtain it, and thereby every sectarian yoke is broken, his people find themselves upon this highway of holiness and at home in Zion, the church, free from the bondage of sectism. This is the work of God himself, and will not cease until every one of his people are brought home to Zion, upon the way of holiness. This is the highway that is left for the remnant of his people. Isa. 11:16. This remnant shall be gathered out of all the creeds of men into the one fold, into the true unity of Christ. "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one."
The prophet foresaw this blessed return of the people of God and tells us "they shall call them, The holy people." There are some who call themselves holiness people, but the prophet says we shall be called, "The holy people." Holiness factions and sects have actually sprung into existence, which declare that sectism and division is necessary. This class of holiness is not that described in the foregoing scriptures. Bible holiness will in every individual instance destroy everything out of men's hearts that separates or divides. Divisions are the outgrowth of carnality and not of the Spirit of God. Every profession of holiness, therefore, which sanctions division and sectism cannot possibly be the holiness of the Bible. This may seem to some a strong assertion, but it will stand the test of the word of God.
No scriptural unity will ever be effected among the people of God outside the experience of sanctification. Men have repeatedly laid other foundations, but all to no avail. It is a source of great satisfaction to know that wherever the Holy Spirit has the right of way in the hearts of men, there is found true apostolic unity, both in spirit and in doctrine. This is a well authenticated fact which is demonstrated in thousands of hearts today. The holy people are one people, and all are willing to be measured by all of the word of God, which proves to the "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." The apostle teaches us, in Heb. 12:10, that God imparts unto us his holiness: we are partakers of it. It is not an experience which we by our efforts can attain to, but upon the clearly defined conditions of his word we come into possession of his holiness. It is all wrought within us by himself. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." Bible holiness is truly an imported article directly from God out of heaven. Some imported goods in this country are much more expensive and of better quality than those of home manufacture. Many of our people prefer to pay the extra expense in order to obtain the better quality, and usually are abundantly satisfied with their purchase. This may serve to illustrate this blessed holiness of the Bible. Men's professions are sometimes like an inferior homemade piece of goods. It soon wears threadbare and betrays its quality, but the genuine imported article of Bible holiness proves satisfactory in every respect, and the more it is worn the better it becomes. It has cost us everything, but it proves to be worth more than everything to us. The reason why some people have failed to get it is, they are unwilling to pay the price. They are deceived by the false doctrine that they do not need to consecrate their all, and hence have accepted a holiness manufactured by man, a homemade article which will never stand the test. A definite, absolute consecration to the loss of all things will never fail to procure the genuine article of true Bible holiness, which will stand the wear of every trial of life and the test of the judgment.
The Vine and the Branches
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples."—John 15:1-8.
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This beautiful analogy teaches us an important lesson. The standard of sanctification is clearly exemplified in the relation between the vine and the branches. Christ is the vine, and every individual Christian is an individual branch; every branch is an individual member of the vine, and every Christian is an individual member of Christ.
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What a clear view of the church, and how plainly we can see that there is but one. Every regenerate soul is by one Spirit baptized into this one body. This vine is cared for and kept by God himself, who is the husbandman. Every branch must be a living, fruit-bearing one. It is placed into the vine by the hand which will care for it, and give it every necessary treatment to cause it to bring forth much fruit. If it bears fruit it will be kept in the vine; if it does not bear fruit it will be taken away. The same life which flows through the vine also flows into the branches. It is the branches that bear the fruit. It is the part of the vine to sustain the branches, and the part of the branches to bear fruit. The fruit is the production of the vine-life in the branches. The word of God teaches us that Christ is pure and holy, and in Rom. 11:16 we are taught that if the root be holy, so are the branches. The manner of the induction of the branches into the vine is illustrated by the process of grafting. We are not grown into Christ, but grafted into him. The natural branches of a vine grow out of the vine, and accordingly bear the vine-fruit, but by grace we are grafted into Christ, the vine, and bear the vine-fruit.
A certain writer who advocates the repression theory of sanctification says: "But if I want a tree wholly made good I take it when young and, cutting the stem off on the ground, I graft just where it emerges from the soil; I watch over every bud which the old nature could possibly put forth until the flow of sap from the old roots into the new stem is so complete that the old life has, as it were, been entirely conquered and covered of the new. Now I have a tree entirely renewed—emblem of a Christian who has learned in entire consecration to surrender everything for Christ, and in a whole-hearted faith wholly to abide in him. If in this case the old tree were a reasonable being that could co-operate with the gardener, what would the gardener's language be to it? Would it not be this: 'Yield now thyself entirely to this new nature with which I have invested thee; repress every tendency of the old nature to give buds or sprouts; let all thy sap and all thy life-powers rise up into this graft from yonder beautiful tree which I have put on thee, so shalt thou bring forth sweet and much fruit.' And the language of the tree to the gardener would be: 'When thou graftest me, oh, spare not a single branch, let everything of the old self, even the smallest bud, be destroyed, that I may no longer live in my own, but in that other life that was cut off and brought and put upon me that I might be wholly new and good.' And once again, could you afterwards ask the renewed tree, as it was bearing abundant fruit, what it could say of itself, its answer would be this: 'In me (that is, my roots) there dwelleth no good thing; I am ever inclined to evil; the sap I collect from the soil is in its nature corrupt, and ready to show itself in bearing evil fruit. But just where the sap rises into the sunshine to ripen into fruit, the wise gardener hath clothed me with a new life through which my sap is purified and all my powers are renewed to the bringing forth of good fruit.'"
This author has entirely reversed the scriptural order of grafting in his application of the graft and root, and has illustrated the relation of Christ and the believer by the natural grafting process which can in no sense scripturally apply to this holy relation. Christ is the vine or root, and not the graft. The natural process of grafting is to graft the good graft into a poor root. The graft will grow into a tree and bear the same kind of fruit as the tree from which it was taken, and thus the gardener increases the production of good fruit. But the divine process of grafting is just the reverse. In Rom. 11:24 the apostle says we are grafted into the olive tree (Christ) "contrary to nature." The husbandman takes the penitent sinner out of the kingdom of darkness and translates him into the kingdom of his dear Son. In this regeneration process the sinner (the graft) that was sinful and bore fruit is by God's own process grafted into Christ, the holy vine, and from thence to bear holy fruit. This is certainly a great mystery, like all the works of God's grace, and is indeed contrary to nature, but in perfect conformity with the plan of redemption.
Now, in this condition, there is a certain requirement of the graft necessary that it may bear the vine-fruit; it must abide in the vine. This abiding requires a careful watchfulness lest there might be some sprout of the old inward nature, which yet exists within the newly grafted branch, which would spring up and hinder the perfect fruit-bearing of the vine-life. And in this early life, in this new relation of the branch with the vine, it is an attested fact that in quantity this fruit production is more or less hindered by the presence of the old inward nature, in the branch, which if permitted to sprout and grow would certainly prevent the growth of the vine-fruit entirely, and thereby cause the branch to be cut off. That the branch is in the vine there can be no question, for its environments are completely changed and it finds itself a stranger to all of its former associations, customs, and habits. That the vine-life is in the branch there can equally be no question, for the branch has the inward consciousness bearing witness that it belongs to the vine, and it enjoys the sweet fellowship of the vine and all its branches. Also it bears the vine-fruit which brings upon itself the approval of the husbandman.
But this early and new relationship is only the justified life of the branch. The standard of sanctification of the author from whom we have just quoted is in no respect any higher than this, and were it not that there is a higher standard taught in this lesson and in many other scriptures, we would have to be satisfied with justification only.
"Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." This purging is another process quite contrary to nature, for the term signifies an inward cleansing. A vine-dresser can prune or trim a branch and thereby practically make it clean outwardly from all unnecessary or harmful sprouts which would hinder it from bearing fruit, but there is no known natural process by which the grafted branch could have its inward conditions changed which would affect its nature.
We can see clearly that the entire process of grafting the inferior branch into the good root, and the subsequent purging is wholly contrary to nature, for no man with an object of profit would do any such grafting, neither could anyone reasonably expect the inward conditions of such a graft to become changed.
This purging is wrought within for the purpose of an increase of holy fruit. How beautifully it pictures the experience of sanctification, and subsequent work wrought in the soul of the justified fruit-bearing child of God. It is not a pruning of any unholy sprouts, for they are to be wholly kept from sprouting in the process of the life of bearing holy fruit in this justified relation. The branch is now bearing the very fruit of the holy root, but there is something to be done in it that it may bring forth more fruit; it must be purged from its inward depraved dispositions which it possessed from its parent stock—its "old man ... that the body of sin might be destroyed." Before the purging there was much time and energy occupied in keeping its depraved nature from sprouting. The holy nature of the root was indeed being manifested in the production of holy fruit which was a source of satisfaction, but there was that inward consciousness of an unfavorable condition which hindered the root-life from producing in the branch the quantity necessary to the perfect satisfaction of the husbandman, the vine or the branch.
But now what a glorious change: the old nature is entirely gone, and the sweet soul-rest which the purged branch now enjoys is beyond the power of mortal to express; it can now repose itself so sweetly in the holy vine in its perfectly consecrated life, without any inward hindrance to a perfect flow of the vine-life through its entire being. It can now bring forth more fruit, for every energy from the root is sent direct into the fruit-buds of the branch, and the result is glorious. This purging is just what perfects the inward harmony of the branch with the vine. It could not continue very long in the abiding condition without a consciousness of the need of the purging process. This process becomes a necessity to every branch which abides. "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit," which is equivalent to the text, "Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." It is purged that it may bring forth "more fruit," and now the object of purging is realized, it brings forth "much fruit." Thank God for the purging, the subsequent work in the heart!
The apostles had not yet received this experience. They were clean through the word which Jesus had spoken unto them, to the extent of their knowledge and experience. Unquestionably they were clean from guilt and condemnation, for they were taken out from the world—were no more of it, and the world hated them. They were living in perfect obedience to all the known word of God and were clean through that word, but they had not had the pentecostal purging, "purifying their hearts by faith," as Peter himself testifies of the sanctification of himself and all who were at Pentecost, as well as the experience of Cornelius and his household.
Truly we have much reason to praise God for his wonderful grace in which he brings man, his fallen creature, into such a position that he may become a son of God, then made pure from all the depraved dispositions of his fallen nature. "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work."—2 Timothy 2:21.
Some Helpful Thoughts on Consecration
The experience of sanctification is obtained upon the conditions of definite consecration and faith. In every consecration the soul reaches a point where it must either go through to the death, or else go back and lose the grace of God entirely. The Holy Spirit will make it plain what this death implies, and at last the dying soul goes through its last struggle and yields up its last treasure. When this point is reached and passed, the Holy Spirit will bear witness that the demands of God are now fully met. When Moses had completed the work of building the tabernacle and had placed everything in its proper order, as God commanded him, it is said that "Moses finished the work." So it can be said of us and so each of us can personally testify by the witness of the Spirit bearing witness with our spirit in this absolute and definite consecration, that we have "finished the work." Every doubt as to the completion of this consecration is banished, and has no room to exist in our hearts, for we know that it is complete. We can so sweetly and willingly say, "Thy will be done," with a most delightful consciousness that all the past, present, and future, of all that pertains to our life, is yielded up to his blessed will. Nothing on earth is held half so sweet and precious as his will.
We can realize down deep in our souls what Jesus meant when he gave himself to sanctify us and said, "I come to do thy will." We can enter into the fellowship of his sufferings and death, for all that we have and are, and all that we expect to be in the future, and all that we know and ever expect to know, are now forever and eternally yielded up to that precious will of God. It required the will of Jesus to be yielded up to death to do the will of the Father that we might be sanctified, and it equally requires our will to be yielded up to death and the loss of all things, that we might be sanctified. It required his will even to the death to obtain it for us, and it requires our will even to death to receive it from him. Yes, dear reader, a real death; so real that it includes everything, and it can only be said of us as it was said of the Colossian saints, "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
This death consecration is beautifully typified in the consecration and sanctification of the priests of the Old Testament dispensation. In Lev. 8 we read that Moses was commanded of the Lord to take Aaron and his sons and three animals with him. The blood of one of these animals was to be shed for the sin-offering; one for the "burnt offering," and one for the "consecration" offering. The blood of each was shed and applied separately for a special purpose. Each finds its antitype in the precious blood of Jesus, who offered himself without spot to God that he might sanctify the church. The blood of the sin-offering provides for that part of our nature which would naturally reach out and cling to those things which are sinful. In every justified heart which is not yet wholly sanctified there exists such a principle which in itself is depraved and sinful, and were it permitted to respond to the sinful things without, it would bring the believers into transgression. This is the "body of sin," or "our old man," which according to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, must be destroyed and cleansed out. This existing in the heart, if unrestrained, is the fruitful soil out of which grows every evil work. We can see its productions in many different aspects in the religious world today. Every sect on earth is a production of this body of sin. Every manifestation of carnal division is some of its evil fruits. Everything that is in the least degree contrary to the pure word of God, whether it be word or deed, is but the outgrowth of this evil thing, which was created and planted into the hearts of Adam and Eve by the devil, and has become the dominating characteristic of depraved humanity. Justification does not cleanse this out of the heart. It only takes away the guilt and trespasses of the sinner, and brings him into the favor of God, who gave his Son a "trespass-offering" for the world. But Jesus gave himself a "sin-offering" for the church, and when the heart has yielded up to the death for the destruction of this depravity it can truly be said of such an one that we are dead to sin, for the blood of Jesus in this sin-offering will most certainly effect this cleansing.
But a true Bible consecration includes something more than a yielding up of the heart for the cleansing out of this sin principle. In the type, we see there was another animal sacrificed in this consecration service. It was the one for the "burnt offering." The blood of this sacrifice corresponds with the sacrifice of the blood of Jesus which also provides for the cleansing of that part of our nature that clings to the things of life which in themselves are not sinful but are God-given blessings. Our unsanctified affections must also become purified from every taint of depravity. That this may be accomplished, it becomes necessary that the heart yield up to the death every cherished object, even though it be a God-given blessing; it must be yielded up and laid upon the altar as a "burnt offering." The affections cannot be purified until the object of the affections is yielded. We cannot perfectly obey the first and great commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength," until every affection is fully taken off from every object of earth and placed upon God exclusively. This means that we willingly lay upon the altar our loved ones, no matter how sacred or precious they may be—father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, children, home, property, reputation, and everything within the scope of our earthly existence. All henceforth and forever yielded up to God, no more to be ours, as really and as perfectly as though we were breathing our last upon our death-bed, and then in due time we were laid into our coffin, the lid fastened down, and lowered into the grave, the grave filled up and nothing left but a mound to mark where our earthly remains lie. Or, to view the subject from another standpoint, this yielding up must be as real as though our loved ones and every cherished treasure of earth were laid upon the altar, to be offered up a burnt sacrifice. In due time the fire will be kindled, and our cherished objects will one by one be consumed into smoke and finally all will disappear, a consumed sacrifice unto the Lord.
A quarter of a century ago my own precious mother was brought to this consecration. She was shown by the Holy Spirit that she did not have her children perfectly yielded up to the Lord. She was praying for their conversion. At last she became willing to lay them upon the altar and she did it thoroughly. She gave them to the Lord a living sacrifice. In a short time her four oldest were converted, and in due time the two others as they grew up were also brought into the fold of Christ. She rejoiced and praised God for this and often expressed herself that her children were not her own, they were the Lord's, for his service or sacrifice, just as he should see proper. At last this consecration was brought to the test. The Lord began to kindle the fire to consume the "burnt offering." He laid his hand upon one and took her home to heaven. Then another, and sent him thousands of miles away to preach the gospel in regions beyond. Then another, and sent him far distant in another direction to labor in the gospel vineyard. Then another, and sent her still another direction to publish the word of God; and as these cherished objects thus vanished out of her sight she could say, "They are the Lord's, not mine." In one of her letters she wrote me these words: "Well, my dear boy, I truly realized what it meant years ago to lay my dear children upon the altar of the Lord: but now I realize what it means to see them consumed into smoke."
Dear brother and sister, this is what a burnt offering means, and how good our heavenly Father is to require this sacrifice of us! Oh, how many sad heartaches it saves us! How many bitter tears of anguish and sorrow! I have stood at the open grave where a poor grief-stricken mother wrung her hands and cried out, "Oh, I cannot, I cannot give up my precious darling. Let me be buried with it—I cannot be parted from it!" I have also stood at another grave, where the form of a consecrated loved one was sinking out of human sight. The mother stood gazing at the object of earth as it was laid back to dust, then with her eyes turned toward heaven she said, "Dear Lord, thou hast only taken thine own to thyself; my heart feels the parting pangs, but I say willingly, 'Thy will be done.'"
Ah, what a contrast! The one mother knew nothing of this blessed consecration, the other did. The one had but little grace to sustain her in her bereavement, the other had the abounding grace, for she had already yielded up her sacred treasures to the Lord. The one buried all her comfort and hope in the grave, the other simply buried a lifeless form of clay; though sacred and precious to her heart, yet she had consecrated it to the Lord, and now in seeing it vanish out of her sight, she could feel that it was not her own. The one returned to her empty home with her heart full of sorrow, the other returned in the comfort of Him who comforteth us in all our tribulations. She had paid the price of her all, and now she enjoys the blessing of Jesus' all—the abiding of his glorious presence, which comforts her heart and home, and fills the emptiness with himself and his bountiful grace.
Oh, how beautiful and reasonable to consecrate everything that our affections have held sacred and dear, to him. We all know very well that all these treasures of earth are of no enduring substance. No matter how much they may be to us, they in due time will either vanish out of our sight, or else we will have to leave them. How much better, and how much more satisfactory it is to yield them all up to Jesus, to whom they rightly belong, and who has only loaned them to us in the first place. He is justly entitled to all of our affections, for what has he not yielded up that was due to himself, that he might purchase this glorious grace for us? Now he wants the supremacy in our hearts' affections, so that he can fashion us according to himself through and through, and impart his own nature into our affections, that we may henceforth love with his love, those sacred treasures around which our affections have so entwined, and claimed as ours. Before our consecration we loved him, but these other objects of our love were between us and him. They hindered our love towards him, and equally hindered his love from perfectly flowing into our hearts. We loved him, and realized that he loved us, but it was not perfect; there were objects in our way, and there were objects in his way. These objects were our sacred treasures. Depravity had affected our affections so that we could not hold these treasures as we should. But now what a satisfactory change! We yielded all these objects to him, and took him in their stead. Now he occupies the place. He owns our treasures, and we own him. But what of our treasures? We have them all back again, through him. Before our consecration, they were between us and him. Now he is between us and them, and with him he freely gives us all things. He can use all of these things according to his own good pleasure, making any disposition of them which might seem good in his sight, for they are his, not ours. If he should place us over them as his stewards, then we hold them in trust for him and do with them just as he orders, and when, one by one, they consume away on the altar of his service, or, if according to his sovereign will, he shall remove them out of our sight, we can say, "Amen, Lord, thy will be done."
Now, in the act of Bible consecration, the believer may not realize all of this, and the utmost depth of the cleansing that has been wrought in the heart and affections, or the difference between the sin-offering and the burnt offering, but it will not be long afterward, until the knowledge of this cleansing shall begin to dawn upon us and our soul becomes more and more enraptured in this glorious experience of sanctification. But we see in the type still another animal to be slain—the consecration offering. The blood of this animal was applied to the body of Aaron and his sons. First it was put upon the tips of their right ears, the thumbs of their right hands, and the great toes of their right feet. Then afterwards it was sprinkled with the anointing oil upon Aaron and his garments too, and upon his sons and their garments. This ceremonial process was the completion of their sanctification. The blood of this consecration offering corresponds with the blood of Jesus which provides for the sanctification of our body. In this consecration we not only offer up our hearts and affections to Jesus, but we also present our bodies a living sacrifice. This includes our all, spirit, soul and body. Our ears, hands, and feet, our entire physical being, is dedicated henceforth to his service, to labor and suffer hardships, to be used in sacrifice, or service, either at the martyrs' stake or on the gospel altar, any way, and every way, in which he may order it for his own honor and glory. These eyes shall see, this tongue shall speak, this mind shall think, these ears shall hear, these hands shall labor, these feet shall run, this strength and these energies, this heart shall beat, every faculty, organ, and appetite shall be used only for him, who has so freely given himself for us; and thus this body becomes the temple, and the earthly dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost, his own exclusive dedicated property. While it is not possible that we could itemize these things in the consecration of our bodies, there is a yielding up of our all which sweeps the scope and brings the witness of the Spirit that our consecration is complete and we have "finished the work." We are now upon believing grounds, and faith can appropriate the power of the all-cleansing blood.
"By faith I venture on his word, My doubts are o'er, the vict'ry won, He said the altar sanctifies, I just believe him and 'tis done."
Questions and Answers
Question. How may we know definitely that we are sanctified?
Answer. We may know it by knowing that we have met all the conditions. This grace is obtained upon the conditions of consecration and faith. When we are sure that we have measured up to a true Bible consecration, we will have no difficulty in knowing that we are sanctified. The depth of meaning of this consecration does not necessarily need to be fully comprehended by the seeker, as we enter into this covenant, but there is a yielding up of ourself and entire all, to the known and unknown will of God, to an extent that covers everything. God knows when we have reached and passed this point, and it will not be long before the Holy Spirit will definitely witness to us that the consecration is complete, and the covenant ratified by this glorious indwelling consciousness.
This consecration may be illustrated by the contract and union of holy matrimony. When the bride and groom enter into the covenant according to God's word, they have little knowledge of the obligations they are taking upon themselves. They know nothing of the detailed realities of life; its joys and sorrows, hardships and trials that are before them; but they know that they dearly love each other, and have not the slightest fear in yielding themselves to each other completely and exclusively, so long as they both shall live. They enter into this covenant with all good confidence that the object of their love will not require anything hard or impossible, and as the future realities of life unfold and one by one they meet the many responsibilities that the covenant implies, they find that their love is equal to the responsibility, and as long as they continue to love each other they will never have the slightest disposition to break that marriage covenant.
So the heart which makes the consecration for sanctification will not comprehend the great scope of its meaning at the time of entering into this covenant, but if we love Jesus as we should we will not fear what he may require of us in the details of his will in the future. We are already enraptured with his love. He has proved himself to be a loving and faithful Redeemer in dying for us, and now as we see he requires us to yield ourselves even to death for him, we can confidently enter into the conditions of this covenant with the assurance that he will demand nothing of us beyond the power of the love to fulfill.
Yes, we will know definitely when our consecration is complete, and then we will have no trouble to believe in the promises for the cleansing. As Bible repentance is the believing ground for justification, so Bible consecration is the believing ground for sanctification.
Ques. How may we keep sanctified?
Ans. By abiding in the conditions by which we obtained the experience. As long as our consecration remains intact, and our faith remains firm in the promises, we are sanctified, no matter what the assertions of our feelings may be. To cease believing will forfeit our experience. To cease obeying in any respect will produce the same effect; but "if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another; and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
Ques. If Jesus was not sanctified until his death, how can we be?
Ans. Jesus was sanctified before his death. He testifies to it in John 10:36. There is a sense in which he was sanctified by his death; that is, he became a perfect redeemer by his death. He set himself apart for this specific purpose. This is the meaning of the saying of Jesus in John 17:19—"And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." Another scripture, Heb. 5:9 has the same meaning. "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." In the use of the terms "sanctify" and "perfect" we could by no means infer that Jesus was not pure and holy before his suffering on the cross. He became a perfect Saviour by his death and through suffering. It is absurd and casts a reflection upon the redemption plan, to say that Jesus was not holy until resurrection. In this sense only was he made "perfect" by his death. As to his people being holy and sanctified in this life, we have the whole word of God in favor of such a life. Thank God, it is his will that we should live "in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life." It does require a death on our part to obtain this glorious grace. In this respect we must die to get it. Jesus died to purchase it for us. We must die to receive it—not a literal death, but a death to sin and the world. The river of Jordan truly signifies a death, but we can cross over it and remain in this mortal life. The land of Canaan is the land of holiness, which all of God's people can enter into and possess in this life.
Ques. Does not the Bible say, "If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us"?
Ans. Yes, but this does not teach us that we cannot be free from sin. If we were to take this verse by itself without its context we might have a scripture contradictory to the word of God, but if we read the seventh and ninth verses with the eighth verse of 1 John 1, we see plainly by these three verses connected that we can be cleansed from all sin and unrighteousness. This verse implies that if any one who has not been cleansed from sin should say he has no sin to be cleansed from, he deceives himself.
Ques. Do we not grow into sanctification and therefore reach it gradually?
Ans. No; this would be contrary to the plan of redemption. We do not grow into any of the graces. We are commanded to grow IN grace. The grace of pardon and justification is imparted by the Holy Spirit. We can grow in this grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour which, if we do, will soon bring us to the knowledge of our need of purity and sanctification, and we will see that this is a grace which is intended for us. We gladly comply with the conditions for the same, and enter into it by faith. God now performs the work in our hearts by the power of his Holy Spirit. We cannot do it ourselves, only in the sense that we meet the required conditions. It is impossible for us to grow into purity. This is beyond our individual power; it requires the power of God. We purify ourselves by making the separation of everything outwardly; God then purifies our hearts by an instantaneous work of grace. This grace by no means implies a maturity in growth. It only brings us into a position where we can the more rapidly grow up in spiritual things.
Ques. Why do we not get it all when we are justified?
Ans. Because the conditions for the two graces are not the same. The penitent sinner cannot, in his sinful condition, meet the requirements for sanctification, and God does not mean that he should. All that the sinner can possibly do is to repent. When he has fully repented, then he can believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and receive his pardon. This is justification. He is justified from all his sins through true repentance and faith. Those are the Scriptural conditions for justification, but the conditions for sanctification are consecration and faith. Repentance and consecration are vastly different. The first means to give up all sinful things, with a godly sorrow for all sins committed, and a solemn determination that by the grace of God all sinning shall forever cease. The second means to yield up to God all our good things, every sacred treasure of our heart and affections, with our body and every ransomed power, as a living sacrifice. The first is God's requirement of every sinner. The second is his requirement of every justified believer. The first is all that the guilty sinner can possibly comprehend. The second is that which only the justified believer can comprehend. Therefore it is utterly impossible for us to get sanctified at the time of our justification. The two are distinct and separate works of grace, obtained upon distinct and separate conditions.
Some people have vainly believed, and some vainly teach, that there is but one work of grace; but such a doctrine is contrary to the word of God, the conditions of the plan of redemption, and the glorious testimonies of thousands of saints who have lived in the past and those who are living witnesses today. It is perfectly natural and logical to every honest and willing child of God who is not yet sanctified to soon believe that there is a second work of grace. Perhaps it will take a few months for some to find out their need, but it is only a question of time till every one will find an inward longing for something more, to satisfy the inward condition of the heart. To prove this statement let us listen to the testimonies of those who are simply justified and have had no teaching on sanctification, whether their Christian life be one of years or but a few months. Everyone who stands in this justified relation with God gives expression in some respects according to the following: "I thank God for salvation and am not sorry that I ever gave my heart to God, but I do feel the need of a deeper work of grace." Another will say, "Pray for me that I may have a clean heart." Another will request prayer for perfect love; another will confess to having been overcome by sin, and having made some crooked paths, and feels sorry and wants to get nearer to God and get a better experience.
Now we cannot doubt the sincerity of these hearts, neither their experience. Their experiences are those of honest, willing children of God who are anxious to do the whole will of God. Such expressions would not be given by professors who are void of salvation. The fact is, the experiences of these hearts teach them the need of the second grace, and unless they should be deceived by some false doctrines, they would keep on with such testimonies until they should obtain that perfect love, or a clean heart, or a deeper work of grace.
Do they not testify that the first work of grace is not deep enough? They are glad for the first work, but they want something deeper. They are glad that grace has found their heart, but they want a clean heart—one that is free from those conscious uprisings of evil which, if unrestrained, would bring them into condemnation and guilt, and perhaps have already overcome them and produced such an effect in their lives. They are glad for the sweet love of God that has found its way into their hearts, but they long for perfect love. They are conscious of some obstacles which hinder that love from being perfect, and yet they do not understand just how those obstacles can be removed. Someone may tell them that they have all they can get from God and to ask for more would be presumption, and yet their souls cry out for that which is natural in the grace of God, and how ready they are, when they hear sanctification taught, to meet the conditions and enter into the rest for their souls—this perfect love, this deeper work of grace, and this experience of a clean heart, and this baptism with the Holy Ghost.
Now let us listen to their testimonies. What do we hear? Ah, we hear them praising God for this they were so longing for. One will praise God for a clean heart; another will say he has found the perfect love; another will testify to the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Others will thank God for sanctification, and others will call it this sweet soul-rest, etc., which all mean the same blessed experience of sanctification. Now if we ask them if they believe in a second work of grace, what will they answer us? Ah, there is no question about it. They have it in their hearts, and they are spoiled for any argument upon the subject.
So it is with all God's people who have met the definite conditions for sanctification and have come into this precious grace. We know it is a second work.
Ques. How can one keep free from evil thoughts?
Ans. The pure heart and mind do not entertain an evil thought. As soon as such thoughts are presented they are banished. In 2 Cor. 10:5 we read how such things are dealt with. "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." An evil thought thus captivated does not enter into the heart and therefore does not become a sin to us. The apostle James says, "When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin." The evil thought must first enter into the heart and be conceived into a desire before it becomes sin.
This world is full of sin and iniquity on every hand. We may hear profanity as we pass along the street, or we may see iniquity before our eyes daily as we come in contact with the world, we may pick up a secular paper and read of murder and theft, and thus these evil thoughts may enter into our minds, but they do not conceive or take root in our hearts. They are brought into captivity and banished from us. If when reading or hearing of a murder or theft, someone should see an opportunity to commit a similar deed and resolve in his heart that he would do so at his first opportunity, that person would have conceived the thought in his heart, and in the sight of God he would be a murderer or a thief, even though he never had the opportunity to carry out the design. The heart that is purified by the cleansing blood of Christ and momently kept in the efficacy of that blood, is the sacred dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit, who has the full and exclusive control of the heart.
As long as our will is kept in line with the will of God the Holy Spirit will abide. The word of God says, "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world," and, "No man can enter into a strong man's house and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man." The strong man—the Holy Spirit—is in his own house, and it is impossible for sin to enter in unless we by our own will consent to it. The word of God speaks of the Holy Spirit as the seal. This thought is practically illustrated by the common use of a seal in canning fruit. We may be ever so careful with fruit in getting it properly prepared for the can, but if we set it away without the seal, it will not be long until the fruit is spoiled. It requires the seal to keep the fruit from spoiling. There is something in the air which, if not excluded, will spoil the fruit. The use of the seal is to exclude the air.
So it is with our heart. Justification inducts us into Christ; sanctification purifies our hearts and seals us in him; now when sin would come in contact with our hearts and defile it, there is something there, the Holy Spirit, the seal, which keeps sin from entering in. "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."—1 John 1:7. Notice the word "cleanseth." It is in the present tense. By our walking in the light, which signifies our perfect obedience continually to all the known will of God, our heart is kept in line with God's will and hence under the provisions of his grace—the sin-cleansing blood of Jesus. Thus the perpetual cleansing keeps our heart pure. By the inwrought work of sanctification we obtain this purity, and by our obedience to God, walking in the light, we retain it.
In this blessed grace, no evil thought can enter our heart unless by our consent. We have willed it so that we forsake all sin and turn to God; thus his grace of justification has found its way into our heart. Then by a definite consecration we willed it so that the cleansing blood of Jesus should purify our heart from inborn depravity, and his grace of sanctification has found its way within, and has brought the glorious heavenly guest, the Holy Spirit, there to abide. Now as we continue to walk in this light we are kept from sin. By our will we either open or close our heart toward God. The will is the entrance and door. The grace of God is free, and more abundant than the sunshine that lights and warms this earth. All of this sunshine may be kept out of the room if we will to have it so. We can darken the windows and doors, and keep every ray of light out, or we can have abundant sunshine if we will, by simply removing the obstacles. So it is with the illimitable grace of God. If we open up wide the door of our heart—our will—and keep it open continually, the grace will flow in and keep out everything that is not like heaven. "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."—2 Cor. 4:6, 7.
If we close the door of our heart toward God, it will be opening it toward sin, and the result will be darkness. Depravity will at once have entered in, and then as every evil thought comes into the mind it will find no obstruction to its way into the heart, where it will find a fruitful soil in which to germinate and bring forth evil work.
Ques. Does not the word of God say that "from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts," etc.?
Ans. Yes, this is true; but we must consider what kind of heart Jesus is speaking about. Let us turn to Mark 7. The Pharisees and certain scribes found fault because they saw some of Jesus' disciples eat bread without washing their hands; not that their hands were not clean enough to eat with, but because they did not serve the traditional ceremony, thinking that thus the hearts of the disciples were defiled, but Jesus explained that nothing can defile the heart except that which enters into it. Ver. 19. "And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man."—Verses 20-23.
We see that this is a true picture of the unregenerated heart, which has no good thing in it. We also see that it is not an evil thought presented to the mind from without which defileth the man, but it is the evil thought that comes from within a corrupted heart. There are two sources of evil thoughts. 1. The devil himself directly. 2. A corrupt, unregenerate heart, which is a hotbed and nursery of the devil. From either of these outward sources evil thoughts may be presented to the mind of a child of God, but from neither can our hearts be defiled if they are brought into captivity and banished, as will be the case with every obedient soul.
Ques. Is not every mistake a sin?
Ans. No; there are many mistakes which are not sinful. There is no doubt that every sin is a serious mistake, but God's people do not make such mistakes. The word of God teaches what sin is, and if we abide in Christ we will not commit sin. The scriptural definition of sin will help us to understand this. "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."—Jas. 4:17. "All unrighteousness is sin."—1 John 5:17. "When lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin."—Jas. 1:15. "Sin is the transgression of the law."—1 John 3:4. "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not."—1 John 3:6. Any mistake that would be a violation of God's law would be a sin, but aside from this, a simple error in judgment is not a sin. Salvation does not warrant an experience beyond the probability of error in our human nature, and Christian perfection is not infallibility.
Ques. Did not Paul say there was sin dwelling in him?
Ans. Yes. This expression we find in Rom. 7:17. The apostle when writing this chapter was not describing his sanctified condition. It is a description of his condition when he was in the flesh, or carnal state. "For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sin, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death."—Ver. 5. And in Rom. 8:8, 9 he says, "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."—Ver. 2. Paul's condition when under the law is described in the 7th chapter of Romans. In chapters 6 and 8 he describes the condition of the child of God under grace.
Ques. But does he not say in Rom. 3:10 that "there is none righteous, no, not one"?
Ans. Yes. But he was not describing the condition of the child of God under grace. He refers to the world under the law. No Bible Christian can conscientiously apply Rom. 3:10-18 to himself.
Ques. How about Solomon, who said, "There is not a just man upon the earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not"?
Ans. This also was spoken of the condition of the people under the law. "The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did by the which we draw nigh unto God."—Heb. 7:19.
In order to properly apply scripture it is very helpful to always consider: 1. Who wrote it? 2. When was it written? 3. Of whom or to whom was it written? In this manner it is easy to determine the meaning of such scriptures as here have been mentioned and many others, which would otherwise render it impossible to harmonize the whole word of God. The two dispensations, the law and grace, are vastly different in many respects. The first was but the shadow of the second. In the first there was no power to take away sin, or to change the inward moral condition of man but in the second there is the power and provision in the redemption of Christ to save us to the uttermost.
Ques. But did not Paul say of himself when under grace that he kept his body under and brought it into subjection? Does not this indicate that his body was yet sinful?
Ans. Let us turn to 1 Cor. 9:25-27. We see here that he makes no reference to his body being sinful, but tells how he practices temperance in all things. Like one who prepares himself for a race, in training himself physically, bringing his body into subjection in everything, that he may be able to win the prize. In sanctification the sinful and depraved nature is destroyed, and everything unholy cleansed out; therefore there are no sinful propensities to be kept down and under, but all sin is kept out. The sanctified body is not sinful but holy (1 Cor. 3:17) and is designed for God for the dwelling-place of his Holy Spirit.
Every propensity and appetite is now restored to its condition of purity, in which it was created before sin entered into the world, but yet we are human. Sanctification does not destroy our human nature, but simply brings it into easy control, with every propensity in harmony with the design of its Creator. But we are yet in this world and the creature—our physical nature—is yet subject to vanity.
Satan with all his malicious and crafty devices is lying in wait to deceive and lead astray. He comes to us and appeals to our physical nature in many respects, and it is necessary that we keep in a watchful and prayerful attitude "lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."—2 Cor. 11:3. Even through our appetites would Satan gain the advantage over us, and finally bring us into bondage, if he were permitted to do so. In this respect the apostle Paul kept his body under and brought every appetite and propensity into subjection to serve him, rather than he should serve them, and all his ransomed powers were bent upon his faithful obedience to the one object of his existence—the ministry of the gospel.
Ques. Can a person lose the experience of sanctification?
Ans. Yes, it is possible to lose it.
This experience does not place us beyond temptation. It only fortifies us more strongly against the world, the flesh, and the devil, and greatly diminishes the probability of falling.
Ques. Does not the word of God teach that "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not"; and "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin"?
Ans. Yes; this is certainly true. There is no possibility of sinning in Christ. It is only when a person gets out of Christ that it is possible to commit sin. The term "born of God" includes both justified and sanctified. No justified person can commit sin and retain the justified experience; therefore, no one who is born of God and retains this divine relationship in him will sin. Everyone who commits sin must do so outside of this life in God. The apostle John says, "Whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him," which signifies that in the act of committing sin a person gets entirely outside of Christ. In such an act he has not seen, nor known him. The apostle also says concerning those who are born of God, that they "cannot sin," because they are "born of God." This statement agrees with the one just quoted, and proves that it is not possible to commit sin in Christ; but it does not infer that it is not possible to get out of Christ and commit sin. The expression "cannot sin" simply signifies that there is no disposition in the heart to commit sin. We are constrained by love to him who gave his life for us, to do nothing to displease him. We have the privilege and power to displease him if we will, but we have no will to do so. We "cannot" do it and abide loyal to him. A mother may be requested to take a weapon and slay her child, but she at once answers, I cannot! Yea, she can if she will; but the answer would in every case be repeated "I cannot!" It is not difficult to see why she cannot do such a deed. She has no disposition to do so, even though she has the power to do it. Her love for her child renders it impossible so long as that love continues.
Ques. Can a person be restored to this experience of sanctification if it should be lost?
Ans. Yes, by complying with the conditions; but the same act of sin which would cause us to lose our experience of sanctification would also forfeit our justification, and bring us into condemnation. Therefore the conditions necessary to get back into Christ would be first, repentance and faith; then by a definite consecration, or a renewal of our consecration which has been broken, and a definite faith in the all-cleansing blood of Christ we will be restored to sanctification.
Ques. In case a person shall unfortunately sustain such a loss, how long would it take to become restored?
Ans. Just as long as it would take to meet the conditions. No one in such a case should wait an hour, but knowing just what conditions are required, they should be complied with at once.
Ques. How can we understand the seventh chapter of Romans to harmonize with the doctrine of holiness?
Ans. From the seventh verse of this chapter the apostle describes his experience when under the law, before he had been brought into the grace of God. From the seventh to the fourteenth verse he speaks of his experience, making use of the past tense. From the fourteenth verse through the rest of the chapter he makes use of the present tense, but still continues the description of his past experience.
It is held by holiness opposers that this chapter is a description of the apostle's experience under grace, and that this is the highest possible experience attainable in this gospel dispensation. But such an experience is not consistent with grace at all. If this were all that grace can do, there would be no encouragement in it for any one to accept. No sinner could do worse than the experience described here, except that he might deliberately choose to sin and do everything wrong. This chapter describes the sinner as having a desire in his mind to do right but no power within him to carry out his desires, in any respect. He is awakened to the requirements of the law of God, but finds he is held fast by another law which holds him with such power as to render him helpless, utterly helpless, to do anything good. This does not apply to the justified experience under grace. It applies perfectly to that under the law, because the Mosaic law had no other power, nor design, than to awaken the conscience; and this is just what the apostle here describes concerning himself "For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died."—Rom. 7:9. He died in trespasses and sin. This was the condition of all men under the law, and this is where grace found the world. "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."—Rom. 3:19.
Ques. Is every child at birth sinful by nature?
Ans. The race of mankind has descended from Adam through Seth, who was born not in the image of God as Adam and Eve were created, but in the image and after the likeness of Adam as he was after the fall. It is evident that our first parents lost the image of God through their disobedience, and it is also evident that this image of God has never been regained through the first Adam. The word of God plainly teaches that Christ, the second Adam, is the image of God, and by the power of his redemption grace, he will restore this image to every son and daughter of Adam's race who will meet the conditions for the same. The first Adam is depraved and a sad failure. He has no power within himself to change his moral condition. The second Adam (Christ) is a glorious success. He possesses all the moral characteristics of purity and holiness that the first Adam did before the fall, and also has the power to impart this image of God to all who come to him.