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CHAPTER 19

HOW OBTAINED

We use the word sanctified in this chapter, in its fullest sense, as equivalent to sanctified wholly.

Determination is the first great essential to being sanctified to God. No matter how deeply one’s feelings may be wrought upon, he will not go through, unless he is fully decided to be holy, and to lead a holy life.

This decision must be an independent one. It will not do to have any secret reservation. Many profess holiness as long as they have a preacher that preaches holiness. Then, if they get another pastor, who preaches publicly in a Christian pulpit, but worships secretly at the altars of Baal, or the shrine of fashion, they will follow their preacher wherever he leads. No one, while thus undecided, can ever obtain true holiness. There must be the decision of Joshua.

But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”—Josh. 24:15

Others may make an opposite choice; I may grieve over the wrong choice they make, but I will not be governed by it. If the multitude goes right, I will rejoice in it; but if they go wrong, I will not go with them. It is not in battalions that we march up the path of life: it is in single file that we press along the narrow way. It is for want of this independent determination that so many who profess holiness do not hold out. They lean on others, and when their earthly supports give way they fall back into the crowded ranks of worldlings in a semi-Christian guise.

This decision must be self-sacrificing. He who will be holy while it is popular, or profitable, will never become holy at all. The very essence of holiness is the extinction of selfishness. It requires just as much of the martyr spirit to be a holy man or woman today, as it did in the days when they exposed holy men and women to be torn in pieces by wild beasts, or chained them to the stake to be burned. The spirit of persecution is not dead. The old antagonism between sin and holiness still remains. Christ and Belial sustain no more friendly relations to each other than they did in the days of the apostle. It is still true that

Whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.Jas. 4:4.

There must be a willingness to encounter its hostility, to endure the worst that it can inflict upon us. In the 14th chapter of St. Luke are recorded several illustrations which our Lord uses to show the necessity of counting the cost, by all who would be His disciples. “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”

If, then, you would obtain true holiness, you must count it of more value, not only than any one thing; but more than all things else. Things that were the greatest sources of joy to you must be abandoned if they stand in the way of living a holy life.

To obtain holiness we must sanctify ourselves. This is the Lord’s order as laid down in both the Old and the New Testament. He who prays for a harvest, must, if he would not mock God, prepare his ground, and sow, and till, and guard against destructive forces, in a proper manner. So he who would be holy, must break up the fallow ground of his heart, and sow to himself in righteousness. To secure spiritual results, it is just as necessary to meet the conditions which God has established, as it is to meet physical conditions to secure desired material results. The laws of the spiritual kingdom are as inflexible as those of the vegetable kingdom. No amount of faith, or of praying, can take the place of the work which God requires us to do. We must show our faith by our works.

See how explicit are the directions which God gives to those who would be holy.

For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy.”—Lev. 11:44. “Sanctify yourselves, therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God.”—Lev. 20:7. “And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them.”—Ex. 19:52.

These passages teach that we must separate ourselves from every thing that is impure; and set ourselves apart for holy purposes, and God will make us holy. But our part of the work must be done first. All that is necessary for God to do to enable us to do our part, he does in advance. God works in us to will and to do, but he can go no farther towards making us saints, unless we work out our own salvation as He works within us, by His blessed Spirit. We are to go to the extent of our ability before we have any right to expect supernatural aid. Holiness is a voluntary state. A man is not a machine. His freedom of will alone renders him capable of holiness. The New Testament teaching is to the same effect.

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.”—II Cor. 7:1.

Here is taught the second blessing. They are “dearly beloved;” that is, real Christians. They already were holy in part. “Perfecting holiness” implies that the work of holiness was already begun in them. Especially notice the part enjoined upon us in this passage. We are to “cleanse ourselves.” We must not ask the Lord to do what we can do. If tobacco is not a “filthiness of the flesh” we are at a loss to know what can possibly come under that head. If you use it, you can throw it away; you can wash your mouth; then you are prepared to pray in faith for God to deliver you from the appetite. He has done it for thousands—He can do it for you. Pride is a filthiness of the spirit. God treats it as such. It is so offensive that He does not come near it,

But the proud he knoweth afar off.”—Ps. 138:6.

We can lay aside all its outward manifestations, and then, with confidence ask God to take the unholy disposition from our hearts.

Again the apostle says,

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”—Rom. 12:1.

Here again, we have the second blessing. They were already brethren. But in order to prove that “this is the will of God, even your sanctification,” we are entreated to “present our bodies a living sacrifice.”

This implies a consecration of every thing, even our lives, to the service of God. All our powers are to be employed as He directs. If our bodies are given to God, they must be fed and clothed and used for Him. We cannot follow the fashions of the world in any particular in which they conflict with the plain directions that God has given. We must be directed by God in our business, and in all the affairs of life.

To obtain entire sanctification we must confess our inbred sins, our sinful dispositions, which to a greater or less extent remain after one is truly sanctified to God.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—1 Jon. 1:9.

That is, if we confess the sins we have committed, God is faithful to forgive us; for He has promised to do it. If we confess our inbred sins He is faithful to cleanse us from them from all unrighteousness. This is what Mr. Wesley means by the “Repentance of believers.” “The repentance consequent upon justification, is widely different from that which is antecedent to it. This implies no guilt, no sense of condemnation, no consciousness of the wrath of God. It does not suppose any doubt of the favor of God or any ‘fear that hath torment.’ It is properly a conviction, wrought by the Holy Ghost, of the sin which still remains in our heart; of the “phronema sarkos,” carnal mind, which does still remain (as our church speaks) even in them that are regenerate; although it does no longer reign; it has not now dominion over them. It is a conviction of our proneness to evil, of a heart bent to backsliding, of the still continuing tendency of the flesh to lust against the Spirit. Sometimes, unless we continually watch and pray, it lusteth to pride, sometimes to anger, sometimes to love of the world, love of ease, love of honor or love of pleasure more than of God. It is a conviction of the tendency of our heart to self-will, to atheism or idolatry, and, above all, to unbelief, whereby, in a thousand ways, and under a thousand pretenses, we are ever departing, more or less, from the living God.”

To be sanctified wholly we must trust implicitly in God, through the merits of Jesus Christ to do the work now. Just as long as we put it off in the future, just so long the work will be delayed. A belief that it will be done sometime will not bring the blessing. Nor will the faith that saves spring up of itself, if we meet all the other conditions. It is an active trust that must be voluntarily, consciously exercised. “But what is the faith whereby we are sanctified saved from sin and perfected in love? It is a divine evidence and conviction, first, that God hath promised it in the Holy Scripture. Secondly. It is a divine evidence and conviction that what God hath promised He is able to perform. It is thirdly, a divine evidence and conviction that He is able and willing to do it now. And why not? Is not a moment to Him the same as a thousand years? He cannot want more time to accomplish whatever is His will.”

Again: “Certainly you may look for it now, if you believe it is by faith, and by this token you may surely know whether you seek it by faith or by works. If by works, you want something to be done first, before you are sanctified. You think, I must first be or do thus or thus. Then you are seeking it by works unto this day. If you seek it by faith, you may expect it as you are; and if as you are, then expect it now.”

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