It is my desire, in dependence on the Lord, to write
a faithful record, so far as memory now serves me, of some of God's
dealings with my soul and my strivings after the experience of
holiness, during the first six years of my Christian life, ere I knew
the blessedness of finding all in Christ. This will make it necessary
at times, I have little doubt, to "speak as a fool"--even as the
apostle Paul did: but as I reflect on the need for such a record, I
think I can say with him, "Ye have compelled me."
I may be privileged to thereby save others from the unhappy experiences
I passed through in those early years, I shall feel abundantly repaid
for the effort it will take to thus put these heart-experiences before
From a very early age
God began to speak to me through His Word. I doubt if I could go back
to the first time when, to my recollection, I felt something of the
reality of eternal things.
father was taken from me ere his features were impressed upon my infant
mind. But I never have heard him spoken of other than as a man of God.
He was known in Toronto (my birthplace) to many as "The Eternity Man."
His Bible, marked in many places, was a precious legacy to me; and from
it I learned to recite my first verse of Scripture, at the age of four.
I distinctly recall learning the blessed words of Luke 19:10, "For the
Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." That I was
lost, and that Christ Jesus came from heaven to save me, were the first
divine truths impressed on my young heart.
widowed mother was, it seems to me, one of a thousand. I remember yet
how I would be thrilled as she knelt with me as a child, and prayed, "O
Father, keep my boy from ever desiring anything greater than to live
for Thee. Save him early, and make him a devoted street-preacher, as
his father was. Make him willing to suffer for Jesus' sake, to gladly
endure persecution and rejection by the world that cast out Thy Son;
and keep him from what would dishonor Thee." The words were not always
the same, but I have heard the sentiment times without number.
our home there often came servants of Christ--plain, godly men, who
seemed to me to carry with them the atmosphere of eternity. Yet in a
very real sense they were the bane of my boyhood. Their searching,
"Henry, lad, are you born again yet?" or the equally impressive, "Are
you certain that your soul is saved?" often brought me to a standstill;
but I knew not how to reply.
had become my home ere I was clear as to being a child of God. In Los
Angeles I first began to learn the love of the world, and was impatient
of restraint. Yet I had almost continual concern as to the great matter
of my salvation.
I was but twelve
years old when I began a Sunday-school and set up to try to help the
boys and girls of the neighborhood to a knowledge of the Book I had
read ten times through, but which had still left me without assurance
To Timothy, Paul
wrote, "From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are
able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ
Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:15). It was this latter that I lacked. I had, it
seemed to me, always believed, yet I dared not say I was saved. I know
now that I had always believed about Jesus. I had not really believed
in Him as my personal Saviour. Between the two there is all the
difference that there is between being saved and lost, between an
eternity in Heaven and endless ages in the lake of fire.
I have said, I was not without considerable anxiety as to my soul; and
though I longed to break into the world, and was indeed guilty of much
that was vile and wicked, I ever felt a restraining hand upon me,
keeping me from many things that I would otherwise have gone into; and
a certain religiousness became, I suppose, characteristic. But religion
is not salvation.
I was nearly
fourteen years old when, upon returning one day from school, I learned
that a servant of Christ from Canada, well known to me, had arrived for
meetings. I knew, ere I saw him, how he would greet me; for I
remembered him well, and his searching questions, when I was younger.
Therefore I was not surprised, but embarrassed nevertheless, when he
exclaimed, "Well, Harry, lad, I'm glad to see you. And are you born
The blood mantled my
face; I hung my head, and could find no words to reply. An uncle
present said, "You know, Mr. M--, he preaches himself now a bit, and
conducts a Sunday School!"
"Indeed!" was the answer. "Will you get your Bible, Harry?"
was glad to get out of the room, and so went at once for my Bible, and
returned, after remaining out of the room as long as seemed decent,
hoping thereby to recover myself. Upon my re-entering the room, he
said, kindly, but seriously, "Will you turn to Rom. 3:19, and read it
Slowly I read, "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." I felt the application, and was at a loss
for words. The evangelist went on to tell me that he too had been once
a religious sinner, till God stopped his mouth, and then gave him a
sight of Christ. He pressed on me the importance of getting to the same
place ere I tried to teach others.
words had their effect. From that time till I was sure I was saved, I
refrained from talking of these things, and I gave up my Sunday-school
work. But now Satan, who was seeking my soul's destruction, suggested
to me, "If lost and unfit to speak of religious things to others, why
not enjoy all the world has to offer, so far as you are able to avail
yourself of it?"
I listened only
too eagerly to his words, and for the next six months or thereabouts no
one was more anxious for folly than I, though always with a smarting
At last, on a Thursday
evening in February 1890, God spoke to me in tremendous power while out
at a party with a lot of other young people, mostly older than myself,
intent only on an evening's amusement. I remember now that I had
withdrawn from the parlor for a few moments to obtain a cooling drink
in the next room. Standing alone at the refreshment table, there came
home to my inmost soul, in startling clearness, some verses of
Scripture I had learned months before. They are found in the first
chapter of Proverbs, beginning with verse 24 and going on to verse 32.
Here wisdom is represented as laughing at the calamity of the one who
refused to heed instruction, and mocking when his fear cometh. Every
word seemed to burn its way into my heart. I saw as never before my
dreadful guilt in having so long refused to trust Christ for myself,
and in having preferred my own wilful way to that of Him who had died
I went back to the parlor,
and tried to join with the rest in their empty follies. But all seemed
utterly hollow, and the tinsel was gone. The light of eternity was
shining into the room, and I wondered how any could laugh with God's
judgment hanging over us, like a Damocles' sword suspended by a hair.
We seemed like people sporting with closed eyes on the edge of a
precipice, and I the most careless of all, till grace had made me see.
night, when all was over, I hurried home, and crept up-stairs to my
room. There, after lighting a lamp, I took my Bible, and, with it
before me, fell upon my knees.
had an undefined feeling that I had better pray. But the thought came,
"What shall I pray for?" Clearly and distinctly came back the answer,
"For what God has been offering me for years. Why not then receive it,
and thank Him?"
My dear mother had
often said, "The place to begin with God is Romans 3, or John 3." To
both these scriptures I turned, and read them carefully. Clearly I saw
that I was a helpless sinner, but that Christ for me had died, and that
salvation was offered freely to all who trusted in Him. Reading John
3:16 the second time, I said, "That will do. O God, I thank Thee that
Thou has loved me, and given Thy Son for me. I trust Him now as my
Saviour, and I rest on Thy Word, which tells me I have everlasting
Then I expected to feel a thrill of joy. It did not come. I wondered
if I could be mistaken. I expected a sudden rush of love for Christ. It
did not come either. I feared I could not be really saved with so
read the words again. There could be no mistake. God loved the world,
of which I formed a part. God gave His Son to save all believers. I
believed in Him as my Saviour. Therefore I must have everlasting life.
Again I thanked Him, and rose from my knees to begin the walk of faith.
God could not lie. I knew I must be saved.
Holiness: The Great Desideratum
saved myself, the first great desires that sprang up in my heart was an
intense longing to lead others to the One who had made my peace with
At the time of which I write,
the Salvation Army was in the zenith of its energy as an organization
devoted to going out after the lost. It had not yet become popular, a
society to be patronized by the world and used as a medium for
philanthropic work. Its officers and soldiers seemed to have but one
aim and object--to lead the weary and despairing to the Saviour's feet.
I had often attended its services, and in fact had frequently, though
but a child, given a "testimony" by quoting Scripture and urging
sinners to trust Christ, even while I was in the dark myself. Naturally
therefore, when the knowledge of salvation was mine, I went at the
first opportunity, the night after my conversion, to an "Army"
street-meeting, and there spoke for the first time, in the open air, of
the grace of God so newly revealed to my soul.
suppose, because I was but a lad of fourteen and fairly familiar with
the Bible, and also somewhat forward--unduly so, I have little doubt--I
was at once cordially welcomed among them, and soon became known as
"the boy preacher," a title which, I fear, ministered more to the pride
of my heart than I had any idea of at the time. For, in fact,
in my new-found joy I had no conception that I still carried about with
me a nature as sinful and vile as existed in the breast of the greatest
evildoer in the world. I knew something of Christ and His love; I knew
little or nothing of myself and the deceitfulness of my own heart.
nearly as I can now recollect, I was in the enjoyment of the knowledge
of God's salvation about a month when, in some dispute with my brother,
who was younger than I, my temper suddenly escaped control, and in an
angry passion I struck and felled him to the ground. Horror immediately
filled my soul. I needed not his sarcastic taunt, "Well, you are a nice
Christian! You'd better go down to the Army and tell what a saint
you've become!" to send me to my room in anguish of heart to confess my
sin to God in shame and bitter sorrow, as afterwards frankly to my
brother, who generously forgave me.
From this time on mine was an "up-and-down experience," to use a term often heard in "testimony meetings." I
longed for perfect victory over the lusts and desires of the flesh. Yet
I seemed to have more trouble with evil thoughts and unholy
propensities than I had ever known before. For a long time I
kept these conflicts hidden, and known only to God and to myself. But
after some eight or ten months, I became interested in what were called
"holiness meetings," held weekly in the "Army" hall, and also in a
mission I sometimes attended.
these gatherings an experience was spoken of which I felt was just what
I needed. It was designated by various terms: "The Second Blessing";
"Sanctification"; "Perfect Love"; "Higher Life"; "Cleansing from Inbred
Sin"; and by other expressions.
the teaching was this: When converted, God graciously forgives all sins
committed up to the time when one repents. But the believer is then
placed in a lifelong probation, during which he may at any time forfeit
his justification and peace with God if he falls into sin from which he
does not repent. In order, therefore, to maintain himself in a saved
condition, he needs a further work of grace called sanctification. This
work has to do with sin the root, as justification had to do with sins
The steps leading up to
this second blessing are, firstly, conviction as to the need of
holiness (just as in the beginning there was conviction of the need of
salvation); secondly, a full surrender to God, or the laying of every
hope, prospect and possession on the altar of consecration; thirdly, to
claim in faith the incoming of the Holy Spirit as a refining fire to
burn out all inbred sin, thus destroying in toto every lust and
passion, leaving the soul perfect in love and as pure as unfallen Adam.
wonderful blessing received, great watchfulness is required lest, as
the serpent beguiled Eve, he deceive the sanctified soul, and thus
introduce again the same kind of an evil principle which called for
such drastic action before.
was the teaching; and coupled with it were heartfelt testimonies of
experiences so remarkable that I could not doubt with genuineness, nor
that what others seemed to enjoy was likewise for me if I would fulfil
One lady told how
for forty years she had been kept from sin in thought, word, and deed.
Her heart, she declared, was no longer "deceitful above all things, and
desperately wicked," but was as holy as the courts of heaven, since the
blood of Christ has washed away the last remains inbred sin. Others
spoke in a similar way, though their experiences were much briefer. Bad
tempers had been rooted out when a full surrender was made.
Evil propensities and unholy appetites had been instantly destroyed when holiness was claimed by faith.
I began to seek this precious boon of holiness in the flesh. Earnestly
I prayed for this Adamic sinlessness. I asked God to reveal to me every
unholy thing, that I might truly surrender all to Him. I gave up
friends, pursuits, pleasures--everything I could think of that might
hinder the incoming of the Holy Ghost and the consequent blessing. I
was a veritable "book-worm," an intense love for literature possessing
me from childhood; but in my ignorant desire I put away all books of
pleasurable or instructive character, and promised God to read only the
Bible and holiness writings if He would only give me "the blessing." I
did not, however, obtain what I sought, though I prayed zealously for
At last, one Saturday night
(I was away from home, living with a friend, a member of the "Army"), I
determined to go out into the country and wait on God, not returning
till I had received the blessing of perfect love. I took a train at
eleven o'clock, and went to a lonely station twelve miles from Los
Angeles. There I alighted, and, leaving the highway, descended into an
empty arroyo, or water-course. Falling on my knees beneath a sycamore
tree, I prayed in an agony for hours, beseeching God to show me
anything that hindered my reception of the blessing. Various matters of
too private and sacred a nature to be here related came to my mind. I
struggled against conviction, but finally ended by crying, "Lord, I
give up all--everything, every person, every enjoyment, that would
hinder my living alone for Thee. Now give me, I pray Thee, the
As I look back, I
believe I was fully surrendered to the will of God at that moment, so
far as I understood it. But my brain and nerves were unstrung by the
long midnight vigil and the intense anxiety of previous months, and I
fell almost fainting to the ground. Then a holy ecstasy seemed to
thrill all my being. This I thought was the coming into my heart of the
Comforter. I cried out in confidence, "Lord, I believe Thou dost come
in. Thou dost cleanse and purify me from all sin. I claim it now. The
work is done. I am sanctified by Thy blood. Thou dost make me holy. I
believe; I believe!" I was unspeakably happy. I felt that all my
struggles were ended.
With a heart
filled with praise, I rose from the ground and began to sing aloud.
Consulting my watch, I saw it was about half-past three in the morning.
I felt I must hasten to town so as to be in time for the seven o'clock
prayer-meeting, there to testify to my experience. Fatigued as I was by
being up all night, yet so light was my heart I scarcely noticed the
long miles back, but hastened to the city, arriving just as the meeting
was beginning, buoyed up by my new-found experience. All were rejoiced
as I told what great things I believed God had done for me. Every
meeting that day added to my gladness. I was literally intoxicated with
My troubles were
all ended now. The wilderness was past, and I was in Canaan, feeding on
the old corn of the land. Nevermore should I be troubled by inward
drawings toward sin. My heart was pure. I had reached the desirable
state of full sanctification. With no foe within, I could direct all my
energies toward vanquishing the enemies without.
This was what I thought. Alas, how little did I know myself; much less the mind of God!
Sunshine and Clouds
some weeks after the eventful experience before described, I lived in a
dreamily-happy state, rejoicing in my fancied sinlessness. One great
idea had possession of my mind; and whether at work or in my leisure
hours, I thought of little else than the wonderful event which had
taken place. But gradually I began to "come back to earth," as it were.
I was now employed in a photographic studio, where I associated with
people of various tastes and habits, some of whom ridiculed, some
tolerated, and others sympathized with, my radical views on things
Night after night I
attended the meetings, speaking on the street and indoors, and I soon
noticed (and doubtless others did too) that a change came over my
"testimonies." Before, I had always held up Christ, and pointed the
lost to Him. Now, almost imperceptibly, my own experience became my
theme, and I held up myself as a striking example of consecration and
holiness! This was the prevailing characteristic of the brief addresses
made by most of the "advanced" Christians in our company. The youngest
in grace magnified Christ. The "sanctified" magnified themselves. A
favorite song will make this more manifest than any words of mine. It
is still widely used in Army meetings, and finds a place in their song
or hymnbooks. I give only one verse as a specimen:
The people I know don't live holy;
They battle with unconquered sin,
Not daring to consecrate fully,
Or they full salvation would win.
With malice they have constant trouble,
From doubting they long to be free;
With most things about them they grumble;
Praise God, this is not so with ME!
the reader believe me when I say that I sang this wretched doggerel
without a thought of the sinful pride to which it was giving
expression? I considered it my duty to continually direct attention to
"my experience of full salvation," as it was called. "If you don't
testify to it, you will lose the blessing," was accepted as an axiom
As time went on, I began to be again conscious of inward desires toward evil--of thoughts that were unholy.
I was nonplused. Going to a leading teacher for help, he said, "These
are but temptations. Temptation is not sin. You only sin if you yield
to the evil suggestion." This gave me peace for a time. I found it was
the general way of excusing such evident movings of a fallen nature,
which was supposed to have been eliminated. But gradually I sank to a
lower and lower place, permitting things I would once have shunned; and
I even observed that all about me did the same. The first
ecstatic experiences seldom lasted long. The ecstasy departed, and the
"sanctified" were very little different from their brethren who were
supposed to be "only justified." We did not commit overt acts
of evil: therefore we were sinless. Lust was not sin unless yielded to:
so it was easy to go on testifying that all was right.
purposely pass briefly over the next four years. In the main they were
seasons of ignorantly happy service. I was young in years and in grace.
My thoughts of sin, as well as of holiness, were very unformed and
Therefore it was easy,
generally speaking, to think that I was living without the one, and
manifesting the other. When doubts assailed, I treated them as
temptations of the devil. If I became unmistakably conscious that I had
actually sinned, I persuaded myself that at least it was not willful,
but rather a mistake of the mind than an intentional error of the
heart. Then I went to God in confession, and prayed to be cleansed from
When but sixteen
years of age I became a cadet; that is, a student for officership in
the Salvation Army. During my probation in the Oakland Training
Garrison I had more trouble than at any other time. The rigorous
discipline and enforced intimate association with young men of so
various tastes and tendencies, as also degrees of spiritual experience,
was very hard on one of my supersensitive temperament. I saw very
little holiness there, and I fear I exhibited much less. In fact, for
the last two out of my five months' term I was all at sea, and dared
not profess sanctification at all, owing to my low state. I was
tormented with the thought that I had backslidden, and might be lost
eternally after all my former happy experiences of the Lord's goodness.
Twice I slipped out of the building when all were in bed, and made my
way to a lonely spot where I spent the night in prayer, beseeching God
not to take His Holy Spirit from me, but to again cleanse me fully from
all inbred sin. Each time I "claimed it by faith," and was brighter for
a few weeks; but I inevitably again fell into doubt and gloom, and was
conscious of sinning both in thought and in word, and sometimes in
unholy actions, which brought terrible remorse.
I was commissioned as lieutenant. Again I spent the night in prayer,
feeling that I must not go out to teach and lead others unless myself
pure and holy. Buoyed up with the thought of being free from the
restraint I had been subjected to so long, it was comparatively easy
this time to believe that the work of full inward cleansing was indeed
consummated, and that I was now, if never before, actually rid of all
How readily one yields
himself to self-deception in a matter of this kind! From this time on I
became a more earnest advocate of the second blessing than ever; and I
remember that often I prayed God to give my dear mother the blessing He
had given me, and to make her as holy as her son had become. And that
pious mother had known Christ before I was born, and knew her own heart
too well to talk of sinlessness, though living a devoted, Christlike
As lieutenant for a year, and
then as captain, I thoroughly enjoyed my work, gladly enduring hardship
and privation that I fear I would shrink from now; generally confident
that I was living out the doctrine of perfect love to God and man, and
thereby making my own final salvation more secure. [Note: Perhaps I
ought to explain for the benefit of the uninitiated that a "captain"
has charge of a corps, or mission. A "lieutenant" assists a "captain."]
And yet, as I now look back, what grave failures I can detect--what an
unsubdued will--what lightness and frivolity--what lack of subjection
to the word of God--what self-satisfaction and complacency! Alas, "man
at his best estate is altogether vanity."
I was between eighteen and nineteen years of
age when I began to entertain serious doubts as to my actually
having attained so high a standard of Christian living as I had
professed, and as the Army and other Holiness movements advocated
as the only real Christianity. What led to this was of too
personal and private a nature to publish; but it resulted in
struggle and efforts toward self-crucifixion that brought
disappointment and sorrow of a most poignant character; but it
showed me beyond a doubt that the doctrine of death to nature was
a miserable sophism, and that the carnal mind was still a part of
Nearly eighteen months of an almost constant
struggle followed. In vain I searched my heart to see if I had
made a full surrender, and tried to give up every known thing
that seemed in any sense evil or doubtful. Sometimes, for a month
at a time, or even longer, I could persuade myself that at last I
had indeed again received the blessing. But invariably a few
weeks would bring before me once more that which proved that it
was in my particular case all a delusion.
I did not dare open my heart to my assistants
in the work, or to the "soldiers" who were under my
guidance. To do so I felt would be to lose all influence with
them and to be looked upon as a backslider. So, alone and in
secret, I fought my battles and never went into a holiness
meeting without persuading myself that now at least, I was fully
surrendered and therefore must have the blessing of
sanctification. Sometimes I called it entire consecration and
felt easier. It did not seem to be claiming too much. I had no
conception at the time of the hypocrisy of all this.
What made my distress more poignant was the
knowledge that I was not the only sufferer. Another, one very
dear to me, shared my doubts and anxieties from the same cause.
For that other it eventually meant utter shipwreck of the faith;
and one of the loveliest souls I ever knew was lost in the mazes
of spiritualism. God grant it may not be forever, but that mercy
may be found of the Lord in that day!
And now I began to see what a string of
derelicts this holiness teaching left in its train. I could count
scores of persons who had gone into utter infidelity because of
it. They always gave the same reason: "I tried it
all. I found it a failure. So I concluded the Bible teaching was
all a delusion, and religion was a mere matter of the
emotions." Many more (and I knew several such
intimately) lapsed into insanity after floundering in the morass
of this emotional religion for years--and people said that
studying the Bible had driven them crazy. How little they knew
that it was lack of Bible knowledge that was accountable for
their wretched mental state--an absolutely unscriptural use of
isolated passages of Scripture!
At last I became so troubled I could not go on
with my work. I concluded to resign from the Salvation Army, and
did so, but was persuaded by the colonel (note: answering to a
bishop in some other denominations.) to wait six months ere the
resignation took effect. At his suggestion I gave up corps work
and went out on a special tour--where I did not need to touch the
holiness question. But I preached to others many times when I was
tormented by the thought that I might myself be finally lost,
because, "without holiness no man shall see the Lord";
and, try as I would, I could not be sure I possessed it. I talked
with any who seemed to me to really have the blessing I craved;
but there were very few who, upon an intimate acquaintanceship,
seemed genuine. I observed that the general state of
"sanctified" people was as low, if not often lower,
than that of those whom they contemptuously described as
Finally, I could bear it no longer, so asked to
be relieved from all active service, and at my own request was
sent to the Beulah Home of Rest, near Oakland.
It was certainly time; for five years' active
work, with only two brief furloughs, had left me almost a nervous
wreck, worn out in body and most acutely distressed in mind.
The language of my troubled soul, after all
those years of preaching to others, was, "Oh that I knew
where I might find Him!" Finding Him not, I saw only the
blackness of despair before me; but yet I knew too well His love
and care to be completely cast down.
The Struggle Ended
I had now been for over five years laboring in
the organization with which I had linked myself, and ever seeking
to be certain that I had attained a sinless state. In some twelve
different towns and cities I had served, as I thought,
faithfully, endeavoring to reach the lost, and to make out of
them staunch Salvationists when converted. Many happy experiences
had been mine, coupled, however, with some most gloomy
disappointments, both as to myself and others. Very few
of our "converts" stood. "Backsliders" often
outnumbered by far our "soldiers." The ex-Salvation
Army was many times larger than the original organization.
One great reason for this I was blind to for a
long time. But at last it began to be clear to me that the
holiness doctrine had a most baneful influence upon the movement.
People who professed conversion (whether real or not the day will
declare) struggled for months, even years, to reach a state of
sinlessness which never was reached; and at last they gave up in
despair and sank back in many instances to the dead level of the
world around them.
I saw that it was the same with all the
holiness denominations, and the various
"Bands," "Missions," and other movements,
that were continually breaking off from them. The
standard set was the unattainable. The result was, sooner or
later, utter discouragement, cunningly-concealed hypocrisy, or an
unconscious lowering of the standard to suit the experience
reached. For myself, I had been ensnared by that last
expedient for a long time. How much of the second there was I do
not dare to say. But eventually I fell a victim to the first. And
I can now see that it was a mercy I did so.
When I went to the Home of Rest, I had not yet
fully given up seeking for perfection in the flesh. I really
expected great things from the six months' furlough granted me,
in order to "find myself," as it were.
Closely allied to the Home were other
institutions where holiness and faith-healing were largely dwelt
upon. I felt sure that in so hallowed an atmosphere great things
would be accomplished.
In the rest home I found about fourteen
officers, broken in health, seeking recuperation. I watched the
ways and conversation of all most carefully, intending to confide
in those who gave the best evidence of entire sanctification.
There were some choice souls among them, and some arrogant
hypocrites. But holiness in the absolute sense I saw in none.
Some were very godly and devoted. Their conscientiousness I could
not doubt. But those who talked the loudest were plainly the
least spiritual. They seldom read their Bibles, they rarely
conversed together of Christ. An air of carelessness pervaded the
whole place. Three sisters, most devoted women, were apparently
more godly than any others; but two of them admitted to me that
they were not sure about being perfectly holy. The other one was
non-committal, though seeking to help me. Some were positively
quarrelsome and boorish, and this I could not reconcile with
their profession of freedom from inbred sin. I attended the
meetings held by the other workers I have mentioned. There the
best of them did not teach sinless perfection; while the
manifestly carnal gloried in their experience of perfect love! Sick
people testified to being healed by faith, and sinning people
declared they had the blessing of holiness! I
was not helped, but hindered, by the inconsistency of it all.
At last I found myself becoming cold
and cynical. Doubts as to everything assailed me like a legion of
demons, and I became almost afraid to let my mind dwell on these
things. For refuge I turned to secular literature, and
sent for my books, which some years before I had foresworn on
condition that God would give me the "second blessing."
How little I realized the Jacob-spirit in all this! God seemed to
have failed; so I took up my books once more, and tried to find
solace in the beauties of essays and poetry, or the problems of
history and science. I did not dare to confess to myself that I
was literally an agnostic; yet for a month at least I could only
answer, "I do not know" to every question based on
This was the legitimate result of the teaching
I had been under. I reasoned that the Bible promised entire
relief from indwelling sin to all who were wholly surrendered to
the will of God. That I had thus surrendered seemed to me
certain. Why then had I not been fully delivered from the carnal
mind? It seemed to me that I had met every condition, and that
God, on His part, had failed to perform what He had promised. I
know it is wretched to write all this: but I see no other way to
help others who are in the same state that I was in for that
Deliverance came at last in a most unexpected
way. A lassie-lieutenant, a woman some ten years my senior in
age, was brought to the Home from Rock Springs, Wyoming,
supposedly dying of consumption. From the first my heart went out
to her in deep sympathy. To me she was a martyr, laying down her
life for a needy world. I was much in her company, observed her
closely, and finally came to the conclusion that she was the only
wholly sanctified person in that place.
Imagine my surprise when, a few weeks after her
arrival, she, with a companion, came to me one evening and begged
me to read to her; remarking, "I hear you are always
occupied with the things of the Lord, and I need your help."
I, the one to help her! I was dumbfounded, knowing so well the
plague of my own heart, and being fully assured as to her
perfection in holiness. At the very moment they entered my room I
was reading Byron's Childe Harold. And I was supposed to
be entirely devoted to the things of God! It struck me as weird
and fantastic, rather than as a solemn farce--all this comparing
ourselves with ourselves, only to be deluded every time.
I hastily thrust the book to one side, and
wondered what to choose to read aloud. In God's providence a
pamphlet caught my attention which my mother had given me some
years before, but which I had dreaded to read lest it might upset
me; so afraid had I been of anything that did not bear the Army
or Holiness stamp. Moved by a sudden impulse, I drew it forth and
said, "I'll read this. It is not in accordance with our
teaching; but it may be interesting anyway."
I read page after page, paying little
attention, only hoping to soothe and quiet this dying woman. In
it the lost condition of all men by nature was emphasized.
Redemption in Christ through His death was explained. Then there
was much as to the believer's two natures, and his eternal
security, which to me seemed both ridiculous and absurd. The
latter part was occupied with prophecy. Upon that we did not
enter. I was startled after going over the first half of the book
when Lieut. J--exclaimed, "O Captain, do you think that can
possibly be true? If I could only believe that, I could die in
Astonished beyond measure, I asked, "What!
do you mean to say you could not die in peace as you are? You are
justified and sanctified; you have an experience I have sought in
vain for years; and are you troubled about dying?" "I
am miserable," she replied, "and you mustn't say I am
sanctified. I cannot get it. I have struggled for years, but I
have not reached it yet. This is why I wanted to speak to you,
for I felt so sure you had it and could help me!"
We looked at each other in amazement; and as
the pathos and yet ludicrousness of it all burst upon us, I
laughed deliriously, while she wept hysterically. Then I remember
exclaiming, "Whatever is the matter with us all? No one on
earth denies himself more for Christ's sake than we. We suffer,
and starve, and wear ourselves out in the endeavor to do the will
of God; yet after all we have no lasting peace. We are happy at
times; we enjoy our meetings; but we are never certain as to what
the end will be."
"Do you think," she asked, "that
it is because we depend upon our own efforts too much? Can it be
that we trust Christ to save us, but we think we have to keep
saved by our own faithfulness--?"
"But," I broke in, "to think
anything else would open the door to all kinds of sin!"
And so we talked till, wearied out, she arose
to go, but asked if she and others might return the next evening
to read and talk of these things we had gone over--a permission
which was readily granted.
For both Lieut. J--and myself that evening's
reading and exchange of confidences proved the beginning of our
deliverance. We had frankly owned to one another, and to the
third party present, that we were not sanctified. We now began to
search the Scriptures earnestly for light and help. I threw all
secular books to one side, determined to let nothing hinder the
careful, prayerful study of the word of God. Little by
little, the light began to dawn. We saw that we had been looking
within for holiness, instead of without. We realized
that the same grace that had saved us at first alone could carry
us on. Dimly we apprehended that all for us must be in Christ, or
we were without a ray of hope.
Many questions perplexed and troubled us. Much
that we had believed we soon saw to be utterly opposed to the
word of God. Much more we could not understand, so completely
warped had our minds become through the training of years.
In my perplexity I sought out a teacher of the Word who, I
understood, was in fellowship with the writer of the pamphlet I
have referred to above. I heard him with profit on two occasions,
but still was in measure bewildered, though I began to
feel solid ground beneath my feet once more. The great
truth was getting a grip of me that holiness, perfect love,
sanctification, and every other blessing, were mine in Christ
from the moment I had believed, and mine forevermore, all because
of pure grace. I had been looking at the wrong man--all was in
another Man, and in that Man for me! But it took weeks to see
A booklet entitled Safety, Certainty, and
Enjoyment proved helpful to both of us, and was a source of
cheer. Other tracts were given me, and read with earnest purpose,
looking up every reference, searching context and other passages
of like, or apparently opposite, character, while daily we cried
to God for the knowledge of His truth. Miss J--saw it ere I did.
The light came when she realized that she was eternally linked
with Christ as Head, and had eternal life in Him as the Vine, in
her as the branch. Her joy knew no bounds, and she actually
improved in health from that hour, and lived for six years after;
finally going to be with the Lord, worn out in seeking to lead
others to Christ. Many will be disappointed to know that she
maintained her connection with the Army to the last. She had a
mistaken (I believe) notion that she should remain where she was,
and declare the truth she had learned. But ere she died she
repented of this. Her last words to a brother (A.B.S.) and me,
who were with her very near the end, were: "I have
everything in Christ--of that I am sure. But I wish I had been
more faithful as to the truth I learned about the Body--the
Church. I was misled by zeal which I thought was of God, and it
is too late to be faithful now!"
Four days after the truth burst upon her soul
in that Home of Rest, I, too, had every doubt and fear removed,
and found my all in Christ. To go on where I was, I could not.
Within a week I was outside of the only human system I had ever
been in as a Christian, and for many years since I have known no
head but Christ, no body but the Church which He purchased with
His own blood. They have been happy years; and as I look back
over all the way the Lord has led me, I can but praise Him for
the matchless grace that gave me to see that perfect holiness and
perfect love were to be found, not in me, but in Christ Jesus
And I have been learning all along my pilgrim
journey that the more my heart is taken up with Christ, the more
do I enjoy practical deliverance from sin's power, and the more
do I realize what it is to have the love of God shed abroad in
that heart by the Holy Spirit given to me, as the Earnest of the
glory to come. I have found liberty and joy since being freed
from bondage that I never thought it possible for a soul to know
on earth, while I have a confidence in presenting this precious
truth for the acceptance of others that contrasts with the
uncertainty of the past.
PART II: DOCTRINAL
commencing our inquiry on the subject of sanctification as taught in
the Scriptures, it is of importance first of all that there be a clear
understanding of the meaning which writer and reader attach to the
word. For if the writer have one thought in his mind when he uses this
expression, and the reader be thinking of something totally different
as he peruses the treatise, it is not to be supposed that a common
conclusion will ever be reached.
propose, then, first of all, to let the theologians and the holiness
teachers define the word for us; and then to turn Scripture, there to
test their definitions. Examples: "In a doctrinal sense sanctification
is the making truly and perfectly holy what was before defiled and
sinful. It is a progressive work of divine grace upon the soul
justified by the love of Christ. The believer is gradually cleansed
from the corruption of his nature, and is at length presented
‘faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.’ " This
is a fair statement of the views held by ordinary Protestant
theologians, and is taken from the Bible Dictionary edited by W. W.
Rand, and published by the American Tract Society.
secular dictionary definitions generally agree that "sanctification is
an act of God’s grace, whereby man’s affections are purified and
exalted." And this, it will be observed, practically accords with the
definition already given.
writers are very explicit, and generally draw attention to what they
suppose to be the difference between justification and sanctification.
I shall quote any of their authorities as to this, but put the teaching
in my own language rather, as I often taught it in past years. My
reason for this is that all holiness professors reading these pages may
be able to judge for themselves as to whether I was "clear" as to the
matter when numbered among them.
then, was supposed to be a work of grace by which sinners are made
righteous and freed from their sinful habits when they come to Christ.
But in the merely justified soul there remains a corrupt principle, an
evil tree, or "a root of bitterness," which continually prompts to sin.
If the believer obeys this impulse and wilfully sins, he ceases to be
justified; therefore the desirability of its removal, that the
likelihood of backsliding may be greatly lessened. The eradication of
this sinful root is sanctification. It is therefore the cleansing of
the nature from all inbred sin by the blood of Christ (applied through
faith when a full consecration is made), and the refining fire of the
Holy Spirit, who burns out all dross when all is laid upon the altar of
sacrifice. This, and this only, is true sanctification—a distinct
second work of grace, subsequent to justification, and without which
that justification is very likely to be lost!
The correctness of the definition will, I think, be acknowledged by even the most radical of the "holiness" school.
let us test these statements by Scripture. And in order to do so
intelligently, I purpose first to look at a number of passages in both
Testaments, and see if in any of them either of the definitions given
above would make good sense and sound doctrine. I would observe that
holiness and sanctification are equivalent terms; both words being used
to translate the one Greek or Hebrew noun. Twelve prominent examples
may suffice to show how the term is used in our Bibles.
(1) The sanctification of inanimate objects is distinctly taught in the Word:
shalt anoint the altar of the burnt offering, and all his vessels, and
sanctify the altar: and it shall be an altar most holy. And thou shalt
anoint the laver and his foot, and sanctify it" (Ex. 40:10-11).
Are we to suppose any change took place in the nature of these vessels? Or was there any evil element rooted out of them?
in Ex. 19:23 we read, "Set bounds about the mount [Sinai], and sanctify
it." Was any change effected in the composition of the mountain when
God gave the law upon it? Let the reader answer fairly and honestly,
and he must confess that here at least neither the theological nor the
"holiness" definitions apply to the word "sanctify." What it does mean
we shall see later, when we have heard all of our twelve witnesses.
(2) People can sanctify themselves, without any act of divine power, or any work of grace taking place within them.
"Let the [priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify
themselves" (Ex. 19:22). Were these priests then to change their own
natures from evil to good, or to destroy from within themselves the
principle of evil? Once more it is the readers’ province to judge. I
adduce the witnesses: they must be the jury.
(3) One man could sanctify another.
"Sanctify unto Me all the first-born: . . . it is Mine" (Ex. 13:2);
and, again, "The Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify
them; . . let them wash their clothes" (Ex. 19:10). What inward change,
or cleansing, was Moses to perform in regard to the first-born, or the
entire people of Israel? That he did not eliminate their inbred sin,
the succeeding chapters amply testify.
(4) Persons can sanctify themselves to do iniquity.
"They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens
behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the
abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord"
(Isa. 66:17). How monstrous a sanctification was this, and how absurd
the thought of any inward cleansing here!
(5) The Son was sanctified by the Father.
"Say ye of Him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the
world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" (John
10:36) They, not He, blasphemed: and equally vile would be the
blasphemy of any who said that sanctification, for Christ, implied a
corrupt nature eradicated, or a perverse will changed. He was ever
"that Holy Thing . . . called the Son of God."
are not wanting " holiness" advocates who impiously dare to teach that
the taint of sin was in His being, and needed elimination; but they are
rightfully refused fellowship, and their teaching abhorred by all
Spirit-taught Christians. Yet He, the Holy One, was "sanctified by God
the Father," as Jude writes of all believers. Are we to suppose the
expression means one thing in relation to Christ, and quite another in
regard to saints?
(6) The Lord Jesus sanctified Himself.
"For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified
through the truth" (John 17:19). If either of the definitions given
above is to stand, then what are we to make of the fact that He who had
been sanctified by the Father, yet afterward sanctified Himself? Is not
it plain that there is some great discrepancy here between the
theologians, the perfectionists, and the Bible?
(7) Unbelievers are sometimes sanctified.
"For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by (in) the wife, and the
unbelieving wife is sanctified by (in) the husband: else were your
children unclean; but now are they holy [or sanctified]" (1 Cor. 7:14).
Here the life-partner of a Christian, though unsaved, is said to be
sanctified. Is such a one, then, free from inbred sin, or undergoing a
gradual change of nature? If this be too absurd for consideration,
sanctification cannot mean either of the experiences specified.
(8) Carnal Christians are sanctified.
"Paul, called an apostle of Jesus Christ, through the will of God, and
Sosthenes our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to
them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus" "I brethren, could not speak
unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in
Christ. . . . For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you
envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as
men?" (1 Cor. 1:1, 2; 3:1, 3.) Carnal, and yet free from inbred sin?
Impossible! Nevertheless they who are declared to be sanctified in
chapter 1 are said to be carnal in chapter 3. By no possible system of
logical reasoning can the class of the latter chapter be made out to be
different from those addressed in the former.
(9) We are told to follow sanctification.
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness [sanctification], without
which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). In what sense could men
follow a change of nature, or how follow the elimination of the carnal
mind? I follow that which is before me—that to which I have not yet
fully attained in a practical sense, as the apostle Paul tells us he
did, in Phil. 3:13-16.
(10) Believers are called upon to sanctify God!
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give
an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in
you, with meekness and fear" (1 Pet. 3:15). How are we to understand an
exhortation like this if sanctification implies an inward cleansing, or
making holy what was before unclean and evil? Is it not manifest that
such a definition would lead to the wildest vagaries and the grossest
(11) Persons addressed as sanctified are afterward exhorted to be holy.
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered
throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect
according to foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of
the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.
. . . 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
Peter 1:1, 2, 15, 16). Think of the incongruity here if sanctification
and holiness refer to an inward work whereby inbred sin is rooted out
of one’s being! The sanctified are exhorted to be holy, in place of
being informed that already they have been made absolutely that, and
therefore need no such exhortation.
(12) The sanctified are nevertheless declared to be perfected forever.
"For by one offering He hath forever perfected them that are
sanctified" (Heb. 10:14). Who among the perfectionists can explain this
satisfactorily? Nothing is commoner among the teachers of this school
than the doctrine of the possibility of the ultimate falling away and
final loss of those who have been justified, sanctified, and have
enjoyed the most marvelous experiences; yet here the sanctified are
said to be forever perfected—consequently shall never be lost, nor ever
lose that sanctification which they have once been the objects of.
carefully hearing these twelve witnesses, I ask my readers, Can you
possibly gather from these varied uses of the word "sanctification" any
hint of a change of nature in the believer, or an elimination of evil
implied therein? I feel certain that every candid mind must confess the
word evidently has a very different meaning, and I design briefly to
point out what that meaning is.
from all theological accretions, the naked verb "to sanctify" means to
set apart, and the noun "sanctification" means, literally, separation.
This simple key will unlock every verse we have been considering, and
bring all into harmony where discord seemed complete.
vessels of the tabernacle were separated for divine service, even as
mount Sinai was set apart to Jehovah for the giving of the law. The
priests in Israel separated themselves from their defilement. Moses
separated the people from uncleanness, and set apart the first-born as
dedicated to Jehovah. The apostates in Isaiah’s day set themselves
apart, on the contrary, to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord.
The Father set the Son apart to become the Saviour of the lost; and at
the end of His life on earth, His work accomplished, the Lord Jesus
separated Himself and ascended to glory, there to become the object of
His people’s hearts, that they might thus be set apart from the world
that had refused and crucified their Redeemer. The unbelieving wife or
husband, if linked with a saved life-partner set apart to God, is
thereby put in an external relation to God, with its privileges and
responsibility; and the children are likewise separated from those who
never come under the sound of the truth. All Christians, whatever their
actual state, be they carnal or spiritual, are nevertheless separated
to God in Christ Jesus; and from this springs the responsibility to
live for Him. This separation is to be followed daily, the believer
seeking to become more and more conformed to Christ. Persons professing
to be Christians and not following sanctification, will not see the
Lord; for they are unreal, and have no divine life. The Lord God must
be set apart in our hearts if our testimony is to count for His glory.
One may be set apart to God in Christ, and yet need exhortations to a
practical separation from all uncleanness and worldliness. And, lastly,
all so set apart are in God’s sight perfected forever, as to the
conscience, by the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross; for they are
accepted in the Beloved, and eternally linked up with Him. Get the key,
and every difficulty vanishes. Sanctification, in the Christian sense,
is therefore twofold—absolute and progressive.
SANCTIFICATION BY THE HOLY SPIRIT:
closing the last chapter I remarked that sanctification is both
absolute and progressive. Absolute sanctification is by the one
offering of Christ on the cross, and will be treated of further on.
Progressive sanctification is looked at in two ways; it is by the
Spirit and by the Word.
It may help some to put it this way:
Sanctification by the Spirit is INTERNAL. It is an experience within the believer.
by the blood of Christ is ETERNAL. It is not an experience; it is
positional; it has to do with the new place in God’s eternal favor
occupied by every believer—an unchanging and unchangeable position, to
which defilement can never attach, in God’s estimation.
by the Word of God refers to the believer’s outward walk and ways. It
is the manifest result of sanctification by the Spirit, and goes on
progressively all through life.
desire to group together four scriptures which refer to the first
important aspect above mentioned. Doctrinally, perhaps, I should take
up sanctification by blood first; but experimentally the Spirit’s work
precedes the knowledge of the other.
1 Cor. 6:9, 10 we read of a host of sinful characters who shall not
inherit the kingdom of God. The 11th verse immediately adds, "And such
were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are
justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
in 2 Thess. 2:13 we read, "But we are bound to give thanks always to
God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the
beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit
and belief of the truth."
linked with this is the second verse of the opening chapter of 1 Peter:
"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through
sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the
blood of Jesus Christ."
verse is Rom. 15:16: "That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to
the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of
the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost."
all these passages it is of the utmost importance, in order to rightly
apprehend the truth intended to be conveyed, to observe that
sanctification by the Spirit is treated as the first beginnings of
God’s work in the souls of men, leading to the full knowledge of
justification through faith in the blood-sprinkling of Jesus Christ.
from being "the second blessing," subsequent to justification, it is a
work apart from which none ever would be saved. That this may be made
plain to the thoughtful reader, I purpose a careful analysis of each
The Corinthians had
been characterized by the common sins of men. They had, like the
Ephesians (chap. 2:1-5), "walked according to the course of this age,"
lured on by that unholy "spirit that now worketh in the sons of
disobedience." But a great change had taken place in them. Old
affections and desires had been superseded by new and holy longings.
The wicked life had been exchanged for one in which the pursuit after
godliness was characteristic. What had wrought this change? Three
expressions are used to convey the fullness of it. They had been
"washed, sanctified, and justified"—and all "in the name of the Lord
Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." Objective and subjective are here
closely linked together. The work and character of the Lord Jesus had
been presented as set forth in the gospel. He alone was the Saviour of
sinners. But in the application of that salvation to men there is
necessarily the subjective side. Men are unclean because of sin, and
must be "washed." The "washing of water by the word" (of Eph. 5:25, 26)
is clearly alluded to. The word of God lays hold on the conscience, and
men are awakened to see the folly and wickedness of their lives—away
from God, and walking in darkness. This is the beginning of a moral
washing that goes on all through the believer’s life, and of which I
hope to treat more fully later on.
now, observe carefully—the same word of God comes to all men, but the
same effect is not produced in all. Christ and His cross is preached to
an audience of a hundred unconverted men. One remains, broken-hearted
over his sins and seeking peace with God, while ninety and nine go away
untouched. Why the difference? The Holy Spirit gives power to the Word,
plowing up the conscience in the case of every one truly converted, and
such a one is separated, set apart by a divine work within, from the
indifferent multitude to which he once belonged. It is here that
sanctification of the Spirit applies. It may be some time ere he finds
true peace with God; but he is never again a careless sinner. The Holy
Spirit has laid hold of him for salvation. This is beautifully
illustrated in the first few verses of our Bibles. The world created in
perfection (see Isa. 45:18j) in verse 1, is described as fallen into a
chaotic condition in verse 2. "Without form and void," and covered with
a mantle of darkness: what a picture of fallen man away from God! His
soul a moral chaos, his understanding darkened, his mind and conscience
defiled, he is in very deed dead in trespasses and sins; "alienated and
an enemy in his mind by wicked works." All this the ruined earth may
well speak of.
But God is going to
remake that world. It shall yet become a dwelling-place for man, a fit
home for him during the ages of time. How does He go about it? The
first great agent is the Spirit; the second, the Word. "The Spirit of
God moved [or brooded] upon the waters." Hovering over that scene of
desolation, the Holy Spirit brooded; and then the Word of power went
forth. "God said, Let light be: and light was." And so in the salvation
of fallen man—the Spirit and the Word must act. The brooding-time comes
first. The Holy Spirit quickens through the message proclaimed. He
awakens men, and gives them a desire to know Christ and to be delivered
from sin’s power and saved from its judgment. After this brooding
season, or as a result of it, the heart is opened to the gospel in its
fullness; and, being believed, the light shines in and the darkness is
dissipated. "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" (2 Cor. 4:6). Thus are we who
believe no longer children of the night, nor of darkness, but of the
day. We were once darkness: now we have become light in the Lord. But
ere the shining forth of the light there was the Spirit’s brooding. And
this is the sanctification referred to in the four passages grouped
together above. Notice the order in 2 Thess. 2: "Chosen to salvation
through sanctification of the Spirit"—the divine agency—"and belief of
the truth"—the Word of life scattering the darkness and bringing in the
light of the knowledge of salvation through the name of the Lord Jesus.
is the same in 1 Peter. The saved are select, but it is the
sanctification of the Spirit that brings them unto the obedience and
blood-sprinkling of Jesus Christ. Now the knowledge of justification is
mine when brought by the Spirit to the knowledge of the sprinkled blood
of Jesus. It is faith apprehending that His precious blood cleanseth my
soul from every stain, Thus giving peace. By the Spirit I am brought to
this, and to begin a life of obedience—to obey as Christ obeyed. This
is the practical effect of the Spirit’s sanctification.
now it is of importance to realize that justification is not in itself
a state it is not a work in the soul, but a work done by Another for
me, yet altogether outside of me, and utterly apart from my frames and
feelings. In other words, it is my standing, not my experience.
difference between the two may be illustrated thus: Two men are haled
into court charged with the joint commission of a crime. After a full
investigation, the judge on the bench justifies them both. They are
free. One man, hearing the decision, is filled with delight. He had
feared an opposite verdict, and dreaded the consequences. But now he
happy, because he knows he is cleared. The other man was even more
anxious and gloomy. So occupied is he with his troubled thoughts that
he does not fully catch the declaration of the court, "Not guilty." He
hears only the last word, and he is filled with dismay. He sees a
loathsome prison rising before him, yet he knows he is innocent. He
gives utterance to words of despair until with difficulty made to
comprehend the true status of the case, when he too is filled with joy.
what had the actual justification of either man to do with his state,
or experience? The one who heard and believed was happy. The one who
misapprehended the decision was miserable; yet both were alike
justified. Justification was not a work wrought in them. It was the
judge’s sentence in their favor. And this is the judge’s sentence in
their favor. And this is ever what justification is, whether used in
the Bible or in matters of every life. God justifies, or clears, the
ungodly when they believe in the Lord Jesus who bore their condemnation
on the cross. To confound this judicial act with the state of soul of
the believer is only confusion.
say one, "I do not feel justified!" Justification has nothing has
nothing to do with feeling. The Question is, do you believe God is
satisfied with His beloved Son as your substitute upon the cross, and
do you receive Jesus as your substitute—your personal Saviour? If so,
God says you are justified; and there is an end to it. He will not call
back His words. Believing the gospel declaration, the soul has peace
with God. Walking with God, there is joy and gladness, and victory over
sin in a practical sense. But this is state, not standing.
Holy Spirit who quickens and sanctifies at the beginning, leading to
the knowledge of justification through faith in what God has said about
the blood-sprinkling of Jesus Christ, abides now in every believer, to
be the power for the new life, and thus for practical sanctification
day by day.
In this way the
offering-up of the Gentiles—poor aliens, heathen of all descriptions,
strangers to the covenants of promise—is made acceptable to God, being
sanctified by the holy Spirit. He accompanies the preaching—the
ministry of reconciliation—opening the heart to the truth, convincing
of sin, of righteousness and judgment, and leading to personal faith in
the Son of God.
I think it must now
be plain to any who have carefully followed me thus far that in this
aspect at least sanctification is wrongly designated as a "second
blessing." It is, on the contrary, the beginning of the work of the
Spirit in the soul, and goes on throughout the believer’s life,
reaching its consummation at the coming of the Lord, when the saved
one, in his glorified, sinless body, will be presented faultless in the
presence of God. And so Peter, after telling the Christians to whom he
writes that they are sanctified by the Spirit, very properly proceeds
to exhort them to be holy because he who has saved them is holy, and
they are set to represent Him in this world.
too Paul, after affirming the sanctification of the Thessalonians, yet
prays that they may be sanctified wholly, which would be an absurdity
if this were accomplished when first sanctified by the Spirit. "The
very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit
and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it" (1
Thess. 5:23, 24). There is no room for doubt as to the final result.
Sanctification is God’s work; and "I know that, whatsoever God doeth,
it shall be forever" (Eccl. 3:14). "He who hath begun a good work in
you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil 1:6).
asked for scripture as to the term "the second blessing," the
perfectionist will generally refer you to 1 Cor. 1:15. There Paul
writes to the Corinthians (who, as declared several over in his own
epistle, were sanctified), and says, "In confidence I was minded to
come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit." The margin
reads, "a second blessing." From this simple expression, an amazing
system has been deduced. It is taught that as a result of Paul’s first
visit to Corinth many had been justified. But as the carnal mind
remained in them, they manifested it in various ways, for which he
rebukes them in his first letter. Now he longs to get to them again,
this time not so much to preach the gospel as to have some "holiness
meetings," and get them sanctified!
ingenious theory surely! But it all falls to the ground when the
student of Scripture observes that the carnal saints of the 1st epistle
were sanctified in Christ Jesus (chap. 2:12); had received the Spirit
of God (chap. 2:12); were indwelt by that Spirit (chap. 3:16); and, as
we have already noticed at some length, were "washed, sanctified and
justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God"
What then was the second
blessing Paul desired for them? To begin with, it was not the second
blessing at all, but a second blessing. They had been blessed by his
ministry among them on the first occasion, as they learned from his
lips and saw manifested in his ways the truth of God. Like any
true-hearted under-shepherd, he longs to visit them again, once more to
minister among them, that they may receive blessing, or benefit, a
second time. What could be simpler, if the mind were not confused by
faulty teaching, leading to one’s reading his thoughts into Scripture,
instead of learning from?
moment of their conversion, believers are "blessed with all spiritual
blessings in heavenly places in Christ," and the Spirit is given to
lead us into the good that is already ours. "All things are yours" was
written, not to persons perfect in their ways, but to the very
Corinthians whom we have been considering, and that before they
received, through the apostle Paul, a second benefit.
SANCTIFICATION BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST:
great theme of the epistle to the Hebrews is that aspect of
sanctification which has been designated positional, or absolute; not
now a work wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit, but the glorious
results of that wondrous work accomplished by the Son of God when he
offered up himself to put away sin upon the cross of Calvary. By virtue
of that sacrifice the believer is forever set apart to God, his
conscience purged, and he himself transformed from an unclean sinner
into a holy worshiper, linked up in an abiding relationship with the
Lord Jesus Christ; 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). According to 1 Cor. 1:30, they are "in
Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us . . . sanctification." They
are "accepted in the Beloved." God sees them in Him, and looks at them
as He looks at His son. "As He is, so are we in this world" (1 John
4:17). This is not our state. No believer has ever been wholly like the
Lord Jesus in a practical way. The highest and best experience would
not reach up to this. But as to our standing (our new position), we are
reckoned by God to be "as He is."
basis of all this is the blood-shedding and blood-sprinkling of our
Saviour. "Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own
blood, suffered without the gate" (Heb. 13:12). By no other means could
we be purged from our sins and set apart to God.
main argument of the epistle is very fully developed in chapters 8 to
10, inclusive. There the two covenants are contrasted. The old covenant
asked of man what it never got—that is perfect obedience; because it
was not in man to give it. The new covenant guarantees all blessing
through the work of Another; and from the knowledge of this springs the
desire to obey on the part of the object of such grace.
the old dispensation there was a sanctuary of an earthly order; and
connected with it were ordinances of a carnal character, which
nevertheless foreshadowed good things to come—the very blessings we are
now privileged to enter into the enjoyment of.
in the tabernacle God had shut Himself away from sinful man, and He
dwelt in the holiest of all. Man was shut out. Once only every year a
representative man, the high priest, went in to God, "but not without
blood." Every great day of atonement the same ritual service was
performed; but all the sacrifices offered under the law could not put
away one sin, or "make him that did the service perfect as pertaining
to the conscience."
of Hebrews, let it be noted, is not perfection of character or of
experience, but perfection as the conscience. That is, the great
question taken up is, How can a polluted sinner with a defiled
conscience, procure a conscience that no longer accuses him, but now
permits him unhinderedly to approach God? The blood of bulls and of
goats cannot effect this. Legal works cannot procure so precious a
boon. The proof of it is manifest in Israel’s history, for the
continual sacrifices proved that no sacrifice sufficient to purge the
conscience had yet been offered. "For then would they not have ceased
to be offered? Because that the worshipers once purged should have had
no more conscience of sins" (chap. 10:2).
little do holiness professors enter into words like these! "Once
purged!" "No more conscience of sins!" What do such expressions mean?
Something, dear reader, which, if but grasped by Christians generally,
would free them from all their questionings, doubts, and fears.
legal sacrifices were not great enough in value to atone for sin. This
having been fully attested, Christ Himself came to do the will of God,
as it was written in the volume of the book. Doing that will meant for
Him going down into death and pouring out His blood for our salvation:
"By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body
of Jesus Christ once for all" (10:10). Observe, then, that our
sanctification and His one offering stand or fall together. We believe
the record, and God declares "we are sanctified." There is no growth,
no progress, and certainly no second work, in this. It is a great fact,
true of all Christians. And this sanctification is eternal in
character, because our great Priest’s work is done perfectly, and is
never to be repeated, as the following verses insist: "For by one
offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (ver. 14).
Could words be plainer or language more expressive? He who doubts shows
himself either unwilling or afraid to rest on so startling a truth!
one true sacrifice effectually purges the conscience once and for all,
so that the intelligent believer can now rejoice in the assurance that
he is forever cleansed from his guilt and defilement by the
blood-sprinkling of Jesus Christ. Thus, and thus only, the sanctified
are perfected forever, as regards the conscience.
simple illustration may help any who still have difficulty as to this
expression, peculiar to Hebrews, "a purged conscience." A man is in
debt to another who has again and again demanded payment. Being unable
to pay, and that because he has unwisely wasted his substance, and this
known to his creditor, he becomes unhappy when in the latter’s
presence. A desire to avoid him springs up and takes control of him.
His conscience is uneasy and defiled. He knows well he is blameworthy,
yet he is incapable of righting matters. But another appears, who, on
the debtor’s behalf, settles the claim in the fullest manner, and hands
to the troubled one a receipt for all. Is he now afraid to meet the
other? Does he shrink from facing him? Not at all; and why? Because he
has now a perfect, or a purged, conscience in regard to the matter that
once exercised him.
It is thus that
the work of the Lord Jesus has met all God’s righteous claims against
the sinner; and the believer, resting upon the divine testimony as to
the value of that work, is purged by the blood of Christ and "perfected
forever" in the sight of the Holy One. He is sanctified by that blood,
and that for eternity.
turned from the power of Satan unto God, he has the forgiveness of
sins, and is assured of an inheritance among them that are sanctified
by faith that is in Christ Jesus (Acts 26:18).
there is an expression used farther on in the chapter that may still
perplex and bewilder those who have not apprehended that profession is
one thing, and possession another. In order to be clear as to this, it
will be necessary to examine the whole passage, which I therefore quote
in full, italicizing the expression referred to. "For if we sin
wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there
remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for
of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries.
He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three
witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be
thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath
counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an
unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (vers.
In what we have already
gone over we have seen that hath seen that he who is sanctified by the
one offering of Christ upon who is sanctified by the one offering of
Christ upon the cross, upon the cross, that is, by His precious blood,
is perfected forever. But in this passage it is equally plain that one
whom counts the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an
unholy thing, shall be forever lost. In order not to miss the true
force of this for our souls, it is necessary that we give some
attention to what we have already designated "positional
sanctification." Of old all the people of Israel, and all who were
associated with them, were set apart to God both on the night of the
passover and afterwards in the wilderness. But this did not necessarily
imply a work of the Spirit in their souls. Many were doubtless in the
blood-sprinkled houses that solemn night, when the destroying angel
passed through to smite the unsheltered first-born, who had no real
faith in God. Yet they were by the blood of the Lamb put in a place of
blessing, a position where they shared in many hallowed privileges. So
afterward with those who were under the cloud and passed through the
sea, being baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. All were in
the same position. All shared the same outward blessings. But the
wilderness was the place of testing, and soon proved who were real and
who were not.
At the present time
God has no special nation, to be allied to which is to come into a
position of outward nearness to Him. But He has a people who have been
redeemed to Himself out of all kindreds and tongues and peoples and
nations, by the precious blood of the Lamb of God. All who ally
themselves by profession with that company are outwardly among the
blood-sheltered: In this sense they are sanctified by the blood of the
covenant. That blood stands for Christianity, which in its very essence
is the proclamation of salvation through Christ’s atoning death. To
take the Christian place therefore is like entering the blood-sprinkled
house. All who are real, who have judged themselves before God, and
truly confided in His grace, will remain in that house. If any go out,
it proves their unreality, and such can find no other sacrifice for
sins; for all the typical offerings are done away in Christ. These are
they of whom the apostle John speaks so solemnly: "They went out from
us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would
have continued with us: but they went out that they might be made
manifest that they were not all of us" (1 John 2:19). These unreal ones
were positionally sanctified; but as they were ever bereft of faith in
the soul, they "went out," and thus did despite to the Spirit of grace,
and counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith they were sanctified,
an unholy thing. These sin wilfully, not in the sense of failing to
walk uprightly merely, but as utterly abjuring, or apostatizing from,
Christianity, after having become conversant with the glorious message
it brings to lost men.
But where it
is otherwise, and the soul is really resting on Christ, positional
sanctification becomes eternal: because the sanctified and the
Sanctifier are, as we have seen, linked up together by an indissoluble
bond. Christ Himself is made unto them wisdom, and this in a threefold
way: He is their righteousness, their sanctification, and their
Here is holiness!
Here is an unassailable righteousness! Here is acceptance with God. "Ye
are complete in Him," through daily needing to humble oneself because
of failure. It is not my practical sanctification that gives me title
to a place among the saints in light. It is the glorious fact that
Christ has died and redeemed me to God. His blood has cleansed me from
all, or every, sin; and I now have life in Him, a new life, with which
guilt can never be connected. I am in Him that is true. He is my
sanctification, and represents me before God, even as of old the high
priest bore upon his mitre the words "Holiness unto the Lord," and upon
his shoulders and his heart the names of all the tribes of Israel. He
represented them all in the holy place. He was typically their
sanctification. If he was accepted of God, so were they. The people
were seen in the priest. And of our every- living High priest we may
"For us He wears the Mitre
Where holiness shine bright;
For us His robes are whither
Than heaven’s unsullied light."
there should be a life of corresponding devotedness and separation to
God on our part no Spirit-taught believer will for a moment deny, as we
will now consider.
SANCTIFICATION BY THE WORD OF GOD:
His great high-priestly prayer of the 17th of John, our Lord says of
men given to Him by the Father, "They are not of the world, even as I
am not of the world. Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is
truth. As Thou hast sent Me into the world. And for their sakes I
sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth"
(vers. 16-19). This precious passage may well introduce for us the
subject of practical sanctification—the ordering aright of our external
ways, and bringing all into accord with the revealed will of God. At
the outset we shall do well if we get it fixed in our mind that this is
very closely related to that sanctification of the Spirit to which our
attention has already been directed. The Spirit works within us. The
Word, which is without us, is nevertheless the medium used to do the
work within. But I have purposely dwelt separately upon the two aspects
in order to bring the clearer before our minds the distinction between
the Spirit’s sanctification in us, which is the very beginning of God’s
work in our souls, and the application of the Word thereafter to our
outward ways. New birth is our introduction into god’s family; but
although born again, we may be dark as to many things, and need the
light of the Word to clear our bewildered minds. But through the
sanctification of the Spirit we are brought to the blood of sprinkling:
we apprehend that Christ’s atoning death alone avails for our sins. We
are sanctified by the blood of Christ, and able to appreciate our new
position before God. It is now that in its true sense the walk of faith
begins, and thereafter we need daily that sanctification by the truth,
or the word of God, spoken of by our Lord.
is evident that in the very nature of things this cannot be what some
have ignorantly called "a second definite work of grace." It is, on the
contrary, a life—a progressive work ever going on, and which ever must
go on, until I have passed out of the scene in which I need daily
instruction as to my ways, which the word of God alone can give. If
sanctification in its practical sense be by the Word, I shall never be
wholly sanctified, in this aspect of it, until I know that Word
perfectly, and am violating it in no particular. And that will never be
true here upon earth. Here I ever need to feed upon that Word, to
understand it better, to learn more fully its meaning; and as I learn
from it the mind of God, I am called daily to judge in myself all that
is contrary to the increased light I receive, and to yield to-day a
fuller obedience than yesterday. Thus am I sanctified by the truth.
this very purpose the Lord has sanctified or set Himself apart. He has
gone up to heaven, there to watch over His own, to be our High Priest
with God in view of our weakness, and our Advocate with the Father in
view of our sins. He is there too as the object of our hearts. We are
called now to run our race with patience, looking unto Jesus, with the
Holy Spirit within us and the Word in our hands, to be a lamp to our
feet and a light to our path. As we value it, and are controlled by its
precious truth made good to us in the Spirit’s power, we are sanctified
by God the Father and by our Lord Jesus Himself. For in the 17th of
John He makes request of the Father, "Sanctify them through Thy truth."
In Eph. 5:25-26 we read, "Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for
it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of the water
by the Word." Here it is Christ who is the sanctifier, for He could
ever say, "I and the Father are one." Here, as John, sanctification is
plainly progressive; and, indeed, that waterwashing of Ephesians is
beautifully illustrated in an earlier chapter of John—the 13th. There
we have our Lord, in the full consciousness of His eternal Sonship,
taking the place of a girded servant to wash His disciples’ feet.
Washing the feet is indicative of cleansing the ways; and the whole
passage is a symbolical picture of the work in which He has been
engaged ever since ascending to heaven. He has been keeping the feet of
His saints by cleansing them from the defilement of the way—those
earth-stains which are so readily contracted by sandaled pilgrim-feet
pressing along this world’s highways.
says to each of us, as to Peter, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part
with Me." Part in Him we have on the ground of His atoning work and as
a result of the life He gives. Part with Him, or daily communion, is
only ours as sanctified by the water of the Word.
the whole scene was allegorical is evident by His words to Peter, "What
I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter." Literal
feet-washing Peter knew and understood. Spiritual feet-washing he
learned when restored by the Lord after his lamentable fall. Then he
entered into the meaning of the words, "He that is bathed* needeth not
save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." The meaning is not
hard to grasp. Every believer is bathed once for all in the "bath of
regeneration" (Titus 3:5, literal rendering). That bathing is never
repeated. None born of God can ever perish, for all such have a life
that is eternal, and consequently non-forfeitable (John 10:27-29). If
they fail and sin, they do not need to be saved over again. That would
mean, to be bathed once more. But he that is bathed needs not to have
it all done again because his feet get defiled. He washes them and is
clean. [As many now know, this word means a complete bath, and differs
from the word used later for "wash" in the same verse.]
it is with Christians. We have been regenerated once, and never shall
be a second time. But every time we fail we need to judge ourselves by
the Word, that we may be cleansed as to our ways; and where we daily
give that Word its rightful place in our lives, we shall be kept from
defilement and enabled to enjoy unclouded communion with our Lord and
Saviour. "Wherewithal," asks the psalmist, "shall a young man cleanse
his way?" And the answer is, "By taking heed thereto according to Thy
How necessary it is then to
search the Scriptures, and to obey them unquestioningly, in order that
we may be sanctified by the truth! Yet what indifference is often found
among professors of a "second blessing" as to this very thing! What
ignorance of the Scriptures, and what fancied superiority to them, is
frequently manifested! --and that coupled with a profession of holiness
in the flesh!
In 1 Thess 4:3 there
is a passage which, divorced from its context, is often considered
decisive as proving that it is possible for believers to attain to a
state of absolute freedom from inbred sin in this world: "This is the
will of God, even your sanctification." Who can deny my title to
perfect holiness if sanctification means that, and it is God’s will for
me? Surely none. But already we have seen that sanctification never
means that, and in the present text least of all. Read the entire first
eight verses, forming a complete paragraph, and see for yourself. The
subject is personal purity. The sanctification spoken of is keeping the
body from unclean practices, and the mind from lasciviousness.
immorality was connected with, and even formed part of idolatrous
worship. The Greek mythology had deified the passions of fallen man;
and these Thessalonian Christians had but just "turned t God from
idols, to serve the living and true God." Hence the special need of
this exhortation to saints newly converted, and who were living among
those who shamelessly practiced all these things. But think of calling
for this upon men freed from inbred sin! And the saints, as God’s
temple are to be characterized by a clean life, not by a life polluted
by fleshly lusts.
Another aspect of
this practical sanctification is brought before us in 2 Tim 2:19-22. We
might call it ecclesiastical sanctification; for it has in view the
faithful believer’s stand in a day when corruption has come in among
professing Christians, and the church as a whole, viewed in its
character as the house of God, has fallen, and become as a great house
in which good and evil are all mixed up together. It is a matter of
most solemn import that, whereas here and elsewhere in Scripture he who
would walk with God is called to separate himself from unholy
associations and the fellowship of the mixed multitude, even though it
be found in what calls itself the Church, yet there are large numbers,
who testify to "living without sin," who nevertheless are united in
church (and often other forms of) fellowship with unbelievers and
professing Christians who are unholy in walk and unsound as to the
faith. For the sake of such it will be well to examine the passage in
The apostle has been
directing Timothy’s attention to the evidences of increasing apostasy.
He warns against striving about words (verse 14), profane and vain
babblings (verse 16); and points out two men, Hymenaeus and Philetus,
in verse 17, who have given themselves over to these unholy
speculations, and have thereby, through accepted by many as Christian
teachers, overthrown the faith of some. And this is but the beginning,
as the next chapter shows, for "evil men and seducers shall wax worse
and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (3:13).
I apprehend that the first verse of chapter 3 follows verse 18 of
chapter 2 in an orderly, connected manner. The apostle sees in
Hymenaeus and Philetus the beginning of the awful harvest of iniquity
soon to nearly smother everything that is of God. Go on with these men,
listen to them, fellowship them, endorse them in any way, and you will
soon lose all ability to discern between good and evil, to "take forth
the precious from the vile."
ere depicting the full character of the rapidly encroaching conditions,
Timothy is given a word for his encouragement, and instruction as to
his own path when things reach a state where it is impossible longer to
purge out the evil from the visible church.
the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth
them that are His. And Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord*
depart from iniquity" (or, lawlessness) (verse 19). Here is faith’s
encouragement, and here too is the responsibility of faithfulness.
Faith says, "Let the evil rise as high as it may—let lawlessness
abound, and the love of many wax cold—let all that seemed to be of God
in the earth be swallowed up in the apostasy—nevertheless God’s firm
foundation stands, for Christ has declared, ‘Upon this rock I will
build My Assembly, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it"!
this brings in responsibility. I am not to go on with the
evil—protesting, perhaps, but fellowshipping it still—though it be in a
reserved, halfhearted way. I am called to separate from it. In so doing
I may seem to be separating from dear children of God and beloved
servants of Christ. But this is necessary if they do not judge the
To make clear
my responsibility an illustration is given in verse 20: "But in a great
house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood
and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor." The "great
house" is Christendom in its present condition, where good and evil,
saved and lost, holy and unholy, are all mixed up together. In 1 Tim
3:15 we read of "the house of God, which is the Church of the living
God, the pillar and ground of the truth." This is what the Church
should ever have been. But, alas, it soon drifted away from so blessed
an ideal, and became like a great man’s house in which are found all
kinds of vessels, composed of very different materials, and for very
different uses. There are golden and silver vessels for use in the
dinning-room; and there are vessels of wood and earth, used in the
kitchen and other parts of the house, often allowed to become
exceedingly filthy, and at best to be kept at a distance from the
valuable, and easily scratched or polluted, plate up-stairs.
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" (verse 21). The parable is here applied. The vessels
are seen to be persons. And just as valuable plate might stand
uncleansed and dirty with a lot of kitchen utensils waiting to be
washed, and then carefully separated from the vessels baser uses, so
Timothy (and every other truly exercised soul) is called upon to take a
place apart, to "purge out himself" from the mixed conditions, that he
may be in very deed "a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the
Master’s use, prepared unto every good work."
this sanctification is very different from the Spirit’s work in the
soul at the beginning, or the effect of the work of Christ on the
cross, by which we are set apart to God eternally. It is a practical
thing, relating to the question of our associations as Christians. Let
me follow out the illustration a step further, and I think all will be
The master of the great
house brings home a friend. He wishes to serve him with a refreshing
drink. He goes to the sideboard looking for a silver goblet, but there
is none to be seen. A servant is called, and inquiry made. Ah, the
goblets are down in the kitchen waiting to be washed and separated from
the rest of the household vessels. He is indignantly dispatched to
procure one, and soon returns with a vessel purged out from the unclean
collection below; and thus separated and cleansed it is meet for the
use if the master.
And so it is
with the man of God who has thus purged himself out from what is
opposed to the truth and the holiness of God. He is sanctified, or
separated, and in this way becomes "meet for the master’s use."
course it is not enough to stop with separation. To do so would make
one a Pharisee of the most disgusting type; as has, alas, often been
the case. But he who has separated from the evil is now commanded to
"flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, Faith, love,
peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart." To do
this, what need there is of the daily application of the word of God,
in the spirit’s power, to all our ways!
this, as we have seen, is true feet-washing. Through the Word we are
made clean at new birth. "Now are ye clean through the word which I
have spoken unto you" (John 15:3). That Word is likened to water
because of its purifying and refreshing effect upon the one who submits
to it. In it I find instruction as to every detail of the walk of
faith. It shows me how I am called to behave in the family, in the
church, and in the world. If I obey it the defilement is washed out of
my life; even as the application of water cleanness my body from
Never shall I
attain so exalted a state or experience upon earth that I can honestly
say: Now I am wholly sanctified; I no longer need the Word to cleanse
me. As long as I am in this scene I am called to "Follow peace with all
men, and holiness (or, sanctification), without which no man shall see
the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). This one passage, rightly understood, cuts up
by the roots the entire perfectionist theory; yet no verse is more
frequently quoted, or rather misquoted, in holiness meetings!
carefully what is here commanded: We are to follow two things: Peace
with all men, and holiness. He who does not follow these will never see
the Lord. But we do not follow that to which we have attained. Who has
attained to peace with all men? How many have to cry with the psalmist,
"I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war"! (Ps. 120:7). And
who have attained to holiness in the full sense? Not you, dear reader,
nor I; for "in many things we all offend" (James 3:2). But every real
believer, every truly converted soul, every one who has received the
Spirit of adoption, does follow holiness, and longs for the time when,
at the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ, "He shall charge these
bodies of our humiliation," and make them like "the body of His glory."
Then we shall have reached our goal: then we shall have become
absolutely and forever holy.
when the apostle writes to the Thessalonians, in view of that glorious
event, he says: "Abstain from all appearance (every form) of evil. And
the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole
spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our
Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do
it" (1 Thess. 5:22-24). This will be the glad consummation for all who
here on earth, as strangers and pilgrims, follow peace and holiness,
and thus manifest the divine nature and the fruits of the Spirit.
so long as they remain in the wilderness of this world they will need
daily recourse to the laver of water—the cleansing word of God—which of
old stood midway between the altar and the holy place. When all are
gathered Home in heaven the water will no longer be needed to free from
defilement will no longer be needed to free from defilement. In that
scene of holiness therefore there is no laver; but before the throne
John saw a sea of glass, clear as crystal, upon which the redeeming
were standing, their trails and their e warfare over.
throughout eternity we shall rest upon the word of God as a crystal
sea, no longer needed for our sanctification, for we shall be presented
faultless in the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.)
"Then we shall be where we would be;
Then we shall be what we should be:
Then that are not now, nor could be,
Then shall be our owe."
more clearly establishes the proposition we have been insisting on
throughout—that sanctification is not the eradication of our sinful
nature—than the way the word is used relatively, where it is positively
certain there is no work of any sort contemplated as having taken place
in the soul of the sanctified. Having carefully considered the absolute
and practical aspects of sanctification, without which all profession
is unreal, it may now be profitable to weigh what God has to say of
this merely outward, or relative, holiness.
in the chapter on sanctification by blood, we have seen that a person
may in a certain sense be sanctified by association and yet all the
time be unreal, only to become an apostate at last.
is also true that in another sense people are said to be sanctified by
association who are the subjects of earnest, prayerful yearning, and
may yet—and in all probability will—be truly saved. But they are
sanctified before this, and in view of it.
seventh chapter of 1 Corinthians is the passage which must now occupy
us. It contains the fullest instruction as to the marriage relation
that we have in the Bible. Beginning with verse 10, we read, "And unto
the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, let not the wife depart
from her husband: but and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or
be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his
wife." As to this, the Lord had already given explicit instruction, as
recorded in Matt. 19:1-12.
owing to the spread of the gospel among the heathen of the gentiles a
condition had arisen in many places which the words of the Lord did not
seem fully to meet, having been spoken, as they were, to meet, having
been spoken, as they were, to the people of the Jews, separated as a
whole to Jehovah. The question that soon began to agitate the Church
was this: Suppose a case (and there were many such) where a heathen
wife is converted to God but her husband remains an unclean idolater,
or vice versa: can the Christian partner remain in the marriage
relationship with the unconverted spouse and not be defiled? To a Jew
the very thought of such a condition was an offense. In the days of
Ezra and Nehemiah certain of the returned remnant had taken wives of
the surrounding mixed nations, and the result was confusion. "There
children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the
Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people" (Neh.
13:24). This state of things was abhorrent to the Godly leaders, who
did not rest until all the strange wives had been put away, and with
them the children, who were considered likewise unclean, and a menace
to the purity of Israel.
the Old Testament in their hands, who could have wondered at it if some
zealous, well-meaning legalists from Jerusalem had gone like firebrands
through the Gentile assemblies preaching a crusade against all
contamination of this kind, and breaking up households on every hand,
counseling converted husbands to cast out their heathen wives and
disown their children as the product of an unclean relationship, and
urging Christian wives to flee from the embraces of idolatrous
husbands, and, at whatever cost to the affections, to forsake their
offspring, as a supreme sacrifice to the God of holiness?
was to prevent just such a state of affairs that the verses that follow
those we have already considered were penned by inspiration of the God
of all grace. Concerning this anomalous state the Lord had not spoken,
as the time had not come to do so. Therefore Paul writes: "But to the
rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth
not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
And the woman which hath a husband that believeth not, and if he be
pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving
husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is
sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are
they holy [or, sanctified]. But if the unbelieving depart, let him
depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but
God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether
thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou
shalt save thy wife?" (vers. 12-16).
an example have we here of the transcendent power of grace! Under law
the unclean partner defiled the sanctified one. Under grace the one
whom God has saved sanctifies the unclean.
family is a divine institution, older than the nations, older than
Israel, older than the Church. What is here, and elsewhere in
Scripture, clearly indicates that it is the will of God to save His
people as households. He would not do violence to the ties of nature
which He Himself has created. If he saves a man who is head of a
household, He thereby indicates that for the entire family He has
blessing in store. This does not touch individual responsibility.
Salvation, it is ever true, is "not of blood"; but it is, generally
speaking, God’s thought to deliver His people’s households with
themselves. So he declares that the salvation of one parent sanctifies
the other, and the children too are sanctified.
it that any change has taken place within these persons? Not at all.
They may still be utterly unregenerate, loving only their evil ways,
despising the grace and fearing not the judgment of God. But they are
this agree with the perfectionists’ view of sanctification? As it is
evident the word here cannot mean an inward cleansing, his system falls
to the ground. The fact is, he has attached an arbitrary meaning to it,
which is etymologically incorrect, Scriptural untrue, and
In the case
now occupying us the sanctification is clearly and wholly relative. The
position of the rest of the family is changed by the conversion of one
parent. That is no longer a heathen home in God’s sight, but a
Christian one. That household no longer dwells in the darkness, but in
the light. Do not misunderstand me here. I am not speaking of light and
darkness as implying spiritual capacity or incapacity. I am referring
to outward responsibility.
heathen home all is darkness; there is no light shining whatever. But
let one parent of that family be converted to God; what then? At once a
candlestick is set up in that house which, whether they will or no,
enlightens every other member. They are put in a place of privilege and
responsibility to which they have been strangers hitherto. And all this
with no work of God, as yet, in their souls, but simply in view of such
a work. For the conversion of that one parent was God’s way of
announcing His gracious desires for the whole family; even as in the
jailer’s case He caused His servants to declare, "Believe on the Lord
Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." The last few
words do not guarantee salvation to the household, but they at once fix
upon the jailer’s heart the fact that the same way is open for the
salvation of his house as for himself, and that God would have him
count upon Him for this. They were sanctified the moment he believed,
and soon rejoicing filled the whole house, when all responded to the
grace proclaimed. [I desire heartily to commend here an excellent work
on this subject by the late beloved C.H. Macintosh, "Thou and Thy
This, then, is, in
brief, the teaching of Holy Scripture as to relative sanctification—a
theme often overlooked or ignored, but of deep solemnity and importance
to Christian members of families of whom some still unsaved. "What
knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? Or how
Knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?" Labor on; pray
on; live Christ before the rest from day to day, knowing that through
you God has sanctified them, and is waiting to save them when they see
their need and trust His grace.
cannot pursue this theme more at length here, as to do so would divert
attention from the main theme that is before us; but I trust that the
most simple and uninstructed of my readers can now perceive that
sanctification and sinlessness must in the very nature of the case be
And with this paper
I bring to an end my examination of the use of the actual term
sanctification in Scripture. But this by no means exhausts the subject.
There are other terms still to be examined, the meaning of which the
perfectionists consider to be synonymous with it, and to teach their
favorite theory of the entire destruction of the carnal mind in the
sanctified. These will be taken up, the Lord willing, in a few more
papers in continuance.