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JUSTIFICATION AND ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION DISCRIMINATED
Writes an intelligent, pious brother: In I Cor. 1:9 Paul wrote ‘To them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus.’ In succeeding chapters he states that there were divisions among them, that they were babes in Christ and that he had fed them with milk; and worse still that there was even a case of incest among them. Now the argument is this, that he accuses these sanctified persons of things that a justified person could not do, therefore sanctification is less than justification. Please explain.”
1. Paul does not speak of this person of whom he complains as either sanctified or justified. What he complains of is that the church allowed him a place among them. He commands them to withdraw their fellowship at once until the wicked man complained of is brought to repentance.
“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, with such an one, no not to eat.”—I Cor 5:11.
Calling a man a “brother”does not make him a brother in Christ. When then, Paul speaks of the church at Corinth as sanctified, he speaks of it in its general character, and then points out the exceptions.
2. Every Christian is sanctified. Before he is converted he sanctifies himself; that is, sets himself apart to do God’s service, to abandon sin and lead a holy life. When converted he is sanctified by the Spirit—is really made holy to that degree that he has victory over sin. He does not commit sin.
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.”—I John 3:9.
This is a high state of grace. But it is not entire sanctification.
With the Thessalonians, Paul in his first epistle, finds no fault whatever. He speaks of them in terms of the highest commendation. Yet he prays for them.
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.”—I Thess. 5:23.
They were already sanctified in part. He prays that the work may be done for them by God—and does not tell them to look for it by a process of gradual development and growth. They already had a genuine Conversion. They were active, zealous Christians, fit subjects for the blessing of holiness.
These two distinct works of grace are recognized also in the first Epistle to the Corinthians. They were converted—sanctified in part—babes in Christ. But as there were strifes and divisions among them, they were not spiritual—not sanctified wholly—but carnal, and walked as men. (I Cor. 3:1, 3.)
The same idea is also expressed in Titus 3:5, 6: “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 which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” Here we have—1. The work of conversion expressed by “the washing of regeneration.” 2. Of entire sanctification expressed by the “renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
So also in II Peter 1:4: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Here is—1. Conversion—“having escaped the corruption,” and 2. Entire sanctification—“partakers of the divine nature.”
These two works are distinctly referred to in the Old as well as in the New Testament. Some get into perplexity by confounding sanctification with entire sanctification. We should be careful and not do it. By using Scriptural language in its proper connection, we avoid confusion and help to promulgate sound doctrine.
By seeking entire sanctification as a distinct blessing obtainable by faith we get it clear and definite, to the satisfying of the soul; while those who think they obtained all at conversion that God can give them, generally either go back, or go on in a manner unsatisfactory even to themselves. They very rarely can testify that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses them from all sin. Their experience and their language are indefinite. But let them make a definite consecration, and pray definitely to be sanctified wholly, and the work will be done.
These are not so far apart as many imagine. They bear about the same relation to each other, that a weed cut off, does to a weed pulled up by the roots. The one may be compared to a piece of land just cleared off with the stumps still remaining, the other to a field from which every root has been extracted. Both bear fruit of an equally good quality, but the latter is more easily cultivated, and yields the more abundant harvest. The justified soul does not commit sin, but he feels sin still remaining, against which he is compelled to fight that he may retain the mastery. The sanctified soul is delivered from all evil tempers—no wrong temper—none contrary to love remains in the soul. All his thoughts, words and actions are governed by pure love. The temptations of the sanctified,—for they are often most fiercely assailed,—are of external origin. A skillful general desires most the destruction of those forces that can harm him most. Satan is an able and artful warrior. He lays his deepest plots, and exerts his mightiest energies for the overthrow of those who are seeking to follow the Lord fully, knowing that through them his kingdom suffers its greatest losses. If any one in probation supposes himself beyond the reach of temptations, he is either already within the grasp of Satan, or he is most woefully deceived. But he whose “life is hid with Christ in God,” feels secure, though Satan rages. The merely justified has to meet, not only the onsets of Satan, but is compelled to struggle against the remaining corruptions of his own heart. The one has both a civil and foreign war to carry on at once; the other has a foreign war alone. Beloved, hasten to the fountain that is opened for sin and uncleanness. This is the will of God, even your sanctification. Give yourself no rest until you know and feel that the blood of Jesus cleanses you from all sin.
Holiness, Entire Sanctification and Perfect Love are different Bible terms used to denote essentially the same state of grace. The same building may be called a house, a residence or a home. Each has its different shade of meaning. But whatever term is used to designate a state of conformity to the will of God, it must not be lost sight of for a single moment, that love constitutes an important element. Christ says,
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”—Matt. 5:44-45.
If one professes to be wholly sanctified to God, and manifests continually towards those who do not indorse him a malignant spirit that loses no opportunity to wound them with tongue or pen, we must not receive his profession. Weighed in the balance of God’s sanctuary he is found wanting.
But Perfect Love never gives its countenance to sin in any shape or guise. It loves the sinner, but it hates sin. It reproves it whenever found. It is not spared because it is fashionable or profitable. True holiness is not wanting in any of its parts. It does not “tithe mint and anise and cummin,” and neglect weightier matters.
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