A Sanctified Spirit
“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.” — 1 Thess. 5:23
Man has been called a trinity according to the philosophy of the Apostle in the above text, and also other Scriptures. He is a trinity, consisting of spirit, soul and body. The spirit is the higher part, that which knows and is capable of God consciousness, worship and communion; receiving intuitively impressions from the heavenly world. It is the region of conscience, that which discerns between right and wrong. Here its voice is heard. It is the region of the will — the king of man – that which chooses and shapes our destiny.
The spirit is the inner man of the soul, and possesses five senses; the same as the body. In one who is not a Christian these senses are unawakened. That spirit and soul are not identical is proven by the Apostle in Heb. 4:12, speaking, as he does, of the Word of God, which is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit.” The soul and spirit do not, of course, occupy separate space, but are, like light, heat and air which fill the room simultaneously.
Man has been likened to a three-story building; the basement representing the body; the first story, the soul, and that of the upper, the spirit. The multitudes live in the basement — the base, fleshly part of their natures — their highest desire being to gratify the body, with its appetites and passions. This is the lowest plane on which a human can live; it is the plane of the animal nature. Others live a step higher, dwelling in their emotions and affections. Art, music, literature, culture and refinement appeal to them. This, however, is only a soulish, natural life. But God’s thought and plan for His creatures is that they live up in the spiritual realm where the spirit controls the entire man.
The spirit is not the emotional and intellectual part of man’s being; this belongs to the soul. The word for “spirit” in the New Testament Greek is pneuma, while that for soul is psyche, which means “mind.” To say that spirit and soul are identical is to reduce Christianity to a mere intellectual state where our holy religion consists of Christlikeness, holy tempers and sweet dispositions. There is a great deal of mental religion which consists in accepting Christ from a mental standpoint without any radical change of heart. Here is a truth that should be known. There is such a thing as having an emotional, soulish sensation and a so-called conversion without being regenerated in the higher, spiritual nature, where the conscience and the will have their throne. The religion of some people seems to consist principally of their emotions. They can do questionable things and do not seem to suffer in their consciences. For instance, a certain lady making a high profession affirmed that her conscience did not condemn her while she was resorting to every conceivable means to thwart God’s plan in her life. Some can leave old debts for others to pay; but let them get stirred in their emotions, and they can make enough noise for a whole camp meeting. If we are not careful, we shall be shouting over things for which we should be repenting.
When the Bible speaks of the natural man receiving not the things of the Spirit of God, neither being able to know them because they are spiritually discerned, the term physical man is used. The natural, physical man does not necessarily mean a low, brutal man. Dr. A. B. Simpson, in “Holy Spirit, or Power from on High,” says: “When the New Testament talks about the natural man, it does not mean a gross, sordid, sensual, brutal wretch, groveling in swinish lusts. But it means a man with all the graces and gifts of the highest genius and the most refined culture. He may be a poet like Shakespeare, a composer like Mozart, a sculptor like Phidas, a painter like Raphael, an architect like Wren or an orator like Cicero, or with a face as beautiful as an angel and a life as virtuous and stainless as a marble statue, and yet be all purely natural, earth-born, and a mere soulish man. . . . Now, everybody knows that Psyche was not the figure of sensualism, but of beauty, virtue and moral purity.” All this can be true without the individual’s being saved and knowing the things of the Spirit. There are many counterfeits of Holy Ghost religion, one of the most subtle of which is culture, refinement and polished deportment. These can not be substituted for the Holy Ghost.
What is meant by being sanctified in the threefold nature? We shall begin with the spirit where the apostle commences. If you will notice in the erection of the tabernacle, that wonderful edifice which is a symbol of great spiritual truths, that they began with the holy of holies, where the Shekinah glory dwelt. They then worked outward until the outer court was complete. When God makes a saint, He begins in the spirit, where conscience reigns. To have a sanctified spirit means a purged conscience that has been so quickened and made so sensitive to God and things Divine that the least harsh or unkind word burns on the soul’s sensibilities like a live coal.
It means a good conscience — one that makes us honest with ourselves, and will not allow us to make a better impression on the public than we really feel in our hearts that we deserve; one that will not allow us to do small, mean, underhanded tricks. There is no such thing as deep piety without a live, quickened conscience.
The writer knew a leading minister who preached a great sermon. No doubt he had worked on it for a long time. Soon after this, he saw this sermon in book form, word for word, with the name of a young preacher appended as the author. This is what the world would call downright stealing. Decency and honesty alone would have required him to give due credit to the real author.
A young girl, by defrauding her classmate of her original essay, won a medal over her at Commencement. The girl from whom the paper was taken was by far the happier of the two. Oh, the miserable, wretched condition of a stinging conscience. If we understand the power of conscience, it has a fourfold office: (1) It is the voice of God in the soul, warning against wrong. (2) It is a living witness and testifies against every wrong committed. (3) It ascends the judgment throne and proceeds to pronounce sentence against the guilty victim. (4) It descends from the judgment throne and lashes the soul with the scorpion’s whip. To have a good conscience means an unaccusing conscience; a restful, peaceful, purged and quickened conscience.
If our bodies are God’s temples, then in these temples dwell the spirit — the holy of holies, the heart — the ark of the covenant which holds the law. Here conscience reigns like a heavenly queen approving the right, condemning the wrong. Not only is the spirit the region of conscience, but it is that power that chooses, known as the will.
To have a sanctified spirit means a subdued, conquered will. If all who profess Holiness were really subdued and broken in will, God could get missionaries by the tens of thousands. We would let Him make all of our appointments.
There are two different departments of the will. One is the power of choice; the other the perseverance or the determination to go through at all costs. The secret of Daniel’s strength of character was his fixed purpose to go through; so when the test came, he stood (Dan. 1:8). If today we had more preaching of the Finney type, where people were taught to enter into covenant relation with God until their wills gripped God’s, we should have more converts of the old-fashioned type.
A sanctified spirit is a filled spirit, one in which the image and likeness of Jesus is stamped, and in which the spiritual senses are so clarified and quickened that spiritual truths become as real to the spirit, as the physical world is to the natural, senses. A sanctified spirit is a clean spirit, properly speaking. The incoming of the Holy Ghost first of all is purifying. The order is first cleansing, then empowering. There is a teaching abroad just now that one can have the Holy Ghost for service and power, but purifying efficacy is disclaimed. The baptism of the Holy Ghost not only cleanses the heart from all sin, but simultaneously fills it. Thousands are ready to seek to be filled with the Spirit, but have a distaste for the cleansing. But, remember, there is no such thing as a Spirit-filled life apart from Entire Sanctification.
A sanctified spirit is a gentle spirit — one that is saved from harshness and roughness. Some think that power consists in being rough, loud and noisy, but it is true that, as one has said, “The ruin of spirituality among modern Christians is putting the fussy doing of religion ahead of the deep, Divine, inward being, like Jesus.” A gentle spirit is a conquered, melted and subdued spirit. It has been bathed in a heavenly sea of tenderness. It can suffer injuries and receive all kinds of abuse and ill treatment without any bitterness. There is a great deal of mental and logical Sanctification nowadays which consists in saying that the altar sanctifies the gift, and in putting one’s self on the altar and saying, “I am sanctified.” But such an one knows nothing about the heart-throbs of Gethsemane or death to the “old man.” Real gentleness comes only through suffering and death to self.
A sanctified spirit is a humble spirit. A holiness that does not produce humility is a sham and a spurious kind. There is nothing more beautiful in the Christian experience than a real, humble, Christlike spirit, where all the self-life and religious human strut and blustering have been burned out. Real humility makes us little in our own eyes, where we are willing to be overlooked and not feel sore or hurt. Humility likes to take a lowly seat. It can go through a camp meeting and not feel slighted or offended if not called upon or recognized. This kind of spirit never pulls wires for a place. It does not have to be the “bell sheep” to be kept in a good humor. Andrew Murray says: “Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble (not like the world). It is never to be fretted, vexed, irritated, sore or disappointed. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, when I am blamed or when I am despised.”
“When the soul enters Sanctification it is just the beginning of this spirit, which is to spread, intensify and brighten until crucifixion becomes an all-consuming passion, a sweetly, sorrowful, sadly beautiful flame, of self-abnegation, which takes hold of all sorts of woes, and troubles, and mortifications, and pains, poverties, and hardships, as a very hot fire takes hold on wet logs and makes out of them fresh fuel for more self-sacrificing love.
“This is the spirit that opens the gate of Heaven without touching it. This is the spirit that wears out the patience of persecutors, that softens the heart of stone, that in the long run converts enemies into friends, that touches the hearts of sinners, that wins its way through a thousand obstacles, that outwits the genius of the devil and that makes the soul that has it as precious to God as the apple of His eye.”